Underneath It All: A Girl’s Guide to Buying, Wearing and Loving Lingerie
Lingerie is one of life’s pleasures. Shouldn’t it be something you love? If you’ve been reaching into your underwear drawer every day for the same old style of panties, putting yourself into an uncomfortable bra or thinking you don’t look good in lingerie, we have news. Whether you have minimal cleavage, an ample booty, or an apple- or pear-shaped body, there is beautiful lingerie out there for you!
The state of your underthings can actually change your state of mind. How many of us have picked a pair of panties we liked because we were feeling good that day? Or rummaged around our drawers for a pair we disliked because we woke up feeling down in the dumps? Instead, imagine putting on sexy French lingerie underneath your business suit and feeling excited and empowered, or putting on a flirty bra beneath a T-shirt and feeling feminine and confident.
Lingerie should be chosen with as much care and thought as you choose your makeup. You need the perfect foundation before you start making yourself beautiful with blush, mascara, eyeliner. Lingerie is the same way. A foundation that fits well means more-flattering clothing. Your undergarments can make or break your look: smooth T-shirt bras make that tight white T look like a million bucks; the right panties under tight pants will have people doing a double take (and not because you have visible panty lines); and shapewear can smooth out lumps and bumps in that clingy cocktail dress. We could go on and on. And we will.
Just like fashion, lingerie is a form of self-expression. When you pair a corset top with a pencil skirt, or switch out plain hosiery with nude fishnets, you’re showing your sense of style and making a statement.
Intimate apparel also mimics fashion by following color and cultural trends. You probably wouldn’t wear the same style of shoes for years on end, so it’s logical that your tastes and choices in lingerie also evolve and change through the decades.
In our twenties, we primarily dress in lingerie for our men. In our thirties, we learn to wear and appreciate lingerie for ourselves. In our forties, we can either run into a rut or learn about new styles and how to wear them. In our fifties and beyond, we may feel basics are the way to go, or we may choose to splurge on luxury lingerie as a treat. As decades go by, we discover that wearing lingerie transcends putting on a bra that fits. It’s more about embracing our femininity, enjoying our bodies and cherishing ourselves.
No matter your age, with the help of this book you will learn how to enjoy lingerie in everyday wear, transforming the concept of “underwear” into lingerie you love. Both lingerie virgins and veterans will gain insight into their own lingerie styles and receive practical tips on how to confdently and correctly wear intimate apparel. From bras to hosiery, we’ll sort it all out and expose what these underpinnings are all about. We’ll suggest brands for every shape and budget. Brides-to-be will benefit from our tips on wedding and honeymoon lingerie. We’ll give you a little history lesson, chronicling important lingerie dates, events and milestones. We will even give you seduction scenarios—in the event your imagination runs less than wild.
All you’ll need to do is invest a bit of time determining your style and needs. We’ll hold your hand and walk you through it. Trust us, it will be well worth the investment. Think you’re alone in the process? Au contraire! We have included personal stories from women of all ages and with all different body types about their escapades and experiences with lingerie.
So let’s get going and find out what’s really underneath it all. But before we do, here’s a little about us and how we came to write this book.
Jen: My Love Affair with Lingerie
When I grew up in the 1980s, lingerie was as much a part of fashion as it was part of pop culture. If you remember the lace anklet socks and pumps, you know what I’m talking about. From a young age I was significantly influenced by the fusion of lingerie and everyday wear.
In junior high I worshipped Madonna: I sported white, fingerless lace gloves and layered multiple lace shirts over my training bra. I even donned a fake above-the-lip mole one year at camp. (It was eyeliner; shhh, don’t tell anyone.) By the time I was in high school, it seemed like a natural progression to shop at Victoria’s Secret and Frederick’s of Hollywood at the local mall.
As a high school sophomore I wore fishnets under my cutoff jeans. I dressed in a garter belt with thigh highs under skirts at sixteen. At nineteen I frequented a local reggae venue in northern California, where I wore a burgundy velvet bra and not much else. The doorman never carded me. I felt feminine and powerful—and I still can’t believe my mom let me out of the house. By the time I finished college, lingerie was a beloved part of my wardrobe, something that held memories of hot summer concerts and adventurous young love.
On a trip to France in 2001, my boyfriend—now husband—and I found ourselves in a little shop on the Champs-Élysées called Lise Charmel. He bought me a sheer, black demi bra and knickers set with delicate, red foral embroidery. It was breathtaking. Even on sale, it cost more than one hundred and fifty dollars. I couldn’t believe he splurged like that. Later, when I put the set on for the first time, I felt completely transformed. My man gasped when I walked out of our hotel bathroom.
I couldn’t stop smiling. It was then I discovered the true power of lingerie—and also developed my champagne taste for underwear.
My love of lingerie drove me to open my own shop in Seattle a year later. The journey has been educational and never dull. Helping women with their underthings is a very intimate experience, and it requires a lot of trust on each customer’s part. I assist women in finding their actual bra size, which celebrates and enhances their breasts: “Yes, my love, you are a 34C, not a 36A. Enjoy!” I also specialize in picking out the perfect cut and style of lingerie for each woman’s body type. It has been extremely gratifying to help women express themselves through their lingerie, while encouraging them to have fun along the way.
The idea for this book came about over cocktails with some girlfriends. Following a couple of margaritas, the conversation turned to how to wear lingerie for a man. After an entertaining and educational discussion—and more than a few hoots and hollers—my friends said, “You should write a book!” I considered my conversations over the years with customers and their questions about lingerie, from practical to naughty, and I realized women could use a lingerie book about what to wear and how to wear it.
As for my personal relationship with lingerie, these days my routine has simplifed. As a wife, mother and business owner, I don’t see nightlife very often and don’t always have time to pamper myself. My intimate apparel is one thing I don’t skimp on, so I always have a little luxury in my daily life. I feel alluring when I put on a beautiful nightgown before bed, and I feel put together because my bra and panties match and are flattering. But most of all, I adore the realization that I am taking care of myself by loving the first thing I put on my body: my underwear. Frankly, I deserve this little bit of luxury—all women do.
Thus, my love affair with lingerie continues. This book is dedicated to all you lovely ladies who are ready for a new adventure. Enjoy!
Kathy: My Life in Lingerie
My earliest memories of falling in love with lingerie were in a St. Louis auto repair garage in the 1960s. My grandfather owned it and my father worked there with him. (I know it sounds bad, but stay with me here.) When I was a child, Mom would stop at the shop and my siblings and I would pile out of the car and say hi to Dad and Grandpa. We loved going there. Grandpa had a pop machine with a secret hand crank. We’d open the door and help ourselves to sodas, either chocolate or Vess cream. Grandpa gave us pennies for the peanut machine. We’d punch the green buttons on the circa-1940s adding machine, run up the incline on the wheel alignment rack and receive “rides” on the air jack from my dad. Standing on the hose, Dad would flip the air jack switch and up we’d go a couple feet. It was all great fun.
But one of my favorite activities was sneaking peeks at the pinup girl calendar behind the desk. The calendars were New Year’s gifts from auto parts suppliers and the Snap-on tool company. I loved looking at the Vargas Girls, sexy watercolor and airbrushed paintings by Alberto Vargas from the 1940s. Lithe and well-endowed women with red-painted nails appeared in scanty lingerie, black stockings, tap pants, see-through nighties, diaphanous peignoir sets and mules. They were so exotic! I couldn’t wait until Grandpa turned the calendar on the first of the month to see a new ensemble. I dreamed of the day I would be grown-up enough to wear these “outfits.”
Fast-forward a few years to my first underwire bra in high school. I read they were an important invention to keep breasts from sagging. No one wore them then, and my best friend teased me mercilessly and called me Wire Woman. I also discovered colored panties in wild prints and—gasp!—black. I felt sexy in my sheer, shimmery nude bra in the 1970s. It was perfect under my body-hugging tops paired with bell-bottoms and platforms.
In the 1980s I discovered teddies and garter belts. What fun! My first teddies came in dusty rose and teal. I stepped outside the box and bought a red garter belt. I splurged on a merry widow. I scanned Frederick’s of Hollywood catalogs for fishnet stockings. I bought matching bra and panty sets along with lot.