This post was written by Lindy Shopper.
If I had to pick one item that gets worn the most in my wardrobe, it would be my just-above-the-knee half slip. I wear a slip with almost every dress and skirt I own, save a few well-lined pencil skirts. Growing up, my mother would not let me leave the house in a dress or skirt without a slip on, or without passing the sunlight test: if I stood in front of the light and she could see the silhouette of my legs through the dress, the slip had to go on. At the time this was highly annoying – another layer of fabric? Over time I began to see the value of wearing slips, beyond just modesty.
The virtues of wearing a slip begin with the obvious, which involves sheer garments. Both vintage and new garments are made with sheer fabric. Most of the newer garments I come across may have a built-in slip or lining, adding dimension to the garment and showing off certain sheer areas, while covering others. Many vintage dresses that are sheer do not necessarily come with a slip or lining, either because of garment condition or, like me, the previous owner wore that particular slip with everything and it didn’t come with the dress. Insert full slip, half slip, and/or camisole under a sheer vintage dress and you have the desired look.
Beyond the obvious, why would you want to wear a slip? Here’s a list I brainstormed, based on my experiences:
Garment drape – I find that certain dress fabrics drape on your body better if you are wearing a slip. The slip creates a silky barrier so that the fabric does not stick to your skin, but falls as it was meant to fall, reinstating the flattering lines of the dress and facilitating the movement of the fabric.
Panty lines – thongs are sort of out of the question for swing dancing, so the remedy for panty lines under a tight skirt may be a slip.
Smooths out hips – I’m not talking about Spanx, I’m talking about the way the fabric falls over your hips. A slip can’t make your hips smaller, but it can help create a layer that smooths things out a bit so the fabric lays on the slip, not on your hip.
Prevents bunching – if you are an hourglass girl you may have encountered this problem: dress fits great, but as you walk, the fabric bunches up on the top of your bum or rides up in another unflattering way. This is usually a fabric problem, as the dress fabric catches on the underwear – a slip will usually prevent this kind of bunching.
Embarrassing moments – I’m thinking specifically of those occasions where I’ve been carrying a book bag while wearing a dress and, as I walk, the book bag collects the dress fabric and pulls it up between the bag and your back. Slip in place? Check!
Spins – You can wear bloomers or something to cover your bum more fully when you wear a full skirt for dancing, but what if you want to cover your thighs, too? Fat days happen and, while you may look fine, you don’t feel fine. On those days I will definitely be wearing a slip, as slips generally have enough give to be flexible for dancing, but won’t flare up when you spin.
Failing the sunlight test may be newsworthy
Pretty and/or unobtrusive – slips can either disappear under your garments or become a featured part of your outfit (from underneath, of course). I usually go for the disappearing slip because they are generally thinner and highly functional; however, there are a lot of pretty, decorative slips out there that could be worn, with a hem sticking out or a bit of lace showing at the bottom of a V-neck dress, much like a tank or camisole.
Modesty – I still implement the sunlight test because I feel uncomfortable leaving the house in something slightly sheer. This is obviously a personal choice, do what makes you comfortable, but be aware of what may happen under bright lights or back lighting. 😉
Upgrade your outfit – A lined garment is almost always more expensive than an unlined garment. I love buying cheap dresses from Forever 21, but most of them are not lined. Wearing a slip gives the illusion of a lining and makes your garment look more like a quality piece of clothing.
Where do you find slips? Most of mine were hand-me-downs from my mother and grandmother, so go shopping there first!
In a pinch I usually find them at department stores. The most practical ones I have found are at J.C. Penney’s website, and it is the ONLY place I have found a full slip for a floor-length dress (not to say others do not exist, but I had 3 local department stores actually tell me that no one made floor length slips anymore). The J.C. Penney slips are great because they come in a long or just below knee length, but are hemmed with lace at three lengths so you can customize your length without having to hem the slip. Sometimes it’s hard to measure the dress and find the right slip for underneath, so buying one of these slips allows you to try it on with the dress, select the exact length you need, and cut off the bottom at the lace layer with scissors for the perfect slip.
I keep hoping more retailers like Victoria’s Secret will get on the slip bandwagon, but, for the most part, their slips are more akin to nightgowns or sexy decorated undergarments that would not be suitable to wear under clothing. That said, I have been in love with this slip for a while as a functional and beautiful option.
In my post about Leluxe Clothing I mentioned that Leluxe carries slips to go under their 1920’s reproduction beaded dresses; however, you could buy any of these slips to wear under other dresses. They are simple, elegant, and drape well.
Finally, a great place to find slips is your local vintage store. These slips usually have better lace/trimmings than the newer slips, but still have the same great function.