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Be a man, and buy those panties

F or a lot of guys, lingerie is like food. You enjoy it at home, but you're not keen on going out to get it. You avert your eyes from the scantily-clad mannequins in shop windows. When your lady needs to go bra shopping, you drop her off at Victoria's Secret and tell her to meet you in the food court when she's done. Those stores are just so ... lacy. This Valentine's Day, it's time to man up. You know what your girl feels comfortable in. And you definitely know what you'd like to see her in. It doesn't take a degree from the University of Pantyland to pick out lingerie. Just keep these pointers in mind. — Dalia Colón dcolon@tampabay.com

• Size matters. Buy too small and you're in trouble. Buy too big and you'll really end up in the dog house. Don't just eye the saleslady and say, "She's about your size." Check your sweetie's drawers and jot down her bra and panty sizes. For corsets and nighties with built-in bras, you'll need her exact numbers. Also note her shirt size, dress size and, for longer nightgowns, her height. If she's like most women, she probably has clothes in a range of sizes — fat clothes, skinny clothes — but focus on the stuff she actually wears for the most accurate data.

• Allow leeway. If you're not sure of her exact sizing, get something that comes in a small, medium or large. A safe bet is a teddy or nightgown without a built-in bra. If possible, opt for an item with adjustable straps, removable garters and other customizable features.

• Push the envelope ... "Usually around Valentine's Day, the woman is willing to step a little bit out of her comfort zone, wear something a little more revealing," said Trip Sanborn, who does customer service at The Todd in Tampa.

• ... but not too much. "It's about the comfort of the woman," Sanborn added. "To me, that is the most important." Lesley Geyer, owner of The Pink Petticoat in Hyde Park, hears from married men all the time, "She would never wear that." You know what your lady feels comfortable wearing, both physically and emotionally. Buy accordingly.

• It's all in the presentation. Red and pink are no-brainers for Valentine's Day, but you'll hit a home run if you pick out something in her favorite color. Wrap the present or, if you're all thumbs, have it gift-wrapped. And yes, you have to fill out the card. Girls like that stuff.

• Remove the guesswork. Buy her a gift card instead.

• Do your part. Intimacy is a two-way street. You don't expect her to prance around in some tight-fitting, wedgie-inducing garment while you're in your sweats, to you? While you're lingerie shopping, pick up a pair of silk boxers and some cologne for yourself. Take a shower. Shave. While you're at it, unload the dishwasher. Now there's a turn-on.

Sources: Marie Crane of Shear Enterprises and Maison Rouge, Trip Sanborn of The Todd, Lesley Geyer of The Pink Petticoat

Looking for a V-Day gift of the

bow-chicka-bow-wow variety? Try one of these local lingerie boutiques.

La France

This vintage clothing shop features lingerie from the early 1900s to 1960s: nightgowns, bed coats, slips, bullet bras and such. There's lots of satin, lace and ribbon, mostly in peach, pink, cream and light turquoise. Because everything's one of a kind, sizing can be hit or miss. 1612 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City, (813) 248-1381; myspace.com/lafrance74.

Lotus

The shop carries bras, panties, comfy nightgowns and button-down PJ sets in addition to bath and body products. Special orders are available. 1451 Main St., Sarasota, (941) 906-7080; lotussarasota.com; shopknickers.com.

Jezabelle and

Her Wandering Gypsies

La France owner Jill Wax carries the vintage theme up three blocks to this eclectic shop. Among the antique books, furniture and kitchenware you'll find mostly Victorian-era camisoles, teddies and bloomers. 1923 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City, (813) 247-1923; myspace.com/jezabellefashionmarket.

The Pink Petticoat

This Hyde Park boutique offers a user-friendly selection of teddies, nightgowns, and other gifts. Try a week's worth of panties in a silk bag for $112 per set. For example: "7 Ways to Say I Love You" (your feelings displayed on her derriere in a different language every day). 1625 W Snow Circle, Tampa, (813) 253-2244; thepinkpetticoat.com.

Buffalo Gal Vintage

The St. Pete store offers restored vintage lingerie, like the '50s ruffled panties and '60s rayon bed jacket seen at right. 1219 Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, St. Petersburg, (727) 290-8468; buffalogalvintage.com.

Priscilla's

This 18-and-older store carries panties, baby dolls, stockings, costumes and wigs. There's plenty of risque merch, too, like adult toys, games and naughty coupons. 732 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, (813) 873-1616.

Maison Rouge

Actress and HSN queen Rhonda Shear owns this boutique, which carries her line of shapewear, sleepwear and loungewear, as well as other lines. A few of the nightgowns could pass for dresses. You'll also find makeup, costume jewelry and a few adult toys. 300 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg, (727) 898-8400; maisonrouge.com.

The Todd

We'd be remiss if we failed to mention this "couples superstore," a Tampa institution celebrating 40 years of hanky-panky this year. Once you get passed the X-rated DVDs and penis-shaped baking pans, there's some fairly run-of-the-mill lingerie in the back of the store. Check out nighties, heels, fishnets and costumes, including a decent plus-size selection. Ages 18 and up. 13417 N Nebraska Ave., Tampa, (813) 971-0007; thetoddsuperstore.com.

Be a man, and buy those panties 02/12/09 [Last modified: Thursday, February 12, 2009 1:55pm]

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