Lingerie Shopping Guide: How-To Pick Out, Buy and Wear Lingerie With Confidence

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For as long as I can remember, shopping for lingerie has been one of the most decadently sinful things I do for myself. The luxurious fabrics, the supportive fits, and the sensuality of the designs give me an instant dopamine boost with a touch of taboo—an epic combination that’s hard to top. As a longtime sex blogger, I’ve interacted with just about every product in the sexual wellness landscape, but in my opinion, none of them are as powerful as a perfectly fitting bustier. Nowadays, there’s just about every type of lingerie from strappy numbers you’d picture in the Fifty Shades series to modest lingerie and even lingerie robes. So no matter what your personal style or lingerie aesthetic is, there’s a sexy under-something for you.

While you might just think of lingerie for naughty nights in (and that’s definitely an option!), that’s not the only reason someone might don some sexy lingerie. So, why do women wear lingerie, what are the different types of lingerie, and how can you feel hot if you’re new to the lingerie-wearing game? Glad you asked! Below, we’re outlining everything you need to know about how to pick out, shop for, wear, and buy lingerie so you can put your sexiest self forward.

What Actually Is Lingerie?

Before we dive into the why, how, and when to wear lingerie, a little historic recap is in order. If you’re wondering when lingerie was invented, the answer is that it depends on what you consider lingerie to be. While modern teddies were invented in the ‘80s and slinky slips in the ‘20s, most experts agree that the concept of lingerie dates way back to the 1700s.

In Exposed: A History of Lingerie author Colleen Hill says in that time, there was a French ritual called “the toilette.” This involved women undressing and dressing in front of the court and putting on stays (AKA whalebone corsets). These corsets cinched in the waist and pushed up the breasts similar to current styles. While performing the toilette, women would loiter in their undergarments and take their time getting ready, which added to the intimacy and sensual nature then and sets the stage for modern lingerie wearing. Scandalous, right?

Who Can Wear Lingerie?

While lingerie might have historically been marketed for cis-women, the truth is anyone can wear it! It all comes down to personal comfort and choice. This is because lingerie is simply about feeling yourself, which isn’t restricted to gender, body size, race, accessibility, or sexual orientation. There are plenty of trans lingerie and male lingerie options out there, but don’t feel like you have to stick to any type—you’re allowed to wear whatever makes you happy!

Do Men Like Lingerie?

Saying that all men like lingerie is an unfair generalization—just like anything else, different people have different preferences. Some men might love lingerie, some might be neutral about it, and some might not like it. If you’re trying to figure out your partner’s preferences, ask! But for those men that do enjoy it, their preferences usually come down to how it makes the wearer feel. Confidence is extremely sexy, and if you’re wearing something that makes you feel like the smokeshow you are, your partner will take notice!

Consider this your message from the universe that it’s time to snag a few little lacy numbers or luxe leather items, and here’s exactly how to do it!

How to Pick Out Lingerie

From the first time I walked into Victoria’s Secret and bought a matching bra and panty set, I was hooked. But that doesn’t mean picking out something sexy to wear is as simple as waltzing into a store and waking out with an item that makes you feel like a sex goddess. Here’s what to consider as you start your lingerie search.

Find Some Inspo

The first step in picking out a perfect new lingerie set is to simply do a little window shopping—whether virtual or IRL. Scroll through some lingerie websites, flip through magazines, and Google lingerie ideas you have or images you’ve seen. Pay attention to the cuts, fabrics, and styles you’re drawn to—this will help you narrow down your choices when you have 25 different sets in your shopping cart and a credit card limit that’ll only support one. Some of my favorite shops to browse are Yandy, Babeland, and Honey Birdette thanks to their vast selection and interesting offerings.

Consider Your Vibe

One of the cool things about modern lingerie is that there’s a look for everyone’s personal style. Do you want something sweet and sexy? Fierce and powerful? Slinky, strappy, lowkey, or even based on a fictional character? Try to visualize what styles or aesthetics would make you feel confident and beautiful. This might mean a look that’s similar to your everyday style, or it could be something totally different—neither option is wrong! Try jotting down a few words that you want to describe how you feel when wearing your lingerie—and what the lingerie might look like—to help guide your shopping journey.

If you’re buying lingerie with someone else in mind (like, if you’re here after searching “how to buy my wife lingerie”), spend a little time thinking about their favorite colors and fabrics, and even consider your partner’s interests. When in doubt, classic options like red, black, or white lingerie tend to be universal favorites. That doesn’t mean you can’t get creative, though. If you’re trying to dress in lingerie that will wow your S.O., you can even lean into ideas surrounding their favorite sports team or movie, but we guarantee they’ll be thrilled with whatever you choose!

Think About the Theme

Oftentimes people shop for new lingerie surrounding a special occasion like an anniversary, birthday, or holiday; and sometimes channeling a theme can make narrowing down the lingerie choices easier. For Valentine’s Day, think red or pink lacy numbers. For Christmas, try something fur-trimmed or green. A white lace lingerie set is a sentimental way to celebrate your anniversary or wedding night while something black and sultry is the ideal “feel yourself” look on your birthday.

Best themed lingerie:

  1. For Valentine’s Day: Lovehoney Flaunt Me Red Lace Robe
  2. For Christmas: Yandy Seductive Santa Lingerie Costume
  3. For Halloween: Babeland On the Prowl Cat Costume
  4. Bridgerton-Inspired: Lovehoney Flora Ivory Embroidered Bra Set

How to Shop For Lingerie

Now that you’ve got a better understanding of what sort of lingerie you might want, it’s time to go shopping! From measurements to fits, keep the below in mind when you head to the boutique.

Consider What You Already Have

Before you spend your entire paycheck on a whole bunch of lingerie must-haves, take some time to inventory what you already have. You might be surprised to realize you can pull together a super sexy look without shelling out tons of cash. If you already have some nice black panties and heels, simply add a special black bra, bralette, or corset to complete the look. If you have a whole bunch of red accessories, find a matching red corset or camisole to compliment what’s already in your closet. While you can absolutely opt for all new items, if you want to save a little money, this is a budget-friendly way to shop for lingerie that’ll still make you feel shiny and new!

Measure Yourself

Not only does lingerie sometimes involve straps and restraints that aren’t usually found on standard outerwear, but there’s not really a standard sizing reference across the board, which can make finding a flawless lingerie fit feel daunting. The key here is to take the time to measure yourself and always compare your findings to the company’s size charts. If you find yourself in-between sizes, take a close look at the fit of the garment. For flowier options, sizing down could work whereas if the item is tight-fitting with little-to-no stretch (like with hand-woven lace), it’s likely a good idea to size up. When in doubt, read the reviews and ask a fit professional (most companies have them virtually) for help. Your ego will thank you.

Decide Which Areas to Play Up

With so many lingerie options out there, it’s easy to find one that highlights the areas you want to flaunt and hide the ones you don’t—not that you need to hide any part! The trick here is to simply think about your favorite features. Do you want to really amp up your cleavage while keeping the tummy covered? Do you want to show off your bottom but put less focus on your chest? If this means you need to spend a little time in front of the mirror admiring what you’re working with—we support that too!

Best lingerie by areas to highlight:

  1. To play up your bust: Adam & Eve Erotica Teddy
  2. To showcase your butt: Babeland Perfect Match Lace Bandeau Top and Panty
  3. To highlight your legs: Lovehoney Seduce Me Push-Up Basque Set
  4. To show off your midsection: Yandy Appliques Abloom Bra Set

How to Buy Lingerie

You’ve perused lingerie options and shopped around and now it’s time to make your final choice. Here’s what you need to keep in mind before swiping your card in exchange for a cute cami.

Stick to a Budget

When you’re surrounded by silk, leather, and lace, it can be super easy to ignore the price tag and mutter “treat yourself” as you exceed your spending limit. But it doesn’t have to go down like that! There are plenty of lingerie options in all price ranges so you can look sexy without sacrificing your credit score. Figure out how much you’re comfortable spending on lingerie and then stick to that number, no matter how many extra fancy French panties you want to add to your cart.

Don’t Forget the Accessories

While you’re drafting up your lingerie budget, don’t forget to consider any accessories needed. Some sets only look complete with a garter belt or stockings—which often aren’t included in the purchase of a corset or bustier. Other sets might simply pop even more with some strappy stilettos or a push-up bra. Make sure to account for all the extras to keep your bank account happy.

Check the Return Policy

Since trying on lingerie may or may not be an option, especially if you’re shopping online, having a clear understanding of the return policy is a must. Some stores are final sale while others give you a window to return your garments. Lingerie sizing can be tricky to figure out, so it’s a good idea to make sure whatever you buy can be exchanged if it doesn’t work out. There’s nothing worse than being stuck with a lace teddy you can barely fit over your big toe—trust me.

Best lingerie based on price range:

  1. Favorite sale lingerie: Yandy Chloe Sweet As Candy Bodysuit
  2. Best budget-friendly lingerie: Lovehoney Moonlight Wine Plunge Basque Set
  3. Affordable luxury lingerie: Victoria’s Secret Lace Crop Top & Garter Skirt Set
  4. Splurge-worthy lingerie: Honey Birdette Chastity Jaguar Bra & Garter Belt Set

How to Wear Lingerie

You’ve got the lingerie. It’s there, sitting on your bed, just waiting to envelop you in its sexiness. If you’re standing there wondering how to wear lingerie without feeling awkward, you’re not alone. As a society, we’re not exactly primed to feel great about ourselves (thanks, beauty standards!) and unfortunately, there’s not really a How to Be Sexy in Lingerie 101. Or there wasn’t until now. Now that you’ve done the hard part of picking your new set, though, it’s time to feel awesome in it. Here’s exactly how to look good in lingerie from someone who basically lives in it.

Pamper Yourself

Odds are you’ll be tempted to just throw on your sexy new somethings and plop down on the couch with some ice cream and Netflix. And while that does sound like a lovely afternoon, it’s important to view lingerie wearing as more of an act over simply an outfit. Think back to the French ladies in the 1700s; they lounged around in their lingerie, taking their time getting ready and really soaking up that seductive ambiance. Take a page out of their book and set the sexy stage. Soak in the tub, lather on some luxurious lotions, pour a glass of wine, and be present when putting on your slinky new items.

Set the Mood

If you’re planning for a little lingerie night at home, take some time to sexify your environment. Nothing ruins the mood like takeout containers littering the counter and laundry piled in the corner. Once your clutter is clear, light some candles, play some relaxing music, and enjoy the feeling of simply existing in your sexy outfit. Walk around the house! Dance around the living room! Admire yourself in front of every reflective surface. Do whatever it takes to switch your mind frame from “every day” to “erotic.”

The same concept applies if you’re wearing lingerie under your clothing. While you’ll want to take the time to ritualize the experience, you’ll also want to pay close attention to what you’re putting on. Some lingerie can cause rippling or bunching if clothes are worn over top, so you’ll likely want to opt for something made of satin or silk—not lace—and without embellishments like bows, rhinestones, or embroidery.

Indulge in the Sexy Feeling

Now that you’re in your lingerie, soaking up the sensual mood, it’s really time to indulge. Whether that means grabbing a vibrating toy, spending a little special, 1-on-1 time with a special someone, or grabbing that pint of ice cream and simply relaxing by yourself, lingerie is meant to be indulging. So as long as you do whatever tantalizing things feel good for you in the moment, you’ll be wearing your lingerie exactly as intended.

Best add-ons that’ll make your lingerie experience better:

  1. Thigh-high stockings: Babeland Sheer Thigh High Stay-Up Stockings
  2. A garter belt: Lovehoney Fierce Wet Look Garter Belt
  3. Robe: Adam & Eve Unwrap Me Kimono Robe
  4. Ultra-high heels: Christian Louboutin So Kate Pointed Toe Pump

Picking out, buying, shopping for, or wearing lingerie for the first time might feel overwhelming, but as long as you remember the process is about self-pampering and pleasure, you’ll be set! And if this means you’ll spend the rest of your life practicing “the toilette” in a lace teddy, all the better!

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