Elisha Cuthbert's 'Old School' Underwear Forever Changed My Relationship with the Word "Sexy"

Long live boy shorts.

Elisha Cuthbert’s 'Old School' Underwear Changed How I Shopped Forever
Photo: Alamy/InStyle

At this point, I've probably seen Old School over 50 times. But back when the Todd Phillips-directed film first came out in 2003, I was a college freshman, and pretty girl Darcie Goldberg (my fellow Canadian Elisha Cuthbert) was a high school senior just one year younger than me.

Darcie was introduced in a "morning after" scene, where she woke up in bed alongside a much older Mitch Martin (Luke Wilson) after a one-night stand. As the camera panned out, I was changed forever.

Cuthbert was clad in a fresh-faced smile and a fuchsia tank top and boy short set, oozing the kind of sexual confidence I only wish I embodied at that time. There she was, laying on her front on top of the sheets in what I like to call "slumber party pose," her legs swinging in the air, thighs fully exposed, boy shorts cupping her butt cheeks just so. She looked like a total babe, despite the fact that her entire back and most of her butt was covered with cotton, the most basic material known to man. In that moment, though, she redefined what sexy meant to me.

I'm a late bloomer. I grew up in a household with two older siblings, including a gorgeous sister 9 years my senior. Each month she'd get yet another issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, which always offered now-dated and flat out problematic tips and tricks to capture a man's attention, and diet tips to get an "attractive" body (cringe). There were also Victoria's Secret catalogues arriving at my house in the mail, always showcasing stick-thin but busty women in barely-there bra and panty sets, posed in sexually suggestive stances.

In the early 2000s, being sexy was all about showing off your assets and acting in performative, come-hither ways. That version of "sexy" never resonated with me. It seemed uncomfortable, inauthentic and a little too brazen for my liking. It didn't feel real. But Darcie did.

During what I believe is the most monumental scene of all time, amen, she says, "Did I snore last night? Sometimes I snore when I'm drunk." What a cutie! So natural. So shameless. So human.

Mitch responds to Cuthbert's character, awkward as hell, mumbling something about being fresh out of a serious and traumatic relationship, and to my shock and delight, Darcie – who is looking him in the eye — starts giggling in earnest, a genuine smile on her face.

She tells him that it's not a big deal, that they were just having a little fun, and then she casually scoots off his bed. As she does so, we see her braless in her tank as she pulls on her (notably low-rise) jeans, taking full control of not only her sexuality, but the situation. He asks if he should be giving her his number, new to this hookup thing, and she says, "You don't even have to worry about it." Then she leans in, initiating a full-fledged hot AF make out before leaving. Be still, my heart.

After bearing witness to this scene, I decided to bid my old ideas of "sexy" adieu. The next day, I went on a solo shopping trip, determined to find a similar fuchsia set. I hit up Urban Outfitters and American Apparel (may it RIP,) and found what I was looking for at the latter.

I remember putting the boy short set on for the first time. I was standing in front of a full-length mirror in my childhood bedroom, and something within me shifted. I stood up just a little bit taller, held my head just a little bit higher. I gave myself a twirl, and looked at my reflection in the mirror, as I felt the creases of my lips turn up. At home, at last, I thought to myself.

Old School not only shaped how I view sexiness, but it introduced me to the joy (and sheer comfort) of the boy short. To date I feel my most sexy, lounging around in a pair of boy shorts, my boyfriend by my side. And though my partner finds me sexy no matter what I'm wearing (or not), when I'm wearing 'em, laying in the "slumber party pose" or just hanging out, he picks up my vibe. And that's the lesson in all this, that being sexy isn't about what I'm wearing or how I'm acting, but instead, it's about feeling at home within myself.

Sometimes, outfits from movies and TV shows stay on our mind long after we've stopped watching. Made a Scene celebrates specific on-screen looks and explores why they're (still) worth obsessing over.

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