When I think about basic fashion rules, I like to refer to Kathleen Tessaro’s delightful 2003 novel, Elegance. According to the prologue Tessaro found a copy of the book, A Complete Guide for Every Woman Who Wants to Be Well and Properly Dressed on All Occasions, a 1964 tome of personal style by Genevieve Antoine Dariaux in a bookstore and incorporated it into her novel as a guide for her heroine who is recovering from a divorce.
In an exempt from Dariaux’s book she talks about lingerie thusly:
“Women are making a mistake in neglecting this potential added attraction tho their charms. In short: when you dress, think always that later on you will be undressing and in front of whom. After all, nothing betrays a woman more than her lingerie; it is infinitely more revealing than a thousand hours spent on a psychiatrist’s couch.
One final word: this is not an area in which you throw discretion to the wind. Do not confuse beautiful lingerie, the kind that supports well and remains fresh, with the cheap, vulgar stuff of men’s magazines. Fascinating? I’m certain. But elegant it is NOT.”
So now that the difference between vulgar and elegant has been defined, if you are planning to update your lingerie wardrobe as an exercise is mental fang shui or just to freshen up, you should have an idea of what a basic lingerie wardrobe might be.
According to helium.com
the basic lingerie wardrobe consists of the following:
White and black are the basic colors for woman’s bras but flesh colored is also a basic that is necessary to wear under blouses and shirts that are sheer. The type of bra will be determined by the breast size of the woman. At least one bra needs to be of a material that will provide the coverage necessary to wear under a tee shirt no matter what the temperature. A bra with extra support works well for large breasted women and a demi-cup or push up bra is the perfect basic for a smaller chested woman.
The basic bra wardrobe should start with at least four bras.
A tee shirt bra
A dress bra
A sports bra
An adjustable strap bra
Mary’s note: I personally prefer flesh colored bras to white and when looking for a dress bra, I look for something low cut as most of my dressier clothing shows a bit of décolletage. For summer I like less padded or lacy thin bras and more padded in colder weather. There are also those sticky pad thingys that hook in the front for garments that fail to work with any strapless or low back clothing items you have. I like to have a set of those in nude.
Panties are another staple of a basic underwear wardrobe. First be sure your panties fit correctly. Ill fitting panties will show through clothing and the look is not attractive. It doesn’t matter if you like thongs, bikinis, hipsters or full panties, if you see the panty line, it is wrong.
White and black are the basic panty colors. Flesh color is also a good choice since it is not visible through even the sheerest material. The basic panty wardrobe should include:
A pair of white and or black
A pair of flesh color
A pair of support panties
A pair of no line panties
With the new sheer and clinging fabrics, Spanx are a woman’s best friend. These are underwear but they go over your traditional underwear to keep everything together and to avoid the jiggle that any extra inches can provide. It isn’t just for heavier woman, every woman has some curves that can take away from that perfect sleek and polished look and Spanx provides a tiny bit of extra support.
A camisole is a light weight undergarment that is worn underneath a sheer blouse or shirt. The basic wardrobe will have at least one and the color will be determined by the blouse it is to be worn with.
Mary’s note: I prefer cotton camisoles and think three is a good basic number: one beige or brown depending on your skin tone, a black and a white.
A slip is the perfect undergarment to wear with a shirt or a dress especially if the skirt or dress is made of a sheer or clinging material. The basic colors are white, black and flesh colored. The basic slip wardrobe consists of:
A full slip
A half slip
Mary’s note: I have trashed all my half slips as I find them redundant and that they tend to add bulk at the middle of my body where the half slip waistband sits. I prefer the smoother look of a full slip.
Back to Mary: If you are already good with your basics I say go for some fun stuff. I am loving my new lingerie even if I am the only person who sees it.
What do you consider your most important lingerie item?
Part of looking and feeling good in your lingerie is having the proper fit. Bra fitting is especially important and makes a big difference in comfort and how you fit in your clothing. For a large percentage of my bra wearing life, I wore a 34B bra size. Little did I know that this was far from the best fit for me. I was in my 40’s before finding Ruth, a bra fitting expert at her cute little shop in Richmond,Va called Kiss and Make Up. Ruth told me that most women who come into her store are wearing the wrong bra size and that your size can change over the years so it is important to be fitted every other year or so unless you experience a major weight gain/loss or alter your exercise habits which might effect the size of your pectoral muscles.
She explained that when the band size is correct there is less lumping in the back and when the cup size is right there is a lack of “spillage”. Spillage is when flesh bulges out from the sides or over the front of the bra. I was amazed that my true size was 32C. I felt so much more comfortable and looked much better.
While I was in Ruth’s shop once a young woman with ample breasts came in saying that being fitted for the proper bra size was her last hope before breast reduction surgery. “Egads!” I thought. She was not more that 17 years old. My heart went out to her. But Ruth set her up with the right bra and the expression on this girl’s face was worth 1,000 words. She lit up. And with beaming smile exclaimed to her mother, “I can breath!” It was a really beautiful moment.
If you haven’t been fitted for a bra for a while, then that is something you can do to increase your personal comfort and boost your self-esteem. You may be pleasantly surprised, as I was, when I was fitted again recently, and find out there is more of you to show off in some hot new bras.
During my recent lingerie shopping binge (it has been a while since I bought new underthings) I have discovered what many women have know about for years, a little undergarment miracle called Spanx. Spanx and other brands of support wear work all kinds of magic on less than photoshopped perfect bodies. They lift things that need lifting, smooth out any undesirable lumps and generally suck stuff in so you don’t have to stand around at parties in your knit dress and hold your stomach in or keep your glutes squeezed in tight.
I purchased a fanny smother thing to wear under trousers and certain clingy skirts and two DKNY body smoothing slips -one in black and the other in a nude shade.
The wonderful sales associate at Nordstrom’s Pentagon City assured me that women of all ages and sizes wear these types of garments including movie stars and top fashion models. This information made me feel better about spending the money on these items.
Do you use support foundations and if so, do you like how they make you look?
I love this photo because these are real women’s bodies looking great in lingerie.
A friend of mine once shared some of her grandmother’s wisdom that each generation has it’s underwear. If that is true then underwear (as in panties) is getting bigger, meaning more tush coverage. As the whole panty line issue is being addressed with seamless laser cut underwear, thong cuts (sometimes referred to as butt floss) are loosing popularity while boy cuts (resting on the hips and cut so the bottom of the butt cheek is exposed) and not-your-granny’s-granny-panties (as in full tush coverage with waistlines from the hip as far up as the naval) are taking over.
Florals, bright colors and lace are super hot right now
and those pseudo granny panties are lacy see through numbers – think those black lacy panties Megan is wearing while cleaning the house in MAD MEN’s fourth season opener. This is good news for us women who are newly single and perhaps are painfully aware of the effects of a few decades of gravity working its magic on our bodies, are carrying a smidge of extra weight or have the type of skin around our bellies that reminds us of the joys of past pregnancy.
For more information on current lingerie trends click here for a link to a CBS news report titled Briefly Noted.
If you are interested in updating your lingerie wardrobe, what styles would you like to try or purchase?
Following last weeks little rejection I feel that it is important to continue some self esteem boosting. Since we covered (or uncovered) the mysteries of bikini waxing, today I am delving into the topic of undergarments. Perhaps I am far too tuned into the shallow world of fashion (it was my major in college after all) but I find that when I wear attractive, flattering underwear it creates the foundation (excuse the pun) for a great outfit. At the very least it makes me feel good – confident, pretty and sometimes, depending on the undergarments, sexy. It has been fun in recent weeks to peruse the lingerie departments of several stores and learn about the trends in cut, color and styles, knowledge that I shall share in upcoming blogs but in this introduction to this series, it is important to mention the magic of lingerie as well.
I forget where I read this but somewhere I read that if you wish to invite a relationship into your life you must set up the proper mental feng shui. New lingerie can definitely contribute. When my friend C. finalized her divorce instigated by her husband’s affair with another woman, several of her girlfriends threw her a party similar to a bridal shower. (to learn more about divorce parties click here) Many of the gifts were sexy lingerie intended as symbols of sexual confidence, assurance that her sex life would continue and as charms to attract or be prepared for a future mate. Elizabeth Gilbert describes lingerie shopping in Rome in her bestseller, EAT, PRAY, LOVE during a time of recovery from divorce and the break-up with a lover. She marvels at her extravagance and wonders why, during a time of self-imposed celibacy, she is buying sexy underthings. “For whom, Liz?”, she asks herself. The answer to that question comes later in the book when she finds love in Bali in the form of an older Brazilian man.
So, I want to thank the wonderful, knowledgeable sales team in the lingerie department at Nordstrom’s at Pentagon City who were very patient and tirelessly helped me find flattering, comfortable, beautiful new bras, panties to jumpstart my mental feng shui and prepare me for an as of yet unidentified romance with a fantastic man.