In the lingerie business, there are many insider tips and observations that men searching for the perfect gift could learn from. Like West Coast women wear more thongs than anywhere else in North America.
"We're more athletic, sporty," explains Diane Thomson, who owns Dianes Lingerie in Vancouver. "It's the Lululemon pants too."
It's a cheeky call only a lingerie expert like Thomson can make. After 30 years of seeing everything, Thomson's South Granville store has launched a toll-free lingerie advice hotline — 1-877-458-BRAS (2727) — during business hours, seven days a week until Christmas Eve.
It's been doing "very, very well," Thomson told The Huffington Post B.C. in an interview. The store has also posted a helpful video to YouTube.
To lingerie store staffers, the holiday season is that time of the year when more men appear in stores by themselves, cluelessly — and awkwardly — shopping for sexy undergarments for their partners.
In previous years, as Christmas drew nearer, Thomson and her staff noticed more men looking in from outside, too chicken to enter the store.
"They look through the window to see if there's another man in the store," said Thomson. "If they haven't been to the store before, they'll take about four steps in and stop."
For a few good men courageous enough to step inside, it can be a sexy sensory overload for those who don't know where to start.
CUPPING THE AIR
Men not armed with the basics — or without knowledge of their partner's size and style preference — risk committing two faux pas: cupping the air around them to mime the size of their partner's breasts, or pointing to sales assistants' bosoms declaring, "She's that size."
Often, and unsurprisingly, these unprepared men are wrong, says Thomson. After leaving confidently with their purchases, the men's partners will often return days later to discreetly exchange sizes.
"Everyone wants lingerie," said Thomson. "Everyone wants something pretty, something sexy. It just has to fit right."
Check out Diane's lingerie shopping advice for men:
When it comes to lingerie, it's all about the numbers. You can't go into a store without knowing your partner's size. Many moments have been ruined after buying lingerie that's way too big or small.
Take a discreet peek in her underwear drawer for accurate bra and panty sizes.
Cups, that's the unit of measurement when it comes to breasts (read: not crude attempts to honk air boobs in front of salespeople).
A-cup is equivalent to lemons.
B-cup is equivalent to oranges.
C-cup is equivalent to grapefruits.
D-cup is equivalent to mini watermelons.
Does she like colour, animal prints, lace, silk or cotton? Take a peek into her closet to see if there's a strong preference of one style over others.
You're already there. Go for the whole set. It's better than buying by piecemeal.
Being surrounded by bras, panties and nighties can be overwhelming. There's no shame in asking for help in a lingerie store. The staff are trained professionals and are there to help.
Black bras and panties are what men end up buying "90 per cent of the time," says lingerie store owner Diane Thomson. Pictured: Violette bra ($197) by Marie Jo.