The “What to wear to bed?” dilemma

Nighties (Photo credit: Pete Lambert)

The easy answer, of course, is nothing.

After another fruitless quest in the sleepwear department, I came home with one simple black nightshirt. Black? Seems a bit sad, really.

Josie Natori, one of the country’s top sleepwear and lingerie designers, got into this business in the 1970s when she deemed sleepwear “lewd or frumpy.”

That just about sums it up — still.

Here’s what a woman gets to choose from, at least at Lord & Taylor, one of the U.S.’s better department stores:

Slut city! Gah. The whole red/black lace, spaghetti strap, this-will-slide-off-really-fast thing. This takes a level of self-confidence I never had, even many pounds and decades ago.

Daddy’s little girl. Yes, if you’re 16, or you have no desire to ever have sex with the person who sees you in it. Every nightie is floor-length, only in white, pale blue or pink. It has a little lace, or a lot of ruffles. It covers up all of you. It will keep you warm. It will not get you laid.

— Granny called and she wants her muumuu back. I miss my maternal grandmother fiercely; she died when I was 18. She was loaded and a grande dame and a lot of fun. She lived in capacious silky, colored caftans like these. (I admit, this is the style I prefer, both modest enough to wear for breakfast when visiting others and pretty enough to lounge in.) Easily enough slithered out of, too.

Just leave the Taittinger and roses by the door. These are the real deal, gorgeous gowns in silk prints by Josie Natori, (a canny former Wall Street exec who has made kajillions designing and selling really pretty underthings for women) and Donna Karan. I would have killed for the Karan silk caftan, but $300? I think not.

— Pretty young thing. I was sorely tempted by a lovely little slip by Kensie, a label aimed at 20-somethings, in an unusual cream color with a cable-knit print. It was both affordable, unusual and pretty. Maybe I’ll go back.

— Dorm special. Any combo of sweat pants and hoodie/henley. Cute at 20, giggling til 2:00 a.m. with the girls. Less so beyond.

It’s not much better for men.

I went out to buy some pajamas for my husband and found:

— Duuuuuuuuude! Floppy, baggy, saggy flannel bottoms with a plaid so huge you could read it from the moon.

– Where are my damn slippers? The final line of  “My Fair Lady” rings true when you consider the Henry Higgins-ish elegance of silk or cotton pajamas, a la Brooks Brothers. Veddy old-school, veddy debonair. Zzzzzzzzzzzz.

— Hand me my axe. The nightshirt thing. Thick flannel, manly, brawny, whatever.

So our default mode, for both of us, ends up being a T-shirt and some sort of bottom. Pretty boring but comfortable, warm and affordable. I wish I had the guts to wear some slinky little negligee but it’s just not me and never has been.

And if I can’t be comfortable in my own bed, the hell with it.

Here are 16 ggggggorgeous sets of PJs from (where else?) the October issue of Vanity Fair.

Fess up mes cher(e)s! What do you and/or your sweetie wear to bed?

Do you — or your bed-mate — love it?

D-Cup Bras No Longer The B-Team Of Design

The reality of lingerie, as opposed to the fan...
That is one boooorring bra. Image via Wikipedia

Fun story from today’s Wall Street Journal — as women get bigger, so do their breasts, finally spurring the development of prettier bras still capable of offering the support a D-cup demands. As any woman larger than an A knows, a great bra — a rare and elusive thing — offers a delicate blend of cantilevering, comfort and oooh-la-la:

Specialty bra stores in the U.S. report brisk sales of large sizes up to a K cup. Sales of “full-figure” bras—those with a band size of 40 or larger or a cup size that is DD or larger—rose 3.3% in 2009—three times the rate of bra sales overall, according to NPD Group. People in the bra industry estimate that the average bra size in the U.S. has grown to a 36DD (also known as a 36E under some bra makers’ sizing systems), up from a 36C a decade ago.

“There’s huge interest in larger-sized bras,” says Roxana Avalos-Dessner, Playtex’s director of design. The bra maker just launched a marketing campaign that features “real-sized” women, including some with large cup sizes.

They say 85% women wear the wrong sized bra. Jenette Goldstein, owner of Jenette Bras in Los Angeles, talks to Christina Brinkley about what makes a well-fitting bra.

The reason for the size change is not, in fact, cosmetic augmentation. Bra sellers say few of their clients are unnaturally endowed. Among other factors, people’s bodies as a whole are getting bigger. Obesity is epidemic in the U.S., and the average clothing size is expanding as well. Moreover, older bodies tend to sag. As the baby boomers age, they need support they may have dispensed with in their youth.

It may also be that Americans are wising up, realizing they can get a better fit. Recently, television shows like “Mad Men” have popularized fuller figures—perhaps encouraging some curvy women to look beyond the few-sizes-fit-all fit of mass retailers’ bras. Oprah, who has devoted a couple of her TV shows to bra-fitting, has helped make a star of Susan Nethero, who is known as the “bra whisperer” and owns nine Intimacy stores around the country that carry sizes A to K, including sports and nursing bras.

I’m not surprised so many are wearing the wrong size bra: very few stores offer bra fitters ready with a tape measure; few of us have the time or inclination to have a stranger hold a tape measure up to our chests and many of us, pre, post or mid-diet (or pregnancy), are constantly changing sizes. My recent diet has dropped me a full band and cup size. Woohoo!

Being a big(ger) woman needing decent support while craving a bit of beauty shouldn’t be a depressing slog. I hit my lowest low when, a few years ago, I needed the largest size of my life. I loathed feeling so bovine. The Russian fitter at Lord & Taylor was kind and patient as I held back tears of frustration. Adding insult to injury, the only choices, then, were orthopedic, hideous walls of beige nylon. It felt punitive and exclusionary — take that, fatties.

This one is gorgeous, from one of my favorite fuller-figure manufacturers, Fayreform.