Five Ways To Improve Plus Size Lingerie Sales For Your Retail Business

Plus Size Lingerie Sales Advice

“Today I’m giving out some tips to help retailers connect with plus size customers – just in time for holiday lingerie marketing season!”

an image of Holly Jackson of Cottage Copyby Holly Jackson

Holly Jackson is a online copywriter and lingerie columnist. She can be found blogging at her website or on working on her goal of filling up an entire closet with lingerie on Twitter @fullfigurechest.

Whenever people ask me about marketing to plus size women, my usual answer is that it’s complicated. On the whole, plus size shoppers are a sensitive bunch. Everyone has a story about a store that treated them like less than a person due to their size or told them that there weren’t any fashionable items made for them, which often makes women reluctant to try new stores or brands. Plus size women are much more likely to buy from a store that seems plus size friendly, which can be hard to convey through store displays or over the internet. Today I’m giving out some tips to help retailers connect with plus size customers – just in time for holiday lingerie marketing season!

1. Use plus size images for plus size inventory.

Angela Friedman Corset 5

Above: Corset by Angela Friedman.

This one seems like a no-brainer, but it’s one of the biggest issues I see when I work with online retailers. Images are important to customers for two reasons: it helps them picture themselves in the lingerie and also makes a statement about your business. Even if the corset you’re advertising comes in both plus sizes and regular sizes, putting up the non-plus size picture for both listings means that your customer is assuming that you don’t cater to them or that you don’t want their business.

This extends to things like in-store displays. Featuring a new seasonal line? Mix up your pictures so they show size diversity. Make sure you’re using a set of diverse images that is front and center – if a plus size customer walks by, they need to see that you carry a range of sizes to be encouraged to come in.

2. Make friends with plus size bloggers.

Georgina Horne founder of the Fuller Figure Fuller Bust Blog

Above: Georgina Horne founder of the Fuller Figure Fuller Bust Blog.

Bloggers are driving more website traffic than ever and lingerie bloggers are thriving. If you’re promoting your plus size offerings online, try contacting bloggers to see if they’ll review a piece. Many bloggers take fantastic pictures that will help you promote your business while showing your lingerie on someone who is not a model. It’s an easy way to advertise your customer service and your inventory, all while gaining new fans and followers from the blogger in question.

Tia Lyn Lingerie Convertible Cami Tia Lyn Lingerie Convertible Cami 1

Above: Tia Lyn Lingerie’s 3-in-1 Convertible Slip from her new Essential Collection.

A note on working with bloggers in any size range – make sure that you’re available to answer size questions in conjunction with sample offers. Bloggers want to find items that will fit and look great to show your business in the best possible light, so make sure you’re available to help them find the right fit for them.

Jennifer of Magnifique Lingerie is a fan of this strategy. “We have promoted lingerie that included plus sizes before and that was by having a blogger review our lingerie. It was a great way to have people of all sizes read about lingerie that was not just about the model wearing it.” she says.

3. Be supportive, but don’t make assumptions.

Creme Bralee Bettina in Blue

Above: Crème Bralée’s Bettina in Blue. Learn more about Crème Bralée HERE.

Michelle of Karnation Lingerie has one rule – “Never make an assumption about a customer when they walk in the door.” she says. Instead of steering customers to one section of the store, fitters should ask what type of item someone is looking for and then ask for the size they normally wear. “No one wants to feel judged, which is how women feel when you drag them off to the plus size only section right away.” says Michelle. Make sure you’re focusing on fulfilling the customer’s desires rather than categorizing them by size.

Many plus size women are terrified of being treated like a problematic size range rather than like a person, so make sure that your store or online content is welcoming and body positive. Show pictures of diverse size ranges in trendy and fashionable items and make it clear that you run a business that caters to everyone.

4. Help plus size customers expand their horizons.

Erica at A Sophisticated Pair is an expert at helping plus size customers feel comfortable in her store. “Our plus size customers are some of our best customers!” says Erica. “They come to us frustrated not only by how mainstream stores do not carry a range of sizes but also by how they are often treated as second class shoppers because of their size. As a former plus size woman myself, I can recall the feelings of shame and disappointment which accompanied many of my shopping trips.  At our store, we focus on promoting body positivity and on not making women feel bad about themselves or how they look. 

Seven til Midnight 9778X_RED_F Seven til Midnight 9778X_RED_B

Above: Holiday Plus Size offerings from Seven til Midnight. See their entire holiday collection HERE.

We also encourage our customers to try new styles.  So many of our plus size customers are accustomed to choosing from black, beige, or white bras that they do not even realize there is a world of color, print, and texture available to them. To market this, we keep all of our manufacturers’ catalogs on a coffee table in the sitting area.  During the testing phase of our customers’ appointments, I hand them the catalogs to peruse, and many are shocked by how gorgeous the matching sets and lingerie pieces can be.  We then explain our fashion pre-order system where they can reserve items of their choosing for no money down and no obligation to buy if the item fails to meet their expectations. Some of our customers plan out purchases for the year based solely on the fashion styles releasing each season.”

Claudette SS14 bardot hot coral Claudette SS14 fishnet blondie pin up knickers

Above and from left: Claudette’s Bardot in Hot Coral and Blondie. See more of Claudette’s SS14 collection here.

Many plus size customers feel that there is nothing out there for them beyond ugly plain lingerie, so make sure you’re actively introducing them to new products that are fun and flattering. You’ll gain a long time customer as well as all of their friends!

5. Stop using awkward euphemisms for plus size.

Curvy Couture Silver Lagoon Embroidery Unlined Underwire & Hipster-707

Above: Curvy Couture’s Silver Lagoon Embroidery Unlined Underwire Bra and Hipster from their SS14 collection.

This is a major pet peeve of mine as a copywriter and a lingerie customer – there’s no reason to repeatedly refer to larger women as a “voluptuous goddess” multiple times in your product descriptions just to avoid using the term plus size. Beyond the whole thing messing up your SEO, it reads as fake and awkward. After all, if you really loved plus size women you wouldn’t have a problem talking about them, right?

This article was an Yahoo ages ago and is a fascinating read about how the plus size market is changing. Plus size customers are buying more, demanding equally trendy options and embracing their size in droves. More importantly, they’re embracing the idea of being plus size or full figured. Give plus size women the respect they deserve and use the same terms that they do.

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14 Comments on “Five Ways To Improve Plus Size Lingerie Sales For Your Retail Business

  1. Avatar saloma says:

    I am plus size and I liked this informative and good post. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Avatar Linda Jobson says:

    Hi Holly, I love reading your blogs, they are very informative and helpful. I am not a retail outlet, I custom make bras and I believe over 50% of my clients are plus size ladies! I get such a buzz when they walk out of my workroom in their new bra rather than me wrap it for them!! Have an awesome week. Linda

    • Avatar Holly says:

      Thanks Linda! I think that’s great that your customers are so happy – having been the woman walking out of the store in her new bra, I know what a great feeling that is.

  3. Avatar Lisa R says:

    Your tip that you should show plus size women in images when trying to sell plus size lingerie is a no brainer but that does not mean all wholesalers agree or get it. It is a no brainer but for a variety of reasons some wholesalers simply don’t get it. Years ago customers made it clear that they were sensitive and aware that we occasionally used regular sized model images on plus size products. Not smart, to say the least. While it may be a matter of economics, I agree that failing to use proper images sends the wrong message. Further we often have wholesalers that make a “sexy” style for regular sized women, but fail to make the same product for plus size gals! Try explaining that to a woman who loves the product but is told that we cannot get it in their size. Does not make for a happy camper!

    • Avatar Holly says:

      I agree, Lisa! I know that some of this is filtered down from wholesaler images and I don’t understand why it isn’t universal at this point. I know there is a cost associated with extra photos, but surely wholesalers realize that an image in each size range helps their retailers sell more – it seems really obvious.

  4. Avatar Beth says:

    Great article! Thanks for this perspective and the tip on connecting with plus size bloggers. I’m an online retailer and find it difficult to find wholesalers who offer every piece in both regular and plus size, with plus size models in the photos. So many lingerie lines are offered in such a narrow range of sizes. There are a few great brands who are doing a great job with plus size lingerie and imagery, but I sure wish more would get with the program!

  5. Avatar Janna says:

    i really enjoyed reading through this article , and you are definitely right plus size women deserve to be respected !!

  6. Avatar Michele says:

    Awesome article Holly! My name is Michele Savin and I created my plus size store to cater to the full figure woman because most of all of my friends are plus size. I never realized how difficult it was to find nice lingerie or how very few stores actually carried a variety of it. If and when you found it they had 5 or 6 items to choose from and they were not appealing at all. I saw the disappointment in my friends eyes. I also had no idea of the statistics of plus size women in the USA and how few retailers actually do pamper these women. My friends were my inspiration. It was because of these fabulous women that I sought out the best designs where they actually used plus size models and had an array of colors, styles and sizes 1X-4X. My store, Simply Luscious Lingerie is a place where women can go to shop in the privacy of their own home. We sell exclusively to the curvaceous woman. We offer plus size wholesale lingerie including bridal lingerie, honeymoon lingerie, wedding lingerie, and a medley of full figure undergarments. I’d love any suggestions that you might have that would assist me in bringing more to my store to make women happy? I do truly value your opinion and I love reading your blog. Thank you for the inspiration!


  7. […] Jackson, recently noted in her latest retail advice column that, “Plus size women are much more likely to buy from a store that seems plus size […]

  8. Avatar Lidia says:

    Great article Holly, some fantastic tips.

    I also wish suppliers would use a more varied range of sizes for their photography, it is so annoying..
    From next year we will start doing our own photography. We want our stockings to be appealing to all women!

  9. Avatar Judalle says:

    Hi Holly
    As a sales assistant in a woman’s intimate wear store in south africa were 80 % of women are plus size I really love your adice .Thanks a lot .

  10. Hi Holly.

    Great article. Spot on, we’re an online bridal store and agree whole heartedly with Beth & Lidia that wholesalers don’t often use plus size models for their plus size ranges. We’ll be launching our own bridal lingerie range this summer and we’re starting with 2 plus size wedding bras before moving into the core sizes, finding a plus size model for our images is going to be key for us. Great article again!

  11. Avatar Tammy says:

    I love this article, and it’s confirmation that Big Plus Fashions is on the right track! Please visit our Facebook page to see what the craze is about in Peoria, Arizona!

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