Thinking about Lingerie: Curating My Collection

I first mentioned the idea of curation in lingerie in my review of the Lascivious Ana bra and Roxy knickers. The way I think about lingerie is constantly evolving– but if I was to define the need that I feel to acquire beautiful lingerie, I think that it would really go back to the desire to build a collection in the lingerie version of an amazing art collection. All the images are beautiful pieces that now reside in the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where these precious pieces of lingerie are elevated to the level of markers of history (and are very lovely to look at).

Underwear. Attributed to Louise Neut (French, founded 1920). From the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This is really quite a different point of view than I had at the beginning of my interest in lingerie– although I wanted beautiful things, I was much more focused on the practicality and comfort level of the bra or panties rather than any kind of innovative or intriguing design. It’s not that these vital concerns are no longer important, but the way that I feel about my pieces of lingerie has altered: I see them now as valuable, beautiful objects regardless of whether they will be wearable under an everyday t-shirt. And my tastes continually get more adventurous; pieces that a year ago I would have said I would never be able to wear, I now desperately want to incorporate into my everyday wardrobe.

Underwear, Paul Smith (British, born 1946). 1989–92. From the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The affection that I have for my lingerie really hit home to me when I recently realized that I just could not wear the first beautiful bra I had ever bought anymore– the stretch lace had just been stretched much too far. I was really quite sad; the bra was still lovely to look at and it had sentimental value. I momentary thought about discarding it, as you usually do with clothes that do not fit and will never fit again. But I just couldn’t do it. As my first piece, it is too significant to simply give away like you would do with any other clothing item (NB: I will admit, I do also have a pair of size 6 Cole Haan boots that haven’t fit me for years but I love too much to give to anyone who doesn’t seem sufficiently deserving; if you have small feet, worm your way into my affections and you may get them).

Stockings, 1900–1910. From the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

But now, as I pick out my lingerie everyday (or at least, most days), I imagine myself as a blank gallery wall on which I can display any piece of lingerie that I choose. It doesn’t matter how I feel about my body that day or if I have a few self-doubts– which I try to conquer– when I’m wearing something beautiful, I’m focusing on the choice of this beautiful, valuable item that is today’s exhibit. And that even while my lingerie is clearly an expression of my own love and interest, I am also giving it value and pride of place when I decide to wear it. Of course, this exhibition may be private– but that didn’t and doesn’t stop private collectors of books or manuscripts of coins or cars around the world from taking joy in their tastefully selected pieces. And that’s another reason that I love to share my lingerie reviews with you; I get to display my collection in a way that you can see what I like, while focusing on the sensuality rather than simply the sexual nature of wearing lingerie.

Corset, ca. 1880. From the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I’m also a huge art history nerd, so that I do love to immerse myself in a well curated painting or sculpture exhibit whenever I can, which might make the connection between lingerie and art just seem natural to me. However, I would love to hear what you think– do any of you feel that you see your lingerie as more than a tool but as a valuable object? Or is that just one of my strange whims :).

  1. More so than when I was first started getting into it. It’s still a struggle for me because of my bra size, so I’m quite limited by that. But I found that at least with underwear I have more options. I’m certainly nowhere near museum level but I’ve learned to appreciate what well-fitting, flattering lingerie does for me and am starting to learn my own preferences in terms of design/colors etc.

    It’s a fun journey, I just wish it was a cheaper one. 😉

  2. Rest assured, this is not one of your “strange whims”. When done right lingerie is a form of art and should be viewed as such! I’m also fascinated with vintage lingerie as it is absolutely amazing to see how it has evolved over the years.

    And just like you I also have some pieces in my “private art collection” that may not fit me anymore, but that doesn’t mean I have any intention of getting rid of them any time soon!!!

  3. I actually came to love lingerie because I’m a corset/corset history nerd!

    And I’m like a “collector” too. I haven’t only got modern bras/stuff, but old stuff from my grandma, stockings from around WWII, and stuff. <3

  4. I’ve actually been thinking that I might make a shadow box or just simply frame lingerie that I love it once it wears out. I think it’d be fun to have a Mimi Holliday or two up on my wall eventually 😛

  5. There’s a small collection of “Hollywood Lingerie” at 1stdibs, the antiques website. It’s quite nice and the pieces have an advantage of them not being permanently under glass (although the prices are enough of a barrier). Still, very nice to look at and you can really imagine that some starlet would wear this off-screen. All the pieces are marked unworn which surprises me.

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