Some fashion designers have finally stepped out of the Stone Age and now create fashionable clothing, undergarments and lingerie for plus-size women. There is finally a smorgasbord of nice, colorful products that don't look like tents or muumuus. These larger-size pieces fit comfortably and, with a little knowledge beforehand, your choices won't be mistakes.
Get accurate measurements of your bust, waist and hip. Know your bra band size as well. Measure your bust by wrapping the tape all the way around at nipple level. If your bra straps are weak or your bra is old and doesn't support well, you might even need to add an inch or two. The bra band size falls at the bottom of the breast and around.
Your waist is your natural waist, the slimmest part of you, which is probably just slightly above the belly button. The hip is taken at the fullest part, so check a couple numbers and use the highest.
Incorrect measurements will mean buttons pulling open into smiles and wrinkle lines across your largest part. You want lingerie to cling or flow but not be tight.
Shop online with confidence only after you have examined the size chart. Plus-size friendly clothing lines like Always For Me, Lane Bryant and Just My Size won't fudge on numbers.
Know your shape. Some women are apples and all their weight is in the middle of their figures. Others are pears and feature large thighs or ample behinds. Column girls have very little waist and their size runs similar from bust to thighs.
Once you know your shape, it's easy to learn the rules to help accentuate what you want featured, and de-emphasize what you want minimized.
Take cues from your body type. Here are some suggestions.
Great bust line: Choose v-necked gowns, halter tops or Grecian-wrapped bodices. An empire waist begins to spill down from just under your breast---it's a high-waisted look and camouflages a larger belly. Look for articles that have good bra support such as an underwire. The higher your breast, the younger you look (and you may even stand straighter). Bustiers or corsets promise a sexier look, will lift and hold in the midsection---most have bones, lifts or strings---and aren't very comfortable.
Nice shoulders but heavy arms: Choose wide straps that drop straight down with folds or rushing. You may want a floating sleeve or a lace sleeve. Look at chemises or gowns with sleeves that are dolman, lantern or 3/4 cut. Avoid spaghetti straps.
If your waist makes you an hourglass shape, emphasize it by choosing garments that have bands, ties, color patterns or swatches of cloth at the waistline. In daytime wear it would be belts, buckles, and wraps but ornamentation might stand in for lingerie details instead.
For thighs with rolls or bumps, venture away from high-cut legs, thongs and the like, and choose long tap pants, full long pants, or floating wide-leg styles.
Pick colors that highlight your best features---make them light, rich or patterned. Choose dark, romantic hues to discourage eye detail. They are black, burgundy or navy.
Choose fabrics that work with you. Shiny satins, charmeuse and shiny velour show bumps, whereas a smooth jersey knit will not.
Look for stretch in satin, lace, nylon, knits and even heavier fabrics like velvet for winter. A fabric like straight cotton, silk, chiffon or jacquard are often not available with spandex or Lycra® and if they don't fit, you're out of luck.
Tips & Warnings
Toss preconceptions about size. There are no real standards when it comes to manufacturing clothes and each company embraces different numbers. You're looking for fit. Every fashionista knows that before you leave the building, check on the return policy. Take advantage of drawstring waists. Don't forget to check out shapewear, some of it is very lingerie-like. Don't be afraid of buying separates and making usual but unique pairings. And look at leisurewear which might fill in for mixables as well.