Editor’s note: This post first ran in August 2015 and we’ve updated the product shots to reflect Journelle’s fresh styles from this current season.
Our ladies at Refinery29 took to the lingerie experts — hey Claire! — to find out the right way to elevate your lingerie wardrobe, and we couldn’t wait to share our founder’s thoughts from the post.
“When we’re younger, we’re king of buying things on whims, and I think, as you get older, you know what works for you,” Claire Chambers, founder and CEO of Journelle, tells us. And, that means understanding how to wear a bra.
“They’re like architecture for the body,” she explains, “and they have to fit very precisely.” In the long run, it’s worth going into a store for a proper fit session with an expert. Chambers sees this as a great opportunity to ask for candid feedback from a salesperson, since they’ll be able to suggest silhouettes and styles based on your body specifically.
Ali Mejia, co-founder and creative director of Eberjey, puts comfort above all: “The misconception about lingerie is that people think it looks uncomfortable.” However, as you grow and start stepping out of the cotton comfort zone, “you start to notice what fabrics feel good to your skin.”
For everyday wear, Mejia and Chambers agree that all-over lace is a triple-threat: classic, comfortable, and versatile. That, and expanding the silhouette repertoire outside of the T-shirt bra, are the big shifts in lingerie shopping habits that happen as one grows older. It’s a matter of diversifying the contents of drawer and treating your lingerie as its own wardrobe. Treat it “like a toolkit,” relates Chambers.
The perfect lingerie drawer is all about a mix of shapes and styles, Chambers and Meija agree. If she had to narrow down the list to just four bra silhouettes, though, Claire would boil it down to demi, plunge, racerback, and strapless. She recommends going into a lingerie store to get a fitting according to your comfort level and lifestyle, and say, “Look, I want a few different things that are totally wearable but different.”
“Women should have probably three to five every day bras that are not T-shirt bras necessarily, but fit perfectly, are super comfortable, and are pretty and flattering,” says Chambers.
Getting out of that T-shirt bra rut might not happen overnight. To ease into it, Chambers recommends a mesh or microfiber cup — which is not quite all-over lace, but still a more sophisticated change in material and texture.
Chambers has observed “a really nice growth in the kind of fun, sexy category” in her stores. Bralettes, she says, are “more prevalent and more affordable than they were in the past,” while still maintaining their “high quality.” Because they’re such a good bang for your buck, Claire believes they’re “a really fun way to inject and experiment with a little bit of sexiness in your life.”
Chambers has noticed a growing interest in longline bras, which have many different applications at varying levels of boldness — like, for example, as a top under a blazer or under a sheer T-shirt where the color and detailing of the lingerie peeks through.
Chambers’ ideal delicates drawer “would also have two pairs of matching underwear” per bra, but before you create a color wheel based on your lingerie, take a hard look at the undies you already own. “We all get stuck with a bunch of underwear in our drawers that are old and tattered, so I think a fun thing to do is clear that out.”
Chambers thinks a good balance includes “a dozen pairs of underwear” that are evenly split among thongs, boyshorts, and bikinis — depending on your lifestyle and needs. Like with bras, there should also be a mix of materials present: cotton, microfiber, lace, and silk. You should have a little bit of everything.
You should then cycle through these panties annually. “Generally speaking, lace and elastic break down, probably starting at 6 months,” she says. “If you hand-wash…you’re going to get probably twice the life out of [it].”
To best utilize online retailers, Chambers encourages perusing through the bestseller section. “For most retailers, that’s not just a marketing ploy,” she explains. “Those really are our bestsellers and there’s a reason. They’re tried-and-true, the fit is great, and they’re comfortable.”
In terms of non-essential undies that are just good to have, Chambers calls out the high-waisted panty: “It’s not an overtly sexy thing, but it can look so chic if you wear it well.”
Chambers stresses the confidence-boosting powers of coordinating your bra and panty. “A matching set goes a long way,” she explains. “It feels polished, and it feels like that first step to that elegant, confident, young woman that you want to be.”
“All-over lace is just so flattering on everybody and it feels good,” says Chambers. “It feels sexy. It feels very classic, and I love that. A lot of women will look at that and say, ‘I don’t want the lace to show through,’ but all-over lace is actually incredibly wearable. The only exception might be if you’re wearing a white, silk shirt, but almost everything we wear on a daily basis is totally fine for that. So, I really encourage women to get out of the box .”
It’s not all underwire and elastic waistbands. Updating your sleepwear is just as important as coordinating your bra and undies — not only in terms of looking good at every hour of the day, but also in always feeling put-together.
“I think people are really surprised that sleeping in a lightweight modal and a lace chemise is just comfortable as boxer shorts and a tank top,” says Chambers.
It’s an easy switch to make, she says, because there are options for every comfort level: camis, tap shorts, teddies, sleepshirts, the list goes on. Even if you don’t have the means to fully overhaul your underwear right this second, a new set of pajamas are a simple way to feel more sophisticated while getting in those eight hours of snooze.
And, we can’t talk about lingerie without giving a shout-out to sexy non-essentials. A three-piece set is a great introduction into the world of classy add-ins that might not be for every day, but certainly have a place in your wardrobe.
“We kind of get in the habits of college students in a way of what we sleep in,” Chambers agrees. “So, sometimes, taking it up a bit is fun — whether it’s that you’re dressing in a nicer pair of pajamas or a chemise for the first time.”
As you mature, your lingerie matures with you. Chambers considers three-pieces to be an important non-essential in an underwear drawer. A bralette, garter, and panty trio is the outfit under the outfit, one that falls closer to the “fashion” than the “function” end of the spectrum, but is still incredibly fun.