Reader Request: Wrangling Slips

when to wear a slip

Superfantastic reader Erin asked:

Slips: Do you wear them? How long are your slips? Because you’re a year-round dress- and skirt-wearing woman in a cold climate, I assume that you’re a slip fan. Slips keep my skirts and tights from ending up in a horrible tussle on my thighs (no one wants to see that). I think, however, that there may be some ladies who think slips are old fashioned, fussy, and unnecessary.

Well, friends, it’s confession time: I am utter crap at slip implementation. I own several full slips, but they only get worn when I have about a billion heavy layers over them because they’ve got lots of gorgeous lacy embellishment … which means they generally show through my shirts. Also since I am generally on a mission to show off my waist, a traditional full slip only hinders: Unless worn with a dress (and most of my dresses are either lined or slippery), it pooches out at the waistband.

I mainly utilize my black shorty slip. It’s short enough to work with a miniskirt and can be hiked up to work with tunics, too. My half slip gets used far less frequently.

I can’t say as I’m interested in shapewear slips, which would work fantastically with my close-fitting tops and longer skirts … mostly because I have to absolutely SHOEHORN myself into my Spanx and I prefer to save that whole ordeal for special occasions.

All that said, I do have some opinions and tips about slips. And those I shall now share:

1. If you’re wearing tights with an unlined skirt, suck it up and wear a slip: I mean, unless you want to walk around with your skirt’s hem wadded up in your crotch. Yes, slips are annoying. Yes, they’re old fashioned. But seriously, how else are you gonna keep from looking like you’re smuggling a squirrel’s nest between your thighs?

2. Ignore number one if the skirt you’re wearing is floor-length: Any skirt that long is probably going to have enough weight to counteract the sticky-tights factor. Don’t sweat a slip in this situation. Unless you want to.

3. Buy slips in several lengths/styles: OK, two lengths will probably do the trick. Buy a short slip so you can wear your minis in comfort, and one that hits about three inches above your knee for slightly longer skirts. If you own lots of unlined dresses – sweater dresses, I’m looking at you – seek out a very plain full slip that sits flat beneath your outer garments.

4. Watch where that waistband falls: Unless you have washboard abs, the tiny, tight elastic waistband of a half slip will bisect you. And since you’re ALSO wearing tights, you may end up trisected. Supremely annoying, take it from me. I tend to try two different tactics and see which works best: Hike everything up to my armpits where I’m less fleshy and hope it’ll all stay put, or hike everything down to my pelvic bone. The second option is only implemented when I’m wearing a very thick skirt. Otherwise my segmentedness shows right through the fabric.

Slips with wide or stretch-lace waistbands make this less of a problem.

5. If you can afford it, just have a tailor LINE your unlined skirts: In an ideal world, we’d all have the dough to do this. In the real world, it might be worthwhile to have it done for your top three skirts. Just imagine the segmentation you’d avoid!

Audi once sang the praises of pettipants, and I now own and like a pair myself. Mine are more like petti-boxers, they’re that short, but still a nice alternative to a slip, especially if you’re hoping for additional warmth on top of friction ease.

Slips may seem old fashioned, but they sure do come in handy sometimes!

Images courtesy Bare Necessities.

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details. Sustainable options are either used, handmade, made in the U.S., artisan made in non-sweatshop conditions, or made using sustainable/fair trade practices.

Originally posted 2009-11-13 06:55:00.

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48 Responses to “Reader Request: Wrangling Slips”

  1. Anonymous

    I am a dress/skirt wearing gal and ALWAYS wear a slip – preferably a full slip. It cuts out all the underlines from bras, panties, and tights. I have found it EASY to find plain black or nude slips that are seamless, not too tight, and then I hem them to the appropriate lengths. I think I have about three different lengths. NOTE: a slip should be nearly the same length as your skirt hem or you are gonna see it. I too have the fancy ones in fab colors that I buy at thrift stores — but I wear them as slinky nighties and not under my clothes. – nan

  2. Sharon

    Pettipants are phenomenal! I'm overweight, so I chafe badly when I'm wearing skirts/dresses over bare legs, so pettipants solves that. Pettipants also don't ride up (or at least, not that I've experienced) and don't rotate around your waist (because they have legs). Solved all my slip problems.

  3. Jenny

    Oh, I never thought of hemming them. Is that what everyone does? Maybe that's why I can never find one that is long enough to be just 1/2 shorter than my knee-length skirts. If you wear the slip any shorter than that, you can see the line of the slip, which is no better than having the line of your thighs show through.

  4. Sara

    I swear by the half-slip, too. Mine's pretty ancient but still in fantastic shape. I have more of a problem with finding a full slip without embellishments and without having a super-scoop neck, especially for wearing with wrap dresses. Brilliant idea to hem one, though – I have found that they're either full of frills or too long, so perhaps this will fix the issue for me.

    Fabulous post and I just love your blog, by the way!

  5. Erin

    I have one too-long slip, and one slip from middle school that I still squeeze myself into when the need arises. And yes, the elastic waist is pulled to its maximum expansion. And yes, it's so tight and small I'd wear it out if I were a celebrity. And yes it rides up. But slips are not a high priority on my shopping list either.

  6. CompassRose

    I wear dresses and skirts all the time, and I have to confess, I've never found the secret of the slip. (The secret with tights is to get the right ones. Some of them are staticky and sticky; some of them aren't. Unfortunately, I never know WHICH ones until I've bought them and worn them out once.)

    I do not get the slip. I'd rather have Lady Di moments in the sun than another layer bunching and hiking up under my skirts – which every slip I've ever worn does, no matter what it's made of. I find them just plain annoying.

    As for full slips, I don't like extra layers at my waist, either. Or extra straps around my neckline.

    (I don't like linings, either. ESPECIALLY LINED TROUSERS. I HATE THEM SO MUCH.)

    I guess I just fail at the old-school elegance, really.

  7. Linda

    This is such a mystery to me. I wear a half-slip pretty much every day (not a big jeans/trousers wearer). I have two, one a little longer than the other, both ancient, some kind of nylon or slippery polyester, nothing special about them. I have no idea what you even mean when you say they poof out at the waist! And while I do have the midsection-dissection problem with tights, the waistband of the slip is generally no tighter than that of the skirt I'm wearing anyway. It doesn't feel any more uncomfortable or old-fashioned than wearing underpants, I swear. I totally don't get why people are always hating on the slip! Even if I'm not wearing tights and my skirt isn't see-through, I like having an underlayer to make it hang more smoothly.

  8. Darling Petunia

    Like some of the other people who have commented, I always wear a slip. I've never felt like they've bulked me up or poofed me out, and I like the smooth feeling. Makes me feel more elegant or something. 😉

    Confession time…I have about forty different slips. Different colors, different lengths, different trims. My friends have actually asked me to lift the hem of my skirt at times to see which slip I'm wearing!

  9. Shannon

    This post made me laugh out loud many times. You are so funny, Sal! Thanks for making my multi-grain Cheerios more fun!

    Love your blog

  10. Oranges And Apples

    I'm another person who doesn't get slips, but not because I dislike them – its actually that I have no idea what they are. I have never seen one in real life – I've seen things that look like what I understand people refer to as full lenth slips, but they're sold as nighties. Also I don't know anyone face to face that wears them (I know plenty of people online, obviously). It might be a European thing?

    Maybe it's that most of my skirts are lined anyway, but I think it's more of a fabric thing. I have unlined cotton skirts that stay right where they're supposed to be, and lined skirts where the lining is synthetic and will not stop riding up. It's only synthetic materials that create that static electrictity with tights which contributed to riding-up-ness.

  11. Margaret

    One of the tragedies of my summer was discovering that Wal Mart, a store I only shop at on road trips, no longer sells half-slips! I love love half slips and like to have a variety of lengths and colors. They had $8 half slips in white, black, beige. Boo hoo. Many stores do not carry them: no big departments stores where I live… so sad!

  12. enc

    I keep a black taffeta (not nylon, too staticy) slip around for the skirts I have that aren't lined. Since I don't like wearing a slip, I strive to find skirts that are lined, so I can avoid this whole mess. But a slip is necessary to keep one's tights from gluing themselves to one's skirt, as you so deftly point out.

  13. kathy

    What kinds of slips do you ladies wear? I tend to avoid my slips because they're polyester and icky. I've bought some old 80's silk shells from the thrift store to refashion into slips for just this reason, but haven't gotten around to it.

  14. Kelly

    I definitely love slips. I wear them whenever I can. I was going to post links to my recent musings about it, but BAM was sweet enough to mention me first 😉

  15. Rebekah

    Sharon's comment just sold me on pettipants. =)

    Because I hate The Shoehorn Ordeal too, I buy cheap shapewear a size too large. It's still snug enough to smoothe me out.

    My vain side hates wearing a bigger size, but not as much as my body would hate me for dressing it in skin-tight sausage casing.

  16. Work With What You've Got

    OK, I am just floored by the number of people coming out and saying they do not wear slips. If you cannot see through a skirt, and you are not wearing tights, OK. But other wise? Put on a slip for crying out loud. I wear one 90% of the time with my dresses. I have a super short half slip for minis, a full mid thigh slip in nude AND black for above the knee and a knee length half slip for everything else. And they are SO hard to find in stores!~ So hard. Is it a Southern thing? Or a conservative parent thing? I remember Oprah admitting she did not wear slips a few years ago, and I remember being horrified. Ahahahaha. I’m old fashioned I guess. I just didn’t know it. (I also wear a cami under any blouse that might be just a little see through at work or church.)

  17. hillary

    Pettipants are $5 on Amazon. They are worth the money. You will wonder what you did before them.

  18. Courtney

    I want to have a better relationship with my slips! Just having moved to the Deep South, I'm falling in love with light colored linen skirts, but most of them are unlined, and adding a polyester slip underneath completely loses the wonderful cooling effect of the linen. I've considered trying to sew myself some linen slips with tie waists (to eliminate the segmentation of elastic). Anyone tried something similar? Am I crazy?

  19. Anonymous

    Emily M. over at (my style icon? Maybe) wears slips and nighties as dresses, using the "two nighties = one dress" rule, and looks adorable and not at all inappropriate. She also has a lot of lovely vintage lace-hemmed slips that she intentionally lets peek out of her skirts. Sometimes she dyes them, as well.

    I've started yanking that look–I've bought all of one slip, at a thrift store, with lace around the bottom. I let it peek out of my shorter skirts and I think it's quite cute and not at all the same as showing your underwear.

    Not a look that's going to work for everyone's style, I'm sure, but lovely, nonetheless, and worth thinking about. It's good to have a garment do double duty in this way: keeps your skirt from sticking to your thighs (or stockings) and looks adorable, too.

  20. Fuschia and Teal

    I hate dresses/skirts that are see-through. And I wear a lot of cotton vintage dresses.

    I'm a big fan of lined skirts – but, even though I've thought about it, have never had my skirts lined.

    I think the trick is to make sure the band on the slip isn't too tight. There's nothing worse than a slip which is digging into you. Not flattering at all. I usually size up, and let it sit on my hips.

    I have nude & black slips in 3 different lengths each. The ones I bought were from Macy's (with a coupon!) – the best I have found yet.

  21. Lisa

    I'm with CompassRose…I have not worn a slip since I was a child! They just scream OLD LADY to me! I never have a problem with tights clinging to my skirts. My boss who is the frumpiest person I know wears slips all the time and they are always hanging out of her skirts.

    I hate lined pants too…too constricting…

  22. K.Line

    I'm wearing a slip today! (Short skirt plus tights…) and I have some full slips (to knee) some short slips (for short skirts), one knee length full slip. I don't wear them much, but when I need them they're there. I'm with you on lining though. It's more streamlined.

  23. lsaspacey

    I swear by slips, it's always better to be safe than sorry. I used to buy them but now I'll be making all mine using this really easy tutorial by Gertie.

  24. spacegeek33

    Wearing a half slip today as a matter of fact. I always wear them with tights, and often with dresses or skirts in the summer too. Am thinking the pettipants would be a good addition to the wardrobe too, given the praises sung. While I've found slips to be difficult to locate, stores such as Penny's or Kohls often have them. And not just the shapewear kind.

  25. EnglundLit

    And here I feared I was alone as a devoted wearer of slips. I wore full slips as a little girl (and my daughter wears them under her dresses!), but now I mostly rely on half slips. I wear one whenever I am wearing tights and my skirt is not lined, and also under any sheer or clingy skirt or dress. I have one beautiful charmeuse full slip that I wear under a few of my dresses–makes me feel so slinky! And I keep an assortment of half slips, from mini to quite long, in straight and A-line cuts. A black one that falls about 3" above my knee gets the most use.

  26. Healthy and Homemade

    I think slips are a must for somewhat sheer dresses/skirts and clingy materials! I had to buy a slip to wear under my wedding dress, so it's right to the knee (but I can hike is up and tuck it under my bra for shorter dresses/skirts) and it's nude, so it really works with most anything.

    It's come in handy on numerous occasions since the wedding, and I remember being annoyed I had to buy one because I would "never wear it again," pshhh, old me was wrong =P

  27. Nadine

    I wear slips mostly every day, summer and winter – it's because I am a dress-wearing MANIAC. I have half-slips from op-shops (really short legs mean it's hard to find ones short enough for me), and I have about half-a-dozen tactel 'nighties' and a couple of satin 'chemises' that I wear as slips. I love them, they keep my legs warm, they fill in low v-necks, they lengthen short tunics to respectable levels and they feel nicer against my skin than my outer layers of el cheapo polyester knit dresses.

  28. crispybenfranklin

    I only ever wear slips if there is danger of my Snow White underwear showing through my skirt. As far as static goes, I find a generous helping of Static Guard to work pretty well, although I'll admit a slip would probably smell better.

  29. akb

    silk slip in the winter +dress + tights = easiest warm pretty outfit ever. its like my winter uniform. i think my friends find it odd that i wear more dresses in winter than in summer.

  30. PaperCrane

    Great post. I've been wearing slips for as long as I can remember (that includes elementary school) under skirts and dresses. I can't imagine wearing an unlined skirt/dress without one. I hate the feeling of my skirt clinging to my tights, it drives me crazy. And I agree with some of the posters here, it is hard to find a non-embellished full-slip in stores.

  31. Snidder

    I confess to not owning a single slip, although it might be time. My issue has more to do with length than cling. I have a couple of summer dresses that are an appropriate length (really – just a couple fo inches above the knee – I never wear miniskirts, ever) when I stand straight up but heaven forbid I should need to pick anything up off the floor – amazing to me how much a decent-length dress can hike up…Yikes. So in order to avoid showing too much, I took to wearing my workout shorts underneath because they are close-fitting and offer more coverage than just plain undies. Still not a pretty sight but at least I was covered. I like the pettipants idea, although they aren't very attractive. I'd feel better in those. Man have I got a lot to learn.

  32. Mrs.M in MI

    I can't imagine not wearing a slip if my skirt has the slightest possibility of being see-through or riding up on my tights. If the skirt is not lined, I wear a slip. Often I'll still wear a slip, especially in the summer when I wear lighter skirts and more white.

    Mine are ancient and they practically fall off my body because they are so loose. I have a shorter black one and a slightly longer white one. Couldn't live without 'em.

  33. Hanako66

    these are great tips! I rarely wear slips…I usually only do if I want it to be shown!

  34. Rosie Unknown

    I have never worn a slip. Frankly, I have never felt the need. I probably should, but I don't have enough skirts that bunch to bother.

    Great post though, very helpful!

  35. myedit

    And this is why I love you… no one else talks about these things.
    I have an ANCIENT black slip that is shorter and just the right size and goes under any see-thru knits or the occasional clingy skirt (haha, my mom is so proud when I wear a slip…). You know what? it's a damn good thing to have…

  36. Kathryn

    I just discovered half slips, and I love mine! I work in a school that somehow is the most static-y place on earth. I was constantly having the skirt in my crotch problem before finding a slip at Target (for about 10 bucks). Before that I did have a little trick that helped somewhat. Most of us in my building have discovered that if you rub lotion on your hands, then rub them up and down your tights covered thighs it does help a bit, and gives you amazingly humorous moments in the staff bathroom!

  37. Audi

    I'm really glad I wasn't drinking or eating anything when I read that 'smuggling a squirrel nest' sentence…

    Pettipants are the bomb, for reals! They don't shift around the way slips do, and letting the lacy hems peek out from under a skirt or dress looks cute.

  38. lucitebox

    I have one black full slip that's vintage. I wear it with nearly everything that needs a slip. It is lacy and it's super fitted. (i.e. too small.) It seems to really hold "things" in as well as prevent cling and see-through-ing.

    I'm a vintage clothing dealer. You'd think I'd have more slips. I do, they're just not my size. I am very good at finding XXL slips, but not good at fitting into them.

  39. skapamusik

    I love slips, and I wear them pretty often. Some skirts can do without, but I have one blue full skirt with layers and pleats etc so if I don't wear a skirt I'm pretty sure it would get tangle up, tie my legs together and I would fall flat on my face.

    My slips used to be my mothers or grandmothers, so I have a small collection from floorlenght to mini. Most of the time I end up wearing the same on, a creme colored slip that ends at the knee. With lace at the bottom, ofcourse. I'm wearing it right now, under a very thin skirt that I thought needed some assitance in the cold Swedish climate…

  40. Miss B

    Oh, I am a slip addict! I never wear a skirt or a dress without one. I buy mine at vintage and thrift stores — they're always really reasonably-priced and much prettier than any new ones I've ever found. Also, many vintage full slips are fairly substantial, so they are great for lounging or sleeping or wearing-as-sort-of-dresses.

  41. Kentucky

    I like full slips because I wear a lot of sweater dresses (oh, OK, I just wear a lot of dresses, period.) They hide the lovely cinch-and-bulge look of my tights elastic, etc. But noone sells slips anymore! I agree, full slips are sexy and glamorous, especially for this vintage-loving girl. I usually buy them at vintage shops because I can't even find them at JC Penney! I refuse to stuff my curves into a body condom (i.e., "shapewear") and am horrified at the idea of a man actually seeing me wearing said body condom upon undressing! How un-sexy! My ex used to love my full black slip with lace details. (I have worn it as a dress, too, also over another slip. This was the 90's, though.) The slips I have found in stores, I will agree, are bland and cheap, and the material doesn't do much "slipping" (my verb to describe the effect of smoothing and sleekening the under-dress.) And Sal, just get yourself a very fitted one and the waist won't be an issue-our bodies are very similar!

    Another Southerner dedicated to the slip.


  42. Anonymous

    My problem is, I have a very form fitting dress that is sort of a tweedy type material that I want to wear with tights, but the tights cause the dress to bunch up when I walk at all. I'm afraid a slip will be too lumpy under a form fitting dress like this (think Mad Men). Do I get it lined or try form fitting slips like shapewear? Any advice would be much appreciated!

  43. Boca gal

    My problem- bought 2 lovely shaper full slips that ride up under my lovely knee length body hugging dresses. Tights aren’t practical. What can I do to keep my slips from riding up…and one is indeed Spanx and it rides up!
    Can you or anyone help???