Below the Belt

Where to find the latest hits in underwear and lingerie.

When it comes to lingerie, I’m as devoted to Victoria’s Secret as much as the next woman. (In fact, thanks to a friend’s introduction to the PINK collection, I can’t get enough of their surprisingly comfy bras, panties, and PJs). But even I know that occasionally straying from that ubiquitous lingerie mecca is a worthy departure. All around the Sound, sassy boutiques boast the latest in spring underthings, as well as exceptional service and unique niches.

Trends for Spring

Forget black and white

This season, it’s all about color—and the brighter the better. Green is the headliner, in shades of lime, mint, and celery. But you’ll also find a lot of orange, yellow, turquoise, and not surprisingly, pink (yes, it’s still the new black). If you’re inclined toward prints, look for dots, as well as dainty floral patterns.

Chuck your boring cotton bras

Delicate, sheer pieces are running rampant and lace isn’t just for trim anymore. In fact, the all-lace, one-size-fits-all Hanky Panky thong is surpassing rival Cosabella as the hottest thong on the market—it’s lightweight and cut wide across the hips for unbelievable comfort. If you want positively pretty bra straps to peek out from beneath that spring camisole, velvet is sticking around for the warmer months. Look for it in rich blues and shocking pinks. And for comfort, ask for modal: it’s soft as cotton, smooth as silk, and resists bunching, gathering, and creeping into nether regions (someone award this inventor the Nobel prize now). Bonus: it gets softer with each wash and doesn’t shrink.

Try underwear as outerwear

Who knew Seinfeld‘sSue Ellen Mishkie was way ahead of the curve when she strutted the streets of N.Y.C. wearing a bra as a top? Adding a feminine touch to your workday wardrobe is super chic, as anyone who’s tucked a lace-trimmed camisole under a cardigan can testify. Go a step further (outside the office) by ditching the sweater in favor of layered lacy camis or even a chemise over your favorite jeans.

Who’s Got What’s Hot

Nancy Meyer Fine Lingerie

1318 Fifth Ave., Seattle, 206-625-9200

Since 1978, this boutique has specialized in top-of-the-line lingerie. It was the first to import La Perla into the U.S. and to this day carry all of their lines, as well as an exceptional array of European designers, including Daniel Hanson, C. Gilson, and Eres. With the exception of Beverly Hills, Nancy Meyer carries the most exclusive collection on the West Coast. Customers come from all over—including New York and San Francisco—to shop here.

Retail Therapy

905 E. Pike, 206-324-4092

While the stock here isn’t limited to lingerie, their collection is as distinctive as owner Wazhma Samizay’s approach to her business. “We don’t try to fit inside a box but rather look for beautiful things you can’t find elsewhere,” Samizay explains. One example is the Mary Green line, which consists of comfortable, bright, beautiful silk pieces that are also affordable. Those of us who eat more than a stick of gum for dinner will appreciate the wide range of sizes and the opportunity to have items tailored to fit just right, often at little to no additional charge. And just like her philosophy of doing business, Samizay’s store is one of a kind—part clothing boutique, part art gallery, the shop also serves as a showcase for up-and- coming artists.

Bellefleur Lingerie Boutique

720 N. 35th St., Seattle, 206-545-0222

Jennifer Carroll opened this lovely Fremont shop after becoming disenchanted with department store stock. “Everything seemed to cater to an older customer—lots of creams and beiges,” she says. “I wanted to offer more sophisticated, edgy pieces and constantly refresh the inventory to reflect trends.” The boutique offers fresh lines in a pleasingly wide price range, including Wendy Glez (synonymous with color, modal, and velvet—what more can a girl want for spring?), Hanky Panky (yes, you’ll find the beloved thong here), even Betsey Johnson (check out her $40 cheetah print bra with hot pink straps). The staff can help with fittings and will keep your measurements on file (perfect for clueless significant others). For serious personal attention or a fun bridal shower, schedule an after-hours event. Simply gather three or more friends you don’t mind being seminaked in front of, promise Carroll your group will spend at least $500, and the store is yours—along with wine and snacks—after closing.

BellAmore Lingerie

10032 Main St., Bellevue, 425-462-7390

Owner Sandra Covone, who hails from Colombia and previously represented Latin American lingerie lines, always longed to open a shop where she could provide one- on-one service in a peaceful and feminine environment. BellAmore does all that and offers the most exclusive collection on the Eastside, including Simon Perele, Aubade, the hotter-than-hot Hanky Panky (don’t forget about that thong!), and Honeydew. Another plus: If you’re headed to the tropics and need a killer bathing suit, look no further. BellAmore carries bikinis and cover-ups year round, including Vitamin A (a fave of Jennifer Aniston and Cameron Diaz), and the high-end OndadeMar, straight from the beaches of Colombia and typically found only at super luxe stores such as Barneys and Bendels.


Men’s: 401 E. Pine St., Seattle, 206-322-7380; Men’s & Women’s: 1919 Second Ave., Seattle, 206-441-4055,

Yes, Virginia, there really is extraordinary underwear for guys. You’ll find it at Ian, which specializes in better denim—such as G-Star, Seven, and Earnest Sewn— and also carries the finest boxers and briefs to accompany them. Choose to splurge on the primo Italian-made DSquared line, which will set you back anywhere from $78 to $119 but might make you feel like Justin Timberlake (he sported their duds during his 2003 tour). Or opt for the more affordable CIN-2 line, which offers low-cut styles for today’s hip-slung jeans. (A note to all straight men on behalf of women everywhere: Pleasepleaseplease avoid the thong. There is not enough wax in the universe for any woman to find that sexy on you.)