There are only a few situations that can be as awkward in your first language as in a foreign one. Getting fitted for a bra is one of them. Whether in English or in French, an open conversation about cup size, cleavage, sag, support, and sexiness can make even the most brazen feel just a tad uneasy. In Paris, with lingerie shops on nearly every block, the experience may seem just that much more intimidating. But, buying the right fitting bra or something for a special occasion doesn’t have to be an uncomfortable experience. Take a cue from les femmes françaises by reading our interview with lingerie expert, Stéphanie Lherminier. Stéphanie, owner of Boutique Clair de Lune in the 18th arrondissement, graciously answered the barrage of bra related questions we sent her way. We hope you enjoy Stéphanie’s insights into the purchasing habits of her Parisian clientele and can benefit from her advice!
Posted in Paris: Do you think French women go for practicality or sexiness when shopping for bras and underwear?
Stéphanie: French women generally prefer comfort when choosing bras. They will always keep the more glamorous and sexy lingerie in their wardrobe for weekends and special nights or occasions, but for everyday, comfort and “le bien aller” are most important.
Posted in Paris: Do you think the rumor that most French women usually wear matching bras and panties is true?
Stéphanie: French women, for the most part, like wearing matching bras and panties. When they buy more classic colored bras–black, white, or nude–they rarely buy matching panties; but when it comes to fun colors, they go for the matching tops and bottoms.
Posted in Paris: How often do women in France shop for lingerie? Just for special occasions or more frequently?
Stéphanie: You must consider that on average, French women purchase only 2 bras a year. However, my boutique’s most loyal clients, buy on average 3 or 4 a year I would say. They buy new bras most often when new collections come out; I would say, a new ensemble for each new collection, so one fall/winter and one spring/summer. Then the same clients often come back to take advantage of the soldes (sales held twice a year). I rarely sell lingerie intended for special occasions; the more coquette French women often already have what they need in their wardrobe. On the other hand, we do have a large male clientele who buy the more sexy lingerie for their wives or lovers in anticipation of a special moment.
Posted in Paris: What is your best selling brand and model?
Stéphanie: I have two brands of bras that sell very well in my store. The first is Prima Donna, a very chic Belgian brand specializing in large cup sizes, and the other is the more glamorous, sexy French brand Lise Charmel.
The Prima Donna woman is a woman seeking class, sophistication, and also comfort; Prima Donna is known among professionals in the lingerie world to be very comfortable. They offer 58 different sizes and cups ranging from B to I.
The Lise Charmel woman is looking for a haute couture lingerie. She likes wearing bras adorned with the finest lace, guipures, and other materials. She is seductive and hyper feminine.
The type of bra that sells the best is generally a classic form, padded. Women who want to feel secure and protected go for the close fitting type of bra and those who like the push up effect go for the “basket” form.
Posted in Paris: What brands do you recommend?
Stéphanie: As for my favorite brands and what I recommend, it really depends on the client. I section off the products in function of the clientele. For a client with generous forms, I recommend Prima Donna for a mature and glamorous look, and Twist (also sold by Prima Donna) for younger fashionable women. For smaller chested women, I recommend Marie Jo and Marie Jo L’aventure for women who appreciate fashion but at the same time want comfort and a natural looking chest. And I recommend Lise Charmel’s push up bras for women looking to feel sexy and chic under their clothes.
Posed in Paris: How often should women change their bras?
Stéphanie: I recommend changing bras every 4 years. Of course it all depends on how often you wear them. If you don’t have many and you wash them more than 4 times a week, I recommend replacing them at least every 2 years. It also depends on how well you take care of them. Hand washing your bras saves them from the wear and tear of the washing machine so they’ll last a lot longer. If you must put them in the washing machine, always be sure to close the clasp and use a laundry net. In any case, if your bra rides up on your back or if your straps are tightened all the way and have to hook the clasp on the tightest hook, or if you just feel like you’re not getting the support you need, it’s time to buy a new bra as soon as possible!
Posted in Paris: Do you have any suggestions for going bra shopping in Paris? Are there any “do’s” and “don’ts”?
Stéphanie: When bra shopping in Paris, I highly recommend going to independent lingerie shops where you’ll get real service and you might be surprised to learn that you have been wearing the wrong size for years. You can find the addresses of these types of shops in the yellow pages under the section “Lingerie” or on the websites of your favorite brands under the section “revendeurs.”
Avoid franchises (H&M, Etam, etc.) at all costs. They are less expensive but you won’t get the same quality. Often times after only 3 washes, they become stretched out. And most of the time the sales people are not capable of informing you about the different models.
Don’t forget that the primary function of a bra is support. Good bras are expensive but our chest is subjected to a lot throughout our lives (puberty, contraceptive hormones, pregnancy, breastfeeding, swelling during periods, menopause…)–all the more reason to take care of it and provide it with good support. Otherwise, mesdames, you can expect to find yourself with a drooping, sunken chest because you didn’t do enough to maintain it. Besides their primary function, lactation, breasts play a very important role in seduction and sexuality. So take care of them!
Posted in Paris: Merci Stéphanie!
Boutique Clair de Lune
119 bis rue Ordener