What does “lingerie” mean to you?
Some of us, when we think lingerie, immediately think of sexy, lacy pieces that take about 10 minutes to actually get into and about 30 seconds to take off.
You know the pieces I’m talking about–the ones that are really meant to be some eye candy for a bit but are quickly thrown to the floor a few minutes later.
Having a few of these ridiculously sexy pieces can be a ton of fun for anniversaries, special occasions, or just to surprise your husband just because! But the problem we can run into with this kind of lingerie is that it sits in the back of the dresser or the back of the closet to just be pulled out a few times a year.
And the rest of the year we’re in gym shorts and ratty t-shirts.
But many who are reading this may think “lingerie” and get incredibly uncomfortable.
Maybe you feel uncomfortable about how your body looks in lingerie. Maybe you want to be sexier, but when you try on some of those crazy sexy pieces you just feel ridiculous. Maybe you even feel a bit of shame around the idea of lingerie.
No matter if you’re the type who gravitates towards the special occasion lingerie or no lingerie at all, I want to challenge you to re-think lingerie’s role in your daily life. This month, on Wednesdays, we’re going to be talking about how to reclaim the word sexy and bring sexy back to our marriages, and I thought I’d start with a week about choosing lingerie. I’m going to let Rebecca take this one over today, because she has some pretty firm views on the subject!
In previous generations, lingerie wasn’t just something you received at your bachelorette party.
Lingerie was simply your underthings–slips, brassieres, garters and stockings were all just a normal part of what you wore under your clothes. And then at night, women wore silk or satin night gowns, teddies, or top and bottom pieces with a robe that were clothes specifically set aside for nightwear.
And they looked awesome. Seriously, look how gorgeous these slips are (again, this was normal everyday wear!)
I think that with our over-airbrushed, over-edited, over-photoshopped modern culture we have this mindset that in order to be sexy, we need to be over the top. We need the skimpiest piece we can get that makes our boobs look as huge as possible while our waist looks incredibly slim in order to be sexy.
But the problem with that mentality is two-fold. First off, most of us will not look like models because of body type, having kids, surgeries, or what have you. Secondly, that just takes a whole lot of work. And the more work something takes, the less often it will happen.
What would happen if we went back to thinking about lingerie the way that women did in the past, where it was something comfortable and feminine that was just a part of our daily routine?
I don’t think we need to start wearing full-body slips again under our clothes. But just the idea that we can have simply, day-to-day items that are feminine, flattering, and incredibly comfy can revitalize how you see and choose lingerie.
I personally think that having a small but thoughtfully chosen lingerie collection that is appropriate for everyday wear is a game changer for sexual confidence. There’s something about having on a nightgown instead of your paint-stained gym shorts and the camp T-shirt that just makes you feel so much more put together and feminine, even though it takes literally no more effort to put on (and is just as comfy, if you choose the right pieces!).
So here are some tips and some questions to ask yourself when buying lingerie to help you choose pieces that are better for your lifestyle and better for your body so you can feel confident, beautiful, and sexy on a daily basis!
1. Focus on creating a functional lingerie wardrobe
We all need a few of those “wow” factor pieces I was talking about earlier–the ones that come out on anniversaries and birthdays. And we completely endorse shopping for some of that in the mall’s lingerie stores.
But when it comes to buying lingerie you’ll actually wear, focus on functional pieces. Pieces that can also be pyjamas, pieces that are also actual undergarments that you already wear but just a little nicer. For instance, many people swear by thongs, but others find them just plain uncomfortable. No one wants a permanent wedgie! But you don’t need a thong to have pretty underwear:
The ones on the left are still pretty without feeling “granny”, but they also won’t give you wedgies.
It’s better to buy lingerie that is pretty that you’ll actually wear than stuff you think you’re supposed to wear but you won’t because it’s uncomfortable.
Changing this mentality can help us get used to seeing ourselves more as womanly, beautiful, and sexy on a day-to-day basis. (And sex is much less exhausting to think about when you’re already wearing a cute nightgown or tank and shorts set that makes you feel beautiful and flirty than when you’re wearing a stained t-shirt and sweat pants!)
2. Try bra and panty sets
Bra and panty sets can be a lot of fun if that’s your cup of tea! And the best part is that throughout the day you’ll feel like you have a secret outfit on underneath of your real outfit–one that just you and your husband know about.
Investing in some great bras and pairs of underwear is helpful in more than one way, too: it will help you feel confident and beautiful, but it also just helps your clothes fit better! You will have fewer underwear lines, show off your curves better, and if you have large breasts having a well-fitted bra can help relieve back pain, as well.
If you’re someone who is uncomfortable with the idea of lingerie or trying on “sexy” clothes, this is a fantastic place to start. You already wear bras and underwear, so why not have fun with them? It can be a great stepping stone for those of us who are less comfortable with trying new things!
And colour can be as sexy as shape. Take the same beige bra you already wear, but make it purple with polka dots. You’ll feel more playful!
Make an appointment at a good lingerie store or a good department store for a proper bra fitting (the vast majority of us are wearing the wrong bra size; most of us need to go DOWN a band size and UP a cup size). And then try on a bunch! When you find a pretty bra that looks great, buy a few pairs of underwear (since bras can be worn more than once before washing, whereas underwear can only be worn once!). You can get everything from the high end Simone Perele bras to the lower end Victoria Secret. Have some fun trying them on!
Sheila says: I always hand wash my bras, too. It makes them last so much longer. In fact, I’ve never had a bra wear out. I change sizes before they actually wear out. It’s a little bit more work, but I just soak them in a lingerie wash, then rinse, then squeeze dry and roll up all the bras and underwear pieces in a towel. Then squeeze the towel, hang to dry, and you’re all set! It takes about 3 minutes in total (you soak for longer than that), and I’ve been doing it for around 20 years now).
3. Look for breathable and soft fabrics
This was the number 1 game-changer for me when it came to nightwear and lingerie. Look for fabrics that will be comfortable to wear all night long–cotton and silk are great places to start, but some polyester blends that are made specifically to be breathable can work great, too. But pay attention to the details: a lot of lace and other embellishments found on night gowns and lingerie pieces are often made with a scratchier material than the rest of the garment. So when you try a piece on, focus on every part that is touching your skin–is it soft? How will it handle sweat (gross question, I know, but important)? Does this give me room to move around or do I feel like I’m going to rip something or I’m constrained?
Finding pieces that are made with breathable fabrics that are soft and easy to move in will help you create a lingerie mini-wardrobe of a few pieces you wear every day and feel awesome in. If it’s not comfortable or you feel sticky or sweaty in it, you simply won’t wear it.
4. Try on LOTS of things
And don’t be discouraged when most of them don’t work! Easier said than done, I know, but when it comes to lingerie you would be surprised what you try on that you end up just loving.
If you’re comfortable with it, consider bringing a friend or a sister along who can help you pick out some unique pieces you may not have otherwise considered. I’ve gone with multiple friends to help them find some everyday wearable pieces or bras that suit them and it’s a ton of fun–remember, we’re not talking those once-a-year lingerie pieces; we’re talking about nightwear that’s sexy but you’re still covered for the most part!
5. Watch your reaction when you try things on
Choosing lingerie is less about choosing pieces that you think might make you look sexy, and more about choosing lingerie that makes you hold yourself with confidence because you really feel beautiful and sexy. If you try something on and you think, “this looks good on me I guess” but your body language is nervous, ask yourself if it truly feels like “you.” If no, then put it aside–you’re looking for pieces that match YOU, because then you’ll want to wear them!
Choosing lingerie is less about choosing pieces that you think might make you look sexy, and more about choosing lingerie that makes you hold yourself with confidence because you really feel beautiful and sexy.
6. Look for figure-flattering pieces
We all have different proportions, even among the typical body shapes you hear about. If you’re very straight up-and-down and want to add more curves, have fun trying on lots of pieces with extra frills or ruching to add dimension. Or, if you have an athletic build and you want to accentuate that, why not try some structured silk or satin sleep shirts with a pair of shorts? They’re incredibly chic and can really compliment more angular builds!
If you’re more curvy, looking for really classic-looking pieces like satin nightgowns with a nicely defined waistline can be incredibly flattering and make your curves look awesome. Plus, they look incredibly feminine, and will likely provide more support for the girls than that ratty t-shirt did, anyway!
A tip for bustier women in particular: look for good coverage up top. Many nightgowns do not come high enough to adequately contain what’s going on in the breast department so when you roll over at night, it pops out. And that’s just annoying. So look for pieces that fit you well and keep you contained so that you can sleep comfortably!
If you’re more bottom-heavy (like me!), pieces that have more going on up top and are more streamlined on the bottom half can really flatter your curves and make pear-shapes look fantastic (emphasize, don’t hide, the behind!). I love this black midi-length gown with a lot of lace going on up top with a super sleek bottom half, since it would nicely define your curves without being too tight around the hips that it would be uncomfortable.
If you’re less endowed on top (like my mom!), try some structure on top, either with form fitting spandex or full coverage tops. If you go with just a deep V for the bust area, it’s very easy to “slip out” every time you move if there’s not a lot to keep the piece in place.
With all of these general body-type suggestions, it’s important to recognize that these are merely starting point suggestions. As a bottom-heavy woman, I struggled for a long time to get over trying to “hide” my legs because I thought that my hips were just too wide. But you know what I realized? It’s a lot easier to work WITH your body than AGAINST it. So don’t be afraid to try on a gown that will graze your hips and legs–if you find the right fit, it won’t make you look bigger, it’ll just emphasize your curves! If you’re self-conscious because you think you have too small breasts, don’t always feel like you have to try to make them look larger–you can also just find some pieces that are really structured to show off your more subtle curves (think Audrey Hepburn anyone?). If you are carrying more weight than you would like, don’t feel you have to hide away in a ton of fabric–find a cute shorts and tank top pair that fits you well, shows off your curves, and you can wear around the house with confidence knowing you look awesome.
7. Invest in a good robe
Maybe you already have a great housecoat that would work for this, but having a good robe or housecoat takes pieces that may show a bit more skin than you’re comfortable with around the kids/if anyone saw through the kitchen window and makes them appropriate for everyday wear. It’s a simple addition to your wardrobe that helps make your lingerie wearable day-to-day!
Does your marriage need some spicing up–and some fun?
8. Pay attention to wash and care instructions
Not all pieces are going to be feasible to be everyday items if they require dry-cleaning every time. Look for pieces that can be easily hand-washed in your bathroom sink with a bit of detergent or even thrown into a gentle cycle in the washing machine.
We want to make lingerie an easy, natural part of our routines–having dry clean-only pieces doesn’t do that unless you’re already in the habit of dry cleaning!
9. Look in outside-the-box stores
Often the stores in malls are only going to cater to one kind of lingerie: very skimpy. Although that has its place, when you’re trying to create a wearable lingerie wardrobe for your everyday routine it doesn’t work so well.
Look for some more high-end boutiques in your neighbourhood or check out Etsy to find some great hand-made pieces! You’ll be surprised what’s out there, and if you invest in 2 or 3 really great pieces that you end up wearing every day, even if they’re expensive, it may actually end up costing you less than buying 5 or 6 “OK” pieces that you only wear once in a blue moon.
10. Remind yourself that it’s good to feel beautiful and sexy.
I honestly think that much of the time we get into the t-shirt and old sweat pants routine because we forget that at the end of the day, it’s a good thing to feel good about our bodies! We’re told by so many different people (ourselves included!) that our bodies just aren’t good enough.
But think about what it would feel like to get up after the kids are in bed and wash your face, brush your teeth, but then instead of throwing on the faded yellow t-shirt you got at that volunteer job you did in university you put on a beautiful, lace-trimmed cotton nightgown and wrapped yourself in a satin housecoat. It takes just as much effort, but can help us feel so much more confident because we’re taking that little bit more effort to tell ourselves, “Hey, I look pretty great tonight.”
Those are our best tips for creating a lingerie wardrobe for more than just anniversaries and birthdays. What are some of your tips and tricks for finding “wearable” lingerie?
Join us next Wednesday when we look specifically at all the different cuts of underwear–bikini, high cut, boys’ cut, etc.–and talk about which ones to choose for what body type!
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