Women line up to exchange unwanted lingerie

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Women Line Up to Exchange Unwanted Lingerie December 27, 2001 08:42 AM ET By Sybille de La Hamaide

PARIS (Reuters) - Only days after Christmas, women were rushing to Paris department stores to return unwanted sexy lingerie that their husbands and lovers had put under the tree.

Most women said they were returning just because their companion got their size wrong, but many others were lining up to exchange the gifts for something less gaudy.

"Husbands are impulsive. They buy lacy g-strings or transparent suspenders, mostly in red or black," said Claudine Chevalier, head of lingerie at Galeries Lafayette megastore.

"But then the wife comes back and exchanges them for more classical, easy-to-wear black or white items," she said, adding that returns had kept her busy since Christmas.

Paris stores Printemps and La Samaritaine said most women returned to seek more simple, comfortable underwear.

"Men take very sexy things like lace, something typically feminine, while women want more comfortable, easy-to-wash lingerie," said Sophie Blanc, head of lingerie at Printemps.

"They are attracted to everything sexy, red, black or transparent, while women are more traditional in their choice," added Francoise Lemaire at La Samaritaine.


As with other items bought in large Paris stores, lingerie can be returned if it has not been used. Customers can ask for their money back or obtain a voucher to purchase something else in the shop.

In most cases, women try to please their companion by exchanging their gift for more lingerie, but some just want something totally different.

"Top class lingerie items cost around 1,200 Francs ($160). With that money some women prefer a voucher to buy some music, a book or kitchen utensils," Chevalier said.

Blanc said one woman had exchanged her lingerie for a dessert dish, saying it was more useful.

Lingerie gifts -- around 15 percent of which are returned to the shops after Christmas -- are often chosen by men who do not know what else to give their wives, the shop managers said.

"Last Monday (on Christmas Eve), several men came to the lingerie department just before closing time, panicking to find something that would please their wives," she said. "These women might be among the ones now queuing for returns."

-- Anonymous, December 27, 2001

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