How to Shop for Lingerie in Paris
Today's guest post is by Anetta Kalk. Anetta is a mother, writer, and licensed marriage therapist in California. Born in the former Soviet Union, she immigrated to the US 26 years ago. Anetta’s passion for lingerie came soon after finding her first La Perla bra at a San Francisco boutique 25 years ago. Ever since then she has been collecting and enjoying all things lingerie. Anetta previously wrote for The Lingerie Addict about Lingerie & Breast Cancer.
Traveling to France for business or pleasure is always a treat. My favorite saying after almost 20 years of traveling there is still "Paris is always a good idea." And shopping for lingerie while in Paris is an even better one, if you ask me.
The French take their lingerie quite seriously. They will proudly tell you about French “know-how," design, history, and the unique appeal of the French lingerie. The word itself is French, so who would argue, right? They even have industry organizations representing and promoting French lingerie brands such as Lingerie Française - a professional organization to make sure the business of the unmentionables is taken seriously on all stages of design, production, and sales.
Shopping for Lingerie in Paris (and in France in general) is a much easier and more pleasant experience than in the US. Lingerie is as much a part of what one wears as shoes, blouses, and dresses. There is no “adult” concept attached to the word itself, unlike in our country. As a result, you see numerous small and large stores, frequently within walking distance from one another, giving French people an array of options not available to the US customer at home.
How to Begin Your Parisian Lingerie Experience
First, even if you do not think you need to buy anything, take a tour of Paris’ numerous lingerie shops. From high-end designer boutiques, to French lingerie giant Etam, to youth-oriented Princesse TamTam, to upmarket department stores, one has a wonderful selection.
If you do feel like bringing some French lingerie back home with you, here are some of my recommendations.
- Decide on your budget. Prices range from comfortable-yet-stylish Monoprix items to high-end and expensive pieces like those from Cadolle.
- Learn the difference, if you do not know already, between your US size and French size. Even better, have one of the well-trained lingerie sales ladies measure you.
- While trying on items, remain open minded. The variety of styles available is astounding, and something you may have never considered might be exactly what you need (speaking from a personal experience, my long-standing resistance to plunge bras was really put to test by a gorgeous Maison Lejaby peach silk set.)
- Pick up the quintessentially French undie - the tanga.
- Most of all, enjoy the experience. Shopping online is fun, but having an opportunity to try on an array of pieces in-person in Paris is something to enjoy.
Department Stores & Chain Stores
When deciding where to shop, I find the list of the department stores with large lingerie departments very useful. Here are some of my recommendations:
- Major department stores like Bon Marche, Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, have a huge selection of various brands, ranging from expensive to moderately priced ones.
- Oysho - comfortable, yet stylish well designed items in natural colors and soft fabrics
- Etam - the largest French lingerie brand with a wide range of styles, moderately priced.
- Princesse TamTam - a younger, hipper, inexpensive brand, but the size range may be limited to smaller sizes.
- Monoprix - a budget-friendly chain that carries everything from champagne to lingerie to umbrellas. It is the store most often compared to Target in the US, even though its selection is much wider and very cool.
French Lingerie Brands
There are numerous brands of lingerie designed and produced in France. Some are not familiar to the US customers, some are quite well-known. Quintessential French brands worth discovering in person and enjoying the craftsmanship up close:
- Simone Perele - stunning lace and soft fabrics, both seductive and comfortable at the same time.
- Aubade - seductive lingerie with fine exquisite details in light and dainty materials
- Chantelle - wide range of sizes, excellent support in a traditional French style.
- Maison Close - A newer brand with some kinkier details to its wide range of comfortable yet unique lingerie.
- Lise Charmel - glamour and elegance define this line
- LOU - colorful modern streamlined designs.
- Maison Lejaby - sophisticated designs, high quality materials in a wide range of shapes.
- Chantal Thomass - fashion-forward feminine and elegant lingerie with unique details
- Eres - luxury lingerie and swimwear line, producing uncomplicated yet highly fashionable items. Known for use of high tech fabrics to ensure all day comfort.
- Paloma Casile - high end, fashion-forward lingerie designed and manufactured in France of luxurious silks, lace and microfibers.
- Marjolaine - elegant, luxury, sophisticated nightwear made of silk and lace. If you are looking for stunning, timeless slips, robes, and camisoles, this is definitely the place.
- Cadolle - one of the oldest French lingerie brands creating high quality fashionable and elegant pieces.
- Cervin - luxury stockings and hosiery at moderate prices.
- Implicite - modern, glamorous lingerie made of light and comfortable fabrics.
- Empreinte - created in 1946 with attention to the technical side of the lingerie making, the brand is widely known for the quality and creativity of its collection for a fuller busted customer.
- Eprise - was created in 2004 to offer larger-busted customers truly exceptional lingerie It is designed from guipure or custom laces, yet provides comfort for a fuller bust.
French Lingerie Boutiques
While walking around Paris you will stumble upon many independent lingerie boutiques. The staff is knowledgeable, the selection unique and there is something to be said about the visual and tactile experience of buying the lingerie in a small Parisian boutique—it is an experience to enjoy. Here are some definitely worth a visit in my opinion:
- Sophie d’Annunzia – 17 rue du Cherche Midi, 75006 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1 45 48 51 79
- Gerbe – 4 bis rue du Cherche Midi, 75006 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1 42 22 06 10
- ERES – 4 bis rue du Cherche Midi, 75006 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1 45 44 95 54
- Sabbia Rosa – 73 rue des Saints-Pères, 75006 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1 45 48 88 37
- Fifi Chachnil – 34 rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1 42 22 08 23
And last but not least in my French lingerie discoveries is the online innovative Ma P’tite Culotte, a newer player in the French lingerie market targeting independent, modern customers. They sell their products mostly online, yet have a showroom where you can familiarize yourself with the selection.
Have you shopped for lingerie in Paris before? If so, do you have any tips or tricks?