– By Diana Minnocci –
Styles change, trends fade, but one fashion tenet will always remain the same: the importance of a well-chosen undergarment. After all, even the most beautiful of apparel can be rendered a fashion faux pas without the appropriate foundation piece. But lingerie is more than mere functionality, for Victoria’s secret may well be that undergarments are the most expressive portion of a woman’s wardrobe. That’s because lingerie has this incredible transformative power; any woman who has worn a chic little black dress with sexy, sheer underthings knows the confidence that intimate apparel can inspire. Next to diamonds, lingerie just might be a girl’s best friend.
The average woman owns nine bras, six of which she wears on a regular basis, and thirty-four pairs of underwear. Of course, that’s just the standard estimate. Some lingerie aficionados may find themselves dedicating an entire section of their bureau exclusively to their lacy undergarments. But whether you invest in nine sets or ninety, standards of care remain the same. Here’s how to clean and keep your lingerie so that it remains in its best condition.
Back Row(L to R): La Bouquetière Gardenia Exotique Fabric Softener & Laundry Powder, Santa Maria Novella Lavender Silk Sachets, The Laundress Delicate Wash & Delicate Spray. Front Row(L to R): Hermès Scented Drawer Liners, Whitmore Mesh Bra Wash Bag
Never wash bras, shapewear, or underwear in the washing machine. If you are so hurried that you lack any other option, at least use a lingerie bag and hook your bras to prevent them from catching on one another. Always air dry; the high heat of dryers deteriorates the elastic fibers found in most lingerie garments. The best method definitely is to hand wash using a mild detergent. Silk items, if not dry-clean only, should be washed in cold water, but all other fabrics can tolerate lukewarm.
To keep lingerie drawers organized, purchase a few drawer dividers or designated lingerie boxes. Stores which specialize in home décor – such as Ikea, Pottery Barn, and Bed, Bath, and Beyond – generally have an extensive stock of containers in gorgeous colors and prints. Fabric-lined wicker baskets, so long as they are compact enough to fit within your dresser, are another great option. You might also make use of perfumed drawer liners – Hermes produces these in a beautiful vetiver fragrance – and pretty potpourri satchels, to give your intimates a subtle, alluring scent.
The proper way to store bras: vertically, never folded.
The proper way to store bras is to stack them vertically atop their underwire, with the hooks done up. Don’t fold one cup into another, which can encourage rippling, and don’t leave the hooks undone, as this will result in accidental pulls. Folding and storing underwear is a much simpler affair. I prefer to keep one bra box and one underwear box in each drawer so that I can match sets easily when dressing in a hurry.
You shouldn’t hang corsets, basques, or bustiers; the weight of the garment will cause undue stretching and pulling. Instead, all three types are best rolled for storage. If you collect garter belts and stockings, I’d recommend offering each their own separate space. I even save and reuse the plastic bags that come with the hosiery I purchase, tossing aside the cardboard portion of the package, to keep my stockings from snagging.
With a little bit of care and proper maintenance, your lingerie will wear as beautiful as the day it was first acquired. Because, truly, gorgeous undergarments – be they lacy, racy, frilly, flirty, sweet, or seductive – are every woman’s right.
Diana Minnocci is a freelance fashion writer with graduate degrees in English and Women’s Studies. She’s particularly obsessed with fine lingerie and red lipstick, and is a lover of all things vintage. You can follow her on Twitter @dianaminnocci.–
Feature photo credit: Dirk Messner