What is it that makes lingerie seem so much more indulgent than regular underwear? The word alone sounds expensive, immediately suggesting images of femininity, allure, and even a sense of power.
There are so many different types of lingerie. The right set can satisfy your urge to be bold and daring while wearing a truly conservative business suit without creating the wrong impression. In this lingerie guide we discuss those ‘hidden-from-view’ items that can give every woman a special sparkle, whether dressing for work or an evening out.
Types Of Lingerie
Dressing for a special event starts on the inside and feeling secure in your body shape. There are many types of lingerie available today from corsets to camisoles, and everything in-between. They have the power to enhance your natural features whilst producing a welcome boost of confidence.
16 Different Types of Lingerie
Choosing lingerie is not as simple as selecting a matching bra and briefs then heading for the counter. The term lingerie covers more types of clothing items than many people would have thought possible.
This lingerie guide will help you get a clear understanding of the myriad of types available. Let’s take a closer look at 16 of the most popular types.
1. Lingerie Sets
When most people think of lingerie the idea of matching tops and bottoms instantly springs to mind. Matching lingerie sets have long been considered the ultimate in style and indulgence. These can be purchased together like a bikini or as separate items which can also extend to include additional matching pieces.
Initially, a lingerie set includes matching bra and briefs, although there may be a number of different types of lingerie briefs on offer to create a set that suits the shape and personal taste of every woman. The color and material are usually exactly the same.
From beautiful lace that makes you feel glamorous to pretty cute patterns with embroidery or sewn in details that make you feel youthful and feminine, a matching lingerie set can help every woman look and feel amazing.
Corsets are usually single pieces that sometimes include bones and laces that can be adjusted to create the right shape. Worn from just beneath your bust to the hip bones or top of the leg, a corset can help create the appearance of a slimmer waist. Some women choose corsets specifically to manipulate their silhouette.
Traditionally, corset laces were pulled in very tightly but modern corsets can be worn more comfortably and some women choose a corset simply for their pretty ribbon effect and elongating seams. Corset lengths can vary with some starting lower down the rib cage or tapering off at the waist for a different effect.
Laces can appear at the back, front or the sides and are sometimes completely removed with a series of clasp fastenings used instead. Corsets are classically romantic and feminine, whether chosen to create a more alluring outline or simply to enhance your natural shape.
A bustier is a sort of hybrid between a corset and a bra and they can have a stronger impact on the bust than a general corset. Most bustiers are designed to create lift while also creating a flattering waistline.
Like corsets, they usually include bones in the seams which can nip in the waist and shape the overall outline into an hourglass curve. Both corsets and bustiers are ideal for ladies with straighter bodies who are looking to create the impression of a smaller waist.
4. Suspender Belt
Usually worn with stockings attached, suspender belts attach around the waist and include small straps in the front and back with clips that hold on to the top of stockings.
Functionally, they are designed simply to stop stockings from falling down but aesthetically they create a more complex look as the different straps overlapping provide a deeper dimension to a simple lingerie set.
They can also be called a garter belt. All those complicated-looking straps help to draw attention to the waist and legs, making them great for ladies who want to accentuate these areas or simply want to add a feature.
The word sounds sweet and innocent, although a teddy can be particularly seductive as well as playful. It is a one-piece item that can make the body seem longer as it stretches all the way from the shoulders down to the built-in shorts.
Teddies can come in lace, silk, mesh, or cotton and are not designed to restrict the body like a bustier or corset but instead gently envelop your curves. They can come in a variety of different styles with some panels that are more revealing or missing and a high-cut or longer leg.
Some teddies have plunging necklines while others are shaped into a sweet-heart neck or a plainer, straighter style. They can be alluring while mysterious as they reveal less or more, depending on your taste. In general, a teddy can be flattering for a variety of different body shapes.
Usually made of a very light material, such as lace or silk, negligee or plunge slip is a flimsy gown to be worn over lingerie. They can vary in length from sumptuous floor-length gowns to fun, floaty, shorter skirts that end above the knee.
Negligees are usually worn open or with a belt and they are a perfect way to wear lingerie without feeling too exposed. There is something elegant, romantic, and inimitably womanly about wearing a floaty robe that feels exquisite against the skin, making you feel special and confident.
Different lengths of negligee can be chosen to emphasize different body styles, with shorter styles drawing attention to your legs and very long gowns creating the impression of stretching out the body and accentuating the waist, particularly if the gown is pulled in with a belt.
A babydoll is something like a flimsy nightdress, usually cut off at the thigh and with light, thin straps. They are often made of silk or another flowing material and have a slight swing to give them a girly touch.
They have padded or shaped cups that can enhance your figure and are a great choice for ladies who are less confident about their waist-line or hip area as they tend to flow out from just below the shoulder area. Their thin straps can also help to reduce the impression of broad shoulders.
Probably one of the only types of lingerie that is often left on view, a camisole is a little like a flimsy vest that can be worn beneath a low cut top or jacket to avoid revealing more than you would like. They often have a pretty detail along the top that makes them more attractive, such as a floral edging.
Camisoles are usually cut to flatter your shape but are worn fairly loose. They are often made of silk or shimmering fabric that both looks appealing and feels indulgent against your skin. A camisole can be worn on its own or matched with short-style bottoms in the same floaty material.
They can be a luxurious and sensual alternative to a nightdress. They suit most shapes given their looseness and swing and can be cut at the waist or hips to draw attention to these areas.
Similar to a babydoll although cut straighter and less floaty, a chemise is a short dress made of light material such as airy cotton or silk. It can vary in length from the mid-thigh to a more reserved, longer cut that finishes around the knees.
Types of neckline vary to alter the overall look, ranging from simple and straight to plunging or feminine with adorning embroidery or decorative details like sequins and bows.
A chemise is slightly more straight-cut than a babydoll or slip, although fashion shops seem to see these words as fairly interchangeable as designers begin to push traditional boundaries to develop more hybrid dresses that include a wider variety of features.
10. Body Stocking
Just as the name implies, a body stocking is made of fine material with a little elastic or lycra so it clings to the body from the neck to the toe. Different designs can include plunging necklines with thinner straps while others include full arms.
Since the material is usually very light or sheer, a body stocking can be incredibly revealing although different varieties include intricate lace patterns or different panels for the sake of modesty. Worn beneath other clothes, a body stocking can create a striking look by matching arms and legs in a sultry feminine style.
11. Body Suit
Again a one-piece, a body suit is different from a body stocking in that it only covers from the shoulder to the top of the legs, rather like a one-piece swimming costume. There are usually fastenings either at the shoulder or at the bottom to help get the item on and off.
Again, this term has become interchangeable with teddies to some extent, particularly if made of finer fabric such as lace or mesh. Many designers market the body suit as a little more plain than a teddy and it could be sturdy enough to be worn as a top on its own, with the added advantage of removing any potential ruffles when tucked into a skirt or trousers.
12. Bra or Brassiere
The traditional bra is as much a functional item of clothing as a fashionable piece of lingerie. Originally intended to provide comfort and support, the right bra can complement your shape and improve the appearance of clothes worn on the outside.
A beautiful bra can be appealing in its own right as well as helping to create the right look in an outfit. Some bras are designed to augment the bust line with carefully placed padding and bones that create a fuller cleavage. Others include underwire for support and can help shape you in a rounder form.
Strapless bras can help create support and cleavage to be worn under a top with intricate or no straps, while some others include removable straps for extra versatility. Bras come in all shapes and sizes because every woman is different, and wearing a well-fitting bra is vital. They can be plain and sporty or feminine, lacy or patterned and designed to accommodate every body shape.
Similar in many ways to a babydoll or chemise, a slip is a light and floaty dress that is usually made of sheer satin, nylon or shiny silk. Most slips flare out from beneath the bust and usually end at the thighs in a youthful, romantic style.
As already mentioned, the word has become fairly interchangeable and can be used to apply to any style of short nightdress but traditionally a slip is made of sheer fabric. Straps can be tiny or wider and the pattern and shape at the top of the dress will vary.
A slip can be worn to sleep in or could even be worn under a dress to reduce clinginess or add swing. A slip can be great for ladies with an inverted triangle shape or to balance out a narrow waist and hips.
Like a teddy or camisole, a playsuit is a kind of romper made of satin or silk that can be comfortable when worn to bed. It can be a separate top and shorts or could be joined into an all-in-one but it usually hangs fairly loose and offers more freedom of movement than a teddy or body suit.
Rompers can be plain, frilly or lacy and add an element of fun and energy to a lingerie outfit. They are a more casual form of lingerie that is practical while retaining that sense of feminine romanticism.
Briefs come in all shapes and sizes to suit the full range of different body shapes. To be classed as lingerie, briefs need to be shaped more flatteringly than the functional full “granny briefs” of our predecessors.
A brief can be low or high-waisted with a variety of different cuts at the top of the leg including a very high cut that accentuates the thighs and legs for women with an hourglass shape.
A thong is a much smaller item with a panel that covers the front half before tapering to a very fine strap that reveals more of your rear and hip area.
Thongs are perfect when worn under tight-fitting trousers and skirts as they eliminate VPL (visible-panty-line) which can let down an expensive outfit. As an item of lingerie, a strappy thong can also look amazing when matched with an equally strappy suspender belt or beneath a corset to avoid detracting from the corset line.
Understanding the different types of lingerie available and how they can suit your body shape can make lingerie shopping a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Most importantly, wearing the right lingerie helps women feel confident, even if they know their lingerie will rarely be seen. It is also a traditionally romantic gift: lingerie is the perfect way for a lover to show their lady that they admire her body and want to celebrate every inch by sharing a luxurious offering that brings them closer and makes her feel truly adored.
This includes what you wear as an underlayer as much as your choice of external clothing. Lingerie can be cute and fun or sensual and classy, depending on your mood and the occasion. Sometimes, knowing your underwear will not be seen by anyone other than an intimate partner gives you the freedom to express your personality without compromising your overall look.
Before you go, I have put together a review of the most elegant perfumes ranging from timeless classics to modern day sophistication that I think you will enjoy.
Discover Your Perfect Fragrance
Please take a moment to browse through my hand-picked collection of exquisite perfumes.
There may just be the perfect fragrance waiting there for you!
Ingrid is an avid perfume collector, fragrance writer & reviewer, fragrance Youtuber and Friend member of the British Society of Perfumers who has worked in the fashion industry for over 30 years.