That was the subject line of this kind plea for help I received in my email a few days ago (I’ve included the links as text so it’s more legible):
Hi Slip Of A Girl,
I have for a long time been looking for help on how to figure out what size in full slips would possibly fit me. Seeing this post of yours, I had to ask if you’ve found a solution for yourself yet?
Normally with clothes I either buy cheap stuff with lots of stretch, or buy things that are too big and baggy everywhere else, I don’t have experience with vintage full slips, I have been wondering though, if I should just buy one in some size and see how it worked. I am a 28G in UK sizes, the us sizes confuse me, but I think that’s a 28i, and I guess if you had problems at 36dd back then, there is no hope for me.
But you seem to have had the interest in this field for a lot longer than me, and I’m wondering if there is some magic solution that I don’t yet know. Where there ever a big boobs lingerie manufacturer back then? I tend to really fall in love with the vintage stuff, not so much the modern things, though I do hope that Secrets In Lace decides to expand their size range on this, or maybe Panache or Bravissimo will make something someday. Good thing there are half slips too.
Now there are quite a number of issues to address here — and I’m making the time to address them not only because Lillefix appears to be a long-time reader and a nice person, but because this could help a lot of other women with the same or similar problems &/or related questions. So, while I know a lot of you prefer short visual posts, please make yourself comfortable — maybe grab a beverage — and settle in for a spell.
First of all, be it a vintage or new full slip, you’ll need to know your measurements. Slips are not generally sold by cup size, but by bust measurement, so you’ll need to measure yourself properly. To save some time here, I’ll refer you here. (Scroll past the bra conversion calculator; works with and converts American, British, European, Japanese, Australian, New Zealand and Belgian, Spanish, French and Portuguese bra sizes.)
However — and this is really really important — always check with the company’s sizing guide for specific product information. And, if you’re buying from an individual lingerie seller online, vintage, handmade or recycled/upcycled, ask questions!
Regarding vintage full slips: Yes, the lingerie makers of yesteryear did make larger sized slips, bras and other foundation garments. I know this not only because of the images of busty burlesque performers — who probably had their pieces custom made, but because as a youngster growing up, my (step) grandmother was a house of a woman. She had giant everything. And she had giant foundation garments and lingerie pieces to cover every one of those things.
I know this because I’d get an occasional glimpse of stocking welt and garter when she sat down and because sometimes I’d find her all-in-one girdles, bras and stocking set along the shower curtain bar over the bathtub to dry.
Sure, I’ll admit I was a young girl and the sizes of what normally would be called frilly “bits” of lingerie were a-maz-ing, but youthful amazement at size aside, in my more mature adult mind, I know grandma had to be a difficult fit in today’s US plus sizes.
Where did she get her underthings? Primarily she got them from the local department store on special order. Some of these pieces weren’t, even then, on the sales floor in any size, but they were available for customers to order. While the days of such services (both on the part of retail stores and intimate apparel manufacturers) has been — much to our dismay — greatly reduced, women with larger jiggly parts did have foundation garments to restrain them and maintain their feminine dignity.
Generally speaking, and the population size and demographics laid aside for the moment, the lingerie we love so much was once just a pragmatic matter of fashion; it was underwear. As such, it was worn. And, when it came to women like my grandmother who’d survived The Great Depression, it was worn and repaired and worn again until it was simply of no use anymore and discarded. Which brings us to the matter of just what vintage fashions survive to be purchased today.
The vintage and retro pieces which survive today are much like those found today at any yard sale. When you go to a yard sale or thrift shop, you’ll always find more little girl’s holiday dresses than boys jeans, more prom dresses than blouses that go under suits. Why? Because the practical stuff gets worn out while the special occasion pieces have less wear, less washing, less wear-and-tear. The same is true with vintage pieces, including lingerie. What survives to be sold now is that which was rarely worn (like fancy honeymoon pieces) or those which never made it out of the stockroom (sold as New Old Store Stock, etc.).
Larger sizes, which required special order, probably were worn out & tossed out — and, as time passed, less classic lingerie was sitting in maker and retailer stockrooms to begin with.
OK, so now the question is, if any vintage full slips in plus sizes do still exist, where would you find them?
Naturally, I suggest checking out the links to may favorite eBay sellers and searching at eBay for plus sizes and specific sizes too. Along with older (or what you might call “traditional”) lingerie brands such as Vanity Fair, Maidenform & Warners, I’d look for Frederick’s Of Hollywood. While I don’t think Frederick’s specifically called thems “slips,” they did make several lovely “waltz length” gowns (shown above) that could/can be worn as full slips, and they maintained their larger cup sizes in stores, along with their special order services, longer than most lingerie companies.
Some places that do carry larger or “plus sized” full slips (and shown in this post) are: Ample Bosom, Woman Within (which makes a gorgeous double-skirted nylon full slip in plus sizes), Just My Size, Silhouettes, Gabrielle at Classic British Styles, and JCPenny.
Also, and I cannot stress this enough, do not hesitate to let your favorite lingerie makers and sellers know that you’d buy full slips if they only had them in your size! Include photos &/or descriptions of what you’d like and would be willing to buy. The more women who do this, no matter what their size, the more likely we are to get full slips made and carried in stores.
I hope this helps you, Lillefix, and anyone else looking for full slips for fuller figures!