When celebrities step onto the red carpet, it's easy to envy their couture.
But lingerie experts say some shoppers are just as interested in what's under those designer dresses.
“I believe the fascination with celebrity lingerie is an extension of the fascination with everything a celebrity wears,” says Cora Harrington, Founder and Chief Editor of The Lingerie Addict. “The only difference is that lingerie has this extra, added thrill factor because it’s always underneath your clothing, and presumably unseen.”
As it happens, much of what makes someone's clothes look good depends on what they are wearing underneath.
READ: Dress Like a Model Without 'Sheer' Terror
“Celebrities on the red carpet always look so sleek and put-together, and most of all, skinny and panty-line free,” says Nivara Xaykao, Intimates & Swimwear Editor at Stylesight. “The simple answer is shapewear, which has always been around, but up until a decade ago, it was an outdated thing — heavy, uncomfortable, matronly. Then Spanx arrived and changed all that. They made it fun, fashionable, even sexy. These days, celebrities openly admit to wearing shapewear.”
Seeing celebs embracing certain undergarments has encouraged shoppers to look for the proper pieces to hide what they might not want the world to see.
“Undergarments are a way they frequently ‘get it wrong,’ so to speak,” says Jene Luciani, style expert and author of "The Bra Book." “Bulges, lumps and bumps where they shouldn’t be, nipples poking through, and see-through tops with breasts exposed are some of the bra blunders celebs regularly make.”
So what do they buy when it comes to getting it right? From bras to thongs, we’re revealing where celebrities buy their lingerie and which styles are most in demand:
Designer Helena Stuart opened Only Hearts 33 years ago in New York City and since then expanded to locations in Los Angeles and Rome. Selling what she describes as “inner outerwear,” Stuart, along with her daughter Kaya, have created garments for Ashley Olsen, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts, Alicia Silverstone, Michelle Williams and Jennifer Garner, just to name a few.
Their most popular design among celebrities and everyday shoppers alike is all things tulle. “Sheer is a really important trend right now for layering and for sexy sleepwear,” says Stuart. “The tulle fabric provides a thin layer of coverage that acts like a veil to hide imperfections, but feels like you’re wearing nothing at all.”
The secret to wearing inner-outerwear? Stuart says it’s all about layering. “Sometimes just a peak of lace around your neckline from under a jacket or cardigan can make you look prettier,” she says.
Faire Frou Frou
The Los Angeles-based shop specializes in European brands for corsets, bustiers and garter belts among other items, which could explain why burlesque performer Dita Von Teese is a fan. Hilary Duff reportedly spent nearly $1,000 on bras and panties at Faire Frou Frou before marrying ice hockey player Mike Comrie in 2010. According to owner Alison Rubke, the actress took home a $440 Fleur of England bra and pant set, a Vannina Vesperini set for $300, and Florrie Mitton garters.
La Petite Coquette
New York’s La Petite Coquette or “The Little Flirt” opened in 1979, but gained notoriety in the '90s when owner Rebecca Apsan provided much of the intimate apparel for the "Sex and the City" cast. Since then, it's been preferred by fashion designers including Betsey Johnson and Donatella Versace.
“I think being the lingerie supplier for ‘Sex and the City’ did a lot to increase their profile,” Harrington explains. “In the same way we shop where our friends shop, especially when they’ve had a good experience, celebrities do the same. I also like that La Petite Coquette carries such a great range of brands in so many sizes. Personally, I’m a big fan of the Boite de Desir babydoll from Aubade and their Samantha Chang silk kimonos.”
This U.K.-based lingerie brand has been recognized for designs that leave little to the imagination. Offering more than just standard bras, Agent Provocateur sells costumes and even sex toys. In terms of star power, they've been associated with Kylie Minogue, Paz de la Huerta and Maggie Gyllenhaal, says Xaykao. Christina Aguilera and Courtney Love have also been spotted at their runway shows. “There was even a rumor a while back that Michelle Obama shopped there, which has since been refuted, but did wonders to raise their profile and add to their reputation as renegades in the industry,” Xaykao says, adding that the AP experience is bar none. "A sales associate goes to the fitting room with you and tends to your ever need. You get a glass of champagne. It makes a woman feel pampered and it makes them want to buy everything.”
What do Julianne Moore, Kyra Sedgwick and Martha Stewart have in common? All three have been spotted at New York's Town Shop. While the store carries bras in sizes ranging from 28AA to 48K, and employs several “bra fitting experts” to ensure a correct fit, Town Shop also keeps everything in place.
“We do a large business of shapewear and many celebrities come to us when preparing for award shows, like the Oscars and Emmy’s,” says owner Dan Koch.
One of their most popular products among the stars? It’s the Prima Donna A La Folie, which Koch describes as “our Rolls Royce of bras.”
From posture correction to “breast equalizers,” the bras at Sara’s Lingerie in Studio City, Calif., are anything but ordinary. According to co-founder Rebecca Krihali, some of their celebrity clients include Jennifer Love Hewitt, Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Sally Field, as well as the stylists for Gwen Stefani and Gwyneth Paltrow.
The boutique's most popular items are those from their Andres Sarda collection. “This Spanish line is very reminiscent of old Hollywood, like Edith Head’s designs and the old musical show tunes type of lingerie,” Krihali says. “People are really drawn to this line and the way it’s styled for fashion shows, which has a great 1940s/1950s feel.”
When it comes to shopping and wearing sexy lingerie, Krihali recommends going back to black. “It’s always sexy,” says Krihali. “I really don’t think thongs are flattering and many men actually agree! Men seem to prefer covered up lingerie, including boyshorts and bikinis. Garter belts are a fun thing to buy, as are any things that can be tied and untied.”
Known as “an intimate apparel apothecary and swimwear boutique,” Missouri-based Birdies offers French hosiery, silk boy shorts and slips for dresses. They also offer a "Panty of the Month Club" where 12 pairs of underpants are sent to the person of your choosing with a personal note.
Singer Katy Perry has picked up items there, says Peregrine Honig, the store's founder. As far as other notable clients?
“Michelle Obama’s assistant purchased a pair of ‘Oh, Obama’ underwear when we were raising money for her husband’s campaign,” said founder. “I like to think she was wearing them for his inauguration.”
This member’s-only store has been serving Hollywood for 40 years and is still popular among the likes of Angelina Jolie, Madonna, Dolly Parton, Nicki Minaj and Amy Adams, among others.
“We’re not a mass market, so we create things under a tight schedule as we need it," says Trashy vice president Randy Shrier. Among the most popular products are corsets, a classic foundation garment that, according to Shrier, “squeezes everything in and pushes everything up, making you look curvy.”
Trashy Lingerie is also well-known for the costumes worn by Playboy playmates. Advice for those wanting to look (and feel) their best? “Make it so it’s a little more uniformed and put together, as opposed to a purple bra and a pink panty,” says Shrier.
(Kiki de Montparnasse)
Kiki de Montparnasse
The owners of New York luxury lingerie boutique Kiki de Montparnasse won't spill its list of celeb clients, but Eva Mendes was recently spotted buying a life-sized skull mask there. While the store does carry “instruments of pleasure,” it’s their intimate collection that attracts the A-list.
“Crafted of fine silk, chiffon and French lace, our lingerie is as soft to wear as it is to touch,” says store president Kama Carnes. “Our French Lesson Panties are the perfect gift to communicate desire with humor and whimsy. The Voyeur Collection includes a range of cage-inspired lingerie with peek-a-boo details that is a favorite for both women and men.”