Take It From a Woman: How to Buy Lingerie She’ll Actually Wear

Plus our top lingerie picks to gift this Valentine's Day

Updated January 30, 2024 10:26 am
A vintage cartoon of a woman in lingerie
Keep it simple.
Getty Images

Buying lingerie is easy. Buying lingerie the woman in your life will actually wear and enjoy is trickier. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news here, but you can’t just buy the first strappy, see-through thing that makes you horny.

It’s why I, a woman, spoke to a few other women and compiled a lingerie-buying guide for you, a man who wants to gift a piece of lingerie for his partner but is worried about screwing it up, ruining his relationship and wasting his money. All of which can happen if you don’t heed these essential tips:

Make a shopping trip out of it. Buy lingerie together.

Naturally, I picked the brain of InsideHook’s (former) sex and relationship editor Kayla Kibbe for her expert take on lingerie buying. Her advice? Let her pick her own lingerie out, or turn it into a fun shopping experience you two can do together. “Lingerie is just such a personal thing, and there are so many different kinds and styles that are so different that I feel like it would be really easy to fuck up and get her something that she hates or doesn’t fit.” 

But what if you want to surprise her? Well, that’s probably fine too. (Personally, I love a surprise.) Just see below for more lingerie buying tips:

Remember: It’s for her, not you.

While lingerie is a gift you both can unquestionably enjoy, this is not an opportunity for you to play dress-up. Don’t buy her something that’s meant to fulfill all of your fantasies. While we love unwrapping a romantic piece of lingerie you’ve picked out specifically for us and our bodies, we don’t appreciate someone else’s fantasy being thrust upon us under the guise of a selfless gesture and thoughtful gift.

“Hopefully, there’s not too much discrepancy between what she wants to wear and what you want to see her in, but make sure you’re prioritizing her taste over your own,” says Kibbe.

Know her size before you buy lingerie

Speaking from personal experience, nothing brings me to the brink of a total mental breakdown faster than trying on an article of clothing I imagined would look bomb in my head only to find it doesn’t fit quite right. While fashion’s erratic sizing problem makes finding the “perfect fit” immensely difficult, undergarment sizing, for the most part, is pretty consistent across brands. So to avoid any distress, don’t guess. Know her measurements. Wait till she’s in the shower and take a non-creepy peek inside her underwear drawer to get her sizes.

Be aware of what she owns

While your lady might be all for trying new things, to ensure she’ll actually wear the lingerie you buy her, the safest bet is to get something similar in style and color to the apparel she already owns. 

“Think about the clothes she has and the colors she wears and get something in that color scheme,” offers Caroline, a Digital Media Analyst. “For example, I wear a lot of cool tones and I don’t like myself in red, so I don’t really want bright red lingerie, which is counter-intuitive to Valentine’s Day — sorry.”

“Just pay attention to what she wears regularly and don’t overthink it. Chances are her taste in lingerie isn’t really all that different from her taste in other clothes,” echoes Kibbe. “One time this guy gave me this hot pink negligee and I was like you have literally only ever seen me in black, white and red. Those are the three main colors of lingerie I wear and yet you show up here with this pink nightmare?”

Don’t be afraid to ask for help while shopping

“If you go to a store in person definitely take advantage of a salesperson,” says Emily, a Digital Account Manager. Salespeople are there for a reason, and will gladly help you pick something that suits your partner’s style. Or, if it’s not an uncomfortable topic of conversation, confer to another woman in your life.

Spring for the entire lingerie set

Many lingerie sets must be bought separately and typically consist of four matching items: a bra, underwear, garter belt and robe. If you really want to impress, splurge on the entire collection (especially that silk robe).

Oh, and stay away from anything overtly kinky (unless you know 100% it’s something she’s into)

Anything obviously kinky, like fetishwear or costumes, should probably be avoided, says Kibbe — unless you know for a fact that’s something she’s interested in.

While we delight in sexy things, taking hours to figure out how to put on a leather harness or some strappy monstrosity is most likely going to frustrate the hell out of us and kill the vibe, so when in doubt, keep it simple. And if you know your gal, picking out something she won’t utterly despise should be, too.

Our Top Lingerie Picks for Valentine’s Day

For Love & Lemons Sorbet Rose Underwire Bra and Thong Panty
For Love & Lemons Sorbet Rose Underwire Bra and Thong Panty

If she’s a fan of erotic historical dramas or literature, she’ll adore this romantic set which looks like something straight out of a steamy scene from Bridgerton. Each piece features a floral watercolor design with strappy details, peekaboo cutouts and doily lace accouterments. Complete the look with the Sorbet Rose Garter Belt.

Honey Birdette Goldy Emerald 3 Piece Set
Honey Birdette Goldy Emerald 3 Piece Set

For the woman who likes her glamour, no other lingerie set compares to this shimmering emerald green number that stars crystal tulle, Swiss-designed embroidery and detachable gold chains.

Thistle and Spire Cornelia Babydoll
Thistle and Spire Cornelia Babydoll

This top-rated babydoll from the size-inclusive lingerie brand features stunning embroidery and a flowy mesh tulle, for a comfortable, yet proactive, style. Add the Cornelia Thong for a completed look.

Fleur du Mal Feather Embellished Angel Sleeve Robe
Fleur du Mal Feather Embellished Angel Sleeve Robe

Any one of Fleur du Mal’s lavish lingerie sets will satisfy, but if you want to add a luxe layer to her nightwear drawer let it be the brand’s best-selling silk robe, which features wide sleeves and a fabulous pink ostrich feather trim.

CUUP Plunge Bra and Thong
CUUP Plunge Bra and Thong

No need to sacrifice sexiness for comfort with the Plunge, a semi-transparent bra with mesh cups with opaque seams, and the super soft, super stretchy mid-rise Thong.

Bluebella Elizabeth Soft Bodysuit
Bluebella Elizabeth Soft Bodysuit

Clean lines and mesh panels make this bodysuit a powerful piece of outerwear or undergarment, designed to accentuate her waist and compliment her natural silhouette.

Cosabella Never Say Never Tie Me Up Brazilian Thong
Cosabella Never Say Never Tie Me Up Brazilian Thong

Slightly impractical? Sure. But the adjustable ties are fun — and for the right occasion (i.e. Valentine’s Day), an incredibly sexy detail.

Win the Ultimate Formula 1® Crypto.com Miami Grand Prix Experience

Want the F1 experience of a lifetime? Here’s your chance to win tickets to see Turn 18 Grandstand, one of Ultimate Formula 1® Crypto.com Miami Grand Prix’s most premier grandstands!