Bearboxers OTIS Luxury Knitwear

At this point, we’ve seen it all. Cracks, labias, merkins. Boobs from all angles. So many nipples even the Conservatives have given up. These days, it takes a whole lot to shock the public. Just ask Julia Fox, she’s tried everything. So what is the next frontier for exposed fashion? What are Emily Ratajkowski, Kendall Jenner, Florence Pugh to do when even they can no longer elicit a reaction with an itty bitty, butt-skimming mini or a nipple-freeing gown? Well, they raid some underwear drawers, of course.

There has been what can be called an aggressive course correction as celebrities attempt to find new ways to continue making fashion waves (and headlines) without going full frontal for the photographers. In order to do so, stars have found inspiration in the most unexpected of places—the men’s underwear department. Whale tails—where a skimpy little g-string pokes out above the waist of one’s equally-small skirt—is so very 2023. Now, the underwear is getting bigger, baggier, and yes, it’s making all your favorite style stars look like overgrown babies. But, you know, like sexy overgrown babies.

A not-at-all scientific exploration traces the provenance of the current iteration of this diaper-adjacent trend to Miu Miu’s spring/summer 2022 show. Yes, when Miuccia Prada was displaying those micro-mini skirts that had the girls in a complete chokehold for months, she was simultaneously incepting the fashion-minded with the idea of sexy boxers. Those unmistakable bands popped out above the waistlines of the models’ minis, creeping up again—this time even higher—in the fall/winter 2022 collection. By spring/summer 2023, they were on full display under sheer dresses, and while it took a few seasons, by fall/winter 2023, they were styled all on their own. Ms. Prada showed sweater sets with matching panties and pairs embroidered with flora. But despite the skin on display with these bottoms, they were void of an overlying sexual connotation, still marred by the association with the very un-sexy idea of underwear. Not lingerie, thongs, or intimates, but underwear.

It was one of these heavily decorated pairs that Sydney Sweeney took out for a spin in Paris earlier this month for the Miu Miu fall/winter 2024 show. The actress paired her bedazzled briefs with a cropped satin tank, adding a blazer on top so no one could accuse her of being weather-inappropriate (considering it was about 50 degrees in the French capital that day). But Sweeney wasn’t the only one to adopt the luxury panties look, and Miu Miu isn’t the trend’s only luxury champion. She was joined by Kiernan Shipka, who just a few days prior, attended Chemena Kamali’s debut for Chloé in a mossy green cable knit set. On top, a thigh-length cardigan with exaggerated gold buttons. On the bottom, panties made of the same fabric that reached above her belly button.

It’s honestly difficult to wrap one’s head around this look. There is nothing inherently sexy about it. The color is a muted, almost bilious green, and the fabric is reminiscent of a dusty sweater one may find in the back of their grandfather’s closet upon a post-burial clean-out. The bottoms, for their part, have the silhouette of the underwear many women grab when it’s their time of the month. But the coordination of the set, the addition of Shipka’s cool girl, tousled waves, and the platform sandals Chloé has dubbed the shoes of the season, do place this look into the context of fashion. Then came the show, where Kamali sent multiple versions of these bottoms down the runway. Some sat tonally underneath billowing sheer dresses, while others were rendered in knits a la Shipka.

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It’s hard to ignore something being pushed, not only by Mother Miuccia, but by Kamali, whose inaugural Chloé collection has been highly celebrated in the wake of its debut. And considering Sweeney has exhausted all the ways to show off her top half, it makes sense that she would be attracted to the idea of flaunting other assets. Not that these panties show off much other than the outline of one’s unmentionables as well as long, lean legs. But hey, there’s something to be said about mixing things up.

But while it sometimes can feel like the out-there and unattainable trends live and die within the walls of fashion month, this one has exhibited life outside of fashion show front rows. Hell, it even made it to the Oscars (kind of) in the form of Emily Blunt’s Schiaparelli gown. No, she didn’t actually wear panties (we’ll leave Kristen Stewart to do that next year), but her couture design did feature a trompe l’œil boxer outline on the front. And Blunt isn’t the only one to prove that boxers can be black tie. Zendaya, who recently kicked off another themed press tour, has championed the look as well, going arguably farther than any who came before. The actress attended a photocall for her upcoming film Challengers in Sydney, wearing a custom Lacoste look by the brand’s new creative director Pelagia Kolotouros. The ensemble featured a sleeveless, athletic-minded crop top with a netted, crystal-covered maxi skirt. Underneath the completely sheer skirt, however, sat a pair of high-waisted briefs, extra baggy and bright white, like they came fresh out of the Hanes six-pack.

A similar baggy effect was achieved by Kendall Jenner recently when she put on a black Maison Margiela playsuit following the Vanity Fair Oscar party earlier this month. Once again, the look was undoubtedly revealing, but the volume of the shorts, the almost diaper-like silhouette, added a layer of commentary not usually associated with the lingerie dressing we’ve known up to this point.

But this trend does live somewhere in the world of exposed bras and g-strings. It’s like lingerie-dressing’s cooler older cousin, and Kristen Stewart (the cooler older cousin of the Internet) exhibited this recently during her lingerie-themed press tour for her new film, Love Lies Bleeding. Stewart has been looking toward uncharacteristically body-exposing, sheer pieces throughout this promotional cycle. On a seemingly random Tuesday afternoon, however, the actress decided to change it up, opting for a look that was much more Fruit of the Loom than La Perla. Stewart stepped out in New York wearing a pair of knit panties that, despite being from Brunello Cucinelli, could have hailed from the same Chloé collection as Shipka’s mossy pair. Stewart took the undergarment look to the extreme by wearing some sheer, nude Wolford tights underneath, showing off the control top portion that reached below the shorts’ hem.

Clearly, this trend has legs (get it?). That may be because the panty look almost seems like a hack—a way to show off skin while still remaining slightly demure. It’s cool because it’s a little off. It’s the dad sneaker of tiny shorts. It’s not necessarily designed to be cute or sexy—which allows the wearer to seem more nonchalant—but those traits can sneak in, and they very often do. Call them diapers, boxers, panties—whatever you want, the contrast of the minimal clothing combined with the context associated with this type of undergarment is slightly disorienting, which is likely the desired effect. Just ask Taylor Swift (or Cristin Milioti’s 30 Rock character), everybody wants to be a sexy baby.

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