“In olden days, a glimpse of a stocking was something shocking, now heaven knows, anything goes!” And so it does. In an age in which actresses, where less on the red carpet than most did on the beach in the 1950’s, the idea that the slip dress may cause eyebrows to raise, seems almost quaint. Yet, it remains provocative. Just the mere fabric, the lace, the skimpy layer of silk and little else covering the skin, the straps, the cups, all enough to recall the bedroom; some might consider it sexier than wearing nothing at all.
It all started back in 1969 when Nova Magazine printed an editorial bearing the headline, “What are you trying to hide?” The gist of it is that the best response to keeping your underwear from showing itself from beneath your clothes was no response at all. “Show that you mean it,” the article declared. “Don’t count on your underclothes not showing, choose them so if they do, it doesn’t matter.” The article ran accompanied by a model wearing what would later become known as the “slip dress,” crediting Wool worths with its design.
The Big Debate
The debate arose in the years that followed over what constituted dress meant for the house and meant for the public. Was Riccardo Tisci’s 2016 slip themed dress too racy for a visiting dignitary at New York Fashion week? Ankle length slip dress was worn at Calvin Klein, and Burberry began contrasting the flowing silky dresses with chunky sandals and rucksacks.
The Approval Slip
As might be expected, Paris embraced the look. Alexander Wang’s last season of dresses for Balenciaga was filled with silk nighties and slippers, while Pheobe Phil’s lace trimmed numbers pushed the envelope on her normally subtle sexuality, bringing the slip dress, literally, out of the closet.
Rocker Courtney Love took the slip dress and tiara look to the next level, incorporating the rebellion of rock and roll with the sexiness of the boudoir. Celebrities such as Drew Barrymore, Michelle Pfieffer, Rihanna, Madonna, Elizabeth Taylor and even the sartorially irreverent Princess Diana were all among those to embrace the underwear as outerwear look. Edwina Ehrman, curator of the exhibition, “Undressed: A Brief HIstory of Underwear, sums up the slip dress as “a way of challenging contemporary morality. It represents the difference between what should be public, and what should be hidden, and the breaking down of those barriers.”
The Present Day Slip Dress
While in these days, in which naked body parts go swinging down runways, the slip is less than shocking, yet it is still known among high-end fashion buyers as “retail gold.” Says Bay Barnett, contributing fashion editor at Vogue, “You can have such different perceptions of the slip dress – in a tacky situation it looks terrible, but it can look incredible, too. Either East Hampton or totally grunge. to me, the appeal is to deconstruct the sexiness, to subvert it. The genius of Courtney Love in a slip dress was that she turned and essentially conservative and conventional item on its head. It’s the ultimate punk thing to lampoon something so commercial.”
How are you wearing your slip dress this year? Let us know what direction you’re taking the underwear as outerwear look this year. We love to hear it!