I have a friend who named her first baby after the lingerie shop she frequented while pregnant, treating herself to underwear to fit her changing shape. I recently remembered this fact on a somewhat urgent post-baby, post-breastfeeding quest, and after fruitless visits to another lingerie purveyor and two department stores, I headed to Tallulah on Islington’s Cross Street.
All red walls and vintage furniture draped with lingerie, the small space, which opened in 2003, is imitate and inviting, with a retro pin-up vibe. The store’s impressive selection ranges from the French fancies of Chantal Thomass to the quality essentials of Hanro. “Our customer base is very broad,” says charismatic owner Nicola Adams, “from mothers bringing in their teenage daughters to my grandma, who is 96.” But it is the service and the fitting, most often by Adams herself, which really makes this shop shine.
On my visit, Adams swiftly whisked me into the changing room to establish my size. Within five minutes I was wearing a well-fitting (and surprisingly uplifting) lacy bustier-style bra (£39) by Passionata in a summery blue and jade, which I ended up buying along with matching knickers (£29). Given a box of styles in my size to rifle through at leisure, and encouraged to try on any I liked (“they won't all fit”), I settled on a Hunter-green silk and lace design by Mimi Holliday (£59) and a supremely sensible seamless nude lace bra from Wacoal (£45).
Other standout items included a blush silk set from Stella McCartney (bra £95; knickers £59, first picture) and pretty Aubade pairs in grey and pink floral patterns (bra £98; knickers £68). For the more theatrical shopper, there are vintage kimonos tasselled in devoré silk (£75-£89). “I love them because they remind of something from the 1920s,” says Adams. “They can be worn over a little black dress, over a slip, with jeans, over your swimsuit...” Also exuding pure Hollywood glamour are silk charmeuse gowns by Christine (£278, second picture). “I have a great relationship with the designer Christine Morton; I get to choose the colours from a selection of silks and lace, then they are handmade to order for us in Vancouver.”
The Christine gowns are one of the few items (along with Tallulah’s longstanding bestseller, the racy Pearl thong, £69) available online – but for the perfect fit you'll need to pay Tallulah a visit.