Underwear as Outerwear: Why the Double Standard?

“She’s a hoochie,” were the first words out of my friend’s mouth when I expressed my love for Rihanna’s outfit choices in the new “We Found Love” video. Sure she wears underwear as outerwear, a jacket with stripped panties, and exposes a thong while her video boyfriend tattoos “mine” on her ass, but I still felt he was in the wrong. I am not saying the video is perfect or empowering, but the fact that I simply expressed my feelings about her clothing and was given a response that had to do with her sexuality made me kind of angry.

Rihanna has been somewhat of a guilty pleasure of mine. Her songs are fun to dance to and I love her style. It is very obvious that she prefers little clothing (at least according to her portrayal in the media) but she wears the few articles well! Why, like most women, need she be deemed a “slut” for wearing, or not wearing, clothing?

The discussion between my friend and I expanded. He went on to say that men don’t feel the need to dress “sexually” and expose their sexuality through their clothing. Which then had me thinking about men not being objectified in their choice of outfits, period. Even when it occurs down the runway of menswear fashion shows. Jeremy Scott showed some ass-less chaps and nipple exposing vest on his male models at New York Fashion Week this pass fall, but do we see that as men being “sluts?” No. So, I went on to argue that no matter how little or how revealing a man’s clothing can be, our society still will not call out a man’s sexuality. Or, at least, relate it to the number of women or men he has had sex with.

But then look at the designers that have run with the idea of underwear as outerwear, and I am almost positive they also did not have women being called “sluts,” “whores,” “hoochies” or any other demeaning term you can think of in mind when it came to dressing their clients. Numerous designers who make clothes for women are just looking for a way to flatter a woman’s body and to make them feel good about themselves, not give an outsider any reason to insult them.

Below are a few designers who touched on underwear as outerwear in their ready-to-wear spring 2012 collections:

Betsey Johnson

Marc Jacobs

Vera Wang

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