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How to Buy Lingerie: Picking the Right Material

Lingerie comes in all sorts of colors and styles, but it also comes in just as many materials, fabrics and finishes. And all three of those factors can affect everything from how your lingerie feels to how you care for it. That can make buying lingerie more than a little confusing, especially if you're not sure what all the different terms mean.

Lingerie Materials
These are the building blocks for lingerie. These materials are what makes up your favorite fabric - whether it's a fishnet made from 100% nylon or a mesh made from a polyester and spandex blend.

• Cotton - is a natural fiber that allows the skin to breathe and comes in great colors. Cotton washes well and is pretty durable but beware of possible shrinkage.
• Silk – also a natural fiber that is popular lingerie material that feels sexy against the skin and has beautiful movement. The care of silk lingerie is more labor intensive and sometimes requires dry cleaning
• Faux Leather - is a man-made material often used in edgier lingerie, faux leather can have many different looks ranging from patent leather to plastic (also referred to as PVC). Faux leather is usually easy to clean, tend to be more durable and sometimes have a lining.
• Lycra - another synthetic is a lightweight material that is soft, extremely elastic and durable. Lycra is always blended with other fibers and therefore washing should be based on what the primary fiber is.
• Nylon – most commonly remembered for nylon stockings or “nylons”, nylon is used in many easy to care for garments. It is elastic, wrinkle resistant and super easy to care for. Nylon is a synthetic material also.
• Polyester – It’s not just for old ladies. This man made material is designed to stretch, resist wrinkling and is durable, qualities that make it popular for blending with other fibers. It too is easy to care for.
• Rayon – a less expensive and more durable substitute for silk, rayon is often blended with other fibers. It is comfortable and drapes well but based on whether it’s blended or not may require more effort in the care department. Also a synthetic material.
• Microfiber – A man made blend of polyester and polyamide, frabics made with microfibers are exceptionally soft and hold their shape well. These fibers have an excellent moisture removal or wicking quality and are easy to care for.

Lingerie Fabrics
Fabrics are any form of woven textile. They can be made from one or more different materials.

• Charmeuse – A lightweight fabric, the front is glossy whereas the back is dull.
• Chiffon – Sheer, lightweight, thin fabric made of nylon, rayon or silk.
• Jacquard – Fabric that is woven to create and effect of a pattern or print.
• Mesh – Is full of small openings and can be sheer to semi-sheer.
• Opaque – A fabric in which the body cannot be seen through the garment.
• Satin – A soft, smooth fabric with a glossy face and dull back – very similar to Charmeuse.
• Sheer – Is full of small openings and can be sheer to semi-sheer.

Lingerie Finishes and Decorations
These are the special elements that help make lingerie look so sexy.

• Chantilly Lace – Delicate fabric made from an open, six-sided mesh with floral designs.
• Cire – Pronounced seer-ray, this fabric has a highly glazed, glossy finish.
• Eyelash lace – Lace garment with very short strands at the edges that look like eyelashes.
• Embroidery – Designs sewn in to a fabric by machine or hand.
• Lace – Delicate fabric made of yarn.
• Lining – Material that is sewn into the inside of a garment.
• Shimmer – A fabric that shines and reflects light.
• Studs – Small metal ornament that is raised off the fabric.

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