In Bed With Dorothy Chan

A few years ago in LA, I was in my hotel room with friends getting ready for a night out. Actually, my definition of “getting ready for a night out” is really “I’ll be ready in five minutes. Let me just put on a lip and body glitter and I’m out the door.” Anyway, after a few minutes, we were headed out, when one of my friends picks up this silky leopard-print number that’s on the bed, and she says, “Ooh, I like how you left your leopard slip behind.”

I was confused. And then I realized she had mistaken my leopard-print bomber jacket for something a little sexier. And I thought her mistake was really special—it made me think of this idea of women leaving behind little items on the bed, only to be greeted by those prized possessions when they returned. The key to this tactic is no different than other rules of fashion and mannerisms: don’t try too hard. Again, don’t try too hard—get to that point where you’re subconsciously leaving behind garters and robes and Natori pyjama tops.

As I get older, I get a little more obsessed with matching pyjama sets and kimonos and lace and sequin camisoles. I hate going to bed in a t-shirt and leggings. I hate waking up in a t-shirt and leggings. I’d really like a chartreuse chemise with a matching robe. I also hate when people ask women whether they dress “more for women” or “more for men.” First of all, that question and its intentions are too heteronormative for my liking. And second of all, what about the answer, “I dress for me”? I spend so much time alone in my bedroom: writing, phone calls, reading, editing The Southeast Review (of course I had to mention that), getting barked at for not going to bed by my friend’s dog Mona (who visits during the summer), snacking, more writing, etc. that I want to look nice for myself. It keeps me motivated. I keep long hours, and I want to look good and I want to do great work.

I also like how lingerie provides a sense of mystery. It’s ironic how something that seems to “give everything away” could simultaneously be mysterious. It’s that mix of private and public—showing just a little by leaving it on the bed. But, as much as I love silk pyjama sets and Kiki de Montparnasse outfits, I also love stuffed animals. Yes, I’m a grown ass woman. And yes, I’m entering the last year of my twenties very soon, but I still love Monchhichi and Sanrio plush. There’s still a part of me that wants to hold onto everything kawaii and lovely and wonderful. I like being a little weird. And I like leaving parties and gatherings early, so I can have some quality time, sitting in bed all by myself creating new worlds. Or maybe I just want to shop for more loungewear.


Dorothy Chan is the author of Attack of the Fifty-Foot Centerfold (Spork Press, 2018) and the chapbook Chinatown Sonnets (New Delta Review, 2017). She was a 2014 finalist for the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Academy of American PoetsThe Cincinnati ReviewThe CommonDiode Poetry JournalQuarterly West, and elsewhere. Chan is the Editor of The Southeast Review. Visit her website at

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