Underwear Thesis: ARQ Review

My unbiased and unfiltered review of ARQ underwear including the high-rise undies and wide-strap bralette! tips and tricks from a textile designer and fabric expert to help you be a more informed consumer and better shopper. Full review including washability, inclusivity, fit, sustainability and ethical practices.

When I first started this project, I posted to Instagram asking for recommendations of underwear you love… and if there was one overwhelming response, it was ARQ! So many people said that ARQ is their holy grail, most favorite underwear of all time… and WELL worth the higher price tag. So, naturally I needed to order a few pairs and work on an ARQ review! After a few months of washing, wearing, and generally being the picky nerd that I am, I’m finally ready to share my review. Let’s dig in!

My unbiased and unfiltered review of ARQ underwear including the high-rise undies and wide-strap bralette! tips and tricks from a textile designer and fabric expert to help you be a more informed consumer and better shopper. Full review including washability, inclusivity, fit, sustainability and ethical practices.

My Totally Unfiltered Review of ARQ Underwear

If you’re new to my Underwear Thesis, I encourage you to read these posts before proceeding:

Styles Tried and Price

My unbiased and unfiltered review of ARQ underwear including the high-rise undies and wide-strap bralette! tips and tricks from a textile designer and fabric expert to help you be a more informed consumer and better shopper. Full review including washability, inclusivity, fit, sustainability and ethical practices.

Fabric Quality + Details

Grade: A

Oh man, these undies are like my favorite cotton tee… so soft, so comfortable, and the epitome of ‘casual cool girl’ sexy-chic. Seriously, when I wear them, I feel a little sultry — which is ironic given the full coverage of these panties! It’s like I’m channeling the modern babes who are confident enough to pose in underwear on Instagram… but in my own house as I prance around in panties? I know, I’m weird.

In terms of fabric, they are 92% organic cotton and 8% spandex. Also, the cotton is GOTS certified organic and dyed using BlueSign or GOTS certifications. When they first arrived, I worried that the fabric was too thick, but in reality it’s wonderful especially thanks to the bound edge. I have experienced absolutely zero bunching or chafing because the edges are sturdier and almost pillowy because they are made of the same fabric as the panty itself. Also, the gusset is stitched down on both ends.

I desperately wanted to give ARQ an A+ for fabric quality, but I do have one complaint: the stitching thread could be stretchier. This is probably TMI, but I found myself in a public restroom situation where I had to hover and while I was squatting, I heard a few threads snap because I had too wide of a stance for them to stretch. That being said, I have not experienced any of the seams coming loose or even any loose threads since this happened (even after repeated washings). So I’m probably just being really pedantic and overly picky (and someone with a wide squat stance).

My unbiased and unfiltered review of ARQ underwear including the high-rise undies and wide-strap bralette! tips and tricks from a textile designer and fabric expert to help you be a more informed consumer and better shopper. Full review including washability, inclusivity, fit, sustainability and ethical practices.

Manufacturing Quality

Grade: A+

These are sturdy panties, people. You can tell that they are made with love and with serious attention to details. According to the ARQ website, they partner exclusively with a family-owned US-based sewing factory. And my favorite part: they have expressed zero interest in moving production overseas to be more affordable. Instead, ARQ’s priority is to produce pieces as sustainably as possible.

Ethical Practices and Sustainability

Grade: A+

I mean, we’ve talked about this for basically the whole review… but ARQ has their sustainability practices down pat. I love how transparent they are on their website and social about this, too. The attention to sustainability even extends to their packaging. My ARQ underwear arrived in packaging that is entirely plastic-free and recycle-able.

Inclusivity

Grade: B+

ARQ does a great job of showing different types of bodies and skin tones on their website and social. I found it especially helpful when wondering how the fit would be on my own body! In terms of sizing, I wish they offered a more in-depth range. Right now, they offer XS, SM, MD, LG, XL, 1X, 2X, 3X and my definition of inclusive sizing is to go up to 5X. However, because they are a smaller company, I suspect that the limited sizing is due to pricing. The fact is that larger sizes require more fabric to manufacture and that can cut into profits or even an ability to manufacture other sizes. I’m not saying this is the case with ARQ, but it’s something I’m aware of and could be the case here.

My unbiased and unfiltered review of ARQ underwear including the high-rise undies and wide-strap bralette! tips and tricks from a textile designer and fabric expert to help you be a more informed consumer and better shopper. Full review including washability, inclusivity, fit, sustainability and ethical practices.

Washability

Grade: A

The image above shows my first part of ARQ underwear (the black pair) and a brand new pair so you can see how they wash. I’ll try to do this going forward for my reviews whenever possible!

ARQ recommends washing them in cold water and line drying, which is basically what I do. These are not going to be your crisp, unwrinkled underwear. Instead, they are almost like a living thing that evolves as you wash them more and more. The ARQ undies stay soft and loosen up a bit into a rumplier shape — again, just like my favorite tee. I always wash mine in a mesh bag because my biggest fear is that Sean will put them in the dryer! I don’t know what will happen if that transpires, but I don’t want to find out…

Fit & Comfort

Grade: A

I cannot even express to you how freaking COMFORTABLE my ARQ high-rise undies are… no bunching, no wedgies, no riding up, no sagging… just great fitting underwear that actually makes me feel confident. I feel so good when I wear them. Like, I literally just wear them around the house with a sweatshirt when we have a fire going in the wood stove.

As for sizing, I take a medium and they fit perfectly. For the bralette, I have both a Medium and Large… the large is more comfortable for lounging, but the medium is great for when I go into public.

My unbiased and unfiltered review of ARQ underwear including the high-rise undies and wide-strap bralette! tips and tricks from a textile designer and fabric expert to help you be a more informed consumer and better shopper. Full review including washability, inclusivity, fit, sustainability and ethical practices.

Overall thoughts

Grade: A

The biggest hang up I can forsee people having with buying ARQ underwear is the price. Yes, they are expensive compared to something you’d get at a big box retailer. But I think the price is 100% justified for a few reasons:

  • They feel like heirloom quality — these are not underwear you’ll wear for 6 months and throw away. They legitimately feel like they’ll last much longer, especially when cared for properly.
  • They are sustainably manufactured and benefit a small, US-based manufacturing facility.
  • The fabric is just SO good and vastly superior to pretty much any pair of underwear I’ve ever worn.

I know that $28 feels like a lot for one pair, especially if you’re on a budget. But I will challenge you to invest in just one or two pairs from ARQ instead of 6 poorly made pairs that you’ll have to replace again in a few months because they’ve fallen apart. They are also an investment in your personal comfort… and you deserve that so much, my friend.

I’m a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl… and this is the equivalent of that! Or actually it’s like the underwear version of my favorite cozy sweatpants. I don’t like to wear my ARQ underwear every day (the bralette, on the other hand, is a daily wear for me) because they feel weird if I have jeans on because they come up higher than the waist of my jeans. That feels a bit granny to me… but they are AMAZING with caftans, lounge clothes, and by themselves. The other day, I was texting with a friend about which underwear she should buy. I likened my ARQs to the perfect pair of sweatpants and another brand (review coming soon), as the perfect pair of yoga pants. You need both in order to have the best of both worlds…

Here’s another way to say I love my ARQ undies: I bought one pair to test out for this series… and then bought 4 more as soon as they released their new fall color story. I absolutely love them, believe that they are worth the investment, and highly encourage you to check them out!

I’m working on getting more underwear reviews live here on the blog, too. So far here’s what I’ve published:

What do you think of this ARQ review?? Leave a comment and let me know!

Photography by Jojotastic.