The Bare Essentials of Lingerie

Need some help with your lingerie wardrobe? Looking for the fundamental pieces to create a complete lingerie collection? You've come to the right place. Below are suggestions for the "must-haves" in any complete lingerie wardrobe - just the bare essentials of lingerie.

Bare Essentials - Bras
Bare Essentials - Panties
Bare Essentials - Shapewear
Bare Essentials - Hosiery

The "must-have" list of lingerie every woman should own.

Are your lingerie drawers neatly organized? Or are they cram-packed with bras so old they could be relics? Lingerie items are our foundational garments: They are the bare essentials of our wardrobe. Before we put our clothes on, we must choose the right lingerie.

You may think a bra is a bra is a bra. The truth is, you need many different bras to cover your many different needs. Likewise, you need different styles of panties and hosiery. You even need a few shapewear pieces for those times when you want to wear clingy clothes or fit into a smaller size.

So what lingerie do we need to have in our drawers? Here are the bare essentials.


You’ve probably had the experience of buying a great new outfit and discovering with dismay that you didn’t have the right bra to wear with it. Your bare essentials wardrobe should include bras for many different types of clothes.

For instance, if you’re wearing a knit scoopneck shirt, you’ll probably want to show some cleavage. In this case, a push-up bra will do the trick. Push-up bras are often padded, but not always.

If you’re wearing a t-shirt, you’ll need to wear a contour bra (or t-shirt bra). A contour bra has cups that hold their shape, even when not being worn. The cups are seamless, molded and shaped with a foam to prevent nipple show-through.

A convertible bra is also very handy to have in your lingerie wardrobe of bare essentials. This kind of bra features convertible straps that may be worn in several different styles such as crossback, halter, one-shoulder, strapless and classic.

Want to wear that trendy backless or low-back top or dress? Some convertible bras come with a low back strap, so you can wear these fashionable styles. Also handy are the strapless bras that have a clear back (made of clear plastic).

Your bare essentials wardrobe should contain at least three everyday basic bras. These are a collection of bras that you draw from for everyday wear.

The key feature to focus on here is comfort. You will naturally reach for your most comfortable bra every morning anyway. Look for soft fabrics that naturally wick moisture, such as cotton.

Finally, if you engage in any physical activity at all, you need several sports bras to prevent breast bounce, which causes sagging.


If your panties don’t fit right, you’re uncomfortable all day. So, invest in well-made panties! You should have a one to two week supply of everyday panties in your bare essentials wardrobe. You can wear whatever style of panty you prefer. Here are some basics.

The bikini style of panty is one of the most popular. This style of panty has a waistband that rests below the navel and provides moderate rear coverage.

Most bikini panties feature mid-rise styling (a 5-inch rise or higher), but some are low-rise (lower than a 5-inch inseam).

The boyshort is quickly replacing the thong as the emerging panty silhouette. A boyshort is similar in appearance to men’s underwear, with wide sides that usually cover the top portion of the thighs.

Traditionally, boy shorts provide full rear coverage; however, the newer “cheeky” boy short may provide moderate to minimal rear coverage since part of the buttocks is exposed.

Of course, you’ve heard about the thong. Much-loved by the menfolk, a thong only has a thin piece of fabric that slides between the cheeks of your derriere, exposing the rear.

The advantage of the thong is minimal panty lines. The disadvantage is many women say they are not as comfortable as a brief, bikini or boyshort.

You may also want to have a few briefs in your bare essentials lingerie drawer. Briefs are sometimes referred to as “granny panties” because they’re considered “un-cool” if you’re under age 60.

Actually, women of all ages wear brief panties because they are very comfortable. The fit tends to be roomier, allowing you more room to breathe. And since briefs usually provide full rear coverage, they won’t ride up in the back.


If you’ve ever worn a clingy top or special occasion dress, you know how important shapewear is. Many of today’s party dresses are made with a fairly high percentage of spandex for a slinky, stretchy fit. This presents a challenge to even the thinnest among us.

When you want to eliminate thigh bulges, hide cellulite and whittle your waist, shapewear can come to the rescue.

One of the bare essentials of shapewear is the control brief, which is a brief with a built-in tummy panel that slims your midriff. A control brief is a great solution when your jeans feel a little tight.

If you want to smooth your body from your bust to your thighs, a high-waisted biker short shaper is the answer. Instead of a waistband that cuts into your stomach, this garment features a waistband that extends to just under your bust.

The high-waisted biker short slims you from your torso to your thighs, providing the perfect foundation for a clingy dress that hugs your curves!

Another important shapewear piece is the shaping camisole. This clever garment is designed to look like a typical camisole while secretly shaping and slimming your tummy and back. The shaper camisole is the perfect layering piece.

Looking for a more natural look in the rear area? Try a thong shaper. This shapewear slims your tummy and waist while leaving your buttocks exposed.


Today, pale is in and tan is out. Just ask Scarlet Johansen, Angelina Jolie and a host of other Hollywood starlets. While this is true, most of us don’t cherish the idea of scaring people with our pale, imperfect legs.

However, a good pair of stockings or pantyhose can shape the legs and minimize any skin flaws. Pantyhose and stockings are typically flesh-colored, so your skin is visible yet any imperfections are smoothed away by the nylons.

Some pairs of pantyhose have a control top, so they serve as shapewear and hosiery in one. Actually, the hosiery category includes pantyhose and stockings as well as socks and tights.

It’s a good idea to have several pairs of trouser socks or knee-highs as part of your bare essentials wardrobe. Tights are also handy when you want to wear a skirt or dress in colder weather.

This is not an exhaustive list, but these are the lingerie bare essentials you need to have. To read more comprehensive information on building a lingerie wardrobe, view the Lingerie Essentials guide.