Remember the first time you bought lingerie for a woman? You took two steps into the shop and immediately realised that although it sounded like a good idea initially, being raked naked over a mountainous pile of hot coals suddenly sounds better.
Unless you're some kind of panty whisperer, or have developed What Women Want-style telepathic powers, choosing lingerie for your wife or girlfriend can feel like an impossible task. But with great risk comes great reward, so trust us – getting this right is well worth any agony you might feel during the process. Here is your primer for buying your lady lingerie she'll love.
"Your stock is up the minute you set foot in the shop. Every woman there is wishing her man was in there buying her lingerie."
Do Your Research
We'd like to tell you buying lingerie is easy. That you won't shed any blood, sweat or tears during the process. That she'll love anything you give her, because it came from you and that's the important part. But we'd be telling you a lie, and we try not to do that around here. The truth is that there are thousands of different things to choose from (ok, probably an exaggeration, but it's a lot) because there are so many different types of women. There is no failsafe option, except perhaps the colour black.
Choosing the right lingerie for your lady requires research. Pay attention to what she already owns. What colours does she gravitate to? What styles? Are her bras lacy and feminine, or simple but sexy? Push-up or no padding? What's happening downstairs? Thongs? Boyshorts? Crotchless? The absolute safest bet is to go shopping with her (scoring major man points in the process), and learn what she likes and doesn't like.
Yes gentlemen, size matters. But not the kind you're thinking of. We're talking small, medium, large, A, B, C and beyond. Sneak a peek at something she already has to maximise your chances of success. If that proves to be impossible, keep this handy hack in mind: overestimate her bra size and underestimate her panty size. Because “Oh, sorry honey, I thought your breasts were bigger and your ass was smaller” is going to go over far better than the reverse. Although if a breakup is what you're aiming for, feel free to borrow that second strategy.
Also take her body type into account. Your thoughtful gesture will instantly seem not-so-thoughtful if anything looks saggy, squished, too tight, too loose, or otherwise unflattering. Picture her body and imagine what would look best on it. Accentuate her strongest assets. Hide the bits she's self-conscious about. She'll feel her sexiest, and when she feels her sexiest, she looks her sexiest.
Technical Terms To Know
Lingerie is brave new – terrifying – world for most men. So many straps. So many hooks. So many words you've never heard before. Let's talk about a few of the most important terms you need to know.
A short, swingy, sexy piece of sleepwear that often comes with matching panties. The nightgown's hotter sister.
Imagine a one-piece swimsuit, but sexier. A teddy is a tight-fitting, one-piece number frequently seen with either high-cut legs or a thong back.
Exactly what it sounds like – a small wire than runs underneath the cups of a bra, to create shape and offer stronger support. It's a must for any woman who is more ample up top or who wants to accentuate her cleavage.
The opposite. A soft cup is a bra without wire that provides light support. These are best saved for the smaller and firmer busted.
A popular bra style with cups that are partially cut away to expose the top part of the breast. Demi cups offer less coverage than a full cup, but more than a balconet bra. Definitely sexy.
A full coverage bra covers most of the breast, offering more coverage and support than any other kind of bra. A perfect choice for fuller figures and more self-conscious ladies.
A fitted one-piece bodice, similar to a corset, that extends from bust to waist or hip. A bustier is worn for support and to sustain a given shape, thanks to flexible metal or plastic boning that runs throughout. Unlike a corset, bustiers are fastened with hook and eye closures.
A corset takes the bustier to the next level. They are tighter and stronger, with stiffer boning and a laced closure that gives the wearer an uber-flattering hourglass figure. Think classic pinup girl.
Essentially a smaller version of a corset. A waist cincher also features vertical boning and a lace-up or hook and eye closure, but it begins at the ribs and ends above the hips. The effect when tightened is just reduction of the waist at its naturally smallest point.
Cute, often lace, low-rise, hip-hugging panties. These guys offer more coverage than other panty types.
Thong vs G-String
The concept here is the same – the buttocks is left exposed – but the execution is slightly different. Both have a triangular front panel, but a thong has slightly more fabric in the back while a g-string has just what the name implies: a thin string.
What To Look For
When you're drowning in an endless sea of silk and lace and straps for who-knows-what, it's easy to consider swearing off women forever, just to avoid looking at lingerie again. Keep paddling. We won't let you go under. With a few key points kept in mind, that sea suddenly becomes a puddle.
#1 Complementary Colours
You may love the thought of your lady in a vampy shade of red, but will she? Step one is knowing what colours she already likes (easily accomplished by simply paying attention). Step two is understanding what colours are complementary for her hair and skin tone. A quick Google search should be able to provide the answers if you can't figure them out yourself. When it doubt, always fall back on black.
#2 Her Style
Again, this requires actually paying attention to what she wears. Is it flirty and classically girly? Cute and flowery? In-your-face sexy? Dark and kinky? Buying leather and PVC for someone who's always in lace and florals probably isn't your best bet. Take note of what she already tends to gravitate to and go from there.
Touch everything (just...ya know...don't do it in a creepy way that gets you thrown out of the store). If it doesn't feel nice in your hands, don't buy it. If it feels nice to the touch, it will feel nice on her body. Cotton is soft, but a tad too boring for a special occasion purchase. PVC and leather are fun, but significantly harder to fit. Lycra is unforgiving and therefore unsuitable for all but the most confident women. Lace, satin and silk are always safe choices.
Yes, that strappy 5-piece thing looks cool on the mannequin, but can you imagine putting it on? Or, perhaps more importantly, taking it off? If you can't figure out where all the pieces of the puzzle go, odds are she won't be able to either. Simplicity is often sexiest.
Know Your Brands
Ah, the paradox of choice. There are so many options available, which means it's easy to get overwhelmed and wind up choosing nothing. There's no shortage of lingerie brands designing underthings for all shapes, sizes and tastes, but these are a few of the big names you should be familiar with.
Sass & Bide
Sass & Bide's lingerie is sexy but won't send you into debt. Here you'll find a mix of staple pieces and seasonal trends, classic styles and daring departures. (Price: $80 - $140)
Founded in Italy in 1954, La Perla crafts beautiful, highly-detailed pieces of lingerie that will make a statement and make your credit card cry. La Perla is luxurious, sensual and timelessly feminine. (Price: $300 - $500)
L'Agent by Agent Provocateur
You know Agent Provocateur as the creators of bank account-busting lingerie and super sexy videos, but you may not know L'Agent, the less expensive lingerie collaboration from Penelope and Monica Cruz and AP. It's sexy, fun and in-your-face. (Price: $100 - $150)
A Points To Remember
They're stoked you're putting in effort and want to help you. Do not fear. You hold the power.
On that note, knowledge is power. Don't go in without her size.
Remember to keep these three things in mind: Comfort, colour and class.
What you want to see her in is very important. She wants you to be happy too. Think about her favourite colour, then pick the style you would like to see her in, throw in a whip and hand cuffs for good measure and you've got yourself a handsome dividend.
Overall, the truth is, when you present her the gift box, you can consider yourself listed.
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