Me and my lingerie

Summer has arrived, and it’s a hot one!  It’s time to break out those less-than clothes:   sundresses, sleeveless tops.    Which means is it also time for this Fashion Icon to confront once again the issue of bra straps.   

Let me be clear:   as a Moderately Repressed, Moderately Old Person, I favor relatively modest clothing.   Generally, we are talking about coverage from clavicle to rotator cuff. 

Note the return of the red Fasion Icon lipstick!   It got lost in the bottom of a backpack for a while, but I’m pleased to report it has re-emerged. 

When I first put these items on, they do a fine job of covering my underthings, thank you very much.  The problem comes when I actually move, which I tend to do throughout the day.  The question is:  do I care if my bra straps are visible?   Should I?

This should be, in the completely disingenuous words of Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, a matter of stare decisis.   I quite consciously opted not to care about the occasionally emerging bra strap maybe 8 or 10 years ago.    My mother was still alive at the time, though we did not live in the same city.  I remember making this affirmative decision in dialogue with her.

Mom:  Your bra strap is showing.  You need some lingerie straps.

Me:   Mom, nobody cares about that anymore.   I’m not spending my time sewing fussy little snaps into my clothing.

Mom:  It’s just not classy.  You should look classy. 

To be clear:  This dialogue never actually happened.  But I thought about it.  And I was ready with my exasperated rejoinder the moment my mom called me out on my peeking straps.  Which she never actually did.   Mostly what she said was, “You look adorable.”   Which, at 50, I thought was absurd.  But now I see how absolutely adorable my own daughters look, at 26 and 31, and I get it, I really do. It's genetic.

The Internet has definite opinions about the bra strap question.   Here’s a sampling from Reddit:

Don't let the patriarchy dictate a single goddamn choice you make. We do not succumb to the patriarchy, we fight it. 

This is a decision that's entirely up to YOUR comfort level. If you don't care, then everyone else can fuck right off. 

Here’s what Liana Satenstein wrote in Vogue about bra straps in the summer of 2022:

The exposed bra strap, especially with flourishes, feels both artful, intentional, and ultimately chic. Of course, there is the immediate allure of an underpinning formerly intended to be hidden. Stylist Yohana Lebasi, who just purchased a decorative bra from Journelle, notes that the exposed bra is both “subtly sexy” and “implies sex.” It’s a bit of temptation right at the shoulders. In other words, don’t fear the bra strap. Let it show.

The problem is, I don’t always want to imply sex.  Sometimes I want to imply inclusionary zoning or tax-exempt private activity bonds.   

I could, of course, render the issue moot by wearing a strapless bra, or even by going braless entirely.


I have always heard that the older you get, the less of a shit you give about what anyone thinks.  I have definitely found this to be true.   I burst into song in public when I feel like it; I spend no time at all worrying about the wrong thing I said or did; I wear stupid-looking but comfortable shoes pretty much absolutely all the time.   

But it’s also the case that my mother’s voice in my head grows louder the further I get from being able to actually hear it. 

Mom would have liked the bright red Fashion Icon lipstick (though she never would have lost it in the bottom of a backpack).  She would not have cared for the peeking bra straps.

No, I am not going to spend my precious hours sewing little lingerie straps into the shoulders of my garments.   Because life’s too short.  Also, fuck the patriarchy.   But when what I want to imply deep energy retrofit or exit tax liability, I slip on a sweater or jacket.   

Mom would have approved of this strategy—sweater/jacket depending.  I think she’d have liked this one:

But not this one:

It’s schlumpy, she would have said.  You don’t want to look schlumpy.

OK, Mom.  I’ll work on it.  I promise.