Dear Dr. Julie-Ann,
I was meeting my girlfriends for lunch the other day and as I was getting out my car, my skirt rode up a bit to reveal my slip. My friends good-naturedly teased me about the fact that no one wears slips anymore unless it is shapewear under a form-fitting dress.
I was taught that I should always wear slips but now I’m wondering if my friends are right. After all, it is getting harder and harder to find pretty slips. Is it time to ditch the slips?
Dear S.L. Ping,
I understand. I’ve been “slip shamed,” too, for being a slip wearer. But, actually, both you and your friends are correct. It seems like no one wears slips anymore even though they should if they are wearing a dress or skirt. There are many beautiful reasons why you should wear a slip but I’ll highlight three of them.
Wearing a Slip Helps Clothes Hang Better
Have you ever been walking behind a woman wearing a knit dress and noticed that her dress was caught in her backside? That is because of the friction between her body and the dress. The fabric was unable to move freely and ended up in the path of least resistance with no way out. So to speak.
A more common occurrence is when a straight skirt or fitted blouse begins to ride or bunch up. Again, the fabric was unable to move freely and had trouble getting back where it belonged. This happens a lot when you’re wearing pantyhose–especially “every day” pantyhose that isn’t as smooth as the more expensive brands.A slip enables your garment to move over your curves and angles to create a more flattering line than you have without wearing one.
Wearing a Slip Helps Your Clothes Last Longer
Did you know your clothes can get stressed out? In many ways, the phrase “wear and tear” can be a literal description of what happens every time you wear a garment. If you aren’t wearing a slip, the friction can put stress on the fabric causing abrasion (abrasion is the cause of the pilling on your favorite cashmere sweater). If your garment is fitted anywhere, your movement puts stress on the seams and they may pop because the thread holding it together breaks. As mentioned before, wearing a slip prevents most of that friction so that your clothes don’t start to hide in your closet out of fear of being chosen as the outfit of the day.
Your body oils, moisturizer, perfume, perspiration, and skin bits (yes, I know it is gross to think about!) get absorbed by the fabric causing it to smell a bit funky. And, you know that you can’t feel confident and poised when you know your clothes are past the cleaning due date. The good news is that a slip is your first line of defense against that funkiness because it “takes one for the team” which means you can go a bit longer before laundering your garment. And the longer you can go between having to launder your garment, the longer it will last because the fabric and color lose just a bit more of themselves each time your garment is cleaned (all that lint in your dryer is fabric bits that couldn’t hold onto the garment any longer).
I have read a lot of comments in the interwebs that you don’t need to wear a slip if the garment is already lined. While that is technically true, I still prefer to wear slips under every dress or skirt. Otherwise, I’d need to launder the garment more frequently because when the lining is soiled, the whole garment must be cleaned.
As an aside, an old-fashioned strategy to counteract underarm embarrassment is making a comeback. In the days before fast/throwaway fashion, dress shields were commonly used to protect garments from perspiration. In fact, Claire Shaeffer describes how to make dress shields in her book Couture Sewing Techniques* because they are considered so important for a poised look. Amazon.com offers a whole bunch of different disposable dress shield versions that you stick onto your garment. I’ve also heard that you can use certain brands of pantiliners in a pinch.
Wearing a Slip Helps Prevent Wardrobe Malfunction
In the iconic scene from The Seven Year Itch, Marilyn Monroe’s white dress billows up around her as she stands atop a subway vent. Legend has it that her then husband, Joe DiMaggio, was so disgusted how “exhibitionist” the scene was that he stormed off the set. She filed for divorce a short time later.
I can’t help but wonder if they could have lived happily ever after if she was only wearing a slip so that the two pairs of white panties she wore for modesty wouldn’t show. Alas, we’ll never know.
In an age when starlets are wearing sheer clothing both on the red carpet and while running errands, I sometimes feel like a lone voice in advocating for a bit of old-fashioned modesty. I’m not talking Amish level of modesty but simply wearing a slip so that your underthings don’t show through your clothes or that the outline of your body is seen when the sun shines and makes your dress virtually transparent.
Bonus Reason: The Glamour Factor
Admit it. There is just something glamorous about women in slips–especially Elizabeth Taylor in Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof–in movies from Hollywood’s golden era. I certainly can’t be the only one who feels a bit more confident (if not a bit Grace Kelly sassier) when I know I’m wearing a beautiful slip underneath my clothes.
Wearing a beautiful slip also reminds me to stand a bit straighter when I want to slouch and be a bit more gracious when I want to punch someone in the nose (figuratively speaking).
What are your experiences with slips? Where do you find pretty slips?
Until next time, have a fabulous Technicolor day!
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Image credit: Lux laundry soap advertisement, McCall’s Magazine, 1947.
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