“Picking out your perfect Valentine’s Day look is all about choosing something you feel sexy in.Tony Anderson/Lifesize/Getty Images
Got someone to love? Valentine’s Day, even if you’re not the retail-holiday type, is still a perfect excuse to get romantic. It’s a pre-set time to put aside the mundanities of daily life and focus, for one sweet night, exclusively on love — and (fingers crossed!) intimacy.
Thus the lingerie ads that blanket the retail world like so much skin-toned confetti as soon as New Year’s Eve passes. They feature gorgeous women looking sultry and confident in their satin and lace and stilettos, and we’re thrilled for them, really. But lots of us don’t feel quite so confident in skin-bearing, curve-hugging lingerie. We don’t always feel so confident in our jeans.
Rest assured, every woman can look sexy. More important, every woman can feel sexy. And when you feel sexy, you are sexy.
So forget that bathrobe and get ready to look hot this year. Here, a guide to being your sexiest when you turn out the lights (or not) on Feb. 14. It’s simply a matter of developing a sense of your inner sexpot and an eye for which styles work best on which shape.
Let’s begin with the fun part — which kind of sexy are you?
What's Your Look?
There are many sides to every woman, but in lingerie styles just as in shoes, hair color and reading material, each lady has a favorite type. Is your dresser drawer awash with white cotton? Red lace? Silky black maxi gowns or, oh my, leather and latex?
Deciding what you feel sexiest (and most comfortable in) is a logical place to start when planning your look. It’s pretty simple to figure out and will help you narrow down your options. So, what’s your best angle of seduction?
Demure — You feel sexiest in white and pale pink, and you like to leave a lot to the imagination. What he doesn’t know can only excite him. Look for white cotton trimmed in lace, full-coverage tops and bottoms, and luxurious jersey knits that just barely graze your curves. Cami sets, knee-length gowns, and subtly sexy, soft cotton chemises — possibly with a dainty floral print all girly and bashful — are nice options here.
Elegant — You’re as classically stylish in your underwear as in your full-length, black cashmere coat, Hermès scarf and tall boots. In lingerie, this can mean a lot of silk and satin in dark tones, and nothing too sheer — it’s nice to keep a little under wraps. Consider tap shorts, a satin corset set, black demi bra and bikini panties, or a very low-cut, full-length gown. Pointy-toe high heels, thigh-high stockings and garters can take the look up a notch.
Effortless — You’re casual, no-nonsense and possibly sporty in your dress, and you love all that is seamless and neutral. Comfort and ease are crucial: You feel your sexiest there, lounging barefoot and fresh-faced. Some options here include clingy one-pieces, simple, silky teddies, boy-short sets and long, jersey column gowns.
Playful — You’ve been known to wear skirts with knee socks and never shy away from a fun print. Your underwear might have polka dots and your nightgowns could be short, pink and ruffled. Try a mini, body-con chemise, boy shorts with crop top, or stretch-silk mini with bandeau in pink or red — it’s Valentine’s Day, after all. Opaque, printed thigh-highs can complement the look.
Risqué — You don’t shy away from leather, and you may have a French maid costume stashed in your sexy drawer. To you, there’s no such thing as over-the-top, and garters are one of the tamer items in your repertoire. Consider leather bustiers, string thongs, and teddies and bra-and-panty sets with cut-outs in all the right places. Over-the-knee boots can be a great finish.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong (and so much that’s right) with trying something new, so if you’re feeling bold, go for it. Just make sure it’s a style you’ll feel confident and comfortable wearing, since that’s the quickest way to sexy. If you feel equally comfortable in more than one category, just pick whichever look you’d like to master this Valentine’s Day, and embody it.
With your angle of seduction in mind, your next stop is the lingerie Web site, store or catalog, where you’ll implement the next bit of knowledge that will help you look your sexiest.
Whether you’re a girl who loves bold colors or are solely into neutrals, choose wisely. Bright colors, pale colors and prints will tend to highlight, while dark colors and solids will help to minimize.
What's Your Shape?
Not everyone can pull off every look, and the quickest way to feeling un-sexy is to wear something that highlights an area you view as a problem spot. This doesn’t necessarily mean covering up, although that’s an option. It may just mean working with colors, patterns and proportions to accentuate the positive and downplay everything else.
In this way, lingerie is no different from any other clothing category: Certain cuts will flatter your body type more than others. So once you have your Valentine’s-night style in mind, you can filter your product choices by knowing which ones are your friend.
Pear — You’re larger on bottom than on top. To make your body look more evenly proportioned, you want to do two things: Minimize the bottom, and draw the eye up.
- Avoid: boy shorts, thongs, garters and baby dolls
- Look for: bustiers, long gowns with a flowing skirt and low-cut top, and loose, mid-length chemises with detailing up top
Apple — You’re biggest in the middle. You want to downplay the tummy area and draw attention to your bust and legs.
- Avoid: fitted waists, crop tops, bra-and-panty sets teddies
- Look for: loose, short chemises, A-line gowns, vintage-style peignoir sets and anything that shows off your shapely legs or your cleavage, if you’ve got ’em
Inverted Triangle — You’re bigger up top or broad in the shoulders and narrower in the hips. Your goal is to balance that out by adding volume below the waist and drawing the eye down.
- Avoid: any fancy detailing up top, puff sleeves or racer-back cuts
- Look for: full-skirted gowns, wide shoulder straps and anything that add draping over the hips and derrière
Boyish — You’re pretty much straight and narrow from top to bottom, with a small bust and hips. You want to create the illusion of curves by adding volume on the top and bottom and drawing the eye to a narrower waist.
- Avoid: column dresses, bandeaus, long, loose gowns
- Look for: two-piece sets, top-and-bottom draping, tanga bottoms, push-up tops, anything with a sheer or open mid-section
Hourglass — You’ve got ’50s pinup proportions, with a small waist and larger, roughly equal bust and hip measurements. Your goal is to play this up for all it’s worth.
- Avoid: Nothing.
- Look for: Anything.
Hourglass is the shape the lingerie companies have in mind for most of their designs, so if that’s you, you’ve got a lot of options that will flatter you figure.
Women of other shapes will have to be more selective, and guess what: If you’re still not completely comfortable, even in your ideal va-va-voom look, you don’t have to wear it on its own! While bathrobes are definitely out, lingerie robes are definitely in. They are our very good friends. Wrap yourself in something long, flowing and sensuously silky, and leave the rest of the goodies for the dark.
For more information on lingerie, Valentine’s Day, and dressing for your body type, check out the links on the next page.
Is your perfect look almost perfect? No need to start from square one — just see a good seamstress! An experienced one can alter lingerie as easily as she can a pair of pants.
Lots More Information
- Valentine’s Day Guide
- Shhhh! The Underwear Quiz
- Tips for Working With Your Body Shape
- Sweet Celeb Couples Image Gallery
- 5 Fashion Choices That Turn Men Off
More Great Links
- Knickers Quiz: What’s her lingerie personality?
- Today Tech: How to look your sexiest for Valentine’s Day video chat — Feb. 14, 2011
- Broderick, Christine. "Lingerie: Which Styles Suit Your Body Type?" The Knot. (Jan. 31, 2011) http://wedding.theknot.com/bridal-fashion/wedding-accessory-jewelry/articles/which-lingerie-styles-suit-your-body.aspx?MsdVisit=1
- How to Choose Sexy Lingerie. The Clothing Dictionary. (Jan. 31, 2012) http://www.clothingdictionary.com/how_to_select_sexy_lingerie.htm
- Lingerie Glossary. Fresh Pair. (Jan. 31, 2012) http://www.freshpair.com/lingerie-glossary.html
- Virgin to Vixen: Our seven lingerie personalities. Knickers. (Jan. 31, 2012) http://www.knickersblog.com/category/lingerie-personalities