lingerie shop

I work in a lingerie store in a large American city. It’s a small, mid-to-high end boutique, in a trendy neighborhood. Over the last ten years, I have helped thousands of women, with all sorts of shapes, budgets, and expectations outfit themselves for their Valentine’s Day sexy times. Here are some things I’ve learned:

Don’t tell me you want “something sexy.” First things first: What are you looking for? A slutty cupid body-stocking? A silk basque with detachable garters and seamed stockings? Just a cute bra and panty set that you might actually wear under your clothes after Valentine’s Day? Don’t just say “Something sexy!”, because that’s meaningless. Everything is sexy to someone. Figure out what sexy means to you. If you want elegant, gorgeous, and perfectly fitting, head to a luxury department store or boutique. If you something trashy and costume-y (not there’s anything wrong with that!) head to an adult store or any intimates store that sells “toys.” If you are looking for something that can transition to day-to-day wear, again head to a boutique or a department store. Stay the hell away from the chain lingerie stores if you can–their prices are usually not worth it for the crap quality and poor design. I always recommend a boutique if there’s one in your town–they will have the most curated selection and the most knowledgeable staff.

Be realistic about your body shape. If you are a DD, a flimsy little lace triangle bra is probably not going to work for you, and if you are an A, you are probably not going to fill out that balconnet cup. Now, I have been proven wrong on both those counts, but not often. I always let people try on the styles they’re most interested in, but I will also point out styles that maybe don’t look as exciting on the hanger, but I know look great on. I mean, once you’re naked, whats the harm in trying on one more thing, even if it’s not *exactly* what you were eyeballing when you came in? I always tell people they can hate anything AFTER they try it on.

If you have budget constraints (if you don’t, I’m jealous) PLEASE tell us! We won’t bother with the $125 bra if you can only spend $60 on a whole set. We know our inventories well, and even if you think you saw everything already and there’s just nothing working for you, let us ask you a few questions and watch us pull five different versions of just what you’re looking for.

Timing is key. This one is a little tricky as we’re already right on top of Valentine’s Day, but it’s true. You have to give yourself some time to do this in a way that will result in your satisfaction. Ideally, give yourself a good thirty minutes or more. Most of the things you try on will not work, so you need time to get through as many choices as possible. This is even more true this time of year, when the staff is all frazzled and exhausted from the last week, which has been very lucrative yes, but full of many, many people projecting their body issues and relationship baggage on the little stretchy pieces of silk we’re slinging. We want you to be happy, and would love to just chill out in the dressing room and drink champagne with you for an hour or point you toward the one magical unicorn piece in the store that fits everyone in the whole world and cost $15, but those things aren’t going to happen right now. (The unicorn thing is never going to happen, so get over it.) Be patient and kind with us, and we’ll get to you after the five other customers currently ransacking the store.

Finally, avoid these phrases:

“Oh, is Valentine’s Day coming up?”

“I don’t see anything in my size”

“My boyfriend specifically requested a green satin polka dot thong with side ties and a keyhole. Is there a section for that?”

“I got a bra here like 2 years ago. It was black and like, lacy. Do you still have those?”

The people who work in lingerie shops are (usually) nice, responsible people doing their jobs like anyone else you know. They do not turn into mind readers or therapists or lingerie genies in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day. If you treat them as such, they will likely use tips from The Secret to wish that your fancy dinner date leads to an immediate food poisoning bout that preempts your sexytime before you get to try out your new purchases.