My Underwear Story – from Practical to Pretty!

As a child growing up there was not a lot of money coming into our household so I would wear hand me downs that my mother altered to fit me, and as for underwear, it was plain and practical.

Our home life was not a happy one in any way. I lived for the day that my father would finally see me for who I was, or even talk with me. There was never any sharing or chatting with each other, and as children my sister and I only seemed to be spoken to when we were judged to be in trouble. Even Mum and Dad very seldom spoke to each other. At school the children used to chatter away to each other, but for me I was always on the outside thinking that ‘no one wanted to hear what I had to say’, and my self confidence and self worth slowly diminished every day.

Mum knew how unhappy I was and got me away from home after I turned 16 years of age to stay with my aunty, then she and my younger sister followed 12 months later. In those days when a woman left her marriage she was not entitled to any share of the marital home, plus there was no government support or benefits in any way. Mum then had to find a housekeeping job where she could live-in so as to have my younger sister live with her while she finished school. There was very little money for anything extra after food, especially not for clothes and definitely not for underwear. Everything we wore was simple, and practical, usually second-hand, and definitely not pretty.

When I started work at 17 years of age I did not have nice clothes like other girls and I always felt so embarrassed, but in time I gradually saved up enough money to buy the cheapest clothes for sale at the local department store.

At that time it was so wonderful to be able to buy myself something new to wear, but it was still plain and practical.

Well this probably doesn’t sound very exciting at all, as we women always need to buy underwear, clothes and shoes, but for me it was. As I had never learned to communicate with anyone to get any advice about anything, including clothes and other personal items, I just did the best I could with the little money I was receiving each fortnight.

I got married at 21 and the struggles of having very little money continued. I used to make clothes for my three children and me unless I could find something second-hand, often having to alter them before they could be worn. I used to make sure my children were clothed first and I would get what was left over.

When my marriage ended 40 years later my self esteem and confidence was non-existent, even more so as the marriage had not been happy, and at times very abusive, so I did not think that I deserved to have nice things. I always thought that lovely underwear and lovely clothes were for other women, not me. Having the plain, old fashioned, practical sort had become my normal as a child and had continued to be so as the years went by.

Two years after my marriage ended I was shopping with a friend when she suddenly stopped outside a beautiful lingerie shop and said,


‘Oh dear’ I thought, me having pretty underwear, that is for other women. But she persisted and in we went. I was feeling totally out of my depth and bewildered, just wanting to turn around and walk out, but as my friend was so persistent I chose to stay and let her help me sort out some very pretty looking underwear.

It probably sounds silly but after I paid for them I burst into tears, as in my 64 years, I had never had anything so beautiful.

Buying beautiful underwear continued from that day but my every day clothes were still plain and rather boring. A few years later another friend looked closely at me and what I was wearing, and said “You are not an old woman” – I was in my mid 70’s at the time! –   “You need to get out of your old woman’s fashion and get into more modern clothes.” As we both worked at an ‘Op’ shop (secondhand opportunity shop) she would go along a rack and she would pull something out. My immediate response would be, “Oh I can’t wear that.”, but her reply would be “TRY IT”. When I did, gosh it did look nice and sometimes I even managed a wow; she definitely knew what suited me.

This was the beginning of a whole new way of dressing for me and over a period of time I have been able to gradually update my clothing. I have loved throwing out the old and replacing it with something new – in fact, now I love opening my wardrobe door to be greeted by my wonderful and colourful clothes; but not only do they look beautiful in my wardrobe, they look and feel beautiful on me as well, and as for my underwear drawer, I love opening that too.

Dorothy Carlile, 2017

These days when I look in the mirror I can finally see the beautiful woman who is smiling back at me. For most of my life I used to hide behind an artificial smile, some people used to say that I was always smiling, but I really wasn’t, I was hiding my pain. Now my smile comes from deep inside of me and in turn that makes my face so much softer and younger looking; a most wonderful and natural face lift!

So for women who do not know, or think that they do not deserve pretty underwear, just know that YOU ARE ALL SO BEAUTIFUL INSIDE AND OUT, AND DESERVE TO HAVE LOVELY THINGS, just like me.

Over the last 10 years, thanks to the presentations and support of Serge Benhayon and Natalie Benhayon, I have come to know that I am an amazing and beautiful woman. I am now feeling so much better about my body than I have ever done, and at 86 I can honestly say that this is the best I have ever felt in my life; and I’m still wearing pretty underwear!

By Dorothy Carlile, aged 86, Tauranga, New Zealand

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691 thoughts on “My Underwear Story – from Practical to Pretty!

  1. I get the sense Dorothy, that even in your “plain and practical” clothes, you were still lovely. And I expect that everyone around you could feel this too.

    1. Shami, a gorgeous and pertinent observation! Dorothy, how glorious, therefore that you can now feel, savour and appreciate everything about yourself that others have always seen and loved in you.

  2. “I only seemed to be spoken to when we were judged to be in trouble. Even Mum and Dad very seldom spoke to each other”. This reminds me of a discussion we had at a women in livingness event presented with Annette and Gabe. We were asked to look at our role models and the messages we received a s kids about intimacy – meaning how warm, loving and caring interactions were between people. The relationship described here would set the woman up to be shut down, non-expressive, even though that is her true nature. It just shows me how important it is to be role modelling intimacy everywhere, for all the people who have also grown up with various versions of this way of relating.

  3. It is a wonderful way to express love for ourselves by buying ourselves gorgeous beautiful things to wear that feel lovely on the skin. When we wear them we feel the appreciation of a special purchase that was just for us.

  4. So gorgeous to read Dorothy thank you for sharing your life’s experience, age is no limit to finding the beauty of who we are and letting that shine through as your photo definitely shows.

    1. Yesterday I saw a frail elderly lady sitting on a bench in the supermarket applying red lip stick. What a gorgeous confirmation that the celebration of beauty we all hold is ageless.

  5. Age is just a number and is no barrier to wearing beautiful clothes to feel and express the innate beauty of who you are.

  6. It’s beautiful having friends that encourage and inspire you to truly honour and cherish yourself and your expression more.

  7. ‘These days when I look in the mirror I can finally see the beautiful woman who is smiling back at me.’ How wonderful being able to see you beautiful Dorothy. Not so many men and women in this world feels content with themselves but you shows how this is possible. It is very real and has nothing to do with fit in the perfect picture of what a woman should look like. It comes from within and I feel very greatful for the support that I receive everyday from Serge Benhayon and Natalie Benhayon who reminds me this absolut fact.

  8. Such a gorgeous sharing to read Dorothy. By reading you I got inspired to bring more love in to my wardrobe. These days I found myself wearing something practical but without caring and loving myself so much. As you said we are very beautiful from inside out and we deserve honouring this fact by appreciating deeply ourselves. Thanks for inviting me to celebrate who I am by bringing more light and playfullness not just in the way I clothe myself but how I live in every moment of my day.

  9. We have so very much to appreciate, I have found that when we appreciate we keep things real, we are less likely to live in delusion or lose ourselves in our own spin if we appreciate the simple daily things that life brings.

  10. Reading your great blog again Dorothy, after reading another great blog on ‘Frugality’ recently has made me realise how many of pr generation were in some way affected by the climate of post World War II. It was the end of the depression and in some places there were even coupons being still used. So the frugality and practicality thing did have a ‘necessity’ about it at some level. But I can feel reading these blogs that there was something even stronger, a consciousness that glued itself nicely to these circumstances to make a whole religion of it! It is so good to become aware of this and move out of it.

  11. Buying beautiful underwear can be very connected to self-worth and to let yourself feel that you are that delicate, beautiful and worth it can bring up tears. I have been buying beautiful lingerie lately and it feels fabulous as a woman to step out of the plain and practical mode I have been in most of my life.

  12. Matching, beautiful and supportive with no hard bits pushing in, that show I like to wear underwear, it feels great to be prepared and cared for on all levels, it is not about what people see, but how I feel. I love what you share in this article.

  13. Just love how you finally claimed the gorgeous woman that you are and in the process I am sure that you have inspired many other women to know that it is never too late to make such self-loving and self-honouring changes in their lives.

    1. Exactly, Dorothy is a role model for us all of how to be ‘old’. We can choose at any age to be more caring and loving for ourselves regardless of what we have ‘picked up’ along the way.

  14. I really love this story, I think my grandmother would have related to it growing up and then raising kids in similar times. You can feel the preciousness and sacredness that you have come to feel in yourself and know that you are worth.

    1. I agree John…Love how they encouraged Dorothy to buy new lovely clothes for her. It felt very supportive to read and brought me to appreciate the people in my life who see me as the precious woman I am.

  15. We do not have any issues. If we do they has been created and brought into our lives through our choice even when we are children. I can relate to not being heard as a child and this became very evident recently when at the age of 47 I spoke and felt ignored, dismissed and energetically imposed upon. It brought back memories of when I was a child but it didn’t stop me from speaking up. I did feel some reaction in my body but I couldn’t help but feel appreciation for allowing myself to sense what was actually going on in the moment and begin to make loving movements towards myself as a woman. I can only build on from that offering to learn and deepen my understanding of myself and others from the reflection in that moment that was constellated so beautifully.

  16. I have in the last couple of years or so begun to buy myself not only gorgeous underwear, but very comfortable. I was in the sensible undies brigade, which meant that what I bought was pretty basic. I still like my sensible undies, those that feel super comfortable to wear, but I now buy undies with a bit of lace, gorgeous colours and really soft material. No elastic rubbing in sight!! I feel that my choice in underwear now is a confirmation for how I feel about myself – lovely gorgeous and sexy. Rather than the underwear making me feel that way.

  17. I love re reading this blog Dorothy, I love just looking at your photo – it warms my heart to see such a beautiful self accepting claimed open women.

  18. I can feel the joy you are sharing with us Dorothy, you show it is never too late to start enjoying life and celebrating the beautiful gorgeous elder that you are

  19. I can easily remember the days of practical underwear brought for longevity and not because they looked pretty. I can also remember that clothes for the children came first, whether I brought, sewed or knitted them. I can also remember the day when I decided that it was time to start to buy pretty underwear, and since that day, like Dorothy, I love opening my underwear draw; the colours, the patterns and the delicate lace always makes me smile.

  20. Dorothy, you inspire me. We are all so beautiful inside and the joy you experienced when you opened yourself up and shared with us in this blog has really inspired me to to take this to a deeper level in my own personal life and then to every aspect, because how can that not be shared?!

  21. Dorothy this is just gorgeous to hear how you changed and embraced new underwear, new clothes and saw the beauty in you .. it blows any excuse out of the water that we are too old .. we never are, thank you for reminding me, and I love the picture of you, can’t believe you’re 86.

  22. Dorothy, I just had to come back to your blog and gorgeous picture, as every time I do it makes my day.

  23. Dorothy, your smile and your words make my heart sing each time I visit this page. The garments we wear either showcase our beauty or mask it. This is true right down to the underwear we choose to wear even though no one else sees it. It all is an expression either from our inner most self or the part of us that seeks to disguise it.

  24. Whenever I am needing a little inspiration in my life I come back to this beautiful blog and it doesn’t take too long to feel the joy starting to rise. We often go through life taking so much of what we have for granted whereas others around us as struggling simply to make it through each day with the little they have. Dorothy, you show so clearly that it is never too late to say no to the way we have lived for a little or a long time and then make the choice to embrace the amazing life that is ours to naturally live.

  25. Dorothy you are amazing and deeply inspiring…. thank you for sharing your beautiful story of reclaiming the true you.

  26. “So for women who do not know, or think that they do not deserve pretty underwear, just know that YOU ARE ALL SO BEAUTIFUL INSIDE AND OUT, AND DESERVE TO HAVE LOVELY THINGS, just like me.” What a wonderful front page this would be on a womans magazine Dorothy, along with your beautiful photograph! So inspiring for all woman, everywhere.

  27. “…. at 86 I can honestly say that this is the best I have ever felt in my life; and I’m still wearing pretty underwear!.” And I bet not many 86 year olds can say that Dorothy! You are an inspiration.

    1. Yes I agree, how many 86 year olds consider their underwear to be functional?! How many 36/46/56 year olds? the list is potentially endless …. tumbleweed moment!

  28. I sometimes talk to people about their plans for a new car. I regularly find that there are much better cars available in their budget than they thought. I wonder if this is similar to Dorothy’s story in that we can often do much better than we think and make much more loving choices.

  29. I so agree with you, Dorothy, the feeling of beautiful underwear is such a confirmation of the sacredness and beauty that is inside us. I just love the delicateness of the laces, colors, shapes and materials. Even though during the day no one can see it, I know what I am wearing in celebration of me.

  30. What a gorgeous sharing. We are so worth it. Women can deeply celebrate their bodies and it helps us reflect to the world and confirm Withinh ourselves the strength and beauty we all carry.

  31. “Over the last 10 years, thanks to the presentations and support of Serge Benhayon and Natalie Benhayon, I have come to know that I am an amazing and beautiful woman. I am now feeling so much better about my body than I have ever done, and at 86 I can honestly say that this is the best I have ever felt in my life; and I’m still wearing pretty underwear!” – Dorothy at age 86 years your commitment, evolving in self-love and self-possession is hugely inspiring — awesome too feeling your deep appreciation and love for Serge and Natalie and age being no barrier in receiving the joy of wisdom!

  32. You are such an inspiration Dorothy! There are many out there walking in the shadows you once did living confined to the belief that they are are mother, daughter, wife etc and here you are at your age reflecting what a true woman can look like. A beautiful reflection indeed.

  33. I always love reading this very inspirational blog as, once read I then head off to check out my underwear drawer. Right now, it’s a joy to open the drawer but a few weeks ago that was not the case as I had been putting off replacing some of my old knickers for way too long; did I not think that I deserved new ones? I will have to ponder on that.

  34. I love the fact that your pretty underwear is being worn just for you, and just because you can. With no hidden agenda or manipulation towards anyone else. You being beautiful simply because you that is who you are.

  35. Dorothy, it is so beautiful to feel through your words that our true beauty never withers nor dies, it simply gets pushed to the side when we adopt garments that disguise it instead of showcasing it. In any moment at any age we have the power to turn this completely on its head as you have – totally inspiring, thank you.

  36. It’s never too late to offer to ourselves the best. Yes, we deserve it. In fact, every moment is the right moment to start loving ourselves from inside out or viceversa!

  37. What might have been a necessity at first can easily become a habit; furthermore, it might suit us to hide our beauty and innate preciousness – hiding becomes an old comfortable garment then and we will always find the clothing to match that posture, or does it find us? Irresistibly cheap and oh, so handy.

  38. Those “artificial smiles” might convince others that we are always smiling but if we connect to ourselves it is so easy to feel the impact that they are having on our body.. There is of course the physical impact of the uncomfortableness behind the force to make the smile, but then inside, if we are honest with ourselves, we can feel the dishonesty behind it. In stark and glorious contrast, a smile from our inner-heart requires no effort as it is simply a true expression of the beautiful woman we are.

  39. There is never a time when it is not a great time to wear pretty underwear, because it is so confirming of all of our sweet and beautiful qualities as women that we each can bring to the world – no matter our age or the path we have lived.

  40. Dorothy, I just have to keep coming back to this gorgeous blog and look at your beautiful face, it lights me up every time.

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