Chapter Six: Red Right Now

The Underpinnings Museum consulted with ten lingerie-loving creators about how they perceive red undergarments. The group cited a plethora of associations with the colour red, including love, courage, strength, happiness, and even pain. Some expressed admiration for the colour’s vibrancy and warmth. When it comes to red lingerie, several were somewhat wary of its connection to sexuality as prescribed by the male gaze. Others praised its unapologetic boldness. Overwhelmingly, red lingerie was said to arouse feelings of confidence and power.

We invite you to read the following exclusive comments from Ruby Roxx, Lucy May Dawson, Dario Princiotta, Ashlee Jane of Pretty, Dainty Underthings, Rachel Peru, Pansy St. Battie, Cora of Grass ‘n’ titties, Wencillia Querbel of Comic Girls Need Bras, Charlotte Amy Louise Twinley, and Sweets of Sweet Nothings.

Photo of Ruby Roxx by Josh Neufeld.
Photo of Ruby Roxx by Josh Neufeld.

Ruby Roxx (she/her) is a model, creator, and influencer based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Ruby told the Underpinnings Museum she has always loved pretty undergarments, writing “I loved how powerful wearing beautiful lingerie made me feel.  Even if I was the only one who saw it, I knew I had the perfect foundation under my outfit and I was ready to take on the world.  It gave me a confidence that was mine, and mine alone.”

She continued, “When I began my career as a model, lingerie seemed like a natural direction for me to take.  Not only did it make me feel powerful, confident, and sexy, but I also wanted to show that curvy bodies love, and look great in lingerie too.  Lingerie isn’t something reserved for only specific body types.  Everyone and everybody deserves to feel sexy and wear what makes them feel amazing, no matter what that looks like to them.”

Ruby associates the colour red with “passion, life, vigor, attraction, and love.” She described red as her “signature colour,” as it corresponds both to her name and her hair. She commented, “some red lingerie, underneath a great outfit, with a red lip, and my red hair, makes me feel my absolute best and ready to take on the world.”

She continued: “[Red] is obviously a colour that not only attracts the eye but also can inspire a sense of power and tenacity within yourself. Red lingerie is my go-to when I need a boost of self-confidence or self-love.  It’s also what I reach for if I’m planning to show off my lingerie, and want to make a lasting impression.”

You may find Ruby on Instagram at @rubyroxxbackup.

Lucy May Dawson (she/her) is a British model and social media influencer who frequently posts about lingerie and her experiences as a survivor of encephalitis and using a mobility aid.

Lucy told the Underpinnings Museum: “After becoming disabled at 21, following a rare brain disease which left me paralyzed in one leg, I had a long and hard journey towards accepting all the ways that my body had changed. The first time I posted a photo in lingerie I remember feeling so nervous about what people’s reactions would be, but I reminded myself of how amazing I felt when I put that lingerie on, and the empowerment I felt then continued when I felt the joy of having other disabled people reach out to me to tell me that seeing my photo had given them the confidence to embrace their own bodies.”

She feels that the colour red signifies passion, writing “it has a romantic feel to it that often makes you feel more sensual and confident.” Lucy concluded: “Putting on red lingerie helps you step into your sexy alter ego.”

You may find Lucy on Instagram at @luuudaw.

Photo courtesy of Lucy May Dawson.
Photo courtesy of Lucy May Dawson.
Photo courtesy of Dario Princiotta.
Photo courtesy of Dario Princiotta.

Dario Princiotta (he/him) is an Italian dressmaker and corsetier who takes great inspiration from dress history. He told the museum that underpinnings play a huge role in his life and in the overall creative process, writing: “Appropriate foundation undergarments are everything to me, that’s what makes an outfit really stand out. When I’m wearing the proper underclothing for the specific occasion I feel amazing, kind of special, it’s like embodying my ideally perfect muse.”

Dario feels that “red underpinnings have a strong and vibrant appeal” and “can donate the right attitude to the wearer.” He elaborated: “To me, the colour red can be easily associated with a large range of things, emotions, and senses, such as love; lust; sex; romance; strength; determination; ecstasy; pain; sorrow; blood; illness; death. I’m conscious that this sort of love-death paradigm is a bit curious and weird but I believe that it perfectly represents the desperately romantic heroine living in me.”

Dario’s favourite red lingerie item is the burgundy corset pictured here, which he made a few years ago. He explained, “The piece appears very decadent and it’s embellished by hand-stitched tentacles of fur embracing the torso, silk flossing handmade details define and reinforce each bone like in traditional Victorian corsetry.”

You may find Dario on Instagram at @dario_princiotta.

Ashlee Jane (she/her) is the lingerie blogger behind Pretty, Dainty Underthings and is based in Sydney, Australia.

She told the Underpinnings Museum: “If I said I didn’t live and breathe lingerie I’d be lying! Lingerie plays a huge part in my life and is pretty much in everything I do. It puts a spring in my step and gives me that extra confidence to get me through the day.

On the colour red, Ashlee wrote: “Red is bold, I see it as a colour you wear when you want to make a statement. There is just something about it that screams power.”

You may find Ashlee on Instagram at @kissesfromthemoonx.

Photo courtesy of Ashlee Jane.
Photo courtesy of Ashlee Jane.
Photo courtesy of Rachel Peru.
Photo courtesy of Rachel Peru.

Rachel Peru (she/her) is a British model and self-proclaimed “Champion of Midlife Women.”

Rachel used to struggle with body confidence and dreaded lingerie shopping until she entered her forties. She told the museum it was only then that she began investing in lingerie, which she said felt like “permission” to feel good in her body. She added: “Wearing the right lingerie can be such a powerful tool to boost our confidence and show our bodies the respect it deserves. After all, it’s the closest thing we put next to our bodies every day.”

Red is Rachel’s favourite colour, and wearing it makes her feel “bold and strong.” She added, “stepping out of the door knowing I’m wearing bright red underwear leaves me feeling confident and sexy.”

Yet, Rachel continued, “Women have been taught by society for decades that they should wear ‘sexy’ lingerie to please the male gaze when actually it’s far from it. Women want and need to feel good in their own skin and wearing your favourite lingerie is part of it. It’s empowering and if someone else finds that sexy then it’s merely a by-product but not the main aim.”

Rachel’s favourite red lingerie is a “caged bra and high waisted knickers set” by Figleaves. “I always get a boost of confidence when I’m wearing it,” she wrote.

You may find Rachel on Instagram at @rachelperu1.

Photo of Pansy St. Battie by Atessa Moghimi.
Photo of Pansy St. Battie by Atessa Moghimi.

Pansy St. Battie (they/them) is a model and performer based in Los Angeles, California. They describe their relationship with lingerie as “reclaiming my sexuality, embracing my body, and luxuriating in what I believe is the most beautiful subset of clothing.”

Pansy told the Underpinnings Museum that they are drawn to the colour red, as it can express such a range of emotions. They continued, “In certain patterns and contexts, it can have a coy playfulness … [whereas] in others it can show bold confidence … It’s associated with anger and fire, love and cherries, and passion and lipstick all at the same time. It’s also an unapologetically visible color. We have an innate measurable response to it due to its relation to blood and danger. It’s difficult to ignore.”

They continued, “As a queer, disabled, person of color, authentic visibility (that is at my own behest and not through a warped lens) is something I don’t take for granted. When that pairs with the sexual and bodily reclamation that I find in lingerie, it creates a feeling that is incredibly valuable to me.”

Pansy’s favourite pieces of red lingerie are their Catherine D’Lish Cassandra gown and Studio Pia Diara bra. They commented, “They’re both very different pieces but both showstoppers that evoke emotion and bring me confidence and joy.”

You may find Pansy on Instagram at @pansystbattie.

Photo courtesy of Cora.
Photo courtesy of Cora.

Cora (she/her) is a Scottish lingerie influencer and student of Contour Fashion based in Leicester, England.

Cora told the Underpinnings Museum that putting on lingerie sets the tone for her day, and between “looking at it, photographing it, researching it, and looking at ways to improve it,” lingerie consumes most of her time as well.

On the subject of red lingerie, Cora wrote: “Red lingerie is seldom on the tame or practical end of the scale. Looking at times I have worn red lingerie in my day-to-day running of things, I am feistier – more confident. I advocate for myself and take on more risks. The confidence it provides seeps through my outfit and onto my behaviour.” She continued, “Even when people can’t see it, colours have a vibrational energy that affects the way you feel and ultimately act, which in turn affects the way people react towards you. It’s very subtle. It’s very powerful.”

Cora recalled that her first red lingerie purchase was in a large Victoria’s Secret order she had imported from the United States to the north of Scotland. In hindsight, she feels the piece “was definitely a garment designed to appeal to the male gaze, rather than the wearer.” Today, Cora often finds herself feeling “very critical of red lingerie as it is often seen as a highly sexual colour so it is often designed for the male gaze,” as opposed to something intended to make the wearer feel beautiful to themselves.

Cora also explained that she was once advised to only own bras in the colours white, flesh-tone, and black, but feels “for me, brightly-coloured lingerie wins every time and no colour of lingerie radiates as much confidence and empowerment as red lingerie.”

You may find Cora on Instagram at @grassntitties.

Photo of Wencillia Querbel by Akani (@kalingbe).

Photo of Wencillia Querbel by Akani.

Wencillia “Wen” Querbel (she/her) is a model, writer, and artistic director based in Montreal, Quebec. Her lingerie blog is titled Comics Girls Need Bras.

Lingerie helped Wen “achieve body confidence” during her growth into adulthood. She explained to the Underpinnings Museum, “After almost 10 years in my lingerie journey, it’s more than that. Lingerie makes me feel safe, empowered, understood, and simply ‘me.’”

Wen associates the colour red with “unapologetic self-awareness, with self-love, and courage, but also with abundance.” On the subject of red lingerie, Wen wrote: “If I am being honest, I spent years disliking red lingerie (unless it was burgundy red). I didn’t understand the appeal at all, as I associated it with Valentine’s day, and movies showing women only wearing lingerie for date nights. The important word here is ‘only.’ I found red lingerie reductive in a way. As if it was made to attract the eye of a man.”

Although red is Wen’s favourite colour, she doesn’t own a lot of red underwear. However, she wrote: “I totally charm myself when I wear my red loungewear. It’s a color that speaks to me. It makes me feel like I totally know what I am doing when I wear it.”

Wen loves wearing red silk satin loungewear, which makes her feel “incredibly powerful, glamorous, [and] just special.” The first piece she fell in love with was “a silk robe with very big silk-lined sleeves covered in marabou feathers,” adding, “It makes me feel like the most iconic movie star, or a rare tropical bird. I love it!”

You may find Wen on Instagram at @comicsgirlsneedbras.

Photo courtesy of Charlotte Amy Louise Twinley.
Photo courtesy of Charlotte Amy Louise Twinley.

Charlotte Amy Louise Twinley (she/her) is a digital creator and influencer based in England. She posts about subjects including self-love, disability, chronic illness, and mental health.

Charlotte told the Underpinnings Museum: “I find that lingerie can help me express myself; when having a chronic illness or disability, all the hospital appointments and medications and mobility aids, etc. can all feel so clinical. But wearing lingerie (especially in a colour like red!) helps remind me that I’m human with wants and needs and desires – I’m not just ‘a patient.’”

Charlotte associates red with passion, asserting “I am certainly passionate about promoting true diversity and inclusivity, as well as breaking the stigmas that are associated with disabilities and chronic illnesses.”

You may find Charlotte on Instagram at @charlotteamylouise.

Sweets (she/her) is a blogger and self-proclaimed DD+ lingerie expert based in New York City. Her lingerie blog is titled Sweet Nothings.

Sweets has always loved red lingerie. Yet, growing up with a fuller bust made bra shopping a challenging experience with fewer options than her peers. She explained that as a teen, a colourful matching lingerie set “seemed impossibly decadent and grown-up and free-spirited and sophisticated.” She added, “Even now, with years in the industry under my belt, a beautiful matching lingerie set that feels good and fits well makes me feel a little gleeful.”

To Sweets, red is a colour that’s “always warm, happy, and sensuous, like velvety rose petals blazing in a pool of sunshine.”

On the subject of red lingerie, Sweets wrote: “A beautiful lingerie set of any fun color or print was out of reach for me when I was younger, but there was something about red lingerie in particular that fired my imagination: it felt like something that a woman of independence and sophistication and mystery would wear, the perfect match for a searing lipstick, carrying with it a dash of fairytale rose-or-blood red magic.”

She continued, “I tell people I like wearing red because I like the contrast with my dark hair, or because it’s a happy color or it’s a power color, but really I like it because it fires up the fantasy-loving storytelling part of my brain, giving me a little bit of armor, a costume, a secret weapon to take with me through my day. My tastes have changed a lot as I’ve gotten older, but I’ll always come back to red, in any shade or hue.”

You may find Sweets on Instagram at @sweetnothingnyc.

Photo of Sweets by Tessa Flannery.
Photo of Sweets by Tessa Flannery.



– Cosmopolitan, 1982, 1989, 1992

– De Lano, Pierre. Lamour À Paris Sous Le Second Empire. Paris, 1896.

– Fuller, Hiram. Belle Brittan on a Tour: At Newport, and Here and There. United States: Derby & Jackson, 1858.

– Godey’s Lady’s Book, 1869-1870

– Good Housekeeping, 1954, 1956

– Harper’s Bazaar, 1868, 1871-1872

– Ladies’ Home Journal, 1894

– LIFE, 1949, 1951-1952, 1960

– Peterson’s Magazine, 1885

– Pritchard, Marian Elizabeth. The Cult of Chiffon: An Edwardian Manual of Adornment. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2017.

– Seventeen, 1963

– The Lady’s Realm, 1902

– Vanity Fair, 1875

– Vogue, 1898

– Women’s Wear Daily, 1950, 1952-1955, 1957, 1959, 1998, 2000, 2003-2004


– Harrington, Cora. In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie. California: Ten Speed Press, 2018.

– Hill, Colleen. Exposed: A History of Lingerie. New Haven, Conn., 2014.

– Keyser, Amber J. Underneath It All: A History of Women’s Underwear. Twenty-First Century Books, 2018.

– McComb, Richard, Kay Haverfield, Koichi Tsukamoto, and Richard Martin. The Undercover Story. New York: Fashion Institute of Technology, 1983.

– Moore, Jennifer Grayer. Fashion Fads Through American History: Fitting Clothes Into Context. United States: ABC-CLIO, 2015.

– Pastoureau, Michel. Red: The History of a Color. Translated by Jody Gladding, Princeton, 2017.

– Steele, Valerie. The Corset: A Cultural History. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007.

– Waugh, Norah. Corsets and Crinolines. Edited by Judith Dolan, Routledge, 2018.


With special thanks to Alina Osokina, Becca Carr, Ellen Greene, Emily Werner, Kenna Libes & Molly Leonard.

The Underpinnings Museum relies on your generous support to continue its work. If you’ve enjoyed visiting this exhibition, please consider donating to The Underpinnings Museumsupporting Patreon or purchasing some merchandise. All funds are invested directly back into the project to bring you more free access underwear history.

Find our selection of printed exhibition catalogues in the online store. All profits are invested directly back into the museum and allow us to bring you future exhibitions.

'Incendiary' Catalogue. The Underpinnings Museum