Every summer it’s the same. I see lovely, well-dressed women out on a sunny day, but when I turn to admire their ensemble, the sunlight hits them and…
This is Heather Locklear.
Every time I complain about seeing women going out apparently unaware that their clothes are completely see-through, someone makes the argument that maybe it was intentional, that the woman has high body confidence and wants the world to admire her backside or underwear through her clothes. Riiiiiight.
It’s clear from this photo (ha!) that Ms Locklear works out a lot and has a great body, but do you REALLY think she intended for it to be seen like this? Why bother putting on a skirt at all? Have you ever seen her walk around in cheek-displaying hot pants? No. She actually has more dignity than that.
Yes, I used “Heather Locklear” and “dignity” in the same sentence. Get over it.
Does Kirsten Dunst strike you as a real attention-seeker? She’s one of the most modest celebrities I can think of. And yet even she can get caught out:
This is clearly not the clothing of an attention-seeker. It’s practically Amish.
How about Jennifer Aniston?
Sorry, but I refuse to believe that she put this on in the morning thinking “Gee, I hope the paparazzi get some great shots of my underwear today.”
Kim Kardashian may be more of an extrovert, but once again I’m certain that THIS was not her intention:
Now, most celebrities have stylists, expensive clothing, an understanding of lighting, and the certain knowledge that whenever they step out of their houses, SOMEONE is going to take their picture. How do the rest of us fare?
Not well. I have a bit of advice for this poor soul:
1) White is not a neutral color. In fact, white underwear is MORE visible under white. Wear something the color of your skin, please.
2) Stretch fabrics are particularly prone to sheerness in light, because they get thinner as they stretch. The tighter the garment, the thinner it’s going to be, and therefore the sheerer it will appear.
3) If your bra strap hikes up in the back, you’re wearing the wrong size. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you’re wearing a 36B when you really need a 32D.
(If this last statement baffles you, hang in there, I plan a full discussion of our beloved undergarments soon, and the mystery shall be fully explained).
Then there is this poor thing:
The fact that she’s wearing a flesh-colored thong would indicate that she was aware that her underpants would be visible, but I’m sure she didn’t realize full the extent of the effect she’d created. Unfortunately for her, it did not escape the notice of the person who took this photo.
This is not just a summer problem.
Flashbulbs from cameras can be just as devastating to your dignity as sunlight. Possibly more.
Most celebrities have learned this lesson, so their stylists/handlers take flash photos ahead of any event to check for any issues. The rest of us will have to settle for flash selfies. I know it sounds ridiculous, but unless you want to end up on your cousin’s wedding webpage exposing more than you’d like, you should take a flash photo of yourself before you leave the house.
And it’s not just a skirt problem.
Yes, this is just one of the reasons that so many women are terrified of wearing light-colored trousers. However, with a few simple rules, you should not end up looking like this.
1) Firstly, don’t wear black underwear under white. I thought everybody knew this by now.
2) If the fabric is so sheer that you can see the label through it, then your underwear is also going to be visible. Wear full flesh-colored knickers or a top that covers your bum – preferably the latter.
3) Cut the label out if it’s visible! This is the clothing version of leaving the stickers on the bottom of your shoes. Everyone can see them with every step you take.
Nor is it purely a problem with white.
Poor Jennifer Love Hewitt.
Clearly she’s been at her yoga class, and the paparazzi can’t leave her alone.
Of course it doesn’t help that her pants are completely transparent in back. Imagine the view of the people behind her when she went into downward-facing dog!
This is proof that the stretch/sheerness factor mentioned above applies to all colors.
What’s a person to do?
THE RULES OF EXPOSURE
You need to be in control of your look. It’s your body, and YOU need to be in control of how much you show, and to whom:
1) If you ever wear dresses or skirts, go buy some slips. Now. (the link will take you to the next post, where you’ll find a full discussion of the benefits and care of slips, plus great sources for finding them). Always wear the appropriate slip under your skirt or dress, and you need never fear overexposure.
2) Always check your rear view before leaving the house. Preferably in daylight. Or ask another member of the household (someone who’s not a prankster, unless you like getting punk’d). If you have a large mirror by your front door, keep a good-sized hand mirror in a drawer nearby that you can use. I attached mirrored tiles from IKEA to the insides of my wardrobe doors – with both doors open I can see front and back. You might also be able to hang or prop a large mirror on the wall opposite your bathroom mirror.
3) Have some smooth, lace-free, FLESH-colored underwear on hand. Like this:
Yes, I know they’re not sexy, but I’m pretty sure I’ve just established that clearly seeing someone’s butt, thong, or underpants through their clothes is not particularly sexy either.
On the other hand, confidence IS sexy, and in these undergarments you can be confident that no-one will be sniggering about the unexpected view.
4) Look at your clothes in daylight. Hold them up to a sunny window. Put your hand inside. If it’s clearly visible to you, then whatever else you put in them will be clearly visible to everyone else, too. If you can see the label, CUT IT OUT (be careful not to cut the fabric. If you need the care instructions, re-stitch the label somewhere less noticeable – like the inside leg or on the side close to the hem).
5) Take a flash photo of yourself in anything you’re wearing to an event where there will be cameras. Check to make sure your garment doesn’t give away more than you’d like.
6) Decide what you want to do to ensure you remain in control of your image:
- If your blouse is sheer, you can wear a lacy bra to be sexy, or you can wear a camisole or tank top under it. You could also wear a fitted waistcoat, or cover it with a jacket or cardigan. Just remember that if you take the top layer off, you’re back to showing everything again.
- If your skirt seems sheer, wear a slip. If the slip has a pretty lace hem, you might like to let a little bit of it hang out from a shorter skirt (provided the colors match well). If your skirt is long, you can wear a short slip so that your bum and thighs are covered, but your lower legs will still be visible in sunlight.
- If you’re concerned about the opacity of your trousers, then wear them with modest flesh-toned underpants OR make sure that your top is long enough to cover your bottom. When choosing the latter option, don’t layer yourself up like a bag lady: loose, flowy trousers should be paired with a more fitted, tailored top. Loose, caftan-like tops are better with capris or skinny trousers.
7) If you DO decide to flash some flesh, keep it classy. Be discriminate. Stick to one exposed feature at a time. Make your intentions clear, or risk ending up on someone’s blog site as a lesson in what not to do.
That’s all, folks! I hope I haven’t frightened you into spending the summer in jeans. This post took significantly more time than expected, so the promised post on vintage slips will have to wait until tomorrow. There’s also an upcoming post on the joys and perils of light-colored trousers, so hopefully I can assuage some of those fears before the week is out.