Making it Easier for Men to Buy Bras and Panties

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?"

Wading in Treacherous Waters

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."

Tips Beyond the Lingerie Department

On "Good Morning America," Nicole Beland of Women's Health magazine and Matt Bean of Men's Health magazine offered tips for men -- and women -- who are clueless when it comes to gift-buying. Here are their recommendations:

Buying for Women: Don't Buy Clothes

When it comes to lingerie and clothing, the rule is, if you don't know a lot about style and fashion, you don't know if it will fit or if they'll like it, so don't do it.

Buying for Women: Think Romantic, Not Practical

A lot of guys get themselves in sticky situations at the last minute. They're at the mall at the last minute, and they're at the mercy of merchandisers. Women do not want practical gifts from a man. They want romantic ones. So even if it's something she needs, don't get it. Another mistake men make is that they go to the closest store. Women know what the closest store is so don't do it.

Buying for Women: Wrap the Present, Get a Card

Women really appreciate it if you take the time to go out and buy the wrapping paper and wrap it yourself. Also, they really love cards. Don't stress about what to write. Just write, "I love you."

Buying for Women: Ask Her Best Friend or Sister for Advice

Another mistake that guys make is that they want to do it themselves. But if she has a sister or if she has a best friend, there's no harm in calling and trying to get some advice. Another great thing you can do is grab the magazine that she loves and reads every month and see what's inside. See what she thinks is cool.

Buying for Women: Think Jewelry

Jewelry is always a great gift. Women love jewelry. Take her favorite piece with you to the store and say you're looking for something similar.

Buying for Men: Go for Fun Stuff He Likes to Do

Here's the thing when it comes to guys: You have to appeal to their inner child. If you can do that you're all set. Many women think gadgets, which is not a bad idea, but it can backfire. If you get him a BlackBerry, that's cool, but it's just going to help him do his job better. Go for the hobbies. Flip through his TiVo and get a sense of what he's into and get the DVD box set. Take his favorite TV show, plug it into Amazon in the "users also bought" section and browse through there.

Buying for Men: Gadgets, Travel, Sporting Events or Concerts

A great present is concert tickets or tickets to a sporting event. You can get gift certificates for events as well. And the key with gadgets is that you want something that will make him feel powerful.

Last Minute Gift Idea: Book a Trip

Trips are great last minute gifts -- you can go online even Christmas morning and buy a trip, print out a picture and put it in a card. And you've gotten a great present even just minutes before you give it.