To Slip Or Not To Slip?

In today's Wall Street Journal Christina Binkley tells us that the slip is an endangered species and, further, that the demise of the slip heralds the Demise of Modesty. '"It seems that slips sort of went the same way that virginity went," says Karen Nelson, a 57-year-old expat American who recently moved to Uruguay. "What a slip says about its wearer today is 'fuddy duddy.'"'

There are a few reasons for this, says Binkley: the rise of the thong and Spanx - nullifying the need for vpl control - and the increasing acceptability of underwear as outerwear, as pioneered by Galliano and Co. in the early 90': "Instead of hiding what's underneath, young women today play with making the underlayers visible — camisoles under sheer silk blouses, leggings under see-through skirts, layered, feather-thin T-shirts. A lot of sheer and even transparent looks will show up on the fashion runways this fall," she writes. And, in any event, we basically live in Babylon.

We are still living through the revolution that altered social norms. Judging by the number of women on Seventh Avenue in New York's garment district "walking around in diaphanous dresses with only a thong underneath," [David Wolfe, creative director for Doneger Group fashion consultants] laments, "propriety is a word that just has no meaning today."

I'm willing to concede that Binkley and I probably move in different circles, but while she seems to be just getting used to the death of the slip, I've been party recently to a dramatic backlash: a Slip Renaissance. Just the other day I noticed a froth of lace peeking from beneath the hem of a sundress when a friend reached up to grab some Count Chocula from a high shelf at the supermarket. Meanwhile, a reader of this site took the time to write to us in impassioned defense of the slip. "I LOVE slips." she says. "I wear skirts and dresses all the time, and slips prevents see-through, prevent panty lines, prevent your skirt from sticking between your legs, keep you warmer in air-conditioning but don't really hold any heat outdoors, and help the fabric drape more flatteringly over dimply butts. Also they give you a slightly glamorous 1940s feeling. Slips FTW!" For my part, I've always favored a little fuller under something sheer, and for years vintage numbers have been my go-to nighties.

And should it need saying, these slip-advocates are not Bible-toting prisses. If anything, to a woman, their embrace of this apparent anachronism is of a piece with a comfort with sexuality that can allow for the utilitarian irony of a less in-your-face brand of allure. As with deliberately frumpy glasses and librarian chic, or as Dita Von Teese revels in the outmoded constraints of retro underwear, in a highly sexualized world a perverse streak of modesty can be sexy and even subversive. There is also the post-modern appeal of historical hand-picking; we've thrown out the mores of another age, but that isn't to say that there wasn't a certain appeal to a world with rules, especially in the contemporary morass of sartorial anarchy. There can be something deeply empowering about enforcing an order on something as mundane as dressing, even when it's not required of you. Theories aside, not everyone wants to wear thongs and Spanx 24/7. Plus, if you wear any vintage, the summer fabrics are made to be worn with a slip and are simply too sheer on their own. So don't fret, Christina, the old gal's got life in her yet. Propriety? Maybe not so much. But the appearance of it is just getting started. Oh, and you want to join the revolution? I'm an eBay queen, but the same dear reader rec'd herroom.com.
Pardon Me, Your Slip is Not Showing [Wall Street Journal]