Kelly Brook modelling the Ultimo range: lingerie sales are on the up

Sales of lingerie among older women are booming, thanks to popular TV shows such as Cougar Town and Sex and the City.

Mary Mullin, lingerie buyer for Brown Thomas in Dublin, said there had been a massive rise in business since the start of the year.

"Previously women were only buying their typical plain whites and blacks, and now they are going out and splashing out on lingerie, and the most popular brands are proving to be those marketed at the over 35s, such as Elle Macpherson's range, which is hugely popular and very successful in Dublin."

Mullin said more women were becoming inspired by shows like Cougar Town, which follows the sexual exploits of a fortysomething divorcee, played by Courteney Cox, who chases younger men.

"A lot of women are looking at these shows and thinking, 'She's over 40, so am I, I can look like that too,'" said Mullin.

"Shows like these have a huge influence without a doubt. When you see people like Courteney Cox and the Sex and the City girls, it is obvious that women are coming in and buying based on the renewed confidence they get from watching these women. Women want a bit of colour in their wardrobe, and a bit of colour in their life."

Mullin said customers at Brown Thomas's lingerie section ranged in age from 18 to 80, but that the last few weeks had seen a "double-digit" growth in the amount of women over 35 coming into the store to buy lingerie.

"Sales of things like corsets, and lingerie accessories like that, have also soared, as women are now coming in looking for all the latest colours and styles. It definitely is a huge market," she said.

Far from being just a temporary trend, Mullin said the new market was here for good thanks to what has been described as the "cougar effect".

"The trend is set to continue as the autumn line of lingerie targeted at this market is already being talked about. This is a bigger market now, and the range coming up is quite amazing.

"There is a feelgood factor involved in all of this," said Mullin.

Retailer Debenhams has also noted an increase in sales of lingerie among older woman, and lists Dublin in the top 10 of European cities where lingerie sales have seen a significant leap.