J A N E
Years ago, a younger version of myself put on red strappy lingerie for a man only for him to walk in and say “Sup Spider-Man?”. I was mortified, I thought I looked hot af (I did). I vowed myself to “do less” and walk around in little boy shorts and t shirts. But it wasn’t me. I’m extra. I’m not that “cool” or “effortless” girl, I like effort and enjoy the process of getting ready, doing a look (doing the most tbh). I was still figuring things out and struggling with what made me feel good vs. what I was doing to appease others. I learned to reclaim my unabashed femininity and love for all things extra, and by doing so made myself a whole lot happier.
Guest Writer: Niara Williams
As someone whose mom bought their underwear until high school, there was one fateful day in the 11th grade when my sister took me to the local mall with her and I bought my first pair of lacy red underwear at Wet Seal. Up to that moment, all of my panties had come in a monotone five-pack from Target. When I saw the bins of $3 lace thongs, I was mesmerized by visions of myself in each and every piece. I only picked one though, I needed something discreet enough to fit into my pocket on the ride back home.
Growing up a Black girl in Nebraska was rough for a number of reasons, but not seeing myself reflected in images of feminine beauty was one which affected me deeply. Trying on that scratchy, unlined thong from Wet Seal was the first time I really saw my large, brown thighs and felt not only beautiful, but unashamed of where my body was big. A combination of this feeling and my first part-time job led me down a pathway of more unlined lace underwear and staring at my butt in mirrors.
I remember scrolling through Frederick’s of Hollywood for hours, not knowing the difference between a thong and a tanga, but knowing for sure that I needed the multi-colored version of both. When I wanted to expand my collection into stockings and garters, I spent a whole paycheck at SockDreams.com. (Free US shipping on all orders, I got you.) They have literally every sock style imaginable, in any length, and in a fishnet version. It was at this point that I started wearing thigh high socks with garters at every available opportunity.
Toward the end of a rough semester in college, I was hard up for cash and needed a way to pay for textbooks and expenses. When it got to the point where I was pawning my personal belongings, I took the bus downtown and stripped at a club I ended up working at for a few weeks. This experience taught me a few things about life, finances, and men... but most importantly, I learned the true gospel of black light reflective bodysuits. To this day, I’m still struck by the memory of another dancer’s bright green, leopard print bikini. All the curves of her body glowed, and that became my modus operandi when picking dance outfits. A lot of clubs have a small store for dancers to pick outfits from, but luckily my club was next door to a sex shop with an extensive black light collection. I still own a few pink glow-in-the-dark mini dresses.
I eventually stopped dancing at this club, but continued occasionally browsing local stores for new outfits. Even invested in a steel-boned corset from Orchard Corset and a body harness. And yes, I’m still looking at my butt in mirrors. I think I’m sexy, and I love that I think I’m sexy, especially after years of thinking I had to change myself to feel beautiful. Almost all of the women I’ve met throughout this journey have taught me that the most important quality of any piece of lingerie is that it makes you fall more in love with the body you already inhabit.
This is one reason why I love Savage x Fenty so much. Their NYFW show was a breathtaking and inclusive array of bodies and experiences they amplified through the mode of lingerie and public exposure. After I take care of my car that died last week and the expenses of adopting a new kitten, I plan to buy something from the FW ‘18 collection.
Whether you do it for yourself, the gram, or some lucky someone, we’ve got a few foolproof tips for the perfect sultry selfie.
1. Lighting is everything. Whether you choose bright or dim, make sure your skin is lit. Bonus: buy a colored lightbulb for an extra oomph. We love this pink one from Amazon.
2. Utilize the self timer! Prop your phone somewhere sturdy (don’t let it crash down on tile floors like I have, smh) and hit them angles.
3. Take a video. This tip comes from my friend Brittani (thnx, boo) take a video, screenshot your fave moments and voila! A lot less work then going back and forth to press the self timer button.
4. Positioning. I’ve found the best place to set your phone or camera is about belly button height, it’s not too “up angle” and not too MySpace angle.
When did you start designing and why lingerie?
Like my junior/senior year of high school. I started out by literally just sketching Blair Waldorf’s outfits because I was obsessed with her. Also the outfits I’d see in my favorite old Hollywood era movies, and then designing the things I wished they were wearing. Lingerie happened because I got really into corsetry and vintage lingerie styles I’d see on Bettie Page and pin up girls. I wanted to recreate the elegance and sultriness of these pieces but in more modern, accessible styles.
Who and what inspires you and your designs?
Women! I literally just love women. I’m generally drawn to strong woman archetypes in history, mythology, books, and media. I think of what these women would choose to wear to feel sexy. I’m always researching vintage lingerie styles and even just small details from decades of ready-to-wear runways. You’re never going to reinvent the wheel with lingerie (or fashion in general for that matter), but I try to combine details you wouldn’t normally expect together as well as combining elements of sexiness with functionality.
How do you hope to make people feel when they wear your pieces?
I always hope to invoke a feeling of both strength and eroticism. I’m a firm believer in lingerie being bought and worn for *yourself*, vs the usual advertising and designs of the past in this industry being geared towards what men want to see. It’s not to say I don’t expect any of my customers not to buy things to show off for their partner or even as a gift for them, but I want the connection to buying yourself nice lingerie to be about empowering yourself before anyone else.
Who are some of your favorite other lingerie companies/brands?
I love and am inspired by DSTM, Chromat, Bordelle, Studio PIA, Hopeless Lingerie, and when she still made her own stuff- Karolina Laskowska. Also my mentor’s brand, Clare Bare, as well as my good friend’s line Covert Behavior.
What are you working on next?
My sketchbook and notes app is constantly being filled with design ideas, my biggest issue is always deciding what to push forward on first. Besides putting out a lot more color and fabric choices for existing styles, I have been working on perfecting my block patterns for a bodysuit, jumpsuit, and teddy (lingerie version of a romper). I’m also forcing myself to make a low-rise panty style even though I’m personally high-waist/high-rise ‘til I die.