Early instances of lingerie as clothing emerged in 1700’s France with Marie Antoinette and members of her court. During their casual, all-female gatherings, they wore what was called a chemise – a loose garment that was shaped only with drawstrings or sashes. These were not worn in formal society, but became casual staples.

Slips have evolved from delicate and unseen lingerie to modern outerwear. The traditional slip or underdress was designed to be worn between under and outerwear. It was, and is, used to preserve modesty or to prevent clinging of clothes. Slips may be dainty or provocative, relatively shapeless or curvy and fitted. More traditional sartorial rules say that a slip should fall about an inch above your garment’s hem and should never be seen. That notion was challenged as fashion became more daring and women took more chances with what they wore. In 1962, Helen Gurley Brown wrote in her iconic book Sex and the Single Girl that showing a bit of lingerie could be sexy and encouraged women to reveal just a touch of her slip when she sat. 

The Slip Dress from Alabama Chanin in black.

Many modern versions of the slip and the slip dress are based upon the bias-style cutting developed by designer Madeleine Vionnet. Here, a silken fabric is cut on the diagonal grain, creating a drape that complimented female curves without hugging the body too closely. Since then, the slip dress has taken different shapes and simpler silhouettes, but remains distinctly feminine and classic. The slip dress became iconic particularly in the 1990s, when high fashion embraced the style; it emerged as the fashion statement of a generation. The dresses were worn famously by Kate Moss, Winona Ryder, and Courtney Love, both as streetwear and on the red carpet. 

But the slip dress is not just a trend. It has become a staple – something that could be layered and worn casually with sneakers or dressed up with very little effort. It is practical and sexy, and always defined by the wearer’s intent. It is a great layering piece: easy and elegant in the summer and well suited for layering in colder weather. 

Our Slip Dress and Waffle Slip Dress can be styled to wear to the office and are favorites for those working from home, or just relaxing. The dresses fall just to the knee and are fitted on top, but roomy on the bottom. The Waffle Slip Dress offers a structured, cozy fit while our original Slip Dress is lightweight with a relaxed fit. As the weather cools, they are easy to pair with layering garments like The Waffle Sweatshirt or the Mable Waffle Cardigan. We’re taking orders for our machine-sewn garments, including these styles, until December 16th for holiday delivery. 

P.S.: Learn more about the history of the house dress here


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  1. jerry mcbride

    what an intelligent casually informative history of slipwear! I used to lecture on fashion/costume history and I do miss the provocative thinking it requires to make the past seem relevant. You nailed it with a light sprinkling of historical facts without becoming too preachy! Sincere kindness-and appreciation, jerry mc bride