Stuck on Valentine's Day ideas for that special someone—or hell, presents for yourself? Whether you’re single or taken, everyone knows that lingerie and the holiday of romance go hand in hand. And we get it: Lacy underthings can certainly spice up a relationship (or your underwear drawer). However, you don’t need to use V-Day as an excuse to update the most intimate part of your wardrobe. Some of the best shops in NYC offer super sexy and elegant garb this time of year, but everyone knows to steer clear of the crowds at chains and department stores in New York during the lovecentric madness. Forget long lines, and hit up one of these independent lingerie shops instead.
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Since 2002, this indie shop has given East Villagers a place to score high-end lingerie from brands such as Maison Close, Stella McCartney and Mimi Holliday. Owner Cindy Kahng has moved the store just around the corner, to a more spacious location. While fancy underthings are the main draw—highlights include Felina lace bras ($40) and Honeydew mesh boy shorts ($16)—there’s also a bevy of trendy clothing and accessories that allow you to throw together complete ensembles. Toss an Aryn K bat-wing-sleeve tunic ($78) over Only Hearts knit leggings ($85), then finish off the look with By Boe star-shaped post earrings ($48). If you’re looking for goods that are a bit kinkier, you’ll find Maison Close feather handcuffs ($35), the Lake & Stars crotchless panties ($85) and Damaris lace-up corset knickers ($135).
Anina Young caters to fuller cups, carrying sizes up to 46K, and makes sure nothing in her stock surpasses the $80 mark—especially sexy items like MalgoMargo satin lace thongs ($25), Empire corsets ($59–$68) and come-hither marabou-feather heels ($47)—because “you’re going to be wearing it once in a while; you’re not wearing it to work,” according to Young. The boutique is also new-mom-friendly, with an entire section devoted to nursing bras and, on the first Tuesday of every month, a breast-feeding support group led by a local lactation expert.
Amid textured antique wallpaper and chandeliers is all a gal needs to look and feel, well, foxy—including garters, corsets and the store's own glow-inducing lavender shea butter ($15). Requisite silky, lacy things by Chantelle, Huit and Dirty Dolls hang alongside more outré options like Bebaroque Bows ($69) and Suki ($65).
This Italian lingerie brand, best known for its 30-plus vibrant colors of underwear in luxe fabrics like tulle and lace, opened its first NYC boutique following an Atlanta opening. The shop boasts white canvas seating under grandiose black chandeliers, with red brick walls clashing fashionably against glossy gray floors. At the front of the store, lingerie lovers will find low-rise bikini bottoms ($22–$48), lace thongs ($22–$65), bras ($52–$112) and semisheer printed chemises ($78–$225). Offerings in the shape-wear category consist of bamboo-fiber camis ($70) and booty-shaping briefs ($48).
Williamsburg was shockingly devoid of classy sex shops before Honey opened in the summer of 2009; owner Cindy Yip helped her sister run the Vancouver-based store for nearly a decade before opening her own. “The concept is the same,” she says. “[We offer] lingerie and toys in a safe environment; it’s comfortable and fun.” Peruse the wall of sex toys at the back of the store, which includes both inexpensive and luxury options (we’re fond of Jimmyjane’s sleek Little Chroma vibrator, $125); if that’s too porno-crazy for your Puritan blood, you can stock up on love notes from the small selection of letterpress cards, like one that says “XXXOOO” by May Day Studio near the front of the shop.
If you haven’t had a proper bra-fitting since you were a tween, head over to Intimacy’s flagship store, where lingerie experts are ready to make you over Tim Gunn–style. Staffers have all been through owner Susan Nethero’s “bra boot camp,” and they’re ready to size you up in any of the 11 dressing rooms or teach you why (bra) size does matter during a free 30-minute consultation—however, we recommend making a reservation online to avoid a wait.
This fancy French-sounding alternative to Victoria’s Secret is bringing its curated selection of more than 60 upscale lingerie brands (The Lake and Stars, Bordelle, Damaris) to its second NYC location in Soho. Just like at the Union Square flagship, the selection spans from everyday T-shirt bras and shapewear to seriously sexy bodysuits and bustiers in sizes 28AA to 38G. White oak floors, silk purple curtains and a library nook create an intimate setting for perusing undergarments, but it’s the spacious private dressing rooms where you’ll want to linger: Comforts like flattering lighting, Italian chocolates and a fluffy white robe make it enjoyable to try on lace-trimmed Eberjey chemises ($68), alluring Elle Macpherson mesh bras ($80) and matching thongs ($35), and comfy Fleur’t Lulu boy shorts ($35).
This erotic luxury boutique channels the spirit of its namesake—a 1920s sexual icon and Man Ray muse—with a posh array of tastefully provocative contemporary lingerie in satin and French lace, including such novelties as cotton tank tops with built-in garters and panties embroidered with saucy phrases. Bedroom accoutrements such as molten crystal “dilettos” give new meaning to the term satisfied customer.
This tiny location explode with enough inner wear to rival a department store; bras and camisoles dangle overhead, and bras and thongs are splayed out on tables. The jam-packed racks are overwhelming but manageable, thanks to an accommodating staff that can help you sift through cotton duds to unearth $13 Jezebel sateen thongs and $34 Montelle bras.
As the wall of autographed celebrity-client photos indicates, “the Little Flirt” (en anglais) has drawn a loyal following since it opened in 1978. Known for her acuity regarding proper bra-fit, owner Rebecca Apsan wrote the book on unmentionables (literally—it’s called The Lingerie Handbook), and appropriately, her store runs the gamut, from practical T-shirt bras and briefs to problem-solving bustiers and an entire section devoted to full-figure coverage. Hanky Panky mesh undies ($18) and vanilla-scented silk heart sachets ($5) made in-house are extremely popular. Items slant toward the classy—although pearl G-strings by Bracli ($69) can’t seem to stay on the shelves.