Useful Tips

A Guide to Buying Lingerie for Your Girl

All guys want to see their girl in lingerie, and the best way to do that is to buy the delicate pieces for her yourself. Mind you, it’s not the cheapest gift to give: those skimpy bras and barely-there panties are pricey, and lace is more expensive than you think. However, your sexy gift will reap many rewards. Trust, she knows how much these things cost and she’ll love you for it.

We asked lingerie expert Alexis Isadora, owner of Brooklyn Fox in Williamsburg, Brooklyn our questions on everything lingerie. Want to have the best time in bed with a lady friend? Learn everything you need to know in A Guide to Buying Lingerie for Your Girl.

What occasions are appropriate for buying lingerie?

“I think if you’re not in a romantic relationship, then birthdays, anniversaries—especially anniversaries—and definitely Valentine’s Day. You should not walk in the door on Valentine’s Day without a piece of lingerie. That’s grounds for dismissal. Christmas has also been a big holiday for us where we sell to men, but it’s toned down because it’s more of a family holiday, so it’s usually something more practical and luxurious. Like that $500 gown or robe that she wanted that she’d never spend on herself is the Christmas gift.”

How does he figure out what size she wears?

“He really needs to do recon. That’s really important. Send her to the spa. Or when she’s out running errands or in the shower, go through her underwear drawer. My recommendation has always been to find three different bras. Check three different bras and three different panties because sizes are so different from brand to brand, and if you get three, we can kind of average it out and get an idea of what her true size is.”

Why is lingerie so expensive?

“A well-constructed underwire bra is like constructing a bridge. The shape and contours of a woman are so specific that in order to get a well fitting bra, it needs to be constructed with the utmost quality. The best ones are from French brands and they still are made in France. These French houses still use the same sizing system they used a hundred years ago. As a side note, the lingerie industry hasn’t really grown the way the ready-to-wear industry has, and there aren’t that many factories that can make a well fitting bra. The other thing is that lace is very expensive to make and lace isn’t something that has been successfully outsourced to third world countries the way T-shirts have. The mills that make nice lace are still in Europe, which makes everything pricier.”

How much should a guy expect to spend?

“At least $100 would be safe for a set—a top and a bottom. Certainly you can do it for a little less and the sky’s the limit if you want to do it for more. There are cute ways to get creative if your budget’s not there; for example buy a set of three. Sometimes men will buy three thongs which can keep the budget under $50. The thing is, if you’re going to spend less than $100 for a top and a bottom, it’s probably not going to be the sexiest thing. It will be a more utilitarian style and that’s not going to make anyone happy.”

How risque should you get? How can a guy gauge what would offend the girl?

“It really depends on the occasion. For example for Valentine’s Day or for an anniversary, you really can get more risque, but for a birthday or Christmas, be more conservative. But there are ways of getting your way—having your cake and eating it too. For example, if you really want to get scandalous and do the whole crotchless number, then just bump up the price point so that at least you’re getting a quality piece that’s really for her too and doesn’t just feel like it’s something from Times Square. That way, she feels, ‘Oh, he bought me something that’s silk and lace,’ versus polyester or spandex. It’s really all in the delivery. There also has to be communication between partners. If you don’t know your partner well enough, then that’s a different issue.”

What color should you buy? Is white only for bridal, and should a guy stick to black?

“There are no rules. Stick to that because once you get into these rules, it’s no fun anymore. However, keep white to bridal unless you definitely know your girlfriend just loves white lingerie, because that could give her the wrong impression. It may make her think you are ready for more of a commitment than you may be willing to give. It’s not that it’s inappropriate, it just may send a mixed message.”

What type of lingerie says, “F**** me” and what type of lingerie says “I’m sorry?”

“If you’re apologizing, then you’re getting her something that is truly only for her. Something that she’s been coveting for a while but would never dare spend her money on. And for the F me one, go balls out and get the scandalous piece for sure. Crotchless, no fabric, you name it—it’s meant to be worn. The F me ones are the ones that men look at and say, ‘I don’t understand the point of this.’ Our response is that there is no point to this except to take it off.”

What if you don’t know how to take it off, but you don’t want to ruin the mood?

“Well if you just dropped a few hundred dollars, you definitely don’t want to rip it and she won’t want you to rip it either. As sexy as that is in the movies, tell her that you want to watch her undress herself.”

Well, is it okay to rip it if you bought it?

“Technically it is… If you’re willing to re-buy it, sure. Go for it, it’s yours, you paid for it.”

What do you do if she buys lingerie that you don’t think is hot?

“First of all, don’t ruin the mood. Don’t ruin the moment when she presents it. The next week, take her to the lingerie shop with you and a pick out something together. Have fun with it and go into the dressing room together.”

What’s the etiquette and expectation on the second, third, or fourth time she wears a set for you?

“There should be a rotation, but if a woman keeps wearing something that you’re sick of, a good rule of thumb is to take any sort of constructive criticism and sandwich it with two compliments. Bringing back the last question, if he doesn’t like the lingerie she’s picking out because it covers too much, maybe say to her, ‘I really love your curves, I wish I could see them more. Let’s go out and get something where I can see more of your waistline.’ You don’t want to discourage her from buying and wearing lingerie for you, so instead of outright saying, ‘I’m sick of this,’ you may want to say ‘I love these nights you think of me enough to wear something sexy and crazy, I think it’s time we invest in a few more pieces.’ “

What if your girl feels insecure about wearing skimpier lingerie? What’s the best way to make her feel comfortable?

“A lot of times, women have a particular part of the body that they are insecure about and it will take coaxing and mindfulness from you in order to get over that. Compliment, compliment, and compliment. She’s going to feel more of a vixen when she feels the most comfortable, so keep encouraging her to realize how much you like that one part of her body. It’s more important for the woman to feel sexy in the bedroom than the man to get exactly what he wants visually because if she feels hot, then there’ll be a higher temperature in the room that night which is ultimately the goal.”

What’s the most common question men ask you when they come into the store?

“Men are usually deer in headlights when they come into the store and they don’t know anything about sizing. Sizing is so important because we often end up not being able to get what they want because we don’t know her size. The three main things: the size overwhelms them, the styles overwhelm them, and then they don’t want to offend. But trust the sales girls because that’s what we do eight hours a day. Everyday we help people with lingerie so if you could bring in like a picture, not naked, of how she dresses, we can get kind of get a taste of her style. If they’re willing to open up to us and tell us about her personality, than usually we can have a pretty good gauge of what they like.”

Should male customers feel embarrassed?

“Don’t be embarrassed because we’ve heard everything. If your intentions are not to offend us, but really to get a good gift for your girlfriend, we’ll see them. All we want to do is help you do that, and we’re good at it. We’re good at figuring out based on what core group of questions we ask a man what his girlfriend would probably be into.”

Are there specific brands that guys should keep in mind?

“There are so many good brands so I don’t want to narrow it down because it could be limiting, but when in doubt, go French. It’s a good rule of thumb. And the British! The British seem very stereotypically uptight to us Americans, but in the bedroom they are out of control. They have no rules so they make some really fun things. And go French if you want something that’s going to fit perfectly and be that beautiful gem of a piece that she’s going to always want to wear.”