An Intimate Affair
By Kayli Hertel
When stepping into the tranquil ambiance that is Forty Winks, an exquisite lingerie boutique tucked into Harvard Square, customers are greeted by lacy underthings placed delicately upon a rustic table. Beautiful items of all colors, sizes, and trends line the whitewashed walls as two stylish women welcome you to their store. The owners, Meredith Donaldson and Rachel Wentworth, opened the shop in April 2010 after having had enough of lackluster experiences at department stores.
“There aren’t a lot of lingerie boutiques like this in the area, and we had found that our friends and ourselves were always looking for that,” said Wentworth of the boutique’s inception. Forty Winks is an expression for a catnap, but the name adds an air of flirty fun and mystery to the boutique. Forty Winks acts as a solution for the area’s haute couture lingerie needs. The boutique does not limit itself; there are also swimsuits and a variety of accessories to peruse. Included in these accessories are care products, hosiery, and other essentials.
From the moment you walk in, you cease being a client and become a close friend. Donaldson, Wentworth, and the rest of the staff create an atmosphere where immediate assistance is a top priority. “We give every person that comes in a really unique and helpful start-to-finish experience,” said Wentworth.
Fittings are a crucial part of the Forty Winks visit. These fittings can be scheduled or walk-in. First, Wentworth will inquire about bra measurements and provide customers with an item in a sister-size from the store. A conversation begins about style preference, favorite colors, and the purpose of the bra. Often, women provide the wrong size. However, Wentworth advises and reassures every step of the way.
Once a decision is made, customers will create a profile. This profile acts as a record for sizes and cuts, so that whenever a woman goes bra shopping, it is easier to recall what felt best.
As a high-end lingerie boutique, it is only fitting to have designer name pieces on hand. Stella McCartney, DKNY, and Calvin Kline are a few of the brands that are available within the shop. “Chantelle, Natori, and Elle Macpherson are among our best selling bra brands,” said Donaldson. Wentworth commented on both underwear and sleepwear. “For underwear, we sell a ton of Hanky Panky and Cosabella. Felina and Eberjey reign supreme for comfy, pretty sleepwear.”
Twice a year, the pair travels to New York City to a buying show to check out the latest trends in intimate fashion. After returning from a show early this March, they revealed that there were plenty of strong designs. “Designers are focusing more on adding subtle details to their lingerie – interesting hardware, color contrasts, strappy details, etc. – than we’ve seen in the past,” said Wentworth. Donaldson chimed in about the new lines they are exploring, such as the “Australian line Lonely and L’Agent, which is Agent Provocateur’s boutique brand.”
There are also various accessories on the sturdy oak piece by the checkout. On the shelves are bra extension clips, Spanx products, and wash solutions made for undergarments. While washing panties in the washing machine is a safe option, doing the same with bras is not. Donaldson noted, “Even if you use the bag, regular detergents have harsher chemicals than a bra really needs.” Proper care is crucial, especially due to the elasticity in bras. “A few of the products we carry have special ingredients that help strengthen elastic just so your bra will last longer,” said Donaldson.
Soak and The Laundress are the two detergent brands that the store carries. According to Donaldson, both brands “contain hypo-allergenic, gentle ingredients so they’re good to your skin as well as your lingerie.” For those who want long-lasting bras and panties, these products will do the job right. In addition to having a formula meant to keep elasticity in undergarments, both products are priced fairly. Soak and The Laundress both come in different sizes, all under $20.
Forty Winks is a perfect fit for most budgets. The average bra price ranges from $60 to $100, depending on the designer and style. The price depends on the brand, but it is worth the expense. When going to Forty Winks, customers pay for the whole experience as well as the garments purchased. “It’s our hope that everyone who comes into our store has a great customer service experience and leaves with undergarments they feel great in,” said Wentworth. So far they have had nothing but fond approval.