I have a small rack. Well, small for America. I jokingly refer to the ladies downstairs as “ta-ta’s” and can’t shop at Victoria’s Secret because they cater to big-bosomed, catalogue-shopping Midwestern women. For any woman, finding the right bra can be a revelation. For me, finding the Cosabella Soire push-up was a religious experience. It may come as a surprise to men that many women get the same deer-in-headlights expression when it comes to shopping for lingerie that they do. Well, that and swimsuits. And jeans.
For the Aristocrats: The bookends of high-end lace and underwire couturiers are La Perla and Agent Provocateur. La Perla stands as tall on Greene Street in SoHo as its designer neighbors because it’s largely regarded as the finest high-class lingerie in the known universe. Simple designs, a neutral palette, and delicate materials make the brand wearable and decadent, with bra prices landing around $200 and luxurious silk and lace nightgowns starting at $300. Agent Provocateur on Mercer is the naughty cousin to La Perla’s nice, glorifying the push-up (“more boob for your buck”) in hot pink, tassels and feathers. Their lingerie sets play with the naughty and nice girl archetypes (though, let’s face it, the nice sets still look naughty) and bras range from $120 to $395. I fell in love with a $1,000 pink lace corset and a $520 leather one that I actually felt like I could pull off after being inside the store 15 minutes. The saleswomen wear short, pink nurse-type dresses with black fishnets and heels, which sets any jeans-and-flip-flops gal at ease and provides eye candy for any man thinking of buying something lacy for his lover.
For the Bourgeoisie: I recommend intimate boutiques that offer a wide range of selections with more privacy and courtesy than, say, Macy’s. Mixona, on Mott Street, has always been good to me and I swear it will be good to you. They offer the fantasy of Dolce & Gabbana alongside the reality of D&G, though the pale rainbow of their house brand is the real steal at $40, and their Cosabella selection (around $65) is equally diverse. The store is always quiet and the saleswomen won’t grab your breasts with measuring tape or bully you in the dressing room. If you’ve got a taste for something vintage, I recently discovered Le Corset by Selima (of Optique fame), an intimate space tucked away on Thompson Street filled with handmade kimono robes ($100–$300), vintage nightgowns and European brands like Princess Tam Tam, Aubade and Laura Urbinati ($70 — $113). Labeled drawers pull out to reveal vintage bras and corsets ranging from $95 to $200, including one fantastic 1950s bra that creates a decidedly “Dolce Vita” silhouette. In keeping with the boudoir style, they offer custom corsets that take a few weeks to produce.
These are only my suggestions, lovers and friends, to start you on your adventure. Lingerie is a private matter and should be afforded the same care reserved for cell phones and haircuts. Spelunk. You might have your own religious experience.