Diary of a Marriage: The Farewell To Lingerie

Can’t tees and sweats be as sexy as satin and lace?

Pretty as it is, sometimes it's hard to choose hooks and straps over your favorite well-worn college tee. Photo by Jonathan Pushnik.

While putting away my laundry the other day, I stumbled upon a neat little pastel pile of pretty, silky underthings — strappy chemises, ribbon-trimmed nightgowns, delicate lace camis — all bestowed upon me pre-wedding by women whose goal it seemed was to perpetuate the notion that all wives run around in these things on a daily basis, all bouncy hair and glossy lips and perky boobs.

Before I got married, I vowed to never lounge around the house in any article of clothing that was preceded by the word “sweat” (unless, of course, I was actually wearing it to sweat in, like, at the gym). I even went a bit crazy one night, imagining my perfect married life in which we’d always look like those photos of perfectly mussed models having pillow fights that Glamour runs next to their “How Real Are You About Sex?” features, and I tossed all baggy, comfortable things in my closet. Good-bye, threadbare Rolling Stones t-shirt! Farewell, nubby gray Providence College sweatpants! I was going to be impeccably dressed at all times – a real-life Sex Goddess – in matching silk sets and strappy nighties. I remember feeling very smug as I heaved my bulging garbage bag into the Salvation Army donation bin. Goodbye, comfort. Hello, marriage.

And then we came home from the honeymoon, and I carefully folded up all my pretty little silky things and tucked them very neatly in a drawer. Where they stayed, untouched, for approximately the next two years.

Actually, that’s probably an exaggeration. I’m sure I’ve pulled them out a few times since then. But definitely not as often as my white cotton boxer shorts, splattered with paint from the time we painted our guestroom. Or my threadbare “ARMY” t-shirt, the other article of comfort clothing I allowed myself to keep. And there was a month not long after we were married during which I wore nothing but J.’s extra-large, gray fleece sweatpants and one of his old Villanova t-shirts.

So then, I started feeling guilty. We were less than a year in, and already I was feeling less like a glowing newlywed and more like a slovenly housewife. But the indignant side of me balked at my guilt: Why did I have to strap myself into itchy lace corsets while J. got to lounge in Hawaiian-print boxers and a tie-dyed Ben & Jerry’s t-shirt?

This isn’t merely laziness dressed up as feminism, either. Even J. confessed that he prefers sweats to complicated lingerie. (Plus, the price tag of a sturdy Hanes tee is vastly smaller than the one attached to a swatch of La Perla silk, which he can’t overlook.)

“Too many hooks and clasps,” he explained last night as we brushed our teeth before bed. “It just doesn’t look comfortable.”

I think the main thing men like about lingerie is the “green light” aspect. You wearing it gives them the okay: Sex is happening. But do we really need to convey this through crotchless panties?

I still love a great vintage dressing gown. And sometimes nothing beats the glamorous feels of prancing around the house in a wholly impractical full-length silk robe. But I’ve carved out some wardrobe space for comfortable clothes — the pair of J.’s well-worn sweatpants that I wore the night he proposed; the t-shirt we got from the first race we ran together; the Phillies sweatshirt he bought to keep me warm during that rain-soaked game five of the 2008 World Series; that ratty pair of paint-splattered boxers from our first foray into home improvement. The real clothes of a real life.

Anyway, the next time I go to a bridal shower, I’m giving the bride-to-be a pair of sweatpants. Along with a note: “Marriage is a long ride. Might as well be comfortable while you’re on it.”

What about you: If you’re already married, do you still bust out your finest honeymoon lingerie from time to time? How long did it take for that phase to fade away? If you’re about to get married — what’s your vision for time spent in lace and straps vs. fleece and sweats?

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