An intimate gift

Purple long line bra, �18.50 from Debenhams
Purple long line bra, �18.50 from Debenhams
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The sickly sweet rose scent is apparent as you untangle the ribbons and peel back the excessive layers of tissue paper. Inside you find something you could fill with bird feed and hang in your garden, certainly not an item you would like to introduce to your underwear drawer.

There’s no doubt that it can feel awkward and disappointing to receive some lingerie gifts, but do not forget that the giving can also be extremely daunting for your partner.

So this Christmas, do a little window shopping together and offer a few subtle clues to ensure you unwrap lingerie that you can actually wear.

The latest lingerie trends have roots in times gone by and the most flattering of all eras was the Fifties. Typical retro features include long line bras, wide straps, high waisted briefs and matching suspenders – all of which help sculpt the body, celebrate feminine curves and also hint back to the iconic shape of stars such as Marilyn Monroe.

For a slightly racier vintage feel, think back to the Studio 54 style of the Seventies. The jewel-toned satin two-pieces finished with lace and ribbon are worn with sheer stockings and look lustrous as these low-slung briefs hang off the hips.

Gone are the days of Bridget Jones briefs. Most lingerie retailers now provide a stylish and subtle range of shape wear, ideal under body-skimming party dresses this Christmas. La Senza’s Christmas collection includes a range of soft touch fabric briefs and a shaping under-dress, especially designed so you can wear your own comfy or supportive bra underneath. Engineered underwear can not only shape the body, it can also enhance it. Ann Summers’ new Hollywood Uplift bra and satin body hugging basque claims to enhance your bust by at least one cup size. Although well known for their racy lingerie lines, they now stock some ultra feminine collections in pretty pink lace and a long line bra with matching low leg briefs in a retro animal print.

Although there are some stunning prints adorning lingerie this season, black continues to be the nation’s fail safe lingerie colour of choice, bought both by women and by men for their partner, according to a La Senza study. Red, meanwhile, is always popular at Christmas but look for new lipstick rouge reds which offer far more subtlety and wearability than typical vivid scarlet shades.

The biggest trend is femininity, which is all about touch and fabric. Look for ultra-soft silk and satin in off white, cream and pale pink, like this pretty two piece (top left).

Bolder lingerie should be toned down by wearing just a simple set. However, pretty, feminine pieces look luxurious with a matching camisole or silk dressing gown to create a complete set, as a welcome gift for your stocking this Christmas.