St. Valentine, the patron saint of lovers, may not have been thinking about the "genie suit" in ancient Rome around 496 A.D., but over at Frederick's of Hollywood lingerie shop, the genie outfit is a big seller for Valentine’s Day.
Frederick's manager Jimmy Madden looks at Valentine's Day like other stores look at the December holiday season.
"The red genie outfit is a good seller. When it gets around the holiday [Valentine’s Day], the costume outfits are big," he said. This year, he pointed to a black baby doll top: "That's one of the hot items right now."
Deborah Stine wandered in with her infant twins, a boy and a girl. She noted the role lingerie plays at Valentine's as well.
"This is better than a box of chocolates, and I love chocolates," she said. "Something that would make a women feel sexy. You can't go wrong, especially the robes."
Women weren't the only recipients of gifts from Frederick’s, Madden said.
"The male G-strings, they're all gone," he said.
Most of them are emblazoned with hearts in one form or another. That's a sure sign for Valentine's Day, but Stine wasn't convinced.
"I think the hearts are cheesy," she said.
Victoria's Secret spokesperson Sarah Tervo noted the evolution of lingerie. Valentine's Day is a big season for the Ohio-based organization as well.
"Lingerie is much more personal, much more exciting and romantic," she said, comparing it to roses and chocolate, "something a little more unique for that special holiday."
This year, their line is the "Very Sexy" collection, with top sellers being silk nightgowns and robes. Lingerie is a more significant part of the wardrobe than in years past.
"Lingerie we really see as a part of a woman's wardrobe. There's so much more now involved with lingerie," Tervo said.
Judy Ryan, namesake of Judy Ryan's of Fairfax boutique, specializes in white, cotton nightgowns that are popular at Valentine’s. It's not only from man to woman, either.
"As much for a mother to daughter. Men tend to buy flowers at 6 o'clock on Friday evening," she said.
PAMPERING ranks high on the intimate list, as well. Over at Beau Totale, manager Susan Iacharuso had a lot of appointments lined up for spa treatments, pedicures and other pampering specialties. Those are big around Valentine's Day as well, with gift certificates being a big seller.
"Lingerie is a big gift guys give on Valentine's Day," she said.
The short lives of roses and chocolates are drawbacks to that tradition, she noted.
"An experience from a product can be enjoyed over time. Gifts that create a ritual are timeless," she said.
Fairfax Station's Shapes Salon and Day Spa manager Melinda Naff specializes in pampering, as well.
"It's probably one of our biggest gift-certificate times," she said. "We're already booked."
The pampering at Shapes is a specialty. One look at the massage rooms, the whirlpool, the pedicure and shower room indicates their popularity.
"A six-headed shower, can you imagine? We have some couples that come together," she said.
A teachers work day enabled Ashleigh Hall, 18, to use her gift certificate. She was in getting her second pedicure. She's a senior at Robinson Secondary School, and the pedicures were a birthday present from her mother. Although she didn't know anyone who received such a gift for Valentine's, "I can see people doing it," she said.
Naff has seen the smiles after a husband gives a gift certificate for a pedicure or massage to his wife.
"There's nothing more personal than giving someone a massage. It's amazing, their reactions," she said.