so fancy: the underwear edition

On June 9, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

There is a wonderful uselessness to pretty underthings that sometimes appeals to me. An unnecessary-ness. A superfluous fanciness. To make matters more conspicuously impractical, they are often uncomfortable, too, as one always seems to learn the hard way. Then, too, he fancier they are, the closer their kinship to the realm of panties in my mind; that comical, ultra-feminine diminutive. Hard to say it with a straight face, even, and yet, once in a while, so pretty. So satisfying to secretly (or not so secretly) be wearing.

calvin klein satin gauze underwear lingerie

I usually wear black, white, or tan cotton underwear. I am no devotee of “fancy” underthings…but I can appreciate them now and then. Picked up this gauze and satin number from Calvin Klein on a whim one day. Pink, too.

One feels rather badass in such underwear. With or without pants. Perhaps because—at least when they are novel, strange—in your physical experience of them you are more conscious of your body – cannot forget about your body, as it is otherwise so easy to do. Perpetual awareness of the body affects movement and attitude, for me almost always in a positive way.* This really goes for any physical novelty, high-heels being another good example (if you don’t wear them all the time), or just any piece of apparel in which you feel different, like something new, like you have a new shape, or a new texture (a new haircut has a similar effect, I think).

*If I am self-conscious about some part of my body on a given day I perhaps hope to forget about it, admittedly. I am rarely self-conscious about anything but acne, though, and as I get older I am less self-conscious and more just…cranky. How I hate acne.

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Channeling Scarlett

If you haven’t ventured into the land of unnecessarily pretty underwear, I urge you to consider a trip. Novelty is powerful in the game of style.

x

silk charmeuse & lace

On February 8, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

Speaking of lingerie, here’s a recent acquisition I am loving. A silk charmeuse chemise from Sapphire Bliss, a brand with a small collection of intimates, quite reasonably priced (especially when they have a sale to close out the discontinued styles, like this one) and with beautiful fabrics. Around the same time I purchased another chemise from another brand, more expensive and dramatically less nice, a cheap rayon blend that was basically a mass of static cling. Returned that, kept this.

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I love a chemise, whether worn as a night shirt, a slip, or (especially) as a luxe camisole. I look for light, expensive feeling fabrics and good quality lace. Cheap lace is not hard to spot, for one it’s not very expensive, for another it’s often bulky, thick (not delicate) and bland, maybe even familiar because you’ve seen it before in some other inexpensive application. Sometimes tacky (the color, for example, or the scale of the pattern), and sometimes poorly constructed. Good lace is not hard to spot, either. Usually it’s on good fabric, is one tip-off, and vice versa.

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Silk charmeuse is a nice variation on silk, charmeuse being a thin satin weave – threads woven such that one side of the fabric is glossy and one dull. You can also find poly charmeuse but it doesn’t breath as well as silk, just as you would suspect. It can be quite nice, though, too, and hardy. I also like the silk camisoles from J Crew, as a plain option.

A sufficiently elegant chemise can easily do double duty as a chic tank top, and pairs beautifully with a blazer. Such a versatile piece. Slightly longer and you’ve got a dress, a look that was trendy last fall (and still fair game, I think).

A visible piece of lingerie, tastefully done, can add an intimate, vulnerable touch to an outfit. These are fabrics you want to touch, that look, even at a distance, wonderfully soft and smooth. I like such elements, that draw people in, that make the clothing an extension of or bridge to the skin rather than a simple shell or covering.

 

under it all

On January 30, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

I’ve been meaning to talk more about lingerie, which I enjoy and have just as many opinions about as any other style category. Really I think I’ve only done this post, on bras I like for small breasts, which is my sort. Here, finally, is a beginning, though an atypical one. Almost all of my bras are black or beige but in this instance I made an exception.

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My neutral preference is partly practical, bright colors often don’t work under tops, obtrusive and not so versatile, and partly personal…I just find it more to my taste, more sophisticated, more clean and simple to have a limited palette when it comes to underthings. Easy for it to match, as a bonus, which I do find appealing (though I’m not militant about it, as you see here), regardless of whether or not there is an audience.

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L’Agent Provocateur, Vanessa bra

With more expensive brands (which can be very worthwhile when it comes to lingerie), though, I’m often looking at styles from previous seasons, and bright colors are more likely to be on sale and in stock in my size(s), so this was one of those playful purchases. L’Agent Provocateur is usually too elaborate for me—too “sexy”—but now and then they have something simple.* I am not really interested in being sexy in that way, I find, or, more accurately I don’t think it is that sexy, and I’m wearing it for myself, after all.

Sexy is a silly word, often, and not one in the forefront of my mind (or even seriously in my vocabulary, my personal vocabulary of words that are useful for me), though I do have other concepts in the forefront, I would say, that could coincidentally translate to it. A slightly undone elegance, a natural freshness, a careless insouciance…these things I might strive to achieve.

*If this bra didn’t have the tiny ribbons on it—which I really don’t get at all, this need for tiny ribbons on bras and underwear—it would be just right. I plan to take them off.

IMG_8275In this case I just got the bra in black as well. When lingerie works (fits), I tend to take advantage. My underwear is black, white, or beige, and typically briefs, though sometimes boyshorts, and typically cotton. You are dying to know this, no?** These are Victoria’s Secret (not bad for basics, if you skip over the logo-heavy/tacky stuff, I’ve featured a bunch of their swimwear), though I’m really liking the brand Commando at the moment.

**Let’s talk about bodies later, too. For now: this is my current body. Some of it, anyway. Bodies cannot be too much of a surprise, can they? Clothes only conceal so much.

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I have functional T-shirt bras as well but a little lace, a little silk here and there…these can be pleasant indeed.

Once you’ve got lace and silk, you may as well add pearls. This beautiful peacock freshwater tin cup necklace is from the Etsy shop LiliasTreasures (which I’ve mentioned before, here, here, and here), currently sold out but her work is lovely.

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The earrings are stunning rose-toned gold metallic ripple pearls from the UK shop Pearlescence, also wonderful, with excellent customer service.

x

bohemian chic: the flat chest

On January 30, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

There is only so much padded enhancement can do with a 34A chest. They are just…small. I don’t envy the more generously endowed, however. Quite the opposite. I think my modest bust suits the athletic silhouette I favor and, rather than seek to make my chest look as large as possible (though that can be fun), I often like to give a more straightforward representation.

Here are some soft, unpadded lingerie pieces I think do this well, and create that lithe, nipple-friendly look that is to me so French. I’m thinking Vanessa Paradis in La fille sur la pont; that tight sweater and what looks like no bra at all. There is perhaps something slightly risqué in failing to hide that you have nipples (surprise!) but I like this element of it as well, and find the effect youthful and natural, especially in the contexts of certain types of shirts/outfits. There is something alluring in the more soft, yielding appearance unpadded lingerie provides. And: comfortable. In the case of the American Apparel pieces below I often like to have them showing under loose, open, or transparent layers; effectively treating them as I would a bathing suit top.

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American Apparel spandex jersey cross-back bra, Myla London Delena bra (asos), Princess Tam Tam Night Bird bra (asos), Mimi Holiday éclair lace bra (link), Calvin Klein micro lace triangle bra (asos), American Apparel ruched front tube bra (bandeau), American Apparel baby rib bikini bra. [The American Apparel options are nearly always in the sale section, if not actually always.]

And, of course, there is the option of nothing…though I tend to think I am not quite flat enough to pull this off. Alas. Maybe if the sweater were tight enough? Hm…

 

UPDATE, June 2013: Maybe I’ve been watching too many couture shows, but I’m now fine with not wearing any bra, if that is what the ensemble calls for, or lends itself to best. Progress. There is still a matter of propriety in our relatively conservative culture but has no bearing on my private fashion fantasies.