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Valentine’s Day Boudoir

Dress to Impress

Most of us are well aware of the false lures of that most dreaded of Hallmark holidays, Valentine’s Day. Saccharine candy hearts — updated for the century with queasy bon mots like “Text Me” — gratuitous diamond jewelry ads, and the general gag-me-with-a-spoon romantic swill often get the goats of single and paired people alike.

However, if you could name just one reason to celebrate February 14, it might be as simple as playing a little dress-up with your sweetie. Valentine’s Day might be overrated, but woo-worthy skivvies are always in style, no matter what the occasion. Here are three boutiques that specialize in the kind of va-va-voom lingerie you’ll actually want to pack up in a heart-shaped box and present to your paramour.

My Boudoir
Peignoirs, teddies, chemises, and schoolgirl outfits — you’ll find a little bit of everything here, and then some. My Boudoir is a Pacific Heights lingerie boutique that is as versatile as it is small.

It sports an exquisite assortment of everything from frilly accoutrements to suitably trampy getups for your vixeny alter ego. Exclusive European brands like Princesse Tam Tam, Aubade, HUIT, Chantelle, and Simone Perele grace the racks here. Cleavage-enhancing balconette bras, an impressive array of thigh-highs, and filmy nighties will catch your fancy, but the devil is in the details.

Pearls, intricate embroidery, lace-up seams, and strategically placed hooks place the merchandise notches above, say, a commercial establishment like Victoria’s Secret. Whatever the case, uber femininity is the order of the day here, so as the friendly salespeople squeeze you into some seriously seductive undies, check your demureness at the door.

Dollhouse Bettie
Obsessed with the glamorous gals of the cheesecake pinup epoch? Would you like to be one? Then Dollhouse Bettie is your place. From babydolls to high-waist panties, Dollhouse Bettie is stocked with the kind of persona-altering haute vintage unmentionables that invoke the spirit of busty pinup babes like Bettie Page.

Whether you're in the mood for naughty or nice, the Upper Haight boutique's cinchers, garters, corsets, and other sexy accoutrements are here precisely for the purpose of transforming you into a pinup goddess. Feathers, ruffles, and tassels generously pad the store, and combinations of items to help you unleash your inner bombshell are endless. Pasties and feathers abound for the budding burlesque queen, while sweetheart nighties will please the shrinking violet. Many of the items are ready to wear, but a lot can be customized to your own curves.

Dollhouse Bettie also specializes in boudoir photography, so the opportunity to model your purchases for posterity might be just the thing to do after stockpiling your sexy wares.

Dark Garden
If you think corsets are synonymous with wispy Victorian waifs plagued with a proclivity for fainting, you haven't been to Dark Garden. The couture retailer is the one-stop shop for your décolletage. It specializes in custom-made corsets, and you can nab everything from dangerously sexy accoutrements for your trousseau to fetish fashion for the remainder of the year.

You can select your pieces in fabrics ranging from brocade to silk jacquard to leather — and since Dark Garden pays scrupulous attention to history, you'll find true-to-form styles like Baroque and Underbust Victorian. Of course, getting cinched and steel-boned takes a little more effort than slipping on a teddy, but as time has shown, a corset will never go out of style — and your cleavage will thank you in the long run.