Give ‘Em the Slip

As I was getting ready for a function recently, pulling out the clothes and undergarments I planned to wear, my oldest daughter strolled into my room and noticed the half slip laying on the bed.

“Why do you wear those things?” she demanded in that uh darling 12-year-old, know-it-all voice.  “They’re so old-ladyish.””Really?” I asked as that old tabloid picture of Lady Diana Spencer flitted through my mind, the one when she was dating Prince Charles, left home without her slip one day, and naively posed for pictures with her Kindergartners while standing in the sun.  “What makes you say that?”

“Because NOBODY wears those things any more except old ladies.”

Old ladies?!

Lady Diana SpencerLady Diana Spencer
Fall, 1980

That’s weird.  Because the way my mother explained it to me when I was about 12, ladies (of all ages) wore slips while (common) women did not.   If you didn’t want untoward attention from men or catty comments from other women, you kept your unmentionables out of sight under thin or sheer clothes by wearing a slip or camisole.  It was as simple as that.

Now yes, times have changed a bit since “dinosaurs roamed the earth when I was a kid” (as my children like to say), but the polish, modesty, and comfort offered by a good slip still remains.  Don’t like your bra or panties showing through your clothes, or hate wearing scratchy fabrics (like wool) against your skin?  Wear a slip or a camisole.  Problem solved.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve updated your slip collection – or if you’ve never owned a slip – here’s a good selection of slip staples you should have in your underwear drawer.  You’ll use them more than you think.

Remember: wear flesh-colored pieces under white or light-colored clothes; wear black, navy, or brown under dark clothes.  Otherwise, they’ll show through.

Types of Slips

Full Slip

Half Slip

Long Slip


Macys Figleaves Amazon Chadwicks
Full slip (or dress slip)
wear under dresses or tops and skirts
Half slip wear under
knee-length skirts or dresses
Long slip wear under
evening gowns and maxi dresses
Camisole wear under
sheer blouses and shirts;
can also be worn under itchy sweaters
Should you always wear a slip?  No.  If the garment has a lining or if the fabric is relatively thick, you probably don’t need a slip.  But if the fabric is thin or becomes transparent in sunlight or under bright lights, you need one.If you expect to walk a red carpet or be photographed for an event, play it safe by wearing a slip or having your garment lined; flashbulbs can have the same effect as sunlight in rendering a garment translucent.

Finally, if you can’t get past the notion that slips are old-ladyish, remember that some of Hollywood’s leading ladies steamed up the screen in their slips – and you can, too.  Sensible can sometimes be very sexy.

Cat on a Hot Tin RoofPaul Newman and
Elizabeth Taylor in
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof


Diana Pemberton-Sikes is an image consultant and author of Wardrobe Magic, an ebook that teaches women how to dress and build a wardrobe they’ll actually wear.  If you’d like to receive regular fashion tips from Diana, be sure to sign up for her FREE ezine, the Clothing Chronicles. Diana Pemberton-Sikes


  • Sheila Saffold

    Reply Reply November 12, 2009

    Great article!! Another reason to wear a slip is to save the embarrassement of standing up quickly and realizing your thin, filmy skirt is plastered agains your butt and legs, in bias relief. (Perhaps this only happens in warm climates where everyone sweats a lot.).

    Go slips!

    • Diana

      Reply Reply November 13, 2009

      Hi Sheila,

      Yes, that extra layer can be VERY beneficial, even in warm weather…:-)

    • Bill

      Reply Reply December 10, 2011

      Please forgive me, a guy for butting in, but this is my perspective as a married man of thirty two years. I may be old fashioned, but in my opinion few things are more attractive than my beautiful wife in a well fitting half or full slip. The ever so slight shadow of the bra strap or panty line is very sexy without showing anything. It seems that these days the goal is to show as much of your body and underwear as is possible, why is that so important? No one is more sexy than my wife and she dresses very sexy and modern and turns all the heads, men and women without showing off half of her naked body and none of her underwear. Now that is hot, sexy and classy.

  • nicole 86

    Reply Reply November 12, 2009

    in France, it’s very difficult to buy slips except in very old fashioned shops for “old prude ladies”, they are usually short and not really convenient. Otherwise one can buy kind of sexy stuff.

  • Moon Rani

    Reply Reply November 12, 2009

    I was *extremely* glad that I always wear a slip on a certain day last summer when I got out of my car at a shopping plaza and and the elastic in my skirt failed. The skirt hit the ground but I was saved from mortification by my trusty, ol’ slip.

    • Shelly Miller

      Reply Reply November 12, 2009

      I had a similar incident in high school when the back seam of my skirt gave way starting at the kick pleat – all the way to the waistband! If it hadn’t been for a slip – I would have been completely exposed!

  • Sharlene McLean

    Reply Reply November 12, 2009

    My mother always told me that even if the garment has a lining one should wear a slip as the added layer helps protect the seams of the lining from pulling. And just generally I have always found my clothes look better when wearing a slip.

  • Lori

    Reply Reply November 12, 2009

    Great article, my cousin use to ask my grandmother way you wear two dresses and she answer because I´m a lady, and you ? My cousin says me too but I only have one dress.

  • Michelle Richards

    Reply Reply November 12, 2009

    Diana, I love slips too, but I think you are showing a bias in your advice about colors to wear. For some of us, brown and black IS flesh toned! If I wore a light colored slip it would contrast with my skin and show from under the garment.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply November 13, 2009

      Hi Michelle,

      Whoops – sorry about that! I should have said neutral or flesh-colored tones under white or light colored clothes. Your goal is for your undergarments to disappear under clothes, not show through. Look for slips and camisoles that match your skin tone.

  • Christine

    Reply Reply November 12, 2009

    I want and need a full and half slip BUT I need them in natural fiber like cotton or silk due to skin issues. I’ve yet to find that good ol’ fashioned cotton/silk slip or for that matter, tap pants. I love surplice wrap dresses as they’re so flattering to my 34 DD figure. However, they do need a nice slip as a lining for those “bend-over” moments.

    • Sue

      Reply Reply November 12, 2009

      Try! They have beautiful natural silk slips, camis, half slips… everything you need.

    • Anonymous

      Reply Reply November 13, 2009

      @Christine, who needs her slips in certain fabrics due to skin issues – for a full slip, an appropriately colored spaghetti strapped silk or cotton, short or knee length nightgown will do in a pinch!

    • Diana

      Reply Reply November 13, 2009

      Hi Christine,

      You can find cotton and silk slips and other intimate apparel at Peruvian Connection.

  • Lori Zeigler

    Reply Reply November 12, 2009

    Diana , thank you so much for this article. I’ve never had the nerve to venture out without a slip or any other kind of appropriate wear. Women today have become so common it’s really sad. Call me what you like but I will always wear slip, pantyhose and anything else that will make me look respectable. I always look forward to your newsletters.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply November 13, 2009

      Hi Lori,

      Glad you’re enjoying the ezine!

      Your comments made me smile. Were you or your mother raised in the South?

  • Cindy

    Reply Reply November 13, 2009


    Loved the article. Clothing drapes so much nicer if a slip is worn. It would be nice if more females would wear them then we wouldn’t see so many panty lines and bulges.

  • Citygirl

    Reply Reply November 20, 2009

    Many years ago an elderly, wealthy lady complained to me about people not wearing slips. Her point was that slips help with the drape of the garment fabric, for example when you are sitting and the fabrics drapes over the knee. Sounded like this was common knowledge in her day.
    The lighting at a club I used to go to had a flourescent effect on white. We had a chuckle at one woman whose big granny style panties were glowing bright white through her fitted dark colored dress.

  • Marion

    Reply Reply November 21, 2009

    I started wearing full slips when I re-discovered dresses at the age of 20 and haven’t stopped (and dont plan to) until today.
    I wear mostly (95% of the time that is) skirts and dresses at work and find the coverage of the slip very comforting ….
    But I have to admit that when I started wearing them (with the “perfect” figure of a 20 year old) I did that because it made me feel feminine (yes! I admiti it) and more sophisticated ….

  • Claudia

    Reply Reply November 23, 2009

    Obviously I am the only one here who never wears a slip. But then I never wear thin or transparent fabrics, they look strange on my lumberjack figure. With denim, tweed, heavy knits or closely woven cotton the normal lining of the clothes is enough. Not even a klieg light could render my clothes transparent.

    I see to it that my bra remains invisible, that’s all. When you are more muscular than curvy, drape is not so much of a problem.

    But then, I know exactly what you mean. On the subway I see this lack of underwear quite often – voluptuous ladies in spray-on lycra or semitransparent tunics with any old worn-out lacy bra underneath. That looks really, really vulnerable… But the worst thing for me is the lack of stockings. Somebody must have proclaimed that pantyhose is old lady and naked legs are glamorous. I have never seen anything quite as glamorous as the bluish-white, chapped legs of a young banker in her black skirt suit and ankle booties.

    • JMixx

      Reply Reply December 31, 2009

      No kidding! As the owner of a pair of bluish-white, often-chapped legs, I will continue to wear hosiery, despite “fashion trends”! I have friends who say it is old-fashioned, not stylish, and they would NEVER wear them; however, these friends are darker-skinned, young, and have slim legs!

      I dislike most pantyhose, so I more often wear tights, thigh-highs (with a slip, so that “place” where the top band indents the thigh a bit doesn’t show) or, with slacks, knee-highs. When my younger, oblivious co-workers comment, I tell them that my bare legs do not look appropriate in the workplace, and are unattractive, so they should be glad they don’t have to see them “undressed.” Then I smile sweetly and say, “You’re welcome.”

      Thanks for confirming my suspicion: despite the fashion trends, what looks good and makes me more confident is the right choice!

  • Camisoles

    Reply Reply November 26, 2009

    Lingerie development took place in the latter years. Because of the need to create something lighter and more functional, pieces such as teddies, chemises and camisoles were born. These are similar to the ones found today but these are still in the early stages of improvement. Because of their length, these were shortened to the more practical ones such as brassieres, bikini panties, briefs and boy shorts.

  • Verlansier

    Reply Reply June 27, 2010

    I still think half slip is important when ladies wear skirts (slit,tight or see thru)
    It provides additional cover.

    When walking on stairs or standing on escalator men tends to peep underneath of a lady’s skirts , again half slip is one of solutions.

    Ladies in half slips had a great impact on man too as i noticed my boyfriend could not get his eyes off me when i wear a combination of half slip underneath my skirts , stockings , high heels. (My boyfriend had actually requested me to wear it whenever we had an outing).My boyfriend told me i’m looked feminine , ladylike & sexy.

    I think it could be a good way to lock his heart (control) & chances of him going astray or having affairs is rather slim.

    In order to revive hopes of half slips become popular with ladies , may be we should teach our daughters to wear a slip beneath a skirts starting from a young age.

  • Caz Zee

    Reply Reply September 25, 2010

    Wonderful article. Even though d age of slips seems to have gone, I believe it can be revived again. Ladies tend not to wear them saying its old fashioned. If we can get a celebrity, lets say Oprah Winfrey to talk about it, we can start a slip revival! Slips are a sign of modesty n feminity in a woman. I love them so much as a man I even wear them(I’m not a crossdresser nor a transvestite). Just wear the nylon half slip in my house under a wrapper or a robe n I wear it alone when noone’s around! They’re very sexy!

  • Umilta Carter

    Reply Reply September 1, 2011

    I am a black woman who would like to find camisoles to match my skin tone since we have different shades of black.Help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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