If lingerie shops’ inventory is any indication (and it is, of course), the slip is having a pretty bad moment that is only getting worse. But why? Practically speaking, there is little better for dealing with light-colored or clingy clothing. It can cure transparency issues, smooth over VPL and suspender belt outlines, and keep your stockings and your dress from sticking together unattractively. And of course, any extra layer is a welcome addition when it starts snowing!
Of course, slips aren’t just practical things; where would Cat on a Hot Tin Roof be without Elizabeth Taylor’s scorching little number? Would Jean Harlow have been so seductive if we didn’t all know what was hidden away under her gorgeous frocks? Slips are as glamorous as they are useful. I’ve been wearing them for as long as I can remember, although when other women see my slips they usually say something like, “I don’t even remember the last time I wore one of those.” When I ask for an explanation, no one seems to have an answer.
In Hidden Underneath: A History of Lingerie, Farid Chenoune claims that the slip’s popularity began to decline as early as the 1950s when fashion became more revealing and breast-oriented. She said that “this little sister to the dress no longer had charms for men now serenaded by seminaked sirens.” However, Andrea Linett (creative director of Lucky Magazine) says, “Slips are totally demure. At a time when nothing is shocking anymore, that’s what makes them sexy.” Rebecca Apsan reflects that sentiment in her book, The Lingerie Handbook: “Where everything else has been reduced to boobs and butts, the slip takes the entire body into consideration. It is understated, subtly seductive, mildly suggestive, inciting the imagination to run wild.” The book, published in 2006, also proclaimed, “they are back!” In the same year, The New York Times predicted a comeback as well, partially spurred on by slip appearances on Reese Witherspoon in “Walk the Line” and Naomi Watts in “King Kong.” But just a few years later, I’m looking to add a few more slips to my collection and I’m coming up short.
Sure, you can find a slip easily enough if you hit enough shops, but they leave a lot to be desired. The selection is mostly white, black, and beige. The two options seem to be: totally unadorned, or with a strip of lace at the hem. Where is the style? Where are the colors? The variety? The glamour? The vintage market has a lot to offer, and sometimes a chemise can serve you in a pinch, but if you’re looking for a new slip it will be a bit of a hunt. I set out looking for something that caught my eye, and I don’t have a lot to show for it. Farr West and Secrets In Lace have good selections of styles and colors. Victoria’s Secret has a few. Mary Green has one plain full slip but with a good color range. It seems that lingerie shops – if they carry slips at all – stick to the basics and carry maybe one or two styles with a unique detail.
So you wear slips? Why or why not? If you do, do you have any favorite brands or shops, or do you just grab them wherever you can find them (like me)?