Monday, February 12

I happen to know that a friend of mine is in for a big surprise this Valentine’s Day. She’s going to get some “sexy lingerie” from a boy she’s only been dating for a month or so, and considering that she considered their relationship not all that serious, it’ll certainly be an interesting reveal.

Lingerie—and I mean elaborate intimates here, not basic bras and panties—is a very difficult present and generally not something one should attempt to give early-on in a relationship. If I require two sales people, multiple size adjustments, and an all-way mirror when shopping for bedroom clothing, and still experience an inordinate amount of struggling and shouting to find the perfect slinky something, then it seems very unlikely that someone else could find me a perfect fit.

After all, there is a very, very delicate line between looking like a pin-up girl and feeling like a bloated human trapped inside a pink lace tent. And needless to say, no one wants to receive (or give!) a present of the latter—so honestly, how guys can blindly do it?

Oh, because they can’t. That’s right, I refuse to accept that any present of lingerie has ever completely worked out (unless it’s a different version of something already owned by the female in question, but that really doesn’t count much for creativity or surprise). I think that women have simply just become experts at accepting awkward intimates graciously, and the male-run media and retail stereotype mills are the only ones still promoting notions of lacy and racy surprise Valentine’s presents.

First of all, the tip to “buy smaller, it’ll flatter her!” when in doubt of size has huge potential to backfire. If she doesn’t fit the item your lady is stuck with nothing to wear and will spend the rest of the night feeling like a cow. If you choose to buy larger she will think you’re a total oblivious dick. Of course, this isn’t your fault, dear boyfriends of the world. A small size in one style can be completely different in another (never mind the range between stores!)—and the space permitted for the bust never matches with that of the hips.

Second of all, most boyfriends really do think their girlfriends look incredible in anything—especially if it’s lacy, see-through, and/or cleavage-creating. We appreciate that a few feathers and lace ruffles provide distraction, but while you’re excited and turned on we're stuck struggling with dozens of exposure-versus-comfort issues. We need to feel as sexy as we look when parading around the bedroom for you!

So here’s my solution. Girls, take charge and buy the lingerie yourself. (And not just for a once-a-year Valentine’s Day thing—a little Saturday night surprise always gets a good response.) This way he won’t feel the need to play the guessing-you-fit-into-black-vinyl game, and you’ll only wear things that look perfect.

And boys, if you really do want to get your girl something special then consider accessories—shoe sizes are much more forgiving and everyone can appreciate items that vibrate or tickle. But if you’re set on getting intimate then here’s a novel idea: take her to the store with you. As a bonus, this also works as a test of whether sexy lingerie is an appropriate present. Because if you wouldn’t ask her to join you on a naughty shopping trip, she probably won’t want you to take a guess on her corset size.