Question: I never really know what to buy my wife for Christmas. The first year we were married I got her an iron (well she said she needed one!). Anyway, she wasn’t pleased (understatement) and told me ‘other men buy their wives underwear, stuff like that’. So now I’m wondering what underwear I should buy her. How do I find out what she likes and about her size? Help me, otherwise divorce could be on the cards.
Fashion Agony Aunt, Janet writes: Controversial I know, as for years I was the person on the fashion pages pushing bras and pants as the ideal Christmas gift for that ‘special laydee in your life’. But with experience comes the realisation that men buying lingerie as a Christmas gift is a complete no-no.
Why? Because nothing says Christmas like a cheap red satin basque, or a pair of crotchless knickers from Ann Summers does it? Yeah right. I mean who is anyone trying to kid that this is a pleasant experience for anyone.
Certainly not most blokes. There’s a reason why that episode of Father Ted where the eponymous priest and his sidekick Dermot find themselves in the underwear department in a store is funny. Because men like you are totally clueless when it comes to rows and rows of flimsy stuff that frankly costs a small fortune.
And why should you be able to navigate the minefield that is the sizing of women’s lingerie? God. I’m a woman and I find buying bras a traumatic experience, so imagine if you have no idea what the difference between a 34C and a 34F is? Don’t get me started on the horrors of the bustling woman with a tape measure that’s been lumbered with the job of bra measurer in your local department store, either. Imagine having to tighten bra straps and squish boobs into cups all day.
And from a female perspective…well, I don’t really want a man who knows all the ins and out of women’s underwear. You know, the guy who relishes running his paws over the satins and silks in Agent Provocateur telling the shop assistants ‘she’s about your size’ and wondering whether they’d ‘model’ certain garments for him? The one au fait with the difference between a body and a basque, a balcony and push-up.
Plus there’s every possibility you won’t get the size right. Too small and she’s wondering whether you’re implying she needs to lose weight, too big and she could be fretting that you’ve been living in a fantasy world all these years. It’s a lose-lose situation.
I could go on. OK I will! Because it’s Christmas, Santa’s helpers have decided that what a woman doesn’t need is a beautiful set in ivory or black. No, she really wants a bra and pants featuring Santa’s face, Christmas trees or snowmen, something creepily infantile. This also happens far too much with nightwear too. Forget trying to buy a beautiful floor-length white cotton nightdress, an upsized pair of kid’s PJs complete with matching socks is all that seems to be on offer at Christmas time. Your lady certainly won’t love you for it.
No, my advice is buy her a bottle of La Perla or Agent Provocateur perfume plus a gift voucher, then take her lingerie shopping, followed by a romantic lunch, or even dinner and an overnight stay in a hotel. Make it an experience she’ll never forget. After all you owe her. An iron. I ask you!
Main Pic: Bra and pants, £245, Andres Sarda,www.andresarda.com