Fashion Masochist: Undies as Outies

By Rachel Baker | Boston Magazine |

In bra-inspired tops and sheer frocks, lingerie has stepped out of the boudoir this season. Rachel Baker gives the new exhibitionism a whirl.

While they’ve flirted with each other in the past, lingerie and streetwear are finally sealing the deal: Corseted dresses and blouses now come in see-through fabrics with lacy embellishments; slinky robes pose as jackets; and luxurious bras, panties, and teddies are intended to be flaunted—outside the bedroom. It’s as if the design teams at Chloé, Brian Reyes, Armani, Alexander McQueen, Chanel, Miu Miu, Dior, and a seemingly infinite cast of others got together for a slumber party that turned into spring 2008.

The Experience I purchase a trio of slip dresses, which range from somewhat sheer to ultrasheer. The first challenge is choosing underpinnings that I feel good about showing off. After some serious scrounging, I land on a black lace bra that matches my strongest control-top tights; the two come together in a surprisingly flattering look.

At work, under a medium-transparency white dress, both bra and hosiery are on display. Male colleagues—possibly respectful, possibly fearing a lawsuit—invariably force me into unwavering, somewhat headache-inducing eye contact whenever I approach. "It’s like a minefield," my cube neighbor admits. "One wrong move and you’re busted." I begin to wonder if my outfit makes me the office lech. So I seek legal counsel. Though it’s mostly a dress code issue, an attorney tells me, my new style has real potential for creating a "hostile or sexualized environment." Translation: Keep it away from the workplace, kid.

For a Bruins-sponsored charity gala a few days later, I’m eager to give the look another go—this time in a black bra, black tights, dynamite heels, and an almost completely see-through nightie-esque dress with tiers of lacy trim. I feel sexy and ballsy as the only vixen in a room of Caché-clad blondes, so I’m game when my girlfriends propose a bet on who can bag a hockey star’s number first.

That is, until the static sets in. When I realize there’s enough electricity going on between my tights and the silky sheath to light the Garden—and it’s spreading to my hair—that whole sexy-ballsy-vixen thing goes out the window.

While a quick hairspray dousing and dryer sheet rubdown (I have some very prepared girlfriends) aborts a Weird Science situation, my confidence has already shorted out in front of the beefy hockey studs.

And yet the negligees prove to be incredibly convenient, too. On numerous occasions I end up sleeping in my evening-wear. Once I even wear a slip to dinner, then to bed, then right through lunch the next day. Probably not the most hygienic approach to fashion, but I like to think of it as the just-rolled-out-of-bed look, authenticated.

The Verdict Pulling off this trend is almost entirely about attitude (and clean underwear). Though I’ll keep it out of the office cube, I’ll definitely rock the lingerie-inspired ensemble again. It makes me feel powerful and feminine—so long as I never leave home without a little Static Guard.

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