Lingerie! Underthings! We all wear them, or at least something resembling them, probably most of the time! You may be someone who wants to wear a lacy balconette bra or a binder, boxer briefs or a thong — or maybe some combination of all of the above, depending on the day! You may also be someone who has asked for one of these items as a holiday gift, or someone who is here for advice because your person (or one of your people, or someone you generally care about in a romantic or platonic or as-yet-undecided way) asked for one of these things!
Welcome, friend. I’m here to help. Why am I qualified to help you? For the last almost-four years, I owned and operated Bluestockings Boutique, a lingerie store geared to the LGBTQ+ community. I recently closed Bluestockings in order to focus on other endeavors, but I still want to help y’all out when it comes to lingerie and underthings – and that also means when it comes to shopping for other people.
Let’s be real: shopping for other people is already daunting. Shopping for lingerie and underthings? Holy motherfucker.
Here are some of the essentials to know when it comes to lingerie gift giving.
A Brief Note to Folks Who Want Lingerie & Underthings as a Gift
First off: do your person a massive favor and give them an explicit list of options within the agreed-upon budget you have set for gift-giving. Include your preferred size, brand, and color. If you don’t know your size in a particular brand and are requesting a size-specific item like a bra, binder, or underwear, provide your measurements so they can accurately use the size guide. Eliminate guesswork.
However, assuming you’re here because you have not been provided with an explicit wishlist, here are tips for gift-givers:
This is the baseline of all gift giving, but especially applies when considering clothing and intimates. What kinds of styles does your person wear? What makes them feel most confident, most themselves? What do they like showing off? What kind of colors? What kind of fabric? (Also, before buying someone silk pajamas – is your person the kind of person who would handwash silk pajamas? So many things to consider!)
If You Have Consensual Closet Access, Check Their Sizes
First off, our language around clothing could use a major overhaul. “I’m a 14. God, I’m an A cup. Ugh, I’m an H cup, nothing fits me.” Y’all. No one is a size – we wear a size. (My dear friend, the lingerie blogger Sweet Nothings, wrote a brilliant piece on this topic a while back.)
Also? Unless your person is loyal to absolutely only one brand (which then makes your job very easy!), odds are good they have several sizes in their underwear drawer. This is because sizing in fashion is not standardized. Let me repeat: sizing in fashion is NOT standardized. Literally every brand has slightly different standards for sizing, which is why knowing the size someone wears in one brand may not be helpful (at all) for guessing at what they might wear in another brand. Do your research, and if you need clarification, ask!
Tops & Bottoms
If you go the tops-and-bottoms route, here are some solid places to start. Queer-owned brands like GC2B and PlayOut have a variety of styles of tops and bottoms to choose from in fun and unique colors and patterns (and they offer fast shipping). Me Undies has a solid size range, some middle-of-the-road bralette options for folks who don’t want underwire bras but also don’t want to bind (all the time), and the ability to build-a-pack of underwear. Do not sleep on ModCloth for both femme and plus size options. And if you’re going to spring for an underwire bra for your person, the Natori Feathers is one of the best bras on the market.
An additional component of sizing to keep in mind is that, when it comes to underthings, different fabrics fit differently. A jersey bralette with a lot of stretch will fit very differently than a 3-part cup underwire bra with powermesh wings. Cotton underwear tends to be stretchy and have some give. Silk underwear, less so. Lace can go either way! And when you’re buying online and don’t have access to what the fabric feels like, it’s anyone’s guess (unless you are adept at understanding descriptions of fabric blends).
Personally, I have at least three different sizes of underwear and probably at least six different bra sizes in my closet — to give you an idea of the range we could be working with. This leads us to the next tip.
Loungewear Is Your Best Friend
What do I mean by loungewear? Pajama sets. Robes. Teddies. Monogrammed shit! Theirs & theirs, hers & hers, theirs & hers, his & hers, his & his, mix and match, you get the idea! Sizing concerns are less stringent with loungewear, and you can get super festive with loungewear (red polka dots, anyone?), or keep it simple with a classic set of silk pajamas, or plaid. Plaid is good.
PJ Sets for Every Style
Loungewear tends to come in more basic size ranges – XS-5X+ – and the sizing also tends to be much more generous. You can also find really excellent, quality loungewear that won’t fall apart immediately at all price points, and with excellent holiday discounts as the season progresses.
Robes are one of the easiest items items to buy in that they often have generous sizing and can also be found in a variety of fabrics and styles to suit a variety of gender presentations and personalities. They are, uniformly, a crowd pleaser.
Also? Loungewear has the added bonus of often being considered an “extra” item that people are less likely to buy for themselves.
Be wary of the sale rack
Always check the return policy, regardless, but especially remember these three things during holiday season:
- Underwear that is purchased online is often not returnable
- Final sale items are rarely returnable, no matter where they are purchased
- If purchasing internationally, double and triple check the policies! Many independent designers and boutiques do not accept international returns and exchanges.
Don’t buy a gift that is actually a suggestion
This goes without saying, but always bears repeating. Get a gift your person would enjoy – not one that is trying to encourage them to do or be something or someone they aren’t.
Gift cards are your friend