Panties and Bras

Dear Millicent,
This is what I meant to hijack my last post with, but then I got all involved with the ideas at hand. I am just back from trying to buy lingerie. The goal was to find something that would remove the aura of “business time” that has wafted into my bedroom lately. First off, I should say that I have always liked the idea of lingerie. As a kid I thought being grown up meant finally getting to wear shiny fabric to bed (I’m thinking this mostly came from Who’s the Boss type shows, where, when awakened in the middle of the night, ladies were always swathed in satin robes). I was immensely jealous of a friend is sixth grade who’s grandmother bought her a fuchsia satin shorts set and a pink chiffony nightgown because she believed that “girls sleep more confidently in lace and satin.”
Of course now, this phrase strikes me with horror, cold cold horror. But at the time, I desperately wanted my mom to believe the same thing, and equip me with all the frilliness that a girl would need in the world (and to do so without me asking, therefore removing any hint of my own awareness of the sexuality involved in such clothes). My mom, I think to her merit, never presented me with a big toolbox of femininity. We never had the big rituals of ladyland (no sex talk (which should have showed up, but it all worked out), no leg-shaving lessons, no planned trips to the makeup counter). This left me in a lurch of not wanting to care about such things, and caring about them desperately (and then attempting them independently, with wobbly results).
I bring up this history to remove the idea that the lingerie is for purposes other than my own. I dig it. It reminds me of French aristocrats and seems like one of the few excuses the middle class has to wear fancy dress. BUT, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.  Today’s excursion was to Nordstrom Rack, mostly because I am poor, and they have luxury brands at super-discounts. I got caught in a variety problems, making me realize that lingerie demands navigation.

  1. There was a lot of Betsey Johnson on sale.  I was delighted.  The problem?  The majority of Betsey is about mixing sex with kitsch, and the particular kitsch on sale was 50’s housewife kitsch.  This did not look sexy on me.  I think if I had tattoos, black hair and deep red lipstick, it would look bad-ass.  On me, it looked like I had just baked a cake and was now ready to present myself for sex.  I do not like anything that makes me feel as if I am now presenting myself for sex.
  2. The same thing happens with the super cheap stuff, usually the super obvious (the bright red lace, a print of kiss shapes on the fabric, or even the words “hot!” and “sexy.” Sometimes lipstick tubes work their way into the fabric motif.  I don’t get it).  Anywhoo, it doesn’t look “hell yeah” on me.  It looks kind of sad, like I am now ready to try to be like the lady in the movies, or like I have no personal definition of the word sexy but hope this is my partner’s version of it.  Not good.  I also tend to look like a shrimp when I wear pink.
  3. See-through is a no go for me.  I think some transparent tops are okay–the breast is a glorious element of the female figure, but a see through bottom is usually a deal-breaker.  I feel overly exposed in them.  Even if I’m wearing a garter belt and pasties, I need to feel like I can walk through the house without the worry that my neighbors can see my hoo-haa.  In short, I think I need to be able to wear whatever the sexy thing is after the sex, thus making me feel more genuinely sexy (and not all cosseted up for a brief moment).  I like things where I can pretend that I dress this way all the time.
  4. I don’t want to look like Emily Gilmore or Lucille Bluthe.  Older rich women buy a lot of pajama sets (I admire them for this), but this means that a lot of the inventory is aimed at them (blockish satin tank tops, flower appliques, purple and burgundy color schemes).  It’s hard to avoid.
  5. I like hot pink.  I like zebra print.  I like cheetah print.  I feel wrong when buying lingerie with these things because I start thinking about exoticification of cultures and landscapes.  Then I think about the 50’s, and I like it again.  Then I think about the connection between animal print and animal behavior, and that the lingerie wants to be a kind of permission or suggestion to be more “wild.”  This seems stupid.  But then I think of the kitsch factor, and I like it again.  Tough call.
  6. Most of the thongs that come with the sexy night things are stupidly little, and would honestly showcase my lack of grooming more than my you- know-what.

So, what is my dream piece of lingerie?  Something that is pretty in the details (lovely buttons, folds, pleats).  Something that is sumptuous, and well cut. It can be fun, or it can be elegant (if it can be both, then, well done on it!), and it can even be ridiculous as long as it lets me be confident (something along the lines of a trapeze costume comes to mind here).  And, it has a matching robe that one actually wears (I think I am pushing the dream box with this addition, but what are wishes for?).   Ah yes, and it is 75% off, because after all, it is a sheer extra, nothing that can actually ask for space in a budget.

What about you? Are you pro or against lingerie? I find that I like it, but am not very good at it.  I am going to give myself the permission, and mission, to get better at it.

As a fitting epilogue, I did buy one thing that shows my wobble between the shiny and the plain. After trying on all kinds of things, I bought a pair of black boyshorts by Wacoal for $6.  I love ’em.



(Millicent’s response, “Negligees, Nighties and Naughties, Oh My!” is here.)

2 Responses to Panties and Bras

  1. Millicent says:

    Three cheers for the Wacoal boy-shorts!

    Hip, Hip, Hoo-Ray!

    (Sorry. That was terrible.)

  2. Pingback: Negligees, Nighties and Naughties, Oh My! « Millicent and Carla Fran

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