When you think of lingerie, where does your mind go? Is it something saved for sexy date dates with a lover? Do you smile during the day knowing you're wearing a sultry sheer bralette under your business attire? Or do you lounge around the house solo in a robe or silky pajamas?
The Lingerie of Our Lives: Why We're Fascinated With Underclothes
We all have a different relationship with our undergarments, and lingerie is one way to tap into your inner sexy, most empowered self.
The term "lingerie" is derived from the French word linge, or linen, the natural woven fabric it was traditionally made from. Although it's been around for centuries, it hasn't always looked or been celebrated like it is today.
It wasn't until the late nineteenth century that the concept of lingerie shifted from practical and often uncomfortable underthings to articles of erotic expression.
Nowadays, lingerie is made from every manmade fabric and elastic imaginable. Brands are becoming more and more inclusive when it comes to sizes and skin tone colors. Not all humans are a light beige "nude." It's not uncommon for underwear to be worn as outerwear, and styles worn outside the bedroom range from sexy sports bras to lacy, balconette bodysuits.
It's important to note that lingerie is not only for cisgender females. Male bras, codpieces, and leather briefs designed with the cisgender male in mind redefine who wears lingerie and what it should look like. Fashion designers are starting to create intimate apparel for nonbinary, transgender, and gender-nonconforming people, challenging what designer, Sky Cubacub, referred to in a New York Times article as "heteronormative ideas of sexy."
In 2018, the lingerie market in the United States was valued at approximately $6.87B and expected to grow to $11.36B by 2025. Globally, the lingerie market is expected to hit $325.36B by 2025, according to Allied Market research.
A recent study attributed the drive in the market to increasing awareness about the best fit, growing millennial population, and rise in spending power among women.
So, why do we spend so much money on garments that so few people will ever see? Here are a few ideas why:
What's the Appeal of Lingerie?
Wearing lingerie is all about feeling sexy AF – for me. Rihanna told Vogue, "Women should be wearing lingerie for their damn selves. I can only hope to encourage confidence and strength by showing lingerie in another light."
When I own sexuality, whether it's wearing something drop-dead sexy or taking control of my pleasure, I feel empowered. I wear a red thong as a confidence boost for interviews and a black lace teddy to sleep solo. It's so cliché, but when I look good, I feel good – and I don't care if anyone else can see it. Never underestimate the feel-good powers of sex appeal.
Sure, it's a ton of fun to dress up for partners, but lingerie doesn't have to be worn for their eyes only. You deserve all the yummy, sensual goodness. If you don't believe me, check out this trailer for the Savage x Fenty Show Vol. 2 and tell me these women don't look and feel fierce.
It Sends a Message
Sometimes almost seeing everything is better than actually seeing everything. It leaves a little bit of mystery and fuels the fantasy. With sex, partners generally look for three things: mystery, excitement, and a bit of foreplay. Lingerie is sensual, and watching a partner slowly disrobe can build anticipation and arousal.
For example, stockings draw attention to the legs. A structured bra or bustier directs eyes to the breasts and neckline. A boned corset creates an exaggerated silhouette. Garter belts direct the gaze to that curve from the hip to the thigh. The area of bare thigh above a gartered stocking is one of the most sublime sights on a human being. Even lace-up ribbon detailing begs a look.
Using Lingerie for Foreplay
The visual tease of wearing lingerie for your lover can be just as hot as the main event. Taking your time to slowly undress and show off your beautiful body can make foreplay sizzle. You're deliberately drawing the eyes, hands, and mouth to erogenous zones around the body before it all comes off, and that is exciting for both partners.
Also, seeing your partner all worked up can be a major ego boost. Give your lingerie more than two minutes of showtime before it ends up on the bedroom floor. I promise, it's worth the slow tease and wait.
Psychological Appeal of Lingerie
Lingerie can be incorporated into kink, fetishes, BDSM, and role play. (Note: not all kinks and role play fall under the BDSM umbrella). Latex and leather pieces are a great way to subvert the typical lingerie status quo and signal a certain aesthetic.
Corsets, bustiers, and back-seamed stockings can speak to sexual roles and underline a person as either a dominant or submissive partner. There's a whole world of lingerie fetishes that revolve around garters, panties, stockings. There are even form fetishes, where people get off on the shape of the object, or in this case, garment.
Lingerie can also assist in fulfilling certain fantasies. Always wanted to be a naughty nurse or sexy sailor? There's no shortage of lingerie to make your role play a reality.
Lingerie, Every Day!
Whether you seek comfort in a t-shirt bra and cotton briefs, or something flirty, like a red push-up bra and lacy thong, there's a lingerie style to suit every fancy.
Remember, lingerie doesn't have to be reserved for special occasions only. Every person, no matter their gender, size, or ability, deserves to feel fabulous every single day – no reason necessary.
Ryn Pfeuffer is a versatile print and digital writer specializing in sex, lifestyle, and relationship topics. Over the past two decades, her work has appeared in more than 100 media outlets including Marie Claire, Playboy, Refinery29, The Globe and Mail, The Washington Post, WIRED, and Thrillist.
She adopted a pseudonym and was AVN’s (Adult Video Network) first female porn reviewer – while penning children’s books at the same time. More recently, she is the author of 101 Ways to Rock Online Dating (2019). She lives in Seattle with her rescue dog, Mimi. You can find her on Twitter @rynpfeuffer or IG @ryn_says