chebe: (LanternReflect)
[personal profile] chebe
I've gone a bit mad, searching for, buying, and longing for all the satin and lace I can find. This is unusual for me as I tend to avoid embellishment as much as possible, and find satin beautiful but impractical.

It has a lot to do with my now pathological desire to make myself underwear that not only fits, but is comfortable. I've been secretly buying up patterns, modern and vintage, finding suppliers, and gathering books. It has been a very slow process, but soon I'll be cutting my first piece of fabric, and am getting very excited. (Can you tell?)

I hadn't mentioned it before because underwear is still a taboo subject. And there is something a little seedy about posting photos of my underwear on the internet. Of course it's not like that, but people can get the strangest notions.

Also people I know in real life are starting to discover that this blog exists. Perhaps even future employers. I don't really want them to be thinking about my underwear in interviews.

And on top of everything, I guess I feel a little like I'm letting down female geeks, by seemingly forgetting my tech-toys and spending time on so-called intimate apparel.

But then, I get talking to my female friends, and it turns out that we all suffer through poorly fitting underwear. Even if you spend the time (and small fortune) to find items that fit, chances are they still aren't really all that comfortable. And if, by some miracle, you do find the perfect garment, next season it's discontinued and you're back to square one.

The obvious solution, to me at least, is to make our own. It wasn't long after starting out on this journey that I realised this is one of those things easier said than done. Honestly, it infuriates me that something so basic, and necessary to daily life should be so clouded in mystery, its secrets so closely guarded, materials so hard to source. Some items, like the bra and corset, justifiably take skill and perseverance to get right. But there are so many other options available! Can you think of any? ... No? I couldn't either before I got started. Seems we're programmed to only think about what's for sale in the shops. But as a friend once said to me (heavily paraphrased), women have had womenly shapes for a long time, what did they wear before? Why hasn't this problem been solved yet?

I think, based purely on my own experience growing-up, that we are trained to wear certain things. This changes depending on when and where you grew up. In this day-and-age it's all about knickers and bras. I came of age when having visible bra straps and g-string knickers was considered cool. (Not hard in baggy combats and a string vest top.) In an age of the light-weight t-shirt (with or without words/graphics placed squarely over the breast), and the rise of Wonderbra. This created one very clear image; women wear bras, and padded bras at that. Because otherwise they might see your nipples beneath your t-shirt, and we can't be having that.

I'd like to examine this for a minute if you'll indulge me. So, you can reveal that you're wearing underwear, even flaunt it. You can wear clothes to show-off the gravity defying cleavage they give you. You can pad your bra, buy 'chicken fillets' and air pumps to enlarge the appearance of your breasts. But you must never let them see your nipples? The nipple being the only functional part of the breast, the bit actually needed to feed our young. This does not sit well with me. I'm all for owning your sexuality, for expressing it, I believe it to be healthy. But dressing up like a Barbie doll strikes me as dressing to please others, while suppressing the true underlying nature of that sexuality. Also, it's hypocritical. Men have nipples, children have nipples, dogs, cats, in fact, all mammals have nipples. Why should female humans be the only ones to try and hide them?

Woah, I'm sorry, I got very side-tracked. What I was trying to say was, we have a lot of strange notions in our heads, and I hope to undo the damage of a few of mine. Let me wrap up with some simple assertions.

  • You do not have to wear a bra. If you are a C-cup or larger chances are you will feel more comfortable with the firm support of a good bra. And they do help fight off gravity. Even so, there are alternatives to metal-reinforced cups.

  • Lightly padded bras can be comfortable, and give you a sense of confidence. But heavily padded bras serve no purpose other than to deceptively hypersexualise your body. (If this is your thing, go for it. But I refuse to dress this way every day.)

  • There is nothing wrong with the natural shape of the breast, we do not always need to sculpt them into perfect hemispheres.

  • Having underwear move with you is a good thing. Having your movement restricted for fear of falling out, or catching, pinching, etc, is very, very bad.

  • You don't even always have to wear knickers. Knickers that ride up inside you are poorly fitted. Styles that do this regardless of size are not healthy to wear every day. Natural fabrics (hello organic cotton) are healthier than synthetics. And far more practical for everyday.

  • After that it's all about personal style, choice, and taste.

It is from these starting points that I will be discovering how to make underwear. I hope to share some of my journey with you (though behind cuts, so if this entire topic embarrasses you don't worry). Do you agree, or disagree? Do you have pointers, tips, suggestions, requests? Are you on a similar quest?

Date: 2010-11-28 02:28 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] wyvernfriend
That all sounds very interesting and useful, I am a between size person who has horrible problems finding well-fitting bras. I agree with you about nipples. I can't wear underwires since my cancer and many of the bras for a woman who is 39 D/DD are only available underwired or for pregnant women. However I'm terrible at sewing, much more a knitting or crochet person. I have sewing machine fear.
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