Lingerie Buying Guide for Men | Express My Lingerie Australia

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Lingerie Buying Guide for Men

Lingerie Buying Guide For Men

By Nicholas Cockayne

For many men buying lingerie for women is a minefield of potential mistakes and confusion that could blow up in your face with a single wrong step.  With a wealth of sizes, styles and materials to choose from it's difficult deciding on the perfect gift and all too easy to make the wrong choice.

But worry not, this guide is here to help you through the different aspects of buying lingerie, so that your gift pleases and delights your partner.  The guide will detail the basics of the different measurements of size used in various lingerie garments, as well as explaining a little about the different styles of lingerie that are available to help you find lingerie that not only fits, but also compliments your partner.

Size is THE most important factor when buying a woman lingerie.  It doesn't matter whether you buy the perfect style of lingerie in her favorite material and colour, if the size isn't right, then nothing else matters.  Not only does buying the wrong size make your gift useless, it also has the potential to insult.  Buy something too large and you may give the impression you think she's bigger than she really is, buy something too small and you make her feel too large.  Getting the right size is everything.

Size Guide
Size guidelines often differ between countries, when buying online it is worth checking that the website from which you are buying uses the same sizing conventions as your own country.  The two sizes you need to be aware of are the brassiere, which covers the breasts, and the underwear, which covers the crotch.

Brassiere (breasts)
Band Size - the measurement of the rib cage directly below the breasts (in inches).
Cup Size - the measurement of the volume of the breast, calculated from the difference between the bust size (the measurement around the body and breast at its peak) and the band size (the rib cage below the breasts).  Sizing is given in letters, ranging from a petite AA (less than an inch difference between bust and band size) through to the more buxom KK (at 16 inches difference).  

Together the two sizes give the size of a bra, for instance 32D, 34C, 32AA.  It can be confusing that, because of the way these sizes work together, there are sometimes overlaps in size; for instance: a 30C and 32B would have the same actual cup volume, but most brassiere is adjustable enough so that either size will fit.

Underwear (crotch)
Underwear measurements are much easier to understand than brassiere measurements as it is reckoned in a way more men will be familiar with from their own clothing.  Measurements are given in easy to understand letters, ranging from XS (extra small) through to XXL (extra extra large) and sometimes beyond for larger women.  Alternatively, a numeric system is sometimes used to get a more exact measurement, which men may be less familiar with, this normally ranges from 6 (the smallest) through to 24 (the largest).  These two different systems of underwear measurement are used interchangeably and below is the guide chart for comparisons of numeric underwear sizes between different countries.

Conversion Chart

UK     Europe     USA
XS   8       34         4
S     10     36         6
M     12     38         8
L      14     40        10
XL    16     42        12
XXL  18     44        14

Before even thinking of shopping for lingerie make sure you have a good idea of the exact sizes required.  If the gift is a surprise and you don't know the right size to buy, then use covert methods of finding out: if possible check her underwear drawer when she's not around, or ask subtle questions.  If you really cannot find the correct sizes to buy then it is often a good idea to pick a loser fitting style, such as a babydoll or a chemise, in which small differences in size will be less noticeable than in a tight fitting style such as a corset where it would be instantly obvious.

The Parts of a Lingerie Garment (Understanding the Basics)
Lingerie is usually formed of two basic parts, the brassiere, which covers the breasts, and the underwear, which covers the crotch.  While some more elaborate styles of lingerie also feature material covering the torso, legs, or arms, almost all are based around these two basic features.  Here are a few examples of the styles of both brassiere and underwear with a brief explanation to help you understand the differences between them.

Brassiere Types
Peep (a boo) - With slits that expose sections of the breasts
Open Cup - Little material (if any) covering the breasts
Demi-Cup (or balconette) - Covering half the breast to the nipple or just below with a horizontal bust line.
Padded - To make the breasts appear larger
Push Up – Lifts and pushes together the breasts to give an enhanced appearance of firmness and make them appear larger by enlarging the cleavage.

Underwear Types
Panties (Knickers) - Standard underwear: elastic waistband with crotch and elasticated leg opening with no leg cover.
Boy Shorts - Like panties but with material that extends further down the hips.
Thong – A waistband and crotch connected at the back by a thin piece of material that runs between the buttocks.
Tanga - A design of thong with no material on the sides below the waistband.
G-String – Like the thong but with less material over the crotch and only a very thin (string-like) piece connecting the front and back.

Styles of Lingerie
Lingerie Set
Lingerie sets are formed from the traditional combination of brassiere and underwear in a matching material and colour.  Lingerie sets have a huge variety of possibility, employing combinations of any of the brassiere and underwear styles, as well as often adding hosiery (such as for the legs in different colours and materials.  This huge range of both style, colour and material means that you can always find a lingerie set that suits your partner’s tastes as well as your budget.

Originally, an excruciatingly painful nineteenth century garment intended to squeeze the torso into a certain shape (think Jane Austin type period dramas), the modern corset is now a sexy (and less painful) type of lingerie.  While some types of corset are still used to shape the figure, usually narrowing the waist and emphasizing the bust, most that are considered lingerie mimic this look without seriously altering the shape of the body.  As corsets are usually skin tight in order to achieve the slimming look they sometimes require structural bonings to hold the shape and fastenings, whether lacing, grommets, or hook and eye, to tighten.  Corsets usually end on or above the hips and can be made from satin, velvet, or charmeuse.

Originally popularised and named after the 1956 movie ‘Baby Doll’, starring Carroll Baker, babydolls offer a girlishly cute but sexy look.  Usually short and sleeveless, babydolls consist of formed cups for the bust with a loose fitting shirt that tends to end somewhere between the navel and hips (although it can reach down to the tops of the thighs in some cases).  This leaves the legs exposed, and in some more daringly cut designs, the breasts and stomach as well.  The length and amount of cover that a babydoll provides depends entirely on the style of the garment; giving you a good deal of flexibility between choosing a babydoll that is explicitly sexual or beautiful but modest.  How much the babydoll reveals also depends on what material it is made of.  Silk, charmeuse, microfibre, chiffon and satin make for opaque garments while lace, net and mesh offer more transparency; although this does of course depend on the cut of the babydoll as well.  Due to the short length of most babydolls underwear (whether panties, g-string, or thongs) are normally worn underneath and so come as a set.  If a babydoll does not come with a pair, consider trying to find something in a matching colour and material.

A chemise is much like a babydoll: a short, generally sleeveless, garment that looks as many men might picture a traditional nightdress.  While a babydoll projects the impression of girlishness, a chemise is generally tighter fitting around the hips and gives a more mature appearance.  That’s not to say that a chemise is old fashioned and un-sexy, far from it.  Coming in every style from see-through lace and mesh, to exposed sides, open cup brassieres, exposed midriffs, and the more traditional opaque chemise, this garment combines sexiness and maturity in a startling style and gives a great range of options to choose from.

Now that you’ve read this guide you’ve had a crash course in picking out lingerie that will please your partner and make the perfect gift, and hopefully you’ll understand women’s lingerie a little better.  It’s simple really, just remember to get the right size, pick a style and colour that will suit and flatter, and you and your partner will love your gift for years to come.  Enjoy!