If you're baffled by basques or confused by corsets, Lovehoney's easy lingerie guide will explain everything.
We've split this guide into structured lingerie (basques, corsets and other figure-hugging and body-sculpting garments) and unstructured lingerie (flirty, feminine and comfortable lingerie like babydolls, chemises and camisole sets) to suit your mood or your partner's style. We also explain the different types of panties, thongs and G-strings as well as sex-on-legs hosiery (from stockings and garters, to bodystockings and pantyhose).
Video: The Easy Guide to Underwear Styles
Structured Lingerie: Stylish & Seductive
Designed to snatch your waist and boost your bresticles, corsets are a major turn-on when they’re laced up nice and tight. While most corsets cover the twin peaks, others (underbust corsets) leave very little to the imagination exposing your tatas, headlights and all!
With figure-hugging and body-sculpting effects, structured lingerie is the perfect way to create a classically seductive lingerie look, while enhancing your shape at the same time.
Corsets are specifically designed to reduce your waist, boost your bust and when laced up tight, they're a huge turn-on. Most corsets cover the bust whereas others (underbust corsets) expose the breasts.
Lovehoney recommends: Cottelli Black Brocade Lace-Up Corset
Bustiers look more like a longline bra, and don't sit as far down the body as basques or corsets. Some feature figure-scultping boning, and some are soft, but they're best for shaping the upper part of your torso.
Lovehoney recommends: Lovehoney Peek-A-Boo Merry Widow Black Bustier Set
A basque is like a corset or bustier, but has cups and is made from lacier materials. Think of it a bit like a longer version of a bra. It may have plastic boning to give extra shape, but it won't reduce your waist.
Lovehoney recommends: Lovehoney Plus Size Boudoir Belle Cherry Push-Up Basque Set
A merry widow is basque-like lingerie with built-in suspender straps extending from the hemline. Merry widows are a classic lingerie choice when paired with stockings and heels.
Lovehoney recommends: Exposed Liquid Onyx Cupless Merry Widow Bustier Set
Unstructured Lingerie: Flirty & Feminine
Looking to flaunt your coconuts and brandish your pins? With cups and a full skirt, a babydoll ticks all the boxes. The beautiful, flowy material flares out from under the bust, making it ideal for drawing attention away from the midriff area and emphasising your other prized spots. Not to mention it’s comfy enough to catch a little shut eye in!
Lovehoney recommends: Lovehoney Late Night Liaison Blue Lace Babydoll Set
If you prefer a less restrictive and more flirtatious lingerie style then choose something playful and floaty that allows you to roll around the bed (or kitchen counter) without restriction.
With cups and a full skirt, a babydoll is a playful and provocative piece of lingerie that enhances the bust and shows the legs. Because babydolls flare out from under the bust, a babydoll is great for drawing attention away from your tummy.
Lovehoney recommends: Lovehoney Plus Size Bombshell Red Lace Babydoll Set
If you love the look of a babydoll but want to show off your stomach at the same time, a flyaway option is for you. It takes all the best features of a babydoll and makes them that little bit more exposing with a split front or back (or both).
Lovehoney recommends: Lovehoney Unwrap Me Red Lace Babydoll
Chemises are practical yet sexy, and can be worn easily as nightwear or loungewear. They're loose fitting, with gentle tailoring at the waist and a slim fit at the hips for a slinky look. Chemises are flattering for all body shapes, so make an ideal gift.
Lovehoney recommends: Lovehoney Treasure Me Black Plunge Chemise Set
A body is similar to a teddy, but much closer-fitting: it's shaped like a traditional one piece swimsuit, with the vest top and bikini style briefs in one. Showing off more of your legs than a teddy, a body is a great choice for those who want to display their curves in a cosy, close-fitting, all-in-one garment.
Lovehoney recommends: Lovehoney Late Night Liaison Blue Crotchless Lace Body
A more daring style of body, this slinkier, skimpier version of the one-piece features daring cut-outs and open sections to show off your skin. It's a confident look that's the perfect alternative to a traditional bra and panties set, and perfect for creating jaw-dropping curves if you have a more athletic figure.
Lovehoney recommends: Lovehoney Seduce Me Red Push-Up Crotchless Cut-Out Body
A teddy (also called a playsuit) is bodysuit-like lingerie that combines a vest top and shorts in one. They are extremely sensual to wear and are perfect for flattering both athletic and curvy figures. They range from being fairly covering (great if you're body conscious) to very revealing, if that's your desired look.
Lovehoney recommends: Lovehoney Plus Size Empress Red Satin and Lace Body
The easiest (and least expensive) way to add something new to your underwear drawer, feeling sexy starts with a new pair of panties. Choose from panties and briefs for fuller coverage or something skimpier to showcase a peachy bum.
Briefs & Shorts
Briefs, French knickers, booty shorts and hot pants - with so many names, they can get confusing! All these types of panties have a full front and a covered rear for a demurely sexy look.
Lovehoney recommends: Lovehoney Crotchless Cutout Lace Back Panties
A modern classic, the thong leaves your bum cheekily exposed. Perfect for avoiding VPL, a thong is highly erotic for the wearer as well as the onlooker, making this the perfect choice for bedroom or everyday wear.
Lovehoney recommends: Lovehoney Crotchless Pearl Thong
The main difference between a thong and G-string is the width of the fabric that passes between the buttocks - in a G-string it's barely there. The skimpy rear gives an even more revealing bedroom look.
Lovehoney recommends: Lovehoney Crotchless Lace G-String
Hosiery & Stockings
Stockings are the perfect way to complete a lingerie set for a top-to-toe sexy look. Whether you want sheer, fishnet, fencenet or back-seamed, choose from hosiery to smooth your legs (and body).
Hold-up stockings and thigh-highs have elasticated tops or gripping silicone material, so they stay in place without needing a suspender belt. Unlike tights, they make a feature of their tops which can be trimmed with lace, ribbon or PVC.
Lovehoney recommends: Lovehoney Sheer Lace Top Hold Up Stockings
Stockings need a suspender belt or straps on your lingerie to stay up, otherwise they will end up around your ankles. Matching your suspender stockings to your lingerie is an art form, but when it's pulled off the effects are eye-popping.
Lovehoney recommends: Lovehoney Sheer Lace Top Thigh High Stockings
A garter belt, sometimes called a suspender belt, is a strip of fabric that fastens around the waist with straps that attach to suspender stockings to hold them up. They usually have 4 straps but some retro-styled belts have more straps.
Lovehoney recommends: Lovehoney Love Me Lace Suspender Belt
Bodystockings are stretchy head-to-toe garments made from the same materials as tights. They're a fantastic base for outfits as well as a sexy all-in-one lingerie solution. Although they cover large areas of the body, the fabrics make them sexy and crotchless varieties don't stop play.
Lovehoney recommends: Lovehoney Mindful ECONYL® Fishnet Crotchless Bodystocking
With smoothing and shaping properties, tights are fantastic for creating a sexy silhouette. While many people find tights extremely sexy, they are usually worn as part of an everyday outfit rather than with a lingerie set. If that's the case for you, why not look at a crotchless design instead?
Lovehoney recommends: Cottelli Crotchless Black Tights