UNDERCOVER STYLE – a brief peek at underwear

peepI took myself off to York recently to see the exhibition at their Castle Museum “ Shaping the Body – 400 years of fashion, food & life”. Not a huge exhibition but an interesting look at how body shape has changed over the past 40 decades … bum rolls, hour glass figures, punks of the 60s & perms of the 70s … a look at how our bodies are shaped and designed through the choices that we make and the consequences of our lifestyles from the people who push themselves to the limits to gain the look they desire with extra tight corsets, high heels and a poisonous dress or two.

I just loved to see that Queen Victoria was almost as round as she was high (even with corsets!) and that there were a pair of shoes soooooo big that two newborns could sleep in one each. Ideal for twins!

Best of all, the exhibition challenges the notion of the perfect body because we all know that the perfect body just doesn’t exist.

In 1876, Monet took time out from his painting to declare that: “ … the satin corset is perhaps the nude of our time.” Is today’s equivalent is a pair of Spanx.

Whatever, underwear falls into two categories;

1. The PROVOCATIVE -made to be seen
2. The PRACTICAL – made to be unseen

You will note here that I make no mention of old, baggy, gone grey garments.They are neither provocative or practical. If you have any of those – put them into the cloth/duster bag instantly!

The provocative is the exposed sort, spangled, lacy, satin and boned aka Dita van Teese who whittles her waist down to 16.5 by the wearing of such a confection. Rigby & Peller make such gorgeous garments as do Agent Provocateur. Both the Queen and Lady Gaga are clients.

The practical is an entirely different thing. Worn for modesty and to create a smooth, sleek silhouette instantly without long hours in the gym or a million press ups day. Bliss.

Let us return to the practical. The desired fashionable body shape of today is pretty well Victorian in its exaggeration of curves – there is shape wear to waist train, butt lift, knead, squeeze and transform. So that you too can have a JLo or a Kim K derriere or the bosom of Katie Price. You can even move your waist in an inch or two and look a little more like Dita van Teese.

An alternative is to bring your style know how to your under garments just as carefully as your outer clothing.

In brief … underwear can be as provocative or practical as you like and as expensive as your bank balance allows. You can buy designer tights for £600.00 + a pair if you so desire.

But whatever your preference it is undeniably an essential, and important, part of your wardrobe from a flash of slip peeking below a skirt to a bra that fits well and keeps those breasts just where they need to be as comfortably as possible.

Make no mistake – Neither Helen Mirren or Kate Middleton would look as good on the outside if their underwear hadn’t been chosen to perfection.

Great fitting underwear will make a dress look sublime, trousers look their best ….. so choose wisely and well and follow the Jenny B style principles as much for your undergarments as your over garments:

✓ SAY (provocative or practical)
✓ STYLE PERSONALITY (natural through to dramatic)
✓ SHAPE (curvy, straight, slightly curvy or fuller figure)
✓ SCALE (small, medium or large)
✓ SHADE ( do you want the colour to shine through what you wear on top of blend seamlessly)

There is absolutely no point in buying the size that you want to be. Skin will spill most unappealingly in every direction it can. This will make you feel lumpy, unattractive and, possibly, old. You will believe that you have seen better days and that there may well be no point at all in trying, even if you are only eighteen

The best policy is to wear a bra that fits and helps gravity to reassert itself as naturally as possible. It is a good idea to go for professional help on this but do choose someone who knows what they are doing rather than someone who thinks they know what they are doing. It is sometimes difficult to know the difference here. Those that lack knowledge are often those who are very good at sounding as if they know. Taking advice from them will leave you doubly deflated because you will believe that you are in such an unfixable style state that even having gone to see an expert you still cannot be sorted. When you need advice get it from someone who really knows. The best way to do this is to seek out those who come with recommendations from people you trust. These aren’t going necessarily to be friends or family.

I am sorry, I can’t resist this …. moving on from knockers to knickers.

Go up two sizes. They won’t fall down. Gone are the days when we depended on knicker elastic to keep modesty modest. Nowadays the fabrics to hand have lightened the load of the old style bloomer fabric and provided a stretch that encompasses more than just your waist. Use it to good advantage. A couple of sizes larger will mean no VPL ,waist or thigh lumps. You will look smooth and youthful.

As far as magic underwear/shape shifters go – there is no magic and if you shift too much it will need to somewhere else and spill most unalluringly. Yes, you may have given yourself the 20″ waist of Audrey Hepburn but this will be counteracted by mounds that would put a camel to shame. Use the contour garments to give you definition, to give your shape a youthfulness that it may not have when left to its own devices and, to make it most successful only buy what will work with your body shape and proportions.

For instance:

If you are a curvy body shape you will work better with a long line leg. If you have lycra cutting through your rounded bottom, however thin it is, you will slice a line. It will do it for the curvily body shaped but exceedingly thin Kate Moss and it will do it for you.

On the other hand, if you are a straight body shape, a la Sally Gunnell, lycra that ends at your waist will fight against the fact that you have no waist. Go for a shape that ends up closer to your bust.

There is so much choice out there that you will have to think before you choose. If you try on one, two, three or more that are not working for you don’t blame you. You just haven’t found the right one yet. When you do you will be enormously impressed with yourself for not giving in and you will have a body shape that will light up your clothes and do wonders for your posture. And … why not buy another one while you are at it. It’ll save on time and the disappointment of not being able to find another that fits so well in the future.

So …. to be or not to be sexy undies? Sexy undies …the stuff of legends, wry smiles and many a romp are only half of the undercover story.

Do, by all means keep a set or two of something frivolous & frilly, sparse & sparkly, luxurious & lacy, boldly coloured or softly coloured, wild and exciting, pretty and demure … maybe even with bits missing in places where they are not usually. You never know when Prince Charming or Cap’n Jack Sparrow is going to call.

But, in my book, the sexiest underwear is underwear that is comfortable to wear and makes you look from the underside – fabulous on the topside!

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