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7 Things to Know Before Buying Your Wife Intimate Apparel

This story was produced in partnership with Soma, dedicated to ensuring that all women feel beautiful, comfortable, understood and valued.

Your wife puts up with a lot. Temperamental toddlers. Cranky bosses. A forgetful husband. You’d like to thank her for all that she does and let her know what an amazing human being you think she is. To do this, you plan to buy her a meaningful gift — something that will make her feel good, look good, and know she’s appreciated all in one. At the suggestion of a much wiser, more worldly, happily married friend, this leads you to intimate apparel.

The words sound scary, but you’ve totally got this. Nothing will make your better half happier than receiving a soft chemise or silky nightgown that will feel amazing laying against her skin. Choosing your gift isn’t nearly as tricky as you think it is. You just need a few guidelines to get you started, plus expert advice to steer you down the right path. Start here.

Rule #1: Know What She Has. Listen up: If your wife has a drawer filled with boy shorts and full-coverage briefs, it’s not because she’s just waiting for you to wake up and go buy her a thong. It’s because, most likely, she doesn’t like thongs. Take stock of what she already owns and use this as your base to find her something similar… but nicer.

Know Your Terms

Bikini | bə-ˈkē-nē
Underwear style that narrows at the hips with moderate coverage at the back.

Boy shorts| bȯi shȯrt
Underwear style cut like your boxer briefs.

Bralette | brä-lət
Top that’s somewhere between a bra and tank.

Rule #2: When in Doubt, Size Up. This is just common sense. “I love trying on clothes and finding out I’m too big for them,” said no woman ever. You’ll probably be able to tell from a peek inside your wife’s bra and cami drawer what size fits her best. If you’re not sure, order a size larger than your best guess (she can always exchange it). Or, consider easy-fit sizing — styles that come in small, medium, or large, giving you a wider target and better shot it will fit.

Know Your Terms

Brief | brēf
Underwear with a modest, full-coverage silhouette.

Camisole | ka-mə-ˌsōl
Top with delicate straps.

Chemise | shə-ˈmēz 
Top/dress that comes to the hips, can be worn as a short nightgown or long shirt.

Rule #3: Buy the Set. See how those bras are the same fabric and color as those bikini bottoms? It’s no accident! Technically, you don’t have to buy one to get the other, but why wouldn’t you? Pro tip, in case you’re wondering: Women like underwear that matches.

Know Your Terms

Cup size | kəp sīz
Alphabetical designation of a woman’s breast size, ranging from A to G.

Full coverage |fu̇l kəv-rij
Bra cup shape, provides most complete coverage.

Lace | lās
Fabric created with an open weave for delicate effect.

Rule #4: Don’t Get Adventurous (This Time). So you think that bandage dress is hot. Well, if you’ve never seen your wife in one, don’t go there. Maybe, should this intimate apparel gifting thing work out, you can revisit that idea down the road. But for your virgin foray into unfamiliar turf, err on the side of something familiar.

Know Your Terms

Demi | demē   
Bra cup shape, looks like a half-moon.

Racerback | rāsərbak
Sports-inspired bra with straps that merge into a single vertical support at back.

Satin | sat·​in
Smooth fabric with subtle sheen.

Rule #5: Never Underestimate the Power of Soft. Sexy is good, but if you really want to win your wife’s appreciation, always prioritize comfort when making your purchase. Breathable cottons and smooth silks trump scratchy, itchy synthetics all day (and night) long.

Know Your Terms

Thong |ˈthȯŋ 
Underwear with a narrow strip of fabric at the back.

Underband | ən-dərband
The circumference of a woman’s torso below her bust in inches.

Easy fit |ē-zē fit        
Small, medium, and large sizing; eliminates the need for specific measurements.

Rule #6: Multiples Are Always OK. When you go shopping for beer, do you buy one bottle or do you buy the six-pack? Sometimes, when you know you like something, more isn’t just more, more truly is better. Go ahead and get her the same bralette in three different colors.

Know Your Terms

Underwire |ən-dərwī(-ə)r
Wire that runs below bra cup for additional support.

Unlined | ən-ˈlīnd
Bra without padding.

Rule #7: Seek Help. Notice that “live chat” button on the website you’re surfing? What about that customer support number on the screen? Shopping in-store? There’s a person behind the counter whose has one job and it’s to help you find everything you need. Use them. All of them. Assume they know more than you do (because it’s the truth).

Expert Advice: How to Spot a Cami From a Kimono Robe

Still trying to figure out what to buy your wife? We enlisted the wisdom of professionals to sort things out.

“The first thing you want to think about is: Who is your wife and how does she like to present herself?” says Cathy Devine, Vice President of Innovation at Soma. “Does she tend to go luxury? Or is she more into cozy and comfortable?”

If you’re sort of paralyzed by this question (don’t worry, you’re not alone), your default should be a flowing nightgown paired with a matching satin robe. It’s foolproof — the fluid silhouette is feminine and will fit a range of body types, and the multiple colors and prints play to a city-chic woman’s sensibility, or one that’s more laid-back and low-key. “From a gifting perspective, I’d go with a color she might not normally get for herself,” says Devine. “Go with a pretty pink, or if it’s around the holidays, think about a festive red, green, or blue option.”

For a more sophisticated look, pair a nightgown with a matching robe. Likewise, a kimono style robe (with wider sleeves) creates an elegant effect. Never seen your wife in a nightgown? Not a problem. The shorter version, called a chemise, offers the same appeal but the cropped silhouette plays to a sportier or sexier vibe, depending on the fabric. “We offer a Cool Nights fabric that is really breathable and our Embraceable PJs collection is cotton-based and warmer for winter months,” says Devine. Pair your pick with a matching panty for a complete look. No matter which style you choose, you can be sure if you’re buying from Soma, the material is skin-soft — the company is dedicated to comfort and quality above all else and guarantees that even its lace pieces will feel smooth against the skin.

If you like the idea of lace but aren’t convinced your wife shares your enthusiasm, lace trim is a great alternative. In this case, she’ll have non-transparent fabric covering essential areas with delicate lace accents around the edges—the best of both worlds.

Finally, don’t shy away from pajamas. They might not sound sexy, but if your goal is to make your wife feel comfortable, pretty, and loved, very few things compare to a cozy pair of PJs on a chilly fall night. Soma’s range includes a leopard print and notch collar with black grosgrain piping details, elevating this wardrobe essential and giving it a special occasion feel.