Paris: The inner woman

Le Duc rented a bike in Paris, and would return with sightings of places that he thought would interest me. One day, he mentioned a lingerie boutique, Laure Sokol, in whose window he saw the kind of lingerie that makes a man apply the brakes.

We have long had a low-key lingerie dispute; he would give me delicate pieces that were unsupportive and—how to say this—shifted. He eventually granted my request for brands like Hanro, in practical black and nude, but every so often I'd receive a gift of his true preference, lacy, silky, lushly coloured, French.

I knew what to expect at Sokol, so at first said I would not even window shop. But in Paris, just as you might eat a butter-fragrant croissant that you'd pass up at home, a woman gets caught up in a glow of indulgence. I had already swooned over couture lingerie in Carine Gilson's window, where, I learned, George Clooney shops. (I briefly entertained an image of Clooney in a silk jacquard negligée.)

Sabbia Rosa are next door; several of their signature silk camisoles are in my drawer.

On the aptly-named Rue des Dames, we walked past the atelier of Louise Feuillère, whose bespoke lingerie, including corsets, offer a world antithetical to Spanxy shapewear. It is open by appointment only, and I demurred, saying that if I entered, I'd inevitably order, and the pieces did not suit everyday life.

Mme. Feuillère offers a number of lingerie workshops for sewists, and that would interest me. Imagine building a trip to Paris around learning to make such confections!

One morning, hooking my plain beige Olga, I had a change of heart. A poll of two French girlfriends I saw on the trip confirmed that I was lingerie-dowdy. One wears Aubade, Simone Perele, and Princesse Tam-Tam (she is very small-busted); the other is devoted to Ères.

I was (at that point) decidedly under budget for the trip, so decided to up my game, went to Sokol, received expert, efficient fitting, and returned home with a Conturelle bra and slip, setting me back about $200 because you simply must match. But I have to say, that beautiful, supportive bra lifts not only my bosom but my spirits.

It is not for nothing that Paris has lingerie shops on nearly every corner, and even department stores carry prestige brands. There are three distinct levels: Plenty of inexpensive foam-formed bras at Etam and at Monoprix; then the boutiques, with better-to-high-end brands (Empreinte, Simone Perele, Lise Charmel, Rosy, etc.), and at the seductive summit, the luxury bespoke boutiques mentioned above.

Mid-priced is harder to find; department stores offer a smattering of brands like Calvin Klein, but not once did I see a floor with a sea of Olga, Bali or Warners like I'm used to here.

I also looked for a branch of Change, the Danish lingerie brand whose shop offers pretty pieces for less than French or other European makers. But they have no boutiques in France, which may mean they know competition when they see it.



Madame Là-bas said…
I really appreciate the availability of beautiful full-support bras in Paris. Laure Sokol is great. I even bought a bathing suit there. My "inner woman" feels special when she knows that she is wearing a matched set of Empreinte or Prima Dona lingerie.
LauraH said…
Those camisoles are so beautiful, lucky you. Another name to add to my growing list of places I will visit when I get to Paris.

Here in Toronto, I've had good experiences going to a shop called Secrets from Your Sister which has excellent bra fittings and a great range of brands. Amazing how expensive a good bra can be but so worth it for the support...both physical and emotional. I've tried the matching panties route but it wasn't for me, I didn't like the fit or the way I looked. So I stick with basics.
LauraH said…
BTW Imogen Lamport has a post this week called What your Underwear Says about You

I love the coincidence.
Susan B said…
I'll have to check out Laurie Sokol. I'd been warned off trying to find lingerie in Paris, having been told that once one gets above a C cup, the pickings are slim to none. I'm glad you found something you like!
Bravo! You have chosen a lovely bra and of course the matching panties are a french must have...

I do love the lacy styles of those French brands...I have a few matched sets by Chantelle that do make me feel wonderful.
I think you have convinced me to do a wee bit of shopping as I am on a wee getaway with Mr. HB and there are some lovely lingerie shops nearby!
I bought my favorite thongs FIFTEEN YEARS AGO in Paris, and have never been able to find them again. Happily they seem to be wearing like iron, although they're little wispy things...

I'm so happy that you treated yourself; we all deserve some self-indulgent beauty in our lives!

Susan said…
I have always been a little sad that my husband stated, early on, that he cares nothing about lingerie. I always wanted to wear something wonderful and feminine. But I had no one to appreciate it. Perhaps I could have done it just for myself but, being so practical, I never did. I KNOW it is not too late and have enjoyed your post.
Duchesse said…
LauraH: You can do basic on the bottom but if captivated by an unusual colour, the match is much easier, and I often then make a mental list to check for for a less pricey extra in the colour.

Sue: I saw a lot of larger bra sizes at Galeries Lafayette and also at Sokol- definitely D. But some of the best larger-cup bras brands like Freya are European so they must be sold there. I should also mention Cadolle, known for bespoke but also carry rtw.

Susan: I have never know a man unmoved by lingerie (and I do not mean the really out there stuff) but it seems you have the outlier. Anyway, wear it for your own pleasure.

hostess: Now I'm gonna wear it!
Duchesse said…
LauraH: Sabbia Rosa camisoles are running close to $300-400, due to the lousy exchange rate and the quality of their silks. But definitely look, it is very beautiful. Mine were a gift, bought under better exchange rates.
Highly recommend Empreinte Atelier for beautiful lingerie for larger busted women. Service is amazing and you can even personalise your lingerie with a small charm at quite a modest additional cost.
Duchesse said…
Femme Francophile: I m a 36 or 38C, which in Europe may be considered large-busted, but the average American size is 34DD. (A substantial increase over the last 20 years.) I have no difficulty finding my size anywhere in North America. In France it'a considered on the large size, but mostly, I am limited only by budget :)

I have an acquaintance who lives most of the time in Japan and she has to order everything by mail or stock up when she travels back here.
Duchesse said…
Twelve Riches (Second): Yes. I suggest you change your password for your account and if you use the same for other sites, those too.

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