Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

The ultimate ‘guy’s guide’ to buying lingerie

With some tips, you´ll be a lingerie-buying pro!
With some tips, you'll be a lingerie-buying pro!

I love lingerie. Absolutely love it. But truth be told, it’s not something I typically purchase for myself or splurge on often. My husband loves lingerie, too (no surprise there!) but buying me the just-right thing, well, let’s just say there have been some misfires. It’s the ultimate “underthing conundrum.” Lingerie makes for a thoughtful gift for special occasions like Valentine’s Day, but how do guys buy something of such a delicate matter?

Enter M By Naja—an undergarment gifting service for men. Yes, it’s a lingerie concierge (how brilliant!). Catalina Girald founded Naja, the company that offers the service, with a clear vision: to empower women through lingerie and create a culture where women help each other. The collection is designed for smart, courageous, and sexy women and I think it’s rather amazing. So, just in time for Valentine’s Day, I scored some fantastic lingerie buying tips from Girald. Hey gentlemen: Print this out, put it in your wallet, and thank me later. Girald really knows her stuff so you might want to take her expert advice below.

Get it straight: Let’s start by clearing up a misunderstanding that will make it easier to buy lingerie. Many people think the word “lingerie” means revealing underthings. No, no, no. Lingerie, according to the people who invented the word (the French), means sous-vêtements—a pretty little word for plain ol’ underwear. So once we understand that your partner considers lingerie to be anything from a pair of cotton Hanes to a stringy little thing, the process of shopping becomes much easier.

Set the scene: You have an idea of what you like for lingerie. So does she. Those two ideas are probably very different. But don’t directly ask her what she wants. The whole point of giving lingerie is putting thought into choosing the pieces and surprising her with the gift.

Snag her size on the sly: Go through her underwear drawer and check the tags! Or better yet, pick up her lingerie off the floor when she’s in the shower, check the tags, and then set it nicely (not in a ball) on the bed or a chair. You’ll not only get her size, but you’ll seem thoughtful for picking it up and setting it nicely somewhere.

Consider the cut: When buying panties, pay attention to cut. Does she wear thongs or briefs? Some women prefer briefs to thongs and some women only wear thongs. So if you haven’t seen her in a thong, don’t buy her a thong. When buying lace, try to stick to nylon and nylon-elastane blends instead of polyester. Polyester is scratchy, although it has longer wear. When buying cotton, try to buy Peruvian Pima cotton, like Naja’s hand-harvested Peruvian Pima cotton. It is so much softer than regular cotton and she’ll note the difference.

Think bra-velous: When buying a bra, does your partner like underwire or no wire? Does she wear unlined bras, push-ups, or lightly padded bras? If you don’t have access to her underwear drawer, then use the fruit comparison test to estimate the correct size and volume.
Tangerines – A cup (or smaller). You’re safe with no underwire and can safely go with push-up bras.
Apples – Probably a B cup. If they are perky, then you are safe with no underwire and can safely choose push-ups bras.
Oranges or grapefruits – Try a C cup. Definitely stick to underwire.
Small watermelons – Probably a D or DD. As a general rule, the larger the fruit, the less padding and the more underwire support she’ll need.

Reconsider red: Stores like to market red and pink for Valentine’s Day, but the reality is, red and bright pink are hard to wear under most colors of clothes. Your partner will appreciate a color palette that is similar to what she already wears. Pay attention—is it colorful or does she stick to neutrals? If she wears color, then go for it! If not, then buy her neutrals but try to give her something with a little more flair—maybe it has print on the inside or maybe you choose a interesting cut—like a high-waisted top.

Spend wisely: The good news is that you don’t need to spend a fortune to buy good-quality lingerie. While you’re unlikely to find a high quality bra for under $45 or great panties for under $12, many brands do mark up their stuff by a ton. So unless your picks have a lot of delicate embroidery or French lace made in traditional looms you don’t need to spend an excessive amount of money.

Keep it classy: Don’t buy crotchless underwear, anything that’s described with the words “spank” or “peek-a-boo” or that involves stickers, or anything one might see in a strip show. If you want her to wear it often, choose materials that are soft and comfortable. Pay attention to what she wears now. Some women don’t like lace so if you haven’t seen her wear it, stay away.

Buyer beware: eBay is not your friend here. Neither is Amazon. Offline, try a specialty lingerie boutique where the sales person can help you out. If you are trying to impress her, stay away from the mainstream brands like Victoria’s Secret and branch out to something she’s never heard of. Wherever you go, lingerie is one of those gifts that requires delicate gift wrapping. Don’t forget the card.

Janene Mascarella
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