Valentine's Day - How to buy lingerie

Valentine's Day - how to buy lingerie

Don’t get your knickers in a knot - Scottish underwear experts provide expert advice

‘When someone enters the store, and motions to one of the agents, “She’s about your size,” that’s the biggest no-no of all!’ says Jemma Hill, manager at Agent Provocateur in Glasgow. ‘If you’re too shy to ask your partner about sizes, look at the labels in the underwear they wear most often. Try and find out bra size, dress size, and whether they prefer a padded or non-padded bra.’

‘Have a snoop at the labels while you hang out the laundry, or have a little rifle through her underwear drawer,’ recommends Sarah Connelly, director of Odyssey Boutique in Edinburgh. ‘Does she like to wear lace or silk, shorts or thong, with or without suspenders?’

If all that’s still drawing a large blank, cheat and ask the shop if they’ve got your partner’s details already on a database. ‘We keep a note of all of our customers’ sizes in our Little Black Book – so if you know she’s shopped with us already we have all the details right here waiting,’ says Connelly.

For a safe bet, silk pyjamas or a chemise are easier to guess a size on, says Hill, but for a (relatively) hassle-free last-minute gift, she recommends a stockings and suspender set as a good alternative. ‘Agent Provocateur’s hosiery range always does well for Valentine’s Day,’ nods Hill.

Trends-wise, she’s noticed a big rise in Mad Men-inspired 1950s underwear, like their Rizzo set, while Connelly says ‘lounge-erie’ is really popular right now; relaxed pieces that double us as lingerie or loungewear, especially in pastel shades or ‘inky hues’.

Shilla Mehr, owner of ThriftChic Boutique in Edinburgh, is a big advocate of the non-wired bra, and says sheer, non-padded styles are selling really well right now.

‘Many woman find that the natural look is better and, in my opinion, it’s more sexy. The sheer bras are popular, since, once tried on, the customer realises you don’t have to wear a push-up to look more feminine. There is something really gorgeous about being able to see a woman’s nipple through sheer fabric.’

When Mehr moved to Scotland from San Francisco, she noticed shops didn’t always cater for smaller busted women, so she brought some of her favourite US brands to the store (including Betsey Johnson and Cosabella), and now specialises in American lingerie in smaller sizes (28AA–36D) with no pads or wires.

‘People go wrong most often with their back size. Smaller-chested women often come in wearing a padded bra that is too big around and too small of a cup. Smaller busted woman don’t need the thicker straps and stiffer fabric.’

Whoever you’re shopping for, Connelly says it’s important to keep the process relaxed. ‘Valentine’s is a great time to try something flirtatious and different. If in any doubt, we can arrange a full fitting and trying-on session where couples can enjoy a G&T or two and have the privacy of the fitting rooms to choose something perfect from our collections together.’

Agent Provocateur offers a complimentary champagne fitting service: Agent Provocateur, 213 Ingram Street, Glasgow, 0141 221 2538

Odyssey Boutique offer a private fitting and trying-on session for couples, with gin and tonics: Odyssey Boutique, 39–41 William Street, Edinburgh, 0131 220 2908

ThriftChic are currently offering free gift wrapping and have several styles up to 50% off: ThriftChic, 111 Broughton Street, Edinburgh, 0131 558 1757

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