There comes a time when your tired old bra just won't take it anymore. This time, for me, came two days ago, leaving me in the unenviable position of suddenly needing new bras. Plural. Not only did I realise that I hadn't embarked on such a shopping trip for years, which possibly makes me a terrible example of an adult woman, it also dawned on me that I don't even know what size I need. With so many new lingerie brands on the market, where to even begin?
Underwear is, of course, a boring thing to have to buy. It absolutely has to be comfortable – you're wearing it every day and close to your skin, after all – and you want something that isn't hideous but also isn't made with the sexual fantasy of a 15-year old boy in mind. Until recently, that was surprisingly hard to find. The lingerie market has been dominated by sexualised advertising campaigns and product that is clearly designed more with the voyeur in mind than the wearer. Lingerie brands like Victoria's Secret have built their entire business on the male gaze, and we were all expected to enjoy that. In the last few years, however, multiple brands have emerged that are actually catering to women and their needs. Imagine!
In May of 2018, Rihanna made her next step on the path to world domination by launching Savage x Fenty, a lingerie brand created 'for the female gaze, not the male gaze.' Like the beauty brand that came before it, Savage x Fenty set out to promote Rihanna's message of inclusivity, using images of women of different shapes, sizes and ethnicities. Bras are available in sizes 32A to 44DD, while knickers are made in sizes XS to 3ZL. 'Women should be wearing lingerie for their damn selves,' Rihanna said at the time of launch. Since then, she has shown at New York Fashion Week, making headlines for the diversity of her model line-up. For last year's show, she rounded up Lizzo, Paris Hilton and Indya Moore for a music video/catwalk show/immersive viewing experience that was streamed on Amazon Prime. She has, in many ways, taken underwear to new heights.
Another brand promoting such a message, along with the idea of sexuality on a woman's terms, is Playful Promises. Regularly collaborating with a series of models and personalities that represent a body type other than very slim and white, the brand offers a huge variety of different styles, with bras available up to H cups and briefs up to a size 24. Similarly, British brand Bluebella offers a redefined idea of sensuality, giving the power back to women. Campaign stars have included the likes of Munroe Bergdorf, herself an outspoken, powerful woman and, unsurprisingly, the company was founded by – yes, you've guessed it – a woman.
There are, in fact, so many options now that you need never look at a Victoria's Secret model again. Luxury lingerie brand Mimi Holliday combine delicate, and beautiful designs with comfort and functionality, all the way to up to double G cup. And even on the high street, brands such as M&S and H&M have started to use a wider variety of models so as to ensure that more than one body type is being represented. Given M&S' overwhelming influence in the lingerie market – in 2019, it sold two pairs of knickers every single second– we can only hope that this will be the norm soon.
Another name to know is Beija London, founded by sisters in 2016 in order to make lingerie and swimwear 'you want to wear.' The brand has made it easier than ever to shop for lingerie, designing three styles of bra – the X, Y and Z – all available in cups AA-H. The idea is that once you've found the style you love, you can simply keep reordering in whichever colour or print you fancy. Dora Larsen is another favourite for its joyful colour combinations of jewel-brights, and impressive range of both soft and underwired bras, while for everyday, Les Girls Les Boys, the label that takes you from 'bed to street', has a range of cotton-jersey bras and briefs called 'Ultimate Comfort', designed to be a like a supportive second-skin.
Don't think of underwear shopping as a chore, use it as some time to dedicate to yourself. After all, it's the foundation of every outfit.
SHOP: 22 Of The Best Lingerie Brands That Genuinely Make You Feel Great
SHOP: The Best Underwear To Make You Feel Great
When LA-brand For Love & Lemons first teamed up with Victoria's Secret back in 2019 we weren't sure what to expect. Fast-forward to now and it's going from strength to strength with daring yet romantic styles that blend dreamy confidence with thoughtful detailing, giving each piece a unique and feminine feel.
Rihanna's brand Savage x Fenty has garnered a cult following since its 2021 Victoria's-Secret-esque show - which saw women and men of all sizes, shapes and races modelling. About bloody time. Originally starting out on a subscription basis, Savage x Fenty has since expanded to be one of the buzziest lingerie brands out there.
Known for its gorgeous lace and color-blocking aesthetic, Dora Larsen is the brand that celebs and fashion editors alike love.
Launched in 2019, Kim Kardashian first founded Skims as a solution to all her shapewear woes. These days, Skims is a powerhouse of a lingerie, loungewear and now swimwear brand. Honestly, I've tried it and I'm impressed - we think you will be too.
Launched in 2016 by two sisters Abbie Miranda and Mazie Fisher, Beija London is a lingerie and swimwear brand that responds to the needs of different cup sizes. With 3 unique sizing categories (X, Y and Zu2122) they have created a collection that is beautifully practical, without compromising on style.
I don't know if everyone knew this fact but it's news to me: Agent Provocateur was founded in 1994 by Joseph Corré, the son of Vivienne Westwood and is one of the most famous lingerie brands in the world. It's exactly what it says on the tin: provocative, sexy and cheeky.
A high street go-to for a reason, the Rosie for Autograph collection gives luxury at an affordable price. The former VS-model told Ashley Graham on her podcast Pretty Big Deal it's estimated that 'one in three women are wearing an M&S bra and one in those three is a Rosie bra'. Can't argue with those facts!
Les Girls Les Boys don't care about labels or definitions. They believe only you should choose what, who or how you are. It doesn't matter to us, and it shouldn't matter to anyone else either. Les girls one day, les boys the next. Les boys up top, les girls down below.
A relatively young brand, Mimi Holliday wanted to create gorgeous and high-end items of lingerie that were worth their (admittedly) luxury price point. After having sampled their range, we can confidently say that they have succeeded.
Love Stories' mantra is 'sexy but not sex' and this is clear in their smaller-bust-friendly bralettes. Founder Marloes Hoedeman was inspired to take an intuitive leap and start a lingerie brand that is as versatile as she knew women to be.
Playful Promises house a family of lingerie, swimwear and activewear brands offering innovative, design-led options for a range of body types, occasions and price points. They pride ourselves on making over 80 bra sizes and stocking over 90, as well as UK dress sizes 8-28 / US 4-24.
Another high street hero, Boux Avenue are not only budget-friendly but super inclusive - stocking bras and knickers in every size, fit and colour. Their swimwear also deserves a special mention.
Pour Moi started out as a small independent brand born out of Macclesfield, and have grown so successful they now sell a bra every 30 seconds. They must be doing something right...
A far as high street underwear goes, H&M are pretty high on the list. We highly recommend checking out their seamless ranges, and bulk-buy packs of pants.
Founded in 2005 by Emily Bendell, the story and vision for the brand was simple. Fashion-led luxurious lingerie and nightwear collections designed for spirited and style conscious women - and I tell you what, its bloody sexy.
Ex-Farfetch employees Amelie Salas and Oria Mackenzie founded Underdays "with the ambition of creating a progressive underwear brand that speaks to the values of a new generation of women". And we think they've achieved that just.
Since launching in 2015 in the living room of the co-founders, Lounge has been on one incredible journey. Empowering women worldwide, redefining beauty standards and paving the way for all things Comfort Made Sexy is their mission.
Eberjey's signature lace bralettes and boy shorts the brands dedication to comfort, without compromising on femininity. They also do the world's softest pjs (an award we've personally bestowed upon them, don't quote us).
This Polish-founded brand offer a range of dainty lace separates that are still Uber-sexy. Their founder Zuzanna found there was a void on the Polish market for lingerie created solely for women, their comfort and their need for feminine and fashionable shapes.
Baserange uses high-quality fabrics that are kind to your skin and the planet. Sporty-yet-feminine, they've created some of the comfiest second-skin styles.
One of the most iconic lingerie brands, La Perla has been around since 1954 and has truly stood the test of time as one of the best.
Fruity Booty make some of the coolest, Gen-Z loved lingerie (and matching accessories, check out the gloves immediately!) around. Even Kendall Jenner's a fan.
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