Foundations - Came out of the Closet
As society changes so has the demand for freedom. Over time and rightly so, women continue to demand freedom and equality in many areas. From the right to vote to equal wages, women continue to strive for the right to be treated as equally-contributing members of society. I join the ranks and stand in support of appropriate equality as well. (I do not purport that men and women are the same. Instead the roles of each are different but equally important. But that is another post for another day). However, there is one area in particular, where women today have exercised too much freedom, in my opinion. This area has largely been overlooked, but has nonetheless affected our society and I believe, has actually set women back a few decades. I am referring to wearing, or more accurately, neglecting to wear foundational undergarments.
Although the women’s undergarments were once suffocating and extremely binding they gave the appearance of a woman who protected her virtue as fiercely as a lion protects her cubs. With continued advances in innovation and technology, today’s girdle and bra replace the corset. Bikini and thong underwear replace bloomers. Elastic replaces the wale bones and cords. Undergarments designed at the beginning of the 20th century is extremely effective in accomplishing the goal of giving every woman’s body type the appearance of a well-shaped woman without the pain of the more archaic binding materials. When Spanx, created by Sara Blakely, came on the scene, the term “shapewear” became a part of modern-day vernacular and the brand itself has become a household name.
Nevertheless, as society has become freer, we have seen a segment of the population that has dispensed of foundational undergarments altogether. It is very common to visit any school, college campus or a mall on a Saturday morning and see women of all ages proudly displaying colorful bras under white shirts. Or cellulite-laden thighs exposed under thin leggings. Buttocks that jiggle and rolls of exposed flesh clearly visible under thin blouses. And yes, the all too familiar “muffin top”, skin and flesh puffed out over a pair of jeans that are obviously too small.
Often a woman’s identity can be so closely related to her clothing choices that her name becomes synonymous with a specific style. For example, everyone understands, unless you were born in the nineties, that a “Jackie O” ensemble simply means that your outfit is classic, simple, elegant and timeless. Being noticed for and expressing ourselves through fashion is certainly not a new concept. And unfortunately today, most women have ditched the traditional foundation undergarments for a more free-spirited approach to living. So how have these wardrobe faux pas defined us as women over the years? What does a muffin top say about us? What message is sent by broadcasting the color of your neon bra? And as a result, how has style, fashion trends and ultimately the image of women been defined over recent years?
Despite what this era defines as “freedom”, the use of foundational undergarments has always been an enhancement to the female physique. Although the earlier methods of binding were quite uncomfortable, the intention at heart was to enhance all of our best attributes. Nipping and tucking in all the right places without surgery is an excellent idea. That idea improved when shapewear became comfortable and easy to wear. So, the lack of any foundational undergarments is visibly alarming, especially when a woman’s entire body continues to move or wobble long after she has stopped. It is understandable that after years of eating, yo-yo dieting and child-bearing, often women are left with bodies that don’t cooperate. But, has our society become so comfortable with being free that women have lost the desire to look polished, toned, classic and elegant? When did loose, freely moving flesh and the appearance of being somewhat sloppy become stylish?
So what do we do? How do we embrace the classic, demure refinement of old, with the modern-day approach of ease and convenience? Below, I offer some support (yes, intended) and suggestions on basic undergarments that I think will help bridge the gap. Now for some foundation in “Foundations”:
The Brazier: I know that one of the best feelings at the end of the day is to unhook those straps and let the girls out! But the bra is vital to a complete wardrobe, good posture and an overall polished appearance. The bra has 4 main purposes.
1. Support: The bra should properly support the weight of your breasts, taking some pressure off of your lower back and shoulders.
Fit Test - When you put on your bra, your posture should immediately improve. You should feel your shoulders pull back slightly, and your spine straighten.
2. Contouring: The cup of the bra should be padded and cover the entire breast, from the side to just above the nipple and right below where the flesh meets the breast bone. There should be no spillage or mounding outside of the cup. Your back and side flesh should also fit comfortably inside the bra backing.
Fit Test - When you put on your top, you shouldn’t see any lines, bumps or wrinkles. It should be smooth. Also, bend over at the hips, towards your toes. Your breast should stay safely inside the bra.
3. Lift: Gravity can get to the best of us. Your bra should comfortably lift your breasts up and out. Comfort is definitely key here. Your beasts shouldn’t feel squished up against your body.
Fit Test - Turn your back to a mirror and put your hands on your hips. You should NOT see too much of sides of your breasts.
4. Confidence: Yes, it is possible to be conservative and sexy at the same time. A good bra has the first 3 elements, with a little sass added for boost in confidence.
Fit Tests - You should immediately feel more confident and sexy when you put on your bra. Two words… Victoria’s Secret.
Other Bra Rules:
-Cleavage? Less is more.
-Get measured and fitted every 6 months, but especially when buying bras after any major changes to your body resulting from having a baby, breast feeding, weight gain/loss etc.
-Black and Nude colors are staples.
-For women with fair to light skin tones, wear a nude bra under white or light-colored tops.
-For women of brown or deeper hues, wear a black bra.
-Matching is important. Buy bra/underwear sets whenever possible.
The Camisole: Our good friend the “cami”. Not a top. Not an undergarment. But just the right thing! How and when should we use the cami?
1. As said above, when it comes to cleavage, less is more. For those deep V-Neck garments, a cami can easily bump it up from trashy to classy.
2. For those button-up tops that just won’t close over your chest anymore (for whatever reason… no one’s judging) throw a cami on under it and button up to just below the breast line. Instant cuteness!
3. For ladies with the more generous rear portions, a good long cami will provide extra coverage when wearing those jeans that don’t quite cover everything when you may have to hinge over to pick something up. No more straight-back, contortionist squats to avoid full exposure. (Note: A lady always bends at the knees anyway).
Other Camisole Rules:
-Just one obvious rule. The cami should match your outfit.
The Slip: You probably have memories of your grandmother’s always showing just below the hem of her dress. Or, when you were a little girl, your mom probably forced you to wear one to church every Sunday. But no, the slip has not gone the way of the dinosaurs. Here at least 2 reasons why we must resurrect the slip.
1. Cheaper, inadequate fabrics: As designers and manufacturers figure out how to cut costs these days, often times, quality is sacrificed. I’m sure you can agree that most things aren’t made the way they used to be. So, in terms of garments, it’s important to make sure you have adequate coverage. The slip helps to avoid any embarrassing see-through, peek-a-boo wardrobe malfunctions.
2. A slip would disguise any imperfections such as: cellulite, rolls of fat, scars, tattoos, etc providing a smooth and taught silhouette.
Other Slip Rules
-Whole slips for fall/winter dresses. Half slips for skirts.
-The slip should fit .5 inch - 1 inch above the hem of your dress/skirt
-The black/nude rule applies here as well (see bra rules)
The Body Slimmer: (AKA The Girdle) Let’s face it, as a society, we are just bigger than we used to be. As we address our weight issues, let’s not overlook the tools that will help us maintain our appearance, whilst on the way to Fit Town, USA. Enter the Body Slimmer! Thank The Lord for women like Sara Blakely and the Spanx revolution! These trusty undergarments serve the following purposes:
1. Instant Slimming: The proper body slimmer should make you appear at least one dress size smaller than you actually are. You should look and feel a bit more svelte in your body slimmer than usual.
2. Smoothing: When worn under slinky, clingy fabrics, your body slimmer should provide a smoother base. This should allow the dress/garment to drape as the designer intended.
Other Body Slimmer Rules
-This one is more of a personal preference. Avoid half body slimmers. They tend to cut off at the mid-section, defeating the whole purpose of smoothing.
-Before you buy, check for easy access. There’s nothing worse than having to urgently “powder your nose” and when you finally reach the restroom stall, you’re faced with a “Rubix Cube” of an undergarment that you must undo… now!
-Again, the black/nude rule applies here as well (see bra rules)
Underwear: Despite that popular song from the late 90’s we actually DON’T want to see that thong! Nor do we wish to see that panty line. Here are some guidelines that will help:
1. Right Cut: From bikini to thong, the right cut is important.
- Brief – good coverage and appropriate in most situations.
- High Waste – better for those of us with a bit (or more) of a pooch. Helps to smooth the fold just above your pelvic bones.
- Bikini – less coverage and better for thinner, smoother physiques.
- Boy – cute, but better for a casual nighttime ensemble or for teen girls
- Thongs – little coverage, better for slinky, tight fitting or clingy garments. Lace is fine, but avoid too much flare that will show through clothing.
2. Lining: as alluded to earlier, very important.
- When wearing slinky, tight fitting or clingy garments, thongs are best.
- If you are not comfortable in a thong, find seamless, non-slip panties.
Other Underwear Rules:
-Breath-ability is important. Your underwear should never be too tight or made of a fabric that will not allow your special area to breath. Consult your OBGYN for further detail here.
-The same color rules as above apply here as well. In addition, keep in mind that too much dye could be detrimental and aggravating to that area.
-A good rule of thumb for underwear; if you cannot buy expensive, buy simple!
So armed with these simple guidelines, any woman be on her way to a complete wardrobe transformation. Pull out those good quality pieces that you once thought were a size too small. Don’t be afraid of that slinky wrap dress or deep V-neck top. As women today become more educated, capable and successful, the proper foundational undergarments will help us on our way to freeing the woman of style, sophistication and class that you know you are!
With Prayers & Love,
First Lady Lynda