Underwear is the unsung hero of the wardrobe. It’s arguably the most important part of getting dressed in the morning, but who really gets all that excited about picking out their bra for the day?
The ladies at Forty Winks, the dreamy little lingerie boutique in Cambridge, are here to change that. The right underwear wardrobe, they say, can change the way your clothes fit, make you look thinner, and smooth you out better than shapewear.
We talked to Rachel Wentworth and Meredith Donaldson, the owners of Forty Winks, about everything we ever wanted to know about underwear, but were too afraid to ask.
LET’S CUT TO THE CHASE: WHY IS UNDERWEAR SO IMPORTANT?
Underwear is the foundation for clothing; so properly fitting undergarments will make your clothes look better. For example a bra that’s too big in the band will ride up in the back and cause the cups to slide down in the front. This will make your breasts look saggy, even if they aren’t. A well-fitting bra keeps everything lifted and makes you look slimmer.
WHAT KEY STAPLES DOES EVERY WOMAN NEED IN THEIR BRA/UNDERWEAR WARDROBE?
Two basic everyday bras, a well-fitting strapless, and a sexy lace bra that makes you feel incredible. Also, invest in a slip and seamless underwear. Lingerie-specific wash is also a good buy. Your lingerie will last much, much longer if you take care of it.
What defines an everyday bra is a matter of personal preference. There is no one bra that every woman MUST have; rather, we encourage our clients to find a style and fabrication that they love and to invest in a couple of pieces that they’ll happily reach for every day. Two bras is a good place to start as you can alternate wears, ensuring that one doesn’t wear out too quickly.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD WOMEN GET FITTED FOR THEIR BRA SIZE? WHY IS THE RIGHT FIT SO IMPORTANT?
We recommend reassessing your everyday bras every six to eight months. It never hurts to have a sales person double check your size when buying new bras.
Most people have the expectation that a bra should last years, but this is a little unrealistic. A bra is subject to a lot of wear and tear; oils on our skin, sweat, and daily movement will stretch the elastic to a point where a bra is no longer supportive. If you have only one or two everyday bras, you can be sure that you’ll need to replace them more often.
Furthermore, always get refit after any major body changes. Get fit when:
1. You get pregnant.
2. You stop nursing.
3. You go on or off birth control.
4. You experience any major hormonal changes such as menopause.
WHAT ABOUT SHAPEWEAR? IF YOU’VE GOT A BIG EVENT COMING UP, WHAT ONE PIECE WILL ENSURE YOU LOOK FLAWLESS?
There’s no miracle piece. It depends on your body and what you are looking to “shape”. The basics pieces from Spanx usually a safe bet.
WHAT DON’T MOST WOMEN HAVE IN THEIR UNDERWEAR WARDROBE THAT THEY COULD USE?
A good slip is one of the best things you can have in your arsenal, yet many women don’t own one. Look for something simple with adjustable straps so that you can adjust the length if need be. Your dresses and skirts will lay beautifully over the added layer and your slip will protect you from see-through wardrobe malfunctions. Often a good slip works better at smoothing than shapewear!
DO YOU GET A LOT OF MEN COMING IN TO BUY LINGERIE FOR THEIR GIRLFRIENDS/WIVES?
WHAT DO THEY BUY MOST OFTEN?
Unless the gentleman knows for sure his wife or girlfriend’s bra size, we try to steer them in the direction of pieces sized S,M,L or a bra set that we know is an easy fit. Depending on the occasion, requests range from cozy robes to sexy sets, but usually guys just want something that their lady will love.
PJs are a popular gift around Christmas, while sexier items like teddies, nighties, and garter sets are popular around Valentine’s Day.
ARE THERE ANY TRENDS IN LINGERIE THIS YEAR? DOES LINGERIE FOLLOW TRENDS?
Yes definitely. We’re seeing a trend toward hardware accents and strappy detailing from our designers. There has also been an increase in longline styles that work as great layering pieces with the sheer trend. All this said, the biggest similarity between lingerie and ready-to-wear is color. We saw a lot of coral, mint, and neon this summer and are now seeing a lot of jewel tones for fall and winter.
WHAT ARE YOUR BEST-SELLERS?
Natori makes a T-shirt bra called the Feathers Contour bra and I’m not joking when I say we sell hundreds of them. It works for a wide range of sizes (A-F cups) and has this lovely mesh and lace overlay that prevents the cup from gapping. We also sell a lot of Chantelle. Their bras just fit right and our customers love that they produce their basic collections in gorgeous colors every season. Our bestselling sleepwear company is Eberjey. They have a knack for creating cute and comfy nightwear that people find incredibly wearable.
Visit the ladies from Forty Winks at 56 JFK St. in Cambridge, Mass. or on the web at shopfortywinks.com
Images by Suzanna March Photography.