This is the second installment of a new, reader-driven series on the Bluestockings Blog, "Real Stories." As the title suggests, these stories are personal and come directly from the Bluestockings community, which includes longtime supporters, customers, and blog readers.
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Today's story comes from Rachel K. Wong. Many thanks to Rachel for sharing her story with us!
When it comes to clothing, I subscribe to the Iceberg Theory. Sure, Ernest Hemingway meant for this to apply to writing but, over the years, I found it quite applicable to what I wear. What’s omitted, or not seen, is far more interesting than what is on the surface.
I’m the type of gal who would throw on a pair of jeans and t-shirt to go to the post office while wearing a mesh underwire and matching knickers. I’d smile as I walked down the street. It was my own secret, something I did for me. No one else would see it, but knowing that I was wearing something that some may consider to be naughty gave me a thrill and a boost no coffee can replace (and speaking as a caffeine addict, that is one heck of a pick-me-up).
In all honesty, I am hooked on the thrill, on the dichotomy that what one sees of me is not what is really going on underneath. Anyone who tries to judge me would second-guess, a little peek of garter ribbons teasing the edge of my novelty-print dress in blustery summers, or secure and comfortable foundations under a slinky, little black dress.
Growing up, there were a few no-no’s engrained in me about undergarments:
Yet there are times where I’d wear knickers with strappy body braces over a white blouse to show it off, something that looks like outerwear but really isn’t, another mischievous secret to make me smirk throughout the day.
I started this ritualistic dichotomy when I was in high school, brightly colored cotton or lacy panties and bras from Aerie. In all honesty, I loved taking advantage of the “Buy Five, Get One Free!” membership deals and hated doing laundry. Buying new garments helped delay the inevitable Laundry Day. More than once, my younger sister insisted that I could supply entire third-world countries with my underwear drawers (yes, plural).
It wasn’t until a bad break-up during college that I really started to focus on the purchases of my knickers habit. I always had a sort of emotional tie with the undergarments that I wore: stretch boyshorts when I’m feeling comfy, lacy tangas when I’m feeling flirty, etc. I had so many things for my varying moods, but none really made me feel comfortably sensual, as one might feel when just emerging from a steam-filled shower after a heart-pounding workout, high on adrenaline and cooling muscles releasing strain. In short, none truly felt like me.
That was when I discovered the beauty of indie designer brands. I dipped my toe into the proverbial pool when Karolina Laskowska was having a fundraiser sale. Loving her designs and aesthetic from the short time I had been following her on social media, I jumped at buying her suspender belt and strappy harness. Needless to say, when I received my purchases, I couldn’t believe how sexy simple strapping made me feel. They were comfortable enough for me to sleep in them but the satin strapping and gold detailing created a sensual tactile and visual pleasure.
I had been too self-conscious to wear them out, just inside my room, daring myself to try on some outfits that I could possibly use these items with. When I was finally able to wear it in an outfit, the suspenders were comfortably flush against my skin, holding up high socks under a navy and gold bird-print dress. My heart fluttered every time a train passed, tugging at the hem of the skirt. Still, my new suspender belt was my own little secret, and classmates and friends had to ask me why I kept smiling.
There is always room for comfort, but there is likewise always room for impracticality. How something looks on me, regardless of the fact that only I know what I’m wearing, is what lends to that comfortable sensuality that I so looked for in my younger years. Sometimes that means a bra strap might accidentally tuck out of place, or a stocking may rip. With the price and aesthetic that comes with indie brands comes the push towards slower fashion. There are prices of some items in my boudoir that certain people may gawk at – my younger self certainly would have – but, instead of viewing it as a regular piece of clothing, I see that it is rather an investment in myself. Along with the quality of materials and supporting someone else’s artistic livelihood, buying indie lingerie allows self expression of the most intimate sort: to and with myself.
Rachel K. Wong is a Brand Storyteller, creating engaging social media content that aligns with business narratives for start-ups. When not working, she looks for speakeasies and works on her novel in the Big Apple.