By Erin Waks
Created during the late 19thCentury, and developed through the first half of the 20thCentury, lingerie had three primary functions: to mould one’s body shape, to ensure personal hygiene, and to guarantee modesty. Since then, we have seen a change in the purpose of such garments. Indeed, they can still be used to create desired silhouettes, and to maintain cleanliness, yet we have seen a new purpose arise as of late. Lingerie, previously used to allow women to conform to expectations and norms, can now be considered a form of expression, liberation, and self-confidence.
When living in Paris last year, I felt as though it was the perfect time to put this theory into practice. I attempted to follow the age-old cliché that French women, known for being effortlessly stylish, confident, and put-together, always wear matching underwear, regardless of the occasion. So, I took myself on a shopping trip to source a plethora of gorgeous pieces, ranging in terms of colour and style. I vowed to wear only matching sets of lingerie every single day and observe the results.
I can certainly vouch for the fact that wearing lingerie every day changes your perspective on their purpose. Suddenly, I felt as though I had this sexy secret no-one else knew. It gave me a sense of power, confidence in my own skin, and feeling as though I had put myself first. I felt coordinated, stylish, and powerful, despite the fact that no-one else had any clue.
Wearing lingerie can be intimidating, expensive and, to some, frankly bizarre, especially if done on a daily basis. Why don such beautiful items underneath your clothes, where no-one can see them? Why not prioritise comfort over aesthetics?
But it is exactly the hidden beauty of such items which forms their appeal. Wearing something lovely for your benefit alone is the perfect embodiment of self-love: you’re putting yourself in matching, exquisite items for your pleasure, and yours alone. It’s unnecessary, and that’s what makes it all the more powerful. You’re doing it just for you.
I would posit that, if you find lingerie uncomfortable, you just haven’t found the right kind yet. Swap bras for bralettes, and awkwardly shaped underwear for briefs or a hipster-style piece, to maximise comfort and, thus, confidence.
Whilst I am in no way suggesting that lingerie will solve all your problems, it might just be the first step you need towards building an approach to your body and your style that puts yourself at the forefront of your life. This Valentine’s Day, try something new: change your view of lingerie to something positive, empowering, and self-centred (in the positive meaning of the term, if you will!). Treat yourself, find something that works for you, and open your mind to the possibility that effortless style can come from within – or, at least, from underneath your clothes.
It’s no shock that lingerie can boost confidence in the bedroom, but wearing something that makes you feel good can help support self-esteem in your day-to-day life. There is something about feeling put-together beneath your external layer, a secret that only you keep, that makes you feel like you can conquer the world. Confidence does truly come from within, but why not help it along with a little extra help?
Illustration: Rosie Bromiley