BREAKFAST AT FREDDY’S: GUEST BLOGGER BEN MCCOY’S LOVE LETTER TO FREDERICK’S OF HOLLYWOOD

Ironing Board Collective occasionally features the voice of a special guest writing a single post. This one’s courtesy of Ben McCoy.

Ben wanted to write a love letter to Frederick’s of Hollywood, who she feels is an underappreciated fashion resource. Ben’s friend, Daniel Auger, photographed her showing off her extensive (10 years-worth!) FOH workaday collection.

Ben McCoy is a writer and performance artist. McCoy has toured the country twice, performing in college universities, theaters, art galleries, and bars all across the nation (and even a few times in Canada).

McCoy currently lives in San Francisco and will accept Frederick’s of Hollywood giftcards at any time, from anyone, for any reason, at any moment.


Like a Lohan running towards the open bar, I am in rapture whenever my new Frederick’s of Hollywood catalog comes in.  And while, sure, I enjoy lingerie, my interest is generally focused on the clothing. Yes, Freddy’s has clllllooothes! Clothes that can exist beyond the first half of Pretty Woman!

Freddy’s income is actually 60% clothing, and 40% lingerie and shoes. They also invented the water-bra.  I find breast augmentation problematic, but throwing on my water-bra in order to enhance the bust line of a dress doesn’t mess with my health, finances, or comfort.

Frederick’s of Hollywood stores generally do only carry lingerie and accessories. So know that much of what I will be referencing is from the catalog and their website. It occurred to me that I could have used photos from the website, but what I would like to do instead is use photos of myself wearing various pieces from FOH from the ten years that I have been an enthusiastic and happy customer (one of my longest relationships!).

The models and photography on the website may also be a trigger for some of you out there who have weird hang-ups about people you perceive to be overt in their sexuality. I encourage you to get over this, and provide the following images of myself in hopes of saying “Its OK. It’s just clothes. I will not be jumping through the computer screen and giving you a violent oiled-up lap-dance, having an affair with your partner, or any other scene from Showgirls.”

CARRIE BRADSHAW REALNESS.

This is a turquoise floral handkerchief dress from FOH. On a windy day, the hemline blows kisses in the air! I got this around 2004 when Carrie Bradshaw was a BFD. Put a flower on it, grab your pumps, and get ready for brunch with your gal-pals to discuss the latest of your crazy awesome life. Pat Field on speed-dial sold separately (way separately).

WORKIN’ 9-TO-5.

A slate-grey FOH dress with adjustable straps (why straps exist that are not adjustable I’ll never know/endlessly break chandeliers over) and black lace over-lay along the bust. While one could certainly wear this out on a date, it also holds up under the florescent lights of a 9-to-5. Add a classic red matte lip and Essie nail polish for a Mad Men-era look. Or throw on some clip-on bangs and an updo, and use the copy machine at lunch to make reproductions of your ‘zine for your best Kathleen Hanna impersonation.

PRETTY IN PINK.

Apologies to Miss Ringwald, but, this is how it’s done, girlfriend.  $6 pink dress thrift-find given to me by a friend after I practically said I’d stab someone for it, paired with a pair of black PVC-strappy hot-pink platform and stiletto FOH heels.  Go from Ladies-Who-Lunch to Ladies-Who-Fierce in an Alexis Carrington-Colby second.

GET THE MEMO.

Speaking of business women, this is what I like to call my Boss Lady look. Because I’ve been de-sensitized by Madonna, I throw a high-waisted belted leather skirt over my FOH chemise, put a blazer over it, and call it a day. Because you don’t have to be a dominatrix or a pop-star to have command over your look. Grab a bottle of Stoli, and invoke the always-chic Patsy Stone.

LET'S PARTY.

This is a cowl-neck ombre zebra print FOH dress with ruching on the side.  You don’t have to work at a Bordello to know that ruching is the photoshop of body contouring.  And look at these shoes! Purple shiny strappy open-toed stiletto FOH classic heels and the inset is LEOPARD PRINT. Uncle Freddy encourages everyone to be their own spirit animal. I paired this with a shoulder-padded blazer and a chunky necklace as if to say, “After I come home from dancing, I am going to watch the Designing Women marathon.”  I really know how to party.

KARL LAGERFELD’S DAUGHTER.

This is a leather studded ruched dress from Venus.com, which could not exist without FOH having paved the way. I am wearing this with matching studded gladiator pumps, and one of my favorite FOH pieces: this black and white tweed blazer. It has lace and satin detailing at the arms and hemline.  Not pictured is the skirt that matches it! But I like pairing this with something leather because I like to fantasize that I am Karl Lagerfeld’s daughter. (Uncle Karl, fax me!!!) I also like to wear this because it makes me feel like Pam from True Blood.

MY BFF, THE CONVERTIBLE DRESS.

This is my most-worn FOH outfit. It is a black cotton convertible dress. Do you own a convertible dress? Seriously, they are incredible. Essentially it is 20 outfits-in-one. It comes with instructions! I love having options, but I will confess; I pretty much always wear it like this, with an X tied in the back and the sash coming down beneath my bust, and tied into a long drapey double-sash dangling between my legs. Tights, knee socks, legs bare, or held up by platform boots, this dress can go from a fur-vested Rachel Zoe to shawl-spinning Stevie Nicks to a pearl-drenched Holly Golightly and back with a flick of the wrist and the right accessories.

Like the convertible dress itself, Frederick’s of Hollywood has always been willing to meet its customers’ desires and fantasies, providing them with options that are affordable, fashionable, and very wear-able.  Whether I’m propped up by platforms or stilettos, going to the library or the club,  FOH has made sure that I am at my most confident,  regardless of whether I’m turning heads or turning the corner (usually both).

Thanks, Uncle Freddy!

XOXO,

Ben McCoy

9 comments

  1. tentinys

    Frederick’s of Hollywood? But it all looks so tasteful! Here is a typical page from a 1977 Frederick’s catalogue– http://www.lileks.com/institute/dorcusella/6.html

  2. carrieleilamlove

    Just when I’m swooning over Michael’s menswear-for-women post, you come along and remind me how much I love unapologetic femmesexyradness. This is why my closet will always look like two people of different genders and similar sizes are sharing it.

  3. So, since I don’t work at a bordello (although there’s one at either end of my street🙂 ) I learned a new word: “ruching”. Beyond new vocabulary, this was a really fun trip into Ben’s wardrobe- loved the captions and accessorizing strategies. Who knew Fredericks was so versatile?

  4. Michael von Braithwaite

    This is amazing. I mean, really pretty mind blowing. WHO THE FUCK KNEW I COULD GET A BLAZER FROM FOH???

  5. Maria

    This is fierce.

  6. Pingback: How to Dress Cheap Without Looking Cheap (Unless That’s What You’re Going For) « Ironing Board Collective

  7. Even while there are certainly many issues about fashion which unfortunately I want to understand, I grasp that which you have suggested in this article as it really helps me get a more complete knowledge.ruched dress

  8. This post is genius in every way.

IBC LOVES your brain, and we encourage thoughtful, lively discussion. We will, however, moderate comments that are abusive or disrespectful. Stay classy!

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