Labels I love
It's true what they say: Once you drive a Mercedes, you can't go back to a Ford. Once you live in a 3,000-square-foot townhouse, you can't go back to a 300-square-foot studio. Along those lines, but not on such a grand scale, is the lingerie situation: Once you wear La Perla, you can't go back to Victoria's Secret. Created in 1954 by Italian Ada Masotti and her son Alberto, La Perla combines the art of corsetry with the science of physiology to make the most flattering, gorgeous, best-fitting undergarments around. Moreover, they're made with the finest silk and lace, in incredibly innovative designs. So not only do you get undergarments that fit like a glove, but that make you feel like a goddess as well.

Of course, the gold standard in lingerie doesn't come cheap. Thankfully, La Perla has a range of lines, from Black Label (the most expensive; a bra-and-panty set runs about $400) to Occhi Verdi (the least expensive; you can get a set for under $100). And while there is quite a difference between the low and high ends, all the La Perla lines are higher-quality than anything you'd find at Victoria's Secret. That said, it's still pretty expensive. So I look for La Perla on eBay,, and Bare Necessities, which often has good sales. Other places to look for La Perla: Century 21, sample sales (of course I'll always list 'em), and the La Perla outlet store at Woodbury Commons, where I once bought a set for $40. (Of course, if you can afford full price, Barneys, Saks, Neiman Marcus, and are all good bets.)

A note on sizing: Italian lingerie is sized 1-4, with the standard cup size a B (1=32, 2=34, 3=36, 4=38). If there's no cup size tag, assume it's a B; otherwise, you have to look for your cup size. Panties, slips, and such also follow the Italian sizing: 1=XS, 2=S, 3=M, 4=L. Knowing how the sizing works is almost like a secret language among lingerie afficionados. Ahh, cachet.

There's something to be said for lingerie that's so sexy and yet flattering and comfortable--wear a La Perla bra and you won't be worrying all day about whether you'll suffer a "wardrobe malfunction."

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