Undercover: A Lingerie Aficionado Bares It All

As a longtime lingerie lover, Maria Sorentino, owner of Dobbs Ferry’s UnderDressed boutique, is an expert on undergarments. Here, she provides a primer on everything from uncovering the perfect bra to dealing with the dreaded panty-lines problem.
What do you think of Victoria’s Secret’s lingerie?
I’m really not familiar with it. I never was a Victoria’s Secret shopper; I find them impersonal.

What’s your position on thongs—do you wear them?
They’re not my personal favorite—I’m more a boy shorts kind of girl—but I am a big fan of them under certain outfits. With some things, like snug-fitting jeans or if you want to wear just a little something under tights or pantyhose, you need to wear a thong.

Why don’t they make such ridiculous undies for men?
Men usually don’t wear very tight-fitting clothing and they don’t have to worry about any lines when they’re wearing boxers. 

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Why are so many women—some say 80 percent—wearing bras that don’t fit them properly?
They get used to them even though they’re stretched out or were fitted a long time ago. Women don’t realize every change in life—exercise, giving birth, aging, losing or gaining weight, etc.—can affect your bra size.

What should every woman have in her bra wardrobe?
A smooth-cup bra with a seamless cup for a smooth look under Ts and other clingy tops, a sports bra with good support, a good strapless bra, a razor-back bra to wear under tank tops, and a dressy bra, whether lace or silk, for evening wear.
What’s the lifespan of a good bra?
If you take proper care and have seven or eight that you rotate wearing, a good bra can last two or three years.

How do you get stains out of expensive lingerie?
Never soak silk; just treat the stain. I recommend Forever New Stain Remedy; it costs $7 for a 6.7-ounce bottle.

In what should I greet my Valentine on the big night?
A totally sheer silk chemise accented with teal lace by Mary Green. It sells for $78—and it’s worth every penny!

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What’s the best way to wash my lingerie?
I like Forever New Delicate Wash. It’s a liquid that has enzymes in it that remove body stains; a 16-ounce bottle sells for $10. I’d use the delicate cycle on the washing machine with cool to warm water—not ice cold, not hot. Bras should be air-dried but panties can be machine dried on a low heat setting. Also, make sure to fasten any clips on bras so they don’t stick to other items being washed.

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What lingerie can you suggest for a special hot date?
Chantilly’s Chantelle: a beautiful matching lace-and-satin tap pant and bra set. It comes in beautiful sorbet-like colors and is sexy but wearable.

I want to gift my Valentine with something beautiful and sexy. What do you recommend?
A sexy chemise by Cosabella or Chantelle looks beautiful on almost any figure.

What’s the most expensive piece of lingerie in your shop—and what makes it so?
A TK-brand corset—it’s like a tighter fitting camisole with boning. It sells for $178 in part because some of the detail has been done by hand.

What undergarments are you wearing right now?
A royal blue and light opal bra and panty set featuring imported silk by Pfiff, a European boutique line.

What panty styles should every woman own?
A full-cut panty made of a silky fabric, a cotton panty if you exercise a lot, a basic bikini—it can go under a lot of things—and to eliminate a panty line, either a thong or boy shorts.

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What about sales of thongs—on the increase, decrease, or holding steady?
Thongs continue to be the biggest selling panty.

What percentage of your sales are made to women as opposed to men?
Eighty-five percent of our sales are made to women, the rest to men.

What’s your recommendation for a good every day bra?
I like ‘Andora” by Simone Perele. The straps and colors are beautiful but you can wear it everyday.

How have sleepwear fashions changed over the past five years?
Women have come to realize that they want to sleep in something nice versus a T-shirt.

What kinds of sleepwear do you think ever woman should own?
A nice pair of button-down cotton poplin PJs, a sik chemise is very nice to sleep in, a mid-calf nightgown, plus a few nice robes—made of really soft cotton or a cotton blend, a very thick terry, and/or soft fleece or flannel.

How many bras and panties do you own?
I have about 34 bras and more than 50 panties—I have different ones for different outfits.

What do you usually sleep in?
A chemise or a pair of cotton button-down PJs—or in the summer, a camisole with a pair of boy shorts.

What’s your husband’s favorite of all the lingerie you own?
He’s so used to me having beautiful things that it’s almost a non-event, but I’d say my silk Mary Green chemise.

What’s your personal favorite piece of lingerie?
Anything by Ferut and Pfiff—it’s very boutique-y. I love the line and how its fits and you don’t see it everywhere.

What’s the most unusual request you’ve received from a customer?
A man asked for a crotchless Playboy-type bunny suit. We don’t sell anything like that or anything that’s not tasteful.

What’s your best suggestion for a wedding shower gift?
A panty drawer: a beautiful fabric or hat box that we assemble especially for the bride-to-be containing three to eight different panties and a gift card for a complimentary bra fitting. The cost would range from about $54 to $144.

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