Lingerie Shopping: Should You Buy Lingerie Online or in a Lingerie Boutique?

When sites like Figleaves, Bare Necessities, and HerRoom began selling lingerie online, many experts predicted that they were doomed to failure.  “No one,” they reasoned, “would ever buy something as personal, intimate, and expensive as lingerie without first seeing it in person.”  A decade or so later, those experts have been proven wrong, but many women are still understandably reluctant to purchase lingerie anywhere other than their local mall or outlet store.

As with most things, neither approach is the best one all the time.  Here are a few points to keep in mind when deciding if you should purchase in store or buy online:

You Should Buy In-Store If…
–you haven’t been fitted for a bra lately or your size has changed (ex: pregnancy/childbirth, weight loss/gain)
–you have special needs (such as a mastectomy) where repeated fittings are a necessity before buying
–the experience of buying is just as important as the actual purchase (weddings, bridal showers, etc.)
–you only need a few, inexpensive basics (such as a plain black or white bra)
–you need something right now

You Should Buy Online If…
–you already know your size and how it varies across brands
–you value variety over convenience (online boutiques carry a better selection than brick and mortar stores)
–you’re able to wait a few days before receiving your purchase
–you prefer to buy from small-label designers or niche markets (eco-friendly, handmade, retro, etc.)
–you’re a bargain hunter who enjoys comparison shopping for the best deal

Personally, I prefer to buy lingerie online for the reasons given above, but I’d love to hear what you think. So tell me…where you do get your lingerie?  Let’s talk in the comments!

20 Comments

  1. Alice
    10/09/10 at 1:43

    I agree with what you've written here. Sometimes I like going into the store for the experience. Other times I buy online because I already know what size I want or I may not be able to get it in a store nearby.

  2. Katie@Knickersblog
    10/09/10 at 8:19

    One other reason to buy online is if you live someplace where sizes are limited to A – D cups. There are portions of this great nation without Nordys or Neimans…or Macy's or a single lingerie shop…(VS doesn't count, see A-D note). It's crazy but true.

  3. Panty Buns
    10/09/10 at 10:15

    I buy lingerie both online and in stores. You have given many excellent reasons to buy in store. The fit, feel, and how it looks in the mirror are good reasons to buy in store, and so is the wider variety of colours which are sometimes carried in store but not advertised online. Buying online is nice for the styles I know in the basic black, beige, and white. I always check online to check out what new styles are there, looking for more sheer fabrics, lace ruffles and bows and hoping to see my favorite colours or floral prints.

  4. Kelly
    10/09/10 at 13:13

    I buy almost all of my lingerie online. The shops near me don't carry my bra size (and if they do, it's one or two very basic styles – compare that with the one or two hundred I can find on figleaves alone!). Plus I just like the variety and access to smaller labels that I can find online. I do still pop in to lingerie shops whenever I get the chance, but I usually don't purchase nearly as much as I do when I visit my favorite websites.

  5. Jodi
    10/09/10 at 16:19

    Mostly online. Most department stores have a pretty limited selection in my size – if they have it at all! There are several boutiques with a better selection than the brick-and-mortar stores, but online stores such as Figleaves have better prices.

    The waiting and returning is kind of a pain though (especially if it's a new style or brand and I'm not sure of the fit).

  6. Lillefix
    10/09/10 at 17:28

    I buy online very often.
    With bras it's like what Katie and Kelly says, the size just isn't around. I like the selection you get online, and the peace to look for the best options in the less stressing environment of home, and the freedom to do it any time. Also, I'm mainly interested in niche markets, retro stuff for instance. (The stores where I am at really do suck too, they don't even seem to sell plain garter stockings.)
    I buy the things I look at online in regular stores, whenever I'm at a place that has it. Like if I'm on a trip somwhere I know they have interesting stuff, I make sure to visit. I have a hard to fit body when it comes to some clothing and lingerie articles. Trying it on makes a huge differende. I don't like to sacrifice in style nor in fit. But I do refrain from buying things I like online, and settle for things I don't always care much for, that is sold in stores available to me, if it's something I really need. This is far more ecconomical, because bying online for things like this would be a gamble. If I find reviews that tells me it's likely to work for me to, or with vintage if the meassurments seem very likely to work and the thing don't cost too much, I sometimes will go for it.
    However what's really great online, is that the sometimes are custom fit options, and that is one really good reason to buy :) (not much tailor culture over here)
    Expensive import and shipping can matter too. Of the two, for me mostly the latter, some places have really dumb shipping options, and I just stop liking the website because of it. I would get whatever I wanted from them if I found it elsewhere, online or in store, or if they changed their ways.

    Well, that's quite long enough I guess ;)

  7. Punctuation Mark
    11/09/10 at 14:02

    i love going to the store and trying it on… unless those freebies from VS i only buy it at the store… have nice one!

  8. luvgmt.com
    12/09/10 at 21:11

    I never buy lingerie online, unless it's from a brand I already know will fit me properly. With lingerie usually being non-returnable, I'd rather not risk it.

  9. Ian
    15/09/10 at 11:21

    Silly as it may sound, I would never buy in a store. Primarily because I'm a man who occasionally buys for his wife and I'm a bit embarrassed to go browsing around under the watchful gaze of the sales assistant.

    Also, these days I don't seem to be able to buy ANYTHING (TV, pair of jeans, table lamp, whatever) without scouring the web for every possibility, eventually picking a favourite before trawling around hunting for the best price! That's just me.

    There are definitley pitfalls to buying online- fitting obviously, but never had a problem with something not fitting yet. But there have been a couple of occasions where the item doesn't look as I imagined in the photo. I guess the fabrics and delicate nature of lingerie doesn't lend itself to web-size pics.

  10. Treacle
    15/09/10 at 22:38

    @Katie–Oh, you're right! I tend to think about things from the perspective of someone who lives in a big city, but I think that's an excellent point…especially because most people don't live in major metropolitan areas.

    @Ian–Thanks for sharing your masculine perspective here. I'm always really interested in what guys think, and what you said makes a lot of sense.

  11. SpitFire
    19/09/10 at 16:14

    A lot of my lingerie currently gets purchased at VS (just because I don't really know where good places online are..but I have signed up for your newsletter..lol), but I have to. I go to the store to get fitted, and then make my purchase online, cause my local VS only carries smaller sizes.

  12. mary
    21/09/10 at 8:17

    I think in buying lingerie, it's sooo essential to try on and be able to exchange, cause some pieces look great but just not great on yourself and a bra HAS to fit.
    That's why I love the AgentProvocateur-Service for example; you get the garments delivered to your home and can try them , keep em or send them back.
    For the UK I especiallay recommend online-buying if you wanna try it and see the reaction of your lover- cause here they never allow your Boyfriend to come and see you trying things!
    And in a busy world like ours, who doesn't love to get a gift to your doorstep? I think companies and onlineshops should just improve their customer service!
    xx

  13. Lisette
    23/09/10 at 3:23

    I really enjoy visiting stores and spend hours and hours to see, touch, and try on things I wasn't aware of.
    On the other side, sometimes I like to buy on the internet what I already know and things I cannot where I live (e.g. Italy is the main producer of stockings in the world, so on one hand you have a great choice of stockings here, on the other hand you get almost only local production hosiery, so that it is very difficult to buy chic French stockings, which I love …)

  14. FacnyLingerieStore
    25/10/10 at 5:17

    Definitely online once you know your size. Saves time, money and offers greater selection.

  15. Andy_Mehra
    26/10/10 at 3:02

    I agree with what you've mentioned here. You have given good explanation for buying in store. But many times it happens that we dont get size, color and material we want at that time we can prefer buying online…

  16. 28/12/11 at 20:53

    I am one of those people who likes to compare prices and make sure i’m buying something for a good price. Sometimes stores can be over priced. Now i know you can’t try it on so that might be a slight problem but i usually purchase my size and it’s totally fine. Plus i can purchase stuff at the comfort of my home :)

  17. Lisa
    04/01/12 at 13:57

    I’ve purchased most of my lingerie online, but I just had an experience with Lascivious Lingerie’s online site that has me wondering why. They had a large sale & I got up early to purchase some items, which were listed as in stock, but today a week later, I received a message that they sold out. Sorry.

  18. Hallan
    16/03/12 at 16:00

    I buy online very often.

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