Fashion

Is your Lingerie Or Underwear Letting You Down? Literally! Wardrobe Reset With Aleksandra Olenska

Smalls, pants, bras, vests, knickers, underwear, panties.. whatever you call them they do more for a woman than their original functionality.

In Italian they have this wonderful word that I adore – sprezaturra – the art of studied nonchalance. And really that’s the secret of French style – it may appear effortless, but can in fact only appear so, because work has gone into the foundations before hand. And none is more important than starting your wardrobe reset with your underwear drawer – or should that be lingerie! And that’s the subject of this video!

I’ll be talking you through three key areas to consider for the perfect wardrobe foundations, and watch to the end to find and a bonus tip for easier, less stress mornings, no matter how busy you are!

The most important place to start with a wardrobe reset, is in your underwear drawer. It can reveal a lot about you and your relationship to your body and style.

As a stylist,  I’ve always bought a fun pair of knickers for celebrities I’ve worked with, as it helps to set the mood for dressing up in comfort AND style – and having fun with it! And having lived and worked in Paris for over a decade, I’ve seen the truth about French dressing, and the fundamental differences between Anglo undies and French lingerie! 

Which brings me to pieces you may wish to consider for your drawer of drawers! 

Image credit: Ginny Marsh

1. Well fitting bras with matching knickers in shapes and colours that celebrate your style and that support you!

Realistically, no matter what size your bra, but especially if you have bountiful bosoms, bras can stretch out pretty quickly in general daily wear and washing. An annual cull and review is really necessary to ensure you are fully fabulous and splendidly supported!

YOU’VE ALL HEARD THE LINE WHERE YOUR ATTENTION GOES, ENERGY FLOWS…

Well, if everytime you go to the bathroom or get dressed in the morning in  baggy saggy or sad panties, then that’s going to inform your self beliefs. So if you pay a little attention from the get go to your smalls, then that’s a practical step towards next level confidence and style – no matter what your age or moment in life – not to mention a great sassy step to inner sparkle! 

Whilst there is room for a t-shirt bra, it shouldn’t be all your bras! Likewise, there is room in your wardrobe for comfy panties – for your period if you’re still having that but they shouldn’t make up the bulk of your wardrobe and it’s important that you find styles that suit your style, and support you from the inside out! 

In France, you can find underwear, or lingerie as they call it, in the local supermarket – Monoprix, or at sumptuously specialist lingerie boutiques, and brands such as Carine Gilson. 

The big difference is that wherever you’re shopping for your underwear, matching sets in a range of colours – some of which is machine washable – are available, and the quantity over quality, bulging pantie multi-packs of the British high street are nowhere to be found. There is a pride in that first step of getting ready for yourself – because if you can’t flirt with yourself in the morning, handling your body in all its beauty with love and tenderness, whatever your shape and size, then how can you expect someone else to adore it. Good lingerie can help you to handle yourself with love care and respect, not to mention a knowing twinkle. You’re still sexy – and you know it, from the inside out! 

I remember one of my first styling jobs…it was in the late 90s, at the height of the visible thong trend – when you saw them peeking out of the top of low slung jeans…remember that?

and this gorgeous very well known female photographer was shooting the celebrities I was working with…she always gets this wonderful mischievous, joyful and oh lala look from all the models and celebrities that she photographs, and I had poured over her work in books whilst I was still a student studying literature.

Anyway, she was sitting on the steps waiting for the celebrities to get in place, and she was wearing a lovely short skirt, and underneath you could see these fabulous frothy, ruffled BIIG white can can style knickers!

And I loved her even more. In spite of the trend for skimpy g-strings, here she was being true to herself in style – and doing it in a very chic way!

Because yes, big panties don’t have to be grey and Bridget Jones, they can be cheeky and fabulous and bring out your inner va va voom!

After all, fashion is just a tool to help you to feel elegant and relevant – or however you want to feel, but style helps you to express yourself as the gorgeous individual that you are beyond the trends!

I’d thoroughly recommend getting a professional bra fitting at Rigby and Peller, who can suggest perfectly fitting bras from a range of French and European brands, and alter them specifically for you where necessary. Once you’ve had a bra professionally fitted by them, you’ll experience a new comfort and perkiness and never want to go back! Don’t forget to buy a few knickers for every bra that you buy. 

Image credit: Ginny Marsh

2. In my styling kit you’ll find practical invisible knickers in a range of styles. 

As a stylist, whether I’m working with celebrities, private clients or on magazine shoots or catwalk shows, there are some pieces of underwear that I always carry around in my styling kit…that can also be really helpful to have in any wardrobe.

I recall one famous model, from a storied pedigree of model celebrity families, who turned up to a fashion show in a jewelled union jack thong, in spite of having been asked to come in a nude thong for the show! It might have been the 2000s but it wasn’t quite the girl power look we were going for! Thankfully, the trusted styling kit had a selection of thongs, as any stylist, girl scout, or successful woman knows – it’s good to be prepared! 

Similarly, for your own wardrobe, it’s good to have a selection of practical invisible knickers in styles that you like but that aren’t sad and baggy.

For these, I particularly like the modern synthetic but seam free options that often come in a variety of nude tones, as well as black and white, and come in a range of coverage. Commando does brilliant ones, and I also really like the ones by Simone Perele and Wolford.

It’s also time to reconsider the thong

I was very impacted by the aforementioned 90s thong trend, and always felt that they were a bit slutty – and not in a good way, and also I initially couldn’t help but get over the fear of feeling of them flossing ones bottom.. And then in Paris I discovered Crazy Horse! Oh.  la.   la. 

Unlike other cabaret performances in Paris such as the Moulin Rouge or Lido, the Crazy Horse is utterly chic, and often dressed by designers such as Christian Louboutin or xxx. The girls are super strong, in a dancer pilates kind of a way, and the feeling is fun sexy and cheeky. I love it! And they wore these thong’s that were barely there, just a thin horizontal band with a vertical band off it, with a gusset – and just like that I was converted. 

Image credit: Kate Sharp

And sometimes that’s what we all need to do about all sorts of things, namely our limiting style beliefs – to spin our script on style beliefs…in this case that thongs were tacky. (alongside the judgemental voices of others swirling around…they’re not for girls like you! or

You’re too old for that kind of thing!) Actually, you’re never too old for anything…and yes thongs can be tacky, but they can also be sexy and even practical.

Sometimes at mid-life and beyond, frankly bottoms can start to appear less pert than before, maybe even a little bit saggy…and this can mean a more visible vpl (visible panty line) as the elastic of knickers can easily sink into soft crepey skin. 

Now, that’s fine for many garments, but perhaps less fine on say leggings, or a tight dress…enter the thong! I especially love that Crazy Horse simple seamfree style, that blends as much as possible so you don’t see them!  As a bountiful bonus, they really reveal your bottom, which can be rather confronting  initially, if you’re not used to that…but what a wonderful thing to get used to! Embracing your bootylicious backside with kindness and love! 

I also have a range of Shape wear in the styling kit…

Whilst some women manage to wear shapewear on a daily basis, I wouldn’t recommend it. Wearing it too often and it can become a safety blanket that leaves you feeling out of touch with yourself, and the beauty of your own body. Of course for specific outfits or special occasions – the red carpet and festivities for instance,  it can be a blessing to help create a smooth base. 

For those of you that have tried it, some shapewear can actually be pretty stressful, rolling up and creating a new bulge (as if we need any extra!) or squeezing the fat or soft skin from one place to another – creating more bulges!

If you do have a look that calls for shapewear, the Skimms line  is actually quite good, and comes in a brilliant range of tones, and I always have these rather unattractive numbers from Wacol in my styling kit that are brilliant. You can also get a full body number! I’d also say if you’re trying to create a smooth base, you can size up and still create a smooth base, don’t feel like it needs to be virtually suffocating you to be working! 

 

3. Finally the kit contains toupee tape, chicken fillets and other accessories – again great for red carpet, photoshoots, premieres and special occasions, but less useful for everyday life!

Of course, at mid-life and beyond, it’s also important to Experiment with sexy as you are now, which might involve redefining your version – or societies version of sexiness! 

Whatever your current relationship status – especially at midlife where you may be divorced (again) or widowed, in my Inside out Method to your next level you, I’m a big advocate of dating yourself – and this involves Buying beautiful underwear for yourself, as much as for anyone else who you may choose to show it to – it’s important to date yourself!

 Wear good underwear – for yourself – to make you smile from the inside, so that you feel put together – not because you’re ready to get your clothes off…!!!

 –       Don’t be ashamed of you as you are now and experimenting with new versions of sexy , try out different versions of sexy with your underwear – only you need know (well unless you choose to show someone else!) Just for the fun, try on something unexpected – who  knows, you may like it…and it can be your secret!

–       Your body’s been through all sorts of things – children, breast feeding, operations, wait gain menopause – give yourself grace

–       Be careful with your self talk and the words you choose to use about yourself and your body…

–       Explore your perception of sexy for different occasions – whilst shouldn’t feel obliged to be a page 3 girl all over the place, there are  different possible versions of sexy and sensual for gardening as much as for the bedroom – it’s as much about how you feel about yourself and your body, as what you are wearing! 

Finally, I promised you a note on Socks and hosiery. 

When I’m getting an early morning flight or Eurostar, especially in the depths of a European winter, where the mornings are still dark, one of my favourite tights tips is Falke cotton touch tights...They’re especially ideal for 40 plus and the peri menopause, as they’re breathable and extraordinarily comfortable, are machine washable, and don’t ladder or snag easily! Amazing. For any of you who are super cold, there are also versions with merino or cashmere from Falke that are equally wonderful. 

I do tend to size up slightly, as one of my pet hates is a baggy crotch. Apart from that, they have a tag in the back – it reminds me a bit of name tags for kids stitched into the back of school uniforms. The reason I love this, is at the dead of a winters morning, half asleep, I can pull them on quickly knowing that I’ve got them the right way round, and am not going to be cursed by the tights twist later in the day! I also adore tights and stockings from Wolford and Fogal, for less thick tights, and also adore these knitted winter hold ups from Wolford with a comfortable gummy rubber like hold up at the top, that are great for wearing under trousers or slightly longer length skirts to give you a little inner wiggle. They’re also ideal for after any abdominal surgery such as a hysterectomy, myomectomy or c section where waistbands are a no no. 

Now that you’re in the groove for change, maybe you’re ready to refresh other foundational pieces of your wardrobe – those daily basics and seemingly simple pieces that are wardrobe workhorses, and that can be surprisingly difficult to find…watch on for my next video on this very subject! 

In the meantime I wish you merci, and a la prochaine, bye bye. 

Lots of love, xoxo Aleksandra

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