Deshabille: Undressed

The lovely and evocative movie Enchanted April (1991) brings four women together to share an Italian seaside villa and its gardens in the 1920s. It includes a wonderful dinner scene in which a staid older woman challenges a younger beauty like so:
“Beautiful dress you are wearing...looks as though you’ve nothing on underneath!”
“I haven’t.”
“Very imprudent...and very improper!”
Which brings us to the pleasing and sometimes confusing world of undress. Although women have been getting undressed for a long time, the last few centuries have seen the process become an art of gradation. There are so many interesting ways to be semi-clad.
For instance, the corsets of the 19th century created the need for occasional respite in the form of a frilly negligee to be worn at home over loosened or jettisoned whale-boned garments. Then came its close relatives the peignoir, the tea gown, the dressing gown. Others cultures have offered the possibilities of the caftan and the kimono. Marilyn Monroe demonstrated the potential of the white terry cloth bath robe. In recent years all of these items seem to have been superseded by the logo tee shirt (oversize or not so much). It makes a statement, but lacks a little something in the boudoir.
Instead, think beyond the negligee (too 1950s, perhaps) to new and amusing ways to be en deshabille or partially dressed.
Consider the cover-up: Long or short, it will keep you warm, travel-ready, elegant.
Mix and Match: Let the element of surprise add a bit of flirtation to a see-through camisole or sexy bra beneath print pajamas (or with just pajama bottoms).
Color: Be daring, mix it up, add a gorgeous print scarf as a headband or sash.
Layers: Start with a spaghetti strap chemise and add a kimono top or see-through lacy tee.
Blouse it: Wear a billowy sheer blouse as a jacket.
Sleep in your dress: Just wear an elegant flowing silk dress from evening through the night to breakfast.
Skinny jeans and heels: Try them with your favorite camisole, chemise, or a belted nightshirt.
Wear it out: Under that coat is a surprise for your date.
As you experiment with your at-home wardrobe, you may find yourself inventing new ways to relax too. Brush up your French? Write your novel? Watch a baseball game? Order bulbs? Look out the window? Nap on the back porch? Play tag?
Improper? I think not!
-Kate L

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