Review: In Intimate Detail, by Cora Harrington
When I did my Master’s degree and started to focus on underwear in my research, I discovered that there are a lot of books published on that topic (specifically on women’s underwear/lingerie), but the vast majority of them are little more than picture books. Although these can look very beautiful, many of them offer very little useful information and the photographs can very quickly look dated. It is for this reason that I have been looking forward to reading Cora Harrington’s first book, In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie, ever since she first announced it on The Lingerie Addict back in February. In that blog post, Cora said:
Over the last ten years of lingerie blogging, I’ve learned so much about intimate apparel, and this book shares what I know with you. Lingerie is a strange, confusing world. So much of the “information” out there is actually misinformation, rooted in myth and superstition. But fiction doesn’t help when it comes to making the right lingerie decisions for your taste, lifestyle, size, and budget. In Intimate Detail pulls back the curtain, sharing the kind of insider knowledge many experts take for granted.
There is so much useful information on Cora’s blog that I knew a book written by her would be extremely interesting. I also knew it would be inclusive, not least because she intentionally chose watercolour illustrations rather than photographs of models in lingerie, so that the reader can imagine themselves in the pieces. Cora has a very specific way of talking about lingerie, which avoids body snark and gendered language, meaning that her blog is a safe space for everyone interested in lingerie to join in discussions that won’t turn into a conversation about how bodies ‘should’ look or about sex. Choosing lingerie can sometimes be about sex, but the vast majority of the time it’s really not.
I had pre-ordered from Amazon and my copy arrived on the day of publication in the UK so, this weekend, I sat down to read it and decided to make the occasion into a real treat by wrapping myself up in a Kiss Me Deadly robe and brewing some of the fanciest tea in our kitchen. Taking time over the book meant I got to fully appreciate it, pouring over the five chapters on different types of lingerie – bras, underwear*, shapewear, hosiery, and loungewear – plus the two on shopping and how to look after your purchases.
Although there was a lot of information that I already knew, it’s extremely useful to have it all in one place – both as a handy reference for me, and also because this means it’s a great book for me to recommend to others who are a bit newer to the world of lingerie. The tone of the book is friendly and welcoming, so it won’t intimidate or patronise no matter what your current level of knowledge. It’s very rare to find a detailed resource with good bra fit advice that isn’t preachy, or that doesn’t use exclusionary language. This book will make you feel good about buying and wearing lingerie that you like, rather than shaming you into buying things that industry folk say you ought to want.
It’s also worth mentioning that this isn’t a book that’s only for slender young able-bodied white folk who were assigned female at birth and are 100% happy with that. This is a book for everyone who likes lingerie and wants to know more about it. Whatever your body type or shape, whether you’re buying lingerie for yourself or others, you will find something inside In Intimate Detail that will make you understand the joy that can come from underwear that looks and fits just the way you want it to.
Click on the image below for previews of more of the beautiful illustrations, plus links to all the places where you can buy the book online. Trust me, this is one lingerie book you won’t regret buying!
*This was one of the many things I learned from the book. I use the word ‘underwear’ as a catch-all term for undergarments designed for any gender, but apparently in the US this word only refers to women’s knickers/panties/briefs.