I wasn't even thinking about a revolution in my underwear drawer when I came across a recent article in Verily Magazine. In "Why Beautiful Underwear Isn't Just For Marriage" Annamarie Miller writes:
The only people I ever overheard discussing underwear were the overly flirtatious girls I knew who bounced from one relationship to the next. I would see store advertisements—you know the ones—that showed hypersexualized models in just a bra and panties, and I thought that if I ever bought beautiful underwear, I would be buying into their culture of exploitation and degradation.
As I read, I found myself identifying with this girl who had grown up thinking that I should wait for my bridal shower to own "pretty things." The extent of my "fun undergarments" ran to a pair of Baymax-print undies bought at a random store in Indiana while getting twelve quarts of ice cream with a group of friends. Anything prettier, frillier, fancier, must not be for me. I don't know where this mentality came from. This fumbling past the "intimates" section at the department stores, seeking out the beige bras and plain cotton underwear. Maybe this fallacy was built by what Miller says: the only people I heard discussing what they wore under their clothes were those girls who didn't intend to keep their clothes on. But as I read this article in Verily Magazine, those misconceptions melted away. Miller goes on:
Attractive undergarments are a good, simple way to affirm one’s beauty and self-worth. No matter what a woman is wearing on the outside, attractive underwear is a physical, constant, feminine reminder of her beauty. Callan describes this importance in her book when she mentions a conversation with the owner of a lingerie store in Paris. The owner muses that “French girls wear a pretty bra. It’s not to be sexy. It’s to be pretty for themselves.”
To be pretty for myself. The reason I have avoided pretty undergarments my whole life is because I thought I had no reason to buy them. After all, no one would see them. But the thing is, I will see them. If I think I can't own beautiful underwear before marriage, the reason I'm dressing is based in a wrong philosophy. It's based in the philosophy that I am dressing for someone else's approval. That I'm dressing for a man. Not to enjoy my femininity. Not to feel lovely. Not because I love my body with all its flaws. Style has been over-sexualized for too long. I'm tired of clothes being labeled as "sexy." Of "hot" being the aim of the way we dress. In truth, I'm surprised that for as far as feminism has come, there is still this mental block over who we dress for. Your choice in fashion should be an expression of who you are. Of art. Of beauty. Of your personality. Yes, it will be seen by other people. Yes, you will encounter varying reactions based off what you wear. But the reason you wear what you wear should always, always be for yourself. If you lose sight of that, you no longer have personal style. You're nothing more than a mannequin, dressed for the consumer's benefit. I don't want to be consumed, I want to inspire. Style is a supremely personal thing. Coco Chanel once said,
"I don't do fashion, I AM fashion."
This is the keystone of personal style: making it about yourself. And in the hyper-sexualized culture most of us live in, this is so hard to keep sight of. In fact, I almost fell into the pit of dressing to please someone else when it came to choosing a dress for an upcoming occasion. I only veered off at the very last moment by realizing that if I purchased a dress to that person's specification, that dress would become to my mind "The So-And-So Dress." It's natural to want to impress a person whose good opinion you desire and personal dress is one method to accomplish that. But it will not be satisfying in the end. It is never satisfying to make others' opinions the reason you do anything. Trying to win affection or approval by being anything but yourself is unsustainable. In fashion as in everything, I want you to be unabashedly yourself. Dress for yourself. Choose your coat for yourself. Your hat. Your jeans. Your blouse. Your belt. Your underwear. The world needs more secret happiness. Start with a pretty bra. No one will see it but you, and it will be perfect.