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Road Test: Can a matching lingerie set make me feel sexy?

IMAGE VIA @saturdaythelabel/INSTAGRAM

WORDS BY GENEVIEVE PHELAN

Maybe, if you’re wearing it for you.

A matching bra and undie set has always been an elusive concept to me. I’ve seen them in the movies and online shopping and assume all CEOs must be wearing them. In my mind, it’s unofficial under armour, destined to make you a more organised and confident person.

Truth be told, when I first sat down to write this article, I wasn’t being entirely honest with myself. I think being in the first long-term relationship of my life, I felt that my underwear game wasn’t as ‘sexy’ or as beautiful as it could be.


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I was hoping this article could give me an avenue to try on some lacy sets that would impress my partner and make me feel good about myself. Those motives feel a bit stupid now, but I’m glad it’s prompted some self-reflection.

It’s hard to separate hyper-sexualised lingerie from the notion that it should be worn by someone with a slender yet busty physique. Why? Probably because we (I was born in 1998) grew up on a diet of Victoria’s Secret Fashion Shows that paraded very slim, scantily-clad models. These shows taught us there was a very unrealistic body standard to aspire to if we wanted to wear those itty-bitty g-strings and bras.

It feels like the issue with sexy lingerie has always been that it is made for men, or at least, for the male gaze. I hate that my thinking recently switched to ‘I should wear some prettier underwear for my partner’, instead of questioning what made me feel comfy and confident and hygienically healthy and all that important stuff.

We all know the Bridget Jones’ Diary scene in which Hugh Grant makes fun of Renée Zellweger’s ‘granny panties’. That one’s stayed printed on my impressionable little brain for aeons, reminding me that high-waisted cotton underwear is apparently not considered ‘hot’. It made me always think twice about what I’d wear on a night out or a date.

Luckily, in recent years, we’ve seen the dawn of the female-made lingerie and intimates era, spanning Kim Kardashian’s size-inclusive Skims and local favourites like Lé Buns bridging what’s considered ‘cute’ with what’s genuinely comfortable for the wearer. I’m glad we aren’t feeling so pressured to wear floss-like g-bangers in neon peach hues like I did when I was 18 – I just have to take a look at the back of my underwear drawer to see how far we’ve come.

My biggest disclaimer for this article is that I’m not saying we all need to wear matchy lacy sous-vêtements every day, but I have felt curious about the way their beauty could elevate my mood or make me look at my reflection in a different way. We curate outfits that match our style and make us feel good, so it makes sense that undergarments could do the same thing.

I think my limitations to previously donning a coordinated and cute set of knickers and bra are two-pronged: I haven’t felt comfortable in ‘pretty’ underwear and I don’t want to get UTIs or thrush. The comfort thing comes from feeling unsexy in underwired or padded bras because of my small-ish bosoms. I also like the tummy coverage provided by more high-waisted, flexible g-strings compared to their satin, silky or lacy counterparts.

I’ve always felt insecure about my midsection and am a strict one-piece over bikini wearer. Again, these are silly habits I’m trying to break. That yeast infection bit is because I’ve been traumatised by vaginal infections in my early 20s and learned my lessons. They were mainly caused by wearing synthetic underwear that didn’t allow ventilation and trapped bacteria in.

I religiously wear Vee Underwear nowadays, for the breathable, moisture-wicking and antibacterial properties of its organic bamboo fabrication. And to be honest, these will always be my reigning favourites for no-brainer everyday dressing. Despite those preexisting concerns, I wanted to try a ‘sexy’ set of lingerie to see how it made me feel.

Giving a lacy two-piece a whirl

To undertake this experiment, I got in touch with the Australian lingerie label Saturday the Label, who kindly sent me two sets of matching bras and undies. I chose this gorgeous Edi Bra and Thong Set (because that blue is to die for) and the monochromatic Weekend Edition Bra and Thong Set for something classic.

When the product arrived, I thought ‘Holy wow that is so stunning’ but at the same time, I couldn’t imagine myself in them. I think that my very deep and indelible body image insecurities made me question if I was the right person to be wearing them. How fucked is that? But I put them on the other day and the cobalt blue set surprised me.

I thought the meshy, unpadded bra was gorgeous in its intricate design and it felt really good on my body. Its fabrication gives that sort of ‘free’, barely-there feel of a bralette without compromising on aesthetics. The fact that the set is matching in colour and style really revolutionised my getting ready process. I took time to stop and admire myself in the lingerie before putting on the rest of my outfit, and it kickstarted a really great day of work, meetings, errands and a date night.

I also didn’t feel annoyed or awkward as the day went on. There wasn’t any weird digging-in on my top half and I suffered no wedgy woes. I just genuinely liked the way my body felt in something beautiful, as I would when selecting outer garments that speak to my personal style. While I prioritise comfort and hygiene at all costs, the unspoken power that a striking, superb and comfortable pair of bra and undies possesses is something I’m glad to have uncovered.

I think I’ll try and don a cute pair once a week. Maybe it’s on a Friday to feel extra fabulous at the end of week mark, or a rogue Monday where I’m feeling a bit ‘meh’ and need a little morale boost. As we all realised in lockdown, the things you wear each day (regardless of whether you even leave the house) have a huge impact on your mood.

I also think I’ve realised that the only person I should be thinking about when I put underwear on is myself. If I want to lounge in period undies one day, a bamboo bikini the next, and a fun silky blue pair occasionally, that’s cool. I do need to make a more conscious effort to put my own desires and comfort first. And I suggest you do the same, regardless of whether anyone else is seeing them.

Genevieve Phelan is Fashion Journal’s Lifestyle & Careers Columnist. Her writing fuses introspection with investigation, calling on her own personal anecdotes and the advice of admired experts in the realms of intimacy, money, friendship, careers and love. You can find her here and here.

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