Product Review: Curvy Kate Carmen

Hello Everyone,

We’re going back to the past for the final time . . . for now!  Confused?  Don’t be!  Today marks the end of my “shot before/during/immediately after illness” period which saw posts wither away in my filing system for months.  From now on, however, the blog is moving forward with recent reviews, fresh content, and more helpful advice, and I find it appropriate that my final backlogged post would be a Curvy Kate bra.  My relationship with the brand, much like my health the last year, has always been a roller coaster, and for every bra I like, another comes along to make me question why I haven’t given up entirely.  Would the Carmen revive my love in the brand, or would it be the bra which made me walk away?

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Sizing & Fit:  When I ordered the Carmen, I consistently wore a UK 30HH although at the time of the pictures/video, my issues with 30 bands were developing.  Based on the initial fit, I found the Carmen to be true-to-size for Curvy Kate, and the 30 band was firm but comfortable on the loosest set of hooks.  Furthermore, the cup had no gaping or overflow issues like I experienced with the Ritzy, and I loved the overall shape provided by Carmen.  The underwires were narrower than most CK bras, and the cups boasted more projection toward the front without compromising lift.  All of my complaints with previous Curvy Kate bras center on the conflict between my close set breasts and the frequent use of wide and shallow designs by the brand.  As a result, I often struggled with fit issues including breasts splayed toward the sides, overflow at the center from the shallowness, a cup which pulled into my arm, and extra space on the side and bottom.  Carmen has almost none of these issues.  In fact, the shape and lift reminds me more of my beloved Tease Me bra than I expected, and I was floored by how much the design worked for my breasts.  Not only was the bra exceptionally comfortable, but I found the lift and profile to be rounded and flattering.

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Until Carmen, most longlines in the fuller-bust market either had no boning which caused the band to roll up or used so much boning on the front and side that sitting was painful.  Curvy Kate managed to find a happy middle ground by using long side stays to keep the band in place but a softer front fabric which feels comfortable while moving or seated.  Don’t misunderstand:  Carmen is not a bra which allows for slouching, but the design still feels wearable and comfortable.  The extremely wide back and side provide incredible support and disperse the weight across such a large surface area that I do not feel tension anywhere.  I think Carmen would have a natural transition to a successful longline strapless piece if the brand was so inclined (*hint hint*).

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Read more ›

Despite my love for the bra, I experienced a bit of sour with the sweet.   Oftentimes, when I gush over a bra, I had a chance to wear it several times before writing the review, but Carmen still has the tags attached.  If you read my Dare review, you’ll know I did not keep the bra because of sizing issues I had related to weight gain, but Carmen . . . Oh, Carmen I refused to give up.  Not to long after it arrived, the weight piled on, making the fit less comfortable, but even when I became so sensitive to tight bands I had to wear stretched out bras with full extenders, I still did not want to part with it.  As a result, Carmen patiently sits, awaiting my return, and even though I can now fit into the bra again, I still have a few more pounds to lose for a comfortable fit.  Consequently, I can’t comment on its long-term wearability, but I have high hopes.  During my initial trial, I only experienced mild rolling when I sat (okay, slouched) into my chair, and it was more like the fabric turned under than a full-on issue.

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Materials & Design:  I am not going to lie. I originally wanted the hot pink version which released in early 2014 with its gorgeous lime green accents, but I had a vision of my gorgeous hot pink bra falling victim to the dreaded color bleed in the arm area, which is why I ordered the black version from fall.  I love it!  As I mentioned, the extra wide wings have side stays, and there are multiple high quality hook-and-eye closures in the back.  Fully adjustable straps allow for a customized fit, and lightly padded cups provide lift and shaping without extra bulk.  The black tulle fabric on the cup is delicate but interesting, and I love how they overlapped the folds to create texture.  Furthermore, the dark black base complements the pink and purple floral embroidery perfectly.  Flowers and lingerie go together like peas and carrots to the point that many people, myself included, often wonder why nobody thinks to put out some fried okra or twice-baked potatoes.  Food metaphors aside, so many different patterns and prints work well in conjunction with lingerie beyond the floral variety, but I would be remiss if I didn’t admit I love the way CK included them here.  They have an abstract, iridescent quality like light moving in the dark, which adds an ethereal quality to make the blooms appropriate, interesting, and unique.

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The Shorts:  Curvy Kate’s underwear and I always get along splendidly.  The fit and shape are perfect, so I always buy the matching bottoms.  I prefer the size Large/14 in most UK brands because I can’t stand for the edges to dig into the hips.  The Carmen shorts were true-to-size and feel lovely.  The aforementioned floral embroidery adorns the front of the panty while the back is tastefully translucent with a well-placed keyhole cut-out.

CK_Carmen_8 CK_Carmen_6

Overall Grade:  A

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For more information, please feel free to check out the video below:

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Product Review: ChickenEye Designs Inner Truth Panties (Contains Mild Language)

Hello Everyone,

First, I am sure you are wondering why the title contains a language warning ripped from the Motion Picture Association of America, and the answer is simple:  Out of respect for readers with differing views on acceptable language, I opt to write more conservatively on the blog, but today, I am breaking out the F-bomb for a very special pair of panties.  A couple weeks ago, Sweet Nothings hosted a giveaway for ChickenEye Designs Inner Truth panties, and while I had never heard of the brand, I became intrigued by their twist on the classic “words on panties” gimmick.  Instead of writing sometimes-clever, sometimes-sexual words and sayings meant to be read by others, Inner Truth panties are written for the wearer to enjoy while looking in a mirror.  For these Seattle-based designers, the words on the underwear are meant to inspire love and healing for yourself, to encourage you to look in the mirror and find acceptance.  Did I mention you can also use them to affirm body positivity while you pee?  Personally, I have never seen any other product like this before, and when I learned more about the company through their website, I instantly felt their passion:

ChickenEye Designs is based out of a small design studio in Seattle. We’re dedicated to body positive causes, supporting women and creating panties that both feel great on and remind you to love yourself.

Each of our panties are hand embroidered with love and positive vibes in our studio.

About Joy
Our founder is appropriately named Joy! Joy’s idea for InnerTruth Panties developed after a particularly hard day at work when she needed a pick me up during a private moment in the bathroom. Then it came to her: since so many private spaces that women occupy are filled with negative messages, what would happen if we took some of that space back and filled it with messages of love, support and hope? InnerTruth Panties was born.

 

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Photo from ChickenEye Design’s Website

ChickenEye Designs features three different collections—All About Me, Encouragement, and Get Healthy, and each collection offers a variety of “truths” designed to give encouragement, affirmation, and a heaping dose of body positivity.  Joy and I connected through Sweet’s blog, and she offered me a free pair to review for the shop.  Naturally, choosing which message spoke to me was a challenge given how many related to my recent personal and health struggles.  Some of my favorites are:  Read more ›

  • My own path is ok
  • I like who I am
  • I can handle anything
  • Focus on the Good
  • HEAL BABY HEAL

And so on, because there were literally a dozen expressions I would love to have, but for my sample, there could be only one!  (My brother was talking about Highlander yesterday.)  After a tough decision, I choose . . . *drumroll* . . . “I am fucking awesome.”  This is why I issued a language waring because I, dear readers, did not want any regular ole pair of undies that says I am just “awesome.”  No, no, no I wanted a pair of panties that say I am “fucking” awesome.  And I fucking love them!

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What makes this situation all the better is how Joy and I connected in the first place.  I briefly referenced in the comments of Sweet’s post about my grandmother’s thoughts on underwear, but I’ll elaborate more here.  My grandmother was adamant that none of her children or grandchildren leave the house in any dirty, stained, sewed up, or otherwise damaged underwear because if we were ever in an accident, she didn’t want the paramedics to think we were not presentable, respectable members of society with decent undies.  Where this worry that paramedics and doctors would start making assumptions about us and our underwear instead of, you know, saving our lives came from, I will never know.  But, when I saw the “I am fucking awesome” underwear written in such a way you need a mirror to see it, I heard her voice say “Erica Lynn, what in the hell are you going to do with those underwear?  What if you get into an accident?  What will the paramedics think?”  Naturally, that made me want them more.  This is the same grandmother I reference frequently with all of her sagely, humorous advice, but this underwear thing is definitely eye-brow raising weird.  Should I ever get into an accident during which a paramedic sees these underwear, my grandmother will look down on me and shake her head (probably saying “I told you so.”)  But, you only live once, right?

I don't know how I manage to not even wear something and already acquire dog hair.

I don’t know how I manage to not even wear something and already acquire dog hair.

After finalizing my order with Joy, the countdown began for them to arrive.  Because I hate tight underwear, I ordered a size Large which fit my 42.5″ hips, and I feel the decision was perfect.  I probably could have worn a medium, but I doubt I’d be as comfortable given my preferences.  ChickenEye uses a classic bikini shape as well as a thong, and the bikini gave me the perfect amount of coverage.  Made from a soft, breathable cotton, the underwear is so comfortable you can dance around the house wearing only them, a t-shirt, and a sports bra.  They’re just so much fun, and when you look in the mirror, they give you a mood boost.

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Photo from ChickenEye’s Etsy Shop

I would be remiss if I did not show photos of the packaging and adorable tag here because presentation can be important too:

Chickeneye_1 Chickeneye_2

The slogan at the bottom made me chuckle, and I find myself looking at the reverse embroidery from time to time.  Speaking of the embroidery itself, I was concerned about the potential for irritation, but I don’t even feel it because of the soft, tightly packed threading.  These are one of those easy everyday panties you slip into and never worry about (although checking yourself out in the mirror is a must in the morning).  The sewing on the leg openings, while fairly flat, does create a mild VPL depending on the thinness of the fabric, and the panty itself is devoid of the laces found in similarly priced pieces.  However, the star quality factor is really in the uniqueness of the message, and I feel the prices match the quality and design.

Given how some of my friends and family reacted, I know not everyone will enjoy this idea as much as I do, but this is the kind of business I love to support.  A small US-based company produces interesting, hand-made products, and I look forward to ordering some for the shop.  ChickenEye will write custom messages for you because they make them to order, but I am curious to know:  Which are your favorites?  What expressions speak to you?  Let me know in the comments because I’m open to suggestion for which phrases make it on our first order.

Erica

Posted in Product Reviews, Recommendations Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Product Review: Anna Pardal Felicity + Alterations

Hello Everyone,

Comexim and Anna Pardal are my two personal reigning favorite bras not only because they consistently fit my shape better than any other manufacturer but also because they are willing to go above and beyond in the service to their customers, specifically through the use of customizable alterations to their bra designs. Because the alterations process is challenging and risky, I wrote a comprehensive guide a couple weeks ago to open a dialog about which alterations are available and how they can improve the fit problems experienced by certain customers. If you missed this post, I highly encourage you to read it as well as any of the other Anna Pardal or Comexim product reviews I wrote before going any further with today’s article. Rather than reviewing the Anna Pardal Felicity in the traditional sense, I am instead focusing on the alterations performed to this bra and how they change the fit. Reading the alterations post and a previous review or two will provide a better context for the comparisons.

Anna Pardal Felicity (Photo from Anna Pardal Instagram)

Anna Pardal Felicity (Photo from Anna Pardal Instagram)

Comexim and Anna Pardal offer consumers several different bra shapes, including a longline, a half-cup, and the classic plunge shape, and both brands are discussing adding more styles in the future. The Felicity falls into the classic plunge category defined by a three-section lightly padded cup, a low center gore, narrow underwires, and deeply projected cups which create a lifted, rounded profile. From reading prior reviews (you did do this, right?), you’ll know the classic shape fits me well with only the occasional issues with soft tacking or gaping near the straps. In fact, I specifically requested alterations for the sole purpose of writing the alterations guide rather than to improve the fit for myself, but I was excited to see if the the shape I had grown to love and view as a favorite would still be so even with a few revisions and tweaks. What alterations were performed on Felicity? Anna sent me Felicity with the gore and cup height reduced and the straps moved inward by 2cm, which she notes is a very commonly requested combination.

Sizing & Fit: In all of my Anna Pardal and Comexim bras, I wear a UK 32HH (70L in their original sizing), which is one cup size and one band size larger than my standard UK size.  Lately, I have experienced a weight roller coaster, and while I am losing weight, I measure 31″ snugly with easily compressible tissue around my ribcage.  Most 30 bands fit fine with the occasional need for a 32, making Felicity run true-to-size in the band.  One of the concerns raised by reducing the cup height is the need to size up in the cup to compensate, and I personally found this to be unnecessary.  When Comexim reduces the cup height, they make a triangular cut across the upper section of the cup, removing less from the middle and more toward the strap, thus not reducing the overall depth at the center by much.  However, if you have a lot of heavy, center fullness, you may need a larger cup size. Read more ›

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In my experience, the strap area of the cup proves to be the most problematic area in higher cup sizes as well as for women with less upper fullness and/or a shorter vertical breast shape. One of the design changes Comexim and Anna Pardal may make in the future is to reduce the overall cup height of the original pattern for higher cup sizes, and I think this is a wise decision.  Typically, I only experienced a minor  gaping at the top near the strap, but reducing the cup made the fit absolutely perfect. The cup contours beautifully to me without any extra space.  One small alteration corrected what I had dismissed as a fit quibble and made me fall even more in love with the shape.

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There’s an optical illusion making it look like I have overflow, but there isn’t any.

Likewise, moving the straps inward by 2cm was another alteration I did not think I needed given my linebacker worthy shoulders, but not only does the strap placement feel even more comfortable but it allowed for a better fit at the top of the cup.  On my alterations post, some proposed alterations to the bra frames received backlash because they were not universally needed or liked, but I do not foresee how the small move to the straps would create problems for anyone, especially given how necessary it is for others.  Once I wore the modified Felicity, I realized I always wear my bra straps at a slight angle and have done so for years. It never bothered me, but now I am completely spoiled.  In the future, I will only order Comexim/Anna Pardal bras with a reduced cup and the straps moved inward because of how much the fit improved.

Felicity_1

Moving onto the lowered gore, I found the gore tacked firmer than my other Comexim and Anna Pardal bras, but the neckline is obviously lower now too with more cleavage.  While I love having the option of moving the gore and find the tacking is improved, I know I would only want one or two bras with this modification, simply because I move and bend over so much in my daily job.  I would love to have a mix of gore heights I can rely on based on whether the day is usually busy or slower, and I love how both brands offer me that option.

Materials & Design: I want to preface this section by saying that as of the time of posting, Felicity has not released yet and is not available for order. Anna Pardal is working on securing the fabric, and I may have to update this piece later on with any changes. Having said that, Felicity is absolutely gorgeous. The deep plum lace on the lighter beige background looks beautiful across skin tones, and I adore the contrasting green ribbon. Green is my favorite color, and I have been craving green bras for a while now. The use of such a vivid, verdant shade against the darker plum creates a lush contrast which I would love to see carried onto the straps.  However, I did read some people prefer the ribbon to be black for a more elegant, understated combination, but the green sells the bra to me.

Anna Pardal Felicity

Anna Pardal Felicity

True to their roots, Anna Pardal only uses high quality materials. Embellished fully-adjustable straps allow you to customize fit while three hook-and-eye closures provide comfortable back support.  Lovely lace wings with restricted stretch anchor to the body to lift the weight of the bust without the threat of wearing out quickly.  I can personally attest to the quality of Anna Pardal as all of the bras I ordered last year are still in my rotation despite Fifi and Emmeline receiving more than 200 wears each.  They are nearly ready for retirement, but like the champs they are, both bras helped me through a year of weight gain and loss as well as chronic illness.  You get what you pay for with this line, and to be cliche, the bras are worth every penny.

Final Thoughts: If you have experienced any fit issues with Anna Pardal or Comexim, consider altering the bras to resolve those problems.  Overall, I am incredibly impressed both with the tweaks performed to the bra as well as with the over quality and design of Felicity itself.  Hopefully, these will be ready to ship soon.

For more information, feel free to check out the video below:

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Product Review: Freya Rapture

Hello Everyone,

Can you believe how prolific I am with blogging this week?  The muse must be upon me!  Anyway, today I am venturing into the backlog vault, which I am proud to announce has decreased considerably, to discuss the Freya Rapture Side Support Plunge.  When the promotional shots released, I was instantly intrigued because I am a huge supporter of Freya branching out into new styles.  For the last several years, Freya rested on the success of its plunge balcony bras and the ever-popular Deco rather than tackle fit issues and requests from customers under-served by the brand’s offerings.  With Rapture, the use of a side panel and four-section cup seemed to indicate a shape change to provide more lift, an improved shape, and more forward projection.

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Sizing & Fit:  Since Rapture was only available up to an H cup, I opted for the UK 32H instead of the 30HH I needed at the time.  The band felt firm but comfortable on the loosest set of hooks, but I was also in the throes of weight fluctuations and illness recovery.  Since Freya bands sometimes stretch quickly, I would have liked to see how the bra performed long-term.  (Whoops, I gave away the fact I didn’t keep it.)  The cups did not have any gaping although I did have a smidge of overflow on the larger side which was not noticeable under a t-shirt; as a result, I felt the 32H was an ideal size for me.

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Let me preface my analysis of the fit of Rapture by noting Freya was my go-to brand for awhile, and the plunge balcony styles worked well for me, creating a natural but lifted shape under tops.  When my breast shape changed and I teetered more into HH cup territory, the sides of the cup clipped my arms, and the shape was not as flattering.  Then, I discovered Cleo and later Comexim and Anna Pardal.  Freya faded into the background, but when I saw the use of a side panel to pull breast tissue toward the front, I hoped to rekindle “that old feeling.”  However, I was skeptical because the last bra I tried from Freya’s foray into new shapes was Marvel—a wide, shallow style which fit poorly for me.  Read more ›

Rapture_2 Rapture_1

While Rapture was superior to Marvel, fit issues persisted.  The underwire and cup were so wide that the side panel rested on ribcage rather than tissue, meaning it had no ability to pull my breasts inward or provide side support.  While the center gore is both narrow and low, the cups at the center are shallow, forcing my breasts into the east-west look.  At the bottom of the cup, I have extra space between tissue and underwire, again on account of the shallow shape.  The top of the cup also darts inward more, which I worry will create issues with full-on-top breast types, and with me and my balanced shape, the profile forces top tissue downward into a point.  It’s no secret that parent company Eveden has been reworking Fantasie frames for Freya as well as absorbing now defunct Fauve frames into both brands, and I feel like the fit issues here are similar to the ones experienced with Fantasie.  In fact, my initial impression was that Ratpure was a Freya-fied version of Elodie/Susannah . . . and I just so happen to have some pictures to demonstrate why.

Fantasie_Freya_Comparison Fantasie_Freya_Comparison2

Consequently, if frames like Elodie/Lois/Susannah work for you and/or you have softer, bottom heavy breasts with a wide root, consider Rapture.  My experience in the shop indicates many women (not all of course) in the H+ cup size range need depth toward the center, even if they still need a wider wire on the side.  Rapture isn’t a terrible bra, but it’s a disappointment for me.  It’s symbolic of something both consumers and lingerie professionals have come to expect with this industry:  Companies routinely ignore the requests/feedback of consumers.  Not only does Eveden posses some exceptionally talented designers with years of experience, but they also have the financial clout to experiment.  When Marvel and Rapture debuted, I thought the company was moving in a more inclusive direction.  Let’s be honest:  Freya boasts adorable prints and lovely hues, but it also offers basics more frequently than major competitor Cleo.  Similarly, Fantasie creates a sophisticated palette and classy designs which could cut into Panache Superbra sales.  Neither brand is for every taste, naturally, but season-to-season, customers are always talking about how they love what those companies offer but the fit/shape is not what they want.

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To be fair, there are some women for whom the bras are great as is, but I think it would be wonderful for the company to offer some alternative styles, to listen to customers and reshape their designs to include more breast shapes.  Why not gather feedback and look at how they can improve the fit for higher cup sizes or certain breast types?  Or, why not be honest with themselves and with consumers on who the ideal size market for the bra is?  My fiery passion here arises from a personal desire to mix Freya back into my wardrobe.  The new colorway for the Ignite bra is so perfect for what I want right now, but I am not going to compromise on fit.  Freya has so much potential, and I truly want to see them reach it.  More quality options for a variety of breast shapes would be fabulous, and I want see Freya make that happen.

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Ranting aside, the Rapture is really comfortable.  Despite being wide, the cup is not tall, especially under the arm where I tend to be the most sensitive, and the lower gore feels amazing for me.  The coverage is enough to keep tissue contained without taking too much real estate on my chest, which I enjoy.  The other fit issues were just too much for me to ignore in a brand new bra.

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Materials & Design:  Freya, along with the other Eveden brands, often uses top quality materials, and Rapture is no different.  The band felt firmer with less stretch while the cups were soft but stiff enough to provide support, and the fully-adjustable straps and three hook-and-eye closures were perfect.  Furthermore, lately I have been craving a few solid color bras with minimal details (maybe I overdid it on prints in past seasons), and Rapture ticks off all the right boxes here.  The subtle pattern on the cup keeps the style interesting, and the accent bows and flat embroidery detail are the perfect amount of flair to a basic black bra without feeling over-the-top.  You may have guessed by now how disappointed I was not to keep this bra.

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Final Thoughts:  Rather than give a traditional grade, I am instead offering a final thought (but not in a Jerry Springer kind of way).  For women like myself who have close set breasts, I would pass on Rapture, especially if you are in the G+ cup sizes.  With that said, if you wear under a G cup and prefer a wider wire and/or have found Freya bras work well in the past, it could be worth picking this bra up.

Taking pictures of yourself in a bra is never easy. A healthy dose of humor helps.

Taking pictures of yourself in a bra is never easy. A healthy dose of humor helps.

For more information, check out the video below:

Posted in Product Reviews, Recommendations Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Product Review: Ewa Michalak S Kamea & PL Slowianki

Hello Everyone,

Polish designer Ewa Michalak (hereafter abbreviated EM, and no, do not ask me to pronounce it) has been a brand on my radar since I saw the many complimentary reviews on Curvy Wordy’s blog over the last several years.  However, it’s also a brand which is routinely associated with fit inconsistencies, VAT tax problems, and poor communication with customers, and as much as I longed to test a style myself, I always resisted for fear of either losing money or purchasing a bra which did not fit well.  Since I typically had no issues finding bras which worked for my shape here in the US, I added EM to my “Lingerie Bucket List” (it’s a thing!) and moved onto other options.

Ewa Michalak Kamea

Ewa Michalak Kamea

Because the Internet and social media allow us a greater level of connectivity than ever before, I recently had the chance to finally try two styles offered by the brand.  One of our fabulous blog readers emailed me to discuss EM and Comexim bras, and when I expressed my reservations about ordering directly from EM, she presented me with a solution.  Since our sizes are fairly close, she sent me both a gently used S Kamea and PL Slowianki from her personal collection to review and return.  As this is atypical for the blog, I opted to review both at the same time and omit a video review until I order a new one for myself.

Slowianki_2

Ewa Michalak Slowianki

Sizing & Fit:  Both the Kamea and the Slowianki were size 70HH or roughly a UK 32HH, and I immediately ran into sizing inconsistencies.  For both, the band was comfortably snug on the loosest set of hooks, but the Slowianki (the red floral print) was roughly two cup sizes smaller than I needed, and in the photos, I have not performed a full scoop of breast tissue.  The Kamea, on the other hand, was only about one size too small, and I estimate an ideal size for me would be a UK 32J.  In perspective, I wear in the ballpark of 30HH, 32H, and 32HH depending on the brand and style.  Based on my first trial, I would say EM runs comparable to Comexim and Anna Pardal but perhaps a size smaller in the cup.

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One design decision I instantly loved about both bras is the use of optional padding to correct asymmetry.  Although my left side is bigger than the right, I only rarely have fit issues with bras, and since both were small in the cup anyway, I did not need to use them.  Nevertheless, since every person has a difference in size between both breasts—sometimes as much as two or three cup sizes, I think incorporating a pocket for additional padding is wonderful.  Not only does the feature improve the overall fit of the bra, but it allows customers to customize the fit to their body.  Read more ›

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With regard to fit, I head EM bras utlize narrower wires, although not quite as much as Comexim, and I agree.  The wires on both Kamea and Slowianki seem to function as a bridge between Cleo non-padded bras and the standard Comexim style.  People with less side tissue like myself appreciate a narrow wire because it reduces any extra space between the wire and where the tissue starts.  Thus far, EM marks my third beta test of a Polish company (Comexim/Anna Pardal and Kris Line being the first ones), and I love how all of these diverse companies offer deep cups with lots of projection.  For people with close set breasts, the extra depth ensures the tissue is not redirected toward the side of the body or pushed into a downward shape.  In fact, the overall profile of the EM bras is incredibly uplifted and rounded and feels as though the weight of the breast is skyrocketed upward to my shoulders

Slowianki_5 Kamea

Despite being similar bras, I did find a few fit issues with each of them.  Although both bras felt comfortable, the cups of Kamea were too tall for my shape.  My breast tissue spilled at the center, but the cups gaped toward the top especially near the center and sides.  Furthermore, the side of the cup clipped my arm a touch, and I experienced folding issues with the padding near the bottom and side.  Slowianki seemed to fit better overall for me (again despite the size issue), but I did have to angle the straps inward for both.  As a result, I would agree with reviewers who requested the straps be moved closer to the neck. In the future, I would prefer to order the PL shape over the taller S shape.

Slowianki_3

Materials & Design:  To keep the blog as readable as possible, I am going to begin by discussing Kamea.  Lavender paired with dark neutrals like gray, charcoal, black, and navy compose some of my favorite color palettes, particularly because I enjoy the subtle, sophisticated contrast of the pairing.  Featuring a darker black lower cup with a subtle lavender crosshatch pattern and a lighter upper cup accented by a strip of black lace, Kamea combines traditionally feminine element with a menswear-inspired vibe for a luxurious, effortlessly chic piece.

Kamea_2

Slowianki, in contrast, uses a bright red with pops of crisp white for a classic, fresh design, perfect for spring and summer.  I love outfits (and individual pieces) where prints are mixed together, and an easy and successful way of accomplishing this is to use prints within a similar color palette, sometimes with overlapping themes.  Slowianki succeeds perfectly here with a lower cup composed of a red background and white flowers, drawn without detail for a stream-lined aesthetic, and an upper section with a dark red floral lace overlaid on a cream background.  Separating the sections is a satin, quilted ribbon which complements the white satin accent bows.  The embellished details on the straps complete the straps for a beautiful, well-articulated design.

Ewa Michalak Slowianki

Ewa Michalak Slowianki

Overall, the materials on both bras are not only gorgeous in person but easily surpass their UK competitors.  The wings are made from a comfortably firm material, and the underwires are sturdy enough to tack properly without poking or digging.  Not to mention, the fabrics themselves feel soft against the skin—both on the interior and exterior—while the use of thoughtful, high quality embellishments elevates the designs further.

Kamea_5

In previous posts, I mentioned how how Polish companies are taking the lingerie world by storm with their own twists on classic designs, the unique features they bring to their designs, and the way they are willing to work with customers to achieve the right fit.  That opinion has yet to change.

Overall Grade:  I am going to abstain since neither bra is truly mine, but the trial run has certainly made me reconsider ordering one for myself!

Posted in Product Reviews, Recommendations Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Anna Pardal/Comexim Ordering Policy Updates

Hello Everyone,

First, if you are not a fan of Comexim or their collaborative line, Anna Pardal, than you may want to gloss over this post and wait for the upcoming bra reviews I should have ready in the next week.  Note: I said “should.”  For fans of the brand, I posted a comprehensive guide to the alterations offered by both Anna Pardal and Comexim a few weeks ago, which contained vital information about what changes are available and how they impact the bra.  One of the topics raised in the post was how both Comexim and Anna Pardal hope to minimize overhead through improving the quality of the designs as well as by considering the possibility of offering multiple bra styles per fabric selection.  Please read it and comment with feedback if you have not done so already.

While the aforementioned post discussed the alterations process from a manufacturer’s perspective, we also needed to reevaluate how the shop would handle special orders for the brand, especially those which have been altered.  I wrote previously on how returns impact retailers as well as the viability of special order programs, and although my intention today is not to force you into reading older content, I did share them here to provide context for policy changes we enacted.

Newly Added:  Anna Pardal Hibiscus in 32-36 E-H; More sizes available to order.  Hibiscus is another great entry in the Comexim/Anna Pardal collection.

Newly Added: Anna Pardal Hibiscus in 32-36 E-H; More sizes available to order. Hibiscus is another great entry in the Comexim/Anna Pardal collection.

As a retailer, special orders can certainly make or break a business, and it’s challenging to balance those orders against the expectations and behavior of our customers.  On more than one occasion, customers have cancelled items after they were ordered or never returned phone calls to say the items were not wanted/needed.  If the item is a size we see rarely, the risk is even higher for us.  Consequently, special order programs are not something every retailer considers, and companies which offer them may change their policies if problems persist.  While we still see the benefit in allowing special orders, Comexim presents us another layer to consider.

Orders for the company are only placed once a month at this time and typically arrive within 5 weeks, meaning it is easy for life and weight changes to happen which make the bra less likely to fit properly.  Both brands also offer customers a plethora of choices, which can lead to us having a lot of miscellaneous inventory to stash in drawers.  Furthermore, alterations add another level of complexity, particularly because both brands are charging a $5 fee for all altered bras.  A question naturally arises:  How do we handle alterations, and should we accept bras that have been altered as a return?

After much discussion and analysis, we ultimately decided on the following policy for all Anna Pardal and Comexim orders:

  1. For any Anna Pardal or Comexim style we do not regularly stock in the store and/or any altered bra, there will be a non-refundable $25 deposit for Comexim or a $35 deposit for Anna Pardal to order. This deposit is transferable to store credit on any of the items we carry or can order if the bra does not work.
  2. We are passing the $5 alteration fee directly to the consumer as a non-refundable, non-taxable service fee.  However, given that these alterations essentially create a unique style, we will only allow altered bras to be returned for store credit (not including the alteration fee).  We debated whether the items should be final sale only, but for now, we will use a store credit option to mitigate the strain on both us and our customers.  The regular special order discount and shipping policy applies here.
  3. Any bra which has had specific alterations performed cannot be returned.  Specific alterations include those like lowering the gore to a a predefined height, moving the straps to certain point on the cup, etc.  Examples of regular alterations include asking for reduced cups, raised gore, lowered gore, moving the straps in by 2cm, etc.  The post I linked in the opening paragraph includes these in more in detail.  The primary difference between regular alterations and specific alterations is whether the consumer is asking Comexim to change their pattern for the bra.  As an example, a lowered gore on my 32HH size is typically about 2.75″.  This is a regular alteration and is returnable.  If I ask, however, for a gore height of 2″, the bra is not returnable.  If you are unsure whether the alterations you need will make the bra non-returnable, ask in advance, and I will give you more information.
  4. For sizes outside the original Comexim/Anna Pardal sizing, like those needing HH+ cups, we recommend doing some independent research first to ensure the brand is right for you.  The most common issues we have seen here are cups which are too tall, straps that are too wide, and soft tacking at the center.  Some of these problems will not be corrected with alterations, depending on breast shape, and we encourage you check Bratabase and other review websites for more information prior to ordering.

With any luck, using this policy will allow us to provide customers with more options for alterations and improved overall service without causing issues to our cash flow.  If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below or email me directly.

Erica

 

Posted in News Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Saturday Spotlight: The Bra Guy

Hello Everyone,

I first “met” Nate when he wrote to me about advice on buying bras for gynecomastia, and he has been wonderful at reporting feedback on bras and products he has tested, which in turn helps me give quality advice to other men.  When I heard he wanted to start a blog addressing bra buying from the male perspective, specifically for men suffering from this increasingly common medical condition, I was excited.  The female bra blogging world has become increasingly diverse with bloggers of all shapes and sizes weighing on what bras work for them and why, but the male blogosphere is pretty barren.  Outside of the fabulous Braberliner who has also written extensively, I am hard-pressed to think of others, and I think it’s wonderful to see more perspectives available to men and women alike who are interested in learning more about bras.  A few weeks ago, he interviewed me for his blog, and I thought turnabout was fair play.  So, let’s learn a little more about The Bra Guy, aka Nate!

Name of your Blog:  The Bra Guy
Website:  thebraguy.wordpress.com

Braguy_1

A brief introduction from Nate: Hello There, I’m Nate and the creator of the blog, “The Bra Guy”. I write about Bra’s from a Male Perspective. I started this blog after developing Gynecomastia. For anyone who does not know, Gynecomastia, is a medical condition that causes the male breasts to enlarge.

What made you decide to write The Bra Guy? What did you hope to accomplish?  Do you feel like you are making progress?

I started “The Bra Guy” because I wanted to give a voice to the men who chooses to wear a Bra, in the lingerie industry, and also as a way to cope with my Gynecomastia. I hoping to share my experiences and allow others to learn my mistakes/trail and errors. My blog is still a baby, so it’s too soon to tell if its making progress.

What mistakes, if any, have you made in the past?

My biggest mistake, is probably not accepting my Gynecomastia and the wearing of a Bra for support sooner. I struggle with the discomfort and pain for too long, and it did not do anything good for my health.  Read more ›

What are you plans for the future?  How do you hope to achieve them?

I’m hoping to expand the blog by doing reviews of books related to Bra’s and Lingerie. I also plan on doing reviews on Bra’s themselves. I’m currently working on a review of the Coobie Bra which I recently purchased. I hope I can do more collaborations and interviews with other bloggers.

In what ways does your blog stand out from the crowd?

It’s unique, as every blog is. However, I’m offering a fresh and male-centric perspective on Bra’s, which is a rarity in it’s own right.

What advice would you offer someone considering entering blogging?

Write about what you know, if you’re passionate about something, write about it. A good blog will have a writer who is knowledgeable and passionate about their writings. If you have that, everything else will fall into place.

Have you ever received criticism from readers?  If so, what did they say, and how did you address it?  Did you feel it was legitimate?

Since my blog is so new, I have not received any criticism yet from my readers, which I’m sure will come in the not too distant future. I will respect other people’s opinion, I might not agree with them , but I’ll respect their opinion. What I feel and believe will not always work for you.

What do you think is the hardest part of blogging? How have you coped with it?

Keeping the blog fresh, like with any blog, stale content will kill it. I don’t try to overwork myself with the blog, I try to post at least a little something,  once a week. Even it’s just sharing a funny youtube video, at the very least, it keeps your content fresh.

What are your favorite posts that you have written?  Why?

My favorite posts are interviews. A interview of another blogger, or anybody related to the industry brings a fresh and dynamic perspective on things. It gives your readers another opinion or viewpoint that they may not see otherwise.

What’s something you hope to change or wish you could change about the industry or your blog?

I want to start a fresh conversation on Men who wear Bra’s, the industry continues seeing this only as a fetish, which is not always the case.  Men are choosing to wear bra’s for the same reason as Women, comfort and support. I would like to see industry cater more towards this market, it’s happening in some aspects, but it’s not really what we need.

What has had the biggest impact (positive and/or negative) on your blog?

Your Blog has been the biggest impact on my blog. Since your posts to social media about my interview on you. My twitter followers have increased along with blog comments, and visitors. Thank You for your help!

And now for something totally different . . .

Please share your favorite recipe.

My mother has all my favorite recipe’s and she is not the sharing type!

What’s one of your secret talents?

I love building my own computers.

What have you bought recently that you absolutely loved?

The newly redesigned Fabulous Push Up Bra from Victoria’s Secret. It has become my favorite bra. Without giving to much away, because I’m going to do a review on my blog, for me it has great comfort and support.

How do you like to unwind after a tough day?

Playing Simcity 4, it’s an oldie but a goodie.

Favorite Youtube video of all time?

I love inspirational videos, especially the one I shared on my blog from Tyrese Gibson speaking to his daughter. If you haven’t seen it yet, you need to watch it.

Guilty entertainment pleasure?

Huge Netflix fan, love to stream their original series like “House of Cards” and their new one “Daredevil”.

Would you consider yourself more of an extrovert or an introvert?

I can sometimes be both. There are times when I love spending time with other people especially family and friends. However, sometimes it’s good to get away and be by yourself.

Do you prefer movies or TV series (and books do not count as an answer!)?

I love and enjoy both movies and TV series. However, I do enjoy and prefer a good TV series. I just love the ever changing and evolution of the story and characters, you simply cant get in a 2 hour movie.

The secret to happiness is . . .

Being and loving yourself, don’t change who you are as a person for other people’s sake. Don’t let others dictate how you feel about your body or you.

————-

P.S.  If you are interested in being featured as a Saturday Spotlight here, check out the original post about qualifications.

Posted in Commentary Tagged with: , , ,

An Off-Topic Post on Body Image and Giving Yourself a Break

Hello Everyone,

(Warning:  Long, off-topic post involving weight triggers, depression, and anxiety.  TL;DR:  Thank you everyone for being so kind in my last post, and I’m happy to tell you I am at a much better place now.)

Following six months of chronic illness, my last off-topic, deeply personal post focused on coping with an onset of depression and anxiety which held a tight grip, leaving me apathetic toward work and self-conscious about my body.  Nevertheless, the words of positivity and encouragement from our readers not only offered hope for the future but motivated me to take action.  While I will not proclaim myself “cured” of all ill-feelings nor will I deny relapsing into that dark emotional space occasionally, I can honestly admit I am doing significantly better.  After I wrote my last post, I decided to reorient how I felt about myself, my job, and my life.

Sometimes you have to remember the sun is still there even when it rains.

Sometimes you have to remember the sun is still there even when it rains.

I have never been one to cut myself any breaks, and my family and friends will freely tell you that I am my worst enemy.  I am exacting, unforgiving, abusive, and ruthlessly demanding in how I treat myself even though I earnestly avoid treating others this way.  When I found myself descending into apathy and self-pity, I became an easy target for my own inner demons.  One source of failure was more than enough to initiate a prolonged downward spiral. “You’re sick all the time.  What is wrong with you?  You never have the energy to do anything anymore.  Never mind everything you let pile up at work, when is the last time you cleaned your friggin’ fridge out? You’re so lazy!  Do you even care Google is switching their ranking algorithm, and you have to fix the website to be as mobile friendly as possible?  Well, do you? Oh, and now you are closing the store again, huh?  Shocker there. Oh wait, you’re going to try to power through.  Let’s get dressed but not those pants because they won’t button anymore because someone refuses to exercise.”  I was brutal and relentless.  Once you start thinking of yourself as a failure and expanding on your perceived shortcomings, you lose sight of who you are as a person and where you are in life.  Read more ›

Because habits are formed over time, I’m a big believer in taking small steps to change how you think and act, which led me to write a weekly “Accomplishment List.”  In all fairness, this was my dad’s suggestion because he was tired of hearing me claim to never get anything done when he knew it wasn’t true.  From now on, all of my accomplishments ranging from helping customers to processing inventory to blogging are written on a friendly yellow post-it note adorning my desktop, and as the week continues, the post-it note grows longer and longer.  Whenever an inner demon surfaces—intent to send my emotions into upheaval, I read through the list and reflect on the week.  Likewise, whenever time or energy do not permit me to complete work on a project, I instead focus on the many tasks I did make time for and achieve.

At first, I thought it would be a waste of time, but I immediately felt the tangible difference in my mood.  With business ownership, you have so many varied responsibilities in a given day that it is not uncommon to work to exhaustion without feeling like anything actually got done.  It’s a contradictory emotion but one I faced frequently and the accomplishment list made me understand how I unintentionally set myself up for failure from the beginning.  My pattern was to arrive at work with five or six different items on my agenda, but I sometimes never made it through any of them.  In some cases, the shop was busy which tied up my time with customers (not that I don’t love you, but those special orders don’t write themselves!), or as is often the case, something else came up—a large order arrives unexpectedly, a vendor doesn’t call for payment authorization, Paypal hires a bunch of people who can’t read or open attachments to verify your account information, etc.  Life wreaking havoc on your agenda is annoying but not the end of the world.  However, when you focus on the five items you didn’t accomplish rather than the twenty items you did, your perspective on your day, your job, and even yourself can be drastically skewed.

With my mental state improving, I turned to improving my body and made the decision to stop taking birth control again.  The weight gain was bothering me intensely, and after dietary changes and exercise, nothing budged, leading me to believe the BC was at least partly responsible.  I was nervous about stopping entirely because I was taking a generic of Seasonale which is a 3-month pack, and at the time, I was about seven weeks into the cycle.  If life didn’t improve, I would need to set up yet another doctor’s appointment for yet another prescription.  However, I took the gamble and was pleasantly surprised at how much my overall emotional and mood stability improved.  Coming off BC did not magically take away all the depression and anxiety, but it reduced the intensity and allowed for gradual improvement.  With my stress and anxiety management improving, my periods became regular again, and I started losing weight.  I also researched alternative remedies for my PMS symptoms and was pleasantly surprised to see the breast pain I always experienced leading up to my period could be alleviated with parsley or dandelion tree a couple times a week to prevent water retention.  Not gonna lie.  It tastes like grass, but if you combine it with another tea, you can’t even taste it.  To this effect, I decided I needed to be more proactive about my health in general, and when I go to my next physical, I plan to request some additional tests before continuing with any kind of medication.

Exercise became my next priority.  When I was finally feeling well enough, both emotionally and physically, to return to exercise, I was shocked by how much I struggled, and I quickly irritated an old sports injury.  When I was younger, I was incredibly athletic, and even when I was at my heaviest, I was still a physically strong person, building muscle and adapting to workout routines with relative ease.  This time around, I felt exhausted and weak, and I was baffled how the same workout routines I performed for years were now torturous and disheartening.  My frustrations grew, but just as I was about to quit, I did something I never do.  I cut myself a break.  When I was previously at this weight, I had been exercising fairly consistently for a year, and while the numbers on the scale may match, my levels of health and strength do not.  My excitement for losing weight and getting into shape led me to discount how much several months of illness can impact the body.  It seems silly now to think I could jump into an hour of yoga or forty minutes of strength training without a build-up, but the realization I had to take things slow was important for me.  It helped me rethink how I felt about my recovering body and how I could work with it, instead of against it, to feel better.  Now, I am walking 1.5 miles several times a week and using light weights to rebuild muscle.  I have lost six pounds so far with another 15 to go.  My old self would agonize over the fact I gained 21 pounds in the first place and how I let myself go, but the new me is accepting the extra weight and accepting my body as is.  So what some if my clothes don’t fit?  Is that more important than being alive and feeling physically better than I have in months?  I think the answer is pretty clear.

Who cares if my old clothes don't fit right now?  That's why a bright orange dress is for :-D

Who cares if my old clothes don’t fit right now? That’s what a bright orange dress is for :-D

My only real setback is one I have dealt with every year for six years now.  My mom passed away on April 22, 2009 quite suddenly, and the proximity to Mother’s Day is hard.  Last year around the time of her death, I was in a state of grief as deep and raw as when she first passed.  All the sadness I bottled up erupted and left me incapable of moving forward, but this year was better.  I spent more time focusing on all the wonderful things she did in her life and who she was as a person, friend, and mother than on the fact she was gone.  Perhaps time has helped heal the wound, or maybe my newly found desire to see the silver lining in spite of the clouds eased the pain.  I do know some things for certain though.  I know she wouldn’t want me obsessing over my weight.  I know she wouldn’t want me wallowing in bed because she was not here any more.  I know she wouldn’t want me to stop believing in myself because of a few setbacks. But, most importantly, I know she loved me and that I loved her, which are the two things that matter most.

My mom and I at my college graduation in 2006.

My mom and I at my college graduation in 2006.

I said this at the beginning, but thank you again for the ongoing support.  I know this isn’t a standard post for me, but I felt compelled to follow up because I know other people have either experienced or are experiencing issues with depression and anxiety.  Talking helps but is hardly easy, and many of us suffer in silence, feeling isolated from friends and family or worse, downplaying our emotions as illegitimate.  The only thing that has been working for me is taking small steps—writing the accomplishment list, keeping track of exercise times on a visible calendar, remembering positive experiences when negative emotions occur, and understanding that I desperately need to be nicer to myself.  Healing, for me, was more about letting the past go and realizing the future is wide open.  Failures are not always failures, and in some cases, they present us with new opportunities.  Wherever you are in your own journey, know you are not alone and never lose hope for happiness.

Erica

 

Posted in Commentary Tagged with: , , , , , ,

New Bolero Skater Dresses

Hello Everyone,

In the efforts of full disclosure, today is not a heavy, thought-provoking, long tome of a blog post filled with advice and information.  Instead, we’re focusing on pictures, pictures, and more pictures of the four new variations of the Bolero skater dress and how you can wear them.  Since I heaped mountains of praise on Bolero in the past, I am not going to rehash everything here, but I will include some brief comments for any first time readers.  However, I recommend you check out these past posts on Bolero to read my full love-fest:  Bolero Beachwear Review, Bolero Maxi Review, The (Somewhat) Definitive Guide to Bolero Dresses, and Bolero Wrap Tops.

Bolero_PinkPrint_5

If you don’t have time to read back posts, then let me introduce you to Bolero by Patricia McCaw.  Featuring bust-friendly tops and dresses, Bolero is a made-in-America small business with an emphasis on high quality fabrics and figure-flattering designs.  Not only are their multiple dress styles ranging from a classic sleeveless to a maxi to the titular skater style, but Patricia also uses varying sleeve lengths for women wanting more or less coverage.  As of the time of writing, I own four of these dresses in varying shapes, and I love every one of them.  Her fabrics dry quickly, making the clothes ideal travel companions, stay breathable in the heat, and hug curves in just the right way without clinging or emphasizing lumps.  No matter where I have been on the weight roller-coaster of the last 12 months, my Bolero dresses have been by my side, faithfully restoring my self-confidence and making me feel fabulous.

Bolero_Purple_3Bolero_Purple_4

Until the introduction of the skater dress, most of Patricia’s designed used an innovative V-neck with a drawstring to customize coverage, but the skater style features a straight neckline with ruching at the sleeve.  With a fit and flare shape, the dress flatters most figures, and the stretch to the fabric accommodates a range of cup sizes.  My aunt and I both own Bolero dresses in size small, and she is a size 2/4 to my size 8.Bolero_GreenPrint_2

 

 

Bolero_GreenPrint_1

Read more ›

One of my favorite design element for Patricia’s dresses is how, regardless of what back or sleeve style is used, my bra is completely covered.  I never have to worry about flashing straps or the side of my cup (although in all honesty I do this intentionally a lot at work—the perks of owning a lingerie store, I guess?).  I also think the shape lends itself to layering easily.  I have some dresses which are gorgeous, but layering them is challenging.  They are meant to be worn “as is,” which is fine, but I am a sucker for being able to toss on jackets, cardis, or scarves to change up the look.

Bolero_Orange_2Bolero_Orange_3

Admittedly, some of Patricia’s fabrics accommodate my need to mix-and-match better than others, but I have been pleasantly surprised by how even the prints work with multiple pieces.  I think the versatility originates from her eye for the pattern and color.  Based in Florida, there’s a tropical aesthetic to many of the prints, and as a result, you see a beautiful mix of saturated colors like you would expect in a tropical rain forest.  It’s easy to pull out colors from the prints and accent or match them to your preference.

Bolero_PinkPrint_7Bolero_PinkPrint_2

She also manages to find prints and colors which work on almost everyone, from the very pale me to darker skin tones and everything in between.  To prove it, my stand-out favorite from the dresses is orange.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love orange!  Orange doesn’t love me.  Every time I tried something orange, I kind of looked like I may be ill or flushed or .  .  . well, “not good” sums it up nicely.  Consequently, when I pulled the dress out of the package (Patricia never tells me exactly what she sends so it’s like Christmas!), I told my dad and aunt: “Woof.  Orange.  I guess we’ll see what we can do with this one.”  And then I put it on, and my tune changed to:  “I love this dress so much!”  My only caveat with it, and I have to be fair, is that the fabric on this one is thinner than previous versions.  While I have flesh-tone undergarments, my tattoo is pretty visible on the side, and I have been wavering about whether this bothers me or not enough to keep it.

Bolero_Purple_2

To close the (longer than expected) text portion of this blog, I am going to be putting in a Bolero order in a week or two, and anyone who wants to pre-order a style will receive a special discount.  Short dresses are $129, and maxi dresses are $148 regularly.  Send a message through our Contact Page to find out more!

Erica

Bolero_PinkPrint_4 Bolero_PinkPrint_1 Bolero_Orange_4 Bolero_GreenPrint_3

And just for fun:  Where would you wear Bolero?

Never look so fabulous cutting the grass as in Bolero!

Never look so fabulous cutting the grass as in Bolero!

Never worry about falling from heights, Bolero skirts will let you glide down Mary Poppins style!

Never worry about falling from heights, Bolero skirts will let you glide down Mary Poppins style!

Garden parties only need two things:  Bolero and Jack Daniels

Garden parties only need two things: Bolero and Jack Daniels

Or this could just be after a long day of work.

Or this could just be after a long day of work.

 

Posted in Product Reviews, Recommendations Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Product Review: Trusst Lingerie Prototype

Hello Everyone,

In my previous life, I was a computer programmer and all around Math geek, and lately, I have been getting in touch with my roots with a book entitled How Math Explains the World by James D. Stein.  I know what you’re thinking:  “That’s nice, but what the heck does that have to do with bras or lingerie?”  Well, one of the frequent trends I observed throughout the history of the field is how so many brilliant minds of the time hit insurmountable roadblocks on a given problem.  In many instances, the failure to progress originates because the men and women tackled the problem using the same tools as their mentors and/or predecessors without imagining another, possibly revolutionary technique.  It was only when young, fresh-eyed mathematicians entered the picture that solutions were found (or sometimes proven not to exist). Does this remind anyone of the lingerie world at all?  I know I, along with other bloggers and our shared readers, have complained not only about aesthetic retreads across fashion seasons but also how new styles are fraught with the same fit issues as the original.  Entire demographics are never represented, and we hear from the titans of the lingerie industry that they just can’t figure out how to help these women or how to address the problems.

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Trusst Jessica in 32J

Enter industrial engineers Sophia Berman and Laura West.  Upon reflecting that the bras have essentially been evolving from corsets, they decided it was time to rethink the problem:

We are both product designers by training. We worked as both consultants and in corporate environments designing and managing for others before we decided to tackle a problem that is very close to home. As two friends who were dissatisfied with bras as they were, we hated how they wouldn’t last long, how they were always a bother and how honestly, they didn’t do much to take the weight off our backs (literally) even with professionally sized and fitted bras.

We started this venture as a side project, with a strong passion for wanting to solve this problem. We became so enamored with where we were going that we quit our jobs to pursue this full time. We’re now about a year in, we have our first collection finalized, and we’re gearing up to launch our Kickstarter.

Our new system of support is unlike anything else on the market today. It was developed from an engineering standpoint, focusing first on function (placing the support where it REALLY matters). From there, we designed a line of classic, beautiful bras that we feel many different women can relate to. We are pairing high tech, innovative fabrics with feminine, modern laces to blend comfort with fashion.

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Interior support system in blue

Read more ›

When I heard how they were attempting to not only eschew the traditional underwire design without treading into the full coverage, often-matronly soft cup territory, I was intrigued.  As they were finalizing design ideas and preparing for their Kickstarter campaign, they offered me a chance to review a hand-made prototype in my size—a first for my little blog.  Consequently, the pictures and fit you are about to see are not the final product, and as such, there are a few areas which are rough around the edges or need improvement.  Please be open-minded as you read my initial impressions.

Trusst_4

Trusst Lingerie had me measure for the correct size using a pretty interesting technique which I do not see on their website at the moment.  Instead of the standard underbust/bust measurements, they wanted me to place my larger breast on a piece of paper and trace around it.  From there, I measured the effective root of the breast as well as the perimeter.  It was a little tricky to ensure all of my tissue was on one piece of paper, and it may be easier if you have someone who can trace for you.  For comparison, I also measured directly on my body and found the measurements comparable.  Ultimately, they sent me the 32J which is roughly a UK 32GG.  I think I needed a 32K as I do get some overflow if I do a full scoop, but the band feels true to size and quite comfortable.  Given that I am wearing a 32H to HH these days, I think the entire system is pretty consistent to what you would expect with UK brands.

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Instead of using underwire to tack in the center and encapsulate tissue, Trusst, so named for the trusses in bridges, utilizes a high tech suspension piece made from 3-D printing technology to rest against the ribcage and lift from the bottom.  Now, obviously, this is pretty outside-the-box thinking here, but the question remains “Does it actually work?”  Based on the prototype I was given, I think they’re off to a great start.  The bra does provide impressive lift, and the flexible, 1″ wide side stays keep tissue from becoming too East-West.  However, my main gripe is with the shape of the composite.  The center does not tack properly, and when examined from the side, a visible lump exists where the harder support piece ends and tissue begins.  If the designers tweak the shape of this element, I think we could be looking at a unique product on the market.  Furthermore, if the piece sits flatter against my sternum and the straps were either fully-adjustable or shorter,  the lump would be more minimized, thus improving the overall shape.

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On the positive side, the seven hook-and-eye closures in the back as well as the inherent longline shape feels amazing and extremely supportive.  Because of the shape issue, I don’t anticipate using this as “going out” bra, but the comfort is perfect for a lounge/weekend piece.  While underwires have never bothered me per se, I did find it refreshing to have the height on the side of a Comexim/Anna Pardal bra without the underwire there, and the support piece did not feel uncomfortable at all even when sitting.  In the future, I think I’d like to see them work with its overall shape and maybe create a version which has a narrower center gore for close-set breasts.  While the center height is very low (and thus very comfy for me), I think a narrower gore area would help with those shape/fit issues.

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While I know the pictures of the bra do not showcase the polished finishing touches you expect from other manufacturers, I think we really need to keep in mind that this is truly a prototype piece which will be improved on in the future.  Plus, this had to be hand-made for me, so there are ares where the lace has rolled up a bit or where the strap could be shorter.  Having said that, I do find the fabrics to be very soft.  PJs could be made of the fabric lining the entire interior of the bra.  That’s right.  It doesn’t just stop on the inside of the cup but instead extends onto the wings for a comfortable, breathable fit which lessens the pressure on the skin.  Furthermore, the delicate lace exterior is also a higher quality and not abrasive.  Sometimes laces can feel very scratchy, but this one is lightweight and smooth.

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From the prototype alone, I can visualize how much potential this bra has, even from aesthetic point of view.  For some reason, I am addicted to black bras lately (maybe it’s the ease of finding matching undies?  Eh, I don’t know), and I love the appeal of the lace overlay here as well as the way it extends up to become a sheer cup and then a sheer shoulder.  A fully-adjustable strap or a shorter strap may be necessary for future versions to fit more people, but I just love how the sheer lace extends upward.  One of the goals with this bra was to support the breasts without relying on the straps, and I have to say the bra does succeed here quite well, meaning there is less stress and tension on the shoulders than in other bras.  Fully-finished, I envision this bra to be a stunning combination of sophistication and elegance for the fuller bust.

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If any of this has intrigued you, I encourage you to not only visit their website but also read this article where they discuss the process further.  Also, consider donating to the Kickstater Campaign:

We are launching our Kickstarter on April 22nd – it serves as a platform to reach as many people as possible during our product launch. We are excited to be giving women the opportunity to be one of the first to buy one of our bras before we sell them through our own e-commerce site.

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I know many of us are used to the standard ways bras are made, but I think it’s important to explore alternatives, particularly since many women are forced to settle or struggle with comfort issues because of the current options on the marketplace.  When we support small businesses like this one who are attempting to do something different, there’s no telling how we can reshape the face of the lingerie market and what new solutions we will find.

Erica

P.S.  I did not shoot a video for this piece since it is still in the prototype phase.  Once the tweaks are implemented and a final product is released, I would love to reevaluate and then include a video.

UPDATE:  Since not everyone reads the comments section, I want to update my post here in the hopes more people will see it.  Since launching their Kickstarter campaign, Trusst has received sharp criticism, on several platforms, regarding their support system and the overall shape of the bras.  Before I address this, I want to note that I am not attacking any individual nor am I denying anyone the right to an opinion or the right to criticize.  I am not here to censor anyone.  What I want to discuss is the importance of remembering that we are looking at prototypes from a group of women trying to address a problem they noticed in the marketplace.  This is not a multimillion dollar company with large design teams and resources.  The Trusst ladies are trying to offer a different solution than what conventional manufacturers already produce, and whether or not you have faith in the prototypes does not change the fact they put their hearts into a business and tried to offer something unique.

The bras we see on the marketplace now are the evolution of styles dating back to the 1950s and have been tweaked and revamped by multiple designers across a long time frame.  Trusst is in the early stages of development, and it’s natural to have failings.  I am hard-pressed to think of many things which are perfect at the start.  These improvements require time, and they require money.  Some complaints have focused on the poor construction in some areas, which is a valid point.  The strap was twisted on one side, and there were issues with the lace rolling.  Again, I feel like this is part and parcel for being a prototype design, especially one hand-made quickly.  It’s true they may have sold their products better with a prototype with nice finishing touches and details, and I hope they will learn from this experience in any future PR work.  In this line, while many people may disagree with their decision to go to Kickstarter without a perfected prototype, I imagine they probably need more funding to continue forward.  I don’t see why it matters so much that the prototype is not perfected.  They are not misrepresenting their products, and the photos of the women in the campaign show the bras as they currently are.  They aren’t attempting to deceive any of their donors, and if a person sees these designs and thinks it’s not worth their money, they aren’t obligated to contribute.

Having said all of this, I do think constructive criticism is essential to furthering the design process, and I hope people will continue to weigh in with thoughts on how it could be improved.  It has bothered me the last couple of days because some people have taken their campaign as an opportunity to mock them for doing something which is exceptionally hard for most us:  letting our ideas out into the world and listening to what people think of them.

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