Lingerie Shopping Tips, Part Two: Style Glossary
Before you select a gift, you need to know what the heck we are talking about here, so let’s look at lingerie terms & styles.
Balcony or Balconette Bras
The balconette bra provides about ½ to ¾ of the coverage of a full cup bra. As such, it is designed to be worn under low cut tops. Balconette styles are designed to lift the whole bust upwards without enhancing your cleavage. (Giving a very 'upfront' shape.) A sexy style of bra which is a lovely gift idea when given as a bra & panty set.
The 50’s saw the introduction of the bullet bra, which featured pointed cups. These were designed to make breasts point out, straight ahead: think of the ultimate in sweater girls.. Vintage & retro sex kittens adore these, they do make quite a statement!
Constructed with boning throughout, usually with lacing &/or a full length row of small hook & eye closures, this is one garment that takes time to put on. The garment starts just under the breast line, to the waist, usually cinching the waist in. Some have garters for stockings, which are often detachable, so that the lady has the option of hosiery. Adored by those who love vintage looks, these are pretty things which shape, but are most definitely great gifts.
A longer version of a bustier, a corset covers from bust to just below the waist. Those called ’long line’ may go to the hips &/or thighs. Because of the construction & it shapes & molds the figure ~ breasts out, waist in. While this is technically a ‘shaping garment,’ it is not to be avoided (unless you know your lady dislikes the work it takes to get in them!). Corsets are a lovely, made with fine fabrics such as brocade, and feel utterly decadent when worn.
A demi bra is similar to the balconette bra, however, it is designed to enhance the cleavage. Another great gift idea, with matching panties of course.
Full Cup Bras
Pretty much what it sounds like ~ The full cup totally surrounds the breasts giving excellent support. It’s great for ‘every day,’ but don’t dismiss it as a potential gift item. Busty sweater girls may enjoy a full cup bra in a pretty matching shade, if is has a smooth satin finish, so the lines do not show! (Oh, yes, get matching panties too!)
A full-figured bra is designed for sizes 32-42C, D, or DD & up. It covers a larger area than average bras, and is built for comfort: The fabric used is heavier, the straps are wider & often padded for extra comfort. Not a wise gift idea, unless specifically on her gift list. Let her buy her own ‘practical bra.’
Another type of corset, usually strapless, with a plunging neckline. More often than not it has detachable garters. Sometimes a teddie with a plunging neckline will also be called a Merry Widow.
A minimizer bra is designed to reduce projection, while maintaining support. She may want one, but unless she wrote it down for you, forget about it. (In fact any ‘shaper’ foundations are best to avoid unless they are explicitly on her list.)
Open bust / Open tip
A bra style where little or no coverage is provided over the breast &/or nipple. Open refers to the entire breast, while tip means the nipple only is open/showing. This is one style where you should know her & her likes very well to give as a gift.
This bra is created for looks ~ & the looks she will get! The cups are cut in a diagonal, making the center of the bra ‘plunge’ low. Most of the plunge bras are also padded, to push them together to give her the maximum possible cleavage. Very good bra & panty gift set material.
A push-up bra uses padding & wires to push the breasts up, enhancing the cleavage & giving a fuller look. Paired with matching panties, this has great gift potential.
Bra cups support and lift the breast, but are cut to expose the nipple &/or areola. Again, a style that requires an intimate knowledge of her likes before it is purchased as a gift.
A sports bra is designed to eliminate bounce (as much as possible). Great for a gym workout, but the opposite of what most desire in a sexual situation. This falls into the area of ‘functional underwear’ and is not the preferred gift of Sex Kittens.
A strapless bra has no shoulder straps. It’s purpose is for wear with evening gowns & other sleeveless fashions. This is one of the most difficult to fit bras, so for that reason alone, we’d recommend avoiding this one.
The style of panties that is low-cut & fits around the hips.
Historically, bloomers were loose undergarments, with elastic at the bottom, formerly worn by women for cycling. Nowadays, bloomers are back, but in modernized versions. These newer versions can even be found in crotchless styles.
Also called boy shorts or a Boy-leg-Brief these panties are designed with a longer leg & lower riding waistline. Legs usually rest just above or at the buttock-thigh crease, with the waist on or below the hip. Since they usually have a full coverage back panel they are believed to help to avoid visible panty lines. However, for some women, they seem to make very noticeable lines. They are often a favorite to pair with a small tee or cami for sleepwear. A good gifts for those that like modern casual looks.
A panty style that covers more of the buttocks than a thong, but less than a traditional full-back panty.
The top of the panty is at the waist. Full coverage.
A panty with the leg opening extending higher than normal. Sometimes called a Hi-kini.
Even less rear coverage than a thong. The same considerations apply.
A ‘belt’ that wraps around the waist, & has clasps that attach to stockings to hold them up. These are not panties, but rather worn over panties. Often purchased along with a bra & panties to make a pretty set. Don’t forget the stockings!
A close fitting undergarment, elasticized &/or boned, that extends from the waist to below the hips. (Think of the bottom half of a corset.) Often it had detachable garters. Now called a ’shaper’ or ’shapewear.’ The vintage ones are quite sought after, as are the ones made in the ‘classic’ styles with modern fabrics.
A panty style similar to the string bikini, but with moderate back coverage that looks more like a "v" instead of the "u" which is found in full coverage backs.
A narrow strip of fabric or elastic joins the front and rear panels of the traditional bikini cut panty.
Similar to a boy short but slightly higher in the waist and lower in the leg. This style usually has thin straps across the hips.
Shorts with loose fitting legs, generally rides higher on the sides. These used to be so easy to find, usually in sets with camisoles, but they are much harder to find now.
A tiny panty with almost no rear coverage. Once all the rage for avoiding panty lines, they next became trendy to wear so they would be seen over the edge of pants & skirts (known as a ‘whale tail). The most comfortable thongs are made of microfiber, mesh or cotton, & infused with Lycra. They are seamless & have string sides. As gifts, most have pretty back accents & decorations.
A one-piece snug-fitting undergarment for women, usually made of nylon, that covers the whole torso. Sometimes called a catsuit.
Pantyhose, or tights, is hosiery that goes from the waist all the way down to, & including, the toes. Pantyhose is usually more sheer & light, tights heavier & opaque.
Hosiery manufactured in the old full-fashioned manner with a seam running up the back of the leg. In the past, these garments were manufactured by cutting fabric and sewing it together. Today these products are generally made on a full circular knitted two bases & a fake seam is added up the back for a particular fashion look. Why? Because the eye can't help itself, it *must* travel up that seam!
Stockings knit in one operation on circular machines (one continuous operation) so that no seaming is required up the back.
Hosiery that starts at the thigh, running to & covering the toes. They are held up garters.
Hosiery that starts at the thigh, running to & covering the toes. They are held up by elastomer bands.
Other Intimate Apparel
Babydolls (or baby dolls) are variety of short flared gowns. They are typically made of sheer fabric, with shaped bra cups. These styles are usually just long enough to cover her bottom, but sometimes they stop just at the belly button (60s style). The best thing for gift givers is that they usually come as a set with matching panties.
Camisoles are the female version of your favorite undershirt (as such, they are sold Small, Medium, Large etc.). They are often paired with panties for a casual ‘underwear‘ day look, or sleepwear at night. A cute, not too racy, gift idea.
A cami bra is not really a bra, but is a cross between a camisole and a bra, designed to look like a bra. Best for the smaller chested as they typically lack the support a larger busted woman needs.
A short, flowing gown that generally has thin straps, a flared at the hem silhouette, usually mid to upper thigh in length. Chemises typically run in the Small/Medium/Large etc sizing. They are less fitted than baby dolls (this combined with their sizing makes them an easier to fit lingerie item.), and easy to sleep in.
A negligee is a sheer nightdress with lace trim, usually designed to be revealing. Usually longer than a chemise or babydoll.
A gown is basically another word for ‘dress,‘ so this is virtually any ’dress style’ lingerie one could wear to bed.
A gown that is styled to look like a man’s shirt, with long sleeves, button up front etc, with a fit similar to that of a chemise. Also it can be an oversized tee shirt styled garment.
A woman’s dressing gown. But please do not confuse this with a robe. A robe provides ‘warmth & comfort,’ while a peignoir is just a means to (sometimes barely) cover one’s nightgown. A peignoir paired with a negligee is a classic. It offers a classy, more elegant look ~ seen often on the glamorous ladies in classic films.
A one-piece garment. Picture a camisole & a panty sewn together. They range in cut from very skimpy to modest coverage, from very fitted to the body, to loose fits. They can be difficult to give as gifts without knowing all of her measurements.
Basically a teddy with detachable garters.