Before you even get to the store there are some things you need to know. First off is size, this is critical. The item you buy has to fit. The easiest way to figure out what size to buy is to go snooping through her underwear drawer. (ignore any strange shaped devices you may find, these are for medicinal purposes) (Of course you could ask her the sizes, but that would take the fun out of it) First off is bras, they should have a little size tag close to the clasp. It should be something like 36C. The 36 is the chest measurement, and 'C' is the cup size, so a large woman with a flat chested might be 42A, and a small woman that is stacked could be 32D. This size is not exact and can vary, for instance a woman who takes a 36D will probably also fit a 38C. The sizes for panties are easier they come in small, medium, and large, again check the labels of the ones she's bought.
Next most important thing is colour, choose the wrong colour and you may never see her wear it. Once again checking what she already has can be a help here. You do have a little room to experiment though, if you really like a colour, buy it, worst that can happen is she won't like it.
All right, armed with this knowledge head out to your friendly neighbourhood lingerie shop. Take your time, look around. Because you are a guy (and therefore probably ready to spend money) you will be rapidly approached by a sales woman. These people are a great source of information. They can translate: "I'm looking for something that, you know kinda [hand gestures..], kinda like the cosmo cover, but not really" into "Oh, your looking for our 'Passionette ultra-lift underwire bra'" ... "Uh, ya that's right" (however, be wary of the "Would you like me to try it on for you?" that only leads to trouble) Don't be pressured into buying what the sales woman shows you, and don't worry about leaving without buying something, even if they spent a lot of time with you.
Another things to consider is comfort. Remember that she has to wear what you buy. What does the fabric feel like? Does it look comfortable? If it doesn't look comfortable it probably isn't, and if it isn't comfortable she probably won't wear it very often.
All right, you're ready to shop. Just don't forget your credit card, it adds up fast!
Well some of you have actually given me some feedback. (although the ratio of readers to feedback is something like 10000:1) Since I don't really want to change the original I will add some comments/hints/suggestions that I have received here at the end.
It is important that you stress how important size is - if you buy it too small - she will not be flattered because she will be depressed - and god forbid you should buy it too large - "do you really think I am that FAT?". Trust me - it makes all the difference. Timing is important too - if you buy something really sexy and hand it to her when she is up to her ears in kids and cleaning - she will wither you with a glance - romance her first!
You left out the most important way to determine the correct size for your lady love's lingerie: check what size t-shirt (normal fit, not oversized-sloppy) or blouse she wears. Most lingerie is sold in Small, Medium and Large sizes. (There are also some shops and quite a few Internet sites that cater to larger ladies who wear XL, 1X, 2X, 3X, 4X and 5X.)
If your lady love wears a Medium t-shirt or blouse, she'll take a Medium teddie, nightgown, panty, etc.
Regarding color, when in doubt, choose black. Virtually every woman watches and/or worries about her weight. Black creates an illusion of slimness, whether it's lingerie or a winter coat.
I only have one change to recommend. Panties do not always come in small, medium or large. Many times they are 5,6,7,8,and sometimes larger. You might list it as small(5), medium(6,7) and large(8).
My advice: Be careful that what you buy is in character for the woman you're buying for... otherwise she just might suspect you're buying the gift for yourself and not for her at all (Which is often the case, but you don't want to be too obvious about it). The married equivalent is when husbands buy their wives kitchen gadgets. Doesn't do much for the relationship. (Speaking from experience here.)
You might be safer buying tickets to something that's a sacrifice for you to go to, but something she likes. Like tickets to the ballet over a hockey game - unless she likes hockey of course (possible, I do) - in the end you might get more mileage. ;-)
Overall, I think all guys should take a moment to read this before attempting to buy lingerie for their loved ones. I wish I knew about this article before I first went out hunting for lingerie. The women who commented on the article also helped out a great deal. It's good to hear a womens point of view. It lessons the chance of having to return what you bought her. Thanks.
Some more answers to questions for the Gentleman shopper to come armed with are;
what color is her hair?
what is her favorite color?
what does she like to do - is she active?
What type of underwear does she wear ie: a thong or a panty?
What have you seen her wear before?
All of these answers can help the salesperson help you in finding the right item.
Also be sure to find out what is the return policy of the store. Many smaller merchants do not offer a money back refund, only an in store credit or an exchange of the item. according to the law a return is a privilege not a right.
As always we poor people in Australia have been forgotten (SOB SOB). There is a totally different size system in Australia which I won't go into but you should check it out. If a lady in Australia wore a 36D bra, I doubt she could get out o f the bathroom door to model it for her boyfriend!!!
I do have one suggestion though. I am in a long distance relationship. If we were together, he could go thru my drawers to get the sizes etc, but with only being together every few months, it is a little more difficult.
I found the perfect solution to our problems. I went on the internet and searched for lingerie sites. I picked out one site that I found had the best selection, and then emailed him the URL, along with my size as per their size chart. Now he does not have to worry about being embaressed by going into the shops or worrying about taking to much time. He can shop from his own home.