Since the turn of the new century, fashion has changed. A lot. Am I the only one who experiences a sense of confusion when I go to the grocery store and feel like I accidentally stumbled into someone’s late night sleepover party? Did I miss the memo that it’s now okay to wear sweatpants and PJs…everywhere ? In today’s liberal fashion environment, apparently anything goes. Meat dresses at award shows, sunglasses indoors and at night, wearing your frumpiest hoodie to the nicest restaurant in town – it’s a whole new set of rules (or should I say lack) that we’re faced with. Which brings me to the next humdinger: lingerie at the office. Is this a sign of being fashion-forward, or is it pushing the boundaries of what is considered workplace appropriate?
Lingerie was originally created to serve as an undergarment to help a woman preserve her modesty. My grandmother always wore her long, silk lingerie gown around the house when she had her morning cup of coffee, complete with her bathrobe and hairnet set in place with rows of bobby pins. Needless to say, I didn’t exactly grow up associating lingerie with “sexy.” But, lingerie also is associated with seduction and the boudoir – it is the gift of choice at bachelorette parties and bridal showers, and lingerie sales always go up around Valentine’s Day, as men purchase it for the woman in their life (even though it’s really a gift for themselves). It wasn’t until a few years ago that my inner “lingerie radar” suddenly lit up, and now I can’t seem to help but notice that America’s favorite undergarment has turned over a new leaf and is now considered a form of outerwear.
Recently I stumbled across a blog –Young, Polished and Professional – and the author wrote about the guidelines that one should adhere to when wearing lingerie in the work place. She specifically says, “It should NEVER look like you are wearing lingerie in the office. It should be clear that you are wearing a lace shirt and not that your bra is showing.” She recommends pairing lacey garments with more structured pieces, like pencil skirts and slacks, and she also suggests limiting your choice of clothing to one lacey element, pairing it with stronger fabrics and accessories.
I think that it’s perfectly fine (and even innovative) to reappropriate items such as lingerie into your daily wardrobe, as long as you are selective about it. Wearing a silky camisole under your blazer with matching slacks is one great example of adding a feminine and sensual touch to your outfit without going overboard. Stores like Free People sell a lot of slip dresses that I see women wear as actual dresses. This is a slightly riskier fashion move, but as long as you layer underneath and throw on a nice coat and pair of shoes to go with it, then you most likely can get away with it. I think it really boils down to your actual work environment though. Some offices are a lot more laid back and casual, while others are more strict and business formal. As long as you’re maintaining some sense of professionalism in your outfit and not tiptoeing into the danger zone of “business sexual,” then I think you should be just fine.