Buying lingerie proves revealing

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 February, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 February, 1993, 12:00am

WHEN men buy their own underwear, it is generally something they give a little thought to.

But when they decide to surprise their wife or girlfriend with a gift of lingerie, they may find making such purchases if not traumatic, at least embarrassing.

But these days more men are giving their women lingerie.

Many have gained enough confidence to wander around the lingerie section of department stores or speciality shops no longer embarrassed.

Lingerie can make a great gift for St Valentine's Day.

If you are still nervous about buying, don't worry.

Shop assistants are well and truly used to men buying underwear for women.

And it can make a good gift.

After all, she wants to feel attractive and you want her to look good.

By buying lingerie you are pampering her, but problems can arise. Are you buying it for your pleasure of her's? If the following steps are adhered to, according to the women I have spoken to, the gift can be enjoyed by both of you.

However, there are a few big ''ifs'' on women's minds.

Most women would find the gift insulting unless you have known them for some time.

''If I was bought lingerie in the first two weeks of a relationship I'd consider it pretty sleazy,'' said one woman.

Then there's the quality. At all costs avoid red and black, the tacky stuff found in hawkers' stalls.

''I would say quality is the most important factor for women,'' said one marketing executive.

''There's nothing, repeat nothing, worse than being bought tasteless, cheap lingerie.'' So it seems spending money on known and quality names is a safe bet.

But be prepared for a shock because the big names are certainly not cheap.

Most men have a good idea of what lingerie looks like, but sometimes names of the particular article can be confusing.

Teddy's (all-in-one outfits), camisoles (embroidered sleaveless tops), french knickers and so on.

But despite how aware you are, getting the size right is vital, otherwise the gift could end up as an insult.

Buying knickers that are too small or bras that are too big is obviously not the aim.

You could start by asking your partner's friend what your girlfriend's size is.

She may be able to subtly find out.

Or you could try rummaging around in your partners drawers.

Avoid getting caught as this could bring about some confusing relationship problems! Write down the size and other details on the label and show the shop assistant.

So what is the market run down? Currently, it is sale time for most shops, so in the normally high-priced market there are some excellent deals to be had.

Most sales run until one week after Valentine's Day.

Marguerite Lee's has eight shops, five in Hongkong, three in Kowloon. They have the largest selection of lingerie in Hongkong, stocking camisoles, teddy's all-in-one bodies in cotton, silk and lace.

They stock names such as La Perla, Vanity Fair, Rien and their own brand Louisa Lee. Sale items range form about $1,000 and the new Spring/Summer collections prices range from $1,500 to $3,000.

From La Perla's new corsetry range is a body-hugging lycra organza teddy with floral embroidery, priced at $1,950.

The La Perla shop (also owned by Marguerite Lee) has the full La Perla range. Sale items include silk teddy for $600, cotton teddy $800 and body suits from $300 to $1,000.

Other non-sale stock includes embroidered corset for $2,800, with panties for $1,000.

Night dresses at Marks & Spencer are short with navy spots - like something that the buxom ladies in those Carry On movies used to wear.

Other nightdresses which were described by the shop assistant as ''fancy gowns'' range in price from $299 to $450.

Marks & Spencer lingerie is attractive, well made and inexpensive - camisoles go at $225, French knickers at $120 and wide range of other underwear sells at around $100. The store gives taste, quality materials and good value.

So, armed with ''the knowledge'', you are ready to buy.