Never let a guy buy you undies
THERE’S something about the feel of lovely lingerie that seems to trigger a pathway right into my brain.
Whether it’s the softness of lace, the sensuality of silk or even just the floral aroma of the gentle soap flakes I use to wash them, when I pick out the underwear I’m going to wear each morning, I instantly forget my age and remember only that I am a woman.
At this time of year, exquisite lace or delicate embroidery lifts the spirits, when it’s dreary outside and you feel swamped and frumpy beneath your winter clothes.
What I can’t abide, though, is a man buying underwear as a Christmas gift.
Frankly, it’s a nightmare.
My passion for underwear was nearly killed off before it had begun when a boyfriend bought me a pink satin set in my youth (complete with suspender belt — we were young).
I have reddish hair and fair skin, so the colour made me look anaemic. As for the cut, well, it made my thighs look like those pale sausages the French call Boudin blanc.
Then there was the saga of the pale-pink Jasper Conran knickers. Beautiful, yes, but again, entirely the wrong colour for me, so I never wore them.
Men are always grumbling that the women in their lives don’t want to wear the festive frilly fancies they buy, but is it any wonder?
The truth is, they simply shouldn’t bother. They never get the right size and, as for choosing styles that actually suit us? Forget it. They have absolutely no clue.
Getting underwear right is particularly key the older you get. All too often, a woman turns 50 and decides her days of wearing sexy and life-affirming undies are behind her.
She swaps the elegance of La Perla for something more comfortable from a supermarket, forgetting the wonderful sense of empowerment that comes from a day spent with a little piece of luxury resting against your skin.
Not me. I may be 57, yet my love affair with luxurious lingerie has never faltered. My only proviso is that I always buy my own.
I must have spent some £16,000 on what I like to call my secret scaffolding over the years. Profligate? Not at all. Each bra and dainty pair of knickers represents a high- yield investment in my most important asset: me. My undies are the secret behind the self-assured image that I present to the rest of the world.
I’ve never been smaller than a size 12, but if I’m wearing beautiful lingerie, then I feel good about myself.
At my age, ladies tend to go one of two ways: they either let themselves slide completely, or they invest huge amounts of time and money in age-defying procedures.
When girlfriends ask my secret for remaining youthful in my late 50s, I tell them that what they see is only how I feel.
No amount of Botox or fillers would fill me with the same confidence that a gorgeous bra beneath my blouse does.
Obviously, a good fit is key, but don’t rule out more intricate designs. ‘In my experience, older women tend to steer clear of glamorous bras because they fear they will be uncomfortable,’ says Marie Truelove, owner of the London boutique Truelove Lingerie. ‘But this is very far from the truth.’
Cup shape is vitally important because, as you age, you lose volume at the top of your breast, which can lead to a teardrop appearance. A balcony or sweetheart shape will provide support to the bust tissue, giving the appearance of more volume at the top.
‘Traditionally, women gravitate towards a plunge style,’ says Rigby & Peller’s chief lingerie stylist Kelly Dunmore. ‘However, this is simply pushing the tissue you have closer together, which can be ageing, because it ends up looking wrinkled.’
For mature customers, she recommends high-waisted briefs, which are still fashionable but have the added benefit of providing support around the stomach area.
‘For those who have shorter legs, I recommend a high-cut leg,’ adds Kelly.
Get it right and your underwear becomes the best reminder that life is still to be embraced and enjoyed.
Great lingerie is like a good and loyal friend: it gives unrelenting support, is your most intimate companion and boosts your confidence when you need it the most.
Just don’t let a man buy it for you. Some presents you should give to yourself.
© Daily Mail