21 4 / 2014
london-minx asked: I recently purchased a La Perla night gown and after hand washing it with lukewarm water it is a lot rougher to the touch ( it is silk ). Do you know of any guide of washing delicate lingerie/garments? I have destroyed so many with improper care.
My first question would be what detergent or cleanser you used. Lukewarm water is fine (though cold water is better), but silk is so delicate that a specialty delicates wash is crucial…anything else is too harsh. If a delicates wash is out of reach, some people recommend baby shampoo as an alternative.
After that, the way you actually wash it is important. It’s best to just let the garment soak, perhaps with a little mild agitation from your hand in the water, but don’t wring, twist, or otherwise abuse the fabric. Silk can’t take it. Finally, just let it hang to dry. Don’t blow dry it, toss it in the dryer, or anything else.
For most general lingerie guides, I recommend checking HerRoom. They’ve got a lot of great information there.
21 4 / 2014
lemon-v asked: Hey Cora, I've always wondered the difference between a chemise, a slip, and a babydoll. I've seen very slight variations but them sometimes it's the same silhouette but a different name and it just REALLY confuses me ):
Hey! Sorry for the delay in responding to this…I’ve got a massive backlog of questions in my inbox right now. :-)
So…the differences in the silhouettes of a chemise, slip, and babydoll can be very subtle. That’s compounded by the fact that 1) there is some overlap between them and 2) when people aren’t sure of the key, identifying factors, they tend to get them confused (like folks who confuse bustiers with corsets or fully fashioned stockings with cosmetic seams).
Babydolls are the easiest silhouette to pick out. They are categorized by an empire waist (bralette stitching, shelf bra, or built in underwire bra) with the fabric of the skirt falling away loosely from the body just below or a trapeze silhouette (particularly in vintage styles) where the fabric falls away in an full skirt from about collarbone height or so. The biggest things here are the high waist and full skirt; babydolls do not skim the body anywhere below the bust and tend to be especially full around the thip. If you have a bra or bralette top combined with a more body skimming silhouette, that’s either a slip or a chemise.
Slips are meant to be worn underneath outerwear (dresses, skirts, etc.) and so are often plain and unadorned…at least in their modern day incarnations. I think of vintage slips, which are a bit fancier, as almost a precursor to modern day chemises…a bit of a hybrid between a nightgown and a traditional slip. Unlike chemises or babydolls, slips are available in full, half, or mini lengths (for example, you can choose to only buy the bottom half of a slip…the top half is called a camisole) and are usually in basic colors like white, black, or beige. You can wear a slip, particularly a slip with lace trim as a chemise (a la Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), however the vast majority of modern day slips are plain and simple garments.
Chemises are probably the most versatile of the three things we’re talking about, and the word chemise is most often used as a catchall to incorporate babydolls and slips as well. I would think of a chemise as a short nightgown. Chemises are rarely longer than knee-length (if they are, they’re called gowns) and are often available in a wide array of colors, fabrics, and styles. Chemises can be fitted or unfitted, contain a built-in bra or have no bra, or be plain or adorned (though they’re usually adorned with ruffles, lace, prints, or something else to set them apart from slips). Chemises are almost always items of explicitly lingerie or loungewear and not meant to be layered under any other garment (unless, of course, it’s another item of lingerie like a robe). I would say that any dress-like undergarment which doesn’t fit into the category of babydoll, slip, or nightgown is very likely a chemise.
I hope that helps to clarify. It’s a bit of a sticky categorization. I know what I’m looking at when I see it, but it’s hard to put exactly what I’m seeing into words so this was a great question.