Picture it: you walk into a lingerie boutique, ready to try on the latest slinky pieces. You select a little satin and lace number, look in the mirror — and immediately start picking apart your reflection. The little voice in your head brings back all your usual negative self-talk. You had carefully chosen a piece with the hopes of awakening your inner sex goddess, but you ultimately leave the store having purchased the lingerie more to please your partner than yourself.
It’s a situation Avery Barsony is aware of with some of her own clients, and she wants to change that perception, one lingerie piece at a time. The entrepreneur believes that buying lingerie should be an empowering experience no matter your skin tone, sexuality or body size, which is why activism is at the heart of everything she does.
Related: Sexy lingerie brands for every size.
This Canadian lingerie company marries lingerie and activism
As one of the best lingerie stores in Canada, Barsony’s Mississauga-based business, Chou Chou Cheri, aims to create a body-positive shopping experience while inspiring women to pamper themselves with a new bra and panty set that they’ll love. “We’re trying to bring things that are a little bit more fun, a little bit more unusual than what you’d find in a regular lingerie store,” she says of her boutique, adding that catering to all body types is top of mind. “I try not to bring in a line unless it has a pretty extensive size range that would accommodate most people.”
Chou Chou Cheri came out of Barsony’s love of lingerie, which dates back 10 years to when she first started collecting and restoring vintage clothing pieces. She describes how her vision unfolded, with one thing leading to another. “Seeing how it affected people and how it felt for me, personally, wearing it and then falling down the rabbit hole of blogging about it, designing it, researching it, selling it, and then I eventually opened my own store.”
Understanding that body confidence doesn’t come easily, this Canadian-made lingerie hopes to help
Time and time again, Barsony hears the negative self-talk from her clients. It’s something that often comes with lingerie shopping — something she chooses to engage with by redirecting the conversation. “Anything that anyone is uncomfortable with, I don’t think people realize how common they are,” she says. “What I usually would ask them is: ‘When you see another woman, would you notice something like that on them?’ Nine out of 10 times they say ‘No.’ And I say, ‘Well, then why would it be any different for you?’ In the real world, most people really don’t care about those things because everyone has them.”
Most people don’t know what their size is right now because it’s been, for most people, at least two to three years since their last fitting.
For many people, their insecurities have been exacerbated by the pandemic, and Barsony sees a few reasons why lingerie shopping online or in person could stir up some discomfort. “Everyone was so invested in social media in the past two years because of being apart from everyone. So I think we all kind of got really skewed perceptions of what people actually look like,” she says, adding that buying lingerie post-pandemic might feel a bit unnatural after all this time. “Most people don’t know what their size is right now because it’s been, for most people, at least two to three years since their last fitting. So the biggest thing is people having no idea what size they are, what style they want, or what’s going to work on them. So it’s kind of [like] starting from square one.”
From sexy plus-sized lingerie to lingerie for small breasts, here are Barsony’s top picks to help you find the best pieces for your body type.
These sexy lingerie pieces are flattering for every body type:
Lingerie for small breasts
If you have a smaller chest size, Barsony points to a specific brand that focuses on getting the right fit for you. “If you have more of a shallow tissue, a small breast brand like Marie Jo is great because that’s what they specialize in — cup sizes A – E, sometimes F. But they provide a whole bunch of different shapes to accommodate all the different small breast types.”
Marie Jo — Avero Balcony Pearly Pink, Chou Chou Cheri, $154.
Lingerie for larger breasts
If you have a larger bust, you’re probably used to sacrificing sexy for function, but Barsony knows of a specific bra that does it all. “On a full bust, the thing is that the more seams on a bra the better because you’re going to get a better shape and hold. There’s a bra called Deauville by Prima Donna, and that is one of the best full bust bras because it’s really comfortable but has a really good lift to it, and [it’s] still pretty.”
Prima Donna — Deauville Bra Silky Tan, Chou Chou Cheri, $177.
The best lingerie for the tummy-conscious
If you would feel more comfortable with your tummy covered, Barsony recommends a retro high-waisted panty as her go-to. “It kind of has a similar effect to shapewear without being uncomfortable, whereas it gently smooths out lines and bumps, but you can still get a really pretty bra and panty look. If you’re a little bit uncomfortable with your midsection, it’ll kind of hide it and blend it into the outfit you’re wearing.”
Panache — Imogen High Waist Brief, Chou Chou Cheri, $59.
The best lingerie for curvier bodies
If you’re curvier and want to indulge in something more luxurious, Barsony has a brand in mind. “I would say Empriente’s Thalia bra is fantastic for someone curvier. They have a really good range of band and cup sizes as well as underwear sizes. And it’s a luxury brand which is kind of catering to that curvy body type, which is a little bit harder to find.”
Empreinte —Thalia Bra, Chou Chou Cheri, $209.
The best lingerie for athletic frames
For slimmer frames, Chou Chou Cheri has a new, comfy bralette set to accentuate your body type, “It’s really fun. It’s pretty because it has lace on the fabric, but all the details and straps are a little bit more athletic-looking, and it’s not cup-sized which is nice. It’s a good comfy wireless, so you don’t have to worry about perfect sizing and you know that your shape is going to work with it as well.”
Mey — Poetry Style Bralette, Chou Chou Cheri, $92.
You don’t need a partner to wear (and enjoy) lingerie
Lingerie that fits well is empowering, which is why Barsony believes that these sexy items are truly for you and not your partner. Even if you’re single, you should still rock these slinky pieces for yourself. “I think you should always be buying for yourself because you’re the one wearing it. You’re the one who has to feel good or feel comfortable in it,” she says. “At the end of the day, when you’re comfortable and confident, that’s what really does shine through the most. Buying for someone else, it doesn’t have that same kind of spark.”