A few years ago I came to the jarring realization that I was a grown adult and, specifically, a grown woman who desperately needed to purge herself of the college t-shirts and sleep shorts from a certain mall lingerie store she had been donning as sleepwear since... forever. I think I had previously shared the sentiment of most of us out there when I say I did not want to spend money on items only I or my live-in partner would see. Then I watched too much Scandal and began to envy Olivia Pope's luxe "wine wardrobe" (i.e., the silk and satin she wears at home while drinking her dinner).
So I decided to blow my monthly spending budget and upgrade my under and sleepwear to lace bralettes and silky chemises. I continued to shop via larger online stores and never tried anything on before purchasing. Lingerie is highly subjective, to say the least. I grew tired of waiting for orders to arrive, then dropping off return packages to the post office during lunch breaks.
Enter Forty Winks, a super chic lingerie boutique in Cambridge, MA. Total game changer. The owners, Rachel and Meredith, previously worked in another boutique in the area and overheard customers (like myself) express dread over the thought of going to mall department stores to shop for bras. When they opened the shop seven years ago, they prioritized creating a body positive environment and expanded the range of size options beyond the norm of many conventional stores to 28A-40H.
When I walk in for the first time, I'm greeted by a bright, airy space and Ari, resident lingerie guru. Ari has a very warm presence and clearly knows
her shit the products so I decide (internally!) that I would be cool with her seeing me in something NSFW if I need a second opinion. She tells me fittings are conveniently by request (no appointments necessary) and comfort is considered above traditional measurements, as many bras are sans underwire so sizing can vary.
I learn their best selling bra is also my everyday choice, the Natori Feathers Contour Plunge. I give myself a pat on the back - it really is the best. Other noteworthy brands are Chantelle, Fortnight (a Toronto-based company with supreme quality is lieu of underwire) Else, L'Agent, Hanky Panky, Cosabella, Hello Beautiful (100% cotton underwear designed in Cambridge and made in NYC), Lonely (a New Zealand-based company with unique styles meant to be shown), Clo, Panache and Wacoal (both support larger cup sizes), and Cake and Belabumbum (for beautiful nursing bras).
In addition to the gorgeous selection of bras, chemises, slips, and, ahem, panties, they also have a variety of items dubbed "solutions": petals, sticky bras, seamless underwear, sheers, and tights (the Commando Ultimate Opaque Tights are my new go-to). Not a fan of throwing money to the wind in the name of dry cleaning? They also have a selection of non-toxic washes. I can't wait to try The Laundress Delicate Wash for silks.
What I appreciate most about Forty Winks is the company's self love philosophy and disentanglement from conventional marketing. Last Fall, they shot a campaign named "The Middle Layer," with diverse models wearing lingerie in everyday settings exposing the "fun, functional, and beautiful layer that can make us feel strong, powerful, balanced, and beautiful regardless of who can see it." And that's exactly how lingerie should feel, right?
So, whether or not you celebrate the holiday that inevitably comes around every mid-February, I hope we can all get on board with the resurgence of the self-love movement and make it a more consistent thing. Maybe its a daily affirmation, a weekly face mask, or sleeping in something that makes you feel like a total fox even if no one else knows it - or, hey, all three. Treat yourself. And if you're feeling the need to purge your lingerie drawer, you can also treat someone else. Forty Winks will donate your gently loved bras to Dress For Success and Free The Girls.
Forty Winks is located at 56 John F. Kennedy Street in Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA. You can also shop my picks below and online at shopfortywinks.com.