While I was at my college reunion this weekend with Julia Lambert and many amazing friends, we dropped by Derrière de Soie, a relatively high-end lingerie shop on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall. I decided to kick off a new feature of reviews of brick-and-mortar retailers. Ordering online gives you lots of choice, but there’s something to be said for a lovely shop, curated lingerie selections, and friendly, knowledgeable personnel.
I’ll say right off the bat that many (well, most) of the offerings at Derrière de Soie fall far out of my price range. The store stocks some very well-known and well-loved designers: Natori, Elle MacPherson, Mimi Holliday, and Stella McCartney, as well as some newer or more up-and-coming designers like Claudette and Fée Verte. The displays are simple and elegant and make for easy, relaxed browsing.
While we were optimistically hoping for some size diversity, it was pretty apparent from the moment we walked in that the offerings were going to suit small-to-average busts best. I asked the sales associate if they stocked any full-bust offerings, and she showed me two beige and two black Wacoal bras in the same style. This appeared to be the sum total of their full-bust range, so clearly some of the newer full bust brands, styles, and sizes aren’t really on their radar. For those women who fit their size ranges and price ranges, however, this store is pretty wonderful.
We saw rack upon rack of lovely flowing chemises and robes. The displays were widely spaced, allowing us all to browse at our leisure, and for the lone man among us to settle on one of the leather sofas to read one of the beatiful art and photography coffee table books on display.
The sales associate also told me that they frequently host bridal showers or bachelorette parties, closing down the store for private shopping and celebrating. I was very impressed by the bridal styles: items ranged from classic to daring to sweetly feminine to sleek and even modest. There were silky chemises for $70 and beaded lace and silk bustiers for $400. I missed it, but Julia Lambert reported that they stocked a small selection of discreet, well-designed sex toys, which would also make for a fun bachelorette party gift.
The store’s hosiery selection was limited and didn’t even really dip a toe into the more luxurious or fashion-forward offerings out there. There were a reasonable selection of basics (stockings, thigh-highs, pantyhose, tights) and a few different styles of the omnipresent Spanx.
When asked about their ideal customer base, the sales associate readily admitted that their clientele was generally wealthy, but she said that she saw many students drop by for the thongs and basics by Hanky Panky, as well as the pasties and nipple shields pictured above. Since I am not a lady who ever goes braless, these wouldn’t have appealed to me when I was in Charlottesville, but look at those stars! Those are super cute. Also the name “Patch of Freedom” tickles my funny bone. I shall now refer to my bras as “Bras of Liberty!”
(Parenthetical– anyone ever tried a stick-on bra? I never have, and I’m skeptical. Obviously they’re not intended to mimic a real bra, but is there an upside to wearing one? Inquiring minds want to know.)
I was initially hesitant to go in, as I was sure the price points and size ranges would be a turn-off for me. I was foolish and younger then. The store has an elegant yet welcoming feel, and the sales associate was warm, friendly, and quick to answer any of our questions. We (a group of four women) all agreed we’d return if we were in their size/income demographic. If I had to nitpick I’d seriously take them to task on their ignorance of the more luxurious full-bust lines (Fauve and Mimi Holliday both make some gorgeous full-bust options), but for a small store it seems like they’re listening to their customers and slowly expanding their offerings. The sales associate told me they were in the process of adding some nursing and maternity options, and their sister store in Richmond, Virginia is doing the same. If you’re in the Charlottesville area, I’d definitely recommend a visit!
Derrière de Soie
105 East Main St Charlottesville, VA 22902