Underwear is the new outerwear. So says The New York Times, which recently ran a feature (“Now It’s Nobody’s Secret,” Oct. 25, 2007) on capitalizing on the trend to show bits and pieces of straps and bows on lingerie. This fact of modernity forces us to reconsider how our underwear fits into both our lives and our pants in the 21st century.

Ours is an age of designer denim, and the search for the perfect jean is a maniacal quest for many women to compensate for imperfect genes; our clothes not only cover and conceal, they also represent who we are to the world. But who says fashion and consumerism contribute to our society's superficiality, materialism and general moral depravity? The rise in trendy underwear has given us reason to believe that fashion has a resounding, refreshing and (almost) wholesome new message: it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

Not that there has to be a whole lot on the inside for it to be counted. Nundies (nundies.com), a new alternative to what many women traditionally refer to as “undies,” seems to think the panty – like the horse and buggy – is a thing of antiquity. A relic of the way we were. A throwback to the time before tight pants and the acronym VPL (visible panty line).

Nundies tries to answer the following question: What’s a girl to do with all the sheer, curve-hugging, no-prisoner-taking fabrics on the market? The thong-over-the-top-of-your-jeans look conveys that you cost less money than your pants do; the bunching granny panties make you look like you’ve given up hope of ever getting laid again.

Nundies solves this problem. Each “nundie” is a subtle, one-time use, tulip shaped adhesive that adheres to the inseam of your jeans. It’s neither commando nor coverage; it’s merely convenience.

I put them in my jeans and felt like I was going commando, but sans chafing. Being that I’ve put a lot of money into my lingerie collection, I’m not going to forsake thongs for one-time-use Nundies on a daily basis; however, I will consider them when I break out my tighter pants again. The rule of thumb might be: when commando looks better, Nundies feels better, and that’s why it's great.

Just as women shy away from their plethora of choices in traditional underwear, designers Andrew Christian (andrewchristian.com) and Ristefsky Macheda (ristefskymacheda.com) have come out with boxer briefs and briefs for men that are stylish and, well, fun. Samples I received and gave my boyfriend were outrageous, unlike any men’s underwear I’ve ever seen.

One set of Christian’s briefs featured a lock and keyhole on the front, and, on the reverse side, an inscription that read: “Keeper of Secrets/Guardian of Desire.” My boyfriend found them a little too flamboyant for the straight male shopper. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a male demographic in our population who wants fun, outrageous underwear. Macheda’s boxer briefs were super aesthetically pleasing, simple and bold (in solid red and black). My boyfriend complained that they rode up a bit, but said if they were a little longer, he’d consider wearing them.

All pairs were well-made, pleasant to touch and nice to look at. But here, again, it’s not what’s on the outside that counts.