But do I really need a pair of edible knickers?

mail-order junkie

The mail-order catalogue is a licence to thrill, the chance to wave goodbye to floral waist-high briefs, chuck out the greying Y-fronts and ditch the pop-socks as you wait for the silken body stockings and contour-kissing bodysuits to slip quietly through your letterbox. Or so I thought.

Underwear catalogues are an affront to the senses, the process of selection in turns so dizzying or disgusting, the whole experience is enough to send one scampering to the shopping mall. Sleazy or dated, the choice is either bordello tack displayed by pouting, fleshy models, or post- war - which is panelled briefs and reinforced conical bras displayed by fixed-grin brunettes.

As for the men's range, gone are the days of boxers versus Y-fronts. The choice is a heady mix of T-top bodies, tangas, twin-strap strings, thongs and micro slips - all invariably modelled by wannabe gladiators. Red braces and boxer shorts with hearts on are clearly passe. The slingshot - "this season's most wanted cut-away body" - is a cross between a wrestling leotard and a G-string. Yours, boys, for only pounds 14.99 from the ever-surprising Burlington catalogue. NB: fake tan, clip-on muscles and P&P not included. The less sporty may prefer their cotton boxer shorts covered in cars (two for pounds 12.99). More classic boxer shorts are available from Boden, Hackett and Next, which also does American-style checks for pounds 8.99 and, for those wanting to look like something out of the Walton family on TV, there are button-fly trunks for pounds 8.99.

The advantage for women of the bumper catalogues (Empire, Littlewoods, Freemans) is the wide range: Burlington has some of the covetable Lepel range, while Empire does Felicia as well as the unforgettable Miss Mary of Sweden, whose zip-front corselet with stretch-satin front panel at pounds 51.99 is, quite simply, a vision in viscose.

If you can ignore the models in the Janet Reger catalogue, who stand about by washbasins, snarling and looking like extras in Dallas, the silk satin and French lace underwear is fancy and luxurious. It is the sort of stuff businessmen buy their lady friends for Christmas, but don't let that put you off. Far better that somebody should make the purchase for you, since the silk camisoles are a scorching pounds 128, the silk/satin bridal bustiers pounds 196; but these are a snip compared to the French-laced "mini slips" for pounds 299.

It is with a sigh of relief that I turn to the selection of exquisite bodies in the Kingshill Accessories Collection catalogue. The velvet layered body looks soft and slinky. It is called, mysteriously, a Tahiti, it is pounds 79 and a Must Have, as is everything from Hanro Direct, all stylishly understated and made of soft cotton.

Which is more than can be said of the goodies in the Anne Summers catalogue, most of which are made of nylon or polyester. But this is your Mecca for gold-studded nylon thongs, zip-fronted vests and velour basques, not to mention alligator posing pouches and strawberry-flavoured digestible knickers.

There is no denying it. Shopping for smalls by post is a perplexing affair. I do not know what is more embarrassing: to be caught ordering a pair of edible knickers from Ann Summers or a Playtex pantie girdle from Freemans. Perhaps I will not be chucking out those floral waste-huggers after all.

That's the doorbell. How I love this moment. I dash down the stairs and return with a huge box. It is the linen trouser suit I ordered last week from Boden. It is a beautiful royal blue, the linen is impressively weighty and the trousers so well cut they would flatter a treetrunk. But the jacket slopes off my shoulders. Back it goes into the box. No matter. The peppermint linen suit from Racing Green arrived this morning. It is cool and classic and fits like a glove.

Freemans 0345 900 100; Empire 0345 200 400; Burlington 0181-919 9123; Littlewoods 0181-919 9123; Kingshill 01494 890555; Janet Reger 0171-584 9360; Next 0345 100 500; Anne Summers 0181-763 0122; Hanro Direct 01234 241499; Boden 0181-964 2662; Racing Green 0345 3311177

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
people
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
people
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
Arts and Entertainment
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
tv'Friends' cafe will be complete with Gunther and orange couch
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Java Developer - 1 year contract

    £350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

    Junior Analyst - Graduate - 6 Month fixed term contract

    £17000 - £20000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

    SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

    £450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

    Project Manager - Pensions

    £32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

    Day In a Page

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone