Cue the candlelit dinners, order the flowers, and brace yourself for the onslaught of heart-shaped jewelry, because Valentine's Day is fast approaching. And just like every other February 14 cliché, getting your hands on a slinky new lingerie set seems almost mandatory. Though there are plenty of pretty, new lingerie styles you could buy before Valentine's Day, one can't help but wonder (in their most introspective Carrie Bradshaw voice, no less) ... what do women actually want to wear? As size inclusivity and body positivity continue to earn much-deserved attention from brands, the conversation about what constitutes "sexy"(and who deems it so) continues to evolve.
The subtle, yet meaningful, shift in culture from sexiness defined by the traditional male gaze, to an empowered female-focused term can be reflected in even the simplest of undergarments. Need proof? Just chart the rise of Savage x Fenty, Rihanna's trailblazing, in-your-face line of lingerie with its now inspiring and empowering runway shows with a diverse array of models. Or, look at the viral success of underwear brands like Parade and Pepper who champion an everyday aesthetic that's about feeling good in what you wear.
"I think the definition of 'sexiness' has been drastically opened up in the past few years," explains Cami Tellez, CEO and co-founder of Parade. "We believe sexiness isn’t one dimensional ... underwear is its sexiest when it’s really about radical self-expression. It’s a connective tissue that celebrates who you are rather than how others see you."
Below, some of the most innovative names in underwear weigh in on how the conversation around Valentine's Day lingerie has morphed in the year 2020, and why nabbing playful undies this year is just as much about empowerment as it is about keeping things steamy in the bedroom.
Jaclyn Fu, Pepper
"We deserve to feel confident and sexy with everything we wear," says Jaclyn Fu, co-founder of Pepper, a line of intimates designed specifically for women with smaller boobs. "The concept of 'sexy' has evolved ... from dressing for the male gaze to dressing for yourself, and choosing what makes you feel the most confident and sexy."
In whatever way you plan to celebrate (or breeze right by) a holiday like Valentine's Day, the best thing you can do for your lingerie drawer is to fill it with pieces you feel comfortable wearing. Think silky playsuits in lieu of confining bustiers or full-coverage briefs as an alternative to a g-string. "If lacy, red lingerie makes you feel the hottest, wear that," Fu continues. "If a beige bra makes you feel the most comfortably yourself, wear that."
Jamie Mizrahi And Simone Harouche, The KiT
"Lingerie for Valentine’s Day should be about what makes you feel empowered, whether it’s something lacy and a bit more revealing like a heart-shaped pastie or something more covered up and functional like our balconette bra and seamless underwear," Jamie Mizrahi, co-founder of The KiT Undergarments tells TZR. If you're shopping for something new, don't be afraid to try things on and test which fit, cut, or style is right for you. Even a humble seamless thong or classic brief can get the V-day treatment thanks to bright, bold hues and illusion panelling. "Everyone should make their own rules when it comes to picking out their perfect Valentine’s Day lingerie," adds Simone Harouche, The KiT Undergarments second co-founder.
Jenni Burt, Figleaves
Not everyone wants to rock frilly garters or glittering thongs — and in 2020 it's easier than ever to usher in romantic vibes without opting for typical trends. "In years past, Valentine’s Day meant red, sexy, sheer, and lacy lingerie," explains Jenni Burt, Head of Figleaves, an online destination for size inclusive lingerie and swimwear. "But, women are now feeling more empowered and are ready to step out of that box. They’re looking to what lingerie is best for them as an individual, and that doesn’t necessarily mean an overtly sexy push-up bra!" Be it a bodysuit, boy short, or a luxe bralette, Valentine's Day delicates can pull double duty as functional garments in and out of the bedroom.
Abby Morgan, CUUP
"Sexy lingerie is not a dated concept, so long as we understand it in the context of modern sensuality," says Abby Morgan, co-founder of CUUP, a brand dedicated to supportive lingerie for diverse sizes. "The outdated notion is a woman wearing lingerie for her partner, their preferences, and their satisfaction." Now, lingerie styles like unlined bras and high-waisted tap pants are big in 2020. Padding, confusing cut-outs, and complicated straps that are tricky to put on (and take off) step aside as clean lines and airy proportions that highlight your true shape take center stage.