Lingerie for Beginners
February 15, 2010 7:28 AM   Subscribe

We're getting married! We're both virgins. Her birthday occurs during the honeymoon. I want to get her something spicy but I have no experience with this stuff! Likely NSFW, inside.

I'm looking for a good first-time lingerie gift online. Colorful and playful is the order of the day, but nothing juvenile or prudish. The reason I'm asking here is because I don't know what surprises await and I'd rather not catch her or myself off guard. Seems like a lot of garments are rather complicated with straps, hooks, laces, and whatnot. I'd like to avoid anything she can't put on by herself or that might be awkward for me to remove. We can move up to more elaborate things later on.

For this first time, I want to avoid open/transparent bra cups and crotchless panties. It's difficult to tell on lingerie web sites if a top is see-through because they tend to Photoshop out nipples. How do you know if what you see is what you get? What other gotchas should I know about when shopping online?

Secondary question: How should I get this to her? I can hide it in my suitcase, but I'm not sure if items in boxes are an issue for the TSA baggage-snoopers. Could it be gift-wrapped in there? Or could I ship the package to the hotel in advance and have the concierge take care of it? I don't have any experience with that sort of thing either.

Additional info, if it matters: She's white (rather fair-skinned), a teeny bit curvy. She wears a size 6 (US) and a 34C bra. I don't have any other measurements but I know she fit into a friend's costume corset, which was size 32. She and I both like corsets. I'm male. Please post links to any items you think might be appropriate, or any info sites geared for clueless beginners like me.
posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (41 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
For easy sizing, if you like corsets, you can't go wrong with Frederick's Dream model, which is their all-time bestseller. You just go by her bra size, which you already know. Comes in lots of colors, including bridal white, but be warned that if you are worried about undoing tricky undergarments, corsets are not the best suggestion (though I agree they're really sexy).

I have been told by frequent fliers that gift-wrapped items are verbatim through security, if they discover them they open them, but I have not experienced this firsthand. Still, it might be easiest to just put the corset in a gift bag with tissue, rather than wrapped.
posted by misha at 7:38 AM on February 15, 2010

If you're just starting out with the sex stuff, I'd really recommend not going for something too tight or uncomfortable. Corsets are great, and I love them too, but I also can't wear one without feeling sucked in/uncomfortable (the boning in them makes it uncomfortable to sit even slightly slouched), which is not the feeling you want to rock the first time you're having sex. So what I'd recommend is, if you're really set on a corset, to get her a really beautiful vintage slip or nightgown, too (this site has some cute ones; etsy is also a good source). Think slinky instead of structured, something that enhances her body rather than shaping it. Something like this allows for freedom of movement--really important when you're just learning how to insert tab a into slot b--is gorgeously flattering on pretty much any figure, to boot.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:55 AM on February 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

I would try Victoria's Secret. You can order any thing you'd like on their website. Many of their items are simple to wear, but very very sexy ;) But i'm letting you know, some item can get quite pricey...

Have a happy honeymoon.
posted by shortbus at 7:55 AM on February 15, 2010

The most important thing is to avoid buying anything with a cupped bra - that is, anything where bra size is important, because it's difficult (that's an understatement) to find the right fit. A camisole or teddy or whatever is your best bet.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:56 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

regarding getting it to her: packing it in your suitcase in a box is fine. TSA recommends not wrapping gifts because they may need to see what's in the box. If your gift is mostly cloth and lace you'd be fine wrapping it. If your gift has a lot of metal / bone pieces like a corset, then not wrapping it may be better.

Around christmas time my girlfriend gets festively decorated boxes to use for giving presents. When we flew out to her families place for christmas, she put the gifts in these boxes which TSA can easily get into, but which can also be clearly marked as gifts so people who aren't nosey can know to stay out of them.
posted by garlic at 7:57 AM on February 15, 2010

Honestly, my ex used to get me lingerie for my birthday. He used to get me lingerie that he liked and then he'd present it to me as a gift - for me! how nice! - with the implicit request that I wear it. I resented it then and I resent it now just thinking about it. It's her birthday, not yours. Getting someone lingerie for their birthday is the equivalent of getting someone flour, eggs, and chocolate chips, and telling them to bake you cookies.

Lingerie is very much a matter of personal taste, preference, and comfort. I love lingerie. I have a metric ton of it. I like wearing it, I like that it makes me feel sexy, I like that it makes me look sexy. I don't like being expected to wear something I just received, I don't like being expected to love something I just received.

Make her part of the process! Go shopping together. Find something you both like. Avoid Frederick's and Victoria's Secret, go to a nice lingerie store. Have her try it on, see how comfortable it feels to her, how she moves in it, if it pulls or pinches. Get her a nice corset if you want, they're damn sexy, but take her along. Make it into an extended present, "I want to get you something you'll love to wear, gorgeous, how about we make this an adventure and go try some stuff on?" It doesn't have to be a surprise to be awesome, in fact, the anticipation of wearing it is a gift in and of itself.

And yes, I recognize that some of this is just my personal issues, but I've encountered this attitude a hell of a lot (especially in the over saturated Valentine's Day market...) and it grates me. It's something for both of you, let her get a say in what it is.
posted by lydhre at 7:57 AM on February 15, 2010 [66 favorites]

babydolls are as simple as you can get-- essentially a really short dress. plus matching bottoms. also, there's basically no chance of having a size problem. plenty of options at VS. if you want something a little more 'special' you could try cosabella. i would think that a babydoll is ideal for lounging around in a hotel room without feeling ridiculous.
posted by acidic at 7:59 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding what lydhre is saying, too. With corsets specifically, the sizing is very tricky--the worst thing in the world is an ill-fitting corset! I'd also recommend that you specifically not go to Victoria's Secret. Their salespeople can be pretty ignorant about fit, they have a very limited selection, and you'll find more interesting pieces elsewhere.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:00 AM on February 15, 2010

Regarding your secondary question:

Wrap it by placing your gift into a box with a separate lid, and tying it loosely with a satin ribbon. You can go the extra mile by making the ribbon coordinate with your wedding decorations or the gift inside, and you can decorate the box and lid. If you're crafty, you could paint the box with a decoration, or wrap the pieces separately in decorative paper, but you can usually find colored boxes at specialty craft stores and sometimes office supplies stores.

Just fold everything to fit into the box, wrapped in a single layer of tissue paper so the flaps are on top for easy TSA access. Tie the ribbon bow loosely. Stick the whole thing into a paper shopping bag - the kind with handles like from a department store. (This will help protect the decorative box from accidental scratches and such from your luggage.) I've carried gifts in my luggage like this numerous times. Usually everything's untouched but once I found the "yes, we DID look through your luggage" paper inside the gift box itself! The gift inside seemed untouched and folded the same as when I had packed it.
posted by Mizu at 8:00 AM on February 15, 2010

Simple and sexy:

1, 2, 3


4, 5
posted by shortbus at 8:07 AM on February 15, 2010

I would recommend getting something other than lingerie for her birthday. Get her something just for her. Lingerie is more for both of you.

You can still get her some spicy lingerie, just make it more of a wedding night gift. This is actually a very traditional gift from a husband to his bride on the wedding night. However, it's possible that the maid of honor has already picked up something for her as part of her responsibilities for the bridal shower. Can you ask her? You can still buy her some sexy lingerie for the honeymoon, but she might want to wear what her maid of honour bought her on the wedding night.

In terms of what to get, something like a teddy or a camisole is not too raunchy, but is still incredibly sexy and sensual, and will fit all people without worries about size.
posted by sid at 8:16 AM on February 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

I'm unclear whether this is for your wedding night, or whether you're giving it to her on the honeymoon. If it's for your wedding night, it seems more traditional that she should surprise you. If it's for your honeymoon, can you have it shipped directly from the online merchant to the hotel, bypassing TSA concerns? I'm sure most online retailers have a gift wrap option, but if it's a nice hotel, talk to the concierge and I'd bet they'd wrap it for you.

If you're going to get a corset, get one that laces up. Those hooks are the bane of humanity. I agree with KokuRyu that a corset is probably not what you want for your very first time. Most likely you'll both be nervous, and the difficulty of getting one on/taking one off/breathing will only add to her anxiety.

Something like this is demure but sexy, and I've never met a man who didn't like garters. (Hint when buying hose for garters: spend as much as you can afford; you get what you pay for.)

Here's a compromise on the corset , and it comes in fun colors.
posted by desjardins at 8:21 AM on February 15, 2010

I don't know anything about your specific situation, but be aware that giving your soon-to-be-wife lingerie after you've only been having sex for a few days could be interpreted by her as "Oh god, he doesn't think I'm sexy enough by myself and he needs me to put this on." Especially if you bought it before you even started having sex.

I'm not saying she will interpret it that way, and obviously you don't mean it in that way, but... yeah.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, but make sure you do it in a way where it's clear that you're not giving it to her because she isn't "sexy enough" without it.
posted by pluckemin at 8:27 AM on February 15, 2010

I agree with lydhre said. Lingerie is sometimes tricky to fit, and it's always best to get something you like so you feel confident in it. Disagreeing here to say that Victoria's Secret does have some nice pieces (especially as of a year or two ago when they went back to basic colors and styles) and you can try them on in the fitting room.

As for her birthday, you might get her something else nice and include a card promising a lingerie shopping trip together the following week.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:28 AM on February 15, 2010

Take her shopping and have fun picking something out together. You'll know it fits and flatters her shape, you'll know she likes it, and it will get you both excited to see it again on the honeymoon.

If you really want it to be a surprise, I would choose something like a gorgeous silk robe that you can be sure will fit.
posted by sallybrown at 8:32 AM on February 15, 2010

Make sure it's something that looks comfortable and practical for lazing around in - then it's really a gift for her as well as a gift for you. It's possible to be comfortable and practical and look hot at the same time, I'm not advocating flannel PJs! If you really want to make it clear that it's about her, get some form of matching wrap type garment so that she can be not-explicitly-sexy in this get up when she wants.

Avoid anything that looks scratchy (e.g. cheaper lace products), or anything that relies on fitting really well, because it won't if she can't try it on.
posted by emilyw at 8:44 AM on February 15, 2010

"Avoid Frederick's and Victoria's Secret, go to a nice lingerie store."

What constitutes a nice lingerie store? Any specific suggestions?
posted by Phyltre at 8:59 AM on February 15, 2010

I'm with the "tread carefully" crowd. Lingerie, unless it's something she really really wants and wouldn't buy for herself, is a crappy birthday present. In your first week of intimate relations, it could be an absolute landmine.

If you are absolutely positively sure it will be received well, you could buy something as a "happy honeymoon" present, without birthday overtones.

I personally loathe being given SexyThings as unexpected gifts, and though I am not generally a grudge-holder I could iterate for you every single time in my life it's been done to me and exactly what I thought and still think about it. Especially the ones that were official holiday presents. Especially especially the ones that were the only present. Not everybody feels that way, obviously, but I see I'm not the only one, and you do not want to roll the dice at that particular moment in your relationship.

I'd go with a really great-feeling bathrobe or pajamas so she can be comfy in between the sexy times, but still not as a birthday present.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:00 AM on February 15, 2010 [6 favorites]

Two thoughts on the shopping-together bit.

First of all, I'd let her know ahead of time that she doesn't have to get lingerie if none of it appeals to her. That takes a lot of pressure off — and for most people, when it comes to sexy stuff, low pressure actually raises the odds that they'll say "Sure, let's try it." Go someplace nice, look at some stuff, if she likes a piece then buy it, if nothing appeals then go get a nice perfume or some bath stuff or something else that's fun and sensual and makes her feel pretty. But I really suspect that the low-pressure approach will boost the odds of her saying "Come to think of it, I might just enjoy wearing this...."

And also, you know, even if you don't buy anything, a shopping trip together means lots of opportunities for "You know what I've always liked...." and "Gee, I've never seen the appeal of...." and "Hey, whaddaya think about...." and that seems like potentially a fun honeymoon activity while you're learning about each other sexually. Plus a lot of those conversations about likes and dislikes and slightly naughty fantasies and whatever are gonna lead to better sex for both of you in the long run. That makes it totally worth doing even if you wind up bailing out and heading for the bath beads.

Maybe I'm overestimating y'all's comfort with underwear. Obviously if shopping for lingerie together is gonna make one of you die of embarrassment or whatever, you shouldn't do it. (In that case, maybe a gift certificate for an online lingerie store, and substitute an evening of browsing together for a brick-and-mortar shopping trip?) And for that matter, you know your fiancée better than we do, and maybe she'd love having you pick her something out.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:03 AM on February 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

follow-up from the OP
Just to clarify, her birthday is a few days after the wedding so I won't be stepping on wedding night traditions (I know she already has things lined up for that). She has also told me herself that this is the sort of gift she wants to receive. I appreciate your concerns but this isn't something I'm foisting on her without thought. I do like the idea of taking her to a good lingerie shop on her birthday but I don't know of any in the area we're honeymooning, a couple hours north of Seattle, just south of the Canadian border. We might be going to Vancouver so any recommendations there would be awesome.
posted by jessamyn at 9:10 AM on February 15, 2010

Gee, that sort of ended in mid-thought. What I'm saying is, however you do this, the important part is to make sure you're really paying attention to her and what she wants and likes, rather than to what you assume she wants and likes. That can be tricky when you're transitioning from "anticipating sex" to "having sex with a real live person," so it's a good thing to start being mindful of now.

The real gift you're in a position to give her here? It's the feeling that she's married a dude who listens and respects her and wants her to have a good time. That feeling is way romantic and way hot, and is more valuable than any actual pair of underwear.

But you listen respectfully and hear "I want sexy underwear"? Yes! Buy her that sexy underwear and enjoy the hell out of it!
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:11 AM on February 15, 2010

And on non-preview, I see that you're on it already. Yay! Sexy underwear for everyone!
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:12 AM on February 15, 2010

Oh, forgot to answer your real question! (Sorry, I get carried away when talking about wrapping presents.)

I think you should go with your impulse and get her some lingerie, but it needs to be something classy and comfortable. It would be especially nice if it was something she could wear in combination with normal jammies when she wants to remember her excellent honeymoon, and something she can fit into regardless of weight fluctuation. Since you want the both of you to feel comfortable and relaxed, and you want to keep things easy-access without having cutouts or transparency, the logical conclusion from all of this is a lovely glamorous silk robe. Possibly a kimono style one in a print with your wife's favorite colors.

This one is beautiful.
This one comes in lots of different patterns.

You can find things like these in a lot of higher-end department stores and specialty shops, but since sizing is very forgiving and your wife is a fairly average size it shouldn't be too difficult.
posted by Mizu at 9:17 AM on February 15, 2010

Phyltre, I would say that non-chain, smaller lingerie stores offer a better experience and better products, both sexiness wise and durability wise. Victoria's Secret had one redeeming feature, they carried Intimissimi lingerie, but as far as I know they stopped doing that starting January 2010. can help, read the reviews for the lingerie stores in your area and then hop on over to browse those that look interesting. For corsets, I recommend adult stores that carry lingerie. They are much more solidly made than anything you can find at VS or Frederick's.

OP, if your fiancee wants lacy underthings for her birthday, go for it! I still recommend she come with you to try things on, which is especially important if you're buying a corset. Ill fitting lingerie is a miserable experience and since you guys are just starting out, sexually, this is a pit fall you don't need. It does terrible things to one's self-confidence, especially ill fitting cups. I'm the exact size your fiancee is, and there is no "standard" when it comes to things fitting right. It depends entirely on the brand (go for Cosabella and Intimissimi, if you can find the latter anywhere) and even on the individual garments.
posted by lydhre at 9:30 AM on February 15, 2010

Definitely get something NOT fitted -- so somthing like a loose teddy or nightgown/neglige rather than anything with a bra cup. My friends got me lingere before my wedding, but some of it wasn't wearable because the cups just didn't fit. Other than that, think about her favorite colours, and how comfortable the cloth might be.
posted by jb at 9:45 AM on February 15, 2010

Although it's being talked about, I'll add my experience. I bought the Frederick's piece linked above in black as a part of a Halloween costume and to double as something I felt might spice up the bedroom and make me feel sexier. I was by no means a virgin and was already very comfortable with myself in the relationship I was in.

I made the first mistake of trying it on at a place that was absolutely no help at all outside of, "If your boobs fit, you're good; these things are flexible." I'd even tried it on over a shirt thinking that if the salesgirl was wrong, I'd at least have a little bit more mobility. In all of the experiences that I've had with places like VS, it's the same sort of lackluster customer service.

Secondly, that thing wasn't going on or off without someone else, regardless of what anyone said. Since I wanted to surprise my boyfriend, I had a friend help me. It was still a pain in the ass. So much so that I ended up wearing the thing even after the costume came off under a t-shirt. I could barely even sit in it, and I'm glad my ex ended up passing out early in the night because it would have just been a disaster. The quality of the piece seems legitimate enough - I'm not one to want to trot around like that even more than once or twice a year, and I only tried it on once after that Halloween and everything seemed durable still.

I have no experience with expensive lingerie, but after that cheap corset fiasco, I'd have gladly paid five times as much for something that was going to allow me to feel the way I should have felt in it. As an afterthought, I'd much preferred if my boyfriend were there when I'd gotten it -- because I'm sure if he saw how much discomfort I was in he wouldn't have found it sexy anyway. Hopefully you find a nice little shop up there (Bellevue/Vancouver, or if you head back down through Seattle on your way there or back, that might even be best) and have a better experience - have fun!
posted by june made him a gemini at 9:52 AM on February 15, 2010

*Bellingham not Bellevue.. Mondays!
posted by june made him a gemini at 9:53 AM on February 15, 2010

Ha! Funny - I always take my SO shopping for sexy underpants on my birthday, because aren't I the one who gets to enjoy the present?

In any case, I would never get my SO any underpants without her first trying it on, or really knowing exactly what her sizes and preferences were. In many cases, just because it's the 'right' size, does not mean it will fit.

With that in mind, if you still want to surprise her, you'll have to get something not-too-complicated. The more straps, strings, buckles etc., the more likely it is that, without trying it on, it won't fit or she'll be extremely uncomfortable.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:58 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nthing the slip/babydoll idea. My bridesmaids and family took me shopping at Victoria's Secret the week before my wedding -- SO EMBARRASSING, by the way! -- and we ended up finding some tasteful pieces that are sexy, not raunchy, and comfortable, which makes me more inclined to actually wear them. They are slips, mostly, which are less fitted than babydolls and (for me at least) more comfortable. I am emphatically not an exhibitionist, so it was nice to have some lingerie that was sexy without making me feel too exposed.

Pay attention to fabrics and go for silky or stretchy, not stiff or too fitted, at least for now. Things that are made of satin and cut on the bias may flatter her curves, but only if they fit perfectly, and a really good fit usually requires a fitting room, so look for stretch satin or items that aren't cut on the bias, for now. The stretch satin (VS calls it "second skin") is wicked comfortable and flatters every body type. Their stretch lace is also comfortable and flattering. Looks like there are lots of options online for pieces that are playful and sexy but that are not going to make her feel weird. Also, since slips are made of just cloth with minimal metal/plastic bits, they're more likely to get through TSA without an issue.

Good luck, and congratulations!
posted by Spinneret at 10:39 AM on February 15, 2010

Okay, now that you have confirmed that this is an actual gift she would like, I agree with the commenters who are suggesting slips or babydolls. Teddies are probably a little too finicky, fit-wise.

One thing I will add is that if she is large of boob (you say she's a 34C but that can mean a lot of things, depending on whether she's been professionally fitted) then you should probably get something with some support under the bust. Droopy boobs do not make a gal (or at least an American gal who has had it drummed into her head since birth that silicone-enhanced perkiness is the aesthetic ideal) feel sexy. I have a big, not-exactly-perky chest, and if I were to wear something like this I would feel like an absolute cow. Stretch lace is your friend (as are stretchy fabrics more generally).

Perhaps that's just my own preference, though? I will await contradiction/agreement from other women.
posted by pluckemin at 11:09 AM on February 15, 2010

I'm with the "don't buy her lingerie" crowd, at least not the kind that as meant to be only sexy in, like corsets.

However, as mentioned upthread, a gift that is more for her would a long nightgown and silk robe Hollywood style, which she can be both really sexy looking in, and just feel pretty in all by her lonesome while reading a book. These are the types of lingerie everyone feels good in (silk is great), but few spend money on getting for themselves, so that is a nice gift for her.
posted by dabitch at 11:18 AM on February 15, 2010

I was just about to say that you should splash out on the most luxurious silk nightgown you can find. And be careful about lace-- the cheap stuff is really scratchy and uncomfortable. Buy her something that feels like heaven on her skin and that she can wear for a long time.
posted by jokeefe at 12:07 PM on February 15, 2010

I do like the idea of taking her to a good lingerie shop on her birthday but I don't know of any in the area we're honeymooning, a couple hours north of Seattle, just south of the Canadian border.

Bellis Fair Mall will have a lingerie shop.
posted by jokeefe at 12:10 PM on February 15, 2010

Seconding the silk, but go for a dressing gown. Not sleazy and you can use it later!

Enjoy each other.
posted by A189Nut at 12:20 PM on February 15, 2010

This from Frederick's is beautiful, and it has a faux-corset look about it, but shouldn't be too difficult to remove. And that pink, well, it's a great colour.

Also from Frederick's is this ruched chemise which doesn't appear to have sheer cups.

A 'small' should be the right size. There's a size chart in the Help section.
posted by essexjan at 12:32 PM on February 15, 2010

a few things:

1. i'm with the other girls. you're just getting married - you're just starting to have sex. let's start both your married and sex life out on the right track.

lingerie isn't a good 'birthday' gift.

so if you want to buy her something wear on your honeymoon, fine. but let's not call it a birthday gift. so please buy her something EXTRA that's specifically for her... for her bday.

2. lingerie is still great! avoid the corset for a 1st timer. they can be tricky. you have the right idea. get her a teddy or something simple. something remotely classy. you want to make her feel like a sexy new bride. not a call girl. just keep that in mind.
posted by mittenbex at 12:51 PM on February 15, 2010

yea agree that the lingerie would be better as a general honeymoon present than a birthday present. also, think it's a great present. i've always wanted a custom-made corset- you could get her a gift certificate to a local shop where you guys live which wouldn't be ready for the honeymoon but would show her you were listening to what she (and you!) likes and get her something that would otherwise be a lux item (it'll run you 300-400 dollars easy) also this way you don't have to worry about it not being so comfortable for your first few days of fun.
posted by saraindc at 1:17 PM on February 15, 2010

It is my experience that the best way to buy appropriate sexy lingerie for women is to shop with them. Because, frankly, my perception of most slinky get-ups is, "this will look GREAT crumpled in a pile at the foot of the bed!"
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:19 PM on February 15, 2010

I think lingerie isn't a bad gift, especially if she said it's something she'd like.

I just want to underscore that surprising her with something you picked out yourself could backfire. She could not feel comfortable with what you picked (maybe it isn't too flattering, or she doesn't think it is), but would feel obligated to wear it anyway. No fun.

Given the above, I'm *all* for your taking her lingerie shopping. She can even choose not to show you what she's trying on, so it would still be a surprise for one of you. Alternatively, you could wander around the store together, investigating what kinds of things you (both*) like. And then you can disappear for a while while she finds something she feels good in that also conforms to the look of something you're (both*) into.

I don't have specific recommendations for stores in Vancouver (aside from google's), but hopefully others will chime in with some.

*I think part of the appeal of getting lingerie as a gift is knowing that it's something that the gift-giver finds enticing. So her knowing that you're into what she picks out might be more important, in this case, than it having a look that that you're both into.
posted by sentient at 2:20 PM on February 15, 2010

Do not get her a thong unless you know for a fact she wears thong underwear.
posted by alicetiara at 5:19 PM on February 15, 2010

Like others said, there's no guarantee she'll like what you pick out. But if you present it without any pressure, and maybe add a little humor to it, maybe she'll warm up to it regardless. Step one: cut a hole in a box... ; )
posted by rahnefan at 1:54 PM on February 16, 2010

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