Shopping with experts: proper petticoats


Our new proper petticoat from Ross+Bute

We're having a retro moment with underwear here at the Women's Room and it started with the news that big knickers are definitely coming back. Our friends in the lingerie business tell us that future trends are looking very 40plus friendly as they call on the glamour of the fifties and the more structured, sophisticated style of foundation garments that held everything in and up.

The BBC's 60s based Mad Men (a programme that someone, surely has got to turn into a clothes brand? I'd certainly buy everything that both Bobby and hapless Betty wear) makes us realise the benefits of sculpting our bumps into sexy curves

Now anyone who actually suffered a 'roll on' or girdle the first time around might think we had our rose coloured glasses on at this point, as they were less than comfortable and anyway, weren't the sixties all about being released from our constricting underwear? burning our stiff wire bras and all that?

Well yes of course and we're not advocating a return to constricted form, so to speak, but as we get older we are aware that some of our womenly undulations, despite regular Pilates and yoga, seem to be in need of a little structured support. As Nora Ephron states in her book I Feel Bad About My Neck, after fifty, even if you are a super skinny like she is, you will always have a soft roll of immovable fat around your middle that just wont budge. We also know that an article of lingiere known as a 'string' (M&S) is something we might prefer to pass on for everyday wear. 

So watch out for bras with wider shoulder straps and broader back fastenings, beautifully adorned with velvet ribbons and nice lace, as we've seen in the US at Victoria's Secret, or with an extra two or three inches of pretty fitted fabric below the bust line to give a smoother line as Marks & Spencer have got (if you can find them, don't get us started on trying to find your bra size in M&S, drives us crazy). Bigger knickers, which hold in tummies and smooth out bumpy cellulite can be very Mrs Robinson like if paired with a really beautiful bra.

But our most recently discovered item of retro lingerie is a proper petticoat, in silk jersey or bias cut satin or just in simple fine cotton, to make us feel really grown up and surprisingly alluring. My first re-encounter with a petticoat came as part of a Diane Von Furstenburg lace dress for autumn 08, a tiny figure skimming thick silk shift that was sexier than the dress that went over it. Ms Von Furstenberg knows a thing or two about how to feel good in clothes and the petticoat is now worn more than the dress. 

Inspired by the incredible usefulness of this slip of satin silk -clothes just look better and fall more smoothly over it- I decided I needed more and purchased a Ross + Bute viscose jersey lace trimmed one in powdery pink to brighten up a grey lace dress (above).  The Kings Road store is staffed with helpful girls who suggested the brighter turquoise version as a shot of dramatic colour under the grey, which looked fabulous and was a great idea but I was a coward and stuck to pink, charmed by its old fashioned appeal. Colour would have been more modern.

Next purchase could be the bestselling M&S smoothing slip, an Azzadine Alaia/Herve Leger inspired hold-it-all-in number that looks useful and in nude, might be perfect for wearing under summer frocks.

Marks & Spencer's best selling smoothing sleeveless slip

Ros + Bute Anonymous clothing  

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