Dita Von Teese’s 10 Golden Rules for Valentine’s Day Lingerie
While this fashion writer has what some may call a “congested” closet, I’ll admit that my delicates drawer is somewhat . . . lacking. Besides having championed the, ahem, perks of being braless and quite flawless, I never thought lingerie qualified as seasonal investment pieces, like, say, a shearling coat. After all, you don’t often wind up wearing underpinnings for that long—well, not if you’re lucky.
But Dita Von Teese, the glamorous burlesque dancer, lingerie connoisseur, author of beauty tome Your Beauty Mark, and ultimate seductress, has had me reconsider all that. Before taking the stage in a Zac Posen waist-whittling skirt to host the annual Femmy Awards, which honors purveyors in the lingerie business, Von Teese shared her insights on how to shop for lingerie properly and heat things up for Valentine’s Day—regardless if you have a date or not. Because, as she reminds us, seduction has nothing to do with other people, but is all about creating your own look.
A girl’s first piece should be in black lace . . .
Black lace is sophisticated, elegant, and erotic all at once, and it looks terrific on every woman. I say invest in a gorgeous set. Buy a bra that fits very well, plus two to three pairs of matching underwear, with varying shapes to add versatility to your wardrobe. The underwear needs to have double the life of the bra, so it’s smart to buy duplicates. Bonus points for the garter belt!
. . . But don’t be fooled by size tags.
Never buy underwear that is too small just because you like what the tags say. Try everything on, taking care not to buy things that are too tight. If being a different size than you want to be puts your panties in a bunch, cut out the tags. Cut the tags out regardless, actually.
Your bra drawer should pop!
A bra-and-underwear set in a bold, unexpected color is the best first purchase to start your collection. Red, fuchsia, teal blue, green—vibrant, joyful colors! I love opening my drawer to an array of colorful lace and satin. As much as I love black lace, I think color adds a sense of playfulness and adventure to your lingerie wardrobe.
A corset over a waist trainer—any day!
Well, there’s a lot of misinformation about what a waist trainer is and what it isn’t, and there are all kinds of companies making these strange stretchy waist-training corsets. It’s important to look past the trendy celebrity-endorsed products—you can’t shape your waist with a Lycra corset, and that’s what they are all talking about.
Waist shaping can be accomplished with a true corset, which should be custom-made to your measurements. It is also no substitute for diet and exercise, and waist training doesn’t happen overnight; it takes a bit of time. I suggest looking to long-established corset brands like Dark Garden Corsetry or Mr. Pearl, and avoid all the new companies trying to jump on the bandwagon.
Stockings for winter keep your legs cozy—and sexy!
Everyone knows that I love fully fashioned seamed stockings. I even have my own collection. I wear these a lot during the wintertime, and when it’s really, really cold, I love extra-long thigh-high cable-knit stockings. They’re like sweaters for the legs.
Let garter belts be your Valentine’s Day Gift to Bae.
Garter belts and stockings are the perfect thing to try! Wear them the French way: underwear over the top of the garter belt, not under. Black stockings and a black garter belt are sophisticated and erotic. Invest in good-quality pieces. I wear garters in everyday life, so the ones from my collections are very functional and made with six straps and power mesh to keep stockings in place. I have a drawerful of cute garter belts from luxe brands that are only really wearable for photo shoots, so when I created my own line, I set out to make garters that function properly. I’d say garter belts are my specialty.
Don’t keep your lingerie hidden—show it off for the holiday!
I do love lingerie as outerwear. In high school, my go-to look was a 1950s slip with a cardigan sweater! And I love a bustier worn with a pencil skirt. I often wear my bustiers with tuxedo pants or slim-fit capri pants and a cardigan sweater or tuxedo jacket. I also have a few very low-cut dresses that I like to wear with a lace-trimmed bra so that the edges peek out of the top of the dress.
Showing (and wearing) less can always be more.
This is the beauty of lingerie! No matter what your personality is, you can be whomever you want underneath it all. I don’t bare much skin offstage; I like my hemlines below my knee, and I like dresses with shapely lines that might show a touch of cleavage, if any. My “uniform” for seduction is a shapely black dress with French-heeled seamed stockings, sexy black pumps in patent or matte leather, and black leather opera gloves. It’s mysterious and sensual at the same time.
Valentine’s Day as a single girl is prep time!
I’ve spent many a Valentine’s Day as a single girl—single time is prep time! The ultimate seductress practices in everyday life and knows that it’s not about finding ways to reel someone in or hunt. Seduction at the highest level comes from designing your own attractive world that others want to be a part of. Creating a poetic, beautiful living space that you enjoy is important. I call mine the Lair of Seduction! It’s a place with beautiful, flattering, light, sensuous textures—all things that make me feel good. It starts with considering what makes you feel good and reveling in it for your own pleasure. It’s the same with lingerie. There’s no reason to store your sensuality on a shelf if you’re single. This is the time more than ever to stay in touch with pleasures. Read sexy books, wear your good perfume, update your lingerie wardrobe, and make your living space sexy so that you’re ready for a partner when the time is right.
But, ultimately, effortlessness is the most alluring.
We don’t have to choose between glamour and function. I consider every piece in my own lingerie line for its comfort and functionality in my wardrobe. I never put lingerie on for a man. Ever since I was a little girl, I saw lingerie as something that was symbolic of womanhood and femininity. My first job was working in a lingerie store when I was 15, so perhaps I have a different point of view than some, but I always saw lingerie as a moment of beauty and luxury for myself. Of course, in later years I learned how to use it in the game of seduction, but ultimately, my early relationship with lingerie is what I think makes me good at seduction, both on and off stage. I like it when things appear to be effortless—and they are effortless when practiced!