Ask Belle: Twelve Undergarment Essentials
Jan 31, 2013
For the sake of completeness, would you do a post on basic undergarments that professional women should have in their wardrobes (i.e. hankie pankies, nude fishnets, etc.)? Having your main recommendations in one spot would be helpful not only for newcomers to the blog (and to dressing professionally), but for those who have been following you for a while, as well.
Please keep up the good work!
As someone who has seen more than her fair share of visible panty line, exposed bra strap, ill-fitting bra, this is a valuable question. Bad undergarments can ruin even the best outfits, don’t let it happen to you.
Hanky Panky Boyshorts ($35) // Hanky Panky Low Rise Thongs ($18) // Aerie Seamless Boyshort ($10) // CK Smooth Push Up ($48) // CK Convertible Bra ($46) // Fashion Forms Adhesive Bra ($36) // Shimera Camisoles ($26 or 2 for $48) // Nude Fishnets ($14) // Yummie Tummie Slip ($93) // DKNY Super Opaque Black Tights ($15) // Agent Provocateur Caitlin Lingerie Set ($380)
Underwear. I wear Hanky Panky low-rise thongs because they’re comfortable (I swear!) and for the most part, they don’t show panty line. (I have one jersey dress where you can see the lace print in the wrong light.) I wear these almost all the time. Why “almost”? Because gynecologists are big fans of cotton underwear for maintaining good health, so I sleep regular cotton boyshorts.
The lace Hanky Panky boyshorts are great with jeans or any time when you need a bit more coverage. But if I’m wearing a jersey dress that might show the lace, I switch to a seamless boyshort. These Aerie ones are pretty good, but if you need an ultra-smooth, find-a-line-I-dare-you short, you need these Commando microfiber ones.
Bras. There’s a lot of nude in this set, so feel free to add color as you see fit, but these are the basics. The top bra is a smooth cup bra that will remain hidden beneath even the sheerest fabric. And the middle bra is a convertible bra that can be worn as a halter, a racerback, a one shoulder, etc.
The bottom bra is one of my favorite new finds. I’ve been wearing adhesive NuBras since they came out. With cocktail dresses and tiny tops, there’s nothing better. Or so I thought. This bra from Fashion Forms is adhesive, strapless and backless, but unlike NuBra, it has some bottom support. Now, the lift looks more like a real bra and less like you’re braless. And while you may not need them for work, I do recommend that women own a set of nylon petals for when you go braless or wear a thin bra.
As for those ladies with more cleavage, the best advice I can give you is Figleaves. They have a great selection of DD+ and even GG+ bras both pretty and basic. Other than that, hopefully, some readers will chime in with suggestions because I am not blessed in the bust area.
Lastly, now seems as good a time as any to plug the importance of getting a bra fitting once per year. Nordstrom stores do a good job, and if you’re in D.C., check out Coupe de Foudre on E Street.
Camisoles. Having a few smooth camisoles to wear under sheer tops or silk/chiffon blouses is essential. I own a couple of nude ones, a black one and a handful of colored ones to match the tops in my closet. I like the Shimera camis best. They fit snugly and smoothly, come in a number of colors, they’re long enough to cover your whole torso and they come in plus sizes for those who need them.
Slips. Most women have given up slips just like we gave up on nude hose. But just like nylons, it’s good to have one just in case. If you own a static-y dress that sticks to you, a slip can help with that. If you’re wearing a pale color, and don’t want to avoid doorways all day, a slip can help. This Yummie Tummie slip has a little bit of control top to keep things smooth, but if you just want a simple half slip, try this one from Vanity Fair for $12.
Legwear. I used to tout Commando tights. Then, I had three pairs rip in two weeks. At $36 per pair, that’ll put a cramp in your wallet. So I’m back in my old standby, DKNY Super Opaques.
Beyond a couple of pairs of black tights, I also own two pairs of nude micro-fishnets. I wear them in place of regular nylons. But if you’re not that daring, or need more coverage, be sure to choose a super sheer pair like Donna Karan The Nudes hose.
Lingerie. Why put an expensive pair of lacy and racy lingerie in a post about basics? Because every woman deserves, not needs–deserves, a beautiful lingerie set. It can brighten a bad day and make you feel sexy and pretty in an instant.
Agent Provacateur not in your budget? (Mine either.) Eberjey makes pretty pieces for ladies who like their lingerie low-maintenance. Anthropologie carries a lot of lovely, lacy things. And Elle McPherson intimates, available at Net-a-Porter and for lower prices at The Outnet, are built like basics with a sultry soul.
What foundation pieces do you recommend for building a wardrobe? Leave your thoughts in the comments.