Archive for Sunday, February 8, 2004

Comfort, luxury coexist in spring lingerie

February 8, 2004

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— Spring lingerie collections promise more colors, more frills and more luxurious fabrics as vintage-inspired, romantic garments fill the racks. And for those who have been suffering through the heyday of the thong and waiting for roomier panties to come back, the wait is over.

Bikini and boy short styles are everywhere, and with spring's more fluid silhouette, women have room to wear the lace, ruffles and frills that would have been bumpy under the sleek fashions of recent years.

Even at the Victoria's Secret fashion show, an annual parade of flesh that is broadcast on national television, there were some luxe bikinis and boy shorts among the barely there, outrageously sexy panties the show is known for.

"Boy short cuts are definitely a trend. Everybody's doing them," says Heidi Rausch, co-founder of Belabumbum, a line of imported Brazilian lingerie whose name is Portuguese for "nice bum." "That particular cut is one that everyone can wear. It's fun and romantic, yet sexy."

The fact that Brazil, the country most credited with popularizing thong panties and swimwear, is embracing vintage-inspired boy shorts may be the death knell for the tiny undergarments.

"Brazil is definitely the land of the thong, but it's also the land of the really short shorts," Rausch says. The boy short cut is similar to hip-hugger shorts but cut slightly higher on the hips and in the back.

The popularity of the thong was based largely on women's desire to avoid the dreaded visible panty lines. But stretch laces have replaced elastic bands on waistbands and legs, allowing women to wear panties cut in fuller styles, like bikinis and boy shorts, with no fear of "VPL."

"Boy shorts allow for no panty line. Think about it: Men have been wearing them for years now. The snug knit boxer is the No. 1 new shape," says Monica Mitro, spokeswoman for lingerie retailer Victoria's Secret.

Comfort is now an option for all types of lingerie, not just the functional "granny panty" offerings. No longer do women have to buy two sets of lingerie -- one functional and comfortable, another decorative and sexy. With increasingly beautiful -- and comfortable -- cuts and fabrics, it's easy for even the most no-frills lingerie consumer to go for glamour.

"In the past we could introduce a bra and say, well it's a little scratchy, but it's beautiful and it's a special-occasion bra," says Catherine Shannon, designer for Maidenform. "That no longer holds anymore; you have to give them everything."

Maidenform, known for its functional, everyday lingerie, has expanded its color palette this season and added feminine touches to all its bras and panties, even plain, smooth "T-shirt bras" that look seamless under fitted blouses.

"Embellishment is a huge trend right now," Shannon says. "We started out with a clean, minimal look, but we've enriched it with a lace detail to still give you the comfort and fit but with another embellishment."

As in clothing, adornments are a huge trend in lingerie, with ribbons woven through bras and panties, bows fastened everywhere they will stay put, and playful details like tiny keyholes cut out of the backs of panties. Used with luscious spring colors, including ice blue, papaya, pale green, peach and periwinkle, this season's details offer a lovely, ultrafeminine sexiness.

The glamour of the 1930s and 1940s can be seen on the countless undergarments trimmed with white or cream lace, but the polka-dotted whimsy of the 1950s is in evidence as well, especially in the ladylike but sexy pairings of black and spring's biggest color, pink.

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