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What lies beneath... Cambodia's Lingerie

By: Tanja Wessels Posted: April-22-2008 in
Tanja Wessels

It all started a long time ago. I came out of my bedroom in a low-cut black dress and my new push-up bra. My French boyfriend at the time looked delighted and uttered something in his mother tongue. When I asked him to translate- he had surpassed my understanding of his language-he replied "in France we 'ave a saying: there are many people on ze balcony" gesturing to my cleavage and returning to his smile. I turned the colour of a fire hydrant. He was too busy smiling to notice.

That was my first and last night out with my Wonderbra. I prefer having conversations face-to-face and not face-to-chest. As well as retiring my push-up bra, the French boyfriend also left another lasting impression on me: whenever I'm in the presence of a generous cleavage I can't help but think of The Muppet Show and get images of the balcony full of all the characters in it. Oh dear- he has a lot to answer for.

Padded bra's have a similar Wonderbra effect on me- everything just feels full. And Cambodia is full of padded bras. I have heard people describe me as 'curvy', so I know that I represent 1% of the lingerie buying market in Cambodia, but that doesn't mean that I'm immune to a cute pair of knickers or a sexy bra.

I have also lived here long enough not to expect 'Agent Provocateur' labels on anything. However, given the importance of good support in under-garments, exploring the local options is a matter of duty.

O'Russei is a port of call. If I can shop here for inflatable pool-toys, shoes, incense sticks and pineapples- why not knickers? My question is soon answered when I reach the second floor and find a stall selling what I procure.

I actually found a lovely pair of fine, soft apricot-coloured knickers with an adorable satin bow that were just begging to come home with me. When I asked for a larger size the woman pointed to a pile of hideous cotton knickers big enough to set sail in. I felt confused- is there nothing in between minute and humongous, size wise? I checked all the labels, they read: "Size: Free". On some level 'out there' I guess that was the answer.

But confusion was not yet ready to subside. How many different ways of spelling "Calvin Klein" are there? At least 3: Celvin Klein, Celvin Kiain Jea, Calven Klain. Perhaps I should contact Klein's daughter who once famously complained that every time she got into bed with a man she had to read her father's name on his underwear. "Celvin Kiain Jea" should be far enough off the mark to keep her focused on the task at hand. What would they do with the name "Oscar de la Renta," I wonder?

As for the bra's with Hello Kitty on them: I have a fashion rule which states that (under no circumstances, ever) should Snoopy, Woodstock, Mickey, Minnie- or anyone else you used to love as a child or who can be described as 'cute' or 'fluffy' be on your lingerie as an adult. And I'm sure they agree. It's weird and wrong. Trust me- Smurfs have no place near your crotch or cleavage.

On the other end of the scale there are plenty of designs that can be described as 'adult' (very adult if you know what I mean): bright red with patterns and black lace that make the word 'toreador' come to mind. Or blue with green detail and lace that seems inspired by the sea... there is a lot to choose from if that type of thing floats your boat...

Threads clothing shop has a range of lingerie called 'Shenga' which is worth having a look at. Made by women in an NGO in Siem Reap they make silk lingerie with subtle designs in more muted colours. Under wired and unpadded, the sizes are right for foreign chests and alterations can be made for the perfect fit.

If simple, practical and cotton is what you're after for day-to-day use I would suggest heading to Citymart in Sorya Shopping Centre. They stock the label Triumph, and that's a pretty good choice in my experience. Citymart also stocks very cute Levi's boxer shorts for men- that is a relief, as I didn't have the courage to face men's underwear at O'Russei...

Threads 56 E1z, Boulevard Sihanouk (behind Java Café)
Psar O'Russei Street 182 2 Blocks East of Monivong
Sorya Shopping Centre No 13-61, Street 63


I will not be surprise if

I will not be surprise if Cambodia would lead Southeast Asia Countries in the fashion industry in the future.

user avatar Anonymous

Cambodia makes some VERY sexy

Cambodia makes some VERY sexy lingerie. I know first hand from my trip in 2005 when I was awestruck by the selection and quality of many shops I found... pretty much anywhere you go.


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