Tag Archives: undergarments

Less Strapless

Part of my Sunday ritual is to sit at the breakfast table and read our local paper.  This, before I start in on my all day ritual reading of the New York Times.  But for a quick perusal through our community news I generally start with the most important section, the wedding announcements, and I’m invariably astounded by the bridal gown choices.  I don’t mean to say that on that all important day every woman shouldn’t have her dream dress, her idea of glamour and grace.  But really, isn’t anyone advising here?  I KNOW that strapless is very popular these days, but this is not a look that everyone can wear.  Seriously.  While all things fifties and sixties have become enormously popular, the population that wore such outfits looked quite different than the betrothed of today.  And don’t even get me started on the brides over fifty.  Ladies, that strapless ship has sailed.

First off, while women back in the day of those Mad Men were often curvier, there was not the, shall we say, prevalence of zaftig-ness that we are seeing now.  Strapless is NOT for everyone.  You know what I’m talking about.  I’ve seen more spillage on the social page than from the Exxon Valdez.  And secondly, back then women wore undergarments, a word currently in such disuse as to be practically Shakespearean.  The strap is your friend.  Embraceth the strap.

Now I’m not talking about those skinny loops that are hanging on the inside of your dress’s armpits.  Those are not straps.  I say this because I have actually seen someone who is usually very well dressed, wear these over her shoulders.  Those silly strings that look like very skinny ribbons are for hanging up your frock.  But you are going to cut them off before the first wearing because, M’Lord knows, you do not want one of them poking out the minute you start the Hokey Pokey.  And you won’t need them anyway because after you wear your dress and have it dry cleaned, you’re going to store it in a box (if it’s a wedding gown) or hang it on a skirt hanger that has those padded clips so that the bodice keeps its shape and doesn’t look like a Shar Pei the next time you put it on.  Get what I mean?

But I digress.  As I said, every bride wants the dress of her dreams and of course she, or he for that matter, should have it.  It’s worth considering though, that if you are publishing a wedding photo in the paper, chances are it will only be from the waist up and you want to look like you’re wearing more than just skin.  Face it, not everyone has the upper body for strapless and this is not tragic.  There are so many beautiful looks, sleeved and sleeveless, that will flatter and allure, not to mention stay up without the benefit of double-sided tape.

Look at Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge.  She channeled Grace Kelly in her beautifully retro-ish, long-sleeved wedding dress.  And if anyone has the stems for strapless, she certainly does.  I’ve no doubt that besides style, comfort figured into her decision.  A wedding can be a LONG event, even without a coach ride and balcony waving from Buckingham Palace.  The last thing any princess needs on her special day is to be worrying about her dress gravitating south.  And really, it’s so unattractive to be hoisting and adjusting every five minutes.  Wouldn’t you rather be dancing?  Or watching the jousting match?

Three-quarter sleeves are a nice choice that flatter most shapes and look elegant.  That said, no matter what the sleeve or lack thereof, the proper undergarment (forsooth) is ESSENTIAL.  A long line backless bra will make everything hang and look better and this goes for any black-tie-attire gown, cocktail dress, what have you.  First off, it creates a seamless line from bosom to waist without any nasty bra-straps or fastening visible across the back and secondly, it preserves the shape and integrity of the bodice fabric, just the way a slip does with your skirt (See “Going Undercover”).  And these bras are not that difficult to find.  The best and cheapest (!) is made by “Carnival” and at $38 it’s a bargain.  It comes in Ivory, White, Nude and Black and it’ll last forever if you wash it in a lingerie bag on the gentle cycle and hang it to dry.  I have every color.  Of course you can pay more for such an item, but why?  And even with the proper bra, not everybody needs to go strapless.  What was that 16th century lady’s name?  Greensleeves?  The chick was on to something.







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Going Undercover

Can I just say I’ve been seeing far too many bra straps lately.  Lingerie straps would be the correct terminology but let’s face it, most of them are bra, B-R-A, bra straps.  Who needs to see that?  I was standing in line at the post office yesterday and a lovely young woman, I’d say in her twenties, came in to mail a package.  She had on a black tank top and black athletic shorts, but that’s a whole other blog post.  Sticking out on both sides of her shoulders were white bra straps.  Now I know this was a look several years ago for about a minute.  But really?  To me this is the easiest way to go from classy to trashy in two seconds.  Or two straps, if you will.  There are so many bra/camisole options out there; racer-back, T-back, convertible strap, Y-back, there is no reason why anyone’s straps need to show.  No one wants to see that, except maybe a Significant Other and that’s private.  There is a reason they call it UNDERwear.

This brings me to the matter of the slip.  Yes, as in “Your slip is showing.”  Or more to the point, “Are you wearing a slip?”  This little garment can make such a difference in one’s look and it seems to have gone out of use lately.  Why?  Skirts and dresses all hang better with a slip.  Even those that are lined benefit from a slip.  It keeps garments cleaner, less wrinkled and protected from mishaps (use your imagination here).  But here’s the key.  If you’re thinking of those horrible tricot nylon deals that ride up in about two seconds so that you have a bunch of hot synthetic around your middle the minute you start walking, you can forget that.  I’m talking about a slip made of a non-cling fabric.  A satin or taffeta-like garment that hangs free, because if it’s going to wind up in a bunch around your middle what’s the point, no?  Such a free-wheeling item can be found.  Farr West makes one and it’s available through Nordstrom’s on line.  Free shipping and free returns so you can hardly go wrong.  And you only need one in a nude shade which I believe they call “Mink.”  If you want to splurge you could get one in Black as well.  They’re not cheap but trust me, these things last a life time.  And you don’t have to wash it after every wearing.  It’s underwear, but not THAT far under.


Dress by Rachel Kurland of Foxglove, slip by Helena Binder

This is your mission, should you choose to accept it.  Go undercover.


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