Dare to seduce yourself: the secret of sexy legwear
“Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me,” Dustin Hoffman uttered nervously as Anne Bancroft peeled off her silk stockings in The Graduate (1967). It’s an iconic scene, depicted on one of my favorite movie posters ever. But would it had been quite as seductive if Mrs. Robinson had been simply stark naked? In a famous essay titled ‘Striptease’, the French philosopher Roland Barthes talks about ‘the eroticism of the partially hidden body’. According to him, the sexiness is in the unveiling, the interplay between what’s seen and unseen.
When, at seven years old, I cut up a pair of woolen tights to make my own stockings and make-shift garterbelt, I had never heard of Roland Barthes. But when I put on my handmade creation I felt a thrill akin to what Barthes described: that delicious tension between what’s secret and what’s laid bare. And the best part: I was in command of it!
Later I would fully understand the power of seduction, and I would recognise it in Marlene Dietrich’s performance as Lola in The Blue Angel, singing in her top hat and lingerie, with exposed garter belts and black fishnet stockings. I saw it when I watched Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour, playing a housewife-turned-hooker in stunning garterbelts and matching stockings designed by Yves Saint Laurent. And how about the iconic pictures of 50ties pin-up Bettie Page (speaking of creamy thighs!), bending over wearing nothing but fishnet hold ups and that famous cheeky smile?
Nowadays, I wear sensual legwear most of the time, both day and night. And each time I put on my delicate nylon stockings, thigh high socks with sporty stripes, or hold-ups strong enough to survive an evening of dancing followed by a night of wild passion, I feel the same thrill I felt all those years ago when wore my first clumsy handmade stockings. And I realize this: it’s all about seducing yourself, over and over again.
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