Lingerie shopping can be a draining business. Too much choice, too many size variations, too many mirrors in the changing room – and zero chance of a refund if you get it wrong. But if you haven’t restocked your undies drawer for ages, don’t be put off. Things have got a lot better. The key is to boycott any shop that fills its windows with red lace at this time of year (everything will be in manmade fibres), and work out which cuts suit you.
If your figure is slight or boyish, you can get away with a thong, but you might want to add curves with boyshorts (these are only flattering on the mini-est of bums). For bras, avoid the temptation to go for loads of padding and underwiring. Yours is the only body type that can do minimal, delicate bras – so flaunt it in one. Elle Macpherson does gorgeous, affordable styles starting at a 30inch back, or, if you like clean simple styles, try Calvin Klein.
[Relevant: More gift ideas for her]
If you’re curvier, brazilian cut thongs or French knickers are your best bet. Good old M&S does flattering shapes, as does GAP and H&M. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, you can’t beat Myla, La Perla, Princess Tamtam and Stella McCartney. Want something really sexy? Head to Coco De Mer – it’s expensive but worth it.
Think about colour, too. Unless you have the energy to douse yourself in fake tan every other night, buy underwear in shades that work with your skin-tone. Pinks, blues and greys (better than it sounds) are pretty against pale skin, or, if you have darker skin, skip the black and experiment with any colour of the rainbow.
Finally, the world’s most comfortable and flattering every day thongs are by and American brand called Cosabella. Once you’ve worn them you’ll never buy anything else.
The man’s guide to buying underwear for women:
Look at the size labels of her existing underwear. If you buy too big you’ll offend her, if you buy too small you’ll depress her. Neither are aphrodisiacs.
Think back to the underwear she wore when you first met (if that’s within living memory). This will give you a good idea of what she believes is sexy - which is more important than what you think is sexy. If she feels good you’ll benefit too, if she feels awkward nobody has any fun.
Expect to spend. Annoyingly, underwear is one of those things like watches where spending extra really shows. The cheap stuff feels nasty and looks looks nasty, and better quality tends to be more flattering. Good bras start at around £30.
Don’t even think about anything PVC, unless she already wears it. Red, and stockings and suspenders are generally best avoided too.