A slip into the past

My daughter, Jennifer Lynn recently asked me, “What’s that thing called that women wear under dresses so that you can’t see through them? Oh yeah, a slip.”

Last summer, Jennifer’s aunt bought her a sweet dress off the sale rack at Anthropologie when we were on vacation in Santa Monica. The only problem is that the dress is made out of sheer, ivory-colored, cotton fabric that has about as much coverage on her skin as SPF 30 sunscreen. Since Jennifer tends to dress very conservatively, she is on the hunt for a solution for what to wear underneath it.

For most girls, wearing something that has a revealing silhouette or exposes their underwear, really doesn’t seem to be much of a concern.

I’ve stood in line behind women in Starbucks where I could literally read their bra size because their tank top didn’t fully cover their bra and the little tag happened to be flipped up. I’m still a little traumatized by the woman I saw last week who was in the waiting room with me while we were both getting our cars smogged. The hot pink thong under the flowy white summer dress is an image that doesn’t easily fade from memory.  It keeps coming back to my mind like a scene from a scary movie. While I was both horrified and fascinated watching her come in and out of the waiting room, it was the eyes on the guy writing up the smog certificate that really had my attention. What was running through his mind? I don’t want to know.

Long gone are the days when we kept a supply of safety pins on hand so that if a shoulder strap on our dress, didn’t want to align with our bra strap, we could pin the two together from the underside. Having your bra strap show would have been considered very low class. If we bought a dress, we made sure we had a slip to wear underneath it. I remember sorting through the circular racks of slips in the lingerie department– full slips and half slips – all with varying amounts of lace and coverage. It makes me laugh to think about how many layers of elastic women had circling their waists before the liberating 1960s arrived…bikini underwear hadn’t even become commonplace yet.

Today, looking for a slip for Jennifer to wear under her dress seems to be an anachronistic exercise. A quick internet search came up with these options – either the body-shaper, super-sexy, tuck it all in and push it all up Spanx kind of slip or ones that are on the same website as the housecoats, Muumuus and incontinence underwear.

But we haven’t given up. There’s always eBay where I’m sure some enterprising millennial is selling off the stuff in the bottom of her mother’s dresser drawers. I think Jennifer will be quite happy slipping into something retro.

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