There is one conflict in hookup culture not-so-well addressed: the conflation of high fashion and the boys who attempt to quite literally see what lies beneath it. As a recently indicted college senior, I’ve seen my fair share of females who dress in ways that attract the people they seek to go home with. This seems to be an obvious yet unspoken rule as, each Sunday morning, I welcome visions of cleavage and ass-accentuation while scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed. It’s lovely, really.
But at Brown, the issue is even more complicated: a subtle-but-strong pressure to dress well while simultaneously beckoning your partner-of-interest. There is where I helplessly fail.
Do you think my mom jeans are hot? Do you like the way they awkwardly cut off my ankle? You like that? Oh, baby. That sliver of ankle. (This is what you say to yourself when you see me at a party, am I right??)
So, in an effort to dress in a way that both attracts men and repels them, I have found myself in a number of sticky situations over the years that have led me to the conclusion that boys don’t understand my clothes.
Freshman year, I was making out with a boy in an empty frat lounge. After two weeks of kissing, I decided internally that I would finally let him steal first base. I felt his hands start to go there, when I remembered a major obstacle. I was wearing pasties.
Pasties are small, round, sometimes rubber-y, sticky things that you stick over your nipples when you’re wearing a garment that does not allow for a standard bra. For some reason, I thought it was important to explain this to Frat Lounge Boy. An alternative would have been saying, “One sec,” and casually taking off the pasties myself. Instead, I sat up on the leather couch, cleared my throat, and looked him in the eye: “These are called pasties. They are kind of like band-aids that you stick on your nipples when you can’t wear a bra.” I wish I made that up, but it is painfully true.
I think he was like, “Uh, okay,” and we put them under the couch and kept making out.
Sophomore year, I accidentally attended my first naked party. One might wonder, “How do you accidentally attend a naked party?” If you must know, I was with a group of people who decided to have a naked party after I had committed to being with them. I wouldn’t mind a naked party at all except for the instance in which you are trying to “take it slow” with someone you’ve just started seeing and then you are at the naked party with him and are therefore incredibly conflicted because getting naked together would defy the “taking it slow.” I would have been happy to dance around in my bra and underwear, except this was a night where I was wearing neither bra nor underwear. My conundrum doubled. So, I danced around with my dress folded down to my belly button while everyone around me was very, very, naked. I don’t think anyone understood the gravity of the conundrum, and I think I just looked very awkward and stupid.
One might gather from these two anecdotes that I have a tendency to not wear a bra, which is also something that is “in” at Brown, where you simultaneously must look like a non-bra-ed free spirit but still have perky and not-ugly/saggy boobs. Recently, I’ve taken a liking to training bras as a great alternative to uncomfortable underwire. Last summer, I was making out with a boy I’d been seeing fairly consistently when he discovered that under my shirt was something that felt like another shirt. He struggled to unclip something that actually didn’t clip at all. Literally, a training bra. “What is this?” he asked.
“It’s like, a training bra,” I said smoothly.
“How do you take it off??”
But real talk––the best thing to do if you want to really confuse your partner is to wear a leotard under your clothing, because everyone assumes it’s just a tucked in shirt. And when they realize it’s not, they are literally AMAZED. The reaction is pretty much only comparable to what it would be like if, let’s say, they saw Jesus walk on water or something.
At the end of my junior spring, I was wearing a white leotard under high waisted shorts. My partner-in-hooking-up slid my shorts down to discover that I wasn’t fully clothed, but I wasn’t bottomless, either.
“What is this?” he gasped in shock. “Are you wearing a bathing suit?”
“It’s a leotard.”
“Like, a bathing suit?”
“Sure,” I said in surrender. “Like a bathing suit.”
“Wow,” he said.
I took my leotard out for a spin again this summer, under a bright purple bubble skirt, on a night out with a boy I’d been dating for a bit. He wore dirty white Vans and had great taste in button-down t-shirts, so I figured he might process it better. I wore it for fashion’s sake––not FTB (for the boys).
“Oh my god,” he said when he realized. “This is a onesie??”
“It’s not a onesie. It’s a leotard,” I corrected.
“You’re wearing a onesie,” he said. Then we hooked up and sang “Amie” by Pure Prairie League at the top of our lungs in bed.
Sometimes, when a guy takes off my shorts or skirt to discover that my shirt continues down to oblivion, wrapping front-to-back between my legs like a slim-fit built-in-diaper, I get the urge to jump up and be like, “SURPRISE, FUCKER!!!!!!!”
Personally, I think it’s hilarious.
Featured image via.