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POST STYLE: SLIP INTO SOMETHING MORE COMFORTABLE... CALL THEM SLIPS, CALL THEM UNDERSKIRTS, CALL THEM PETTICOATS, THE MOST LADYLIKE OF UNDERGARMENTS IS BACK IN VOGUE AFTER DECADES IN THE LINGERIE WILDERNESS SAYS POST STYLE EDITOR CAROLINE FOULKES.

Byline: CAROLINE FOULKES

As far as underwear goes, the last 50-odd years have revolved around the concept of less being more. Bras are skimpy. Briefs are, well, brief. And that's your lot.

Sure, basques and corsets have been in and out of fashion, both within and without clothing. Yet for everyday wear, most women have stuck to bog-standard bra and knickers.

But things are changing. More is becoming, well, more. And it's all due to a country singer and a giant monkey. Ok, maybe that's not strictly true. But they've certainly had something to do with it.

The monkey is King Kong. And no, this isn't about an ape in women's clothing. It's about the other star of Peter Jackson's latest meisterwerk, Ann Darrow, aka Naomi Watts.

Watts spends a large portion of King Kong running about in little more than a swirl of lace-trimmed silk, a look which has captured the imagination of lingerie designers, fashion buyers and women with money to spend.

The country singer is June Carter, or rather, Reese Witherspoon as June Carter in the soon to be released Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line. In one scene, June/Reese sports a rather fetching primrose yellow slip, thus adding more oomph to the underskirt revival.

But why did we ever forsake them in the first place?

Well, slips didn't die, they just faded away. Between the 1920s and the 1950s, no respectable woman was without a slip, or at the very least a half underskirt, underneath her frock. And every respectable woman who knew that there was more sex appeal to be had in a slip than in a mere bra and knickers, as Elizabeth Taylor proved in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.

Then came the Sixties. Up until then, girls were content to make the transition from dressing like a kid to dressing like their mother, with no teenage rampage of inappropriate clothing in between. The Sixties changed all that. No teenage girl in her right mind wanted to dress like her mother. Slips were for old nanas. And besides, a slip would hang way too long beneath a miniskirt. And so the slip found itself pushed firmly to the back of the lingerie drawer.

Yet the return of ladylike fashions in the last couple of seasons has paved the way for a revival. Pencil skirts and slimline frocks like Roland Mouret's nowfamous Galaxy dress can show up lumps, bumps and VPL mercilessly. Wearing a slip underneath gives a smoother line, and hence a better silhouette. They also work well under sheer items, giving a modesty-protecting base.

Of course, slips have made a comeback before now, but in a way that would have made our grandmothers' hair curl more than a standard Marcel wave.

During the whole "underwear as outer wear" trend, slips became dresses, just the thing for wearing on an evening out. Designers like Dolce and Gabbana revamped the garment and those who could afford them bought it. The rest of us? We scoured lingerie departments and vintage clothing shops for suitable alternatives. It was like flaunting your underwear, but not really.

This time round, though, the slip is going very much undercover. And even saucy underwear meisters Agent Provocateur are getting in on the act, with a spring collection that features several examples of the slip, ranging from a classic satin number for pounds 165 to a boudoir number with frill and lace for pounds 440. One of its current bestsellers is the black satin Jilly slip.

So the way forward this season is to don a slip beneath your frock. They're sexy, sassy, and not at all slutty. Unless, of course, you plump for tacky red "sateen" with nasty black nylon lace trim...

WATTS SPENDS A LARGE PORTION OF KING KONGRUNNING ABOUT IN LITTLE MORE THAN A SWIRL OF LACE-TRIMMED SILK, A LOOK WHICH HAS CAPTURED THE IMAGINATION OF LINGERIE DESIGNERS, FASHION BUYERS AND WOMEN WITH MONEY TO SPEND

GIVING THEM THE SLIP- STARS WHO KNEW THE SEXBOMB POTENTIAL OF THE UNDERSKIRT

1. ELIZABETH TAYLOR (ABOVE) AS MAGGIE "THE CAT" POLLITT IN CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF.

2. MARILYN MONROE (ABOVE RIGHT) AS POLA DEBEVOISE IN HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE

3. NAOMI WATTS (LEFT) AS ANN DARROW IN KING KONG

4. REESE WITHERSPOON (RIGHT) AS JUNE CARTER IN WALK THE LINE

CAPTION(S):

THE SLIPS GLAMOROUS HEY-DAY DURING THE WAR YEARS' NAOMI WATTS IN KING KONG
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Feb 1, 2006
Words:738
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