Underwear As Outerwear: I Tried It & Asked My Friends To, Too

Cast your mind back to mid-September 2022. Pete Davidson and Emily Ratajkowski were just a twinkle in the zeitgeist’s eye and we didn’t know if there’d be a second SZA album. The news was that Bella Hadid went out walking in platform UGGs, a moto jacket and tighty-whities. It was heralded as the moment UGGs came back into fashion (and swiftly sold out). That’s the influence of 2022’s most powerful dresser for you. To me, however, it marked the next step in the naked dressing renaissance, a sartorial phenomenon that’s seen many of us embrace showing more skin. 
The modern iteration of naked dressing was born as a reaction to lockdown and the increased policing of women’s bodies. Over the last year, it has become a full-blown fashion moment. For months you couldn’t scroll without seeing the Miu Miu uber-mini skirt or memes (and critiques) about it. Then came the popularisation of lingerie-inspired brands like Nensi Dojaka, Karoline Vitto and Dilara Findikoglu, and the (misogynistic) commentary over Florence Pugh wearing a sheer Valentino gown. Next, Kylie Jenner went viral on TikTok for saying "these are the years that I’m supposed to be naked" (2.5 million people liked her video, so it seems they agreed). Naked dressing was even the look du jour at the recent Fashion Awards
Photo Courtesy of Paris HK.
Miu Miu skirts aside, these examples are mostly red-carpet dressing, not everyday wear. Until Hadid, who made a convincing case for wearing underwear as outerwear. TikTok’s picking up on the trend, too, with artist @izzipoopi’s recent video showing fresh-off-the-runway examples and her own take via a cropped, lime green jacket and black underpants. Her video racked up over 45k likes. We’ve also seen a slow trickle of celebrities putting their twist on the look, namely Kylie Jenner in a white Loewe set worn underneath a coat, and Kendall Jenner in a cable-knit jumper, tights and heels. 
It's hard to ignore the glaring similarity between these celebrities: their thin, tall body shape. I’m not pointing this out to shame these women — fashion is for all of us to enjoy — but simply to highlight something that’s been obvious for a while now: thinness is informing fashion. Again. 
I wanted to know whether this trend feels comfortable for people who aren’t sample size. In an attempt to ignore the harmful 'heroin chic' rhetoric that’s made headlines in the past few months, I tried the look out for myself, and I asked Paris HK, a model, gamer and content creator, to do it with me. It may have been minus 8 degrees Celsius in the UK at the time but we were ready to heat things up. 
From a styling perspective, I could definitely get on board with the no-trousers look. I just had to figure out whether the underwear or the tights came first. Once I had decided on the latter (weird, I know) and topped it off with a black Arket jumper and a herringbone coat from Monki, the Kylie Jenner-inspired look felt a lot less sexy than I had worried it was going to. Sometimes I struggle with dressing overtly sexy; it makes me incredibly self-conscious as I envision the stares I might get. But this felt like naked dressing done right: weird, perfectly undone and effortlessly cool. 
Photo Courtesy of Alice Doleman.
However, when I left my house — cheeks out — to traipse around Stoke Newington in London, that confidence boost faded. I felt very uncomfortable. I couldn’t bring myself to take pictures in the snow; I felt too silly and too much like an underwhelming superhero. Not even my oversized coat was helping. I was also #freezing in my Calvins.
HK likewise "felt silly" wearing her underwear as outerwear. She modelled her look off another Kylie Jenner outfit but made it her own with a pair of black mesh Calvin Kleins rather than boxer-style shorts. "As the material was see-through, I knew I’d get a lot of looks," she says. Although the look was a no for HK personally, she hopes to see others — particularly plus-size women — embrace the trend. "I do think it's all about confidence and your personal style. If I saw a bigger girl out and about, rocking pants and a bra with a little jacket slung over her shoulders, I’d just be happy to witness her confidence." 
For now, HK will be embracing naked dressing in her own way. "I wore a sheer, floor-length dress for a fancy event recently and I felt stunning and so confident, and got loads of compliments." She loves the idea of playing with the illusion of nudity, with a wet-look dress from Di Petsa for example. Personally, I’ll be taking on the naked trend via Jean Paul Gaultier’s trompe l'oeil tops and sheer dresses layered underneath big, fluffy jumpers.
Our underwear will remain on the right side of our clothes for the time being. Though who knows what will happen come summer.

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