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Sexy French Lingerie

No self-respecting Parisian woman skimps when it comes to lingerie. Instead of saying a Parisian ‘se sent bien dans sa peau’ or feels ‘good in her skin’ one could just as easily say that she feels good in her sexy lingerie. It’s just another way of feeling good from the inside out, right to the very tip of your Karine Arabian shoes, and a gift of fancy French lingerie is an excellent way to impress a French girl, too.

What makes French lingerie so exquisite? Silk and lace, two products for which France has a long history. Sadly, the Lyons silk industry has drastically shrunk (with only one remaining manufacturer of top quality silk). Likewise, the lace-making in Normandy (Alencon) has greatly diminished. Nevertheless, these are the two essential elements of great lingerie.

Paris has a number of lingerie boutiques as well as chain stores such as Darjeeling which specialize in undergarments. You can also find lingerie sections at the top department stores such as Galeries Lafayette and Printemps.

Three lingerie boutiques featured in Chic Shopping Paris are just the place for a super splurge:

Sabbia Rosa at 73 Rue des Saints-Peres in the 6th is where Madonna and Catherine Deneuve do their lingerie shopping. Here, you’ll find silk garments trimmed with Calais lace (Calais is also in Normandy). A made-to-measure service is available for hard-to-fit friends.

Vannina Vesperini’s boutique is also located in the St. Germain district at 4 Rue de Tournon. Described in Chic Shopping Paris as lingerie that is simply ‘so gorgeous, it’s really a shame to hide it’. Like Sabbia Rosa, you can find Calais lace and also Lyon produced silk. On the second floor Vesperini has a private salon for custom made fittings.

Overwhelmed by sticker price? In the fashionable 16th arrondissment, stop in at
Princesse Tam-Tam on 2 Rue Guichard. This retro-inspired line promises to be a little gentler on your wallet. Swimwear can also be found here. The style is more Betty Boop than Sophia Loren, fun and flirty, rather than sultry.

Because all of these excellent boutiques don’t fit into Parisgirl’s shopping budget, I do my lingerie shopping (like many other Parisian women) at Monoprix. Although you’re not going to find Calais lace and Lyon silk at Monoprix, there’s a good supply of super feminine lingerie with plenty of lace, bows, and all the trimmings. During Paris’s summer and winter sales (July/February), lingerie, like all womenswear is reduced in price.

Bra Sizes

If you go to a lingerie boutique, knowing your French bra size isn’t even necessary. A good sales clerk will know your size as soon as you walk through the front door. Trust me on this. But, for those of us who are habitués of Monoprix, don’t be surprised if you suddenly have blossomed from a Size 32 or Size 34 in American sizing to a Size 85 and Size 90 in French bra sizes.

On the other hand, cup sizes remain pretty much the same between American and French bras until you start getting into the double GGs and double JJs. (How did European bras ever get as far as J in the alphabet?). According to one bra fitter’s advice, Backpacks Prove Most Experts Wrong About Bras the most important thing to remember about getting the right size is to make sure you have the right chest measurement (forgetting about the cup size for a moment). You can buy measuring tapes that measure in inches and centimeters (which will come in handy if you’re sending a friend to Paris, specifically to bring home lingerie!). Ahh! The Good Life.

Lingerie to Wear as Outer Clothing
‘Bustiers’ can be very ornate and easy to wear as outer clothing. I’ve worn a bustier for clubbing or even to go out to dinner under a blazer. In the Fall, Parisians love to bring out their sexiest stockings to spice up sober black suits.

Lingerie as a souvenir
Needless to say, buying lingerie for a loved one is a great souvenir from France. Be sure that you have the exact measurements because it’s a long ways to go if you need to exchange sizes!

Princesse Tam Tam
2 Rue Guichard, 16th arr.
Tel 01 42 15 18 85
Metro: La Muette
Monday -Friday 1:30 pm to 7 pm. Saturday 10 am to 7 pm. Closed Sundays

Sabbia Rosa
73 Rue des Saints-Peres, 6th arr.
Tel 01 45 88 37
Metro: St. Germain-des-Pres
Monday -Saturdays 10 am to 7 pm. Closed Sundays.

Vannina Vesperini
4 Rue de Tournon, 6th arr.
Tel 01 56 24 32 72
Metro: Odeon
Call for hours.