Photograph by Kevin A. Roberts
Next to red roses and a box of chocolates, it’s the most cliché Valentine’s Day gift. So why continue the tradition of buying blushworthy unmentionables once the calendar nears February 14? SLM turned to two lingerie-shop owners, Beverly
Russina of Beverly’s Hill (1309 Washington, 314-621-1633, 123underwear.com) and Suzanne Gastineau of Jule Lingerie & Loungewear (9757 Clayton, 314-983-9282, juleonline.com) to find out more about the tradition.
So why is lingerie the quintessential Valentine’s Day gift?
SG: It’s really an expected gift. People associate the holiday with love. Lingerie represents intimacy, and you hope that the two go together.
What do you expect to be your best seller this Valentine’s?
BR: Silk is very popular. We have some beautiful camis, silk robes, and thongs from Mary Green that you can mix and match. SG: Anything red. It could be as simple as some Hanky Panky thongs to a full bustier-and-undies set.
Who buys more lingerie around this time of year?
SG: It varies by age. Younger buyers tend to go for sexy lingerie, such as a bustier and garter belt. Once they’ve been married for a few years, they tend to buy more traditional items, such as a chemise or cami/undies set. Not to say these aren’t sexy, but they just don’t have that same sexy image.
What’s the best way to determine someone’s size without asking?
SG: When you’ve been in the business for a while, you get to be pretty good at guessing. It’s not always perfect, but it’s close. If you’re not sure, it’s always safe to ask the person if they’re a smaller size; that way you don’t have to worry about offending anyone.
If a man is embarrassed about shopping for lingerie in the store, what advice do you have?
BR: We do have everything in the store online at 123underwear.com. We offer free shipping, so they don’t have to be in the store to buy it.
SG: If they’re not comfortable looking at the lingerie, a gift certificate is always perfect.
Have there been any embarrassing moments in your store?
SG: There have been a couple of “gross” ones related to men trying on women’s underwear. Needless to say, that isn’t allowed anymore!
Is it OK for women to buy lingerie to wear as a present for a man? SG: Definitely. When a woman buys lingerie to wear for a man, it shows that she’s still interested in their love life. BR: We’ve had that happen—it wasn’t for Valentine’s Day, but it was for an anniversary, and they were taking a cruise. We have the men’s store, too, so she picked out his gift, and he did the same for her. And they opened their presents on the cruise.
When might it be an inappropriate gift?
SG: In a new relationship. It can set expectations from either side and possibly make the other person feel uncomfortable.