The Girl’s Guide To Lingerie Styles | Lingerie Shopping 101
It’s OK to admit it: When it comes to lingerie, your expertise extends about as far as the bras and panties you wear on the daily. As far as babydolls, bodysuits and bustiers go, though? You’re (understandably) bewildered.
There may be many garments to choose from, but getting to know them all will help you to figure out your own individual style, and thus, shop more strategically. Alas, let’s review some of the more common lingerie pieces.
This ultra-short nightie typically is just long enough to cover your derriere. With an empire waist, a form-fitting top and flared skirt, the babydoll draws attention away from your mid-section/thighs, highlighting your bust. This piece often has feminine detailing as well, such as ruffles, bows, ribbons or lace trim. Babydolls come in a range of fabrics, from sheer mesh and silk to chiffon and cotton. They are a particularly popular for gifts given that they’re universally flattering and also slightly easier to fit properly than a bra and panty set.
Fun fact: The term stems from the 1956 film Baby Doll, in which star Carroll Baker is lying on her bed wearing one in the opening scene.
Often confused with a babydoll, this nightie hangs more straight, fitting more closely near the hips, and also falls longer — usually somewhere between mid-thigh and the knees. Chemises can be worn to bed, lounging around the house or under a dress as a slip substitute if they don’t have too much elaborate detailing that might show through). Styles range from more modest opaque materials to sultry, sheer ones.
Usually worn under dresses or skirts to achieve a smoother look (and avoid fabric clinging to your skin), the slip is one of the more practical lingerie pieces. They can vary a lot in material and length, but they are almost always sleeveless and hang closer to the body than a babydoll.
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At the top, this piece looks exactly like an underwire bra, but a bustier extends farther down the waist, offering some smoothing and shaping benefits in addition to the bust support. While this undergarment is often mixed up with a corset, bustiers differ in that they have less boning (if any at all), less waist cinching and feature adjustable straps (which are sometimes detachable) as well as structured cups. The bustier may be fastened with hook-and-eye closures or a zipper, either in the front or back. This piece is often worn with stockings and garters.
This sleeveless undergarment, often referred to as a “cami,” extends down to the waistline, and may or may not feature a built-in bra. The camisole comes in many fabrics, including satin, silk, lace, and mesh, and can be worn under a sheer blouse or as a layering piece. Depending on the fabric and fit, this piece may offer some subtle shaping.
Think of this garment as a combination of a camisole and panties in one. Some teddies are skin-tight, but many are loose-fitting. They may be unlined or lined, have underwire or no structured cups, and can feature a variety of closures. A teddy can be worn as sleepwear, or layered under a top or dress, depending on the cut and fabric. As far as coverage goes, it can range from very little (thong/minimal coverage) to a lot (brief/moderate coverage).
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Not unlike a teddy, a bodysuit resembles a one-piece bathing suit. However, this piece is usually far more form-fitting and aimed at offering more support for the breasts as well as shaping and smoothing (whereas a teddy tends to be more simply for show). You may find bodysuits useful for layering when you don’t want to worry about a blouse riding up (since they always stay tucked in). Depending on the style, a bodysuit can also act as a substitute for a tank under a jacket. This garment may be found with a multitude of cuts on the bottom, from thong to bikini or brief.
Garter belt/suspender belt
This little accessory is designed to hold up stockings — it circles your waist, and features dangling straps that either snap or clip onto the hosiery. Garter belts may be made of lace, silk, leather, or a number of other materials. They can vary in their vibe from sweet and playful to more racy or exotic.
Feeling more confident about your lingerie knowledge? Now you’re primed to pick out some new pieces to spice up collection.