Elf Lyons Says: The art of underwear

Originally, this months article for Pippa was going to be about Culottes, and why I hate them. Even more than the pencil skirt. Nobody looks good in culottes. I’ll fight anyone over this.


Culottes are the worst enemy of short women and the frenemy to tall ones. They do neither of us any favours. Short or tall, curvy or slender, either way, culottes are only useful for the following:

1. When you’re trying to hide shit tons of mars bars down your knickers.
2. When you’re concealing a squirt gun.
3. When you have terrible flatulence and you need an item of clothing to help fan away your ominous scent.
4. When you’ve got terrible thrush and you’re doctor has told you to ‘air the jewels’.

In this respect, the only people who really would enjoy culottes are men.  Yet, I’m still waiting for Lagerfield to create that fashion line.

Anyway, I was getting too worked up writing about culottes so I thought: ‘NO. Write about something you love...’

And then, I thought about underwear.

Oh, joyous underwear.

The architecture to the soul.

The scaffolding to the temple of my enthusiastic, unstable bosoms and jelly bottom.

Like the important lesson of learning to love yourself before learning to love others, you need to get the underwear sorted first before you start building the rest of your stellar fashion wardrobe. If the underwear is wrong, the outfit will falter, no matter how great the dress is, and this fact can cause a great deal of stress.

I used to hate underwear shopping. I still do, occasionally. As a teenager, I would make one horrific trip a year to La Senza, usually at Christmas - because I like making my life that little bit more nightmarish. I would aim to make it as short as humanly possible, buying whichever bras were the cheapest and made me look least like a child prostitute (so, one bra). I would wear said bra until the point it became a weapon - when the horrible wire bits start to erode through the fabric and nip at your skin like plastic pincers. 

Only recently I discovered the joys of Sports bras. Simple. Efficient. The easy step to looking a bit more like Sigourney Weaver in Alien, who I spoke about in my last post.

But who wants to wear clothes that are efficient all the time? I’m not German. You can’t wear a sports bra under a silk dinner dress, or a sheer white shirt. It doesn’t work. It’s not EXCITING. Underwear, just like all fashion, should be EXCITING.

The argument that underwear doesn’t matter too much as "no one is going to see it anyway" is flawed. It’s FOR YOU. YOU are the prize, of course your underwear should be amazing. It should be just as intricate, gorgeous and delicious as the person that is wearing it. YOU. SO INVEST.

My grandmother once said: “Friends are like knickers, you can never have too many” - but this is wrong. There is nothing more horrible than having loads of friends. It makes your Facebook feed an absolute nightmare and nobody enjoys being popular.

I have too many caggy black and white M&S basics (also known as 'period pants') clogging up my underwear drawer. I also have too many boy-cut knickers from my teen days with Mr Men and Little Miss characters on or terrible phrases such as ‘He Shoots, He Scores’. Where was Germaine Greer when I needed her?

Underwear, like your friends, should be unique, well-loved and well-cherished - in other words, hand-washed. You should LOVE them. They are not a short term bulk buy, they are a long time investment.

Like friends, you need underwear you can trust. This is why at the end of last month I threw out all my shoddy bras, laddered tights and questionably stained knickers (DAMN YOU MONTHLY MOON CYCLE) and started from scratch. I also did a well needed Facebook cull.

My underwear drawer, like my friends, now gives me the confidence and enthusiasm to happily flash anyone I like on a moving bus or on stage at a gig. It’s underwear that makes me feel, quite frankly, like a supergoddess.

Sure, it took one long afternoon with my mother in our local shop 'Undercover' to get these, with her saying phrases such as: “Neon isn’t your colour” or “What about crotchless?”. Other than that, I walked away with several bras that will keep my nips and my crown jewels content for the rest of the year.

I am not saying ‘expensive’ is the best, not at all. Money is tight and it is good to be savvy, but like all other items in your wardrobe, good quality is key. Primark may be cheap, but they also have children making their clothes... so... depends what your values are.

My favourite pieces at the moment

(Do take into account I’m a 32 D, so that has influenced some of my choices.)

Hanro of Switzerland- Moments ‘Soft Bra’ (£52.50)

Supportive, sexy and supremely comfortable, this is my favorite bra to wear if I need a bit of subtle refined glamour to an outfit. The lace makes me feel like a Parisian. Even if no one else can see it, you know you’re wearing it, and that’s the most exciting thing....

Yes, this is no doubt the most expensive bra I recommend, but it's a new release so this is the most expensive they will be. Give it a few months and you’ll be able to knock the price down if you shop in bulk at an independent shop or have a look online. 

Hanro make wonderful underwear and some of there bras are as affordable as £19 (check online for all their deals). I managed to get two pairs of this bra at a discount store.

DKNY Energy Seamless Non-Wired Bralet (£28.00)

If you could personify a bra, this bra would be Cara Delevingne. Casually cool, understated and fun. I will bulk buy this bra until I die. It cups your boobs in a way I never new possible, the straps are lovely and soft, and it is so comfy that part of me wants it to be the only thing I ever have to wear. Unassuming, very supportive and athlete-sexy this is the perfect thing under any t-shirt or vest.

American Apparel - Le Grind Glissnett - Sleeve Crop Top (£15)

Say what ever you want about American Apparel, they are sweatshop free and their knickers and bras are well made and super fun. This bra (if you can call it a bra) is magnificent. Sure, it may look ridiculous. But it is the Barbarella of crop tops.

Due to the way it is designed, it pushes everything up, compressing your boobs to make you feel like you’re wearing a sexy boob-seatbelt, and it makes them look FANTASTIC. This is one of the most supportive bras I have and I just love wearing it. I’ll leave it to you to decide how you layer it with all your other clothes...

Note: The woman in the bra is an official American Apparel model, not me.

I'll leave you with this crucial lingerie-related message. Don’t forget to shop local and get a proper fitting. You can get cracking deals in independent underwear stores and building up a good rapport with your local bra fitter is the perfect way to start finding and sourcing the right underwear for you.

And if this still puts you off shopping, just go commando eh?

Find more ‘Elf Says’ posts here, and make sure you’re following Elf’s blog over on her website – it’s bloody brilliant.

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