Heidi Klum was always one of my favorite Victoria’s Secret Angels, and if you think about the most famous faces of the American lingerie giant, they all have the same thing in common besides megawatt smiles and supermodel bodies: They have confidence, star appeal that makes you love them. They have far more playfulness and personality than most other runway models I’ve seen, and I think there is an obvious reason to this.
While some might believe that sexy skivvies and lacy underthings objectify women, I personally think that there is nothing more empowering than self-confidence. There is something to being aware of what is secretly beneath your clothing that no one knows is there — that your outward clothing may say “pulled together” or “professional,” but underneath is a vixen no one else knows is there.
And to those who believe lingerie is only for the men in our lives (or significant others, anyway), nothing could be further from the truth. While they certainly appreciate it, sometimes a nice bra and panty set is like getting an updo: Your guy will think you look good, but ultimately, the clothes are coming off and the hair comes down. Wearing nice lingerie for yourself is far more satisfying than wearing it to impress someone else.
Try this for a week: put on something a little bit over-the-top all week long under your everyday clothing and see how it feels. Does it make you more playful? More powerful? Like you’re the only one privy to the best-kept secrets of your wardrobe?
Actually, French women have mastered the habit of treasuring their intimates and integrating them into daily life. Apparently, 20% of their annual clothing budget is spent on quality undergarments. This is because every day is the perfect day to embrace your femininity and your sexuality. You’re a woman — have fun with it!
In fact, during my two years studying abroad in Italy in 2004-2005 and 2007, my underwear drawer probably tripled or quadrupled. I can’t even tell you with any kind of accuracy how many trips I must have taken to lingerie or hosiery stores while living abroad, and those times were really the start of building my womanly confidence. This is saying something since I was still majorly struggling with readjusting and regaining my self-image from my significant physical condition, and it really helped.
So as a seasoned addict, I’ve curated a few tips to help you develop your lingerie habit:
Quality over quantity. I understand where you may laugh at this suggestion, given what I just told you about my own collection, but lingerie is really about how you feel when you wear it. Invest in yourself and the body you have by finding beautiful and well-constructed pieces that will hold their — and your — shape without falling apart. Pair them with your more demanding (ahem, high-maintenance) outerware for a perfect fit (key to looking good in anything!). Your undergarments will lift, cinch, tuck, and shape you so clothes will hug your figure nicely, and you’ll feel like a million bucks.
Run your fingers over a delicate, fine lace and run it across your leg or your cheek. Ahh. Or locate an exquisite piece made of real silk and really feel it as you slip it on. Lingerie isn’t only about looking good; it’s also a sensory experience. Don’t just stick to one shop — feel and inspect the edges, the finishing of the seams. Really well made lingerie can often be tough to find if you aren’t truly looking for it. Our favorite shops at Art of Seduction include Bucktown’s G Boutique and Italy’s La Perla (we have one on Michigan Ave).
It’s not just mindless splurging; it’s a continual source of that certain feminine je ne sais quoi into your daily life, and while it can be an adjustment to start making it a habit, you’ll find that it’s all worth the work.
Be sure to take care of it, too! These are an investment and you’ll want the pieces to last you a long time.
Not just for special occasions. Every day you are not doing a little extra something for yourself — whether it be throwing on a layer of mascara or sipping a small glass of chardonnay at the end of a hard day’s work — is a day you are subconsciously telling yourself you don’t deserve a little pampering.
Of course, like a nice blowout or a killer pair of stilettos, there’s the added benefit of positive attention from your partner, so enjoy! Much like, well, boudoir photography, many believe it’s only worth it if you have a beau to share your album with, but this is the best-kept secret of the industry: It’s really a gift for you. The positive attention you’ll get from your partner is great icing on the cake, and there are plenty of men who will write in or call, overjoyed with the psychological boost he sees his diva feeling at home once she’s done it.
Since high quality garments can be quite an investment, you don’t need to be stopping by the boutique every week. Pick yourself up something pretty for your birthday, the obvious occasions like Valentine’s or your anniversary — or out of the blue. (“Just because” is a great reason to do it! You are telling yourself you deserve to celebrate your body.)
When I used to live an apartment as an undergrad, I used to traipse around my place in a chemise for no reason whatsoever. Try it out — slip on something lacy or silky on a Saturday morning and have your coffee in it. (This is best when you’re alone, in my opinion. Again, the point is to make you feel good, not someone else.)
No shame. Just be fierce. Wearing lingerie is kind of like sleeping in the nude. A lot of women blush at even the thought of this, but they really shouldn’t. Hey, you’re a woman — there’s nothing to be ashamed of! As part of your homework, if you aren’t already doing so, try to sleep naked at least once a week. It’ll help.
Here’s the real secret: The more you do it, the more comfortable you feel. (This applies to wearing pretty undergarments as well as not wearing anything at all.) And the more comfortable you feel, the more confidence will bloom. Confidence, in the end, is really all you need to feel amazing.