Let’s face it, when it comes to sexy lingerie, the mental picture that comes to mind for most people is usually the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, with stick-thin models and skimpy underwear.

But what happens to large plus-sized women who also want sexy lingerie?

For most people, the concept is unheard of. Many large women often struggle to find underwear that is not limited to granny panties, oversized bras and generally unattractive undergarments.

Why can’t large women also have sexy, lace and barely there underwear options like their skinny figured sisters?

This is the exact question that propelled 28-year-old boutique owner Boipelo Makobe to do something about it.

Makobe recently launched a range of plus-sized lingerie, designed for large women starting from size 40.

Her store, called EDSN, is in Hatfield, Pretoria.

Makobe works with a team of tailors who turn her sketches into the finished product. She says the underwear is custom made, so they measure a client’s bust, hips and waist to fit your body to a T.

The clients also choose if they want extra padding or a “push-up” effect to enhance their bosom.

Makobe says she got the brain spark of the range when she noticed how her friends and family struggled to find the right underwear for their figures.

“Seeing young members of my family having to wear boring underwear because they struggled to get a size from other brands which make sexy lingerie, and also seeing women walking with bra straps digging into their shoulders, made me want to do something about it.

“Since I already make clothes for plus-sized women, I just decided to make women beautiful from the inside out.”

How large does it get? “My range starts from women who are a size 40, and a bust from cup size D. People often laugh when I tell them my panty sizes go up to 7XL!”

But this is true. Makobe has designed underwear for a woman who required size 7XL, making it clear that her range caters to all large women, regardless of size.

“The range was created because I believe everyone deserves to look and feel sexy no matter their size or shape. The range is specifically for plus-size ladies with curves and a big bust. The panties start from size large till 7XL. It’s custom made lingerie to ensure that every time a person places an order they can get a matching set in any type of panty they prefer, for example a G-string or high cut. We use beautiful luxurious lace. Some of the bras have cushioned straps for extra comfort. Clients can order from anywhere in SA, and the order process is very easy. So no more granny looking panties or sets that don’t match,” she says.

Makobe says large women should realise that they are also sexy, and should not be apologetic about wanting to wear sexy lingerie.

“Who said when you are a plus-size you don’t want to feel sexy? There are a lot of men who appreciate plus-size ladies so I’m sure they would appreciate seeing them in sexy lingerie. Sexy is not a certain size, especially for Africans. We are very gifted when it comes to ample thighs, hips, backsides and boobs, and we should be able to embrace that.”

But for the more coy and shy large-sized woman who might want some coverage, Makobe says her range also offers more conservative options of underwear.

Makobe says what also makes her range unique is how much support it offers, as well as the padded bra straps, which makes a huge difference as one of the things larger women struggle with is the straps digging into their skin.

Her collection is priced from R599 a set, and she can cater to any woman from cup size D to H.

Plus-sized models take over runways

THE fashion industry has certainly come a long way and shifted its mind-set since the days when fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld controversially said: “What I designed was fashion for slender and slim people.”

High fashion has certainly embraced body diversity, and plus-sized models are being booked for major campaigns now more than ever.

THE GAME CHANGERS

South African fashion designers Quiteria and George have been vocal about real-sized women being beautiful in couture too, and made a point of hiring real sized models and brand ambassadors for their showcases. People such as Dineo Moeketsi, Tamara Dey and Thando Thabethe have all walked for the design duo.

– Toccara Jones

She was the first black plus-sized model to be on the cover of Vogue. Jones has also graced the covers of Ebony and Elle Girl, and has landed major campaigns like Rocawear and Ashley Stewart.

– Tess Holliday

She has taken plus-sized modelling and shoved it in the fashion critics’ faces!

Instead of being the average sized plus-size models of 16, Holliday is a size 26!

This successful model has walked the runway for designers that skinny models can only dream of, and was named by Vogue Italia as one of the top six plus-sized models in the world.

– World renowned fashion designers Jean-Paul Gaultier and John Galliano both embraced plus sized models on the catwalk, and were the first to feature plus-sized models in a couture runway show in 2006.

– Ashley Graham recently made history by becoming the first plus-sized model to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated

– Jennie Runk was the first plus-sized model to appear in the H&M’s swimwear campaign

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