Ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov (whom you might recognize as Aleksandr Petrovsky, aka Carrie Bradshaw's Russian flame in Sex and the City) once said "fundamentals are the building blocks of fun." The sentiment has stuck with me since the first time I heard it, and essentially means that learning the basics is crucial to excelling in any area of life. Take fashion, for example. Your foundation pieces (aka your underwear) are the building blocks of a great outfit. In fact, choosing the right pair of underwear is one of the easiest ways to make your outfit look its best.
When you consider how many times so many of us have looked in the mirror and thought, "Ugh, I should have worn a different bra or another pair of underwear," you'd think this styling hack was one of the fashion industry's best kept secrets. The truth is, conversations about fashion rarely revolve around underwear, let alone how to wear it, so it's no surprise we continue to make this fashion faux pas, not knowing how to correct it.
That is, until now.
"The type of bra or panty hose worn under a dress or outfit can be an enhancement or an enormous encumbrance," stylist Mickey Freeman tells InStyle. The same goes for underwear. "The type one chooses can completely alter the way a garment fits, depending on how [the piece] moves in tandem with the outfit and, most importantly, affect one's overall comfortability."
So what's the secret to mastering intimates in order to create immaculate outfits? Below, experts reveal their best base-layer tips and tricks.
Invest in Seamless Panties
Think of your underwear like the crew on your favorite television show; they work hard behind the scenes to ensure the finished product is (at the very least) visually flawless. So when you're interviewing (um, shopping), check their credentials. Learn what bra styles and types of underwear are on the market, and what the different shapes and cuts can do for you and your wardrobe because, when it comes down to it, the outward design really does matter.
For example, when choosing your underwear-drawer go-tos, it's important to select pieces that are comfortable and make sense for the types of looks you wear, celebrity stylist Haylee Ahumada advises. And, of course, she adds, personal preference will come into play, too.
"When it comes to underwear, thongs in my opinion are the best to wear with anything from leggings to dresses to skinny jeans," Ahumada tells InStyle. "To me, this is the most hassle-free option when it comes to picking underwear. It's also important to have a variety to choose from — silky, seamless, and skin-tone thongs."
If thongs aren't your thing, Freeman highlights seamless styles as an excellent alternative, since they can instantly eliminate the kind of cringe-worthy creasing associated with normal panties. He also seconds Ahmada that skin-tone underwear is a must.
"Flesh-toned panties are the solution to the slowly reemerging and cringe-worthy early 2000s trend of sheer or semi-sheer clothing that shamelessly reveal someone's panties, which is only made worse by them being a thong," he explains, describing the risque look. "Be aware that there are very rare exceptions to this rule."
Take the Shame Out of Shapewear
Let's just address the elephant on the page here, shall we?
Shapewear didn't always have the best reputation, and those who did wear it often did so as if it were some kind of shameful secret. But the undergarments are significantly less taboo these days; people are opening up about their favorite pieces and brands are designing collections that are much more body-positive. In fact, corsets are having a moment right now, thanks to period dramas like Bridgerton. All this to say, loving and wearing shapewear shouldn't be something to be ashamed of, and if you're interested in giving it a try, Freeman and Ahumada agree it can definitely elevate your outfit.
Freeman suggests shapewear as a hack for creating balance, from top to bottom. "A simple way for women who happen to have narrow hips, yet more busty upper bodies would be to wear wide-legged trousers or a flared skirt, which works vice versa for women who have more volume at the waist and hips. This method will maximize the waist-minimizing effects that shapewear is so popular for." Put simply: If you're nipping in somewhere, allow yourself to create volume somewhere else.
As for when it's appropriate to wear shapewear, if it makes you feel good in the moment, anytime is a good time. That being said, many people, Ahumada included, save their shapewear for more formal occasions. "They provide seamless support and also give you added confidence knowing that everything under your silk dress is smoothed out and sucked in."
All this is to say, making any outfit look great really is as simple as putting on your underpants, one leg at a time.
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