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"Your husband called ... he said to buy anything you want."

That’s the message on a discreet sign inside Bella Lingerie, a lavish boutique in Bay Ridge, but as Valentine’s Day is here, it’s also a reminder to those husbands, boyfriends - and girlfriends - who waited until the very last minute to run (don’t walk) and buy some sexy underthings for the ladies they love.

To further cut to the lace, let us guide you through the frilly labyrinth of choices available in Brooklyn.

At year-old Bella Lingerie, owners and sisters-in-law Carla and Jessica Catanzaro maintain a gift registry - or database - of their customers’ sizes and wish lists. So if your Juliet is already a Bella customer, they may already know what she’s secretly hoping for.

If you’d like your gift to be a complete surprise, Bella Lingerie is brimming with every possible incarnation of boudoir-wear, whether your lady’s the flannel pajama type (now 50 percent off!) or a daring diva - the G-strings by Gossard with sparkling crystal accents are a MUST ($27-$36). We suspect the "G" is short for your predictable reaction when she tries it on: "Goodness gracious!"

"And they’re comfortable, because they lay flat on the skin," points out practical Carla.

The Catanzaro gals are glad to help guide you through the array of temptations in silk, lace and ribbons: the Loungewear Betty marabou-bedecked baby doll sets (y’know, what the Fembots were wearing in "Austin Powers"?) are fun in demure pink or femme fatale black ($100 for set); the Mary Green red silk chemise is flatteringly trimmed in black lace, with matching robe ($63, $127 respectively); and the delightfully ruffled, mischievously revealing, black Arianne camisole ($40), embroidered with hearts, can be paired with matching thong boy short ($22), and it’s both gorgeous and affordable.

"We try to carry all the lines found in Manhattan stores," explains Carla. "We have a lot of French, Italian and American lingerie - a nice mix." Bella Lingerie carries sizes XS to 3X.

If your special lady is a label-conscious gal, the fuchsia bra ($97) with matching thong ($55) from Aubade is an extravagant, lacy combo with fashion-forward accents that will surely get her attention - and yours, too.

Carla reports that one of their hottest sellers has been the side-tie thongs ($21) by Mary Green, made from the tiniest bits of silk fabric - in a variety of colors and patterns - fastened on the sides with wide, satin ribbons. We fear they could be easily unfastened.

Oh my.

If the woman of your dreams is an old-fashioned kind of gal, perhaps she’d be impressed by a gift of lingerie from Olive’s Very Vintage in Carroll Gardens.

"We have vintage lingerie and clothing for the fun, sophisticated and sexy woman," said Olive’s stylist and saleswoman Melissa Canella of this nearly 3-year-old store. Olive’s is popular with vintage clothing collectors and fashion designers, too, she says.

While Olive’s doesn’t sell panties, this upscale boutique offers a variety of lingerie primarily from the 1940s and ’50s, including girdle-garters, silk nightgowns, robes, high-waisted tap pants (a precursor of sorts to boy shorts), slips, strapless bras and bullet bras.

Yes, bullet bras.

They were popular in the 1950s, explains Canella, and made popular again by Madonna in her heyday. These conically shaped brassieres are made from fabric that was pieced together, to achieve a firm, pointy silhouette in that age before Spandex and Lycra.

"Everything is cleaned and in excellent condition," Canella assures of the mostly silk collection of garments. And Olive’s stockings and thigh-highs are new, not used. The lingerie ranges in price from $30 and up for brassieres to $125 for full-length, silk nightgowns.

And if you’re not sure how your lady love’s size translates to mid-20th century sizes, the sales staff, led by owner Jen McCulloch, can assist - or you can always spring for that perennial favorite: jewelry.

But ask the staff for help anyway, because there are more delectable 1980s bras by Bob Mackie to be discovered, as well as corsets and other fabulous items squirreled away in bureau drawers.

Now if your Juliet has been very naughty this year - or you’d like to be - perhaps a visit to Park Slope’s Pink Pussy Cat Boutique is in order. This small store has everything from black and cream lace or zebra striped chemises ($29.99 and up), to vibrant bra and thong sets bedecked with butterflies ($9.99 and up) to a latex black-and-white nun habit, aptly called "Bad Habit" ($74.99).

And Pink Pussy Cat has all of those recreational accessories that you may need after proffering the lingerie. Pussy Cat’s salesperson cheerfully points out the best and bestselling products guaranteed to arouse interest in a romantic tryst: peach- and cherry-flavored Emotion Lotions ($9.99), Hot Body Paints ($14.99) for the artistically inclined, Pleasure Plus condoms ($6.99), pink Dirty Dice ("for role playing," $5.99) and the Kama Sutra Collection of massage oils, a feather duster and more ($79.99).

And here’s one last tip for the boys: Don’t forget to pick up a Valentine’s Day card.


Bella Lingerie [8517 Third Ave. between 85th and 86th streets in Bay Ridge, (718) 238-4759] also offers bridal gift registry and bridal gift wrapping services. Bella Lingerie is open Mondays from noon to 6 pm, Tuesdays through Saturdays 11 am to 7 pm. Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 11 am to 8 pm. Closed Sundays.

Olive’s Very Vintage [434 Court St. between Second and Third places in Carroll Gardens, (718) 243-9094] is open Mondays through Fridays noon to 8 pm; Saturdays 11 am to 8 pm and Sundays 11 am to 7 pm.

Pink Pussy Cat Boutique [355 Fifth Ave. between Fourth and Fifth streets in Park Slope, (718) 369-0088] is open Sundays through Thursdays 2 pm to 8 pm; Fridays and Saturdays 2 pm to midnight.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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