Lingerie shopping isn't for the faint of heart.
How to pick a style? Guess a size? Choose between demure, lacy or full-on vamp? How to move the dial a full degree sexier — without aggravating your ladyfriend? What to do when she's thinking full coverage and you're all about ... significantly less?
We talked to a woman who knows all the answers: Jane Adams, founder and CEO of Jane’s Vanity.
InsideHook: What do men get wrong about shopping for lingerie?
Jane Adams: Over my 27 years in the lingerie industry, I’ve seen men get pretty much everything wrong. Unless you know that lucky recipient well, it's worth learning some clues that should guide you to success. What colors and shapes does she prefer? Are there parts of her body she prefers to show off, and those she tends to hide from view? Paying attention to her existing wardrobe and lingerie collection can help guide you to giving a gift you’ll both love. It's fun to learn the mysteries of your love interest.
IH: Do you actually find that women want men to buy them lingerie? Do you ever feel like you want to talk a man out of buying lingerie?
JA: Many women absolutely want men to buy them lingerie — lingerie is the gift that gives back. When chosen well, it can simultaneously make a woman feel celebrated, pampered and desired. Lingerie is an intimate landscape where dreams can awaken. For that to happen without it becoming a nightmare [though] requires thoughtfulness married to fantasy. If this is your first gift in this realm, you might consider something more luxurious that flatters the body and provides more coverage, yet reveals the female shape — such as a bias-cut chemise or a gown that follows the curves of the body. Silk against the body is delicious, and she just might feel her inner goddess awakening. Try to consider her in the equation of the gift: a more modest woman will prefer a more modest gift, and vice versa. If you want to push the boundaries of her current lingerie collection, it’s safest to tread lightly and search for something similar in shape or style to pieces she already wears — [pieces] that marry your fantasy to pieces you know that she’s comfortable in. You might double down and roll the dice in what you think she would feel comfortable with and something you would love to see her in. That might be two different gifts presented simultaneously or wrapped in the appropriate moment for spontaneous combustion. Remember: gifts should not have strings attached. Don't hold expectations of a specific response and you might be pleasantly surprised.
IH: What's the best way to get a partner's size?
JA: Oh my, that's tricky, especially if you want it to be a surprise. You will need to become a bit of a detective. Check the size label on several articles of clothing and get a stealthy peek at articles of lingerie — both the band and the cup size is important if you’re looking to purchase a bra. A piece of paper tucked in your wallet or a note on your phone with her bra, panty and dress size will be an ally on all future shopping excursions.
If the element of surprise is not a necessity, why not go shopping together? Whether you’re browsing an online store or visiting your local boutique, this allows you the possibility of not only learning her sizes and fit preferences in real time, but also offers you both a safe space to have a conversation that explores each other’s desires and comfort zones.