Image: Fleur of England Amour
Buying lingerie for someone else is not an easy thing to do. Boys, you have our sympathy – and our everlasting gratitude if you get it right! Not only do you have contend with issues of size, but there’s also style to consider. How many of us are truly comfortable buying an item of clothing for someone else? Style is a very personal thing, and when it comes to lingerie it can be even more difficult to get right. So, here is our attempt to help all you lingerie-hunting men out there make the right purchase this Valentine’s Day with our lingerie buying guide.
So you’ve decided to buy your other half lingerie. Why?
Now, we’re not trying to discourage you – we love to receive lingerie – but we think it is important to understand why you’re buying it if you want to get it right. Is it because lingerie is a traditional Valentine’s gift? Is it because you would love to see your partner in racy lingerie? Or maybe it’s because she loves lingerie and you want to treat her to something she might not buy for herself?
If the answer is that she loves lingerie, then great, you’re onto a winner. However, if it’s because you love her in lingerie, then your search may already be off on the wrong foot because you’re thinking of your tastes and not hers. We’re not saying don’t buy sexy lingerie. We’re saying think about her personal style and what she likes and buy her something you think will make her feel sexy. That way you’ll buy her something she’ll love and wear again and again, not something that gets worn once and is then consigned to the back of the cupboard.
How do you do that?
Go through her lingerie drawer. Yes, really. You have our permission. Most girls will have bras that they wear every day, and then one or two that they reserve for special occasions or outfits. Look at the lingerie she buys for herself and make a note of colours, brands and style. Does she like lace? Does she like frills or does she prefer to keep it simple? Prints or plains? Conservative or a little naughty? Does she like knickers or thongs?
And while you’re there, don’t forget to check her size.
It’s amazing how many men fall at this hurdle. If we had a pound for the number of times we’ve heard a flustered man in a lingerie department say to a shop assistant, ‘she’s about your size’, well, let’s just say we wouldn’t have such long wish lists!
Lingerie sizing is different to clothing size. Look in a few of her bras and you’ll find a size that looks something like 30C or 34E. There will always be a number – the back size – followed by a letter – the cup size. Sometimes there will be two letters, for example DD or FF. You need both the back size and the cup size. Don’t be surprised if the sizes differ in some of her bras, as the fit can change slightly between brands and styles. You’re better off going with the size you see most frequently, or, if you decide to buy her something from her favourite brand, the size in that brand’s bras.
Finally, make sure you check the size of the knickers or thongs she wears. These will be either standard dresses sizes (8, 10, 12, etc) or small, medium, large, etc. Getting the bra size wrong is forgivable, but the knicker size? A miscalculation either way is not going to be well received.
So, what’s your budget?
Now you know her size, her style preferences, and the brands she likes you need to decide how much you are going to spend. Your budget will depend on your personal circumstances and you don’t have to spend a fortune, but our advice is always buy the best you can afford, whether that’s £30, £60 or £100. Remember, you’re buying her something that is, basically, a wardrobe essential, so to make it special you need to push the boat out a little bit. Plus, cheap lingerie can look like cheap lingerie, and that probably won’t elicit the reaction you’re hoping for.
Once you’ve decided on your budget, you can start shopping.
The safe option is to buy her something from a favourite brand. You know it will fit and that she’ll like it. Most brands offer a basic, everyday range of lingerie and seasonal fashion ranges. If you go down the favourite brand route, choose something from their fashion collection. After all, you are treating her.
Alternatively, you might want to treat her to something glamorous and luxurious that she would never buy for herself. Many women lust after beautiful lingerie, but when it comes down to it they buy the basics because that’s what they wear the most. If you have a lingerie boutique or department store near you, pop in and have a look around. Ask for assistance so you’re not overwhelmed by choice. It might be your first time, but staff in lingerie shops are used to men buying lingerie as gifts and will be able to help, and especially in little boutiques are exceptionally knowledgeable. If your partner shops at one regularly, they are likely to have her size and style preferences on file.
If you really can’t bear the thought of going into a shop, there are plenty of places to explore online. Figleaves is always a good bet and covers many popular brands as well as some luxury labels and offers a rather racier range in its Erotique section if that’s what you’re after. Plus, they have a handy gift finder to make life easier.
There are simply hundreds of places to buy lingerie so if you don’t know where to start you could try some of our favourite online boutiques or simply ask Google. If you’re after a specific brand, start your search there and you’ll be amazed by how quickly you find places to shop. Just remember, if you’re shopping online, don’t leave it until the last minute as your purchase will take time to reach you. If you live with your partner, you might also want to arrange for parcels to be delivered to your work so she doesn’t twig. And if you get really stuck, there’s always gift vouchers.
And finally, always ask for a gift receipt. That way anything that’s not quite right can be quietly exchanged and everyone is happy.
Guys and girls, if you have any top tips for buying lingerie as a gift, please let us know in the comments.