The Power of Personal Lingerie

Can a lacy bra really make you stand taller?

01.04.17

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On my long list of irrational fears (sleeping naked, for example, because what if there’s a fire or a burglary; pigeons, just generally) is the worry that I might die of a freak accident while wearing terrible underwear.

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I wore this Else slip under a turtleneck dress on Christmas

It’s something my late grandmother put into my head years ago. She believed in beautiful underpinnings regardless of occasion. I’ve long stood by this — a strong proponent of superfluous lace — although, you know, life happens and so do rushed days, hangovers, laundromat mishaps and all sorts of excuses for why I might find myself standing in the gym locker room wearing very questionable underwear that belonged to an old friend who graciously loaned me a (clean) pair she found from 5th grade. The sad, should-be-a-dust-rag kind, with little faded flowers and a frayed below-the-belly-button rosette bow. It’s always a great time to run into someone you know.

For 100 different reasons, I have been feeling like a human tornado lately. I hate that feeling. It’s one that spirals, bounces, shatters and combusts, like dropping a glass bottle of soda from the top landing of a sixth floor walk-up. Leaves a nice mess at the bottom.

I wore this mismatched Lonely Lingerie set to run errands

A few weeks ago, at my friend’s birthday party, she pulled me into the bathroom with her because she had to show me something. As I turned around from locking the door, prepared to inspect a suspicious mole on her back, there she was: dress on the floor, in a full lingerie look, with a corset and garter straps holding up thigh-high stockings and everything. She was wearing it just because, just for fun. Just to feel high-level birthday sexy.

“How do you pee in that,” I asked.

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I wore this Else bodysuit under jeans and a sweatshirt.

She ignored the question.

“I have never felt more amazing.”

That night, my friend, who’s about 5’4″ in platform heels, was the tallest human in the room. She was more confident and brazen than I had ever seen her, cut from the same silk as the model-esque “fashionista” women in the opening Devil Wears Prada scene who slip into sexy skivvies at 8 in the morning like it’s nothing. Sorry for this sentence, but: It was inspiring.

New Year’s resolutions are awful in many respects, yet I’m one of those people who loves them. They help me clean up that broken bottle mess and regain my footing, recalibrate a bit. I love them so much that I start mine early.

After my friend flashed me, I decided to try out the power of “day lingerie.” I did to my underwear drawer what I’ve suggested before — I got rid of the trash-able and Christmas gifted myself a few things. (Then I emailed some PR companies and was like, “Hey, I’m doing this story, can you help a sister out.”) I wore lingerie under everything: sweatpants, baggy jeans, ski gear (DO NOT DO THAT), chubby knits and a turtleneck dress. I wore lingerie to run errands and drink wine on my friend’s couch and to parties. Naturally, day lingerie transitions well to night.

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Wore this La Perla set to a party, showed all my friends.

I felt really good. I stood up straighter. I felt elegant when I remembered what I had on underneath, like a shit-together grown up. Rather than flop about and whine about how much I hate my clothes, I had fun getting dressed — because basically, I already was. It wasn’t about wearing lingerie to impress or seduce someone or make my chest look a certain way. It was mental, internal. To say it made me feel powerful would be too dramatic, but I did feel more “chin-up” than usual. And WAY more in-control.

You can use tattered underwear to dust. It’s a great way to recycle. But it turns out that lingerie cleans up messy, metaphorical, bottom-of-the-sixth-floor-walk-up-puddles quite well. And it looks really good while doing it, too.

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Wore this Lonely Lingerie set skiing. Bad idea.

For lingerie-shopping inspiration, check out the Rules of Style according to Monica Vitti. Then ask Harling what it was like to live like the exact opposite of a Victoria’s Secret Angel.

Market work by Elizabeth Tamkin; photo by Horst P. Horst/Conde Nast via Getty Images.

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