The Smart Man’s Guide to Buying Lingerie in 4 Easy Steps


woman in black lingerie and thigh high stockings laying on her back on a bed

Lingerie is a classic gift for a reason. It’s beautiful and intimate, something a woman may not indulge in for herself. If high-quality silk, it will give years of joy to both the giver and receiver. So how do you handle the delicate matter of buying delicates?

Where men – or anyone buying an intimate gift for another person – tend to stumble is thinking too hard about what the giver likes, rather than what the recipient likes. That can turn a sweet gesture into a complicated minefield. It doesn’t have to be that way, and with a little effort and consideration you can find something silky that she will love and feel spectacular in.

First, let’s look at the term itself. Lingerie is a lot simpler than it looks. It’s a fancy expression for what is essentially sous-vetements in French. That means, at its most basic, underwear. Whether your lady loves her silk lingerie in something simple and sporty or yearns for the exotic – or both! – that’s all it is: underwear.

That said, here are four simple steps to ensure you get something truly special for that special someone.

Step 1: Know Her!

Approach lingerie like any other gift: It is all about what she wants, likes, and feels comfortable and confident in. Ask yourself, what does your lady enjoy? What makes her feel good? What’s her style? And, also important, what’s her fantasy?

While one place to start is by looking in her closet, you don’t have to pilfer through her drawers, so to speak – instead, do a little due diligence by observing what she wears frequently. What does she gravitate towards in terms of style, color, and fit? Even better, do her laundry and/or go shopping with her. You’ll score major points and really learn what she enjoys and wears, as well as get a sense of her size and preferences.

Look at the type of lingerie (underwear! Keep reminding yourself, that’s all it is) she already owns and wears a lot. What are the common threads? (Pun intended.) Does she tend towards athletic or frilly? What colors does she usually wear? Note any brands she consistently wears, as well as the overall styles. Also listen to what she admires on others, or on TV, or the internet. She may wear plain underwear every day, but secretly – or not so secretly – long for some really sumptuous, gorgeous, and luxurious silk.

And, again, keep foremost in mind: This is a gift for her, not for you. Invest some time in getting to know what she truly likes, in lingerie, and, quite frankly, everything else. It’s the best thing you can do for your relationship, better than even the most fabulous gifts.

Step 2. Find Out Her Size

Sizing for women’s clothing is complicated. Even for a basic dress, women’s sizes differ from brand to brand, country to country, and sometimes seem completely random. It can be even more complicated for underwear. You need to know what size(s) she wears, and what those sizes mean in order to get something that fits, at least in terms of bras and panties. Don’t assume you can guess based on her overall figure, or dress size, or ridiculous fruit comparisons – do the research and get it right instead.

Bra sizing has two components, and you need to know both. The number is the measurement of the rib cage under the bust. The letter refers to the volume of the bust in relation to the band. It’s expressed in a relationship like this: 36C or 32B or 40DD.

Getting both these components right is a challenge for women as well, so do your homework! Check out at least 3 different bras in her collection and write down or take a photograph of all three sizes. Try to look at a recent purchase, as well as an old favorite or something she wears frequently. Those will give you a great starting place.

Panty sizes can come in S, M, L, XL etc., or can also be represented by numbers, ranging from 5-11. Again, check at least three different panties as sizes vary from brand to brand, and record each one. Never assume that she will wear a similar size panty to bra or vice versa – every woman is different!

And, while you’re at it, note down what types of bra and panty she prefers – look at the glossary at the end for help if you need it! Do your research on the color, cut, and material she prefers. It will make picking the perfect gift much easier. Silk always feel as good as it looks!

However, don’t worry too much. If you’re not at the stage in your relationship where you have access to her sizes, or if you’re unsure on her exact size, that’s okay. There are still plenty of gorgeous options. Negligees, nightgowns, robes, elegant pajamas, and camisoles all make luxurious gifts, and most come in flowing styles that can make it easier to approximate sizing.

Step 3. Buy Quality

Unless you absolutely know that she longs for tassels or pleather, steer clear of novelty items and invest in quality silk instead. There is room in nearly every lingerie wardrobe for sophisticated, timeless luxury. As with any gift, the recipient will take what you pick as a clue to how you see her – show her how precious and beautiful she is to you.

This is especially true when it comes to fabrics. Silly can be fun, but itchy never is. Look for something beautiful that also feels beautiful. The key is to buy her something she might never splurge on herself. It’s a great way to show her how much she means to you. If you’re shopping in person, make sure to touch everything, both inside and out, to make sure it feels as gorgeous as it looks. Remember, whether buying from a store or buying online, you can’t go wrong with silk! Remember, silk will always feel as good as it looks, and convey both elegance and comfort.

Step 4. Keep the Receipt

Even if you’re absolutely sure it’s perfect, get a gift receipt. Check into the brand’s return policy as well, as sometimes these can be different for intimate items.

And put some effort into your presentation! This is a special gift for someone special. Make the gift experience into something special as well. Have it elegantly wrapped, with a gorgeous bow, and a hand-written card.

Finally, keep in mind that the most important thing is how you treat the lady in your relationship, whether in or out of the bedroom. If she feels confident, cherished, and gorgeous, the perfect silken gift is simply icing on the cake.

A Glossary of Essential Lingerie Terms

Babydoll: A short swingy nightgown often paired with matching panties.

Balconette or Balcony Bra: A low-cut bra with a straight line across the bust.

Boning: Plastic or metal that adds shape and structure to a piece, such as a bra, corset, or bustier.

Boy Shorts: Full coverage, low-rise panties, similar to shortened boxers.

Bustier: A fitted one-piece similar to a corset, covering from bust to waist. Usually has significant boning and hook and eye closures.

Camisole: A sleeveless or spaghetti strap top similar to a tank top.

Chemise: Longer than a babydoll, this type of nightgown usually is fitted at the top with a loose A-line bottom.

Corset: Like a bustier, but usually longer, more structured, and may include lacing in addition to or instead of hook and eye closures. May come with attachments for garters and stockings or not.

Demi-Cup Bra: Similar to a balcony bra but with slightly more coverage.

French panties: High-waisted, usually with less than full coverage.

Full-Cup Bras: Covers most of the bust, offering more support.

Full-brief panties: Fully covers the seat, may or may not have a high waist.

G-String: Not the same as a thong, a g-string connects the gusset of the panty to the waist with only a string.

Hipster panties: Sit low on the hips, and frequently have slightly less than full coverage in the back.

Plunge Bra: A bra with a deep “V” shaped neckline.

Push-Up Bra: A bra that usually combines both underwire and padding for maximizing cleavage.

Slip: Like a chemise, but more fitted. Excellent as nightwear, or for wearing under a dress.

Soft-Cup Bra: A bra without wire that provides both comfort and support.

T-Shirt Bra: A seamless bra made from smooth material less likely to show through thin fabric.

Teddy: Like a one-piece swimsuit, frequently with a snap-crotch closure. It may come with or without boning and be full coverage or more revealing.

Thong: Like a g-string, but with a thicker strap attaching the gusset to the waist. Often used to prevent panty lines under tight clothing.

Underwire: Wire that runs under the bust in a bra, providing support and shaping. Usually made of plastic or metal and is an example of boning.


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