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The history of Valentine’s Day is mixed and muddled: it is currently thought to have originated from the Roman fertility festival ‘Lupercalia’, before being appropriated by the Catholic church and associated with Saint Valentine, then later brought to popularity by Chaucer in the 14th Century, before finally, in the 18th Century, becoming the commercialised version we know today.
In the mid-to-late 20th century, retailers successfully marketed the day as one for men to buy lingerie for their partners, and brands designed with the male-gaze as a priority (*cough* Victoria’s Secret *cough*) did very well with this. As most would imagine, and any who have worked within this industry know all too well, Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest times of year for lingerie retailers.
However, as we enter a brand new decade, social and political movements aided by the internet are currently striving to push messages of inclusivity, body-positivity, self-care, and general self-love. It’s wonderful to see intimates brands also joining in with the spread of this ethos, especially at this time of year when it can be hard to feel validated if you don’t fit into wider society’s narrow beauty ideals and expectation that you need a partner to complete yourself.
Instead, everyone – single, taken, and everything in between- should feel like showing themselves some love on Valentine’s day (and every day). Wearing lingerie is one of my favourite ways to show myself some love, and while everyone will have different ideals of the type of underwear they feel best in, here is a selection of designs which just happen to be more explicit about reminding you to love yourself!
Felicity Hayward x Playful Promises
Playful Promises have recently collaborated with body-positive influencer Felicity Hayward to create a collection of lingerie and loungewear* that runs across their impressive size range. I love love love the contrast pink and red detailed mesh bra, knicker, and suspender belt set which have “Self Love Brings Beauty x” embroidered across them. The same slogan adorns the super comfortable-looking bralettes and matching knicker sets which are available at the wonderfully accessible price point of £18 for a bra and £14 for briefs. Everything has been made in the brand’s core, fuller bust, and curve sizing which covers UK sizes 8-26 and 32A-44H.
TACK design non-gendered underwear and accessories, so if the concept of gender is something which causes any kind of discomfort (or if rejecting the construct brings euphoria) for you, then you might want to show yourself some gentle love and attention by gifting yourself their ‘Sneaky Cherub’ briefs. Made from 100% silk in sizes S-XXL, TACK’s designs look gorgeous on a whole range of body-types and identities. Just have a flick through their Instagram if you want to revel in all the beautiful diversity that is humanity.
In a post-#MeToo world where cis women, trans women, and non-binary bodies are somehow still being policed by governments around the globe, a statement like “My Body My Rules” goes beyond some cutesy slogan on an underwear set. It’s a reminder that you should always get the final say on whatever happens to your own body, and that is something we should all be fighting for. But also: cute doodle breasts. Peachy Vegan make their underwear in sizes XS-XL, at £18 for briefs and £26 for a bralette.
Serpent & Bow
Witchcraft, as a political as well as spiritual movement, has grown in popularity as the concept of self-empowerment has become more realised in our culture. Serpent & Bow weave spells into their hand-printed designs using herbal symbology and sigil work. Their ‘I Love Myself’ briefs are made to your measurements and include illustrations which were originally drawn by the designer, Rachel Blodgett, for ‘Stretches’, a book of positive affirmations. Serpent & Bow also do commission work, so if there was a particular self-love spell you wanted to cast by having a set or piece made just for you, Serpent & Bow could be a wonderful conduit for that.
These super cute embroidered pants combine two of my favourite ways to show myself some self-care. So if you also have an electronic Valentine, consider treating yourself to these briefs which are handmade from dead-stock fabric saved from landfill by Bandasaur* on Etsy. Simply leave your measurements at the checkout and they’ll be made to measure.
If you celebrate ‘Galentine’s Day’, then you might want to pick up this three pack for you and two best friends. While Oysho carries sizes XS-L, there is only limited stock of Large left for this product – so you might want to act fast!
Kier Fearnley, the artist behind Linoliscious*, creates some of my favourite lingerie-themed prints, therefore I was very happy when they decided to start printing on actual lingerie as well! I love that the body-positive movement has led to the gradual destigmatisation of female body hair. While there’s still a long way to go, these briefs are a great way to celebrate your own body hair and are available in UK sizes 10-22.
Inner Truth Panties
Some people think that reading a message over and over again will encourage your brain to start believing what you’re reading, so many leave positive affirmations for themselves in places where you are most likely to see them e.g. on the mirror or fridge. It makes perfect sense, then, to have positive messages embroidered on the inside of your underwear! Inner Truth Panties* are available in sizes XS-3X and will give you a boost every time you take off your pants, or look at yourself in the mirror while wearing them.
Finally, Aerie are now famous for their body-positive campaigning, being one of the first big-name global brands to stop using Photoshop and start actively pursuing diversity in their modelling campaigns. While they’ve landed some criticism for still sticking to quite standardised, Western ideals of beauty, it must be said that their marketing strategy has paved the way for a lot more inclusivity in lingerie brand imagery. These cotton boybriefs carry the simple but important message: “love ya self”.
Are you treating yourself to new lingerie for Valentine’s Day 2020?