- Gender and Relationships»
The Man's Guide to Buying Gifts of Underwear for Girls
Here are some useful tips to help you guys select something soft and sensual for the love of your life. The first rule of lingerie buying is to understand the female perspective on Lingerie.
Women’s Attitudes to Underwear are Different to Those of Men
Do you spend hours wandering through department stores and shopping malls with your mates searching for underwear or a nice winter coat?
Of course not. But women do. Similarly would you and your mates meet one evening at someone’s house and share a few cans and some nibbles whilst trying on y-fronts or boxer shorts and giggling a lot? I think not.
Put it this way, if one of your male friends invited you to such a gathering, you would probably make you excuses, leave early and on the way home erase this particular group of guys from Face book. My point? Men and women are wired up differently when it comes to underwear!
Understanding the Lingerie Concept
Historically ladies underwear was practical and plain. It existed to keep the wearer warm in winter, control their shape and provide a level of decency.
In the 20th century this purely functional role gradually evolved and by the turn of the Millennium the concept of Lingerie was well and truly established.
This resulted in vast numbers of stores and websites dedicated to delicate, delicious garments made of silk, lace, cotton and polyester.
It is important to distinguish between everyday practical underwear and lingerie. Lingerie is primarily about look, style and making women feel good about themselves.
Not only does lingerie need to look lovely on the peg or in the pack but it must make the wearer look and feel fabulous too. It is important to understand that girls don’t generally grab serious lingerie while doing the daily shop at Tescos or Walmart.
What they will do in the supermarket is grab a plain white bra engineered to steer and support their assets, be they great or small, through the busy, working day.
Finding Serious Lingerie
So where do you get the real McCoy? Fortunately the days of sneaking into the lingerie shop on the high street and being embarrassed when the attractive young assistant asked if she could help you, are a thing of the past. The Internet has changed all that.
The best place to look for lingerie is online. You can either try the big women’s clothing sites such as Macys or Gap or, in the UK, M&S or Next. Note that many clothes sites are now global and you can select the country (and currency) in which you want to buy on the site.
There are also plenty of dedicated lingerie websites such as Victoria’s Secret or, in the UK, at the lower end of the market, Love Honey or Anne Summers.
Amazon also have a reasonable range of Lingerie and, for a real bargain, you can trying bidding for Lingerie on Ebay.
But if you want to keep the love of your life then don't you dare bid for second hand underwear!
Many lingerie sites include short videos of each item so you can see how they look on a moving model and hopefully imagine how they would look on the object of your desire!
Note: Do keep it firmly in mind that you are buying the garment not the girl wearing it in the video!
Mother In Law Test
The 'Mother in law Test' can be useful for a first time lingerie purchase. Ask yourself if your wife/girlfriend would want her Mum to see her dressed in your gift. Note that this probably rules out the PVC playsuit or the leather teddy that you might have had in mind!
What Sort of Lingerie Should You Choose?
The Nightdress or Nightie
If you want to play safe then start with a Nightdress. Also known as a Nightie for short. A nightdress can be raunchy or demure depending on taste.
If it is your first time buying lingerie for you girlfriend/wife then you could chose something relatively long but perhaps with a discrete slit from the hem to thigh to make it more interesting and attractive.
Silk looks and feels great, particularly if it is figure hugging. Do find out her size. Nighties either go on dress size 18-30 or small, medium , large, xtra large etc. Some sites specialise in plus sizes for more shapely girls.
Note that the most cost-effective lingerie is typically made of artificial fibre such as polyester but natural fibres such as silk, cotton are more comfortable but also more expensive. Lingerie is often decorated with lace, ribbon or embroidery.
The baby doll is a type of nightdress that originated in the 1950s and was originally knee length. Today’s versions are typically thigh length or shorter. The baby doll has a high waistline and flairs out from under the bust. Some styles are open at the front typically secured with a bow and can be quite revealing.
I leave it for you to decide if this style of nightie would go down well with the love of your life. If in doubt go for more rather than less material. With Lingerie more is often better and more alluring. Avoid garments that look more like a string bag and leave nothing to the imagination!
The Teddy, also known, as a body, is a garment that covers most of the torso and usually fastens, typically with a press stud below.
It offers limited support and doesn’t shape the body in the same way as a corset.
Teddys can be very flattering, typically made of silk and trimmed with lace and are a good compromise between the total accessibility of the baby doll and the tightness and control of a corset.
The teddy like the baby doll is very easy to put on and, from the male point of view, just as easy to remove.
Both the teddy and baby doll are also comfortable to sleep in, unlike the corset.
This typically consists of a bra and matching panties or knickers. It may also include a suspender belt and stockings.
If you want to be really unusual then it is possible to get or make a knitted bra and knickers. I suspect they would be incredibly itchy but wool might certainly add some spice to any romantic encounter!
At this point it is worth noting that there are two types of bra:
- The serious bra
- The fun or play bra
Serious bras are measured in terms of a number (similar to dress size) and a letter that relates to the cup size. Make sure you know her measurement before ordering a serious bra.
Incidentally, did you know that the contents of a pair of D cups weigh as much as 20 pounds? This is equivalent to carrying a couple of small turkeys around. No wonder some women complain of back pain when running!
A well designed bra is a work of advanced engineering. It is sturdy, sensible yet comfortable. The bra isn't just designed for static support and the clever engineering kicks in when a girl starts moving around.
Those weighty puppies will fly off in one direction while she is moving somewhere else.
They have a momentum all of their own and the bra needs to keep them in check just as a seat belt keeps your body in check if you're in a rally car. Different activities, for example types of sport, will present different engineering challenges for the bra designer.
Enough of serious bras. The fun or play bra takes us neatly back to Lingerie. Some lingerie bras are pretty but also built to fulfil the role of a serious bra.
The fun or play bra is like a high performance sports car and is not designed to handle and support her puppies on the subway or in the office but for romantic evenings in or a special date.
Play bras may be short on support but are designed to look fabulous. Down at the fun end of the spectrum you may find bra sizes, like cups of coffee, go from small, medium, large, extra large.
Suspender belt (garter belt) and stockings
Men have always been fascinated by stockings and in particular by suspender (garter) belts and stocking tops. Until the 1960s, all women wore them but men seldom saw anything above the knee.
In the ‘swinging’ sixties hemlines rocketed and the introduction of tights became essential. Stockings and suspenders therefore became lingerie rather than normal day wear.
I love stockings and suspenders I know many other men do. If the whole suspender belt thing is too much for your woman then you can always try her with holdup stockings that are self supporting.
Some women really get a kick out of putting on a suspender belt and fastening up the stockings. The key thing is to make sure she enjoys it. Remember lingerie is all about making her happy and not feeding your own fantasies and desires!
Corset with Suspenders
The other way of supporting stockings is via a corset. The modern lingerie corset is pretty, saucy and enhances those natural, generous curves. Add stockings and the mixture is explosive!
Serious corsets, designed primarily to enhance the figure, are quite pricey; particularly when made to measure. They are typically reinforced with steel bones to 'cinch' or shape the body.
If you are looking at something that is more fun and intended for entertainment only then you can get lots of budget styles, typically reinforced with plastic bones. Just don't expect them to maintain her shape for months on end!
Corsets typically fast with hooks and eyes at either the front or rear and are tightened via laces (in a similar way to shoes).
The classic corset supports the bust as well as drawing in the waist. Alternative styles may not cover the 'upper bit'. For example, the Waspi is like an extended suspender belt that cinches the waist and supports stockings.
A decent corset can also be worn as a top with a skirt or trousers. Putting corset on or taking them off can be great fun and your partner may appreciate some help!
Here is hoping that you’ve found this advice useful.
Remember that women view lingerie very differently to the way men think of underwear. Lingerie is a feel good product and more about self-esteem than plain comfort and practicability.
Also your gift is for your wife/girlfriend and is intended to give her joy and delight. Beware of just choosing something you would like to see her wearing for your own personal pleasure. If in doubt, apply the Mother in Law Test!
That’s all really, except to urge you to get Online and start searching for that perfect lingerie gift. Something magnificent and beautiful that will make her look fabulous and cause you both to fall in love all over again!