Musings on Blogging and “Professionalism”

Hello Everyone,

Fair warning:  Today’s post is a meandering exposition on my blogging journey over the last several years and is devoid of any sizing advice, product reviews, store news, or other relevant information, which is exactly what I want.  Tune in next time for a Tutti Rouge review though.

Despite writing enough blog posts to fill several books in the last four years, I struggled intensely the first year to find both my voice as a writer and the direction the blog should pursue.   My prior experience in writing centered on academic papers, copy writing for businesses, or my own fictional stories, novels, and poems.  A blog was foreign territory for my skills and made all the more challenging because I wrestled with two conflicting motivations.  My years of working in technology coupled with the preaching from my business classes about the acceptability of interactions with customers left me purposefully stunting the passion and emotion within my posts.  This hesitation was not made better by reflecting on what my mom, a consummate professional, recommended for inspiring confidence, leadership, and authority.  However, my personality was begging to be included.  I have always been a mix of contradictions in a sense.  When I had my labret pierced (the one on my chin), my mom’s first words upon seeing me were “You’ve committed professional suicide.”  She used that phrase “professional suicide” frequently to summarize unorthodox personal preferences, like visible tattoos, less conservative attire, and of course, facial piercings.  I have always found it interesting how professionalism in certain industries requires a divestment from the self, how we must repress who we are to represent a company image or to project an air of trustworthiness and intelligence to clients.

Click to enlarge for easier reading

Click to enlarge for easier reading

With the my blog, I worried if I allowed too much of my “self” to be in the writing that readers would see me as less experienced and thus devalue the services and advice I offered.  Even in the shop I encountered issues with discriminating customers.  When we first opened, I was 25—an age sometimes and unfortunately associated with people who lack ambition and real life skills, and some women felt (and still feel) my age prevents me from understanding their problems.  Factor in my piercings, visible tattoos, and ever-changing hair colors, and I know I sometimes cross the line of what my mom and other business owners would considerable acceptable.  Read more ›

However, my mom also instilled in me the courage to be myself, and I realized later in life that she probably struggled as much as I do with the conflicts between her identity and the characteristics required by professionalism.  For all the grief she gave me about my ankle tattoo, she had one on each side (plus two on her chest).  In the end, I believe people can innately sense if you are a genuine person or a fake, and I would rather you dislike the real me than for me to present a facade in the hopes of gaining a sale.  When I work with a client, my goal is to make them feel comfortable with me and with the fitting process because shortly after meeting me, they strip down to their bras.  While most don’t mind, there are others who want to feel comfortable that a stranger is going to see them in a state of undress reserved for a select few.  I also am privy to the numerous flaws they see in themselves, and most assume I am in there to judge their bras or their bodies.  It’s important for me to show them that I am a regular average woman interested in helping them find a bra—not some stuffy expert making them feel more self-conscious.  In the store, I managed to quickly find my own pace, and I left behind any inclination to transform into a more socially acceptable version of professionalism.  After all, what’s the point of being your own boss and dealing with the copious headaches which ensue if you can’t at least enjoy being yourself?

My mom and source of wisdom and advice

My mom and source of wisdom and advice

With the blog, it took me longer to find out who I was and where I wanted to go.  I focused on putting together often-maligned “wish lists” or “best of” posts all of which marketed the store’s inventory.  Every time we received a new arrival, I posted, and I wrote informative articles based on questions I saw in the shop.  Basically, I did what a lot of businesses at the time were doing:  I used the blog as a marketing tool.  Even the articles about fit problems were intended more to prove we are worth visiting than to be an educational tool.  Being conventional rarely works for me, and the writing from the early months was never something of which I was especially proud.  The blog felt like a sales gimmick instead of an actual worthwhile place to sit and read.

At the time, Georgina Horne of Fuller Figure Fuller Bust and Cheryl Warner of Invest in Your Chest were bringing bra blogging into the forefront while Cora of The Lingerie Addict was building a dedicated following for being the premier place to discuss a variety of lingerie-related topics.  It was an interesting time to be blogging as a store owner, and I started to dabble in my own reviews, mostly in a sister size as a way to showcase some of the products but also to open the discussion about who the bra fit and why.  The first few times I took pictures in my bra were a bit nerve-wracking, and I more than once agonized over the decision, again fretting over what the “code of professionalism” would say about a store owner posting pictures of herself in a bra.  Ultimately, I had one of those “life’s short and haters gonna hate” moments and went for it.  I find it so much easier to see fit issues when the bra is modeled by a regular person not exploiting Photoshop or makeup tricks, and I thought our readers would feel similarly.  Of course, one day I would love to participate in a professional photo shoot for a review or for several pieces, but that’s a long way off in the distant future.

One of my earliest blog reviews in the Fantasie Vivienne

One of my earliest blog reviews in the Fantasie Vivienne

With picture reviews under my belt, I moved onto video reviews.  People were posting all kinds of information to Youtube, and I anticipated many potential fans would be more inclined to listen than read.  Those first videos were incredibly difficult to shoot.  I may seem calm, professional, and articulate, but I am really more of a tongue-tied mess being overly critical of her body, her voice, and her word choice to the point of copious swearing.  There was a blooper real at one point worthy of serious R rating, but with time, I got better and more confident.  The process will never be easy, but my expletive usage has certainly dropped.

Soon after starting the videos, I realized I wanted to associate more personally with the blog in the same way I did when interacting with customers.  I wanted to be more than someone marketing to my readers and instead open a dialog with them, hear their concerns and do my best to address them.  I didn’t want to be a “bra fitter” or “co-owner” or some personality-less source of authority.  A customer told me the other day that she loved the videos and blogs because it was an “authentic” way to connect with people, and I can’t think of a better way to describe my vague initial intentions.  I wanted to be myself, and sometimes being true to yourself isn’t about doing what’s expected of you.  It’s about doing what you feel.

One of my earlier videos lasting 3min 47seconds which took somewhere in the ballpark of 20 minutes to film in between my cursing, inability to speak articulately, and heavy sighing.

 

I started testing the waters with posts on body image and offering retailer’s perspectives on topics most people do not realize or understand.  I shared my personal struggles with PCOS, weight gain, and depression, and with each post, I heard the disapproving voice criticizing my behavior as unprofessional.  “No one wants to hear about this.  Just do another bra review.”  To my surprise, the posts resonated with readers, and they have become some of our more popular ones.  When I opened up about my issues with chronic illness and the anxiety and depression which ensued, I knew I wanted to write about it—despite the considerable challenge—because I have a broader audience now.  I wrote it for the people who are suffering and who feel alone like I did and still do sometimes.  I wrote about it for people to understand it’s normal to experience these emotions and setbacks, and more importantly, that life can and will get better.

I have heard from other retailers about my blog as well.  Some of them are supportive and love the posts (especially the preview posts . . . which I promise I am going to work on but you guys don’t know how tedious they are!), but I had a couple others say they did not approve of what I wrote or did.  They did not appreciate my discussion of retail ownership and were horrified at the idea of a business owner posing in her bra for a video.  In the lingerie industry where we promote the acceptability of lingerie and tackle interesting social issues related to feminism and a woman’s agency over her body, I wonder why there would be judgment over my decision to do what I ask countless people to do:  Let a stranger see them in their bra.  I’ve seen several store owners pose with models wearing bras and dissecting the fit.  Does a top really lend that much more authority?

Throughout my life, I have always had more friends who were older than me than younger (maybe I’m an old soul?), and they all used to say that as you get older, you’ll care less about what people think.  I couldn’t fathom that in my early 20s, but now that I am approaching 30, I unconsciously have gravitated more toward this mentality both with the blog and with my life.  My blog isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay.  There are a lot of them out there to read and learn from, but I realized what was most important to me was to present myself as I am to my readers and audience.  For me, blending the professional and the personal feels the most natural, and I look forward to writing many more posts in the future.  Thanks for continuing to support the shop and the blog everyone!  It truly means more than words can do justice.

Erica

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Short Review: Curvy Couture Sensation Strapless

Hello Everyone,

Today I am concluding unofficial “Curvy Couture Week” on the blog with a review of the Sensation Strapless.  For more information on the brand, be sure to read through my reviews of the Lace Shine T-Shirt Bra and the Luxe Wireless Bra too.  Confession time:  I do not own nor have I ever owned a strapless bra.  When I had the inclination to wear something strapless, my boobage was smaller, firmer, and naturally perkier, so I just skipped wearing a bra at all.  Now that I am approaching 30 this year, I am not a fan of anything strapless, and so the desire to own a convertible bra never surfaced.  However, my customers requested more strapless bra options, especially for the 38+ band size range.

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Curvy Couture Sensation Strapless; UK 34-44 C-G

In full disclosure, I think one of the best strapless bras on the market is the Wacoal Red Carpet Strapless, and early reviews/trials of the Curvy Kate Luxe have been exceptionally positive too.  However, both bras only lightly cover plus-sizes, leaving many women settling for the serviceable but not exceptional Elomi Smoothing Strapless bra, and I came into the review hoping Curvy Couture would provide a worthy alternative.

Sensation_6

Sizing & Fit:  As with my other forays in to Curvy Couture, I opted for a not-quite-sister-size of UK 34G (Curvy Couture Size 34H) to my usual UK 30HH.  With Lace Shine, the 34 was equivalent to a true 34 while the Luxe was more of a firm 32, but in both, the cup size was about a size small.  The Sensation Strapless is also a cup size small but extremely tight in the band.  For the photos, I am wearing the bra on the loosest set of hooks, and the stretched band only measures 31″.  Having worked in the lingerie industry for several years now, I am willing to acknowledge the possibility of a one-off with sizing, and if you have tried the bra already, I’d love to hear a second opinion.  For now, I am going to tentatively say the strapless bra runs about two sizes small in the band but true-to-size in the cup.  Read more ›

Note the spillage from the cup size issue.

Note the spillage from the cup size issue.

Since I am not the target Curvy Couture customer, I expected shape-related fit problems with all of the bras, and with the strapless bra, the design is too wide and shallow for me.  The center gore soft tacks, and the shallow center cup pushes breast tissue toward the side.  My breasts are very close set with little side tissue, and even in companies who make my size, I often have issues with wires and shallowness.  Curvy Couture is surprisingly better than most, and I feel like the issues I have will be minimized for 36+ bands.  Even with the classic east-west problem, the shape itself is rounded and flattering under tops.

Sensation_7

Materials & Design:  One of the reasons for the success of the Wacoal Red Carpet Strapless is the borderline excessive use of silicone gel at the top of the cup and wings in addition to multiple side stays both of which add to the security of the design.  The Sensation Strapless utilizes the same technique with a lower coverage, sweetheart neckline particularly appropriate for today’s tricky formal wear.  People with silicone allergies beware!  Normally, “utilitarian” is the name of the game for strapless bras, but Sensation features a smooth, flat lace on the plush molded cup for thoughtful touch.  Bridal customers needing practicality will appreciate how functionality blends with prettiness to create a  . . . wait for it . . . sensational design!

Sensation_1

Did I mention there are lots of ways to wear it?  Most strapless bras have only four area to reattach straps (one per cup and one per wing) with some options going as high as eight (two per cup and two per wing).  Sensation falls into the latter camp and can be worn seven different ways for maximum versatility under tops and dresses.  On the cups, one area to reattach the straps is at the traditional spot toward the outer edge of the cup but the other is near the center.  The bra also comes complete with a pair of solid color straps and a pair of clear straps.

Sensation_2

The important litmus test for a strapless bra isn’t whether it is smooth or pretty or has lots of ways to customize it however.  It’s whether the bra will stay put when you move.  As a result, I may or may not have purposefully been jumping up and down in my bra in front of the mirror looking for it to move or for boobage to bounce its way out of the cup.  Nothing happened whatsoever.  I bent over and shimmied.  I wiggled.  In fact, I did everything humanly possible to make that bra move, and it did not.  I’m not going to lie.  It was a fight to get that beast into place because of all the gel, but once the bra is on, it is friggin’ ON!

Sensation_5

Final Thoughts:  Overall, I am really impressed with the bra.  I think ladies who are closer set should skip this one, but ladies with average to wider roots could certainly benefit from the bra.  I also think the shape and fit is superior to Elomi’s version and also lower coverage too.

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Short Review: Curvy Couture Luxe Wireless Bra

Hello Everyone,

After reviewing the Lace Shine T-Shirt bra from Curvy Couture, I want to switch topics and discuss t-shirt bras for wireless customers.  Finding a well-fitting, supportive bra for a customer without an underwire can be challenging, particularly because underwire provides better lift and shaping; however, the marketplace itself is also shamefully under-served, especially in the fuller-bust segment.  Often the bras with the best lift, shape, and support utilize seaming and lace to compensate for the lack of a wire—a technique with a good success rate, but in the land of the almighty t-shirt, the indiscreet seaming or patterned cup sinks the entire design.  Lately, we have been exploring t-shirt friendly wireless bras for customers, including the fantastic Wacoal How Perfect, but the size ranges are more limited.  When I saw the Luxe Wireless was available in 34-44 bands and UK C-G cups, I crossed fingers and toes it would be a viable alternative to traditional cut-and-sew wireless pieces if nothing else for days when customers wear something thinner.

Luxe_Wireless_3

Sizing & Fit:  As with the Lace Shine, I ordered the UK 34G (Curvy Couture 34H) size. The band is slightly loose on the tightest set of hooks but still firmer than the Lace shine.  Since the bra is not an exact sister size, the cup is about a size small.  Wireless bras do give you more leeway with sizing, but if I were to order the Luxe in my correct size, I would need a 30HH with an extender or a 32H.  For lounging, the UK 34G works fine.  Read more ›

Luxe_Wireless_4

Analyzing the fit of a wireless bra can be tricky, especially in higher cup sizes, because there often isn’t any tacking.  From a fit perspective, I think the bra gives good forward projection and nice lift, but the shape is definitely more minimized.  Because this is a fabric, wireless bra, I wasn’t expecting the same rounded shape of my Comexim pieces, and I think for customers more interested in comfort and hold, the Luxe will work well.  I should have taken a picture under a t-shirt before I sent them back because the shape was more flattering under clothing (not as much as my underwire ones of course).  The wide back and sides disperse the weight of the bust as well as provide all around smoothing, and slightly inset straps prevent slippage for narrow or sloped shoulders.  What I really love about this bra though is the exceptional comfort.  I already plan on purchasing a Luxe Wireless as a lounge/weekend bra because the fabrics and fit are more comfortable than anything else I own right now.  Luxe would be ideal for sleeping too. 

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Short Review: Curvy Couture Lace Shine T-Shirt Bra

Hello Everyone,

When I review a product, “short” is not a word I would use to describe the post.  My goal with reviews is to provide the kind of detailed information I prefer to read when doing my own research, and as a result, I comment (excessively) on fit, sizing, materials, and the design to give an accurate representation of the product.  Furthermore, I also review bras in my starting point size or sometimes the size I found which works best to prove the problems/benefits will not change with a new size.  This week, we are tweaking the formula for a special brand:  Curvy Couture.  The expression “In with the new, out with the old” has become the mantra for some of our brand recently, and several bras favored by my 34+ band size customers are being discontinued ranging from the incredible N by Natori Conceal Contour to the Elomi Rita and Caitlyn bras, leaving me scrambling to find ways of satisfying customers with a new style.  Cut-and-sew cups are easier, but t-shirt bras? Ouch!  At the moment, quality t-shirt bras in 38+ band and DDD+ cup sizes are lacking, and we rely on the Elomi Bijou and Amelia (both of which are fabulous) as well as the occasional Wacoal or Natori.  We’re in the south though.  It’s hot.  People live in t-shirt, so we needed to find some more options!

Lace_Shine_5

Curvy Couture Lace Shine T-Shirt Bra, UK 34G/Curvy Couture Size 34H

As a result, I have spent considerable time researching alternatives to expand the inventory in the shop, and a friend who owns a boutique in Hawaii kindly forwarded me the information for Curvy Couture, an American brand offering 34-44 band sizes UK C-G cups (Note: They use a variation of American sizing ending in H cups, but it’s really closer to a US I/UK G).  Based on the needs of customers, three styles intrigued me:  the Lace Shine T-Shirt bra, the Luxe Wireless, and the Sensation Strapless.  Since these bras are not available in my size, I ordered a semi-sister size of UK 34G to test the quality and determine whether they were worth recommending.  Today, I will be analyzing the Lace Shine with short reviews of the Luxe Wireless and Sensation Strapless coming this week.

Lace_Shine_6

Sizing & Fit:  I do not like molded cup bras.  After years of wearing some variation of them out of necessity, I began exclusively working with cut-and-sew cups, padded and non-padded alike, when we opened the shop, and I never regretted it.  I also wear a UK 30HH/Comexim 32HH at the moment, so a UK 34G is not an exact sister size either.  Bearing this in mind, I was exceptionally impressed by the fit and shape of Lace Shine.  The band is on the tightest hooks and is still loose, and the cups have overflow if I fully scoop, both of which lead me to believe the bra runs true-to-size.  I estimate I would need the bra in a UK 30HH.  Read more ›

Lace_Shine_4

The shape and appearance is reminiscent of the Panache Porcelain Lace, but Lace Shine boasts a superior fit:

Panache Porcelain Lace UK 34G (Size at time 30H)

Panache Porcelain Lace UK 34G (Size at time 30H).  Note the issues with shallowness at the center and bottom.

The underwire shape and gore are what I call “crowd pleaser” width, meaning it is average enough to encompass a spectrum of breast widths and shapes without causing excessive problems.  This width usually falls apart in higher cup sizes, especially with smaller bands, but given that the line focuses on 34+ band sizes and C-G cups, I think the shape will work nicely for many customers in the range.  The underwires at the center and side also aren’t overly tall so as to clip the arm or poke into tissue, and the sweetheart neckline provides moderate coverage. I get a smidgen of extra space on the bottom toward the side as well as between the underwire and breast tissue—an expected fit issue given the size.  For the average UK 34G person, I think the style has potential, and I was shocked by how much lift the bra provided as well as the rounded shape.  In the Porcelain Lace, the bottom was way too shallow which pushed the underwire down, but the Lace Shine has enough space to sit properly.

Lace_Shine_7

Materials & Design:  The materials are excellent quality, and in my opinion, exceed the $56 retail price.  The foam cup is soft and flexible but still thick enough to provide nipple protection for those who want/need it, and the fabric covering the cup has this dreamily smooth, practically frictionless feel.  Moreover, lace covered powernet wings feel comparable in stretch to Elomi and Natori and provide superb smoothing and support.  While I would prefer a fully-adjustable strap, they were not super stretchy or long either.  Appearance-wise, Lace Shine falls into the “Basic with a Twist” category, and to be fair, doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel.  We see smooth t-shirt bras with lace wings all the time, but given how little you can do with a true t-shirt bra, I don’t consider it a negative.  The adorable keyhole cutout at the center gore was a nice touch, and I like the turquoise.  The bra is also available in basic beige and black plus a cinnamon color for darker skin tones.

Lace_Shine_2 Lace_Shine_3 Lace_Shine_1

Final Thoughts:  I told you I don’t like molded cup bras, but Lace Shine was surprisingly comfortable between the moderate side height and soft fabrics.  If they made this in my size I would certainly consider it!

Erica

P.S.  This review counts as “short” because it’s under a 1000 words.  :)

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Product Review: Anna Pardal Beatrix + Alterations

Hello Everyone,

It’s no secret here.  Anna Pardal and Comexim design and manufacturer my favorite bras, but more than that, they are a vendor I can proudly support and recommend because of their commitment to quality and service.  Both brands cater to people needing narrow, lower underwires with deep, projected cups, and as a woman with close set breasts and little side tissue, their designs offer me comfort, support, and an array of beautiful patterns and prints to accommodate my ever-changing lingerie cravings.  Furthermore, to better cater to the unique fit problems experienced by their customers, both brands also offer copious alterations at the nominal fee of $5—an unheard of service in the fuller-bust market.  At the time of writing, both companies offer two lightly padded cup shapes: a classic three-section plunge and a vertically seamed half-cup.  All of my reviews so far have focused on the original classic plunge, which works well for my shape even with the occasional fit quibble.  In a couple weeks, I will review the new half-cup longline shape too.  Given how well the classic shape worked, I was excited and skeptical when Anna Pardal offered to send me two bras each with a requested combination of alterations.  I already reviewed the Felicity which sported a reduced cup, reduced gore, and the straps moved inward by 2cm, and today I am discussing the new Beatrix with a raised gore and arm alteration performed.

If you have not read any of my original reviews or seen the lengthy post I wrote on the alterations process for Anna Pardal and Comexim, I highly encourage you to revisit those as they will provide better context for my analysis here.

Sizing & Fit:  All of my Anna Pardal and Comexim bras are size 32HH (70L in their original sizing), which is one cup size and one band size up from what I usually take in UK brands.  Even with alterations, the sizing was consistent for me.  Given the raised gore and arm area, this version of Beatrix offers more coverage than what I have come to expect from Comexim.  When I tested Felicity, I fell in love with both the reduced cup and the inward straps so much I will only order bras in the future with those alterations as part of the design.  Two simple tweaks improved an already fantastic design and transformed it into a bra bordering on true perfection for me.  As a result, since Beatrix lacks those alterations, I knew some of the fit quibbles from the classic design would resurface, including gaping near the straps.

Beatrix_3

Read more ›

However, the raised gore was a pleasant surprise for me.  Apparently, I am a lucky person who can wear any of the Comexim and Anna Pardal gore heights comfortably without any significant issues, and in the future, I would love to have another bra with a raised gore and reduced cup.  On days when I am running around the shop, bending over constantly, and generally frazzled to the point of forgetting people’s names, a higher gore would mean one less thing on my mind.  The center tissue is better contained after significant movement than the classic or reduced gore heights.  Keep in mind that I sometimes prepare for busy days by wearing my Panache sports bra, so if you have a sedentary job, the original or reduced gore height should not be a problem.

Beatrix_1

However, the bra does soft tack at the top.  The bottom of the underwire tacks firmly but comfortably, which is not unexpected given how Felicity with its lowered gore offered the best tack of any Anna Pardal or Comexim, but the top of the gore is softer.  Soft tacking is by no means a deal-breaker for me.  My breasts are close enough together that there is some tissue on my sternum, making the area more sensitive.  A soft tack is far more comfortable than one pressing hard into the area.  Having explained my preferences, I do think if Comexim and Anna Pardal want to explore a raised gore in higher cup sizes, a heavier underwire may be needed.  In fact, the tacking issues combined with a tall cup height seem to be the biggest obstacles in the higher sizes, and I hope they examine the feedback here and from customers for future designs.

Beatrix_2

In addition to the raised gore, my version of Beatrix has a raised arm which adds extra material to the side of the cup for more tissue.  Anna Pardal suggested incorporating this into the classic shape for 38+ bands, and the responses were mixed.  On the one hand, the raised arm is not incredibly high, and it does provide extra coverage to the side, making the design more accessible to customers with more side tissue than the average Anna Pardal/Comexim customer or who have looser tissue or skin on the side.  We heard complaints from both customers about the height of the arm region even if the rest of the design fit well.  For me, the bra still feels comfortable, but I did encounter an adjustment period because the height is higher than I have grown accustom to over the last year.  For women who are petite, short-waisted, or have very high set breasts, the change could be a problem, even in the 38+ bands though.

Beatrix_4

Materials & Design:  Another design from Anna Pardal’s 2015 Collection, Beatrix sports a light beige base cup with a sheer black fabric overlaid to create depth and texture.  With polka dots strung along pinstripes like pearls and an over-sized black and beige contrasting bow at the center, Beatrix proves to be another lovely entry into the neutral palette.  What impresses me more is how Beatrix channels a more minimalistic design without any overly feminine details like floral blooms or embroidered lace, and the polka dots with pinstripes combine two traditional prints in a fresh, modernized way.  Quality is as you would expect from Anna Pardal by now with top notch laces, soft padding, heavy fully-adjustable straps, and three hook-and-eye closures in the back.  The wings are firmer to prevent stretching over time, and the bra upholds the same level of craftsmanship as any of the others I tried. Beatrix is my second favorite design after FiFi, but I am excited to try Hibiscus next.  Also, the name reminds me of Beatrix Kiddo, which should entitle it to bonus points . . . and a Hatori Hanso sword.

Overall Grade: A

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Retailer’s Perspective: The Ordering Process aka “What Can Go Wrong Will”

Hello Everyone,

In a previous Retailer’s Perspective post, I wrote about the viability of special order programs for boutiques and focused on how customer pick-up times and behaviors influence store policy, but I neglected to discuss another important factor in offering special orders:  manufacturer lead times.   A manufacturer’s policies and reputation impact which brands a store will work with and whether special orders are feasible.  As a result, today, I want to walk you through the seemingly straightforward process of placing purchase orders and discuss how and why problems arise.

Special orders starts with a common scenario:  An individual either physically visits the shops or consults via email and decides to order something we do not have in stock.  The person’s name, contact information, and order are then written in my mostly legible hand-writing on a sheet like this:

Customer_Order_Sheet

At this point, the easiest part of the entire process is over, and I am now responsible for obtaining the item(s) requested by the customer.  In a perfect world, all of our vendors would implement a back-end software system where retailers could place orders the same day and receive both a confirmation email and shipping information which includes tracking.  Within a couple of days, the item would arrive at the shop and be ready for its new home with the customer.  As all adults know by now, the real world and the perfect world rarely intersect.  Read more ›

The Art of the Meeting Your Minimum

Most lingerie companies require all orders meet a minimum amount to decrease expenses for them, the warehouse, and the retailers.  Some minimums are low, such as six units, but others are upwards of $250.  A few manufacturers will relax their minimums for a fee, usually in the ballpark of $25.  Even if a company allows you to order a single item, often referred to as one-off ordering, a minimum shipping charge will apply and ranges from $7 to as high as $30.  On a small order, the final cost to the retailer of each item will be much higher because shipping costs cannot be absorbed across multiple products, thus creating a lower overall profit margin.  For some companies, reaching the minimum is never a problem because our turnover rate for the manufacturer is high.  Since Eveden sells Freya, Fantasie, Elomi, and Goddess which covers a huge expanse of sizes and styles, we often order from them weekly.  Other manufacturers, especially those offering specialty products like hosiery, shapewear, or lingerie, can take as long as eight weeks to reach the minimum order point.  When an individual wishes to order from one of these companies, we alert him or her to the time frame, or depending on the situation, order excess inventory to allow for the special order.  Interestingly enough, middle-ground companies which sell well but not consistently create more issues because we could hit our minimum in a week or it may take as much as three.

PO_Meme_1

One of the safest ways to meet a minimum in a pinch is to pull from items on your buying agenda, such as more sizes in an existing style, a new colorway, or even a soft trial of something new.  However, it’s hard to gauge when to place these orders and when to wait out sales, especially because we can only order above what we need so often without running into cash flow issues.  As a result, customers are typically called or email to let them know about delays.  A corollary complication to meeting minimum order requirements is when a customer orders an item immediately after an order has been placed.  Some companies can add items up to 24 hours later, but in other cases, that item is tacked onto the next order instead.

Writing & Submitting an Order

One of the joys (or curses) of business ownership is the need to handle multiple responsibilities, ranging in nature from generating marketing ideas to balancing the checkbook.  This quote sums up my view on said responsibilities perfectly:  “Details, details. Things to do. Things to get done. Don’t bother me with details, just tell me when they’re done.”  (Bonus points for knowing the reference).  I love running a business.  I love writing blogs.  I love doing bra fittings.  I also love planning purchases, researching bras, networking for the shop, decorating, and organizing.  Tedious detail-oriented work?  I do it, but I don’t love it.  Writing successful purchase orders—a pivotal component of any retail business—involves meticulous attention to detail.  Everything you and your customers need must be included with nothing left out, and every model number, color code, and size has to be precise and correct.  There have been times I rushed through assembling an order and wrote 8720 when I needed an 8740, even though the name of the style I wanted was correct, and I received the 8720s.  Some reps note the disparity and email me to confirm what I want.  General customer service, on the other hand, looks at the model number only and proceeds from there.  Even colors are not straightforward and require the exact written code.  Consequently, I may know what I need, but translating those needs to an Excel spreadsheet is mind-numbingly tedious for me.

Even the dogs get bored when I try to write purchase orders.

Even the dogs get bored when I try to write purchase orders.

Once the order is checked and rechecked against special orders sheets and sales, I email it either to a sales rep I work with directly or to the more general customer service.  Sales reps often note when items are back-ordered and provide exact dates for when they will be in stock.  Customer service may not.  On more than a dozen occasions, I did not know an item was back-ordered until my shipment arrived missing pieces.  At this point, I request an open orders report to see why items were not included, and even then, the answers can be vague.  Open orders reports are also essential to managing inventory.  Not only can they make sure all of your information was entered accurately, but they will also show you what items are missing from the system entirely.

A missing item creates enough headaches, but there’s also the opportunity for a larger problem, such as entire purchase order never making it into the system.  The email was missed, someone forgot to input it, etc.  Meanwhile, because not all companies offer you shipping information, you wait the appropriate amount of time for the order to arrive and nothing shows up.  A quick call to customer service yields a polite “I don’t see that order in our system,” leaving you behind on the time frame you gave customers.  The delay can also create long range problems, such as an item that was in stock at the original time of order is now unavailable for several months.  The 5th Rule of Retail Ownership dictates that these items are almost always paid for in advance by the customer or are time sensitive.

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Given my disdain for writing POs and the issues surrounding them, Cake Lingerie deserves serious praise.  Cake managed to accomplish something amazing in business:  They did something that makes total sense.  Hold onto your socks people:  Cake has a back-end system where you can select items to order like you would on a retailer’s website.  There are pictures and colors and sizes and prices and all manners of easiness.  Stuff that is out of stock is clearly marked with a date on when it will be back.  You can verify the order you submit, they send an email confirmation, AND they let you know when it ships by providing  a tracking number.  Mind blown!  In all fairness, as a computer programer, I know these systems costs serious money too, especially to be reliable and easy-to-navigate, but given some of the problems I and other retailers have had with other, much larger companies than Cake, you’d think they would invest here.

What Happens (or Doesn’t Happen) After Placing an Order

Ideally, once the order is entered (in completeness with no back-ordered items) into the system, it is sent to the warehouse for pick, and the warehouse then sends your merchandise to you.  In reality, there is credit hold.  Credit hold is exactly what it sounds like:  The manufacturer has cut you off because you’re either behind on payments or the current order takes you over a predefined limit.  Sometimes, this is your fault.  You have a bill you didn’t pay, or you ordered too much for your credit line.  Other times, it’s the company’s fault.  When you have a terms agreement with a vendor, you typically have a certain amount of time to pay for invoices, sometimes a shorter time if you want a small discount.  Typically, a credit card is maintained on file for your account, and payment is authorized for the invoices due.  However, there instances where this doesn’t happen because:

  • The account specialist does not receive your email or message authorizing payment.
  • The payment authorized is applied to the newest invoices instead of the oldest, which are due.
  • The payment is charged to your credit card but not actually applied to the account.
  • The payment is credited to another account not belonging to you.

I know what you’re wondering, and I’ll answer it honestly.  All of these instances have happened to us, and once the account is deemed on credit hold, getting out tacks on additional time.  Someone needs to audit the account to see what happened, and once the problem is corrected in finance, a message must be sent to customer service to release the hold.  In a best case scenario, this takes two days, but it can take as much as a week.

Other Things That Can (and Will) Go Wrong

  • The Weather:  Most of the warehouse for the companies we stock are located in New England, and when they have a brutal winter (as happens pretty often up there), shipments are delayed.  One year, a supplier had significant inventory damage which took months to recover.
  • Trade Shows:  Twice a year, the Curves Expo is held in New York and Las Vegas, and Curves is arguably the largest premier trade show for lingerie, sleepwear, and bras in the US.  Buyers across the nation have the opportunity to preview coming seasons and take advantage of trade show discounts on orders.  Because so many orders are placed during those months, customer service and processing times frequently slow down, and it’s more likely problems will pop up with your account.
  • Warehouse Shut Down:  Sometimes the warehouses are shut down for inventory counting while other times it is holiday related.  For example, Panache recently shut down the warehouse for end of year inventory, and it will not reopen until June 11th.  December holidays are another problem.  Many warehouses will shut down sometime before Christmas without reopening until after New Year’s.
  • Delayed Release:  Certain fashion styles have their expected ship dates pushed back while others may fall victim to quality issues and need to be recalled.  This becomes more of a problem for customers taking advantage of pre-ordering.
  • Customs:  Not all of our inventory is kept in a state-side warehouse, and customs processing time can delay shipments coming from the UK or Poland by a couple weeks.

College computer networking classes love to compare the way Internet works to the postal service, and after studying networking and working as a contractor for the post-office, I thought it was a miracle anything made it to where it needed to be.  Now, after having owned a retail store for several years, I am lumping purchase orders in with the Internet.  Most retailers are not trying to cause issues for customers and will go above and beyond when needed, sometimes buying products off other retailers and losing their profit margin.  Sometimes we are just at the mercy of our manufacturers, who themselves are at the mercy of other outside factors too.

Erica

 

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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?

CK_Carmen_5

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*).

CK_Carmen_2

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:

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

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.

 

Chickeneye_5

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!

Chickeneye_3

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.

Chickeneye_6

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.

Felicity_2

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.

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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:

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

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.

Rapture_8

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.

Rapture_7

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:

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