Chatting with Rebecca Apsan of La Petite Coquette - a lingerie mecca in Greenwich Village


To embolden us on our quest for unmentionables, we popped into La Petite Coquette in New York City. What to look for in lingerie? Are there do’s and don’ts? Rebecca Apsan, owner of the boudoir-like Greenwich Village store (who furbished all the characters on Sex and the City with their intimates, and wrote, The Lingerie Handbook) whispers negligee secrets and shares her Valentine’s Day favorites in an exclusive interview below.

Rebecca Apsan has been helping civilians and celebrities (Madonna, Donatella Versace, you name it) up their seduction game since she opened La Petite Coquette (translation: The Little Flirt) in 1979. The author describes lingerie as, “the curtain that separates the audience from the performance.” Read on: 

What should one look for in lingerie? Are there fit do’s and don’ts?

The most important thing is that it’s comfortable.  If it has bells and whistles, like a corset, and you have never worn a corset, you won't wear it. 

If you want to seduce someone, and be happy about it, be comfortable. Feel pretty and good. That will make for a good evening. 

Try to find something you both like, that's important too. A guy will tell you if he is a boob guy, or derriere guy, or loves your legs. Whatever he likes, you should serve it up. 

When someone tries on a bra, if it's uncomfortable, I say ‘take it off. You will never wear it.’

What are some of your favorite things in lingerie right now? New designers catching your eye? Older brands you just keep loving?

I love Marlies Dekkers because she is on the cutting edge. She does things that are basic, but with a twist. Jane Woolrich from England is creative and directional. She has beautiful corsets... The waist cincher--that has seen a real comeback.  Samantha Chang is a great young designer. Aubabe for bras... La Perla, Huit, Addiction, L'Agent, Chantelle

All the French and Italian designers. I like them. They come up with new and interesting things. European people get underwear. The United States of America is very conservative. And I am in New York City, in the Village, but America is still very vanilla. 

Trend wise: the thong was the biggest thing. Now it's granny panties.  

Any lingerie history or historical anecdotes you would like to share?

There is a story about the Goldwyn Girls (a musical stock group run by Samuel Goldwyn in the 1930-1950s--of which Lucille Ball and Betty Grable were a part). The accountant wanted to know why the lingerie was so expensive. The answer was, “You walk and move differently in GOOD lingerie.” 

It does makes you walk differently and talk differently. It makes you stand up straighter. I am walking and talking differently right now. As opposed to a stretched out yucky holed-out bra and panty. With good lingerie, you feel set for the day. It's the closest thing to your heart.  I like matching. I like color. 

Rebecca’s Valentine’s Day picks from La Petite Coquette:

Valentine's Day is when you are supposed to pull out the corset and panties!