Lingerie Buying Guide

by Staff Writer

Stylish women know that it's easy to flatter your figure when you buy quality intimates to complete your wardrobe, and that the right undergarments make even the most stylish women's clothing fit better. A foundation of the right bras, shapewear, panties and slips creates a smooth silhouette and graceful draping of fabric. This lingerie buying guide will help you sort through the various intimate apparel options available at


Lingerie Buying Guide

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  • Convertible bras:

    With detachable straps that can easily be switched around, convertible bras are the most versatile undergarments in terms of design. A quick rearrangement of the straps makes the convertible bra suitable for halter tops, racer-back tops, sleeveless shirts and plunging necklines.

  • Strapless bras:

    Strapless bras, usually constructed with underwire support in the cups, create a flattering silhouette for your dressiest fashions without the worry of errant straps. Strapless bras should fit snugly so they can provide the needed support without help from straps.

  • Push-up bras:

    Push-up bras are designed to enhance what you have, whether that's a lot or a little. Many push-up bras are designed to push the breasts together, creating the illusion of more cleavage. Pair a push-up bra with a low-cut top for a night out or with a more demure blouse for a day at the office.

  • T-shirt bras:

    T-shirt bras have seamless cups, which makes these underwear staples perfect for wearing under T-shirts or tight blouses while maintaining a natural look.

  • Shelf-top camisoles:

    Shelf-top camisoles offer a comfortable, versatile style. With an extra layer of fabric for modesty and support, the cami is a great alternative to standard bras. Tops with built-in bras often work best for small cup sizes and women who don't require an underwire to feel comfortable.

  • Sports bras:

    Sports bras offer essential support during exercise and feature durable design and breathable fabrics. Compression bras literally compress the breasts against the chest; these are designed for high-impact sports.


  • Briefs:

    Briefs are the most modest style of panty, featuring a waistband that rests just below the navel. There are subsets of briefs, including French cut, which features a higher-cut leg hole than traditional briefs.

  • Bikini panties:

    Bikini panties have a waistband that rests at the hips, making them a better choice than briefs if you wear pants with a medium-rise waistline.

  • Boy leg (or boy short) panties:

    Boy leg (or boy short) panties are briefs with leg openings at the top of the thighs. For more coverage under fitted clothing, look for boy shorts without side seams and with thin or non-existent hems.

  • Thong panties:

    Thong panties have a narrow back panel and no side panels, prevent unsightly panty lines and are often worn under slinky or tight-fitting clothes. For even less coverage when you buy women's underwear, choose a G-string; the back panel is even thinner on these intimates than thongs.

Slips and Shapewear

  • Slips:

    A fine silk or nylon slip greatly improves the drape of a dress or skirt and offers an extra layer of modesty. A fitted slip is made of a stretchy fabric and fits snugly against the body; wear it under a little black cocktail dress.

  • Shapewear:

    Shapewear provides slenderizing support under your best outfits. These garments include control-brief panties made with firm yet stretchy panels, body suits that take the place of bras and underwear, and long-line bras or bustiers that include a full bodice. Made of modern fabrics such as spandex and microfiber, today's shapewear offers support and comfort; long gone are the days of uncomfortable girdles and tight women's underwear.

Caring for Lingerie

  • As with all clothing, follow the care instructions on the manufacturer's label to keep your lingerie in good condition; the included instructions are tailored to the garment's fabric and design. In general, lingerie should be hand-washed in cold water (these are your "fine washables"). To clean bras, panties or slips in a washing machine, place the items in a lingerie bag, choose the delicate cycle and wash in cold water. Air drying is optimal for most intimate apparel, including shapewear; machine dryers can damage the elastic in your underwear.