So I recently scored one of my favorite and most-missed discontinued styles, the “Antoinette” basque by Masquerade, on eBay.  I love this thing.  I love it hard.  I don’t regret purchasing it one bit, because it makes me feel glamorous and gorgeous, but I confess that, as a single cat lady, it was probably destined to sit in my drawer, waiting for a special occasion.  The cups are padded and would show under some of my work clothes, and half-cup styles make me feel wobbly and perilous.  I have long legs and I’m a fast walker; I like a little more support on a daily basis.  As soon as I purchased it, it became fantasy lingerie, for some lovely, mythical day in the future.

“Antoinette” Basque by Masquerade. For when I, too, find myself in a swanky location, wandering around in my scanties by moonlight, fully made-up with sexy hair.

Hmm.  This sounds not unlike the planning for the future as a substitute for living in the moment that I have been working to fix.  Good to know that’s going well.

Seraphine gave us an assignment for class this week designed to nudge us out of our comfort zones: for our free dance at the end of class, we should wear something we wouldn’t ordinarily feel confident or comfortable in, or we should dance to music that was unlike the music we’d typically choose or feel attracted to.  I thought about this assignment all week.  I thought about music, about going through teachers’ playlists to find something new and challenging, about asking friends for suggestions.  I didn’t really consider clothing: I wasn’t going to spend more money on stupid pole dancing clothes (Haaaaa, jk, see below), and of course unbeknownst to me my Crazy was going “yikes, I really, really don’t want to do that assignment.”  And then I forgot about it and overslept the day of class and wound up flinging a handful of random things into my bag and dashing out the door.  One of those things was my basque.

On to the FEELINGS:  I see my therapist before I go pole dancing, so Tuesdays are just a great big feelings-fest.

Sweets, on a Tuesday

I told her about the assignment, and said I wasn’t really sure what I was going to wear.  I showed her the basque, and launched into all the reasons why I didn’t want to wear it: sheer panels, boning, too much boob on display, skin rolls, etc.  She told me to stop messing around and to dance in the damned thing.  At the least I could test it for suitability as pole-dancing attire in my capacity as Lingerie Blogger Extraordinaire, and there was a chance I’d also, you know, learn something by oh, I don’t know, stepping outside my comfort zone.  Y’all, I talk a lot of talk here about your body being fantastic just as it is.  It’s a BODY.  It’s lovely!  I’ve talked about how the need to banish jiggling flesh is totally arbitrary and silly and illogical.  Bodies come in so many shades of gorgeous: long, petite, slim, curvacious, hard, soft, smooth, speckled, firm, wrinkled.  I KNOW this, and I’ve SAID this, but it seems I still have trouble walking the walk.

So I went to S Factor, bought myself a pair of black briefs with attached suspenders (oh, look who wasn’t gonna buy new pole dancing nonsense (but also they’re really great)), and hooked up my basque.  I looked in the mirror.  I decided to see that my hair was kind of flattened from being in a ponytail and my face was pale and shiny and my elbows have these weird dry patches and my hips were fleshier than normal, and, well, you get the gist.  I chose to see those things, instead of to see an otherwise happy and healthy body that was ready to go work her ass off.  SIGH.  I pulled on a t-shirt over the basque and went to class.

So, first of all, some review-type things:  The bra part is outstanding: great rounded shape, dramatic lift, and very supportive, especially since the cups are cut quite low.  I’m not even crazy about padded or molded cups, and I think this thing is just dandy, which makes me all the sadder that the style has been discontinued.  Bring it back, extend the size range, make it a touch longer in the torso, add suspenders, and I would be in heaven.  That being said, y’all, don’t take a dance class in a basque.  Seriously.  I should have done the first part of class in a sports bra and changed just for my dance.

For starters, um, sweat.  Also, my back is pretty flexible, and a lot of our warm-up, work-out, and pole tricks encourage embracing said flexibility.  The soft bones in the bodice are lovely and provide gentle shaping, but they bend with you, and then when you straighten up, the bones stay bent and dig into you.  I felt a little weird doing push-ups, plows, and ab work in a piece of serious lingerie, and I felt a little limited in my dance and in what pole tricks I could do.  I knew the basque would bend and dig into me if I got too footloose or it would shift a bit so that my belly popped out, so I wasn’t as free in my dancing as I have been in the past.  I didn’t want to curl up or fold myself in half because the bones were pressing into my torso (related: am now deeply curious about how professional ballet tutus are constructed, because them ladies are bendy, so how does that work?).  Also, the obvious: you can’t go upside down.  I thought maybe I’d be able to, because the bra part is so great and supportive, and when I was dancing in a corner during someone else’s song I gave it a try, and . . . let’s just say, Gravity!  It Works!  I like inverting; it’s one of the reasons pole dancing can be really freeing and fun, because you feel like a kid playing on a playground, so it’s sort of a bummer to miss out on that aspect of it.


I chose to dance to a song I’ve danced to a few times before that makes me feel fantastic: “Sail” by AWOLNATION.  I took my t-shirt off and immediately felt self-conscious—Hello, bosom.  I also kind of felt . . . sexy.  Reminder: there are no mirrors in the S Factor studios, and the lights are down super, super low.  I kind of felt, well, like the model in the product shot above.  My dance was less gymnastic than usual, and once I chickened out on something because I was pretty sure one boob was gonna make a run for it, but I felt . . . not dumb.  It felt kind of nice, the air and the floor and the pole against my bare skin.  When I finished, Seraphine asked me how I thought it went, and I began to natter on LIKE I’M ALWAYS SAYING YOU SHOULDN’T about how My Belly and My Boobs and I Felt Weird–

She, wisely, interrupted me.  “You should not be wearing baggy t-shirts in this class any more.  My god, this was the first time you really owned your sensational boobs.  It’s very sexy, it’s very vulnerable, and we’re finding a very deep, sensual, darker version of you.  It’s mature and it’s real and it’s you.  Stop covering that up.”

I have ALWAYS covered up.  I reject certain styles of bras, certain clothes, certain design elements because it’s been so firmly ingrained in me to deflect attention away from my chest, LO, MY TERRIBLE CHEST, whether out of concern for modesty, “proportion and balance”, protecting myself from street comments, whatever.  The fact of the matter is I fall pretty smack in the middle of the full-bust size range, in terms of both band and cup, so I know that A) I’m not alone and B) there are women on either side of the size range around me who look lovely, so why can’t I allow the same for myself?  Habits, yo.  They’re hard to break.

As Amy Poehler so wisely reminds us this week, we need to talk to ourselves like we’d talk to our daughters, our nieces, our friends, our little sisters.  We need to see the beauty in ourselves just like we’d see it in them, and to love and honor that beauty.  Ordinarily after a class like Tuesday’s I’d be all bent out of shape and beating myself up for Letting Down the Side with My Negative Feelings, but I actually feel pretty good.  I took a risk.  I shed some layers.  I made a list of things my body can do, after all, and I chose to believe Seraphine when she gave me feedback, rather than assume she was “just being nice” to me.  Her job isn’t to be nice.  It’s to teach.  If I go through my life constantly thinking about how to hide an aspect of my body, be it my size, shape, skin color, scars, or age, I’ll go through life hiding a part of me.  Hiding a part of my spirit.  And I’ll also be wasting brain space on worrying about hiding it, when I could be wasting brain space on Arrested Development re-runs.  I mean, deep thoughts.  Yep.

16 Comments on Basque-ing

  1. Mary
    September 13, 2012 at 8:15 pm (10 years ago)

    I think I’m in love with your therapist. Also, you are cool beyond words. Also, basques are both the only strapless bra-type thing that have ever been hoist-y enough for me, but man do those bones get uncomfortable. Also, whatever about the upside-down parts. They’re just nipples. Everything will just plop back into place when you come right-side up, right? …Right?

  2. Mary
    September 13, 2012 at 8:17 pm (10 years ago)

    Also, Amen to the Feeling Negative (like you’re letting the side down) about the Negative Feelings you have. What is up with that, brain?

    • Sweets
      September 13, 2012 at 9:43 pm (10 years ago)

      I don’t know, but when it happens in the future I’m just going to think of Amy Poehler. I want her to be my wise, funny angel on my shoulder.

  3. windiegardie
    September 13, 2012 at 10:37 pm (10 years ago)

    Oh Sweets, I love your posts <3 AND YOU BEST TAKE THAT COMPLIMENT GENUINELY.

    This post got me thinking about my own view of my body. I also find myself hiding a lot, covering up a lot, etc. Usually it's in the name of "proportions." I'm pretty sure it's because I'm an artist, a technical artist who loves to make things look perfect. But I'm not a perfect piece of art and I don't need to edit myself as much as my brain tells me I should. Who really gives a crap if my chest is kind of big for the rest of my body? It looks interesting and unique on other girls, but for some reason when it's me it's all "OH GOD THE PROPORTIONS ARE WRONG."

    I've been trying hard lately to be positive about myself, body and mind, and your posts always help affirm what I'm doing!

    • Sweets
      September 14, 2012 at 10:48 am (10 years ago)

      I WILL TAKE YOUR COMPLIMENT, DAMMIT. But yes, a lot of my self-perception issues stem from my years as an actress and ballet dancer. When we care passionately about the aesthetics of our chosen artistic field, it can be hard to accept that something other than our own perfected creative vision has shaped our bodies. Lame, DNA. But I think, as you say, if we can appreciate the beauty in other ladies consciously, we can learn to appreciate our own beauty.

      • Windie
        September 14, 2012 at 10:50 am (10 years ago)

        Amen to that.

  4. lauriedancer
    September 14, 2012 at 9:20 am (10 years ago)

    Your boobs looked spectacular in that basque…and so did the rest of you!!! You should never take off that entire outfit!!!

    • Sweets
      September 14, 2012 at 10:49 am (10 years ago)

      Hahaha, well, it might not be office-appropriate, you know? But I am going to make an effort to sass up my S Factor outfits a bit more. Thanks for your kind words!

  5. Holly Jackson
    September 18, 2012 at 2:11 am (10 years ago)

    This post is full of wonderful. Can I come pole dancing with you sometime? Your class and your teacher sound full of awesome?

    I really identified with this post, as someone who has spent years coming to terms with my boobs and my body. I’ve tried punishing amounts of exercise, relaxing and eating everything in the fridge and everything in between. Nothing worked until I started relaxing the way I wanted (went back to playing piano) and figured out why I was stressed and wanted to eat and found an exercise I enjoyed in moderation. I feel healthier but also don’t feel like the spawn of satan when I eat pizza. Funny how letting go and being yourself does wonders. I now genuinely love my body, boobs and flub and all. I even believe my guy when he says he loves my boobs, which I didn’t used to.

    I think figuring out how to embrace yourself has a lot to do with identifying what stresses you out and why, and how to chill out about those things. It sounds like you’re pretty great with that and that your therapist is a gem.

    • Sweets
      September 18, 2012 at 9:36 am (10 years ago)

      Yes, exactly: identifying stressors, even if it’s after the fact, is a super-important first step to feeling better about yourself! I’m really glad it sounds like you’re in a great place with your body, and also that you have a lovely man that loves it too 🙂 Shoot me an email if you’d like to know more about pole dancing; my weekly class is an upper-level class, but there are great single or “a la carte” classes that we could go to together if you’re interested! 🙂

  6. Clare
    September 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm (10 years ago)

    I’d like to send you a virtual round of applause! Well done for dancing in your basque and well done for writing about it. I welled up when I read this (I’m pre-menstual but it’s also very moving).

    • Sweets
      September 25, 2012 at 2:56 pm (10 years ago)

      Aww, thank you Clare!

  7. Emily Nicole Abbott
    October 22, 2012 at 1:43 am (10 years ago)

    I just posted this over on the books of face. So hopefully everyone will read it like I told them to, right? Right? But I seriously teared up halfway through this. This has been a hell week on my body positivity. I try so hard to be all LOVE YOURSELF but when it comes to loving me, even after losing 30 pounds, I’m still so trapped on the fact that I’m too ass tarded for people to even want to be around me much less looking at me. Thanks for reminding me I’m not alone. We’re all beautiful. We’re all fierce. And even if we are nuts, that’s okay too. All the feels.

    • Sweets
      October 22, 2012 at 7:42 am (10 years ago)

      Oh bless you. All the feels, indeed. Keep doing the work you need to do to love yourself. It’s a process, and it’s easy to get down on ourselves for 1) how we look and 2) how we feel about how we look. It’s still worth the work though. Thank you, beautiful!


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  1. […] out of the basics territory and into the spotlight, the Antoinette basque is back (with suspenders, like I asked for, though unfortunately in an un-fun oatmeal color), and the Alice slip features a stunning […]

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