I herewith pass along my 100% sure-fire plan which has helped hundreds of guys (well, maybe half a dozen) over the years; practiced here at the <mtheo> homestead since 1983, and appropriate for xmas, st. valentine’s, b’days, annvys, and probably others, preferably all of them, every year. Apply frequently as needed.

(Revised, expanded, and posted again as a Public Service on account of reading the sad story (see #3) of yet another poor schmoe taken in by those stupid ads that ask the question “What Is Sexy?’ and don’t come within fourteen miles – and sullen, anorexic miles at that – of answering it.)

it’s <mtheo>’s Famous And Mighty...

Gentleman’s Guide
Buying Underwear For Your Lady
Without Pissing Her Off

1. Be sure ahead of time that you know what exact brands, sizes, and (if possible) colors of HOSE she actually buys.

2. Sad but true: Dress at least as well as you would for a business meeting – you will thereby automatically become a Fairly Sophisticated Gentleman Who Knows What Women Want rather than just a Slightly Suspicious Creep Hanging Around The Ladies’ Underthings, especially if you hold up our end by maintaining a jaunty air and a twinkle in your eye instead of slinking around embarrassed to be seen where you are. (If you and your significant other are both ladies, you most likely don’t need this tutorial, for you have long since made your own private peace with navigating these treacherous waters. And if you’re both guys, you certainly don’t need my help finding your way around the hosiery department.)

3. Go to the hosiery – not “lingerie” – department of your favorite department store, not Victoria’s Overpriced Scrawny Scarecrow Secret. Locally (SF Bay Area), the old Emporium used to have the best hose departments going, but the Big E is now kaput. Macy’s always ran a very close second, and I guess it’s the default choice now; there are certainly others. What you want is a large department with many rows of racks – at least as much space as is devoted to neckties, wallets, and belts put together. Big-city downtown stores are going to be way better than suburban mall anchors, but even those will do if it’s all you have available. Unfortunately, the specialized hosiery-only shops vary widely in their usefulness for this adventure. In any case, try to find a not-very-busy time of day. Why hose? Because she never has enough.

4. Spend some time looking around. Spend a lot of time looking around. There is an amazing array of manufacturers, types, weights, styles, textures, patterns, colors, and probably half a dozen other variables I’m not thinking of at the moment. Spend enough time that you actually get familiar with all these variables, just as thoroughly as if you were deciding on your next car or major investment. Get to know those horrid sizing charts on the backs of the packages, which are about as reliable as Federal gasoline mileage estimates; once you figure out just how bizarrely but consistently wrong they are you can use them with profit – unless your significant other actually is built like a fashion model, in which case I respectfully but earnestly beseech you BOTH to GROW UP fercryinoutloud.

[4a. Extra credit: From step 4 of this process onward, you can enlist the aid of a saleslady. Look around, and go straight to the most experienced (i.e. *ld*st) one you can find. This person is gold. Treat her as if she were your lady’s dearest friend whom you have always liked and appreciated right up to the boundary of seemliness, and whom you have secretly and cleverly sought out to help you surprise & delight your lover (* note). She will be flattered (more by your genuinely confiding tone than by your attention, since she knows how to get the latter) and glad to help; and, as a bonus, the youngest & cutest salesgirls will be impressed, if not downright intrigued, by your calm lack of blatant horndogitude; if things aren’t too busy they’ll want to jump in and help. Trust me on this.]

[4b. Extra extra credit: Speak clearly & distinctly. Don’t whisper like someone who has no business being there – you are making an Important, Carefully Considered Purchase For Someone Wonderful Who Deserves The Best, dammit, not skulking about with the furtive air of an embarrassed schoolboy. But don’t be a goddam loudmouth jerk, either. Please.]

5. Once you have your bearings, pick out, at an absolute minimum, TWO DOZEN pairs, all in the right size, but as many different kinds as seem suitable. Make sure that there are quite a few of whatever she seems to buy regularly (enough to demonstrate that you notice and don’t have to be told, and after all you do notice now, and don’t need to be told any more, right?), plus quite a few others. Make sure that there are plenty of the serviceable everyday types, and several of the much more “high-fashion” types. (The difference will become obvious after you’ve spent your half-hour browsing. Everyday hose are built to last more than one day – sometimes as many as two or three in a row. The fashion stuff costs two or three times as much, and might last three hours, if she doesn’t move.) Choose most of this lot out of the sections that have row upon row of the same make & model, since this generally means that they are sensible women’s choice for day-to-day workhorses (both for “daytime,” meaning when you’re not likely to be around, and “evening,” meaning when you’d like to be).

5a. Get all of these in her regular shades (or at least as close as you can come), and in BLACK. Period. Save the other colors for, say, Step #6 the second or third time you do this. She is probably not accustomed to thinking of herself as among those entitled to wear black hose, but she ought to be, and it is part of your job to assist her becoming accustomed to so thinking – a part of your job second only, that is, to Being A Good (Shared) Provider, and to Listening To Her. Nothing is more automatically flattering than fine black hose, and you had damned well better begin to understand that a boost to her self-esteem is a Good Thing For Both Of You.

5b. CAUTION: avoid like anthrax anything with the words “control” (especially “control-top”) or “support”. Euphemisms for the latter like “all-day”, “energy”, etc., are OK, but “control” is TOTALLY OFF LIMITS!! You shouldn’t even have to be told this!!

6. Once you have your two dozen or so, go back to the little specialty sections you’ve been running across in your studies – the narrow sections, some down toward the end of each manufacturer’s offerings, others off in their own little corner, the sections with the ultra-sheers, the extra-shinies, the sparkly-glitteries, the lace patterns, the seams down the back (sometimes with little bows or rhinestones at the ankle and other such hijinx), the fishnets, etc. You’ll find some junk, of course, but also some that are just plain fun, and with luck some that are tastefully naughty. You will by now have learned the difference between “pantyhose” and “stockings”. Times being what they are, alas, you already have plenty of the former in your basket; now is the time to make sure that you get a few, at least, of the latter. Even if she doesn’t happen to own a belt for them at the moment, you are not going to try picking one out for her; you are paying her the compliment of assuming that of course she has a garter belt like any grown-up, but it’s probably been mislaid for a while, or it’s a little worn, or a bit out of style, or a little too big around now. You’ll just have to make a date very soon to go shopping together for a new one, now, won’t you?

6a. In part because you have delayed until now your consideration of the saucy part of the inventory, the salesladies – by now probably every one in the department – know that you really can be trusted not to be a jerk, because you take care of your lady first and foremost, and you’re not just skulking around hoping against hope that you can find something that YOU wish she would wear and that MAYBE you’ll be able to badger her into wearing just once (and trust me, it will be just once) – like the few guys who usually blunder into their department. They’ll actually be happy to help you find a few things that are just her speed at this point in your relationship. (On one memorable occasion, a lovely young thing excitedly offered to model a splendid pair of seamed fishnets because she’d “been meaning to try them on anyway” and quite obviously had never worked up enough of an excuse for herself before. Everyone went away happy that afternoon.)

7. Thank the staff for their superb help, ring ’em up, take ’em home, and scrape off the prices. Wrapping them is a challenge, since the packaging is slithery as hell and there’s no good way to make them stay put; this has the virtue, over the years, of making you dream up many wacky ways of dealing with them, including the ever-popular eighteen-foot-long flat-thingy-wrapped-in-newspaper, the TV-sized-box-with-the-light-nylon-core, and so forth. Whatever the packing, present them without fanfare as a little side-gift, and as the most natural thing in the world for you to be buying for your treasure – because, by ganser, it is.

This whole expedition will take much time and much thoughtful attention. It will also set you back a bundle – way more, in fact, than you imagined possible; but forget about those useless overpriced Victoria’s Secret bras and panties and ridiculous not-really-a-corset corsets and so forth, since for the most part they’re a real waste of your time and money. I repeat: in stark contrast to all that frippery taped onto sneering curveless “supermodels,” your (much more interesting) lady simply NEVER has enough hose, in part because they’re too damned expensive for the paltry wear she gets out of them, and in part because it’s such a damned hassle to find any that fit and last long enough to be worth carrying home. You’ve just given her a couple of months’ free ride; she can try them all out and not have a care when they run the first day, and you’ll have a much clearer idea of the crap she has to put up with every day, when all you do is grab one of your umpteen pairs of GoldToes™ and go on your merry way fifteen seconds later. Do this several times a year and – trust me – everyone will be happy. Including the salesladies who always just LOVE it when you show up again.

And again.

And again.

Enjoy. (** note)



* (Of course, if you actually have enlisted your lady’s best friend whom you have secretly and cleverly sought out to help you surprise & delight your lover, you already hold the Black Belt in both Underwear-Buying and the Appreciation of Women, so you obviously have no need of this advice. We shall assume you are here merely for review.)

** And when your macho friends rag on you for spending your time in such a way, just smile. They haven’t got a prayer with any of the women mentioned on this page.


© 1983-2005, <mtheo>. Hate mail cheerfully ignored except for posting it in public for all to see. If you consider anything in here “sexist” you really need to find ways to read a little more carefully, and think a little more clearly.