My Boudoir Journey: Shopping for boudoir outfits is a workout

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I’m doing a boudoir session on April 19. This is my 6th shoot since 2009. I believe that it’s important for boudoir photographers to do their own sessions as often as possible. Why? Because we need to know about what it feels like to prepare for the shoot and to be in front of the camera. Especially when it comes to shopping for boudoir outfits.

About 4 weeks before my boudoir session with Stacie Frazier of Haute Shots in Las Vegas, I started shopping. I’ve been on a journey of health and weight loss, and I had set a goal to NOT shop for plus-size boudoir lingerie for this shoot. Guess what? I did it!

I’ve gone from a tight size 16 to a size 12, and from a 40 DDD to a 36DD/E. That means I’m back into the size ranges of many brands of lingerie. Except that is, the 2 makers I posted about earlier (Bordelle and i.d.sarierri) because my boobs didn’t shrink enough.

So, it is time to shop. And I tell you what, it’s a pain in the ass. If you’ve shopped for boudoir outfits and had a tricky time, I feel your pain.

Here’s what I’ve worn in some of my previous boudoir shoots. #gallery-1 { margin: auto; } #gallery-1 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 25%; } #gallery-1 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-1 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */

I decided what I want to wear in this boudoir shoot by how I wanted to feel.

Since I’ve done so many boudoir shoots in the past, I wanted to wear something completely different. I have 3 outfits included in my shoot, so I need 3 outfits. There are SO MANY options for styles of lingerie out there: bra and panty sets, bodysuits, body harnesses, babydolls, chemises, t-shirts and booty shorts, long satin gowns. I could be racy, I could be girl-next-door sweet, I could be soft and sensual, I could wear a classic boudoir look. The choices!

So I decided to go by how I want to feel in this session. I made a list of words and narrowed it down to this:

  1. Pretty

  2. Sensual

  3. Confident

  4. Proud

  5. Classic

  6. Creative

I also made a list of words that describe how I don’t want to feel in this shoot … mostly because I’ve worn outfits that describe these feelings for me in the past:

  1. Brave / Daring

  2. Highly sexual

  3. Dominating

  4. Girl-next-door

  5. Flirty

  6. Vulnerable

I also took into account Stacie’s photographic style, which is pretty bold and confident in itself. She’ll make me look fucking hot in a paper bag (literally … more on that later).

How do pretty, sensual, confident, proud, classic and creative translate to lingerie?

Luckily, I have a lot of experience in helping women decide what to wear for their boudoir shoots. I send out a questionnaire before our session planning meeting to get an idea of what she has in her head, and I use terms like Girl-Next-Door, Racy & Erotic, Soft & Sensual, Classic. Usually we’re speaking the same language as we describe these kinds of outfits.

So, looking at my list, I knew I’d want to wear something lacy/sheer/flowy for a Sensual outfit. I’d want to wear a classic bra/panty/garter/stocking set for Classic … but who knew what creative meant. I also thought maybe uber-sexy should be on the list, so I ordered a few outfits that would work in that realm.

I set my budget shopping for boudoir outfits.

You can go high-end for lingerie. You can go bargain basement for lingerie. Or, you can stay in the middle. I didn’t want to spend more than $400 on my 3 lingerie outfits once I knew I wasn’t buying Bordelle. (Now I have more money for my album.)

High-end lingerie designers (bras $100+, panties $35+ … ish) include Agent Provocateur, Bordelle, Simone Perelle, Fleur of England, La Perla, Kiki, Harlow & Fox, i.d.sarerri, plus a range of Etsy designers

Middle of the road designers (bras $50-100, panties $15-20+ … ish) include Rosie for Autograph, Victoria’s Secret, Frederick’s of Hollywood, Dita von Teese, Chantelle, Freya, Bluebella, Hanky Panky, Heidi Klum Intimates, FreePeople, Playful Promises, What Katie Did, Hips and Curves

Inexpensive lingerie designers (bras under $50, panties under $15 … ish) Ooh La La Cheri, AdoreMe, Leg Avenue, Venus, anything on Yandy, anything at Target or TJ Maxx, Amazon or eBay (for the most part)

I knew from experience that I prefer mid- to high-end lingerie because it just holds up better. I wound up sticking to the mid-range with the exception of one custom body harness from Lovechild Boudoir, which cost me about $180 for a bunch of elastic artfully sewn together.

I decided to shop online for my boudoir outfits. It’s tricky.

Shopping for clothes online is tricky enough. Shopping for lingerie online is trickier I think. I knew I’d be doing a lot of buying and returning. I was right about that.

There are many lingerie outfits I love to send clients to. Some are specific to one designer. Others are more department store style. I began shopping by going to my favorite websites that I know have good return policies. I’m glad I did because I have returned about $700 of lingerie so far.

Here are some of the websites I shopped on.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen me trying on lingerie in my story.

The many, many pieces of lingerie I tried on

(please excuse the poor quality of my phone photos and the sometimes glum expressions. Did I mention that it was hard to shop?)

Burgundy lace bodysuit with off-the-shoulder long sleeves. $39,

This is one of my favorites. I feel really pretty and sensual in it, and I love how my body looks–even my unsupported boobs. Kept.

lace bodysuit

Black stretch velvet bodysuit, $24,

I really wanted to love this. I think my boobs look great, but I really, really hate butt floss. I think my butt looked too flat. Returned.

Victoria’s Secret Ruffle Kimono, $88

Kind of cute, but the Large was still smaller than I liked, and the lighting was shitty in the dressing room. Pass.

Victoria’s Secret slip, no longer available, thank god.

This is one of those outfits that’s pretty on the hanger and completely unflattering on the body. Another cute-then-fugly Victoria’s Secret slip. Hard Pass. This store’s designers do not know how to flatter a body bigger than a size 6. I strongly dislike them.

Dita von Teese Sheer Witchery Bra & Panty Set. $80 bra, $50 panties.

Oh man, I was SO wanting this to work. It felt SO classic, especially with stockings. I loved the leopard print. I loved the high waisted panties from all sides. The problem was that this has vintage, Dita-esque styling (duh). The bra cups did not suit the shape of my breasts, pushing tissue toward my armpits. Because I’m short waisted and the panties have a little compression, they dug in at my waist, and when I sat down I had major muffin top. I reluctantly returned this to

Peek & Beau Wanda Fishnet Bra & Brief. $39 for the bra, $26 for the panties.

Adored the bottoms. The bra was a complete fail and made my boobs look really, really weird, especially from the side. If I could have found a bra to go with it that looked good, I would have. Returned.

Playful Promises Reina Wine Satin Chemise, $52

I purchased this gown as an alternative to a bra-and-panty look in my “classic” look. The color was gorgeous, but the fit in the top didn’t work, even with strap adjustments. Also, from the side, it emphasized a tummy pooch. I might wear this around the house (my husband loved it), but not in my budget right now. Returned.

Peek & Beau Roxy Bodysuit, $58.50,

I freaking love this bodysuit. I won’t be wearing it for my session, but damn straight I’m wearing it with a black bra and jeans. It has burnout velvet. Love. It also came with this weird merkin-like fringe necklace that my cats love but looks terrible. Kept.

Bluebella Aura Bra & Panty Set. $54 for the bra, $30 for the panties.

A close contender. I’m keeping it and will return if I don’t wear it. I love the strappy back and sheer butt the most. It fits me really well, too. BTW, this website is great for women with larger breasts. Lots of pretty options!

Black Bluebella bra & panty set

Freya Patsy Bra & Panty set,  $66 bra, $34 brief,

Freya’s “half-cup” bras are my favorites. I own this bra in 3 colors, but they are all too big for me now. I won’t wear this for my shoot, but it will become a staple for daily wear. Kept.

Freya bra & panty set

Cleo Spencer Longline Bra & Panties, $59 for the bra, $29 from the panties,

I adore this color. It’s one of my favorites on me. But the longline bra didn’t work on my short waist, and the placement of the underwires made my boobs spill into my armpits again. Returned.

Rosie for Autograph Silk & Lace set with lightly padded balcony bra & brazillian knickers, $49 for the bra, $22 for the knickers.

I discovered this lingerie line via’s Facebook group. It is luxurious silk and has a beautiful fit for my breast shape. I own this in 3 colors in a 40DDD, and I knew that when I hit my new size I’d reorder. Turns out that I really want to wear black, because this is a definite YES for my session, including a black garter and stockings. I did order a 36E (this is a DD) because the cups are a “little” small. I’ll compare them once I receive it. Kept.

Rosie for Autograph bra and panty

In Bloom by Jonquil chemise, $48, Nordstrom

Oooh. Just ooh. I love this so much, as does my husband. I feel SO PRETTY IN THIS. The color is divine, and I love how my boobs look. The back is glorious too, with a low dip. I will be keeping this regardless, but I’m going to have to choose between it and another outfit. I’ll take it with me and decide on the fly. Kept.

In Bloom nightie

Snow In April harness top and bottom, Lovechild Boudoir, $85 for each (top and bottom)

I’ve followed Lovechild Boudoir on Instagram for over a year. I love her creative harness designs. Then one of my clients brought a piece from this Etsy designer and I knew I wanted to own one myself. The top is here, but the bottoms are not yet (although they have shipped). I will wear this bare breasted. I need to find a thong-ish type of panties for it. Still looking. I may try to convince Stacie to shoot me in 4 looks because I don’t know how I’m going to choose. This definitely suits my “creative” goal. And pretty. And confident. This is the most expensive set I purchased, and it’s next to nothing. You just pay more for handmade stuff. (as you should)

THE END! Be sure to watch my Instagram stories on April 19 for behind-the-scenes at my session!

#BoudoirInspiration #boudoiroutfits #lingerieforyourshoot #whattowearforboudoirshoot