Literally the Best Thing Ever: Slips

Practical and sexy without being too try-hard-y.

For most of my life, when I thought slip, I imagined elephant-kneed panty hose, orthopedic clogs, and a cigarette-rasped voice whispering across a desk, “Have you checked the reference section?” The garment called to mind the smell of weird grandma ointments, and the image of an old lady hauling her groceries home on the bus in a wiry metal cart. As long as I had the means to prevent it, I would never let such an abomination desecrate my own lingerie drawer.

Flash forward to the present, and I’ve upheld that vow. There are no slips intermingled with my underwear, but that’s only because my slip collection has grown so lush and bountiful that it requires its very own drawer. My past self would have frowned upon my present infatuation, but my present self pities the kind of naiveté that would discount such a classic garment.

Slips, in short, are awesome. In the winter, a slip can keep a cozy dress from clinging to sweater tights. In the summer, a slip acts as a barrier between your sweaty butt and a breezy skirt. Now that I’ve earned a little fat, I’m thrilled to share with you the fact that a slip and a good bra is the secret to looking Mad Men curvy without the use of anything that can be described as a “contraption.” Sheer dress? A slip is the ultimate layering piece. Cold day? How about another piece of fabric to keep you warm? Have I sold you on it yet?

Not only are slips practical, they’re sexy, too. And not sexy in the way that makes you feel weird and awkward and try-hard-y, but in a way that accommodates any and all of your hot-babe personas.

Feeling upscale? Sumptuous? Channel Elizabeth Taylor and wear a classic full slip as you lounge in your boudoir. Normal activities performed around your room, like blow drying your hair or making your bed, are instantly glamorized with the addition of a slip. Bonus points for applying some sort of powder to your décolletage with one of those giant puffs. Got a perfume atomizer? Now would be an ideal time to use it. When you’re done beautifying (or homeworking), throw an outfit on top of the slip and you’re ready to hit the town.

(1) Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, (2) Anne Bancroft in The Graduate, (3) Grace Farrell in Annie, (4) Elizabeth Taylor in Butterfield 8.

Or do the reverse and work a slip as outerwear. There are a million ways to do this. Princess Di classed it up. Chloe kept it casual. Courtney Love made it subversive. Kate Moss made a scandal. A slip dress looks dainty with flats and badass with boots. It’s the perfect blank canvas for however you’re feeling.

(1) Ashley Olsen, (2) Princess Diana, (3) Kate Moss, (4) Chloe Sevigny, (5) Drew Barrymore, (6) Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30, (7) Alicia Silverstone in Clueless.

I bought my first slip this past summer as part of the adult wardrobe my mom helped me put together for my first Grown-Up Job. Shopping for a slip is like a Choose Your Own Adventure, except none of the outcomes directly results in death. Pick a style (half or full), pick a length (short, knee-length, or long), and pick a color or design (too many choices to put in a parenthetical). Here are some cool ones that I found online, but in all honestly, the best place to pick up slips is a thrift store, where they’re cheaper and cooler than any you’ll find in a “real store.”


  • willow January 18th, 2012 11:12 PM

    I’ve had a sworn enemy-ship with slips since junior high when my mom first started making me wear them “because you’re a young lady now”. Now I might have to re-think them…

  • GagaMcQueen January 18th, 2012 11:25 PM

    If you wear a slip under a short dress of the same color, you can get the effect of a tiered skirt on the dress, which is pretty cool.

  • frenchalot January 18th, 2012 11:26 PM

    I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THEY HAD NAMES! In Creole, we call them moo-moo’s lol. But I never knew they were called slips.

    My my my… I must get me some slips now.

    Liz Taylor looks gorge in them… Lord have mercy.

  • SweetThangVintage January 18th, 2012 11:29 PM

    Slips are life savers! I have a half one that I’ve owned for years, and a full vintage one. I want to get more. :)
    hehe I love sleeping in them.

    • Jamie January 18th, 2012 11:37 PM

      they are the best night dresses. plus when you wake up you feel like a babe

      • Narnie January 19th, 2012 12:17 AM

        totally agree. i found an yves saint laurent slip at an op shop and when i sleep in it i pretend i’m rich and beautiful.

  • saranev January 18th, 2012 11:32 PM

    GRACE FARRELL IN ANNIE I CANNOT EVEN HANDLE IT. I wanted to be her so badly when I grew up.. we’re gettin’ there.

  • insteadofanelephant January 18th, 2012 11:34 PM

    tell me about it! i have a blue slip i’ve been dying to wear lately. I need to get one like the liz taylor pics– those are just fantastic and i must have them.

    instead of an elephant

  • Antionette January 18th, 2012 11:36 PM

    I love slips! They are so classic and are nice lounging around in with a big comfy sweater.

  • Bert January 18th, 2012 11:36 PM

    And here I thought I was the only person under about 50 who still wore slips. It warms my heart to hear them celebrated. The feel of silky fabric under a skirt of dress is just so darn sexy. Plus, they fix problems like clingy jersey dresses and put the kibosh on creeping pencil skirts and wiggle dresses!

  • rebecca January 18th, 2012 11:40 PM

    “haven’t you ever seen anybody in a slip before?” I LOVE MRS. ROBINSON

  • missblack January 18th, 2012 11:40 PM

    HAHA I was just at Amvets today and I bought this vintage Victoria’s Secret slip to use as a shirt. It’s teal, and it FITS and its so so pretty.


    • missblack January 18th, 2012 11:42 PM

      PS that picture of Ashley Olsen is like my ultimate outfit…what I want to wear Every. Single. Day.

  • Adrienne January 18th, 2012 11:46 PM

    Omg the first paragraph made me laugh so hard!!

    Anyways, thanks for the slips tips. Definitely going to build up a collection now!

  • Julia845 January 18th, 2012 11:48 PM

    Ah! I love slips! They just feel so glamorous and airy. and the ones you picked out are cute.

  • meliasaurus January 18th, 2012 11:48 PM

    You forgot the best part of slips, which is they keep your dresses/skirts from sticking to your tights! It’s great that slips are cute but they’re so functional and that’s why I love them. They give you an extra layer when it’s cold outside that is smooth enough to not bulk or misshape your outfit. They make you feel more modest when you need it. You can let one peek out of the bottom of your skirt for extra length or extra sexy.
    You can also wear them under sweater dresses when you go out and if the dance floor gets too hot you can take off your outer layer.

    What other garment is so useful.

    • Jamie January 19th, 2012 9:10 AM

      i included all of this!!! paragraph 3!! no conversation is complete without mention…

  • appledarling January 18th, 2012 11:52 PM

    omg. i love slips. but you have to be so careful how you treat them T_T. i’ve had an iron almost fire related incident that left me with a giant brown hole’d white silk slip trying to take out a little wrinkle and then i forgot how delicate it was. <3

  • Susann January 19th, 2012 12:21 AM

    I love slips! Whenever I have something see-through I wear one unter it and it’s fine!

  • rebecca January 19th, 2012 12:26 AM

    just remembered!! franny glass wears a really cool slip dress at one point when she’s lying on the glass family couch all brooding and pensive: “it was a tailored tie-silk dressing gown, beige, with a pretty pattern of minute pink tea roses.” oh, j.d. salinger, awaken from the dead, become my personal stylist, then marry me.

    • Jamie January 19th, 2012 9:09 AM

      thank you for sharing this. lovely!

    • modaveloce January 27th, 2012 6:42 AM

      Love it! (except you totally wouldn’t want to marry J.D. Salinger, wasn’t he kind of a jerk to his wife?)

  • Marie January 19th, 2012 12:44 AM

    In my senior year of high school (goth era) I was sent home from school during rally day for wearing a black lace slip. MUY SEXY! I told my mom about it later and she was like, “You tell them Princess Di wears slip dresses!” So awesome. I still have the slip! (PROB CONSIDERED VINTAGE NOW M’LORD)

  • tellyawhat January 19th, 2012 1:06 AM

    *Sigh* Most of my prom dresses were silk slips. When you’re young and your under wear is so beautiful there’s a natural progression toward making it outer wear. Plus, Courtney Love did it and wearing a slip + tiara to prom is a free pass for belligerence and scaring the norms.

  • victoriaversailles January 19th, 2012 2:42 AM

    Slips are THE BEST. I just accidentally wrote “loves” instead of “slips” which doesn’t even make sense so clearly I love them A LOT. I have an ever-growing thrift store collection, and while I’ve not the sort of style to just straight-up wear a slip as outerwear, I’ve done a slip+leggings+cardigan combo many times.

  • norienoire January 19th, 2012 2:59 AM

    Slips are amazing. Granted mine could use some snazzing up, but at least I no longer feel like an 80 year old woman for choosing to wear them. Very practical and classy.

  • StreetLegalSpaceship January 19th, 2012 10:22 AM

    I went to the live Portlandia show in Chicago, and it was fantastic. The television show is great, but I didn’t know what to expect live. It was great. I even saw Tavi there, I didn’t say hi because I didn’t want to bother her, but hopefully the show is covered on the site at some point, it was awesome.

    • Tavi January 19th, 2012 12:31 PM

      I’m not sure if we’ll cover it yet, but I agree that it was amazing. Got me really pumped for season 2. The 1890s!!
      And thanks if you cheered at the Rookie shoutout haha :) If we’re at another Chicago thing at the same time say hi!

  • ShockHorror January 19th, 2012 12:45 PM

    Ever since Marina & the Diamonds’ Shampain, and, even moreso, Fear & Loathing videos I can’t help but agree how fab slips are!

  • mamacass January 19th, 2012 2:44 PM

    Lovely read!

    I’ve had an obsession with slips since middle school. I usually try to incorporate it with every outfit, but honestly my favorite look is a pretty slip under a long sweater. With some leggings if it’s chilly! So comfortable!

  • unefillecommetoi January 19th, 2012 3:09 PM

    i love mad men curves! the whole style in that show is amazing.
    in spanish, slips are called “fondos”, which also means “backgrounds” by the way. ha

    • flowerpunk January 19th, 2012 4:22 PM

      “fondo” means background in Greek too!

  • chickencaseydilla January 19th, 2012 3:11 PM

    i completely agree! i need to get me a slip ASAP

  • whatsupmonkey January 19th, 2012 4:11 PM

    Argh, I do have a vintage slip but it goes to my knee so I only have one dress it works with and it’s much to thin to be worn as outerwear.

  • MissKnowItAll January 19th, 2012 4:56 PM

    I agree, slips are a great way to feel sexy without going all out.

  • MissKnowItAll January 19th, 2012 8:55 PM

    After reading this I raided my closet looking for this peach colored slip with lace trim

  • Motherfunker January 20th, 2012 7:35 AM

    i neeed to find one. a nice one. where i live they come with girdles as standard :s so i’m pretty glad you posted UO link! thankyou!

  • Kitty January 20th, 2012 12:57 PM

    This is such good timing, I’ve been thinking about replacing some of my old clothes with tons of slips so I could layer them over each other and wear them out and about, but I had no idea they were so functional!


  • curlysue January 20th, 2012 5:19 PM

    I’m a bit older than your target demographic, but when I read this I smiled. Back when I was in college (during the so-called Grunge era), I wore a slip almost every day as a dress. Paired with fishnets, a vintage beaded cardigan and platform shoes, I was oh-so-chic. I’m a bit too old to pull that off these days, so now my slips are hidden under dresses. And I totally agree with the part about using them as loungewear. Nothing feels quite as glamorous as watching TV and eating ice cream in a slip.

  • caro nation January 21st, 2012 6:19 PM

    “Cher! What are you wearing?”
    “A dress!”
    “Says who?”
    “…Calvin Klein!”
    “Well, go put something over it!”
    “Duh, I was just going to!”

    Cue clear trench.

  • modaveloce January 27th, 2012 6:50 AM

    I love slips! I agree that thrift stores are the way to go. I have found some really good ones there, but for functionality I especially like the little half ones. You can wear them up at your waist for shorter skirts or down on your hips for longer. And I wear a slip EVERY time I am wearing an unlined (or lined with a non-slippery fabric) skirt or dress with tights. I don’t know how anyone survives without them, because if I forget, or can’t find one of mine, I am tugging my skirt down every other step, as it rides up.

    Another fun thing you can do is find old slips in white or beige and throw them in some dye. Then you can have pretty pink and teal and lavender ones. This is especially a good idea if you find a slip that is in good condition but is maybe a little faded looking. If they have lace, the lace usually takes on a lighter or darker shade of the color you dye it.

    Another slip-like thing I am obsessed with is bloomers or tap pants or whatever you want to call shorts type garments worn under a skirt. I like to wear light sheer ones during the summer with flowy skirts or dresses so if the wind picks up I’m not totally exposed, and a pair of flannel shorts over your tights, under your slip and skirt, in the winter gives you much needed extra warmth.

  • Leira Zetroc January 31st, 2012 6:10 PM

    This is perfect! I was actually just looking for slips to wear! Thanks!

  • Allison February 12th, 2012 12:34 PM

    Slips are probably my favorite addition I’ve made to my wardrobe over the last few months. The best ones always come from resale shops for like $1 each.

  • poison ivy May 5th, 2012 6:40 PM

    this looks great theoretically, but how do i make it look not-tacky?