When it comes to gifting lingerie, navigating the world of women’s intimates can be a real challenge for the average guy. We know why we want to buy it. But there’s so many styles to choose from. So many details to consider. And so many ways to screw it up. To help us make the process easier, we spoke with Meg Miller, the owner and head designer of Nette Rose, to help us write this Men’s Guide to Buying Lingerie.
Meg specializes in creating beautiful and sexy lingerie for women of all shapes and sizes. Based in Cape Town, South Africa, her company has quickly grown from a small operation in its home country into brand that’s carried by luxury stores across Europe and serves customers worldwide. Nette Rose now offers a broad range of designs, from playful floral prints to more risqué bondage inspired pieces, each one handmade in the company’s own production center in Cape Town. And they’re all presented with a down-to-earth attitude that celebrates the female body and spirit while never taking itself too seriously.
In other words, Meg was exactly the expert we needed to help us in our quest to find lingerie our partners will love to wear and we’ll love to see them wearing! Let’s get started!
Know your lingerie styles …
Before we start talking strategy, let’s get some terminology out of the way. Knowing the names of the pieces you’re looking for is half the battle.
Types of Tops
- The Camisole: These tops provide more coverage for the breasts and upper stomach. They tend to be loose fitting through the bottom and can have different levels of support for the breasts depending on the design.
- The Soft Cup Bra: This style provides more coverage for the breasts and chest. They can also have different levels of support for the breasts depending on the design.
- The Cup Bra: The more structured design of cup bras tends to offer the most breast support. One thing to ask is if the bra is an underwire or wireless. An underwire bra will have a piece of wire that runs along the bottom of the cup. This provides even more support and lift (which can help women with larger breasts). However, some women prefer wireless bras for both comfort and health reasons. The strapless bras over on Rank & Style may be more suited to those women after more comfortable underwear.
- The Bralette: Bralettes tend to be the most revealing and least supportive design. Most women with average to large size breasts probably won’t feel comfortable with a bralette for everyday use due to the lack of support. But as “special” lingerie, they can be a very sexy design as long as your partner feels comfortable with what they show off.
A quick note of sizing
Bras normally have two sizes: the cup size and a chest or band size. The cup size measures the actual breasts and is normally represented by a letter or combination of letters. For example, AA would be a small cup size, while D would be a large cup size. The chest or band size measures the circumference of the woman’s torso just under the breasts and around the back. It’s normally represented in inches or centimeters. So when you’re buying a bra, you’ll normally see sizes such as “32A” or “34C”. Apologies to all you guys who already knew this, but I wanted to make sure we’re covering all the bases!
Types of Bottoms
- Classic Briefs or Knickers: This design offers the most coverage for the lower stomach, hips and backside. They may not reveal much, but in certain fabrics, they can also be very sexy.
- French Cut Briefs or Knickers: Similar to the classic briefs, French cuts offer great overall coverage around the hips. However, the straight bottom extends around the back, revealing more of the behind. French cut briefs can also come in different rises, from a low cut that shows more of the stomach and hips to a higher rise that covers the navel.
- High Leg Briefs or Knickers: This style provides coverage at the front, but reveals more of the hips and backside. It’s a very popular style since the design helps women’s legs look longer.
- Bikini Briefs: Another popular style for every day use since they work well with lower rise jeans and trousers. The design reveals more at the front and hip area. But the additional fabric at the back hides more of her behind. This is good style to go with if you want to add a garter and stockings to the set.
- Decorated Thong: A very sexy style that still provides a little coverage. The main design is a g-string or thong that reveals almost all of the hips and backside. But the addition of the frill helps soften the look and conceal those areas to varying degrees, depending on it’s length.
- Thong or G-String: It should be obvious what this style does and doesn’t cover ….
A quick note of sizing
Lingerie bottoms usually come in sizes such as small, medium, large, etc. But you’ll sometimes see designers use numerical sizing (2, 4, 6). Best thing to do is check the size chart on the company’s website to make sure the actual measurements for a particular size are what you need.
Your Lingerie Buying Strategy
So we’ve covered the different styles of lingerie tops and bottoms. Now you have a decision to make:
Are you buying the lingerie for her? Or for both of you?
Lingerie for Her
The lingerie you buy for her and only her should be beautiful put also practical. These are pieces she uses everyday, bras and bottoms she can wear under her clothes. They can be sexy. But it’s far more important that your selections make her feel comfortable and confident. The exact design of those pieces will vary from woman to woman. And we’ll discuss more strategies to help you determine what she’ll like below.
Lingerie for Both of You
I don’t need to clarify this, do I? You know I’m not talking about lingerie you’re both going to wear, right? Although, if that is your thing, go for it. We don’t judge. But the advice we’re about to share may not be much help.
What we’re talking about is lingerie that’s going to make you and your partner happy when she’s wearing it ….
When it comes to this choosing this type of lingerie, your opinions (and desires) matter. But always remember: you’re buying lingerie for the woman she is, NOT the woman you want her to be. If the only thought you’ve put into this is about what you want to see her wearing, things ain’t going to work out so great.
The good news is that with a little research and a little planning you can select pieces that both of you will enjoy. Our goal is to find those lingerie designs that you find incredibly sexy and she feels incredibly sexy wearing. And that brings us to the next step.
Doing the Research
This step has two main questions. First, what parts of her body is your partner most proud of and what areas makes her feel self-conscious? Second, what is her comfort level when it comes to revealing her body? Learning the answers to these questions will take you a long way towards choosing the lingerie designs she’ll actually want to wear.
What is she proud of?
Everybody, women and men, have areas of their bodies they’re self-conscious about and areas they’re proud of. The key to successfully buying lingerie is determining what areas your partner wants to show off and what she wants to cover up. There are two ways to do this:
- Check what styles of bras and bottoms she currently owns: Chances are she’s chosen styles that she likes and feels flatter her body. So do a bit of research when she’s not around. What are the most common styles she owns? Are her bras underwire or wireless? What colors does she have? This is also the perfect time to check the sizes she wears. Once you’ve established some similar features between the pieces she already has, the easiest strategy would be to buy sexier or more glamorous lingerie in a similar style.
- Watch and listen: It’s amazing what we can learn when open our eyes and ears. Pay attention to the comments she makes. Is there a particular body part she complains about? Has she been going to the gym and is proud of the progress she’s made in a particular area? What about her jeans, dresses and shirts? Are they a tighter fit? Or a looser cut? Does she like a lower neckline? Or is it more buttoned up? Everything can be a clue to tell you what she likes most about her body. And that will help guide you when it comes time to choose a lingerie style.
What is her comfort level?
Confidence is sexy. And no one feels confident when they feel uncomfortable or exposed. If you truly want to buy lingerie your partner is going to feel great wearing, you need to understand where her boundaries lie. And if you’ve done your research, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what styles will fall in her comfort zone and what’s crossing the line.
When it comes to lingerie design, there are three main factors to consider.
Cut: This determines how much actual skin is being revealed. For example, a thong cut is going to leave little to the imagination. A French cut brief, with its higher rise and lower, straighter leg line, does a good job of covering the lower stomach and hips but still looks sexy from behind.
Transparency: This is another way to reveal and cover up areas of the body. Designers can use combinations of sheer and opaque fabrics to create various effects with different cuts. These combinations can make sexier designs a little more modest or turn a more conservative style into something very revealing.
Color and pattern: The fabric color can totally change the feel of the lingerie. A revealing style in black can certainly be very sexy. But the same style in pale blue or pink can have a much softer or even sporty appearance. That’s also true of patterns. A floral pattern tends to be more playful, whereas tonal lace inserts can look more sophisticated.
Patterns can also help cover up certain areas while still looking sexy. For example, some women are very happy with the shape and size of their breasts, but may feel self-conscious about their nipples. A bra like the one below works to highlight the areas she likes and cover up the areas she doesn’t want to reveal.
Choosing the Right Lingerie
Now that you know a little more about the designs and you’ve done your research to determine what style will make your significant other happy, it’s time to choose the lingerie.
To start, you should always try and buy the lingerie pieces as separates. There’s a couple of reasons for this. First, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that every woman’s body is different. Going with separates allows you to choose a bra and a bottom in the designs and sizes that will best fit your partner. Second, working with separates gives you a chance to combine tops and bottoms to create a lingerie set that matches her personal style and comfort level. Let’s look at some examples.
Modest design with sexy fabrics
This is one way to introduce sexier lingerie into your partner’s closet. If you know she’s self-conscious about revealing too much of her body, going with styles that provide greater coverage can help her feel more comfortable. In these examples, the designs are more conservative. But the strategic use of sheer fabrics, the solid colors and the sophisticated lace patterns elevate these pieces to something more than just everyday bras and panties.
Sexy design with modest fabrics
Maybe your partner is happy and comfortable with her body, but feels less confident about being openly sexual. Choosing pieces with revealing cuts in softer colors and patterns helps create a balance between “sexy” and “playful”. In the example above, the style of the bra and thong bottoms don’t do much to cover her body. But the fun pink embroidery keeps the look from getting too serious.
Sexy top with a modest bottom
Here’s where we see the real advantage of shopping for separates. Let’s say your partner loves her breasts; she’s totally happy with their size and shape. But she’s self-conscious about her hips, backside or stomach. By choosing a sexier, more revealing top and pairing it with bottoms that offer more coverage you’re letting her play to her strengths without asking her to expose the areas that make her feel uncomfortable.
Modest top with a sexy bottom
The opposite of the example above. Now we’re going with a top that gives more coverage for her breasts, chest and upper stomach and a much more revealing thong style bottom. Again, the strategy is to choose pieces that help her feel comfortable and confident. If her personal style is short shorts and baggy T-shirts, that’s a hint this combination could work for her.
Sexy design and sexy fabrics
She trusts you. And she knows you think she’s damn sexy just the way she is. More importantly, she thinks she’s damn sexy just the way she is. That’s when you choose this style and take things up a notch.
When to Give the Gift of Lingerie
Don’t wait for Valentine’s Day. Or her birthday. Or your anniversary. Anytime can be the right time to give her lingerie.
In fact, choosing a time when she’d least expect it can make it even more special. Maybe she’s had a great week at work. Or she reached a new goal at the gym. Maybe you want to make the gift a part of your Bond style romantic evening (you can learn how to plan one in this post).
The gift can simply be a way of celebrating her feeling great about herself. And there’s never a wrong time to do that!
All photos in the Men’s Guide to Buying Lingerie, with the exception of the featured image, were sourced from Nette Rose. You’ll find more information about Nette Rose designs on their website (they ship world-wide) and their Instagram Page. And if you’re in the UK, you can find a collection of their pieces on Wolf & Badger.