As promised, I have finally gotten around to some fashion questions. Today seemed like a good day to actually dive in and start. My friend Rita thinks that I should call it "Lingerie Corner" because I've got so many questions plus rants and raves from women about the fashion underneath the fashion.
Hopefully I'll get around to all kinds of fashion questions, but since this seemed to be the most controversial and demanding area; women literally enraged, not to mention frustrated, overwhelmed and depressed over lingerie, especially bra considerations, I thought I'd start here:
Hey Mary Jo,
Can we talk about lingerie? What is it that boys like best now? Is it glittery shiny stripper gear or boy shorts and a tank? Garter belts are really passe aren't they? Can you start a spin-off column about lingerie? This is a really important subject you know.
mj: I do know this is a crazy important subject! And while I would never claim to know what goes on in the mind of the opposite sex when it comes to lingerie, I can share some interesting insights as I put myself through NYU grad school working in not one, but two lingerie stores in NYC. The first lingerie store I worked in sold affordable to pricey lingerie; they catered to everyone from celebs and anxious boyfriends to ladies of the night. I was twenty-two and pretty naive, so it took me awhile to figure out that the petite salesgirl I worked with was actually a guy. But talk about a grad-school education in lingerie...I learned tons about fit and quality--what separates cheap lingerie from luxe, and I got an unquantifiable education in the "mentality" of what makes women feel good.
To answer your question, if stripper gear makes you feel great, then by all means wear it; keep in mind, it's not always about what you wear but the overall feel.
I learned some really great life lessons at the second lingerie place I worked at, an elite little shop in Soho that sold Victorian reproductions updated in white and black tee-shirt material with cotton lace embellishments. Crammed in the nooks and crannies of this tiny shop were lovely antiques; horn frames, silver flasks, photos of turn-of-the-century strippers (seems to be a theme), imported perfumes, soaps, and shaving creams in wonderful wrappings and bottles...From my teensy perch behind an antique podium, I sold these baggy but fetching ensembles to more rock icons and celebs than I have ever met in the ten years that I've lived in Los Angeles. The designer kept the most beautiful windows that I've ever seen outside of Europe and filled the place daily with fresh exotic flowers. Anthony Quinn once bought a silver lighter from me and a certain CEO would drag her BF in to do the wild thing in the 2x3' dressing room. Men would regularly stop in to give a rose to whatever salesgirl happened to be working. It was a romantic, enchanting place and I've never forgotten the incredible world of sensuality that she created. The point is, watching how she took semi-frumpy yet oddly alluring garments that were not all that figure-flattering and created a frenzy of intense desire from men as well as women--it sort of gives another dimension to the reason that we bother about lingerie in the first place.
Practically speaking, I think lingerie is a lot less trendy than Victoria's Secret would have you believe. In my mind, if there's a trend in lingerie, it's a move to easy, slightly unassuming light cottons that have a retro-feel, like the Odd Molly boxer shorts ensemble (above) which is updated with a modern and flattering cut for a woman's bum.
I also really love the new vintage-inspired Mimi Holliday collection by Damaris Turl, (see above photo and very top photo) the designer who reinvented the knicker with her bow back creations. Turl used soft peach silk chiffon, gold lace and Swarovski crystals for an antique feel but with 21st century fabrics, fastenings and cup shapes and sizes (up to a GG cup!) to ensure the perfect fit.
The good news is that lingerie can have that other-worldly fetching allure that I've been talking about and make you look fabulous. With all the new innovations in feather-light fabrics and ways to cut tops and bottoms to enhance the figure, lingerie is just improving with time. And if you are one of the women who wrote in about not being able to find cute bras for large chests, I have not forgotten you!
Emily wrote me:
Here is my big question: Being a thin woman with naturally large breasts, 34DD+, I find it extremely difficult to find bras that fit and are still sexy. Victoria's Secret run much to small and Frederick's big sizes are made for those who need tons of support. I would love to find out where to buy, at a reasonable price, bras that are almost demi, not FULL COVERAGE, with normal sized straps and that do not look like something my Grandma would wear. Where do people like Pam Anderson shop?
And from Paula:
Why don't they make pretty bras in larger sizes???? It drives me nuts! There even seems to be an aversion to pretty colors, as though having a large chest scares color or something. The boob thing came up because 1) I have them and 2) I was shopping at VS recently and like ALL of the bras were black, beige, tan, eggshell and white AND they were plain as hell. And you know, sometimes you just want to be a sexy b** and beige just doesn't cut it. (on this VS trip I did score a brown and a burgundy, but still, the cutesy sexy mama bras just don't come in my size--36DD). I suspect it's an engineering issue since there are plenty of woman, especially in LA, with knockers.
mj: I don't know where Pamela Anderson shops, but I do know what you mean: where to get cute bras that don't look like granny-wear? I came across a brand called Freya, and while I can't vouch for the quality because I haven't seen them in person, Freya specializes in super cute colorful bras for DD+ sizes:
I should also mention that La Perla, while more expensive, is one of the creme de la creme brands of lingerie and they make a sheer underwire bra perfect for DD+ sizes in a rainbow of colors.
Unfortunately with lingerie, you really do get what you pay for. Large chested women probably do pay more because the extra sewing time to add support to the bra adds cost to it as well, not to mention that nowhere is supply and demand more visible than in fashion. It's hard to find a great DD+ bra and companies that specialize in them know that! That said, I also know women who would rather splurge on great lingerie than the expensive hair cut because in the end, I guess it's all about the bottom line, so to speak.
Before I sign off, I thought I'd leave you with some tips on how to get the right fit as 80% of all women are wearing the wrong size bra:
Click on herroom.com for one of the best guides.
Oprah's bra intervention
007's bra fitting guide
Thanks everyone for all the great questions. If you have a fashion question, I'd love to hear about it. Please send it to email@example.com