Thongs, chemises, garters, bralettes, and robes—the world of lingerie is vast, and comes with a surfeit of options, from luxury to high street, sultry to cozy. But it hasn’t always been that way. “Lingerie brands used to revolve around fantasy and the male gaze,” explains Moda Operandi fashion office associate Gabrielle Cadet. “Seeing it transition to the comfort of the women wearing it changes the purpose and intention.”
Indeed, sex always sells, but now comfort does too, and the best lingerie brands have pivoted. “It feels like these brands are thinking of us and how we feel in their pieces,” Cadet says.They are. Lingerie brands are no longer exclusively cheeky cutouts and waist-squeezing corsets (although those offerings remain coveted and available). There’s hard lingerie—consisting of corsets, bustles, and structured bras—as well as soft lingerie’s amorphous styles, in the form of slips, robes, nightgowns, and panties. Depending on your needs, either style can be an appealing option—whether you’re enjoying date night at home or prefer sipping wine Risky Business-style in a cotton-jersey lounge dress. “If you’re an aesthetic girl, always look for a pattern, design, color, and even campaign imagery that resonates with you,” Cadet says. “Does it empower you? Buy it. If you’re someone who is looking for comfort, consider cotton and styles without underwire. Lingerie is extremely personal, it is about what feels good to you.”
Along with comfort, fresh updates to the world of the best lingerie include better sizing standards and true functionality. “Comfort shouldn’t compromise on style, sexiness, and support,” CUUP creative director and VP of design Yesenia Torres says. “When Cuup was founded, we threw out an outdated scale that squeezed women into a limited number of standard sizes, and replaced it with a uniquely dynamic sizing system. We carefully consider everything, from underwire length and flexibility to material function, for the most natural shaping and comfortable support in each of our sizes.” Emerging lingerie brands and e-commerce sites are challenging what lingerie can feel and look like today. From classic sets at Agent Provocateur, to seamless staples from Skims, to dainty iterations at Cou Cou Intimates, the best lingerie brands for women won’t box you in. See them ahead.