As a burlesque performer, Dita Von Teese spends most of her time in lingerie and has spent a huge chunk of her life obsessed with lacy unmentionables — corsets, panties, bras and garter belts. As a teenager, she was a lingerie salesgirl and became so enthralled with intimates that she blossomed into a collector of vintage pieces. That passion turned into a line of her own lingerie, which launched earlier this year. Thursday, the soft-spoken seductress was on hand for a private showing of her second offering at Journelle’s Atelier in Manhattan, where she revealed her latest over tea, scones and jam to members of the press. Dita has some great things in store for next season: gold lame underwear overlaid with black lace and a hot pink set that includes a bra, panties and garter belt. Also, VPL-resistant panties. We pretty much wanted it all.
We caught up with Dita after the show to talk all things lingerie: How to wear it, what to buy and the most risqué piece she owns.
theFashionSpot: So, you’re a lingerie expert. Any tips for women on finding the right bra?
Dita Von Teese: When you’re shopping, whether it’s online or in person with experts, finding out your right size is important. You can even do it online, it’s so easy. Brands like Journelle offer tools that have bra fitters who want to put you in the right size. Also, try a lot of different things and see what works. Be adventurous with your lingerie. Think about basics in a different way — a T-shirt bra doesn’t have to be your only basic! Black lace is basic! That padded T-shirt bra makes me crazy!
tFS: What’s the biggest mistake women make when shopping for lingerie?
DVT: I think the biggest mistake is being fixated on a particular size, and buying because you want to be a certain size. It’s a big mistake. I used to do that. I used to buy small underwear and the day that I discovered how a medium pair of underwear felt, it was like heaven! Cut off the tags if you don’t like to see the size. Actually, you should cut out the size in your tags anyway. That’s the first thing you should do — you don’t want a tag hanging out when you’re trying to be a mistress of seduction!
tFS: We know you love to show a little peek of lingerie in your outfits. Any tips on how to wear your underwear as outerwear?
DVT: I’m all for a little bra showing. I think it’s a good hint of what’s to come. It’s feminine and womanly and shows that you honor yourself every day with beautiful lingerie. I think balance is the best thing. The best way to show your lingerie off and still look elegant is to notice if you’re going to show a lot of cleavage and the edging of the lace of your bra or bustier. You want to keep it balanced and keep the rest of your outfit really classic, taking note of your hemline. I’m a big fan of a black suit with a nice peek of sexy lace coming through or our Madame X bra with the framing. I think that looks elegant and chic at all times. Or a bright color where you can see a little bit of that lace. I also love wearing corselets or bustiers where it becomes a part of your outfit, where you don’t have the gap between your bra showing. I’m not a big fan of the extra skin showing in between. The way to do it is buy pieces that cover the stomach.
tFS: What’s the most important thing you learned when you started designing lingerie?
DVT: I’ve been involved with lingerie my whole life. I started out as a lingerie salesgirl when I was 15, so I do consider myself an expert in understanding the desires of other women, what their preferences are, the shapes. It was a long time ago that I was working as a salesgirl, but I’ve really been tapping back into that and remembering what that’s like, selling to women and respecting their preferences for different shapes with their lingerie — whether they like padded bras, or whether they want just a lift, stretch lace, non-stretch lace or bikinis, briefs, thongs, G-strings. I’ve been really thinking about being respectful of that, but at the same time encouraging women to try new things.
tFS: That seems to be the hardest thing for a lot of women…
DVT: And you know, it’s what’s so great about lingerie because you can play with your secret persona underneath your clothes. That’s what I love about it. You might be very conservative in your clothing and then be wearing something racy underneath — red lace, black lace, neon pink. No matter what your fashion style is on the outside, you can really play with what you’re wearing underneath.
tFS: You’re a collector. What’s the weirdest piece of lingerie you own?
DVT: The thing I think I’ve learned in my years collecting is that people have always been racy. They’ve always wanted to wear sexy lingerie, so I think people would be surprised at some of the bras I have. They’re just shelf bras exposing the nipples. But that’s what I love. Even in the 30s, women were wearing bras like that. It was very chic to have a little bit of nipple showing under your silk dress where you can see the outline. It’s very sexy and I think people forget that people always wanted to have a little sex appeal or push the envelope a little bit.
tFS: What would you say is the most underrated piece of lingerie?
DVT: I believe in the garter belt and stockings. I read some statistics, and it’s the most requested lingerie article that prostitutes hear. I like to play with a classic black garter belt and stockings. It’s elegance and eroticism. It’s one of those rare things that is so sexy and flattering. It’s historically sexy without being tacky, and when it’s worn the right way, it’s perfection. I wear garter belts every day because I love the freedom that comes with wearing them with stockings. I don’t like the binding feeling of thigh-highs and I don’t like the way pantyhose feel. It’s a win-win situation. Also, if you get a run in one stocking, your whole pair isn’t ruined, you just put on another one. Another tip I always say when wearing garter belts, you wear your underwear over your garter belt for easy access. I believe in wearing lingerie because we love it, I don’t believe in putting it on for a man. I believe that we wear it for us, and if someone is lucky enough to be in our presence and experience that, so be it. But the ultimate seductress is one who realizes in everyday practice the cultivation of your sensuality, and how it radiates to other people. That’s what makes others want to be around you. So, that’s why I wear things like black lace and garter belts in everyday life because I genuinely like it, and that works in my favor. When it comes to seduction, it’s easy!