this thing's incredible

My $5 French-Cut Underwear Is Just as Good as My $40 Pair

Photo: Courtesy of the retailer

Throughout high school, I used to yank my threadbare Gap underwear up above my hips, imitating a glamorous old photo of my mom from the ’80s, posing in a high-cut swimsuit. Years later, I walked into the Only Hearts store on the Upper West Side and discovered they actually make underwear that would give me the same effect, no frontal wedgie required.

I also learned that the silhouette — cut high on the leg, distinguishing thigh from hip — is called “French cut.” Unlike the classic bikini, the French cut does not pinch at the hip, sag in the butt, or give you panty lines. And unlike a thong, it’s actually comfortable.

Unfortunately, Only Heart’s French-cut underwear is not cheap at $37 apiece. That didn’t stop me from buying a pair, but purging my underwear drawer of all of my lesser bikini cuts and replacing them with stacks of these was (needless to say) out of the question.

While searching for reasonably priced alternatives, a friend informed me that Jockey — a brand best known for it’s inexpensive (and often slightly pornographic) men’s briefs — not only makes French-cut underwear but also sells them by the six-pack. She’d found hers at Costco. Though I was skeptical that Jockey’s would compare to my impossibly soft, overwhelmingly flattering Only Hearts pair, at less than five bucks a pair, I had to try. They ended up being everything I was looking for: flattering, practical, and cheap. They’re full-coverage, so unlike my Only Hearts, I feel comfortable wearing them under slightly sheer dresses, and while they’re made of a thicker cotton (should panty lines be a concern), they soften up in a few washes.

These days, I have an entire collection of French-cut underwear: baby soft ones, starchier versions, some adorned with tiny bows, others with ruching. I have them in all colors, with all sorts of details and frills, but nothing beats the Jockey six-pack.

These are made of a thin, impossibly soft material that’s somehow both comfortable and structural. They’re just the right height, hitting below the waist at a spot that somehow gives the illusion (delusion?) of abs. Because of where they sit in the back, they also make my butt look amazing. If it weren’t for the price, these would be perfect.

Which brings me to the Jockey six-pack. These are as good as the Only Hearts, if not better. Slyly utilitarian, sexily minimalist, and so affordable.

I always feel especially French when I wear these. The little bow at the front is precious in a way that balances out the simplicity of the rest of the design.

I was bombarded by ads for Parade; I tried them and love them. (Right on, ad bots.) The brand is size inclusive, sustainable, and donates 1% of its revenue to Planned Parenthood. And while these are technically called “high-rise cheeky,” that’s just a fancy way of saying french cut.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.