Dec. 22, 2006 — -- It's the question on millions of male minds -- what do you buy your significant other for Christmas?
For many guys the simple answer is lingerie. But picking out the right size, color or style is not so simple.
London's Marks and Spencer department store has come up with a solution. The "Stocking Fellas" program led by lingerie expert Matt Neely has become the savior for many a befuddled boyfriend and husband.
As a guide to the realm of lace, silk and satin, Neely tours the floor of Marks and Spencer's lingerie department seeking out souls in need of help.
"You look for the guys who are wandering around not really knowing what they're doing or kind of skirting round the outside too afraid to step in," Neely said. "We get the odd one who comes in and really doesn't have a clue and will point at the nearest woman and will say, 'She's about that size.' Or kind of hold their hands up and say, 'About this big.'"
Neely asks pointed questions guys can answer, such as "Is she more like Catherine Zeta Jones or Gwyneth Paltrow?" or "What's her favorite color?"
Shopper Paul Tombs was grateful for Neely's help.
"It's one of those difficult things, isn't it, where [you ask] who are you actually buying for?" Tombs said. "Are you buying for your girlfriend or you actually buying for yourself?"
For many men, the lingerie department is a mine field. It's very easy to offend with underwear, especially if you get the wrong size. For example, imagine buying a G cup when, in fact, she's a B. Picking up something too racy could be a bad move, too.
There is a secret to getting the size right.
"I was hunting through her underwear drawer this morning looking at all her labels. Well, that's my story anyway. And I managed to find out what size she was," said shopper Jeff Davey.
Less intrepid men can try the fruit test.
"Is she a lemon, an orange, a grapefruit or a melon?" said Rebecca Aspen, owner of the New York lingerie boutique La Petite Coquette. "Those visualizations help a man figure out what size. It's surprisingly very accurate, I'm told."