What Makes Someone a Lingerie Expert?

A few months ago, I was on The Lingerie Addict Twitter talking with a reader, when a retailer said to me, completely out of the blue, “For someone who isn’t a lingerie expert, you sure know a lot about lingerie.”

Now, I wasn’t offended by her comment. I’ve always been completely open and honest about the fact that I’ve never worked for a lingerie boutique, a lingerie brand, or a lingerie designer. I’m proud of being one of the very few lingerie bloggers out there who doesn’t come from a fashion, media, or marketing background. The Lingerie Addict is and always has been about talking lingerie from an everyday woman’s point of view…not from the industry point of view.

(As an aside, if you do want to know what my career has been for the last 7 years, sign up for the Very Important Addict List…I’ve got a special announcement to make tomorrow.)

But her remark did get me thinking. If, after 3 years of blogging about lingerie, I didn’t know enough to be a lingerie expert…well, then who does?

I don’t believe working in a lingerie boutique is enough in and of itself to make one a lingerie expert. I’ve had a bra fitting at one of the most famous lingerie boutiques in America, and was left unimpressed. And I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of visiting a lingerie boutique and realizing the staff knew very little about the merchandise (which, if you’re a boutique owner reading this, is really not okay).

I don’t believe working for a lingerie brand necessarily makes you a lingerie expert either.You’ll learn that particular brand’s products inside and out, but how much of your knowledge is generalizable to other brands? Not to mention the inherent conflict of interest in working for one brand–you’re automatically inclined to think their products are best for everyone…when that may not be the case.

And, to bring things a little bit closer to home, I don’t believe being a writer or an editor (yes, even a writer or editor of a lingerie publication) automatically makes you an expert. As I mentioned in this lingerie article, one of the lesser-known secrets of the lingerie industry (and of fashion in general) is that the brand with the biggest PR team wins. Which means there is a lot of amazing lingerie we never, ever hear about.

I guess what I’m asking is the same question from the title, “What makes someone a lingerie expert?” I don’t think you have to be an “expert” to know what fits and flatters your body, or to know what you like and don’t like. And you certainly don’t need to live in a fashion capital or have a huge lingerie budget to be an expert…though I think that’s the message we get from the media sometimes.

I’ve said a lot about what I don’t think so far…so here’s what I do think. I think every woman has the ability and the capacity to become a lingerie expert, even if you’re just a lingerie expert for yourself. Being passionate about lingerie, being curious about lingerie, being well-informed about lingerie, and being willing to make a lingerie mistake or two…that’s what makes you an expert (and a lingerie addict too, for that matter). It’s not necessarily about being told what to wear or telling others what to wear, it’s about caring enough to make sure you are wearing the best possible undies you can. That your lingerie fits, flatters, and makes you feel like the amazing woman you already are.

I know this a controversial position. I’m basically saying that everyone’s a lingerie expert…or that no one’s a lingerie expert. But I’ve been turning this question over for awhile, and I’m really interested in what other people have to say. So what do you think, dear readers? What makes someone a lingerie expert? Can we all be lingerie experts? Are lingerie experts helpful at all? Share your thoughts in the comments below. I read every single one of them.

6 Comments

  1. Tomi
    12/12/11 at 19:33

    To me, an expert on a subject is person who passes my personal scrutiny; answering my questions in detail without having to rely on heavy criticism of other people’s work, and does so independently of corporate sponsorship.

    It really isn’t about how much you know (or how much you *think* you know), it’s about how much I *trust what you are saying*.

    I’m glad you wrote about this because as a corset-maker I feel a great deal of responsibility to NOT appear as an expert on corset-making, though many people are looking for one. Those of us who make a living (or hope to make a living) doing this often develop our own way of manufacturing these finicky garments so that they look amazing, are unique, and do not fall apart. I would like to think that someone chose me as their corset maker because they appreciate and trust my personal aesthetic, not because I have a badge that says “expert”.

    I have learned a lot from your writings about lingerie but most of all, I enjoy reading it immensely. So ha ha, even if you’re not an “expert” I’ll keep coming back for more!

  2. Karen Chandler
    27/05/12 at 11:29

    I believe that women should be “taught” , through blogs like yours, that they are the experts of their own bodies. This works for clothing, as well. Thank you for providing such thoughtful and empowering posts. Your confident attitude about enjoying your body and what goes on it is very catchy!

    • 27/05/12 at 22:50

      Thanks, Karen! I’m glad you appreciate what we’re trying to do here. :-)

  3. silvia
    23/10/12 at 8:15

    expert [ˈɛkspɜːt]
    a person who has extensive skill or knowledge in a particular field
    [from Latin expertus known by experience, from experīrī to test]

    This is in the English dictionary.
    To me an Expert is someone that knows a specific field enough and with enough passion to get a job out of it.
    I could say I am passionate of Tailoring but I don’t know it well enough to make a job out of it.
    You do, you do have a blog and readers, you always have something interesting to keep readers coming back and to get in touch with you. I am now descovering your blog and I am going to add it to my favs, as I know you’ll keep me up to date on lingerie.
    So, yes, I think you are an expert; of course there out there people more expert than you or more expert on area of lingerie that you might not know as well. (production, construction, allergenic test, QA etc)

    In your article though you say that working in the categories listed doesn’t necessarily make you an experts. I would rather say in all of those categories there are experts, otherwise a lingerie shop or a brand would not work, although there might also be people who haven’t got a clue.
    The IT manager of a lingerie company doesn’t have a clue of lingerie, a designer does and not necessarily thinks his company does the best product.
    I know by experience designers tend to hate must of the product they HAVE to design as commercial choices and pricing constrains limit what they’d love to do. Most of designers I have worked with (in other fields) secretly dream to work for the best company in their field, thinking other companies are always better!
    Of course, if you design your own brand this doesn’t apply and you love your product; still, if the brand is succesful, well, you’re an expert.

    Nice article!

  4. sissychuck
    08/09/13 at 8:14

    I think that you ARE a lingerie expert. Who was it that said you weren’t? You know quite a bit about the major and minor brands of lingerie and are very up to date on what is out there and what is being sold. Kudos to you for your expertise and passion for lingerie.

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