When I was a wee twenty-something, I had a part-time job at the now long gone New Woman magazine. I was an assistant in the fashion department. Aside from dressing myself, I had zero experience in fashion and happened to land this gig through my roommate Lori, who was an avid style enthusiast. I learned a TON from the ladies I worked with there, everything from dealing with public relations firms to packing anything you might ever need for a photo shoot. It was at New Woman where I first heard the term "underpinning" and something clicked in my brain. As a vintage clothing enthusiast I had always hoarded garter belts, vintage stockings and bullet bras based solely on their attractive appearance, I didn't realize they served such an important a purpose!
Underpinning, by definition, is the material and construction (such as a foundation) used for support of a structure and when it comes to clothing that structure is you. Somewhere along the line, functional lingerie like garter belts, bustiers, and stockings dropped from the eye line and became largely thought of as "play wear," very often cheaply constructed and costume like. Then we saw the undergarments such as SPANX taking the lead as a foundation for fitted garments. While the service that SPANX offers cannot be denied, what has been lost over the years is that a good garter belt and supportive long line bra or bustier can offer the same benefits with the addition of looking amazing, being much more comfortable, and not having to wrestle into or out of your undergarments.
Over the years I have become a bit of a functional lingerie de-mystefier. Many of my friends and family would notice my seemed stockings and want a pair but be a bit put off by what they perceived would go into wearing them. As a spreader of the glamour gospel, I've always tried to share that not only is what I'm wearing under my clothes holding up my stockings but it's enhancing my shape in a way that's both comfortable and super complementary to my clothing choices. It's not brain surgery, it's not wildly expensive, and much like the bygone era these items originated in when you purchase well made underpinnings they will last a very long time.
About 15 years ago I became aware of a company called Secrets In Lace, which was a blessing because aside from scoring dead stock hosiery at flea markets I had never been able to find quality new stockings in the market place. I quickly forged a relationship with the owners as we have so many mutual interests. Secrets In Lace was one of the first sponsors of the New York Burlesque Festival, helping us elevate our platform and allowing the festival to become the global powerhouse that it now is. We have worked together on fit projects, launched a capsule collection of vintage Hollywood inspired dresses, and they are supporters of my web series, Hey, It's Angie. One of the reasons I love collaborating with this company is the quality. The owners pay attention to detail, produce in manageable quantities, and have a gorgeous eye for color and cut.
Together with Secrets In Lace, I am proud to present this fast and easy guide of some of my favorite products that you should absolutely add to your wardrobe arsenal! They are beautiful, constructed with pride and durable materials that will give new life to your wardrobe!
LONG LINE BRA/ BUSTIER
A long line bra or bustier is a must in every undergarment collection. The Andrea style from Secrets In Lace is my favorite! First off, I am always drawn to black lace over a sheer toned fabric, but beyond the aesthetics, the Andrea is a fit touch-down! Its straps can be removed so you can wear it as a strapless bra, and trust me, with the support system built into this bra you won't be tugging it up all night. It's long line look also functions as a wearable corset, nipping the waist, eliminating and bra-bulge and really defining the waist line with a thick banding. Its cups are firm and supportive and the bra features 3 options for fastening via hook and eye. Don't relegate this bra just for fancy dresses, try it under a fitted sweater or even a sheer blouse where it really shines!
A garter belt serves two functions, primarily it holds up your stockings, which I have always favored as I find panty hose to be really confining, and the secondary function of a garter belt, when purchasing a quality brand, is additional shaping and support. Garter belts are worn around your true waist, feature 6 sturdy straps that hold up your stockings via garter clips and can add a nice level of control in the waist and tummy zone. One of my favorites is the Intrigue Garter Belt from Secrets In Lace, get it in black to coordinate with the Andrea Long Line Bra and pair them up. All of these items are made to work together and enhance shaping with quality tailoring and supportive fabrics as opposed to simply squeezing yourself into body socks made of compression materials.
You can also find variations on a traditional garter belt like Open Bottom Girdles which extend over your tush offering more smoothing and shaping muscle.
Under a garter belt, I often wear a panty or a thong, it all depends on the fit of my skirt. Secrets In Lace offers some gorgeous high waisted panties which pair beautifully with their garter belts. I am also a huge fan of their shaper panty which is constructed of a sheer black micro-mesh that offers a great level of support while remaining comfortable. The panty also has a high and thick waistband which offers more definition. And lastly its leg holes are fitted but offer a gentle elasticity so, unless your skirt is super tight, you won't have panty lines.
Find out what all the fuss is about! Seriously, once you wear a pair of quality stockings you will never return to panty hose again. Secrets In Lace manufacture their stockings on Reading Machines which are the original machines used in the 1950's. They are then sewn together to create the iconic, subtle yet sexy backseam. They are 15 denier, which is fancy stocking speak refers to the thickness of the stocking. The lower the number the more sheer and lightweight the stocking is and this is truly my favorite part of the Secrets In Lace Stockings. Most panty hose and stockings today are either dull or a way to shiny "skin tone." The reason is that most stocking production incorporates a high amount of elastane into the fabric mix of the stocking. This blend creates a lackluster look that screams, "I'm wearing panty hose." Secrets In Lace stockings enhance the leg but don't make it look like it is encased in a "skin tone" sock. In my experience, while you always have to treat all stockings with great care, Secrets In Lace Nylon is not as quick to snag and run as other companies that use mixed materials.
Stockings have a variety of heel accents. You have probably seen terms like French Heel, or Reinforced Heel and Toe, these terms generally refer to a contrast shape and color finish on the stocking which adds an extra level of protection on areas of your stocking that experience the most wear and tear. This utilitarian beginning turned trend allows you to mix up your stocking game! And Secrets In Lace offers the greatest variety in not only heels but backseam colors, too. The Glamour European stocking is easy to wear and and offers one of my favorite accents, the black back seam and sexy euro heel! Keep in mind, stockings don't always have to be beige or black. Check out the pastels collection, perfect for summer and spring!
**Safety first, you want to be careful when putting on your stockings as not to snag them and to keep your seams straight! Check out this tutorial from Secrets In Lace on how to put on your stockings! **
I hope my guide has been helpful to you. If you have any questions put them in the comments below and I will be happy to answer! Happy dressing, from top to bottom!