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Can You Really Buy Lingerie "For Yourself?"

"How to Choose Lingerie Men Love"

"5 Tips for Wearing Sexy Lingerie for Your Man"

"Make Your Man Go Crazy with Sexy Lingerie"

"Turn Him on with Sexy Lingerie"

"How to be a Good Girlfriend: Wear Sexy Lingerie for Your Boyfriend"

Notice a trend here? Why are there dozens (if not hundreds) of articles on buying nice lingerie for your partner, but next to none on buying nice lingerie for yourself? I get that lingerie can add some extra excitement in the boudoir, and that's a wonderful thing. But to reduce lingerie to just a bedroom accessory ignores the power of lingerie, and, in my opinion, it's a bit like making red lipstick or high heels just a bedroom thing. Yeah, some people only wear red lipstick behind closed doors, but a lot more people wear it out and about, so why not talk about that too?

Today's article was inspired by this piece I read on Glamour a couple of months ago. In it, the author says she's "so over wearing lingerie." She says she's lost her motivation to wear sexy lingerie because not it just seems like so much work. She asks several of her girlfriends their thoughts on sexy lingerie, and they all respond in about the same way with comments like, "I'd rather buy a new pair of shoes than spend $80 on something that's only staying on for 3.2 minutes and I feel silly in."

Why is lingerie so intimidating? Why is it seen as something to wear for everyone except yourself? Why do people feel so comfortable talking about Spanx and t-shirt bras, but so uncomfortable talking about anything else?

One of the things I'm really passionate about is the notion that lingerie can be (and should be!) about more than sex. It should be something women buy and wear for themselves. Yes, being eye candy for someone else is nice sometimes, but so is wearing something that makes you look and feel as good as you deserve. Lingerie is bras and panties, but it's also corsets and stockings and tights and teddies and bodysuits and slips and chemises and pajamas and robes and gowns and so much more. Lingerie is a vast world, and it's time we started discussing it in the same way we talk fashion or accessories or beauty.

I wonder if that has something to do with the way we cover lingerie, at least in America. Most of the articles I read about lingerie elsewhere only talk about one of three things: shapewear (often of the dull Spanx variety), bras (a subject I love, but, let's be honest, lingerie is way more than bras), and the sexy stuff (which is all push-ups and thongs and windblown hair). There's a huge gulf --- a massive chasm of non-information --- between the "How to Use Lingerie to Make Yourself Look 10 Pounds Lighter" articles and the "Wear Lingerie to Turn Your Man On" articles. So I guess it's no wonder so many women never even think about their lingerie, much less how lingerie is another aspect of fashion and another means of self-expression.

One of the great ironies of my life is that I'm engaged to a man who doesn't really care about lingerie. He doesn't hate it. He just doesn't much like it either. Unless I'm wearing something he can see through, he prefers me without it because it's just not his thing. I remember I once asked him what he thought of a piece, and after looking it over intensely for a few moments, he said, "It's pink." Which still makes me smile because as far as I know, that's a color, not an opinion.

But even moving beyond that, I was single for a good chunk of the time I wrote TLA. I was even deliberately celibate for a whole year (July 2008 to July 2009) where I didn't date or kiss or anything else. Yet I didn't stop blogging. Nor did I stop wearing lingerie. In fact, my interest in lingerie increased because it was an intimate aspect of my identity that I could explore. I was able to see what I really liked and what I really enjoyed without the pressure of making my man "go crazy."

I learned that comfort and confidence in what you're wearing not only makes you feel good, it attracts people who appreciate those qualities. I learned I genuinely love lacy camisoles and balconette bras and vintage slips and black mesh knickers. And while I'm not saying every woman should have a year-long dry spell to connect with her lingerie, I am saying we should move beyond always connecting lingerie with either bland, boring shapewear or hot, steamy sex. There's a middle ground in there, and it's about feeling great because you're wearing something you love.

Buy something to treat yourself. Buy something because it makes you feel good. Buy something that sends your heart aflutter even if that advice column in the magazine said it wasn't "right" for your body type. Your romantic partner (who, let's face, doesn't have it to be male) will probably get more from the twinkle in your eye than any "sexy" style or color (especially since there's no such thing as a style or color everyone prefers). Lingerie is about feeling connected with your body, not detached from it. It's about wearing something that helps you love the way you look.

Reclaim your lingerie. Own it. Buy what makes you feel amazing. And let's stop acting like lingerie is just something for the bedroom when it can be so much more.

How do you feel about lingerie? Is it something you mostly see as bedroom wear? Do you usually buy it for yourself? I'd love to get your thoughts in the comments.

Last Updated on

Cora Harrington

Founder and Editor in Chief of The Lingerie Addict. Author of In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie. I believe lingerie is fashion too, and that everyone who wants it deserves gorgeous lingerie.

42 Comments on this post

  1. Amelia says:

    I’m delighted I’ve found “The Lingerie Addict.” I’m a fashion model and for several years now I have been wearing sexy gorgeous lingerie almost everyday for myself. It makes me feel an attractive confident woman. Wear luxuriant panties and bra everyday, not just for a special occasion, you’ll love it and feel a different woman.

  2. Kyrie says:

    This article is amazing! I buy lingerie all the time not for a guy but for ME I like to feel pretty and attractive under my clothes tons of lace,frills and bows

  3. Rubaya Binte Siraj says:

    Lingerie parties? Great idea Kat! I will try one soon.

  4. Stevanie says:

    I love lingerie because of the feeling it gives me. Am I the only woman who feels as if she rules the world when wearing an incredible piece of lingerie. I totally agree Treacle. Lingerie is not just sex, it’s, well, everything LOL. Lingerie is an everyday thing for me. Besides I would add to my lingerie collection before I add to my shoe collection. I’m just sayin’

  5. terry bray says:

    I absolutely LOVE lingerie and how sexy and confident it makes me feel when I have it on. It’s like dressing up for my very own Very Merry Unbirthday. Even though it’s not a part of my daily wardrobe, it awakens that sense of wonderment

  6. sandra dee says:

    I love to flirt and when I’m wearing great lingerie, I feel much more like flirting. It’s even more fun because the person I’m flirting with has no idea of what I’m wearing that puts me in that mood.

  7. Totally agree with Kitty – wearing gorgeous undies makes us all feel good and I’m all for treating myself. I work hard I play hard and treat myself when I can x

  8. dcsurfergirl says:

    It’s not always about being sexy.

    I am plus-sized. Clothing options in my size are not the prettiest. Every time I shop (either online or brick-and-mortar stores), I have to my choice of gigantic prints, boho styles or saggy t-shirts. I end up with plain black or gray t-shirts, black dresses and boot-cut jeans. Yeah, my wardrobe is kind of plain.

    At least if I wear some pretty bras and cute matching panties, I am at least wearing something I truly like. My very basic clothes also look and fit better.

  9. Mia Culpa says:

    After having an emergency gallbladder removal two months ago, I felt intensely betrayed by my body. And because I couldn’t work out, I kept feeling uglier (no matter what my husband said). The only thing that made me feel better about myself was lingerie. It gave me framework, or a coat of polish, and I felt so much better wearing something so pretty that no one else could see.

  10. alanna says:

    Totally wear lingerie for myself. Even just putting on lacy panties makes me feel great, and I’ve noticed that the few times in the past that I tried picking out lingerie to wear “for” for someone else, it didn’t really excite them all that much ANYWAY! I definitely agree with what you said: like all other parts of fashion, lingerie is for the person who’s wearing it… plus if you’re loving what you’re wearing and it’s making you feel good, the person (or people) who you want to “go crazy” WILL be excited to see you in it. In the end it’s all about feeling good about yourself.

  11. akhMSW says:

    Not only do I think this is a wonderful article, but I would like to explicitly say that I wish with all my might that this- THIS!- could be written in Glamour! Would you be able/willing/interested in offering up some version of this to a magazine, so that even more women could embrace lingerie (and by extension, the sexual/sensual part of themselves) for themselves, and not for anyone else? More people, especially more women, need to hear this message!

    Thank you so much for writing,

  12. Nessa says:

    I absolutely LOVE lingerie and how sexy and confident it makes me feel when I have it on. It’s like dressing up for my very own Very Merry Unbirthday. Even though it’s not a part of my daily wardrobe, it awakens that sense of wonderment I have inside me when I do wear it. I have a corset I purchased about 11 years ago that I have no intention of passing on until I do and am about to make another purchase soon (I have a collection as well, even though small). Every woman that purchases lingerie should purchase for her to wear for her first and wear for her partner later. I think the idea of lingerie for me as a woman stems from when I wanted to play dress up in my girlie princess years, well I still play dress up and will always nurture that little girl inside me that now enjoys the woman version of dress up.

  13. Jame says:

    I think the whole image of lingerie has been pitched as something only for “certain” people. People of a certain size, shape and body type. People with a certain lifestyle and relationship status. Reclaiming lingerie for ourselves has the positive of opening up the topic of lingerie to a broader audience. Those of us with “imperfect” lives, relationships, bodies and sex lives.

  14. Larisa Phillips says:

    I am a long time lingerie fan. I heartily agree that lingerie is a great form of self expression and should be a gift a woman gives to herself. Life is too short for ugly boring undergarments. The right lingerie inspires and empowers a woman and can be her armor to deal with the world much like a great pair of shoes. And lingerie should not be just for a man or for sex but can be great for both. And who says lingerie needs to come off for sex? Picking pieces that can be worn during add great interest to the bedroom. My personal favorites are garter belts and stockings sans panties and crotchless body stockings. And a garter belt and stockings under a skirt are much easier than pantyhose for trips to the restroom and better for your health and hygiene as well. Pretty underwear and lingerie is a gift women give themselves and knowing you have on hot lingerie is a great self esteem tool and confidence builder even when no one else sees it.

  15. Victoria says:

    I love buying lingerie. I find the stuff that makes me feel great about my self. And thanks to you, I finally know what my real size is, and how a bra is supposed to fit. I go out and guy stuff for me, and if my boyfriend likes it then it makes me feel even better. I don’t have him in mind when I go shopping in stores or online. I am the only person I think of.

  16. Jorun Åkerblom says:

    My choise of lingerie makes me feel good about myself, it´s like at tribute to my body.

  17. Asha says:

    The Art of Lingerie is not a topic that mother’s teach their daughters, it’s something you learn about through magazines, movies and V-day propaganda as you grow older. For the longest time to me it was for the special guy in my life, because the thought of wearing such things (to feel good for myself) wasn’t a taught option.

    My feel good clothing, as taught to me by ‘chick flicks’, were supposed to be sweat pants and paint smeared t-shirts (not that I don’t love/own a pair). Haggard pieces to wear, that I’m supposed to feel ‘myself’ in, when he’s not around.

    It wasn’t until I started my own lingerie business, that I sat down and really asked myself what lingerie meant to me…and what would it mean to the women that I sold my designs to? I’ve come to realize since then that my perceptions have changed over time and because of that, I began to design pieces for the sake of comfort and personal preference rather than obsessing over the figurative approval of the man who may or may not view it.

    Excellent article <3

  18. You know, since meeting you back in 2010 and starting to read your blog, you’ve really changed my line of thinking when it comes to lingerie; I would have NEVER thought I’d be a lingerie person, but after reading so many of your wonderfully written articles on lingerie and how powerful it is for a female’s self esteem, I’m starting to slowly buy things for MYSELF. Yes, I keep my boyfriend in mind, however the ultimate decision is on what I’M going to like, what’s comfortable for ME, and what style fits MY personality most.

    You’re so totally right though! There needs to be more articles about how lingerie should make woman feel powerful and sexy and the fact that it’s not JUST about sex and the bedroom.

  19. KathTea says:

    This reminded me of the time I had to explain to a photographer about WHY I generally avoid cheap corsets or basques and invest in pricier made to measure works.
    “But isn’t it a waste that you wear it for only one or two photoshoots?”
    Umm…. I wear my corsets almost every day, underneath my uniform at work too.
    He looked at me as if I told him I rear unicorns for a living.

  20. Thursday says:

    Something that always annoys me that seems to come up every time there’s some kind of discourse on what is “real beauty” or what is “hotter”, etc., is the inevitable comment, “I bet more men would find *example of alternative beauty* more attractive”. “Men like curves”, “men like real women”, and so on. Let’s not open up the “real women” debate again (what’s an un-real woman?), but the idea that it’s the opposite sex, usually men, who have the final call on what’s attractive. Beauty is for everyone, and to limit what is a combination of character, spirit, choice and skill to “what men prefer” is so irritating. We make choices about our bodies, about what we wear and how we like to look, in a complex context, and sexual attraction is just one element of that. More people should be empowered to make their lingerie choices without feeling that is has to be solely about sexual attraction. Even if no one else sees it, it’s an expression of your taste, a creative outlet as much as a matter of comfort. And if you got all that going on, you might just feel a bit sexy too, and it’s ok if that’s just for you!

  21. Kay says:

    I would love to wear lingerie more often just for me, but it’s so hard to find fun stuff that doesn’t show up under my clothes (think details, ruffles, lace, etc). Not to mention that the bras I find most attractive just don’t give me great support so just aren’t practical for wearing out. Finally, it’s expensive! I don’t want to wear it out before a partner gets to see it.

  22. Penny says:

    I also started my lingerie collection when I was single and I just can’t get enough!
    Not so long ago, I had been seeing someone for a while and decided to let him in on my little secret by wearing one of my absolute favourite pieces when I saw him. He told me that he didn’t like it! I was so completely and utterly unimpressed. SO RUDE! I put my dress back on and left.

  23. Amen!
    I love lingerie just for the sake of having something luxurious to wear. I love the way a good quality bra hold my girls together and the right pair of underwear hugs my ass just so. I hate getting dressed up for anything other than a party but you can be certain I have a sexy pair of underwear on under my jeans and T.

  24. Tiffani says:

    Heavens. Just wear it for yourself. Enjoy, :-D

  25. Ana says:

    I totaly understand the “it’s pink” comment, hate pink xD Love lingerie though, I wear great lingerie everyday, in fact 95% of my undrwear is great lingerie and the other 5% I don’t wear that much.

  26. pinup320 says:

    I really enjoy lingerie. I love the way it makes me feel when wearing it, even if it doesn’t fit perfectly I like the way it feels against my skin. It’s likely that no one will see me in it even though I’d like that special someone to. I buy lingerie knowing that it’s for me more than anyone else. I choose what “I” like knowing that that special someone would think it’s ridiculous. Oh well. I say wear what you makes “you” happy and don’t worry about what someone else may or may not be missing!

  27. This is a message I try to get across to our Facebook fans all the time! I see so many comments of “That’s pretty, but I don’t have anyone to wear it for” and I always reply that it doesn’t matter, if they want to wear it then they should! Lingerie and relationships are not mutually exclusive.

  28. I’ve just skimmed this, because I had to comment right away. I totally think women should buy what makes THEM feel good. Let’s be honest, you’ll look even sexier when you FEEL sexy. And that doesn’t mean b/c you’re wearing something “he” will love. It’s because you’re wearing what you love. I also don’t think sexy stuff should be saved for showing someone. Wearing just a tee and jeans? Who cares! Wear a sassy, sexy, well fitting bra and panty set underneath. You’ll bounce down the avenue with confidence and power – and IF someone should happen to see, well lucky him ;)
    Buy for yourself. Buy what you love.
    Totally agree! xo Linda the Bra Lady

  29. Esther Galito says:

    You’re touching a very truthful topic her. It’s so true that so many people only see lingerie as a sexual thing. And it upsets me the most when it’s women. When I tell people that I love lingerie and talk about stockings or corsets, they look at me and inevitably say something like: “naughty!” or “you know how to have fun”. The first time a girl at work realise I was wearing stockings under my dress, she blushed!
    I love lingerie and wearing nice pieces makes me feel happy and it’s part of the clothing I wear. I also love shoes but that seems to be more acceptable. You’re a woman therefore you must love shoes.
    My partner is not into lingerie either which like you I find amusing but sometimes disconcerting and a bit annoying.
    Thanks for the article. I love it.

  30. astrid says:

    Most guys don’t even care much about lingerie!
    I think that lingerie is for oneself moresoe than clothes, shoes or make-up, because most people won’t get to see it.

  31. Kay says:

    My boyfriend is the same way for most lingerie, he’d rather I wore nothing! I’ve always bought lingerie to make ME feel sexy, not to make other people think I’m sexy. Like Emily, I love wearing matching sets! It makes an outfit just a little bit more special. I think that wearing lingerie you don’t like that much just for your guy ends up being less sexy than wearing something you love that makes you feel genuinely sexy. You get that aura of confidence, which is way hotter. Wear what you like, whether it’s lace, latex or a cotton camisole. Lingerie is all about you, and how it makes you feel!

  32. tomi says:

    It’s for me and only me, almost. Except for the occasional morning or evening “flash” my husband will unhappily verify this.

    The idea of dressing up to be sexy for someone else doesn’t interest me at all. I feel like I’d have to put on some sort of show and that just isn’t me. I’m a very goofy, spirited person and dressing up “sexy” makes me feel like a big dork (and not in a good way). Wearing beautiful, sexy lingerie under my everyday housewife-mom-clothes and knowing I’m smoldering hot in secret is a great deal of fun for me and a major confidence booster. Nice intimates are the way I remind myself that I’m “all that” under the sweat pants and hoodies coated in kid-grime.

    Whether people’s attitude will change in regards to the “purpose” of lingerie is pretty hard to predict. I hope so though. As a custom corset-maker I deal with a lot of blushing when I tell strangers what I do. A lot of minds are geared instantly to perceive the word “corset” to mean “naughty”. I don’t see what I do as even remotely naughty. Fitting a custom corset can be somewhat intimate but I suppose so can tailoring a good inseam on a pair of trousers. I’ve never even made a boudoir-style corset. I mostly make fun outerwear stuff or historical reproductions. Go figure!

  33. Emily says:

    I’ve been massively into lingerie for the past 6 years. For the first 3 of those I was single. I definitely buy lingerie for myself. It makes me smile to wear pretty matching sets. My fiance likes some of the lingerie I buy – but he wouldn’t particularly miss most of it if I didn’t bother.

  34. Kat says:

    I became a collector of lingerie while single. I have s beautiful collection, and I am still single. The point of buying these pieces is not for a man or for sex, but to make me feel gorgeous and decadent and lovely. My girlfriends and I have all invested in pieces from Agent Provacateur. They are married or in relationships, but we throw “Lingerie Parties” for ourselves, which are cocktail parties to which we wear our gorgeous lingerie. Just us ladies, no gents allowed. It’s not about impressing anyone, or trying to get anything from anyone, but just about celebrating ourselves and one another and feeling fabulous.

    • FLV says:

      Kat (hope you don’t mind call you in such familiar way…):
      You said it all: Celebrating …and feeling fabulous!
      And for us, men, we like that all the ladies wish to celebrate and feel themselves fabulous!
      We (…or me) can only thank you!

      Lisbo, Portugal

  35. Kitty says:

    Whenever I feel a bit grotty or I have something stressful to do, I wear my favourite lingerie sets and it always makes me feel better. I love buying lingerie and I buy it for myself, I’m single, no one sees it and I still buy a lot of it!

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