THE BLOG

I'm Changing My Underpants and the Economy

02/22/2012 02:50 pm 14:50:35 | Updated Apr 23, 2012

I need new underpants -- and yes, I prefer to call them underpants, not panties.

Sure, I could trudge off to the mall and get a replacement package of three, comfort waist, no-roll, full cut briefs, made in El Salvador or Honduras, but... I can't. Not after President Obama's visit to my hometown, Milwaukee, last week, touting all things insourced: "We need an economy that's built to last -- an economy based on American manufacturing, American-made energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of the values that made this country great: Hard work. Fair play. Shared responsibility," he said.

See what I mean? It was my patriotic duty to replace my past-their-prime, made in Costa Rica Jockeys with something home sewn and possibly grown, and it felt so right.

I went online, typed, women's underwear made in USA, and up popped a plethora of websites with clever names like stillmadeinusa.com, madeinusaforever.com or americasworking.com -- listings of companies that make things I might be interested in the future -- outerwear, shoes, t-shirts, socks and fire retardant clothing.

Where were the underpants? Oh, sure there were boxers and briefs for men, loungewear, active wear, other kinds of clothing for women, but underpants? Tough to find. I know all about American Apparel, and I gave them a look, but couldn't get past the photos of scantily clad young things in thongs. At this stage in my life, I need more yardage and less pout.

After hours of scrolling and clicking, I hit on uwearusa.com and purchased a three pairs of white, cotton briefs for $7 a pair, only because they were phasing out their women's underwear section, which sucked. In a few months, when it was time for me to restock, I'd have to shell out a tad more money, but, it's all good, right? I mean, if it means keeping someone's job here? I could see paying $15, maybe $20 but, uh, $25 for one pair, when I was used to getting 3 pair for $12, maybe $8 on sale?

Let's face it. I was spoiled. I had become lazy. Think of it, which is what I don't do when I waltz through Kohl's to pick up a couple packages of multicolored briefs because I have a coupon or they are having a sale. But, now? I do think about it. What about organic cotton? Could that be an option? Would I feel that much better sitting in a pair of underpants that had not caused any undue stress to Mother Earth? At $42 a pair, I would be the one who was feeling the stress.

What about buying underpants that were imported, made in India, but were from a co-op, owned by local women, who benefited from each sale? Wouldn't that do as much good as a pair that may have been made here, but from cotton imported from God-knows-where, picked by tiny children? Why did this have to be so hard? Kind of makes me shudder at my next task: Bras.

Underpants are only a start. I plan on slowly replacing all my clothing with stuff made here. When I went through my closet and checked all the labels on my shirts, dresses, skirts, looked in my shoes, boots, I was embarrassed. A few sweaters, one dress, two pair of socks were all I had that were made in America. If only I had been to all the places that my clothes had been manufactured in, I would be a lot more worldly.

My made-in-USA items should be arriving in a week. I hope they fit. I hope they're comfortable. I hope that when I wear my insourced-maybe-not-organic-cotton underpants, I will stand a little taller, walk a little prouder, in, and think of the person whose job I just might have saved. Change has come to my closet. I'm saving the economy one pair of underpants at a time. Hopefully I won't become frustrated, give up and throw in the made-in-Guatemala towel.