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Plus Size Lingerie

Read about plus size lingerie and how to shop for these items.

Plus size lingerie comes in a variety of bra and underwear styles. [©Jupiter Images, 2010]
©Jupiter Images, 2010
Plus size lingerie comes in a variety of bra and underwear styles.

Generally speaking, plus size lingerie refers to undergarments, or intimate apparel, made to fit the bodies of women who wear clothing sizes 14 and above, although some sizing charts start at size 12. Lingerie can mean something as basic as a brassiere or pair of panties, or as exotic as a leather teddy and fishnet stockings.

Shopping for Lingerie

Some standards hold true for all sizes of lingerie, say Anna Wallner and Kristina Matistic of the television show "The Shopping Bags." In an article for Fine Living, they recommend buying high-quality items. French lingerie is considered the best, as it will stand up to repeated washing and wearing. Lace items should feel smooth, yet scratchy, and return to their normal shape when stretched. Good quality silk feels heavy and drapes easily over the body's curves.

Buying the right size bra is both essential and sometimes difficult, according to BiggerBras.com. Many women buy bras with either the wrong band size or the wrong cup size. Besides creating an ill-fitting look, this can also lead to discomfort and health problems, such as headaches and back aches. Accurate measurements across the fullest part of the chest and just under the breasts will help to locate the right size, which may vary depending on brand.

Important things to check at the fitting of a bra include:

  • The band touches the breastbone
  • The band does not rise up in back
  • Nothing bulges over the top of the cup
  • The straps neither droop nor cut into the shoulders

Challenges of Buying Plus Size Lingerie

Some larger women may have a tendency to cover their bodies, so even shopping for everyday lingerie can be difficult. Therefore, whether it is worn underneath clothing or by itself, it is particularly important for plus size lingerie to be as flattering as possible to the larger figure.

A further challenge to a plus-sized woman shopping for lingerie is to find it in a department store that offers a range of sizes. Standing next to a smaller-sized woman while looking for clothes can be intimidating, and sometimes the sales clerks do not understand the challenges of the larger-size figure. Thus, a good place to buy plus size lingerie is at a specialty store that focuses on plus size clothing, such as Lane Bryant.

Shopping online is a tempting option for those who do not feel comfortable going to a store to try on lingerie. However, this can offer another pitfall—some Web sites that offer plus size lingerie only show pictures of smaller-sized models, so the shopper doesn't know how an item will look on the larger body. A safer bet for online purchases are Web sites like Lane Bryant, About Curves or Catherine's, which all feature larger women modeling the lingerie. This ensures that the buyer knows how each item will look on a plus-sized figure.

The Right Lingerie for Every Body Type

There are ways to select plus size lingerie to flatter any body type. For example, dark colors such as black, draw attention away from the body part they cover, while bright or light colors emphasize these parts. Thus, a good rule for plus size lingerie is to choose black for areas women wish to downplay, while choosing bright or light colors for areas women wish to highlight.

Thicker straps are superior to spaghetti straps for minimizing broad shoulders or heavy arms. Short or cap sleeves on nightwear also may help disguise this feature. Opaque fabrics can also give coverage while still providing a smooth and silky silhouette.

There are several ways to alter the appearance of legs in lingerie. First, women with short legs should consider short lingerie pieces, such as those with high-cut legs. The more leg that shows, the longer the legs look. Wide skirts or lingerie with ruffles can minimize larger thighs and wide hips.

Wallner and Matistic recommend two-piece lingerie ensembles for plus-sized women in order to get a more flattering shape than a one-piece might give. These ensembles could include a camisole set with tap pants or a babydoll nightie with bikini (not G-string) panties.

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