Maybe they should rename it, though. Apparently, underwear isn’t so very “under” any more. It’s come out of the closet, as it were, according to the NY Times, which reports that “showing off your lingerie has become very much a fashion trend.”
And by “showing off,” they don’t mean in the time-honored sense of showing it off to your love object of choice. No, they mean the following, as seen recently on fashion runways:
I’ve witnessed the equivalent of the sight on the right walking the streets—a black bra displayed with a top with a scooped-out back. Usually, for some reason, it’s being worn by a young woman who also sports tattoos down the entire length of her slender arms.
The photo on the left is hardly distinguishable from a flimsy dress. But the one in the middle—the lavender panties worn over what looks to be pantyhose, with a backless skirt, the better to show off the ensemble—looks like very much like a fashion “don’t” to me.
Then again, grandma always said to be prepared by wearing nice underwear; you just never know. Of course, she wasn’t talking about purposeful displays, sexual or otherwise; she was talking about the ignominy of winding up in the emergency room with a frayed bra, quelle horreur!
And yet, I recall that this sort of thing has a history. Those of you who are of a certain age will no doubt remember the famous ad campaign run by Maidenform, to which I’ve referred in the title of this post, “I dreamed I [fill in the blank with some public activity] in my Maidenform bra,” complete with photos. Here’s a sampler:
The Maidenform “I dreamed” ad campaign was one of the most successful and long-lived in advertising history, running from the end of WWII to the mid-60s. Its combination of sexuality, exhibitionism (very risque for those years, although rather sedate-seeming now), and downright silliness was apparently a winner.
I discovered, from reading the linked article, that Maidenform practically invented the modern bra during the 1920s when the prevailing fashion was to bind the breasts in order to look boyish. Maidenform was betting that this wasn’t the true goal of many women and, sure enough, the bra caught on.
Maidenform fell on hard times during the 90s—even filing for bankruptcy—but seems to be doing better now. And yet, who ever dreamed that the Maidenform “dream” of walking around in underwear as outerwear would become a reality?