OLIVIA LISLE FOR VARSITY / @LIVCOLLAGE

In a post-pandemic world, our relationship to clothing, and lingerie in particular, has never been so contradictory. After attending Zoom meetings in loungewear with no bra on for more than a year and a half, the idea of returning to a full working wardrobe seems like torture. Moreover, are stiletto pumps and a skirt suit really the only mark of our professionalism? Does our appearance count more than our CV? And are we really more efficient in our jobs wearing a certain type of clothing rather than another? It would appear that our wardrobe reveals more about us as a person than our interests do. So what does what we wear underneath say about us? Since lockdown, the bra has been at the heart of controversy. Should we burn them, or celebrate them? There are those who have seen Covid as a sign to liberate themselves from this instrument of hyper-sexualisation, while others see the wearing of the bra as a return to normality after two years of a pandemic.

“To hell with the skinny white model; plurality of races, body-types and genders is now the trend”

Sexy lingerie has always been associated with a certain body type, meeting the criteria of beauty standards of tall, skinny girls with a good C-cup bra size. For years, the Victoria Secret runway show convinced us that only Alessandra Ambrosio, Gisele Bundchen and Adriana Lima could pull off a corset and a garter. The lack of options for plus-size or post-operatory buyers is alarming, but it is now with relief that we are witnessing a turning point in the lingerie industry. Since the launch of Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty line, diversity is finally represented in the world of sexy lingerie. Plus-size, male, non-binary and trans models walk the runway celebrating their bodies, defying society’s male-orientated gaze. To hell with the white skinny model; plurality of races, body-types and genders is now the trend.

'Since the launch of Rihanna's Savage x Fenty line, diversity is finally represented'INSTAGRAM / @SAVAGEXFENTY

But first, we should ask ourselves, who are we buying lingerie for? Ourselves, or our sexual partners? Often seen as an object of male-fantasy, lingerie’s original purpose is to support our breasts and protect the most sensitive areas of our body. Who, as a teenage girl, hasn’t been shamed in school because the straps of her bra were showing? Labelled as distracting and vulgar, we have integrated the idea that lingerie should be taboo. It should be hidden, as its showing is interpreted as an invitation to sexual activity. From a young age, we have been over-sexualised for wearing bras, showing them, or even talking about them. It is time to change this. Our relationship to lingerie is toxic, even self-harming in a way. In an article in the New York Times, Collen Hill, curator at the Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology, affirms that our view of the bra is slowly overlapping with that of the corset, seen as an instrument of female oppression. Instead of accepting defeat, should we do not reconquer this item of clothing, so intimate and private? It is time to use sexy lingerie as a symbol of female empowerment, rather than that of our submission.

“Our relationship to lingerie is toxic, even self-harming in a way”

All the excitement surrounding “hot girl summer” has incited us to show some skin, not for men, but for ourselves. Lingerie is experiencing a makeover. The underwear transforms into outerwear, as the slip dress makes its way into our everyday looks. In a vintage spirit, Anya Taylor-Joy wore a Dior lingerie set to the Emmy’s after-party last month. She completed the look with a muslin cream cape, giving herself super-hero vibes. This energy is exactly what we are looking for! Sexy lingerie should be an instrument whose sole purpose is that of celebrating our bodies, whether it’s skinny or plus-size, bare or hairy, white or brown. Lingerie complements us, it should not be the subject of fantasies.


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Victoria's Secret: Rebranding Masculine Fantasies

What we need is to fix our relationship with lingerie, stop seeing ourselves as the object of someone else’s desire, but rather, as the character of our own desire, the hero of our own story. In an article for Vanity Fair, beauty director Laura Regensdorf recounts her Zoom lingerie fitting session, asking herself : “what am I looking for in a bra?”. From an outside viewpoint, this question seems simple. When bra-shopping, we want underwire, lace, or on the contrary a comfortable cotton bralette. But what Laura Regensdorf really meant was, “how can I express my current feelings in my next bra purchase?”. Lingerie is the only thing which is in such close contact with our skin on a daily basis. It should reflect ourselves, our feelings, and strengths. Stop feeling like you’re wearing lingerie for someone else. If one morning, you feel like a girl boss, ready to take on the world, do not hesitate to put on your balconette bra or your laciest corset. You’re doing this for yourself. Always.