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Is Expensive Lingerie Worth the Cost?

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The short answer? Almost always no.

While I won’t name names, for a lot of high end designers, you’re paying for the brand and what it represents, not for any innate quality of the lingerie. Celebrity endorsements, popular magazine features, and even that expensive high street address all go into price… which is then passed on to customers. After all, silk is silk no matter whose label is sewn on it, and there no objective reason for a nightgown from one brand to cost $100 but sell for $1,000 down the street (see my reviews of Agent Provocateur and Kiki de Montparnasse here).

The one exception to that rule? Handmade lingerie. I will happily drop a few hundred dollars on a custom made corset for example, or even on a unique piece like this sheer chiffon teddy. Handmade lingerie is worth the money for several reasons. The first (and probably most obvious) reason, is that it’s literally stitched together, start to finish, by a single person… often to your exact measurements. The second reason is because small designers, with their smaller buying power, are just not able to get the large discounts big retailers can so their raw materials simply cost more. Third, and perhaps most important, you’re supporting small, independent, often female-owned businesses. Without getting too political here, I’m a big fan of buying from that particular demographic.

In short, buying expensive lingerie is a bit like buying anything else expensive. Up to a point, you’ll notice the difference, but then things will follow the law of diminishing returns. After that, you could double, triple, or even quadruple the price without noticing any significant change.  Besides, lingerie is meant to be worn, and if you buy something so expensive you’re afraid to wear it, where’s the fun in that?

I asked this question on my Facebook fanpage a few weeks ago, and here’s what you to say. Didn’t get a chance to comment on Facebook? Share your thoughts here!

No. $50 for pantyhose that will invariably run within two wears, no matter how cute they are? I love pretty things, but a pair of adorable panties still just is inherently only worth so much to me. If I have crazy money to give away, it’s going to charity, not on my butt. ~ Gretl

Some brands are worth the price-tag but some brands you are paying for the label (like A.P.). it really depends.  I have noticed that my Wolford stockings have held up considerably longer than the ones i buy at the grocery store! More often than not the higher prices equate to better quality. ~ Alison

If I am spending that much money on lingerie, I am getting latex. ~ Koko 

I think expensive brands [like] Chantal Thomass, Ravage, Gerbe, [and] Dior… I think they are the money worth. ~ Michael

No. With the exception of Wolford, even Rigby and Peller undies have the stitching coming undone on a bra that retails for over £100. ~ Andy

Cora Harrington

Founder and Editor in Chief of The Lingerie Addict. I started TLA in a small studio apartment in 2008. Since then, it's become the leading lingerie blog in the world, and has been featured on the websites for Forbes, CNN, Time, Today, and Fox News. I believe lingerie is fashion too, and that every who wants it deserves gorgeous lingerie.

22 Comments on this post

  1. […] The Lingerie Addict – Is Expensive Lingerie Worth the Cost? […]

  2. Lissy says:

    I am a 36E and I have found that I won’t even go into Victorias Secret anymore because the quality is so bad. The bras won’t last more than 30 wears even with handwashing. They come unglued. The panties come unraveled within weeks of purchase. Even their pajamas rip apart around the waist bands.
    Agent Provocateur I have found on the other hand to be well worth the wait for the sales. If I spend $50- $70 dollars on a regular bra at VS then compared to when AP has a 70% off sale and bra’s are $50-$80 I’m really ahead. Plus they last around 300 wears for me. The lace is better quality and the silk is nicer too. So for me, it’s worth it to wait for a sale at AP and avoid VS like the plague.

  3. […] I maintain my position that ultra-expensive lingerie really isn’t any better than the lingerie us mere mortals buy, I also know I some have readers who, for curiousity’s […]

  4. […] 8. Set yourself a budget – it’s very easy to convince yourself to buy more than you should because it’s a ‘one-off opportunity’. You’ll come across other sales in the future – don’t spend money you shouldn’t! (You may also like: Is Expensive Lingerie Worth the Cost?) […]

  5. Karolina says:

    More often than not I buy expensive lingerie because the design itself is exceptional – I wouldn't dream of buying expensive lingerie if the design itself was nothing special. It just so happens that most of my favourite designers are of the more 'luxury' end of the spectrum. Saying that, if I saw less costly lingerie that I like I won't hesitate in buying it!

  6. Eternal*Voyageur @ Venusian*Glow says:

    For those of you with DD+ cups: you don´t need special bras, you need the right size. Most women wear too small cups and too lose bands. Your band needs to be snug enough to give you the support. You need to be able to pull the band away a max of 5 cm from the torso. Measure yourself under the boobs, subtract 5 cm and round down to the nearest band size, that should give you the right band size. You might have to go up a cup size or two though, since cup sizes are relative to the band size.
    Panache is a great band for big cups, good quality stuff with a good size range, and they don´t cost the world.

  7. Christina Thomas says:

    I totally agree that you get what you pay for, but personally would not pay a fortune for the lingerie that i wear. Someo f the items i have are handmade and think that all lingerie should be this way, as you definantly get items for your shape and definition.

    Shame though some of the more expensive stuff is glamourous, but as my hubby says i could wear a black bag and look

  8. Ashe Mischief says:

    So refreshing to see the answer is "no"! I was convinced I'd come over and see an article on why the answer is yes.

    (Also, I recognize an Electra corset when I see one! It's also nice to see a link to a corset that is REALLY a corset and not a bustier!)

  9. Dolls Factory says:

    Lovely blog. I found you through IFB and I can tell that you have a great sense of style.
    Lets become fashionable blogger friends and follow each other.
    Check out my blog and maybe you'll want to make your own Recessionista Chic Post

  10. jennine says:

    i have to agree with anonymous commentor #4… if you don't really *need* a bra, then yeah… but if you're over a D, then it gets tricky. i can't buy $25 bras. even the $70 ones don't hold up (no pun intended!) like primadonna bras that are in the $130/$150 range. once i got one, i realized that it's totally worth it, perfect silhouette, beautiful, and not many bras can make a plunging balconeete with a single hook closure for a DD/E.
    and they do last longer. much longer.

  11. boy short says:

    the observation about diminishing returns is so true. It gets to a certain point and you end up paying for brand rather than any discernible difference in quality. Glad I found this blog. Look forward to following it!

  12. LittleMissCupcakes says:

    OOOh a place to obsess and drool over lingerie? Count me in!
    Sometimes I'll pay a little more if it's for a special occasion, or if I know it is going to incite a below the belt double take ;o

  13. Treacle says:

    @CollegiateDown–Oh that's a really good question, and I probably should have talked about it before now. :)

    I think of "affordable" lingerie as anything that's $80 or below. I know that probably seems on the high end, but it covers almost everything you'd need or want for almost any size (bras, panties, shapewear, hosiery, garter belts, etc.).

    Names renowned for their comfort and durability are in this price range including Simone Perele, Natori, Freya, and Le Mystere. That price also includes high-end brands like Wolford and also niche brands likes Kiss Me Deadly. In short, that price and below should cover almost everything you need, and everything would be good quality. And this is where the best deals are when end of season clearance happens.

    When you start getting into triple-digit pricing…that's when I start questioning if the price is really keeping pace with the quality. At that point, you're paying more for the name than for the lingerie. Brands like La Perla, Agent Provocateur, Lascivious, and so on would fall into this category. Their lingerie is gorgeous, true, but if you have a budget, you probably won't get the most "bang for your buck" here.

    I hope that helps to clarify where I'm coming from. I should probably turn this into a post of its own.

  14. CollegiateDown says:

    What exactly is a reasonable price for lingerie? I'm not used to buying especially nice stuff, up til now I've stuck with department stores, so I've always thought of Victoria's Secret as being "High-end" but a lot of your posts are making me think other wise.

  15. Queen B. says:

    It is nice to read that you appreciate handmade lingerie. I'm an independent lingerie designer myself and I do like your point of view!

  16. Tights Lover says:

    I think I agree with you here. I will occasionally ante up the cash for something from La Perla or Aubade, but that's typically if I find it on sale. The quality is definitely better, but I think common sense has to come into play at a certain point. If a panty cost ten times as much as a similar option, are you really getting something that's 1,000% better?

    On the other hand, I am going to defend Wolford here. While some of their sytles can maybe be too expensive, I've often found that their legwear holds up for so many wears and washes that they'll eventually pay for themselves. So unless its a particular style that you don't expect to wear much, I think Wolford is a perfectly acceptable luxury brand.

  17. Treacle says:

    @Anonymous–The article isn't a defense of cheap lingerie. As I stated, there is direct relationship between increased price and increased quality.

    However, past a certain point, there's no longer an increase in quality. Even DD women don't have to pay $250 to find a decent bra.

  18. Anonymous says:

    your points are only applicable to those under DD size range…
    for those on the DD+ size range there is no choice really except cough up the money…
    I can notice a difference from a cheap and cheaply made bra ( in terms of supposrt and durability) to a more expensive one.

  19. Diana 'poetsie' says:

    I like expensive lingerie for the inspiration, but I make my own lingerie. Look at my site: It is really fun to do it your self.

  20. Kelly says:

    Like you said, I think most things (especially true workhorses like bras and corsets) have their "limit" where up to that point, you're getting what you pay for (and the more you pay, the better the quality/fit) but after you hit that limit, the quality barely improves while the price skyrockets.

    But I do think that for a lot of the more expensive brands, what you're paying for (in addition to the label/marketing junk) is the design. Maybe that design is made out of the same materials that less expensive brands use, but if the style of the garment is unique, then the brand can afford to charge you more for it because they know you can't just walk down the street and buy an identical item at Victoria's Secret or Macy's. So I'm willing to pay more for lingerie that frankly just *looks* extra pretty, even if I know that the actual fabric, stitching, construction, etc. is similar to much less expensive brands.

    So basically, my point is that I agree with you that a higher price doesn't really mean better lingerie. But that doesn't stop me from buying expensive stuff anyway ;-)

  21. SaSSocialClub says:

    We agree! All Smart & Sexy lingerie & swimwear retails for under $30!!

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