Insiders’ Guide: How to Build a Lingerie Wardrobe

An Interview With Rebecca Apsan

Apsan is the owner of La Petite Coquette, a New York City boutique, and author of The Lingerie Handbook (Workman Publishing).

Many of us have a racy bra or two lurking in our underwear drawer, but assembling a truly sophisticated lingerie wardrobe can be daunting. If you choose a few beautiful pieces and take care of what you buy, your innerwear can be as stylish as your outerwear.

•  __ Go for a fitting.__ You can have the nicest lingerie in the world, but if it doesn’t fit properly, it’s worthless. Panties are easy—they should feel snug without binding or bunching. Bras are trickier. If you wear underwire, make sure the cups sit flush against each breast without pinching on the sides. The wire should not rest on the breast tissue, but against the rib cage. If the bra rides up in the back, the band (the numerical size of the bra) is too big.

•  __ Start with the basics.__ Every woman should have the essentials: several seamless bras in nude, black, and white; a few thongs (I like ones by On Gossamer, La Perla, and Araks); and boy shorts that lie flat and smooth so panty lines don’t show (try Hanky Panky, Cosabella, and Flirt).

•  __ Match your favorite clothes.__ If you like clingy silk or jersey dresses, buy a slip; if you wear deep V-necks, get a plunge bra. For tank tops, a racer-back with a front closure is best.

•  __ Take care.__ Both your style and your shape will change over time, so it’s important to update accordingly. Toss whatever doesn’t fit or looks dingy. Body cream, sunscreen, perfume, and sweat all break down Lycra. Hand wash your garments in a gentle detergent made specifically for lingerie, and hang them to dry away from heat; never put delicate pieces in the dryer. Generally, I suggest washing bras after every second or third wearing, depending on how active you are. Store your bras with the hook closed so they don’t snag.

•  __ Spice it up.__ I think it’s crucial to have a few gorgeous items that make you feel sexy. I recommend a great garter that you wear with silk stockings—nothing feels as great as silk. Then get a terrific, long, flowy nightgown. In Marco Vicario’s 1977 film Mogliamante, the actress Laura Antonelli wears a fluid, sheer nightgown, and you can’t see anything but the outline of her figure. It’s just stunning, and that effect works for almost every body.

See Also

  • How to Care for Your Lingerie

  • How to Buy a Bra That Fits

  • Malia Mills: How to Find a Great Bathing Suit