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Lingerie Buying 101

How to flatter her figure, pick colors and more

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Chocolate makes you fat, flowers die and great jewelry is a strain on the budget. Lingerie, on the other hand, is the gift that truly keeps on giving.

Here's how to buy it right.

Pure flattery

Not every woman feels comfortable with baring her bottom in a sexy thong.

Put some thought into what body parts she feels most comfortable with and choose lingerie to complement.

A few ideas:

  • Show off nice legs in something short like a baby doll or short chemise.
  • Play up good cleavage with a halter or bustier style.
  • Display toned arms with a camisole.

Have fun

Get her in touch with her inner child by choosing fun prints like cherries or clouds. Or appeal to her wilder side: animal prints, lace or bold colors like red are perfect.

Colors

Black, red and white (or off-white) look good on almost everyone. Blondes look great in pastels, and brunettes can carry off stronger colors like purple and emerald green. Redheads do best with greens, blues and earthy tones.

Soft touch

If you like touching the garment, she'll like wearing it. Velvet, silk and satin have lots of tactile appeal. If you're buying online, stick with fabrics that you already know what they feel like.

Get comfy

Casual, updated intimates come in styles like tank tops, bikinis and p.j.s. Look for cotton, flannel or other naturally cozy fabrics.

Sizes

The best way to find her correct size is to ask.

Alternatives: you can snoop around the lingerie drawer to find the sizes of stuff she already owns. Or you can guess (tricky territory -- Lingerie.com even promotes the amusing "fruit comparison" method for finding cup size.)

Presentation

Don't forget to wrap the lingerie (or have it professionally wrapped) with beautiful paper and a lots of lush tissue paper. You can get creative and make bags or baskets with related items, like a book of poetry, a bottle of champagne or great-smelling body products and candle.

Key styles

  • Chemise - A straight gown that skims the body.
  • Negligee - A loose, usually sheer, gown.Peignoir set - Negligee that includes a matching sheer robe.
  • Babydoll - A short gown that fits around the bust, flares toward hemline.
  • Pajamas - Pants and top, originally styled after men's p.j.s.
  • Bustier - A usually strapless elongated bra that provides extra lift to the breasts.
  • Camisole - A sleeveless top that can be paired with matching undies or worn under a jacket for work.
  • Teddy - A one-piece style, similar to a bodysuit.
  • Tap pants - Soft, very short version of boxing shorts.
  • Thong - Provides coverage in the front of the panty with a thin strap in the back.

Labels to know

  • Nick and Nora - Fun, retro print p.j.s
  • La Perla - The creme de la creme of high-end lingerie
  • Agent Provocateur - Sexy, playful and very hip
  • Victoria's Secret - Well-priced, with everything from comfy p.j.s to sexy bra sets
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