Wednesday, August 19, 2009

basic lingerie terms

Basic Lingerie Terms

The page explains several terms often used in the lingerie industry. Most of them are via The Little Flirt and Guilty Pleasures.

A short, flowing empire nightgown, usually with a matching panty bottom. Originally often made of sheer fabric with short puffy sleeves, it now describes many styles of short, swingy (and often sexy) sleepwear.

Pronounced bal-kuh-nay, it has wide-set straps and less coverage than a demi bra. The effect is uplift and fullness above the breasts, as if they were being served up on a tray or standing high on a balcony.

Essentially a slip with a fitted top, this hybrid became popular in the 1960s and has been worn ever since under strapless dresses.

Often made with a built-in underwire or molded bra that offers light support and the option of going braless, this garment offers light compression that smoothes and firms from midriff to thigh. Sometimes available in a strapless form that looks like a tube and slims from the bust to the knee. (And it’s great under strapless dresses.)

Usually made of terrycloth or waffle-weave cotton for throwing on after bathing. Think of a giant towel with sleeves.

A short jacket meant to be worn over a nightgown for warmth and coverage around the boudoir, in bed while recovering from an illness or, for the lucky ladies, while eating breakfast in bed.

A slip whose fabric is cut on the diagonal for a flattering fit (the hem is still parallel to the floor). The closer fit means the slip moves with you without binding or pulling.

A panty whose waistband rests below the belly button and on the hips. The legs are sometimes high-cut and the sides can vary from a narrow string to a thicker side panel. Back coverage depends on the style of the bikini.

Looks like a one-piece bathing suit. Usually made of spandex power-net, it has a built-in bra and tummy control all in one. Perfect for whittling the waist and battling a bulging belly.

A panty style similar in shape to boys’ underwear—but much more attractive. Often low in the rise, it has wide sides that hug your hips. Very popular with teens and twenty-somethings because they flatter most youthful body types. Don’t fall for the myth that they are universally flattering—they can make legs look shorter and fatter than they actually are. Because of their full-coverage backs, boyshorts usually prevent VPL’s. They’re great under short skirts and low-slung pants.

An often-unlined wireless bra that either pulls over the head or clasps in back. Lacking significant support features such as underwires, which offer form and additional support, this style is best for smaller busts, a more relaxed look, or for sleepwear.

A panty style that covers more of the cheeks than a thong, but less than a traditional full-back panty. For a good idea of the cut, think of a Brazilian-style bikini revealing bronzed beach buns. Not recommended to be worn under thinner clothing, as VPL is guaranteed.

A panty whose waistband rests at or just below the belly button, provides full back coverage and may, or may not, have a high-cut leg. The common connotation of briefs leans towards a conservative cut or granny pants, but many companies call their sassier boyshort styles “briefs.”

An often strapless, fitted one-piece bodice that extends from bust to waist or hip, worn to support and sustain a given shape. Usually stiffened with flexible metal or plastic boning and closed in the front or back with hook-and-eyes or lacing.


A slip that hangs straight to a place somewhere on the thigh, it is not usually fitted to the body.

Designed after garments worn in China, this style pairs pajama pants with a mandarin jacket featuring side slits and, often, braided front closures (called frogs).

Softly padded, lined or wider-than-normal straps that increase comfort—essentials for any fuller busted woman who has experienced shoulder and neck pain from the weight of her breasts pulling her bra straps down into her shoulders. Bras shouldn’t be a pain in the neck!

Looks like a panty, but acts like a girdle. A brief, available in various lengths, made with elastic yarns designed to smooth and minimize. If you’re looking for some middle management, panties with a reinforced front panel give extra attention to the tummy and midriff. Great under straight skirts, knits and flat-front pants.

Resembling a tight camisole or tank top, it gives a seamless, contoured look under sheer or form-fitting tops that show the slightest detail of an undergarment. An often overlooked solution for those sensitive to underwire bras, or those concerned about back fat squeezed over the lat muscles by bra bands.

Bike short styles slim from the waist to the upper leg, instantly reshaping bulging hips and thighs; they also often have a woven built-in lift feature for droopy bottoms.

Newer styles with a specific waist-cinching feature come in varying lengths. Some begin just under the ribs, some under the bust line, some at the waist, and compress the midsection from that point to the hips, eliminating lines at the waist and providing a smooth silhouette on all sides.

As the name implies, hosiery with a panty portion containing more spandex to provide control, like a lightweight shaper. There are styles that target the tummy, while others go after the derriere and thighs. This is where hosiery and shapewear meet.

A popular underwire with cups that are partially cut away to expose the top part of the breast (demi means “half”). With less coverage than a full cup, and more than a balconet, it’s sexy and flattering, and perfect for low-cut, squared necklines.

A panty with wider sides and less fabric to cover the bottom of the cheeks, often made of lace, silk or satin.

As the name implies, a bra that fastens in the front. This style makes it easier to put your bra on and take it off. On the downside, the band does not allow for the adjustments of a back-closure bra, which usually has at least three settings.

A bra that covers most of the breast, offering more coverage and support than a demi-cup bra. A full cup fits a fuller figure well and is perfect under a T-shirt.

Worn under sheer dresses to reduce transparency or under unlined dresses, this item prevents clinging and provides smoothness. You should have a plain slip in a flesh color to wear under sheer garments, another simple slip in black or any other color and one lacy slip for fun.

The term often used to designate a bra specifically designed for a more voluptuous woman. Cups tend to run larger in size than regular bras.

With even less coverage than a thong, it’s a small triangular front panel with a string up the rear joining one around the sides.

Stockings, attached to two elastic strips that in turn connect to an elastic band around the waist. Some more modern one-piece versions have stockings and garter belt both built into a single garment (without any hardware).

A style with attached garters to hold up stockings.

What it is: Crepe woven both lengthwise and crosswise from twisted silk or polyester yarns to produce a dull yet delicately textured, grainy surface. The lingerie connection: Although opaque georgettes exist (and were popular in suits during the ’80s), georgette for lingerie is usually sheer. The pebbly weave of georgette gives transparency but has slightly more coverage and weight than chiffon.

These serve the same purpose as a full slip under unlined skirts or dresses, but start at the waist. You should have half-slips in varying lengths from mid-thigh to above-the-knee length to midcalf

A shaping slip that starts at the waist and is perfect under sheer, clingy fabrics and pencil skirts; smoothes and firms rear, stomach and thighs.

Knitted apparel that covers the foot and/or leg, including socks, knee-highs, thigh-highs, stay-ups, stockings, pantyhose and tights.

A robe modeled after the Japanese kimono with wide sleeves, often with a floral or scenic print, closed with buttons or frogs, or a belt. A kabuki robe is a short version of the same, and is closed with a sash.

A style with edges cut with a laser to avoid the bulk of stitching and elastic for a completely smooth look. The least lines possible today!

Longer leg styles create a smooth line from waist to knee (or even ankle!), offering the look of an all-over tight, toned body in a jiffy. Instant gratification!

Perfect under low-rise clothing, this style sits at or below the hips. Any type of panty can technically have a low rise, but if a style is simply called “low rise,” it usually refers to a hipster/boyshort style.

Because of a process in which a flat piece of fabric is heat-molded to form the cup shape, this one is ideal to wear underneath T-shirts and other smooth or tight-fitting tops. The only problem? Most seamless unlined bras made of stretch material don’t offer the best support to larger busts

A flowing robe made of delicate, often diaphanous fabric and featuring lace and ruffles. Often worn with a matching nightgown.

A long nightgown is a bias-cut gown that is slip-like but intended for sleeping and lounging, not for wearing as a liner under outerwear. It’s for beneath the covers, not beneath clothing!

A short nightgown, it is a sweet little number for slumber, often made of cotton or other light material.

An elongated shirt worn for sleeping, modeled after a man’s shirt or a poet’s shirt with a rounded hem and slits in the side seams. In the mid-1980s, T-shirt and tank variations made for women started doubling as daywear.

Any bra that contains padding in the cups to add fullness. Graduated padding, thicker at the base of the cups, provides a natural, enhanced look. These bras sometimes come with crescent-shaped, removable demi pads (“cookies”) to give some extra oomph.

Also known as an underliner, this pantaloonlike garment is worn with unlined pants to protect your skin from scratchy fabric, to prevent your garment from stretching or clinging and to reduce transparency under sheer pants.

Sheer waist-to-toe fitted leg wear, often woven out of nylon or microfiber.

Hosiery with designs woven in; usually made on a jacquard knitting machine, which has a versatile pattern-making mechanism. Some popular patterns are lace, herringbone, argyle or point d’esprit. waist-to-toe fitted leg wear, often woven out of nylon or microfiber.

A feminine robe made in an elaborate or sheer fabric; usually found with a matching nightgown, which is known as a peignoir set. The name is derived from the French meaning “to comb,” because the style was originally worn while combing the hair those one hundred strokes before bedtime.

A bra with a very low plunging front, angled cups and thin center gore, this style is good for deep v-necklines. It is sometimes lined or padded to create center cleavage. How low will you go?

Designed to give the appearance of a fuller bust, an underwire bra that emphasizes the breasts by lifting them high. Padding or angled cups can create center cleavage.

A must-have bra for summer, worn under sleeveless tops and tanks, it features back straps that curve away from the shoulder blades. Many front-closure styles are racerback and most convertible bras can be adjusted that way. Particularly good for women with narrow or sloped shoulders.

Sheer hose with no visible reinforcements at the toes or heals—ideal for wear with open-toed shoes or sandals. But be gentle pulling it over your foot!

Sheer or opaque hose with a seam up the back of each leg. Before the advent of circular knitting machines, all stockings had seams up the back as a result of their construction. Later, with advances in weaving technology, the seams were no longer necessary—stockings with seams today are “mock seams,” for appearance only.

A bra with cups constructed out of carefully cut pieces of fabric that are then sewn together to form the rounded shape of a breast. The cups consist of two or more sections; generally, the more seams, the more support.

Thanks to modern technology, this style eliminates side seams, giving a smooth appearance under garments.

Sheer tights with a consistent appearance from waist to toe, ideal for a more uniform look. They lack the heavier, reinforced panty portion that is knit into many styles, with the higher risk of poking your fingers through the upper region as you pull them on. Avoid that final yank!

Two-piece pajamas with short bottoms, most often worn in warm weather.

Available in many shapes and styles, a bra without wire that provides light support. Best for the smaller and firmer busted, or for when you just a want a break from wearing an underwire bra.

Sports bras protect chest ligaments and prevent breast tissue damage. Compression styles are best for smaller cups sizes, while more structured harness styles, which encapsulate each breast, are best for women who wear larger cups.

Stockings that stay up without the aid of garters. A special rubber or silicone is applied on the inner edges of the stocking tops that grip the skin around the thigh (much the same as the gripping material around the inside edges of strapless bras).

Hosiery you wear with a garter belt.

These bras come without shoulder straps and are usually lined with silicone or rubber strips on the inner edges to help keep the bra from slipping down. They can be underwire, seamless, push-up, padded—or bandeau, which is more like a rectangular tube.

Any simple pajama set that is not overly decorated. Reminiscent of men’s tailored garments, and sometimes finished with piping.

Feminine, flattering and sometimes flared, these are sweet and playful shorts, often made of lace, silk or satin. Think of the shorts worn by tap dancers of days gone by.

Once made of silk or the like, it combines a tap pant and cami. Teddies can be flowing or fitted, stretchy or slinky, with or without underwires, full coverage or thong-back. Ruffly versions are meant for play, but a teddy can be an undergarment. Another type of teddy is more like a bathing suit—a tight-fitting, one-piece number with either high-cut legs or a thong back.

Any style of hosiery patterned with thick and thin sections: ribbed with vertical wales, cable-knit patterns, dimensional lace, fishnet or windowpane.

Any over-the-knee hosiery or stay-ups

A panty style that leaves the buttocks exposed, preventing visible panty lines. Has slightly more fabric than a g-string, but the concept is the same.

It looks like a panty coming, but a thong going. A cross between a thong and a boy brief, it offers more—but not total—coverage in the back and along the sides, while the cheeks peek out the bottom. A flattering variation of the traditional thong.

Leg wear constructed like pantyhose but made from heavier, opaque, printed, or woven patterns and fabrics.

A short garment beginning at the ribs and ends above the hips. When tightened, it cinches the waist, à la Scarlett O’Hara. Made from all manner of fabrics—lace to leather—with lace-up, snap or hook-and-eye closures, they are typically reinforced by vertical boning or stays to provide shaping. Many of today’s innovative control garments have cleverly included this waist-cinching feature by weaving it into the fabric.