Over Christmas, I stayed at my parents’ house for a few days with my sister and her fiancé. Since I hadn’t seen my sister in a year, it was great to catch up with her and have some good sisterly bonding time.
Historically, there haven’t been a lot of topics we can bond over. She takes pains over her appearance; I prefer a style I call Shabby Cheap. She’ll wake up on a Friday, remember she has a marathon that Sunday, and nail it, powered by kale and quinoa; I’d rather puff and pant through three miles and then reward myself with a cinnamon roll.
But lately, we’ve been finding more things we have in common. For example, buying lingerie. Not for ourselves. Oh gosh. No. Worse: for other people. People we know.
Our friends keep getting married, see, and among the many other arcane rituals of matrimony, there is the traditional Giving of Fancy Underwear. As my sister was in charge of planning a lingerie party over Christmas break, and I was in the throes of selecting some lingerie for another friend, there was a certain amount of underwear-themed hysteria in the house (much to the men’s chagrin).
Because here’s the catch with lingerie shopping: With every other gift you buy in your lifetime, you’re supposed to take great pains with selecting it. You’re meant to wander the aisles at length, considering each option carefully and trying to guess whether the recipient would like it.
But with lingerie, that is patently not the case. Call me a prude, but I don’t particularly enjoy dwelling at length on my friends’ underwear preferences. So do I just go for a style I’d like to wear? What if that’s too racy or too conservative? Which side is better to err on?
Fortunately, my father was able to keep a sense of humour throughout this process. Some of his remarks made me realize how unbalanced the lingerie market is. Why do Victoria’s Secret and Frederick’s of Hollywood get all the fun? Carhartt should get in on this — there’s a real niche for fireproof lingerie, I’m sure. And what about Nike? No-nonsense, no frills, aerodynamic. You could pick up some Hollister selections if you didn’t mind not seeing what you were buying before you took it home, or a 48-pack of thongs from Costco if you were feeling cost-efficient. And really, what woman wouldn’t line up for four hours to get their hands on the sleek silhouette of an Apple babydoll?
I just picked up my selection today, from Target. I was squirming a bit at first, but then I told myself, “This friendship is worth the awkwardness, so woman up and get in there,” and then there turned out to be a sale, which I always enjoy. By the time I was finished, I was able to walk right up to the male cashier and put the heap of lacy underwear on the counter without a qualm.
That’s the power of lingerie, I’m thinking: confidence, poise, the realization that you’re stronger than you think and bigger than your circumstances. Maybe there’s a little of the Carhartt spirit there after all.