City Pulse

By Alison Leiby

Valentine’s Day will always carry certain purchases along with it. Chocolates, flowers and cards are all de rigeur for the most romantic day of the year. But, in addition to these favored gifts, however, there is another essential item for the holiday: lingerie. Options for finding the perfect undergarment for under the covers can seem endless and Valentine’s Day is tomorrow! Thankfully, shopping for the most intimate of apparel in New York City can be as exciting as a sample sale, as long as you head to the right places.

One area of the city that dominates the lingerie market is the Upper West Side. Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues have dozens of shops staffed with seasoned sales people that truly understand the unmentionables market. One such shop is Laina Jane, a cozy shop brimming with ultra soft chemises and lacy bras at 416 Amsterdam Avenue (for those further downtown, the shop has an outpost at 45 Christopher Street). The offerings in this boutique include a wide variety of reasonably priced classic sleepwear and undergarments. The best bet here? A luxurious cotton chemise. But even more enjoyable than the bevy of beautiful bras is the knowledgeable staff. Things here look great because the sales people know exactly the styles and sizes to recommend, taking much of the stress out of shopping.

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The “Rachel” Chemise ($49) is available online. Source: Laina Jane

More daring ladies with more daring budgets should browse UK lingerie legend Agent Provocateur – the Soho go-to for incredibly sexy pieces at 133 Mercer Street. With ad campaigns featuring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Kate Moss, the label knows how to capitalize on star appeal as they have won over many starlets. The shop stocks everything from the relatively tame silk or lace bra sets to elaborate $400 corsets. Agent Provocateur also provides accessories to their sexy lingerie. Safe bets like massage oils and perfumes sit next to the stores interesting array of pasties and whips. Even if you aren’t in the mood for complicated garters, this store is great fun for browsing.

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The “Jesse” Basque (£175) is available online. Source: Agent Provocateur

Another stop on a lingerie shopping-spree should absolutely include Azaleas on 223 East 10th Street. Whether you favor more conservative intimate apparel or playful accents for your boudoir, this store offers almost anything you could want (or think about wanting) to buy. With an extensive selection of known brands, including beautiful nightgowns from Elle Macpherson’s Intimates line, it is easy to get lost in the mix. As with any successful shop the staff is incredibly knowledgeable, polite and fun. If you’re looking for something more exciting than your stand-by lace bras or fishnet stockings, Azaleas has provocative lace up thongs and intriguing products like the Sweet Soul Bosom Cakes (which are decorative pasties that can help you live out some that Adam and Eve fantasy by adorning your breasts with orchids). The prices at this downtown establishment are much more manageable than other boutiques and department stores so you can feel free to indulge in something more risqué than you might normally choose.

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The Elle Macpherson “Phoenix” Long Chemise ($130) is available online. Source: Azaleas

So, whether you’re on the hunt for comfortable pima cotton sleepwear for a Valentine’s night in with movies and wine or sultry underpinnings to reveal after a decadent date, these Manhattan lingerie shops will provide everything you need.

Originally published February 2008
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