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I’m probably not the most likely candidate for a “how to wear lingerie as outerwear” road test: I don’t do bodycon, I avoid crop tops unless I can be reasonably sure I won’t feel naked in them, and, while I have a deep aesthetic appreciation for the so-called “stripper heel,” I steer clear of shoes I know I can’t walk in as a rule.
But while “edgy” and “sexy” aren’t exactly words I’d use to describe my style, the trappings of bondage—chokers, harnesses, heavy-metal hardware—and boudoir—silk, lace, skimpy negligée—are forever appealing to me in the context of fashion. Plus, I’ve always been kind of curious about the styling potential of all that fishnet and latex in the windows of West-Village sex shops. So I took it as a challenge: take four bedroom-oriented pieces (a silk robe, a lace slip, a harness, and a pair of lucite marabou kitten heels) and find a way to actually leave the house in them.
It was less about taking the sex out of sexy pieces (though lord knows there are hotter ways to wear a slip dress than with a white T-shirt and shower slides) than about adding a subversive element to an everyday outfit.
Ahead, see how I styled four different “bedroom” pieces for the thoroughly unseductive environment of New York City’s sidewalks.
A Silk Robe
This is the training wheels of boudoir fashion—wear as you would a drape-y cardigan or flowy jacket, and enjoy swanning around all day feeling like a glamorous hostess at a 1970s dinner party. I’ve been obsessed with colorful robes and kimonos since seeing Mary-Kate Olsen wear one with jeans in the final scene of “New York Minute” (did you think I was going to say something cool there like “Stevie Nicks in concert”? Nope, alas not.) and this floral print is one of the best. Here, I went for a pair of vintage suede shorts, but jeans, culottes, or a miniskirt would work just as well.
Haori Kimono, $595; at Fleur du Mal
These shoes are so silly and frilly and unapologetically pink that I can’t help but adore them. That said, they’re kind of outfit scene-stealers, what with the feathers and lucite and all, so finding balance is key if you’re not trying to go full-fledged “Valley of the Dolls.” For me, that meant a band tee, denim jacket (this one is last-season Être Cécile), and dark-wash jeans—the latter of which have a ruffle at the calf, visually easing you in to the frou-frou-ness of the footwear (or so I like to think).
Here’s the trick with harnesses: when you think of them just as belts with extra straps, they become a lot less intimidating to wear. I own several from Zana Bayne (NYC’s resident queen of leather)—all in colors other than black, which also takes the bondage aspect down a notch. This tan suspender style is easy to pair with anything high-waisted, but I like it with a slip dress and T-shirt to break up the white-on-white combo. Versions with more metal and leather up front, meanwhile, look killer with a collared shirt or anything femme and ruffled.
Signature Harness in Tan, $160; at Zana Bayne
A Lace Slip
Throwing a T-shirt on under a slip is one of my favorite no-brainer styling moves—it tamps down the lingerie-y feel of the dress for daytime and provides a good excuse to beef up your collection of vintage tees—but the all-over lace on this Fleur du Mal slip meant heavier artillery was required. And by “artillery” I mean denim. I love the idea of having the sheer hem peek out underneath a cutoff mini.