Saturday, July 24, 2010

On Bandboxes and Lingerie....

I often think I should have lived in the 1860's. This view was born of a great love of the novel by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women. Reading this book led to a life-long obsession with bandboxes (the March sisters each had one) and the fripperies they contained. A young lady's bandbox held ribbons and bows, lace collars, snippets of trim, all the things to adorn a frock and make it fetching. "She is as pretty (or as neat, or as trim) as a bandbox" is an expression that has merit. If a young lady had a bandbox of such things, then she must have cared about her appearance and making herself attractive.

Gradually, a lack of frippery has pervaded fashion (notwithstanding is this summer which is fashionably notable for its ruffles). But I do know something that still gives a frippery lover her due - lingerie. How else can a woman still wear laces, bows, wee silk flowers, sumptuous fabrics everyday day but on her unmentionables?

If you've been to a lingerie department (a good one), you know how lovely underwear can be. The colors, cuts, styles, fabrics, trim are all exceeding my dreams these past few years. I'm speaking of quality lingerie, not the fall-apart-after-one-wash kind. And it can be costly to have things that last but the investment is almost always worth it if only to feel pastel stretchy lace that doesn't itch under ones arms or a beautifully trimmed strap beneath a plain cotton t-shirt.

It is said that Frenchwomen will spend over $100 on a bra. Some have them custom made for $800! To have a bra measured to fit precisely, to be able to choose between organza trim or lace, silk charmeuse or silk noil, and whether one wants a tiny crystal or a rosette handsewn in the center, must be the ultimate luxury. Imagine the feeling of wearing such a bra to work under office-appropriate attire. It would be a private secret, a reminder of the dreams of a girl who fantasized about bandboxes and their feminine contents.

I adore taking care of my lingerie, mending it, washing it in suds in the sink, wrapping it in towels and hanging it. Knowing that I am protecting my investment and that these things are made to last in today's throwaway world makes me feel good.

I read once that all women are gypsies at heart; that if any woman is given a feather boa to wear, she will begin to dance and move in just the right way. I think the same can be said for lingerie. When I put on a lovely set of lace and trim I find I begin to move in the just right way too and suddenly, I feel pretty as a bandbox.


  1. Your posts are like dipping into a wonderful, romantic, other-times world. I love visiting.

    Little Women is one of my favourites too. I imagine myself as one of the sisters sitting by the fire, sewing or knitting. None of these girls head out to work in an office! I would have loved to have lived in the older times when women kept the home.

    Your thoughts on lingerie are very inspiring. As romantic as the thoughts in my head are, my underwear does not match up. Merci for the reminder.

  2. A lovely thoughtful post. Thank you for reminding us that lingerie can be lovely, quiet, secretive, and romantic.