If you could translate my underwear drawer into a pie chart, you’d see one big chunk—some 75 percent — dedicated to basic black bikinis. A small 20 percent would indicate the ratty days-of-the-week skivvies that are verging on seven years old (I know). The remaining sliver would count for the few “sexy” underthings I own—a lacy pink thong, a hot but poorly fitting corset-inspired bra, some sheer boyshorts.
There are certain things I hate to spend money on, and underwear is one of them. In the past, the idea of wearing seductive undergarments had always been appealing, but when I really thought about it, lingerie seemed problematic. First of all, I’d need someone to wear it for, because that ladymag tip of “wearing sexy underwear for yourself” has never done anything for me. Also, was it worth it to drop the money? Assuming I had someone who would appreciate it, wouldn’t it just come off right away, or remain completely covered for most of its time out of the drawer?So, here’s the truth: Up until a couple days ago, I’d never even so much as gone near a garter belt. I was really into dressing up as a kid, but in my grownup life, I’ve been completely self-conscious of everyday role-playing and mask-wearing, and I’m painfully aware of when I’m doing it. That’s a large part of why I’ve never made a purchase at Victoria’s Secret or La Perla. Another has been body issues. The thought of going to Agent Provocateur to squeeze myself into a demi-cup bra only to stare at my white, slightly muffin-toppy gut in a dressing room mirror is worse to me than spending a day at Disneyland hungover.
A few months ago, things changed when I entered into a serious relationship. The kind of relationship where you start asking yourself, Is this the last person I will have sex with for the rest of my life? (And really, who knows?)
That’s not exactly what prompted our discussion about sexy bedtime attire, but for me it was an underlying factor. Was I comfortable enough with this potential partner to push boundaries in bed—something that feels important for me for the person I’ll marry. But also, my body insecurities felt like they were melting away for the first time. He was completely turned on by my shape and loved me as I was, and the image in the mirror literally began shifting shape for me soon after we got together. All of a sudden, my stomach didn’t seem that huge, my breasts maybe weren’t so droopy, and my hips were proportional with my torso. I could actually look at myself naked in the mirror and not wince.
Things started innocently when one night I wore an example of that mere five percent of my underwear collection—a pink thong with tie-able ribbons at the sides (like unwrapping a present!) and a DKNY black lace bra. It drove him insane. (Just so you know: my normal sexytime attire does not include anything disgusting or ratty, but rather, I’m a basic black kind of girl.) I told him I wished I could wear something hot for him, and we cuddled up to my laptop to gush over online pics at Agent Provocateur and Kiki de Montparnasse. Oooh, he cooed. I’d love to see you in that.
Finding something appropriate took a while. I’m living in France, so there are no Victoria’s Secrets here, and little in between the low-end stuff and the extreme high end. To make matters worse, many French lines don’t carry my size—a 34 D—because French women have the smallest tits in the world. When a lingerie-obsessed friend visited me, she took me to H&M where we both tried on some two dozen get-ups, and nothing fit right, and everything felt cheap. There was no way my fantasy would be hot if I was wearing something completely cheap, I decided.
On a trip back to the States, I decided to stock up, and spent time putting together three outfits to bring back to my man in Paris—a thigh-length black lace bodice I got on sale at Topshop, a vintage-inspired pink lace teddy from Victoria’s Secret, and another black slip-like get-up to pair with a garter belt and stockings.
I didn’t wear anything sexy on the flight over to France—how could I? And ugh, so gross to sit in something for so long. So I wondered how I’d surprise him without him seeing me get into my lingerie. After we got home, there was a good enough excuse: not enough toilet paper in the house. After he left to go pick some up at the store, I frantically stuffed myself into the Topshop black lace body and pulled on the stockings to find that OMG, WTF are these things that attach them?? I fumbled nervously to get it all done in 10 minutes, flinging myself onto the bed, sweating profusely and wondering, Do I look sexy in this position? Maybe I should sit up more … oh my God, I am so sweaty.
Somehow I collected himself and by the time he got back, I was comfortably styled and ready. With anticipation, I waited for the moment, expecting myself to feel something … I wasn’t sure what.
Unsurprisingly, he was knocked off his socks. As for me … I felt good, yes. Sexy, yes. But I still felt like myself. I had somehow expected to turn into someone else, to step into a movie. But none of that happened. Nevertheless, there was something for me about dressing up that wasn’t exactly sexual. What was wonderful was this: I loved the way my body looked and I loved the overall style I’d created. I was so excited (um, as was he) that I ended up spoiling all my other outfit reserves by modeling them all in one evening.
Needless to say, not one of them stayed on for very long.
Original by Leonora Epstein