Love Your Underwear, Love Yourself
A BRIEF HISTORY, FROM TOPS TO BOTTOMS
2 Your Lingerie Style
FROM SIMPLE TO SEDUCTIVE
3 Lingerie 101
A LEXICON OF LINGERIE
4 Sizing Matters
A PERFECT FIT FOR EVERY BODY TYPE
5 Bare Essentials
HAVE YOUR BASICS COVERED
6 Behind Closed Doors
HOW TO DRESS FOR SEX-CESS
7 Bridal Lingerie
FROM WEDDING AISLE TO HONEYMOON SUITE
8 Lingerie Longevity
CARE AND STORAGE OF YOUR INTIMATES
SHOP TALK: Tips, Tricks and Where to Go
SIZING IT UP: International Size Charts
There are many people who have touched my world of lingerie and helped make this book a reality. Thank you to my husband, Ryan, for encouraging me to spend more time and money on my underwear than on a steak dinner at El Gaucho. Muchas gracias to my friends Kim Destro and Elif Eroglu, who inspired me, over margaritas in Belltown, to write this book. Big thanks to my reformed-hippie mama, whose bra boycott fueled my passion for all things bra related. Merci beaucoup to my coauthor, Kathy Schultz, for making this a fun and adventurous collaboration involving lots of beer, French fries and laughs. Much appreciation goes to Jennifer Unter, my stellar agent, who had faith in this project; to all at RLR Associates, who have been a great support through the process; to Leela Corman, our sassy illustrator; and, of course, to the wonderful team at Harlequin, Deborah Brody and Sarah Pelz, without whom this book wouldn’t exist. Lastly, a heartfelt thank-you to all my wonderful customers, family members and friends, who teach me lessons in life, love and lingerie on a daily basis.
First, a sincere debt of gratitude to my best friend and longtime husband, Dean, for his support during this project, and his acute appreciation for nice lingerie. To Lisa Wogan, who has been a wonderful friend and cherished colleague through my whole writing career, your encouragement and editorial eye have been invaluable. Thanks to our agents: Tara Mark, for getting the ball rolling, and Jennifer Unter, for keeping it in the ballpark and running with it. My appreciation goes to editors Sarah Pelz and Deborah Brody for their editing expertise. Kudos to Robin Kilrain, a longtime writing buddy and crackerjack copy editor, and to Leela Corman, illustrator of cool girls. To all the women who contributed their personal lingerie stories, thank you. We wish had room for all the tales, juicy as they were.
And lastly, but mostly, I want to acknowledge my coauthor and friend, Jennifer Carroll, for bringing me in on the project. It was a most delightful experience and so much fun to work with a lingerie expert extraordinaire who is not only creative and hardworking, but also kick-in-the-panties funny.
LOVE YOUR UNDERWEAR, LOVE YOURSELF
Lingerie is one of life’s pleasures. Shouldn’t it be something you love? If you’ve been reaching into your underwear drawer every day for the same old style of panties, putting yourself into an uncomfortable bra or thinking you don’t look good in lingerie, we have news. Whether you have minimal cleavage, an ample booty, or an apple- or pear-shaped body, there is beautiful lingerie out there for you! The state of your underthings can actually change your state of mind. How many of us have picked a pair of panties we liked because we were feeling good that day? Or rummaged around our drawers for a pair we disliked because we woke up feeling down in the dumps? Instead, imagine putting on sexy French lingerie underneath your business suit and feeling excited and empowered, or putting on a flirty bra beneath a T-shirt and feeling feminine and confident.
Lingerie should be chosen with as much care and thought as you choose your makeup. You need the perfect foundation before you start making yourself beautiful with blush, mascara, eyeliner. Lingerie is the same way. A foundation that fits well means more-flattering clothing. Your undergarments can make or break your look: smooth T-shirt bras make that tight white T look like a million bucks; the right panties under tight pants will have people doing a double take (and not because you have visible panty lines); and shapewear can smooth out lumps and bumps in that clingy cocktail dress. We could go on and on. And we will.
Just like fashion, lingerie is a form of self-expression. When you pair a corset top with a pencil skirt, or switch out plain hosiery with nude fishnets, you’re showing your sense of style and making a statement. Intimate apparel also mimics fashion by following color and cultural trends. You probably wouldn’t wear the same style of shoes for years on end, so it’s logical that your tastes and choices in lingerie also evolve and change through the decades.
In our twenties, we primarily dress in lingerie for our men. In our thirties, we learn to wear and appreciate lingerie for ourselves. In our forties, we can either run into a rut or learn about new styles and how to wear them. In our fifties and beyond, we may feel basics are the way to go, or we may choose to splurge on luxury lingerie as a treat. As decades go by, we discover that wearing lingerie transcends putting on a bra that fits. It’s more about embracing our femininity, enjoying our bodies and cherishing ourselves.
No matter your age, with the help of this book you will learn how to enjoy lingerie in everyday wear, transforming the concept of “underwear” into lingerie you love. Both lingerie virgins and veterans will gain insight into their own lingerie styles and receive practical tips on how to confidently and correctly wear intimate apparel. From bras to hosiery, we’ll sort it all out and expose what these underpinnings are all about. We’ll suggest brands for every shape and budget. Brides-to-be will benefit from our tips on wedding and honeymoon lingerie. We’ll give you a little history lesson, chronicling important lingerie dates, events and milestones. We will even give you seduction scenarios—in the event your imagination runs less than wild.
All you’ll need to do is invest a bit of time determining your style and needs. We’ll hold your hand and walk you through it. Trust us, it will be well worth the investment. Think you’re alone in the process? Au contraire! We have included personal stories from women of all ages and with all different body types about their escapades and experiences with lingerie.
So let’s get going and find out what’s really underneath it all. But before we do, here’s a little about us and how we came to write this book.
When I grew up in the 1980s, lingerie was as much a part of fashion as it was part of pop culture. If you remember the lace anklet socks and pumps, you know what I’m talking about. From a young age I was significantly influenced by the fusion of lingerie and everyday wear.
In junior high I worshipped Madonna: I sported white, fingerless lace gloves and layered multiple lace shirts over my training bra. I even donned a fake above-the-lip mole one year at camp. (It was eyeliner; shhh, don’t tell anyone.) By the time I was in high school, it seemed like a natural progression to shop at Victoria’s Secret and Frederick’s of Hollywood at the local mall.
As a high school sophomore I wore fishnets under my cutoff jeans. I dressed in a garter belt with thigh highs under skirts at sixteen. At nineteen I frequented a local reggae venue in northern California, where I wore a burgundy velvet bra and not much else. The doorman never carded me. I felt feminine and powerful—and I still can’t believe my mom let me out of the house. By the time I finished college, lingerie was a beloved part of my wardrobe, something that held memories of hot summer concerts and adventurous young love.
On a trip to France in 2001, my boyfriend—now husband—and I found ourselves in a little shop on the Champs-Élysées called Lise Charmel. He bought me a sheer, black demi bra and knickers set with delicate, red floral embroidery. It was breathtaking. Even on sale, it cost more than one hundred and fifty dollars. I couldn’t believe he splurged like that. Later, when I put the set on for the first time, I felt completely transformed. My man gasped when I walked out of our hotel bathroom. I couldn’t stop smiling.
It was then I discovered the true power of lingerie—and also developed my champagne taste for underwear. My love of lingerie drove me to open my own shop in Seattle a year later. The journey has been educational and never dull. Helping women with their underthings is a very intimate experience, and it requires a lot of trust on each customer’s part. I assist women in finding their actual bra size, which celebrates and enhances their breasts: “Yes, my love, you are a 34C, not a 36A. Enjoy!” I also specialize in picking out the perfect cut and style of lingerie for each woman’s body type. It has been extremely gratifying to help women express themselves through their lingerie, while encouraging them to have fun along the way.
The idea for this book came about over cocktails with some girlfriends. Following a couple of margaritas, the conversation turned to how to wear lingerie for a man. After an entertaining and educational discussion—and more than a few hoots and hollers—my friends said, “You should write a book!” I considered my conversations over the years with customers and their questions about lingerie, from practical to naughty, and I realized women could use a lingerie book about what to wear and how to wear it.
As for my personal relationship with lingerie, these days my routine has simplified. As a wife, mother and business owner, I don’t see nightlife very often and don’t always have time to pamper myself. My intimate apparel is one thing I don’t skimp on, so I always have a little luxury in my daily life. I feel alluring when I put on a beautiful nightgown before bed, and I feel put together because my bra and panties match and are flattering. But most of all, I adore the realization that I am taking care of myself by loving the first thing I put on my body: my underwear. Frankly, I deserve this little bit of luxury—all women do. Thus, my love affair with lingerie continues. This book is dedicated to all you lovely ladies who are ready for a new adventure. Enjoy!