One of the most popular romantic gifts for a woman on Valentine’s Day and other special occasions has always been lingerie, but it’s the kind of gift that can go over very well or very poorly. If you are looking to thrill your sweetheart with just the right unmentionables, here are eight tips to help you make the best choice:
Be sure lingerie is an appropriate gift.
A gift of lingerie implies (obviously) a significant level of intimacy between two people. It’s the kind of present you give a wife or long term girlfriend. If you’re not already at that level of closeness, rarely is a gift of lingerie a good strategy for taking things to that level. There is too high a risk of offending the recipient.
Think of giving lingerie as like sexually propositioning someone. If it’s not someone you already know is receptive to such a proposition, be very careful.
This point also relates to the style of lingerie. Be wary of trying to spice up your relationship by buying lingerie that is substantially more risqué than the woman has worn for you thus far. Only buy fetishwear, crotchless, cupless, feathers, tassels, etc., etc. if that fits the kind of relationship you already have-lucky you-not in order to push her toward that kind of relationship.
Don’t let your fantasies get the better of you. If a non lingerie gift or a more conservative (but still attractive) lingerie gift is more appropriate for the stage of your relationship, so be it.
Know her size
Intimate apparel is one of the things it’s most crucial to get in the right size. Unfortunately it’s also one of the things that’s sized most confusingly. You might run into numbers, letters, or combinations of both. Furthermore, even sizes with the same terminology differ from brand to brand. One brand’s XL might be significantly different from another brand’s XL. Bras are notoriously difficult to size.
So don’t expect to tell a salesperson “She’s about five-six or five-seven, and I guess kind of an average build” and be able to walk out with the right size item.
You’ll need to ask your partner her sizes for any type of lingerie you’re considering. Or if the idea is to surprise her, sneak a peak through her underwear drawer and write down all the sizes you see. (And have an explanation at the ready-we’ll leave the specifics to you-of why you’re rifling through her underwear drawer in case you get caught.)
Choose the right style
Pay attention to the lingerie your wife or girlfriend wears. Or as with size, look through her underwear drawer. If it’s all boyshorts and no thongs, or vice versa, maybe that tells you what she’s comfortable in and what she feels she looks best in. Same with full cup, half cup, or camisole type bras.
Consider the material as well. Are there indications she prefers cotton? Lace?
You certainly don’t have to match exactly what she already wears-what’s the point in that? But don’t stray too far from it. Think about maybe one step from there toward the sexier end of the continuum, but no more than that.
Choose the right color
Color isn’t quite as tough as style or especially size. Still, here too you can use what she currently wears as a guide, even if you have somewhat more leeway to differ from that than you would with something like size. If she wears almost exclusively white, or primarily bright colors, then that tells you that’s what she likes.
White, black, and red are pretty safe choices that most women like and look good in.
Hair color can also be relevant. As a rule of thumb, blondes are thought to look good in black and in pastels, brunettes in rich blues and reds, and redheads in blue, green, and earth tones.
Also consider skin tone. Light complexioned women often look best in black or dark colors. African American and darker Caucasian women like Latinas and Arab women often look best in white or light colors.
Set your budget
Lingerie can be expensive. Even when it uses extremely little fabric, it can be expensive.
But you get what you pay for. Inexpensive fabrics may be rough and uncomfortable, which is especially relevant for something that will be worn next to the skin. They may rip (before you want them to). They may just not look as good, at least to the trained eye of a woman who knows quality.
At high end stores you can pay hundreds of dollars for a single item of lingerie. You don’t have to take it to that extreme if your budget can’t handle it, but be prepared to spend maybe a little more than you’d expect if you’ve never bought lingerie before.
Be aware, though, that just as with anything else, there are sales, there are specials, there are discounts, there are perks like free shipping. You just need to shop around.
Decide whether to shop in person or online
One of the main advantages to shopping in person, especially if you’re not real confident about what you’re doing, is that a salesperson can serve as a safeguard that stops you from doing anything too dumb. They’re used to guys who are totally oblivious. If you tell the salesperson roughly what you’re interested in, and you tell her about the person for whom you’re buying the gift, she can head off your presenting your sweetheart with a gift that says: “You could really stand to lose a few pounds,” or “You’re just a sex object to me,” or “What do I care if you’re uncomfortable? I just want to be turned on when I look at you.”
The advantage of shopping online is that it’s generally a lot more convenient. Not to mention some guys are embarrassed to go to a story and buy things like this. (If you happen to be at all close to your wife or girlfriend in size, there’s that potential additional embarrassment factor of feeling like you have to assure the salesperson you’re not a crossdresser.)
Enlist a confederate
If you’re really not confident of what you’re doing, and are wary of putting too much trust in a salesperson (who, after all, has an incentive to convince you that any woman of class will be supremely insulted to be presented with a negligee that costs less than $200), find someone to help you.
Not your pal Louie from down at the bar, by the way, but a woman. Recruit your sweetheart’s sister, girlfriend, etc., preferably not just someone who knows about buying lingerie in general, but who knows about her as an individual, and her tastes.
Consider a gift certificate
It’s great to see your wife or girlfriend on Valentine’s Day unwrap that skimpy little item you picked out personally for her, but if you really want to be sure she’ll end up with something she wants, it’s really not such a bad thing to give her a gift certificate. If it’s a gift certificate to a fancy store like Fredericks of Hollywood, and you do it up nice with a ribbon and bow and maybe present it to her over a romantic dinner, it’s just about guaranteed to go over well.
Danae, “Top Five Mistakes When Buying Lingerie for Women.” Knickers Blog.
Treacle, “4 Easy Steps to Buying Lingerie for Your Wife, Girlfriend, or Significant Other.” Wise Bread.
“How to Buy Lingerie as a Gift.” eHow.
“How to Buy Lingerie as a Gift.” WikiHow.