Big breasts are wonderful. But when it comes to fitting them into a comfortable bra, big-breasted ladies often find themselves jealous of those with smaller cup sizes. The teeny straps, the barely-there cups, the unnecessary padding—they all cause endless frustration. The well-endowed creators of Dirty Dolls Lingerie—Erica Paul and Courtney Newman—know this. “We could not find lingerie that was supportive and beautiful,” says Newman. And thus, these Fashion Institute of Technology alumnae were determined to, as Paul puts it, “create glamorous lingerie that provokes that burlesque star in every woman.”
When the pair met, they were working for a sportswear company—Paul went on to design for Playboy’s licensing division—and shared similar frustrations with what was available on the market for women who were C-cup and up, especially those who loved lingerie from a different era. “I am really inspired by vintage lingerie and how women used to dress up under their outfits,” says Newman. After nearly three years spent working on their project after-hours in a New York diner, they took the plunge and the cheekily named Dirty Dolls was born.
Their current line, which they plan to expand with more cup sizes and maternity and bridal wear, features bras that start at 30C and go up to 44DDD, shapers, and panties. While designing the pieces, the pair discovered that many women are in bras that just don’t fit. “Sometimes I’m really shocked at what people are wearing because it can’t be comfortable,” says Paul. To ensure that nothing pinches or pulls, they use numerous points of measurement during the construction of a bra and include extra boning within the band so that every item, from the Curvaceous Cleavage bra to the Peek-a-Boo camisole, is supportive. Although they work to make their feminine pieces disappear smoothly under clothing, many items in their line are, as Newman puts it, “meant to be seen.”
The two don’t only share a love of lacy undergarments, they also got the same tattoo, a butterfly, back in their teenage years. Though Newman hasn’t yet gone beyond that first tattoo, which she bears on her hip, she wants Scott Campbell to ink a design she created to memorialize her sister, who passed away last year. Paul, on the other hand, had Patrick Conlon of East Side Ink cover most of her back with a lush garden scene. She is currently contemplating a tattoo of a Vargas-style pinup girl in Dirty Dolls lingerie on the inside of her right arm, which would complement the mermaid on the inside of her left, inked by Virginia Elwood at New York Adorned. Like Newman’s next tattoo, all of Paul’s ink symbolizes important life milestones, including the piece she got to mark the time she fought an attacker out of her apartment. “I was young, and it really freaked me out. But after that I was like, I’m strong, I could sit through a back tattoo!”