(I'm including swimwear in this because I'm lazy)
I only started caring about lingerie when I got married, not because of my husband or anything- he was already trapped, so who cares- but because it seemed like the grown up thing to do, you know, like getting regular pap smears, having an accountant do your taxes, or Venmoing friends instead of giving them straight cash (I do none of these things). Also, living in Paris, I had to pretend to be interested in Foucault's technologies of self, of which lingerie is one instrument. I don't know if Dior really said, "Without foundations, there is no fashion," but all too often, undergarments are an afterthought. We're more inclined to choose an outfit first, then haphazardly find a bra or whatever to go with it, when clothes would fit better if we chose carefully, from the ground up. That being said, I wish I could be one of those girls who goes braless but... I can't. I'm too basic. I can't even use being from the Midwest as an excuse, because Gloria Steinem is from Ohio, too.
Anyway I don't know if French girls really spend a significant portion of their income on lingerie. Some magazine articles make it seem like they're all running around in Agent Provocateur but most of my friends buy more regularly from, for example, Etam, Aubade, Princesse Tam Tam or Oysho, and they handwash their lingerie, no matter how inexpensive. I know this because I would walk into their apartments and see everything hanging off dish racks or drip drying in the shower. It's true they would, for instance, buy one bra and buy the matching thong, culotte, and boy short to go with it. Their collections were not so different from those of my American friends, though, and I'm more crazy about matching than anyone I know.
It was difficult for me to find things in France because my size is not normally stocked in stores, and then I care about ethics and the environment of course, and also I hate everything. I try to keep fabrics and materials as natural and untreated as possible, the gold standard for which is Oeko Tex certification. One sustainable brand I often admired at Centre Commercial was Base Range; I also like zero waste Anekdot Boutique and Pansy. However, I read once that you should choose lingerie based on your actual shape, not how you hope to look someday. As much as I'd love to look like one of those lithe Vanessa Traina types at Dia:Beacon, I never will. My underwear reflects that. I ended up finding a jackpot of Stella McCartney lingerie, tags still attached, at Violette Leonie and never looked back. Now my whole lingerie collection is secondhand. I wear the Isabel floating bralette (not pictured because I was either wearing or washing it while taking these photos) to exercise, which I realize is the equivalent of Shannen Doherty bathing in Evian. I think Stella McCartney is an important voice in the push for a more sustainable fashion industry, however, I don't believe the line is as green as everybody says. My pieces have organic cotton gussets and recycled metal fasteners, as well as a small percentage of recycled polyester (they are mostly silk, though). For ethical shoppers larger than a B cup, Luva Huva and Harlow & Fox offer an extended range of sizes.
I like garter belts because my mom always had them and they make me feel like a career woman in post war America, but I don't actually need them since I only wear seamed Swedish Stockings. I wore the same single pair of leggings from age 10 to age 27, recently replacing it with an organic cotton pair from Pact, also secondhand. They are the best ever, so soft, not the least bit saggy or sheer, and easy to care for. Since most of my socks were lost in my move, now I only wear Pact socks or a handknit A Wool Story pair.
To bed, I wear an American Apparel dress I found secondhand. I usually change into that or a t-shirt and my leggings as soon as I get home, because I hate the idea of dirty street clothes on the furniture- I feel like I must have had a trauma or something in childhood to make me this way. The swimsuit is American Apparel also, and it's perfect- it doesn't move when I jump into wadis or get caught in a wave or anything. I try to handwash everything with castile soap after each wear and hang to dry. It takes a lot of water and resources and energy to manufacture just one pair of underwear, so I want to take care of my things as long as I can. Right now my collection consists of three bras that I rotate (I never like to wear the same bra two days in a row), seven bottoms, and seven pairs of socks. I'm just storing them folded, with each cup inside the other, in the boxes they came in for now.
Above: American Apparel swimsuit, secondhand, similar top and bikini bottoms at Reformation. Stella McCartney Isabel floating bra, panty, thong, and suspender. Stella McCartney Clara Whispering set. Agent Provocateur Cendrillon set. Swedish Stockings, Pact socks, and Pact leggings.