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The Secret Power of Lingerie (and no, it's not sex).

  • By Catherine Clavering
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The Secret Power of Lingerie (and no, it's not sex).

Maybe now, with The Iron Lady film still fresh in people’s minds, is a good time to talk about Power Dressing. No, not huge shoulder pads and square masculine suits. Not the hard, varnished, impersonal look of the corporate rat race. No, I’m talking about something altogether more intimate and personal. I’m talking about boosting confidence and feeling powerful… due to your choice of knickers. Seriously.


For completely carefree strapless dresses, all day, any day… PDL is all about effortless confidence.

Once, in my distant pre-confident past, I had a partner who only liked me to wear cheap .99p-for-five type horrible big granny knickers, and faux sports bra style white boneless horrors. Of course, I realise now that he was intimidated by my pretty sets and lace, although there were many pseudo-feminist reasons that he came up with for my not ‘demeaning myself’ with the embellished and gem-encrusted beautiful things that I started out with. It wasn’t terribly good for the self esteem, and at the end of the relationship I had a wonderfully cathartic bonfire, onto which I piled all the hideous, ‘honest and sensible’ underwear. Then and there I made myself a promise that I would never again own a pair of knickers that I didn’t consider to be a thing of beauty. (Then and there, my neighbours decided that I really had lost the plot and was probably dangerous to socialise with).

It actually took a lot longer for me to truly weed out any undesirables from my wardrobe. I had to teach myself never to buy lingerie on ‘fat days’ when I felt grim about myself, or I would be guaranteed to come home with something sensible and depressingly mundane. But, eventually I managed it. My lingerie drawer today contains nothing that I wouldn’t be happy to be wearing supposing Johnny Depp suddenly arrived bearing wine, chocolates, and bad intentions.

I frequently bore people senseless with my theories/obsession on the importance of wearing the right foundation garments, and I’m often met with disbelief from other women that this would be possible for them. Practicalities are often mentioned, along with budgets and time. So, in the interests of scientific-ish research, I made a couple of ladies of my acquaintance spend a week with all sensible and mundane smalls banned. (I’ve had huge fun coming up with suitable names, in the grand tradition of ‘names have been changed in order to protect the identity of the participants’. So, for reference, I am thankful for the assistance of ‘Claudine’ & ‘Faith’. Who are now going to murder me).


Lingerie secrets should be ones that make you smile, that are at complete odds with your outer garb.

The idea of Power Dressing Lingerie is that it gives you confidence. To do that it must:

  1. Fit perfectly
  2. Remain in place all day long without causing discomfort
  3. Be beautiful to the eye of the wearer (Notice here, I said THE WEARER).

I cannot say this often enough, to enough women: If it doesn’t fit well and offer support, you will feel crap and self conscious wearing it. If someone else thinks it looks great and you don’t, you will feel crap and self conscious wearing it. It matters not at all if this item fitted once, or never; or if it cost lots, or little; or even if it looks good when arranged properly and one doesn’t move too much. If it doesn’t work, get rid of it and find something that does work – for you.


It’s all about lingerie that Does The Job – and makes you feel great while doing so. Perfect peach for light summer dresses, perfect tummy control for summer cupcakes :)

To begin our little experiment, we did a storage sweep, and packed away everything that didn’t fit or that wasn’t pretty. The sorting of a lingerie drawer into ‘desirable & well fitting’ and ‘other’ turned out to be slightly shocking to both my ladies. The first pile turns out to be smaller than either of them imagined that it would be.

The idea originally was to keep the lingerie being worn to the items both ladies already had, but this fell slightly by the wayside – I assisted with a couple of small alterations to Faith’s slightly too-large but deeply loved lacy strapless bra, and also with the loan of my red Vargas roll-on girdle, after the horrified discovery that the only suspender belt Claudine owned was a tiny black nylon bit of string, with 4 tiny plastic clips dangling uselessly. But other than these two small items, everything was already owned, and ranged from M&S to Primark. Lingerie Power Dressing doesn’t mean spending the earth. It means wearing things that fit, flatter, and look fabulous. (Although, I am of the opinion that Primark knickers fall apart shockingly fast and were probably made by 5 year olds or something dreadful).

Now it was just a case of letting my lovely volunteers loose on the week, and waiting for the big debrief over wine & cupcakes… (Well, you can’t have a debrief WITHOUT wine and cupcakes, can you?)


“Is that a foil in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?” Seduction lingerie doesn’t just have to be for the bedroom.

Faith has a very active job, spends a lot of the time outdoors, and is normally found in jeans and jumpers. So, how did she find it, to dress in beautiful things underneath her jeans? “Amazing. I felt feminine, and pretty, which I never normally do at work. The first couple of days were really giggle inducing – it felt slightly naughty, to have a delicate lace thong on when I was at work. Wearing pretty things is normally reserved for special occasions, it was quite decadent to be wearing them for every day.”

Claudine agrees, decadent is the word that she chooses to sum up her week too. “It was totally insane, I felt like a fallen woman! I was running around doing mundane things with this big secret, my lacy lady-of-the-night bra, and stockings, actual genuine stockings instead of tights. I felt thoroughly wicked!” For her, the eureka moment came when she had an important meeting at work that she had worried about in advance. She boosted her confidence by dressing up in her ultimate seduction black lacy bra, and the borrowed red roll-on Vargas girdle. Did it work? “I felt a bit silly getting into it in the morning. Like, was I some cheesy B-movie actress bent on promotion by shagging the boss. But, once I was into my normal work clothes on top, it felt pretty good. Above all, a really busy day that didn’t involve trips to the ladies to hoist up the crotch of my tights. I cannot believe how secure and comfortable stockings are with a proper girdle.” (I’d like to point out here that Claudine is tall and slim, and tights tend to be too wide at the waist if they’re long enough for her. I’ve been trying to convert her to stockings for a while – I think I may have just won that argument). “The feeling of having a feminine little secret was great, but the feeling of total comfort and security and knowing there were no lumps or bumps or falling down bits was even better.” And that, right there, is the secret of Lingerie Power Dressing.

How about the evenings and weekends? Faith said she felt quite inspired to go the extra mile when getting ready for a dinner with the boyfriend – even though they weren’t going anywhere particularly special – because dressing nicely during the week “upped the game a bit.” So she broke out her super-special occasions basque. “Taking the time to dress up made it all feel a bit more exciting, and there was a bit of anticipation, and excitement about the reveal bit. I definitely flirted more during the evening, and it was almost like when we were first dating.” Claudine, who has a live-in partner, is used to totally not making an effort on weekends. “If we’re having a lie-in, it’s normally big comfy pj’s til midday. I was really tempted to cheat and go back to the comfortable stuff – it seemed such a huge effort for nothing. Only instead of feeling all meh during the morning, once I’d taken the time to get dressed nicely, it seemed a shame to waste it, so we went out instead. It definitely lent a different focus to the weekend.”


Red: The colour of confidence, agression, passion, love & lust. Perfect power dressing, for bedroom or boardroom.

I found myself feeling slightly envious after the de-brief, in all honesty. I don’t feel particularly wicked or daring for slipping on my lacy underpinnings any more. But everything else they experienced was exactly why I think it’s a good idea to do a regular sweep of your lingerie drawers, and get rid of anything that doesn’t make you feel fabulous. And what makes you feel fabulous has got to be down to you – be that thongs or big vintage knickers, ¼ cup lacy bras or sleek satin full cup bras. Make sure it fits, make sure it feels great all day, and make sure you love it. Everything else is then just icing on the cake.

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