Valentine's Day Ideas: Creating a Romantic Boudoir

With Valentine’s Day nearing it seems time to up your boudoir game. First objective: Figure out what a boudoir is (definition: a woman's dressing room, bedroom, or private sitting room). But before we can move to the logistics of the sitting room, second stop: Lingerie. 

There is something blase about sleep attire today- boxers,  a ratty old t-shirt, anything worn for maximum comfort (and please don’t get us started on pajamas worn out of the house for day). The modern thought being, “who cares what it looks like if no one is going to see it?”

(History Lesson) The origins of lingerie are much more lux and glamorous than Hanes Her Way and a shirt you’ve worn in to perfection since the 8th grade. The Peignoir has origins in French, and means “to comb.” Inspired by traditional Victorian lingerie used on a bride’s wedding night- the sheer and ornate gown has ties around the neck so that hair could be done and not disrupted when removed. The style continued to gain popularity until the 1940s, when during war times when fabric was scarce, and the whole lingerie trend seemed unnecessary. This turned around, however, in the 1950s. The concept of the “duchess” was popular, any woman could be glam, on any budget, and lingerie made a comeback. In the 60s nightgowns were embellished with flowers, feathers and rhinestones. 

Rich with Gatsy-esque opulence, getting ready while wearing a feminine attire seems to be a forgotten art. But why not resurrect the tradition for Valentine’s Day? There is something incredibly feminine about sitting at a dressing table in an over-the-top dressing outfit, sipping champagne and lingering on makeup. In our rush, rush, rush, culture, lingering over anything longer than one hundred and forty characters is a forgotten luxury.

Below you will find examples of classic lingerie and peignoir sets from the 1950s and 60s. While some of these may seem over the top, they're a worth while purchase for any vintage lover. They may not be the most wearable but they lend some whimsy to your dressing room, even if you're using them for decor only (they look fab pinned to a wall).

(The last two images are from our online vintage shop on etsy. We discovered a mother load of never worn vintage lingerie we're featuring for Valentine's Day). 

The next essential aspect of a boudoir is a classic dressing table. From a practical standpoint, getting ready while sitting is far more comfortable than the alternative. Vintage vanities can usually be found in local antique stores, and you can always repaint to match your decor. Even in the worst condition a bit of sanding and a white wash can do wonders. Another option is to purchase a plain table with drawers, and mount an ornate, oversized mirror behind. 

Next is the actual vanity. You can find mirrored trays nearly everywhere. Again, if you love antiques, reasonably priced ones can be located at local antique malls. We've also seen beautiful ones by Nichole Miller and Cynthia Rowley at Home Goods (there is a new one in Boulder). Set a scene with a mix of vintage items (many pictured below are our family antiques) and favorite jewelry- basically things you love to look at. A couple of beautiful cosmetic items are a nice touch (but not too many, this isn't your cluttered makeup bag, it's a display). We can't get enough of Love and Toast perfume in Sugar Grapefruit and Scotch Naturals nail polish (which are totally non toxic and come in an array of perfect colors). Be sure to include a girly candle- we absolutely love Pacifica's French Liliac Soy which is a blend of lilac, Magnolia Leaves, Heliotrope, Ylang Ylang, Hyacinth and subtle notes of Nectarine. 

vanity scene .jpg

What to eat while getting ready? Normally, we wouldn't advocate eating a in bathroom for obvious reasons. But a boudoir is different, as it's your dressing room- i.e. a small corner of your bedroom. Being mindful of crumbs, nothing is more decadent than nibbling on a couple of macaroons before heading out (plus, who doesn't love a little sugar buzz?) Shop online from Laduree, the famous Manhattan outpost (we've witnessed with our own eyes people banging on the door after close, ravenous).  For a nice local alternative, head to Piece, Love and Chocolate, they do a good gluten free version. 

Last (but not least) cocktail offerings. While were not ones to advocate pre-gaming, the last time sipping champs hurt anyone was precisely never (in a a very un-scientific study conducted by us). Keep a bottle of our favorite, Veuve Clicquot, on hand for a special occasion. 

While you may not use your boudoir every day (lingering on yourself just doesn’t seem practical when you have to actually get to work, get to the gym and well, function) having a well kept dressing table nods to past times when getting dressed was an occasion. And that is something we can remember every day of the week.