Big girls love pretty lingerie, but finding it used to be a tall order for La Belle Bountiful.
No longer. Sales of intimate apparel for women of the stature of TV's "Designing Woman" Delta Burke, "Babes" Susan Peretz, Wendie Jo Sperber and Lesley Boone, are zooming. According to the Plus Designers Council, whose 11 members include designers such as Nancy Heller, of Givenchy En Plus, more than 35 million American women wear size 14 and up. That's about one-third of the adult female population.
"Large-size women have waited a long time for elegant designer fashions," says image consultant Liz Dillon. "We have the right to look as good as our thinner sisters."
With the $10 billion large size market growing at a rate of 25 to 35 percent per year, the group represents enough buying power to make designers and retailers stand up and take notice.
So now, alongside the traditional muumuus and caftans, there is an array of alluring underwear, sexy sleepwear and downright erotic stuff in large-size catalogues and specialty shops.
A trip to Lerner Woman turns up floral charmeuse pants, silky nightshirts and stretch lace leggings and tops. Hot stuff! And at the Forgotten Woman, one of the forerunners of fashions for the larger woman, tapestry and velvet robes in long lengths, at $480, are a big seller. And a shawl-collared, satin-finished tunic and pants, by Surrender Dorothy, in paisley, copper, red, royal blue and black, at $160, is being touted as a favorite emsemble.
In the Just Right! catalogue (1-800-767-6666), a pretty lace bra and matching bikini, from Vanity Fair, in red, black or white, looks just like one of the company's most popular styles in regular sizes. Here, it can be ordered in sizes up to 46 DD bras and 3X panties which fit 50-53 hips. And Olga's peignoir set in blue nylon/Lycra with a sweeping matching robe is another catalogue showpiece at $44 for the gown and $50 for the robe. Just Right is based in Beverly, Mass.
Frederick's of Hollywood (1-800-323-9525) lists its large size as a 14-16-18. But for those bountifully blessed, there are four special pages devoted to seductive underwear and underwires that go up to a G cup.
A sexy satin teddy in black, red, royal, purple, fuchsia or jade can fit busts up to 56 inches in the Cincinnati-based Personally Yours catalogue (1-800-477-9406). The brochure is devoted entirely to lingerie for the full figured woman.
Oh! Such Style, based in San Antonio, Texas (512-490-5895), also has a big selection of intimate apparel.