Face•Lace concept by Phyllis Cohen
Starring: Lucie and Ilona
Make-up by Phyllis Cohen. Hair by Peter Beckett
Music by Leon Haxby. Thanks to Matthew Shave and Chantel King
Camera and lighting by Jeff Leyshon
Edited and directed by Jeff Leyshon
Lingerie is a term used in English to refer to women’s undergarments. It is borrowed from the French. In France, the term is used more generically, to refer to undergarments in general, which is actually the original usage of the word. Within most English speaking nations, lingerie is associated with garments which enhance and flatter the female figure, making the wearer seem more attractive or sexually appealing. However, they can also be designed with comfort or even modesty in mind.
The word comes from a Latin word, lineus, which means “made from linen.” Lingerie was originally made from linen or cotton. Both men and women have worn an assortment of undergarments for hundreds of years. Most of the items linked with lingerie today, such as bras and panties, are actually relatively modern, however. Most up to the 18th century was designed to provide an extra layer of insulation, or to address hygienic and modesty issues. It tended to be simple and often cumbersome in design.
In the 18th century, French courtesans started to realize the potential appeal of undergarments that were designed to titillate the viewer. Most other members of society continued to wear plain lingerie in the form of corsets, petticoats, and slips. It wasn’t until the 1960s that companies started to manufacture lingerie with specifically ornamental purposes in mind, alongside more conventional undergarments.
Most modern lingerie falls into two camps. The first consists of undergarments that are designed with function or modesty in mind. Slips and camisoles,for example, are intended to be worn under overgarments. Foundation garments help to smooth the figure, while bras provide support and coverage to the chest. While many of these garments may be attractive, their primary function is to be unseen. Many nightclothes are designed to be warm and comfortable in bed or around the house, while house robes offer additional coverage. Cotton, flannel, and comfort fabrics are often employed in the creation of these garments.
The second category of lingerie is more racy. It consists of garments that are designed for show. Many ornamental corsets, fancy bra and panty sets, and nightgowns fall into this group. Short robes and dressy camisoles are also sewn with this in mind. Many of these garments can also be worn underneath regular clothing, but they appear more frequently in the bedroom, and they are intended to spark interest in the wearer. Silk, lace, and synthetics are commonly used to make this type of lingerie.
Lingerie Guide: Your Sexiest Look for Valentine’s Day
by Julia Layton
Got someone to love? Valentine’s Day, even if you’re not the retail-holiday type, is still a perfect excuse to get romantic. It’s a pre-set time to put aside the mundanities of daily life and focus, for one sweet night, exclusively on love — and (fingers crossed!) intimacy. Thus the lingerie ads that blanket the retail world like so much skin-toned confetti as soon as New Year’s Eve passes. They feature gorgeous women looking sultry and confident in their satin and lace and stilettos, and we’re thrilled for them, really. But lots of us don’t feel quite so confident in skin-bearing, curve-hugging lingerie. We don’t always feel so confident in our jeans.
Rest assured, every woman can look sexy. More important, every woman can feel sexy. And when you feel sexy, you are sexy.
So forget that bathrobe and get ready to look hot this year. Here, a guide to being your sexiest when you turn out the lights (or not) on Feb. 14. It’s simply a matter of developing a sense of your inner sexpot and an eye for which styles work best on which shape.
Let’s begin with the fun part — which kind of sexy are you?
What’s Your Look?
There are many sides to every woman, but in lingerie styles just as in shoes, hair color and reading material, each lady has a favorite type. Is your dresser drawer awash with white cotton? Red lace? Silky black maxi gowns or, oh my, leather and latex?
Deciding what you feel sexiest (and most comfortable in) is a logical place to start when planning your look. It’s pretty simple to figure out and will help you narrow down your options. So, what’s your best angle of seduction?
Demure — You feel sexiest in white and pale pink, and you like to leave a lot to the imagination. What he doesn’t know can only excite him. Look for white cotton trimmed in lace, full-coverage tops and bottoms, and luxurious jersey knits that just barely graze your curves. Cami sets, knee-length gowns, and subtly sexy, soft cotton chemises — possibly with a dainty floral print all girly and bashful — are nice options here.
Elegant — You’re as classically stylish in your underwear as in your full-length, black cashmere coat, Hermès scarf and tall boots. In lingerie, this can mean a lot of silk and satin in dark tones, and nothing too sheer — it’s nice to keep a little under wraps. Consider tap shorts, a satin corset set, black demi bra and bikini panties, or a very low- cut, full-length gown. Pointy-toe high heels, thigh-high stockings and garters can take the look up a notch.
Effortless — You’re casual, no-nonsense and possibly sporty in your dress, and you love all that is seamless and neutral. Comfort and ease are crucial: You feel your sexiest there, lounging barefoot and fresh-faced. Some options here include clingy one-pieces, simple, silky teddies, boy-short sets and long, jersey column gowns.
Playful — You’ve been known to wear skirts with knee socks and never shy away from a fun print. Your underwear might have polka dots and your nightgowns could be short, pink and ruffled. Try a mini, body-con chemise, boy shorts with crop top, or stretch-silk mini with bandeau in pink or red — it’s Valentine’s Day, after all. Opaque, printed thigh- highs can complement the look.
Risqué — You don’t shy away from leather, and you may have a French maid costume stashed in your sexy drawer. To you, there’s no such thing as over-the-top, and garters are one of the tamer items in your repertoire. Consider leather bustiers, string thongs, and teddies and bra-and-panty sets with cut-outs in all the right places. Over-the-knee boots can be a great finish.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong (and so much that’s right) with trying something new, so if you’re feeling bold, go for it. Just make sure it’s a style you’ll feel confident and comfortable wearing, since that’s the quickest way to sexy. If you feel equally comfortable in more than one category, just pick whichever look you’d like to master this Valentine’s Day, and embody it.
With your angle of seduction in mind, your next stop is the lingerie Web site, store or catalog, where you’ll implement the next bit of knowledge that will help you look your sexiest.
What’s Your Shape?
Not everyone can pull off every look, and the quickest way to feeling un-sexy is to wear something that highlights an area you view as a problem spot. This doesn’t necessarily mean covering up, although that’s an option. It may just mean working with colors, patterns and proportions to accentuate the positive and downplay everything else.
In this way, lingerie is no different from any other clothing category: Certain cuts will flatter your body type more than others. So once you have your Valentine’s-night style in mind, you can filter your product choices by knowing which ones are your friend.
Pear — You’re larger on bottom than on top. To make your body look more evenly proportioned, you want to do two things: Minimize the bottom, and draw the eye up.
- Avoid: boy shorts, thongs, garters and baby dolls
- Look for: bustiers, long gowns with a flowing skirt and low-cut top, and loose, mid-length chemises with detailing up top
Apple — You’re biggest in the middle. You want to downplay the tummy area and draw attention to your bust and legs.
- Avoid: fitted waists, crop tops, bra-and-panty sets teddies
- Look for: loose, short chemises, A-line gowns, vintage-style peignoir sets and anything that shows off your shapely legs or your cleavage, if you’ve got ’em
Inverted Triangle — You’re bigger up top or broad in the shoulders and narrower in the hips. Your goal is to balance that out by adding volume below the waist and drawing the eye down.
- Avoid: any fancy detailing up top, puff sleeves or racer-back cuts
- Look for: full-skirted gowns, wide shoulder straps and anything that add draping over the hips and derrière
Boyish — You’re pretty much straight and narrow from top to bottom, with a small bust and hips. You want to create the illusion of curves by adding volume on the top and bottom and drawing the eye to a narrower waist.
- Avoid: column dresses, bandeaus, long, loose gowns
Look for: two-piece sets, top-and-bottom draping, tanga bottoms, push-up tops, anything with a sheer or open mid-section
Hourglass — You’ve got ’50s pinup proportions, with a small waist and larger, roughly equal bust and hip measurements. Your goal is to play this up for all it’s worth.
- Avoid: Nothing.
- Look for: Anything.
Hourglass is the shape the lingerie companies have in mind for most of their designs, so if that’s you, you’ve got a lot of options that will flatter you figure.
Women of other shapes will have to be more selective, and guess what: If you’re still not completely comfortable, even in your ideal va-va-voom look, you don’t have to wear it on its own! While bathrobes are definitely out, lingerie robes are definitely in. They are our very good friends. Wrap yourself in something long, flowing and sensuously silky, and leave the rest of the goodies for the dark.
How to Measure Your Bra Size from Wikihow
Last updated: November 11, 2012
Believe it or not, at least 80% of women wear an incorrectly sized bra! Most people wear a bra too large in the back and too small in the cups. And although the average bra size is often quoted as being 36C, this is just the most popular size that women buy. Most people who wear an “average” 36C bra should actually be wearing somewhere around a 32DD or even 30E.
So how do bra sizes work? Most people know that bra sizes are made up of two parts – a number and a letter. The number is known as the “band size” or “back size,” and the letter is the “cup size.” However, what many people do not realize is that cup sizes are in proportion to the band size, so a D cup, for example, is not the same size in every bra. A 32D is the same size as a 34C or 36B, but on a smaller frame. A 28F is actually five cup sizes smaller than a 38F, so it’s not as big as it sounds! If you’re fairly slim, then you may well need a large cup size even though your bust doesn’t look any bigger than average.
Larger women may still need a small band size because this relates to the size of your ribcage only – you can still be curvy everywhere else! And losing or gaining just a few pounds is likely to have an effect on your bra size but it’s not often considered even when other clothing is resized. And then there are the times when you go for so long wearing a certain size that you don’t even realize it doesn’t fit well anymore and you stop noticing the discomfort and treating it as “normal”! If you’re looking for a better fit, here’s how to find your true bra size.
- Measure your band size.
- Run a tape measure all the way around your body just underneath your breasts and take a measurement in inches. Make sure the tape measure is horizontal and fairly snug. Your arms should be down.
- If this measurement is an odd number, then you should try out bras in both the size below your measurement and the size above.  For example, if you measured 31 inches (78.7cm), your band size could be 30 or 32.
- If your measurement is already an even number, this is almost always your band size, but you may need a smaller or larger size depending on your body type.
- Some bra fitting guides and calculators will tell you to add four or five inches (10 to 12.5cm) to your underbust measurement, but this is outdated advice. The “add four” method was popularized by Warners in the 1930s when bra design was in its infancy and it simply doesn’t work with modern bras.
- Determine your cup size.
- Since everyone’s breasts are different in terms of shape (even between your own breasts), the most accurate way to determine your cup size is by using your current bra size as a starting point. The cups are sized relative to the band, so if you were to try a smaller band size but keep the same cup size, the cups would be too small.
- For every band size you have dropped, you will need to increase the cups by one size. For example, if you are currently wearing a 34D bra, and you measure 28 inches, you should probably wear a 28F.
- The majority of leading brands use UK cup sizing: AA, A, B, C, D, DD, E, F, FF, G, GG, H, HH, J, JJ, K, KK, L, LL. If you’re shopping in the US you might see cup sizes such as DDD or DDDD. These are equivalent to E and F. If you’re in any doubt, particularly with larger cup sizes, you can refer to an international bra sizing chart.
- Try on a bra with the band and cup size you’ve arrived at in these steps. You should not regard this as your definitive size until you have tried on a few bras, and even then you will often find you need a different size in different brands or styles of bra.
- After taking the bra off its hanger the shoulder straps will need to be lengthened. Put your arms through them and lean forward slightly so that your bust falls into the cups.
- Fasten the bra on the largest set of hooks and eyes. Don’t worry if it’s tricky to fasten, if you’re trying a smaller back size you will notice that you need to stretch it around you to make the hooks and eyes meet.
- Still leaning forward, take hold of the underwires and give them a wiggle from side to side to make sure you’re settled comfortably into the cups.
- For each side in turn, slip your hand into the side of the cup and lift each breast towards the centre.
- You will probably have to adjust the length of the shoulder straps. Slip them off your shoulders and adjust the sliders so that the straps are short enough to stay in place but don’t cut in.
- Check the band size. The correct band size is the smallest you can comfortably wear. (This might be smaller than your underbust measurement-bra bands are quite stretchy, especially at 42+.) It needs to be firm enough that the bra is still fairly supportive without weighing down heavily on the shoulder straps.
- You should be able to run your fingers around the inside of the band, but not much more. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to fit no more than a fist under the back of the bra where your spine is at.
- It should fit on the biggest adjustment, but will probably be too tight if you try to fasten it on the smallest size. Bras are designed to fit like this so that you can tighten the band as the elastic starts to wear out.
- If the band is roomy enough for you to be able to comfortably fasten it on the tightest adjustment, try a smaller band, for example if a 32D is too loose, try a 30DD. Remember that the cup size has to be changed when you move to a different band size – for every band you go down, you must go up by one cup size in order for the cups to remain the same capacity and vice versa.
- If you find the band painfully tight you should try going up a cup size because too small of cups can make a band which is too big or the right size seem ill fitting. If going up a size, maybe even several does not work, then try going a band up and a cup down, e.g. 28G to 30FF. However, try the first method before the latter.
- Check the cup size. The correct cup size should be completely filled out with no wrinkling of the fabric or space in the cups, but any spillage or “double boob” means the cup size is too small, even in low cut or pushup bras.
- Check around the cups for any bulging, not only at the front but also at the sides under your arms.
- Make sure the underwire encloses your whole breast and lies flat against your rib cage.
- Check at the sides under your arms to make sure the underwires are sitting on your ribs, not on soft breast tissue. If they’re cutting into the sides of your breasts then you need a larger cup size. Also be aware that if you have been wearing a bra with a too big band and too small cups, you may have ended up with migrated tissue, which will seem to be armpit rolls, or back rolls. This can be fixed after getting a well fitting bra.
- If the underwires are pressing painfully against your breastbone at the centre front you may need a smaller cup size or you could try a plunge style with a lower centre front (this is more likely to be an issue with the cups than the band.) Or you might just be human, and it’s the shaping of your ribcage. In that case, wait for the bra to be “broken in” and see how it fits then, or go with the lower centre front.
- If you think the cups might be too small but you’re not sure, try on a bigger cup size as well to double check. It will usually be obvious if the smaller size fits better.
- See how it looks with your top on. You’ve found a new bra that fits well, maybe in a different size or style to the ones you’re used to. Now it’s time to see what it does for your figure! If you’re trying a t-shirt bra it’s also important to make sure it gives you a smooth line under fitted clothes.
- If you look side on to the mirror, you should be able to see that your bust is approximately halfway between your elbow and your shoulder.
- In a well fitting bra, your bustline will be supported at the right level. A lot of people find that their clothes fit a lot better, and they discover a waist that could never be seen before! If your bustline had previously been quite low because of a poorly supporting bra, you may even find that you need to wear a smaller dress size.
- A fitted t-shirt will show up any bulges from cups which are too small, and likewise a moulded bra that is not filled out will show lines at the bust where the edge of the cups are visible. It’s also useful to make sure that the colour of your bra is not showing through a thin or light coloured top – if you need to make your bra invisible, go for seamless cups which match your own skin colour rather than the colour of your top.
- It is a common concern that wearing a smaller band size will make a big bulge around your back. However, these bulges are actually caused by the back of the bra riding up when it is too large. You should find that when the band sits lower at the back, it fits firmly and remains horizontal, rather than pushing upwards creating a bulge.