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Are men disappointed if a woman wears slimming garments?

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The question

Would a man be disappointed to discover that a woman was wearing a slimming foundation garment?

The answer

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Nicola Six, a character in Martin Amis's novel London Fields, is the archetype of the femme fatale. She seduces an unworldly man with the pretense of inhibition; one of her weapons is deliberately unsexy underwear. When her victim is finally allowed to glimpse it, he describes it as being made of something like Elastoplast (that textured brown bandaging). This shuddering anti-sensuality actually arouses him further, as it proves her to be even more innocent than he could have imagined.

This character (who turns out to be badly wrong) is fairly typical of male receptivity to female underwear. A guy finding himself in the privileged position of ascertaining what is under your clothes is already counting himself blessed; he is not going to complain about the details. Nor is he going to care, at this point, that the present he has unwrapped is not exactly as advertised: Men generally care less about perfect slenderness than women think they do.

Now, having said that, I admit I don't think that thick, rubbery undercorsets are the sexiest thing, largely because I think you don't need them. Self-confidence is a more attractive trait than lankiness, always.

Russell Smith's latest novel is Girl Crazy. Have a fashion question? E-mail

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