Slip Into Something Silky, Chic : Layering Works With the Look, but You Still Need a Perfect Body

From Associated Press

Another piece of inner wear has been adapted as ready-to- wear.

The full slip, a relic since the 1960s when, well, it slipped into fashion oblivion, joins undershirts, bustiers, camisoles and long johns as lingerie reincarnated.

The slip dress, in fact, is shaping up as a must-have for summer. It is most likely made of a silky or filmy fabric cut on the bias with spaghetti straps and has an above-the-knee hemline.

But beware. Because it requires a near-perfect body, it's one of the toughest, least wearable looks for the new season, said Sarah Davies of Nordstrom.

"The slip dress is not grounded in reality," said Davies, fashion director for Nordstrom in Seattle. "The fabrication is quite filmy and revealing. It's completely unforgiving. Your body has to be tight everywhere, and that limits the number of people who should wear it."

If you're going to wear it, consider a T-shirt, a body suit, or both, and maybe even a cropped sweater.

Calvin Klein likes his clients to wear slip dresses two at a time, in clouds of tissue-weight fabrics. Mark Eisen made a matching skinny tee for a pink silk-screen rose pattern dress.

But your best layer, said Bud Konheim, chief executive of Nicole Miller, is a bolero.

"The first accessory it's absolutely screaming for is a cropped jacket, since a long jacket interferes with the body of the dress," Konheim said.

"And the idea of jacket as accessory becomes even more interesting when you take it off to reveal just the slip dress. It's like a strip tease."


Nicole Miller opened her spring runway show with a pink stretch matte jersey slip dress. Other solo styles include Todd Oldham's flame pattern stretch polyester and Richard Tyler's design for Anne Klein Collection, a military camouflage print on silk chiffon.

For something a little more casual, Adrienne Vittadini put a sporty striped rib knit with anklets and Oxfords. Norma Kamali created an athletic look over white tank undershirts.

On a more formal note, Richard Tyler for Tyler Trafficante paired satin slip dresses with embroidered chiffon nightshirts as coats.

Such styles make the slip's original purpose--to smooth any lumps and provide an element of modesty under sheer clothing--seem oddly out of sync.

Yet because it allowed women to present a modest but sexy front, it was the favorite state of undress in the early days of the silver screen. Recall Jean Harlow, Myrna Loy and Marilyn Monroe in satiny chemise. Think Elizabeth Taylor in a full slip under a fur coat in "Butterfield 8."

No doubt about it, the slip dress is born of lingerie, said inner wear designer Josie Natori in New York.

"There's no zipper," she said. "You just put it over your head. It came from the sensibility of a nightgown and is supposed to look like lingerie as outerwear."


But Davies said the best of the lot don't look bedroom-bound.

"Buy one that's not sheer or trimmed in lingerie lace, has straps at least a half-inch wide and a structured bust line," she said. "That's a very modern and wearable combination."

And beware of black. According to Davies, it's the quickest ticket to looking undressed "unless it's completely simple and not trimmed in traditional lingerie-like details."

Limit accessories to a tan, a pair of sandals and some small earrings.

"It's meant to be a minimalist look that focuses on a woman's own natural beauty," Davies said.

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