First, my original intention with my post in, oh I don’t know, December was to get back on track from the travesty of 2017. I was going to cut out gluten and get my thyroid fixed and exercise and catch up on blogs and get better at bookkeeping and basically DO ALL THE THINGS. Intentions, amirite? On new year’s, I was toasting with family saying “2018 will be better! No more freak spider bites, no more bronchitis! Just getting healthy! RAWR!” And in all fairness to 2018, I have not gotten bronchitis or any insect bites . . . yet. Instead, a persistent cold became a sinus infection the last couple weeks of December that I powered through at the store, which obviously only made it worse. I spent my entire vacation on my couch sipping cough syrup and alternately complaining my house was either too hot or too cold. By mid-January, I could once again breathe through my nose and began work on the numerous projects I hoped to complete in what is traditionally a slower retail month. Success was slow and stressful, but I was starting to feel like maybe, just maybe, I was back in control.
One of my commitments with the store is to help all people find the intimate apparel which suits their needs, preferences, and budgets, including men. Men wear bras for any number of personal and medical reasons, and I have been a strong advocate in not only helping men traverse their own unique fit problems but also in encouraging broader societal acceptance. Through these efforts, I came to meet Shay who has a medical condition known as gynecomastia which causes the benign growth of breasts in biological males. In some cases, the most comfortable way to live with the condition is to wear a bra for support, but while that may be the simplest solution, it’s hardly the easiest one. Our culture is exceptionally hung up on gender norms and body policing. Boys should dress like boys, and girls should dress like girls, right? It not only assigns certain clothing and even behaviors to one gender as being “acceptable,” but it also leaves no room for anyone to depart from those norms, to say nothing of the implications on trans people as well as those who are non-binary or genderqueer. And unfortunately, people can be exceptionally cruel and malicious when presented with someone who behaves outside of the way they expect. Shay and I have discussed this many times via email, and I told him I would really love for him to guest post occasionally on the blog, particularly because he brings a completely different perspective to the table. After some poor timing on both our parts, we finally came together for his introductory post focusing on a terrifying experience where being outside cultural gender norms can have embarrassing repercussions: a body search by the TSA.
Of the three bras I snaggeded during Curvy Kate’s massive online sale, the Scantilly Peek-a-Boo was my absolute favorite, and if I am being honest, the real driving factor behind my decision to order. For starters, it’s freakin’ green! Bright green, even! Have I not been pining after a bra this color for years?! Fabulous color aside, I was also curious to try the higher end, boudoir-inspired Scantilly line itself. The initial show-stopping collection debuted after I cut ties with the brand, leaving me to eye the stunners from a distance. Finally, I would have a Scantilly piece of my own! (Side note: No video again due to the general sheer styling of the piece.)
When Curvy Kate had a big sale on older merchandise, I snagged several styles from their website partly for curiosity’s sake and partly to determine if it was worthwhile to resurrect my relationship with the brand. While I don’t mind padded bras, I prefer unlined, and I wanted to try one of those styles in addition to the Daily Dream I reviewed. Given my penchant for black, I opted for the quite sheer Bridget—so sheer in fact there will be no video review accompanying my written one. Oh, and a warm welcome back to the Sophisticated Pair Pears!
Since we opened in 2011, my relationship with Curvy Kate has always been a mix of admiration and frustration. My love of their colorful aesthetic and willingness to include more options for higher cup sizes was dampened by professional problems with distribution, pricing, and marketing. Ultimately, despite being one of the first stateside retailers to stock the brand, I dropped the line a few years ago with no intentions of revisiting them. Within the last year, however, I heard Curvy Kate addressed both retailer and consumer concerns by improving fit and streamlining wholesale relationships. A few fellow store owners enjoyed great success with the line and encouraged me to reconsider my stance. Since Curvy Kate recently had a massive online sale to purge older fashion stock, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to reevaluate. To kick off my Curvy Kate reviews, I give you the Daily Dream—a soft, comfortable t-shirt alternative for fuller cups.
Figuring out the right assortment of bras in a retail store can feel like an insurmountable, ever-evolving challenge. In the past, I wrote more extensively about buying plans, but generally speaking, the process of narrowing down literally hundreds of bras to the profit-turning core collection found in the shop requires time, patience, and feedback. Usually I read through reviews of products left by consumers to help my decision process, but some reviewers do not know how to properly fit themselves and leave complaints more related to purchasing the wrong size than to the bra itself. As a result, I love interacting with other store owners and discussing our best-sellers. Bra fitters have firsthand experience trying the style on multiple body and breast shapes and can often provide more accurate information. In one such conversation, my friend Jackie from Her Underthings in New York raved about the new Serena Lace from Fit Fully Yours, but each store is unique in what works for them. Naturally, I had to test one myself!
Focusing on the silver lining in the clouds—a task I always attempt albeit sometimes unsuccessfully, then the positive side of gaining weight has been the myriad of lingerie options I can now try and review. When I wore a UK 30H (US 30K), there were several styles and even entire lines which were unavailable in my size or which simply did not work for me. In some cases, the fit issues directly related to the size itself, and most people wading through the small band/big cup market can write lengthy treatises on which bras do not scale properly and are plagued with fit and comfort issues. As a UK 34H (US 34K), I still encounter some of the same issues, usually related to my breast shape, but not nearly as many. My lingerie wardrobe boasts a variety of brands and styles now instead of solely representing the latest and greatest from Comexim. Furthermore, I have been able to explore new brands with real hopes they could fit me, and Sculptresse has been one such brand. Panache’s plus-size line starts most styles at 34 or 36 bands and often goes to a 46, and the fit profiles have ranged across breast shapes. Candi is an ideal option for wider set breasts while Chi Chi is perfect for narrow. As part of my ongoing experimentation, my sales rep sent me Gina, and I was eager to determine where this style fit into the line.
You know how there occasionally exists a partnership between a celebrity and a designer which works so impossibly well, you can’t think of one without the other? Cher and Bob Mackie. Lady Gaga and the late Alexander McQueen. Evan Rachel Wood and Ralph Lauren. Erica and Bolero. Okay, clearly I’m not a celebrity, but that’s the great thing about Bolero dresses. Every time I wear one, I feel ready to strut the red carpet like I am. For those just tuning into my ongoing sappy love affair, I have reviewed multiple Bolero dresses, tops, and even pants on the blog and loved them all. But for the shop’s sixth anniversary, Patricia of Bolero managed to outdo even herself when she sent her latest creation: the Margarita Dress.
Alright, dear readers, today we’re venturing into uncharted territory and chatting menstruation, aka periods, that time of the month, the rag, the crimson tide, the red river, shark week, and my personal favorite, Aunt Irma. We’re also going into the nitty gritty details of what it is like to have a period and how to determine which menstrual products suit you. This is not a “tee hee, let’s be cute and not gross anyone out” kind of post. Nope, we’re going real, natural, and a little bit funny because, hey, we’re all adults here, people. It’s about time we have a frank discussion about the human body, even its less glamorous functions. Specifically, I am reviewing three alternative menstrual products: the Diva Cup, Thinx Period Underwear, and Lunapads. Clearly, this post is not for everyone, and in order to review the products, I will need to go super TMI and discuss my own period experiences. The number of twisted comments I delete is going to go through the roof I’m sure, but menstruation is a natural part of life for many of us. We need to acknowledge it and have an actual conversation about how to maximize both our comfort and reproductive health, and part of that starts with opening up to each other.
I have a vision of two Panache designers sitting at a long table with colorful fashion sketches intermixed with swatches of fabric, lace, and ribbon, and one asks “What about making another, slightly different version of Jasmine?” The other nods as she contemplates the question before finally responding “Well, you can never have too much of a good thing.” There’s more to this fictitious conversation obviously, but I truncated it to what is relevant for the review. For those not familiar with the brand, Jasmine is one of those best-selling, crowd-pleasing favorites which brands and retailers alike dub “rent payers,” and because of that success, Panache has tweaked Jasmine several times, including fuller-coverage Envy and plus-size friendly Chi Chi. As a result, when my rep told me last year the Cleo line would now feature a Jasmine-esque style, I was so ecstatic I ordered a bunch for the shop. Yet, I have never seemed to review the style myself.