Lingerie In a World Without Men
What is sexy, attractive, alluring? Each of these words means a thousand different things. A woman’s hair was her crowning glory in Biblical times. Ankles were hot topics in Victorian England. Nowadays there’s side boob and under-boob and butt cheeks. There are no bras for the feminists and push-up bras for the first dates. Underneath the years, the decades, the millennia of mixed messages and heated debates, a new landscape is unfolding. Forget the computer-enhanced, one-in-a-million model bodies; forget the bunny ears and smutty mags; forget all the images and ads and arguments surrounding sex appeal and think about this: In a world without men, what kind of lingerie would women want to wear? What would they wear for themselves?
If it were even possible – what kind of undergarments would inspire strength, empowerment? There’s a new wave of garment companies focusing on lingerie solely for the women who wear it, not the men who may or may not see it. The pieces provoke fearlessness and self-confidence. The styles and the fits are bold, almost with a bondage-type feel. There are a lot of well-placed lines in the form of straps that are styled after bondage-wear but are actually comfortable enough for everyday undergarments – and none of them are underwire. How’s that for keeping women in mind? That’s kind. I would like to extend a personal thank you to whoever is spearheading the no-more-underwire movement.
The social media presence of many of these companies is filled with women-motivating captions and memes. Minimale Animale, an LA-based line, puts up Instagram posts with phrases like “She Who Dares Wins.” Laguna Beach brand, Noe Undergarments, puts their own spin on another designer’s quote, “It’s not the undergarments; it’s the women in the undergarments.” With slogans like “For women who wear lingerie as a love letter to themselves” from New Zealand-based Lonely Hearts Lingerie and For Love and Lemons’ gender-neutral slogan, “Clothing and lingerie for the cool kids,” the pieces are more masculine, much more everyday-wearable and completely women-centered. They are a far cry from the demure, bunny-ear-wearing, cocktail-serving, barely-able-to-breathe bustier of the past.
It seems possible that these shifts in thinking are not being sold to us from these small corporations, which are more like boutique style, individual-owned, even handmade, operations. Instead, it’s not unlikely that the layers of drama surrounding sexiness have created a new mindset in women. Personally, I think its too confusing to discern whether you agree with the feminists who might argue you should wear no bras and be free of the constraint, or someone more old-fashioned who might tell you to keep your man happy by putting on the shiny, sweaty polyester lingerie with poufs and sparkles and, if he’s lucky, jewel-encrusted lettering. It’s confusing and also I don’t care. I don’t care if Susan B. Anthony is rolling over in her grave when I pay big bucks for a slinky new bralette. I don’t care if Betty Crocker would have wanted me to cook naked with only an apron on every night to keep my husband happy. (I’m not doing that. Ouch. Hot oil). I don’t care. I don’t need to “figure out” what sexy means to me or doesn’t mean to me or should mean to be. It’s innate in each woman, in some shape or form, and it’s unique to each woman. There’s no square peg in a round hole because there is no correct shape or form. There is no right answer. There’s no reason to hide behind dogma or indignation or pressure from society, from either end of the spectrum, the activists or the misogynists. There’s nothing like that. There’s just woman. “Sexiness” is merely an embodiment of attributes as diverse as the number of women there are in the world. And I think these small lingerie lines are grasping that concept.
Online and in stores, this new wave of wear what you want to when you want to because you want to lingerie is gaining momentum and becoming more mainstream. Mainstream typically means support from the masses, which could mean that possibly, just possibly, we are done with plastic-ribbed frills and uncomfortable bodices, and we’re replacing those with more wearable, better-quality, thoughtful lingerie for a real woman who doesn’t care if wanting to feel sexy underneath her work suit is okay or not. She just does.