Beatriz Kaye
June 27, 2019 8:30 am
@figleavesofficial, Instagram

Growing inclusivity in the fashion industry is a blessing for people like me who love to strike a pose and love all of their jiggly parts. Clothing options are becoming more diverse and adventurous, although our lingerie options are still limited. Even when brands like Savage x Fenty offer plus-size options, they tend to be less risqué and colorful than the straight-size options offered in the same line. Fit is also a huge issue, especially when fast-fashion brands use cheaper materials and garment construction.

Frustrated with the lack of supportive, well-fitting, playful lingerie options available out there, I reached out to three plus-size lingerie brands to see how they’ve been tackling the technical fit and style issues prevalent in the industry.

London-based design house Playful Promises has been offering super cute plus-size lingerie options for years, notably through their collaboration with Gabi Fresh. Founder Emma Parker says, “At Playful Promises, our philosophy is that we make product with the same aesthetic across core and curve sizing so the design process is the same.” The design team makes sure styles are staying consistent across both ranges, while the technical team crosses the finish line by providing the right materials for support, such as “stronger, rigid liners, power meshes, wider elastics, and thicker gauge wires.”

Sometimes brands struggle with offering plus-size lingerie simply because the design process is so technical, time-consuming, and expensive. Prototypes are typically made in a sample size—typically size small or medium, or dress sizes 4 or 6—then computerized tools calculate measurements for other sizes. It’s almost like playing a game of telephone. If plus-size clothing is so far removed from the straight-size prototype, then we can’t expect the nuance of fit to be communicated clearly.

Moira Nelson, director of design and product development at Bare Necessities, uses her 20 years of expertise in the industry and her own experience as a plus-size bra wearer to inform the brand’s in-house line, Camio Mio. “We’re deeply engaged in the entire design, development and fit process, and have stringent quality requirements,” she tells me. “We fit numerous sizes on a variety of body types. Every style is fit multiple times, and corrections are made until it is perfected in each size.”

Physical retail space can also be a barrier to size-inclusivity. Brick-and-mortar stores have limited storage and merchandising space to be able to include as many sizes as possible. Time and time again, I’ve walked into stores only to be dismayed that I can’t actually try on the size that I need in the style I like. Lingerie and shapewear online retailer Figleaves is changing the game with over 130 sizes in bands 28-52 and cups A-K.

Zoe Norman, Figleaves’ lead lingerie buyer, says, “Because bras come in a huge range of sizes, when you combine the bands with the cups, it’s a hard category in terms of stock.” If you only carry three sizes of T-shirts, for example, it’s so much easier to keep track of how much inventory you have. But Figleaves’ band and cup options alone mean that they have to account for 132 different sizes in their inventory. “Since Figleaves is exclusively online, we have the benefit of ‘unlimited space,’ where we don’t have to worry about the constraints of a sales floor.”

While so many hurdles keep us from the provocative lingerie looks that plus-size women deserve, it’s encouraging to see brands working toward optimal fit within their entire size range. We can only hope that other brands are taking notes—because the job of making the lacy, mesh cups that are meant to cradle our boobies is no joke. Brands need to be showing us how precious our bodies are by designing lingerie with proper fit for all bodies, because, yes, they’re beautiful.