Lingerie Review: On the Inside Blazing Star Nightgown
My love for indie designer On the Inside's Elise Olson is pretty much boundless. I've waxed rhapsodic about her work before in my article on lingerie for trans women (On the Inside's knickers are absurdly comfy and provide amazing coverage in addition to being really pretty).
Getting to wear the tragically discontinued Bold Calla set in the Bluestockings photo shoot last year was part of why I started getting really excited about lingerie fashion in the first place. Indie brands often don’t live very long, thanks to the high production costs associated with small-batch work and the difficulty of pricing competitively, among other factors, but On the Inside has been selling handmade, custom-fit lingerie on Etsy (and now on their webstore) for quite a while. Cora posted about them back in 2012, and their Etsy shop has been up since 2007; On the Inside's near-decade's worth of success is definitely reflected in their high-quality materials and wide variety of designs.
I recently picked up the Blazing Star nightgown when it went on sale at Bluestockings, largely because I was curious to try something from On the Inside other than the bras and panties that I already liked so much. I'm rarely super enthusiastic about nightgowns, in part because I've found that they don't always fit well with my broader shoulders, but also because the aesthetic often rubs me the wrong way.
Many ‘sexier’ designs seem to suggest ideas about what women's bodies and sexualities should look like (white, thin, cis, straight, submissive, etc) that I find frustrating. Vintage-style nightgowns, on the other hand, often straddle a thin line between looking classically attractive or looking frumpy. They're tricky garments for me, in terms of fashion, gender, and the way that my personal style reflects my queer identity, and that's made me hesitant to engage with them fully.
That said, the Blazing Star nightgown's combination of sheer white mesh and black lace was very compelling, and my other relatively recent OtI purchase of the very sexy Mimosa black mesh cami had just convinced me that I needed more see-through lingerie. Unfortunately, the black-and-white version of this nightgown isn't available on OtI's shop any longer, but the burgundy version of the same design looks like it'd be similar in almost all regards.
One of the reasons that I like On the Inside is that they're affordable. I'm usually hesitant to recommend a lot of lingerie to other folks in the queer and trans community at large because systemic employment discrimination and other forms of economic disadvantage mean that we often don’t get paid a living wage, much less have a lot of disposable cash. Many of the folks I know end up buying less-expensive underwear made by large companies with dubious labor practices, because ethical manufacturing by tiny indie designers costs more than they can afford.
OtI isn't big-brand cheap but the ~$40-55 for a bra and ~$25-40 for knickers that they ask is good for handmade pieces, and the garments I’ve owned have held up well to daily wear and frequent washing. Likewise, a pricetag of $69 for a lace nightgown isn't bad at all, but I'm fortunate that getting it on sale allowed me to sidestep my instinctive (but silly) tendency to balk at paying full price for something that I'll only wear every now and then.
The Blazing Star night gown is made of white nylon mesh and black lace, with black floral patterns sewn throughout the sheer mesh of its body. As with everything of On the Inside's that I've tried, the lace is both gorgeous and sturdy, with a vegetal pattern around the bust that echoes the leaves on the flowers elsewhere.
I'm a huge fan of the not-quite-completely-sheer top; it's just thick enough I can wear it around the house casually without feeling like I'm going topless. Which is a good encapsulation of my feelings about this piece more generally; it's a genuinely pretty garment that's appealing and cute while not being so overtly sexy that it feels silly to wear it when you're relaxing and watching reading a book.
Contrary to my worries, an L fits me perfectly, though I suspect I'm in the upper range of shoulder-width-to-bust-size ratio before the fit of the upper half would start looking wonky. I'm entirely thrilled with the way that the mesh body falls on me, although the bottom tends to wrinkle at the slightest provocation.
One of my fave things about the white mesh in terms of styling is that it's sheer enough to show off a pair of knickers underneath really clearly. I've gotten into the habit of wearing it with cute prints like the Bad Bunny Dino Bones panties, which helps to shift the nightgown even more toward the intersection of quirky and sexy that I prefer.
I'm really happy with the Blazing Star nightgown, and my record of being thrilled with everything On The Inside makes remains unbroken. It's a pity that this particular style isn't available any longer, but while we're waiting for OtI to bring it back, the burgundy version looks entirely tempting.