Touching? Or just creepy?

Level: B2-C1 (CAE)

Is buying your girlfriend lingerie for Christmas touching – or just creepy?

Bad lingerie can be tacky and ________(1). Good stuff costs the earth and can disintegrate in days. But it is entirely possible that your girlfriend would be happier with something else

I have been going out with my girlfriend for six months and was thinking of buying her lingerie for Christmas. Would that be nice or actually a bit creepy? My budget is about £200.
Name withheld, by email

There is no blanket answer for this, although if your girlfriend is the type who would rather cover herself in a thick ____(2) blanket than loll about in a silky negligee, then you have your answer. What this really comes down to is a combination of three factors: 1. the lingerie; 2. your ___(3); 3. your girlfriend. Let’s deal with the lingerie first. Men’s magazines _______(4) advise chaps that, when buying lingerie for their lady partner, they should think about what she wants rather than what they want. This is, of course, perfectly _______(5) advice. Unfortunately, this is then _______(6) by the insinuation that what men actually want is for their girlfriends to dress in crotchless nurses’ uniforms and these poor guys are having to grit their teeth, tamp down their true desires and make do with dullsville silk nightgowns because it’s what the boring ladies want, tchuh.
And maybe that is what some men are like. _______(7) knows there must be some explanation for all the _______(8) uncomfortable looking lingerie out there, pieces that seem less deserving of the adjective sexy and more of the name of Bart Simpson’s favourite cartoon: itchy and scratchy. But I will maintain until my dying breath that human beings are more varied and intelligent than the gender stereotypes peddled by ________(9) magazines so I reckon, in the main, that men and women both want vaguely the same thing from ladies’ lingerie: they want things that look pretty, feel sexy and can be ______(10) removed without the use of wire cutters or disinfectant.
Far and away my favourite lingerie brand, one that ticks all of these boxes, is Myla. I know I go on about this all the time, but with good reason: Myla treads that “sexy but not trashy” line perfectly, and unlike too many fancy lingerie brands, its stuff genuinely lasts for ever as opposed to _______(11) into dental floss after one month. The one downside with Myla is, however, the cost – this stuff ain’t cheap. But with £200 you can buy a really pretty nightdress, which is generally a safer option anyway – size and taste-wise – than bra and knickers.
But contrary to what some lingerie guides will tell you, you really don’t have to spend ______(12) amounts on good lingerie. always has great stuff, as does Topshop. If your lady partner is a fan of bright colours and girlish maximalism, then Mimi Holliday by Damaris is your answer; if she’s more of a restrained minimalist, then head to Bodas. If she has a strong right-on tendency, then hurry up and buy her a pair of knickers on 2 December from the ethical company, because on that day you will have the option to buy another pair of pants for half price to be donated in your girlfriend’s name to the women in _______(13) at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre. Share the Christmas lingerie love, Name withheld!
But let’s think about your relationship here. Your awkwardness about giving lingerie is both sweet and, to a garish foreigner, somewhat baffling. Truly, is there anything more _____(14) amusing than the sight of an Englishman fumbling around in a lingerie shop in the weeks before Christmas? So ask yourself whether the timorousness you feel is because your relationship is not yet at the lingerie-giving stage (unlikely – lingerie rule of thumb: you need to have seen the lady lingerie-less), or whether it’s down to your own English hang-ups (very likely).
Finally, your girlfriend. Now, most women would love to get some lingerie because it suggests that their man friend sees them as sexy and beautiful and he would like to see more of their sexy beauty. But it is also entirely possible that your girlfriend would be happier with something else. Lingerie is wonderful but it is also a pain in the arse – not literally (well, not if you followed all of my above rules), but because you have to hand wash it after every use, which is just tedious. Do you want to give your girlfriend lingerie because you genuinely think she wants it, or because you think that this is what you give a girlfriend at Christmas? This is why I’m very against Christmas gift guides: they flatten people into stereotypes and take away their ______(15). They suggest that just because you’re a man you want an overpriced shaving kit and just because you’re a lady with a boyfriend, you want some fancy lingerie. You know your girlfriend better than any of those gift compilers, so don’t blindly follow any of their advice.
The gift she’ll love the most is the one that shows you were thinking of her, not a generic girlfriend, when you bought it. I know, I probably sound like your mum here, and I’m not providing the easy-to-follow set rules that you’d like, but, hell, no one ever said human relationships were simple.

• Post your questions to Hadley Freeman, Ask Hadley, The Guardian, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU.


1. Comfort > uncomfortable
2. Wool
3. Relation
4. Vary
5. Sense
6. Do
7. Good
8. Decide
9. Gloss
10. Easy
11. Solve
12. Ridicule
13. Detain
14. Pathetic
15. Individual

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