Whether it’s corsets as going out tops, slip dresses as a chic date night look, or lingerie as layering pieces, underwear as outerwear is a timeless trend. From the runways of fashion powerhouses like Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci to street style for everyday attire, underwear as outerwear — aka lingerie as clothes — is coming in hot as one of the most popular clothing trends of 2022, though this isn’t the first time we’ve seen it.
Madonna revolutionized music, but also single-handedly set fire to the underwear as outerwear trend. In 1990, she performed in a show-stopping Jean Paul Gaultier cone bra design. By performing in an outfit that is usually kept beneath garments, she paved the way for underwear as a fashion statement on the stage, on the red carpet, and on the streets. Now, celebrities have converted what used to be a bold, controversial fashion statement into a mainstream fashion trend. Hailey Bieber has worn a bustier as street style, Kylie Jenner has worn an all-lace catsuit out on the town in New York, Kourtney Kardashian has worn a slip dress as a casual outfit to run errands — underwear as outerwear has been transformed into ready-to-wear attire by pop culture icons and Hollywood “it” girls. Showing skin is in, and anyone can wear it.
Underwear as outerwear has plenty of history in women’s fashion.
The history of underwear as outerwear dates back to as early as the 16th century with the corset worn by the women of the French court. The original instances of the corset were meant to conceal women’s waist and promote better posture. Even then, the corset was both worn underneath and on top of dresses. This style was kept throughout the Victorian era. As the modern era began, flappers and burlesque dancers styled corsets, underwear, lace, bras, and stockings as a fashion statement rather than as undergarments meant to shape the body of a woman. During the late 1990s, designers, such as Tom Ford, started to embrace the underwear as outerwear trend as a bold fashion statement, which carried on into the early 2000s with trends such as peek-a-boo thongs paired with low-rise jeans.
Now, undergarments are being reinvented as everyday fashion, but also are used to pay homage to iconic eras in fashion, such as the regal fashion of the 19th century. Underwear as outerwear is creating different fashion aesthetics that give a modern spin on old-fashioned trends. One of these aesthetics is regencycore. Regencycore is a combination of corsets, gloves, pearl accessories, and dainty accents that is heavily inspired by the regency era of fashion that consisted of elegant ball gowns and cinched waists. Shows that showcased this stunning fashion, such as Bridgerton, played a role in bringing this trend to the mainstream. I mean, who wouldn’t want to look like Daphne Bridgerton while going for an iced coffee run?
you can style underwear as outerwear for every occasion.
Wearing items that are notoriously considered intimate and meant to be kept beneath garments can be scary, but if you want to expand your horizons and try this trend, there are subtle ways to add a pop of underwear as outerwear into your wardrobe.
Whether you’re channeling your inner Bridgerton or trying to vamp up a going-out look, corsets can easily be paired with jeans, skirts, or over dresses to spice up your outfit. This Urban Outfitters corset has been going viral on TikTok, and rightfully so. It’s the perfect transition into the trend. It is both dainty and chic, and melds regencycore with everyday fashion.
Urban Outfitters, $59
- Slip dresses
Slip dresses are no longer meant to be hidden. The simple yet classy closet staple can be dressed down with sneakers or dressed up with strappy heels. Slip dresses can be layered with jackets on top or baby tees underneath, or worn alone as a subtle fashion statement. This versatile piece is timeless for all seasons. If you want to try the style out yourself, this satin midi dress from Amazon is perfect, and it’s only $24.
- lace bralettes
Lace bralettes are the perfect blend between sweet and sensual. The soft, lace accents spice up any outfit. Lace bralettes make for great lounging attire, but can also be paired with a white button-up or blazer for a chic date-night look or a night out on the town with the girls. This indigo lace bralette from Hollister is $12 and is the ultimate subtle accent of color to spice up your spring and summer looks.
- sheer nightgowns
The delicateness and simplicity of nightgowns make them an optimal layering piece. This sheer black nightgown from Amazon can be draped over a shirt dress, a little black dress, or even a two-piece tank top set for summer for a playful take on this trend.
Stockings are back in style! The elegant, timeless look is making a comeback with mini skirts and short dresses. The variety of prints, textures, and patterns of stockings can be used in any look to add different proportions and a graceful, chic vibe. These thigh-high lace stockings from Victoria’s Secret are only $20 and are the perfect addition to your springtime wardrobe. Pair them with a mini floral dress and white platform sandals for a picnic with the girls or to take photos in the park.
Victoria’s Secret, $20