Last-minute lingerie: Tips from an industry expert on how to pick the perfect present

Badly fitting bras under T-shirts or sweaters do nobody any favours. Susan Moylett can help

Black First Night bra (€89.90) and brief (€39.90), both by Prima Donna

Black First Night bra (€89.90) and brief (€39.90), both by Prima Donna

 

When it comes to luxurious underpinnings, have you ever heard of the Elia bodysuit from Cadolle? In the Susan Hunter boutique, in the Westbury Mall in Dublin, it has been a bestseller ever since owner Susan Moylett opened her doors more than 30 years ago.

The Elia bodysuit from Cadolle (€240)
The Elia bodysuit from Cadolle (€240)

“It goes under the bust and tucks the tummy area right in,” says Moylett while spreading out the intriguing garment which comes in black or skin tone and is boned, panelled and trimmed with lace. It comes in sizes from extra-small to extra-large, costs €240 and is worn with or without a bra.

“It’s like a secret weapon,” she says, “and customers who buy it invariably come back and buy it in another colour.” Cadolle, a specialist French company in Paris run by five generations of women, is famous all over the world for its fine lingerie and corsetry with meticulous attention to detail and fit. Necessarily expensive, those who buy it become converts. Apparently.

“Irish women,” says Moylett, musing on body sizes, “tend to have narrow backs and big boobs – it’s called the consumptive ribcage. French women, on the other hand, have small boobs but are broad in the back. We go up to a J-cup and we fit when we can.”

So, from a practical point of view, what’s the best bra to buy? She recommends the Prima Donna Deauville (€94.90) from a C- to a J-cup in cream, black or skin tone with a new fashion colour each season. “It is fully supportive and we get a lot of repeat customers,” she says, stressing how important the fit of the back of the bra is for front support and how “formed cups” give good shape. Badly fitting bras under T-shirts or sweaters that result in what she calls the “double-boobs effect” do their wearers no favours. Bras are difficult to sell online, she says, maintaining that they should be fitted in store.

The Prima Donna Deauville bra (€94.90) and briefs (€44.90)
The Prima Donna Deauville bra (€94.90) and briefs (€44.90)
Susan Moylett: ’Part of my skill is knowing what’s out there, so when someone wants something specific, I have my contacts’
Susan Moylett: ’Part of my skill is knowing what’s out there, so when someone wants something specific, I have my contacts’

When the Covid-19 pandemic forced her to close (though she is now open again), Moylett operated a click-and-collect service. She found that pyjamas had become, and remain, popular buys online as customers want to wear them without looking as if they are. “I always advise people to go for bigger sizes as they should be loose,” she says.

The shop has some glamorous affairs for Zoom and indoor Christmas festivities – silk tops with pleated, print, flared trousers by Marjolaine (€370) as well as others in more familiar pyjama shapes in grey or navy silk satin (€340) and one from La Perla in black (€285).There are also cute, printed cotton pyjamas (€227) with matching hairbands (€22) and masks (€16.50) from Hanro, the Swiss company famous for its cotton and silk underwear. Its pure silk vests (€133), functional as well as good-looking, make practical gifts. There are also silk camisoles, French knickers and nightgowns, exquisitely finished from Irish designer Carmel Brown.

The Prima Donna Twist Covent Garden balcony bra (€84.90) with matching briefs (€34.90)
The Prima Donna Twist Covent Garden balcony bra (€84.90) with matching briefs (€34.90)
East End full-cup body by Prima Donna (€120)
East End full-cup body by Prima Donna (€120)
Pure silk kimono (€305)
Pure silk kimono (€305)

Moylett’s advice for those contemplating bra sets as Christmas gifts is: “Know the right size – and if they don’t, we suggest nightwear, and it can always be changed.”

As one with nearly 40 years’ experience, Moylett views lingerie as essential, not a frivolous buy. “Women need it – it’s not like buying some fancy dress. And I am like a builder who has plumbers, electricians and carpenters on hand – part of my skill is knowing what’s out there so when someone wants something specific, I have my contacts.”

For a tiny independent retailer with a big reputation for the best in luxurious lingerie, a visit will always be an uplifting experience – in every sense.

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