When nearly every lingerie model is in her early 20s and 30s, it can feel like intimates just aren’t made for women over a certain age. But that’s simply not true: everyone deserves to wear beautiful lingerie, no matter who they are. Even if you’ve spent half a lifetime with no interest in fancy underthings, there’s no better time than the present to start adorning yourself with beautiful things.
You know yourself better than you ever have before. You know what you like, what feels good, what makes you happy. Why wouldn’t this be the perfect time to start buying beautiful bras and knickers that bring you joy and make you feel beautiful? Here’s our guide to buying luxury lingerie in your 50s and beyond.
Become your own personal shopper
When you start shopping for lingerie, why not make it as luxurious as trying on dresses at your favorite boutique? Set some time aside for yourself to get comfortable and feel good in your own skin. Pour a glass of your favorite drink, put on your favorite music, forget about the stress of the rest of the day, and settle into the moment.
Shopping for lingerie online doesn’t have to be stressful or confusing. It can be a way of giving thanks to your body, a way of bringing a little light to getting dressed every morning, a little spark of joy throughout the day, just for you.
Find your size and fit
Because everyone’s bodies are different, finding well-fitting, supportive lingerie (especially bras!) can be a challenge. There is no one “correct” method for measuring yourself for a bra. Plus, when we get older and our breast tissue softens, it can be even trickier to find bras that give us the type of lift and comfort we want. One simple measuring method to discover a starting cup size? Subtract your underbust measurement from your bust measurement.
To start, put on your best fitting underwire bra for a little lift. (It’s OK if it doesn’t fit the way you’d like.) Wrap your measuring tape around your band, just below your breasts. Pull the tape measure snug, and make sure it’s not rising up in the back. This measurement will give you a starting band size. (If you measure an odd number, select the number above to start.)
Second, measure around your back and across the largest point of your bust to find your cup measurement. Keep the tape slightly loose, and make sure it’s parallel to the ground. You’ll find your cup size by subtracting your band measurement from your bust measurement and adding a cup size for every inch difference. A 1” difference between the two measurements means you should try an A cup; 2” for a B cup; and so on. So if your ribcage measures 34” and your bust measures 38”, the difference is 4”, which would give you a starting bra size of 34D.
If this size is drastically different from what you were measured at previously, this is totally normal, no matter your age! Our bodies fluctuate throughout our lives—even weekly, due to hormones and varying levels of water retention—so it’s a good idea to re-measure yourself every few months when shopping for lingerie.
Not to mention, bras themselves are very different from even a few decades ago, so measuring systems have changed, as well. Due to new fabric innovations, lingerie is much stretchier than they used to be. This particular measuring method is designed to give you more lift, with those changes in mind.
As you’re trying on bras in a new size, they might feel tighter than you’re used to, especially if your existing bras are stretched out. 80 percent of a bra’s support is meant to come from the band, so that snugness will lift your breasts up. However, an uncomfortable bra isn’t worth it. If you have any pain at all in this size, don’t be afraid to wear a bigger band size.
On top of all that, our society tends to turn our bra sizes into our identity. Just remember you are not your size—you wear a size. You will likely wear multiple sizes, because every bra fits differently, depending on the brand, style, construction methods, and fabrics used. Once you’ve found your starting bra size, you can check notes on fit to decide which size to go with when shopping from different brands.
If you’re shopping for cup sizes larger than D, make sure to keep size conversions in mind, as well. A 34G from a European brand is a different size than a 34G from a UK-based brand, so double check the size range of the brands you’re shopping with to ensure you get the best fit possible.
And when it comes to knickers, sleepwear, and other lingerie that doesn’t use cup sizes, knowing your body measurements will make shopping easy. Disregard your pre-existing notions of what size “medium” and “large” mean, and instead, compare your own bust, waist, and hip measurements to the size charts for the brands you’re buying from. That way, you’ll definitely get the right sizes for your body.
Discover what you love
You might have the idea that lingerie is a certain “type” of undergarment; that in order to be a person who wears lingerie, you have to wear those super sexy lingerie sets you see on those previously-discussed models. But loving lingerie means wearing the intimates you personally like.
That means you can absolutely wear those sexy lingerie sets if you so desire, but you can also wear sweet lace bralettes, luxurious silk nightgowns, or casual knit loungewear. Buying what makes you personally happy is the first stop on your lingerie shopping journey.
So find out what you like! The easiest place to do that is by looking in your closet. After all, if you love to wear it on the outside, you might love wearing it underneath, too. Are you a fan of sparkly metallics and bold patterns? Look for lingerie with those dynamic details. If you adore careful tailoring and incredible construction details, look into purchasing some gorgeous items from luxury lingerie brands, whose quality garments will match those of your favorite designer apparel lines.
Alternatively, what fabrics, details, and styles do you find beautiful, but maybe aren’t the right fit for your daily life? Just because you wear a simple suit or uniform all day, doesn’t mean you can’t wear something fabulous beneath it. Spring for a vibrant color you’ve never worn before, a sexy detail you’re intrigued by, or even a see-through lingerie set you’d never thought you’d wear but always wanted to. The best part of lingerie is walking around with a secret bit of joy, just for you, all day long.
Keep cup style in mind
Scientifically speaking, there haven’t been very many studies on the causes of breast sagging, otherwise known as breast ptosis. Many myths about what causes sagging breasts are quite simply that: myths.
One thing’s guaranteed, however: it’s going to happen as you age, and it’s totally normal and fine. It does, however, make bra shopping a little trickier. Depending on your breast shape, softer tissue can fall out of certain bras, just because of the shape of the cup. You might find that you need more center support than plunge bras can give you, or more vertical coverage than a balconette bra might have. The best way to figure out what works for you? Try on a few styles in a size that fits and see what happens.
If you find yourself looking for extra lift, push up bras are great if you want cleavage, along with the appearance of extra tissue. However, even a well-fitted unlined bra can give you excellent lift on its own. If your tissue is less firm and you want that extra lift without the bulk of a traditional push up bra, look for sewn bras with multiple cup pieces. They’ll offer more structure for soft tissue.
At the end of the day, however, there isn’t a certain style of cup you’re supposed to wear. If it makes you feel beautiful and happy, wear it.
Shop for the life you have (and the one you want)
It’s important to buy things you love, as well as things you’ll actually wear. If you only wear bras that give you a ton of lift, pass up that embroidered triangle bralette for an equally gorgeous embroidered bra with a three piece cup. Or if you love the strappy detail on a certain thong, but can’t stand how they feel, look for that lovely detail on another piece of lingerie.
There’s no use in buying beautiful garments if you know they’ll only get shoved to the back of your dresser, never to see the light of day or grace your skin with their presence. Instead, look for equally stunning pieces you know you’ll wear.
However, shopping for your life doesn’t mean avoiding styles that might seem too extravagant or “not you” at first glance. Sure, that three piece boudoir lingerie set might be designed for the boudoir, but even if you don’t have an occasion, why not wear it under your everyday clothes?
If you fall in love with a cupless bra, you don’t need a date night to wear it: you could even try it out underneath a sweater during something as everyday as grocery shopping. Or if you love the look of a certain corset, but don’t have any fancy parties to go to, lace it up beneath a regular day dress for date night.
You don’t need to live a certain life to wear beautiful things. Sometimes, you can simply change your perspective.
Turn it into an ensemble
So you’ve found your perfect everyday bra, the silk chemise of your dreams, or the perfect bustier you’ve always dreamed of. What now?
One of the best parts of lingerie shopping can be finding coordinating items for matching perfectly beneath your clothes, and the easiest way to do that is by looking at what’s offered from the brand you’re already purchasing from. They’ll usually have coordinating bottoms, designed exactly for a perfectly matching set.
If you’re not into the particular pieces they’re offering, look around for styles in the same or coordinating colors. A blush pink bra from one brand would look just as perfect with a blush pink panty from another. Or, if you’ve found a perfect printed bra in shades of green and blue, but the bottoms are sold out, you could find a solid green or blue pair of knickers for a uniquely matching set.
A full lingerie ensemble doesn’t only feel great under your clothes; it’s also the best surprise for whoever sees you at the end of the day, whether that’s your partner or simply yourself. But matching isn’t a necessity. The important thing when shopping for a lingerie ensemble is how you feel in it.
Whether you’re in the market for a full three piece set complete with garter belt, a new lingerie wardrobe, or just one bra that will change your life, buy what makes you feel beautiful. The world of luxury lingerie is open to you. Welcome.