News & Runway

Even If I Were A Nun, I’d Be Wearing Lingerie: A Revealing Chat with Journelle’s Claire Chambers

I've written about lingerie in the past, describing my less-than-impressive drawer and reluctance to purchase pretty little things when "in the buff" suits me just fine. And in the time that's passed between then and now, I've grown a little older (and wiser?), made a little cash, even started dating someone I actually like. But my panty POV? Still the same.

Which is why Journelle CEO Claire Chambers is so intriguing. Sure, she's gorgeous on the outside but what lies just beneath is equally so — and that's her M.O., not anyone else's.

Julie Bensman: How'd you get into the lingerie game?

Claire Chambers: I've always loved lingerie, but choosing to create a career out of it was really a consumer desperation move. I just couldn't find the type of lingerie shopping experience I wanted, and I thought that was ridiculous in a city full of amazing retail stores. I started questioning my friends and once I realized that nearly every woman I spoke to was dissatisfied as well, I became obsessed with building a better experience.

JB: Why invest in something only a few people will see?

CC: I've never really understood that thinking. To me, it's a dignity thing. I feel polished and powerful when I wear great lingerie, and if someone else sees it, it's a bonus. Even if I were a nun, I'd be wearing lingerie.

JB: When it comes to underpinnings, does price really impact quality?

CC: Price does matter in lingerie, because bras, in particular, are highly technical pieces, but that doesn't mean you have to spend hundreds of dollars. Making sure the fit is great and the fabrics are good quality should be your first priority on any lingerie purchase. I, myself, tend to save on sleepwear, favoring moderately-priced nighties from Eberjey and investing selectively in lingerie statement pieces I can't live without.

JB: What's the biggest mistake people make when shopping for lingerie?

CC: Assuming they have to buy nude-colored T-shirt bras for everyday wear. We find that a lot of American women think this way, and it's partially because there has historically been distinction between "lingerie" and "underwear." If lingerie were comfortable, wearable and practical, why wouldn't you want to wear it every day? We're in the business of trying to help women understand that pieces they might have thought were for special occasions are actually just fine for any day of the week.

JB: What's new at Journelle?

CC: Spring 2013 is an amazing season for lingerie. I'm anxiously awaiting our first shipments from affordable, fun Parisian line Princesse tam tam after their multi-year hiatus from the U.S. market, as well as super-luxurious lounge pieces with terrific details from a new brand called Minuit Douze. I also have my eye on a super-soft short PJ set from Eberjey being recolored in a Tiffany blue that's just perfect for a spring weekend in the country.

See, now Claire's onto something: Incentive via vacation bribery. Maybe I'll give this whole lingerie thing another go…