An All-Purpose Clothing Workhorse
Given the design and popularity of casual clothing in everyday living, not everyone has a regular need for a slip. That being said, when the occasion demands it, the correct choice of slip can make all the difference in how a particular garment is worn. They are still one of the most useful and utilitarian pieces of lingerie, partly because of their multiple styles and inherent versatility.
How Many Kinds?
There are two main kinds of slip: a full slip, and a half slip. Full slips hang from the shoulders and come in various lengths (knee, thigh, and ankle, for example). Half-slips fit like a skirt around the waist, and also come in varying lengths.
Typically, a little lace edging can be found at the bodice and hemlines of slips, though this is very modest compared to the lush embroidery found in historical under-layers. Half-slips can also be paired with a camisole to produce the same effect as a full slip. Rounding out the categories is a variety meant to be worn underneath trousers, called “pettipants.” These, like their swishier counterparts, can be found in varying lengths depending on design and need of the top layers.
What Does It Do?
The whole look and feel of slips may seem a little old-fashioned, yet they are immensely useful and comfortable. Ultimately, slips are designed to (at least in part) make any item of clothing more comfortable to wear.
This might be the most obvious reason to wear a slip: to prevent show-through of underwear, or to obscure the silhouette when in bright light. In this way, slips help preserve modesty and provide a little well-calculated mystery to the female form. A garment backed by a slip gains a certain class simply by association.
Slips provide a couple different kinds of protection, to both skin and fabric. Occasionally a garment will require a slip in order to hang correctly and skim over the female form in the most flattering way possible. It maintains this form whether the wearer is stationary or in movement, and maximizes the positive impact of any garment.
Not all materials that are impressive to the eye feel pleasant against the skin. Heavy wool suiting or stiff brocades can itch or chafe without an appropriate lining or in-between fabric layer. Metallic threads can rub most unpleasantly, as anyone who has worn ornate costumes or prom dresses can attest to. Slips in this case are protective, keeping the skin irritant-free and making an otherwise uncomfortable dress wearable.
Finally, slips protect your clothing. Day to day wear can stain clothes with sweat, deodorant, or other toiletries. By wearing a thin layer of fabric in between you and your outer clothing, you can extend the lifespan of any item.
Less laundering (and less wear and tear) is required of your more expensive clothing, whereas a slip (usually made of sturdy, hard-wearing materials) can withstand heavy washing, and can more affordably be replaced. Slips simply make good economic sense.
Modern-day slips are mostly made of slick nylon or nylon blends. Nylon is optimal because it’s an inexpensive, hard-wearing fabric that still has a luxurious hand and a smooth finish. Often slips have a charmeuse satin finish, making them extraordinarily pretty as well as useful.
Nylon came into heavy use during World War II as part of the conservation effort, and continues in popularity in ladies’ undergarments to the present day. Other fabrics used for slips include polyester, acetate, rayon, and silk. Rarely, and usually in hot climates, cotton is used as slip material. Though it does not have the same smooth, slippery finish as nylon, it allows the skin to breathe and decreases the heaviness of the dress worn.
Poise Starts on the Skin
As a side note, there is also the undeniable effect of wearing luxurious textiles against your skin. Wearing clothing that feels good and looks good makes the wearer also look and feel good. This is true with the most casual of sundresses and the most ornate of formal wear.
Though the design of modern slips is very plain, there is still some embellishment. Small, dainty notes of lace enhance femininity and the feel of how any particular dress or skirt fits the wearer. These embellishments stay subtle, in this day and age, due to the main need for slips to stay discreet underneath clothing.
When to Wear?
A lot of dresses, casual and otherwise, now have built-in linings that serve most of the purpose of a slip. That does not mean that it cannot be enhanced by the wearing of a slip underneath. The lining may provide discretion and allow the dress to hang properly; it still does not provide the protection to the fabric that a slip provides. Additionally, the extra layer of smooth material will only enhance and add elegance to the final presentation.