I have some exciting news for today’s post! After incredible demand and prodding from fuller-cup customers, Comexim and Anna Pardal will be offering extended sizing for us. To reflect the changes, they have updated their size chart (below) for me to share with all of you. Given the narrow underwires and deeper cups of Comexim designs, I know many of our fuller-bust customers will be excited to try the brand’s offerings in a size which fits.
Personally, I am a huge brand advocate for them because they make the only bras which have ever really “gotten” my figure, and I have written multiple reviews which can be found here. Furthermore, I wanted to update everyone that we will be placing orders with Comexim at the end of every month from here forward to aid in the production schedule, meaning anyone interested in placing orders need to contact me before then to ensure they are added in time. Our next order will be on November 24th, and due to holiday vacations and scheduling, we will not be placing another order until around January 31st. Orders placed before the 24th are supposed to be here before the holidays, so if you want to snag a new Comexim bra this year, please hurry and place your order.
Lastly, Comexim and Anna Pardal agreed to perform minor alterations on their bras, such as a raised center gore or reduced cups, to improve the fit for certain breast types at no additional charge. No other company we carry in the shop is willing to make these kind of concessions toward customers, and if you have experienced any fit issues in the past, it could be worth exploring an altered bra.
Are you excited to see the brand expanding to higher cup sizes? I know a lot of our customers are!
Over the three and half years we have been open, I have personally met or helped through email women who need cup sizes higher than a standard UK K cup or who need better options than what are offered on the market. In some cases, the cup sizes these women need require them sizing up in the band to get enough coverage and then using alterations later. The solution is far from perfect, and it’s a technique our guest blogger understands but hopes to change. Jillian is a friend of mine who suffers because of the lack of options on the market and is taking steps toward designing and making her own bras for women in higher cup sizes. We have discussed this issue before, particularly because she’s been a huge help in offering advice when I encounter women frustrated to the point of surgery because of their bust size, and when she offered to write a guest series for me on the blog, I couldn’t wait to read it. We’re not sure how many installments there will be, but for today, I wanted Jillian to be able to introduce herself to you and talk about what motivates her current quest for a bra that fits!
Hello I’m Jillian from Maryland and I’m a fledgling lingerie designer. Age: 31. Height: 5’3”. Weight: No way Jose lol. Measurements: to be discussed in my next installment.
So why did I decide to start sewing bras?
Trust me when I say I didn’t just take on this venture lightly. A long chain of events spurred me into this choice. It’s taken about four years to get to this point. And for the most part, it has been a wild, eye opening ride. I’ll try to be as brief as possible. Let’s start at the beginning.
Genetics gifted me with a short stature and a small ribcage. Puberty gifted me with breasts that sprouted early (age 7) and perpetually swelled until the very end (age 26). The growing years were the hardest. Everyone around me got to wear pretty colors, strapless, backless, whatever. My most common color choices were black, white, beige and on a special day, the barest light pink. Plain rigid fabrics were the main choices. Occasionally there was a partial lace to something. Can you feel the resounding joy at the bland array of “super old lady” inflicted upon me? Yup, neither can I. The standard balconette was all I had to choose from. I didn’t need padding so push-ups were out. At the time I could even fit a strapless, it was inappropriate to wear it. What kind of 9 year old wears a strapless…?
The brand most thrown at me by non family members while growing up was Victoria’s Secret- the most well known and highest grossing lingerie brand in the world. I really dislike that store; I’ve been kicked out of there while waiting for friends to finish shopping but that’s another story. I’ve NEVER worn VS which isn’t that surprising since I grew out of that store when I was about ten. The brands at Macy’s, Marshall’s and Nordstrom filled my meager stash. Eventually more brands became open to me (thank you internet!). But the standard colors and plainer fabrics remained more often than not. As time went on, the cost per bra skyrocketed along with my ire at the limited choices. My wallet could not keep up with my ever expanding bustline. The amount of bras in my stash dwindled. Then the event I prayed not to happen happened: I outgrew Ready-To-Wear (RTW). [Read more...]
In a perfect world where everything I bought fit beautifully and every style was a dream on my figure, I would channel the breezy nonchalance of a J. Crew model and the edgy “I wear what I want” vibe of Kate Moss. Maybe I’d have a few minimalistic 60s mod pieces like shift dresses and miniskirts thrown into the mix too. My daily uniform would consist of effortlessly chic basics, layered together in the most casually cool way with an undercurrent of edge accenting each outfit. In the real world, I hate shopping, never feel effortlessly cool, and always channel Joan from Mad Men because that woman knows how to dress her body. The simple truth for a lot of curvy women is far too many clothes are not designed for our figures, and those that could be flattering often do not fit our measurements. As a result, when I heard about e-retailer EShakti, I was thrilled. For those not familiar with the brand, EShakti sells a variety of clothing all of which can be customized to fit your body for an additional $8 to $16 fee. Holly of the Full Figured Chest experienced wonderful results and wrote lovely reviews of their products which left me ready to dive in and test the process.
On my fashion “Wish List” among other impossible-to-find entries like slim fitted trousers that stop at the ankle and a silky shift dress has always been a basic, denim shirt dress. With NC’s mild weather, the dress would transition throughout the seasons—wedge sandals and bare legs in summer or layered with a turtleneck and boots for fall but always accompanied by a trusty belt. The downside of any item involving buttons on the front is with my 42″ bust and 29″ waist, it’s pretty hard to find one that actually fits off-the-rack. So when I saw this one, I knew what I wanted to buy.
Before I discuss the fit of the dress, I want to complement EShakti on their fast turnaround and shipping time. From order to receipt, the process was roughly three weeks, and the retailer emailed constantly with updates. Tracking my order was easy, and I felt confident dealing with their company. Sadly, the dress itself . . . well, let’s just say I could have omitted a text review entirely, and you’d still get the idea.
When I first saw the Diana from Anna Pardal, it was a sample sent to see the quality of the line, and much to my immediate chagrin, the size was too small for me. However, I knew I would eventually need to own this bra because as much as I enjoy my padded Comexim and Anna Pardal bras, it’s nice to have an unpadded option too, especially one this gorgeous:
Sizing & Fit: I discovered early on that my Anna Pardal and Comexim size was around a 32HH, essentially one band and one cup from my standard size, and with Diana, the size works fairly well. At the time I received the bra and took the original photos, I was at the higher end of my weight gain and cup size, and I feel a J cup would have alleviated some of the overflow I experienced. Because I was in the process of correcting my medication and loosing weight, I ultimately held onto the Diana with the hope it would fit better soon enough, and my patience was rewarded. I’m down six pounds, and the bra fits significantly better. (Note: For comparison, all of my bras were too small during the weight gain, and I was sporting the quadboob constantly.) True to Anna Pardal’s standard, the band fits firm on the loosest set of hooks although not as tight as the Emmeline. The bands used by Anna Pardal have less stretch and tend to last longer—a money saving feature I appreciate.
The shape of Diana could double as a template for the Anna Pardal padded bras, and I know the brand uses the Cappuccino as the basis for a padded variation called Stiff Cappuccino. Both padded and unpadded styles utilize 3-section cups with a v-shaped neckline, but Diana feels more open toward the top of the cup. The lack of padding and added height does create a little jiggle with heavy movement which may not appeal to some readers. Furthermore, the top of the cup features a stiffer fabric without much give, and while this ensures breast tissue stays anchored toward the center, I worry the restricted stretch of the fabric will not fit certain breast shapes. For my even fullness, the fabric contours beautifully, and I have not encountered issues with special orders at the shop yet. Nevertheless, when I review an item, I include observations for readers without my breast shape to help them make smarter purchasing decisions, and I thought it wise to include a caveat about the fabric.
My ardent love for Bolero dresses has been well-documented on the blog, and it’s not unusual for customers to visit the shop and find me wearing one of their designs. Amazingly, I would have never heard of these wonderful dresses were it not for Darlene of Hourglassy, who introduced me to the owner and designer Patricia. Bust-friendly clothing is part of my own personal passion trinity alongside bras and bra-sized swimwear, and naturally I was curious to see how the dresses fit and lasted. Late last year, Patricia offered to send me a free Bolero dress to review on the blog, and as my mom liked to say, I was tickled pink! While I adore Biu Biu and Urkye, Patricia’s bust-friendly clothing company manufacturers and designs all of their products in the US, and if possible, I always like to support our economy. My only skepticism was fit and quality. With retail prices around $100 per dress, I worried the longevity and fabric quality would disappoint. I needn’t have worried because my Bolero dresses are truly wonderful. With fabric that drapes beautifully to accentuate curves, Bolero dresses highlight your figure without clinging to it, but what impresses me most is the small details. The armholes in the dresses are high enough to avoid showing a bra, and the drawstring neckline at the front of most of her styles allows you to customize the coverage to suit your body. Furthermore, the basic silhouette layers well with jackets, belts, tights, cardigans, and even petticoats. It’s the perfect versatile piece!
At the time, I received my Bolero dress, I also purchased a Gemma wrap dress from Banana Republic. It was supposed to retail for $98, but I had a coupon which brought the total to $55. Inside of three wears, the BR dress was already pilling and looking a bit fuzzy, especially on the dark part of the fabric. Meanwhile, 10 months later and my Bolero dress looks brand new.
When her maxi dresses debuted, Patricia sent me one for free, and I loved it so much I purchased a second version and brought the line into the store. And so, we have finally reached the purpose of this blog! A lot of people, both online and in the store, have asked me about other styles and colors in the dresses, so Patricia and I collaborated on a large, photo heavy post I could use as a reference both for my customers here as well as for those online who wanted to order through us. As a result, most of the dresses you see were samples sent to me so I could photograph them and demonstrate how different styles fit. All of the samples are a size “Small” which is the size I typically take in Bolero. In the future, I may review each dress individually, but for today’s purposes, I am more interested in showing you the Bolero line rather than making an already lengthy post even longer! If you do have questions about any of the dresses, please let me know, and I will do my best to answer them.
If you want to read my original reviews, check out the posts here and here. Both reviews address quality and sizing in more detail. Okay, let’s get down to showcasing some more options! I want to start with the variations on the original dress I received. I think of this dress as the flagship style for Bolero which Patricia tweaks in various ways (maxi length, lace overlay, sleeves, etc.), but on its own, the design is a perfect, basic sleeveless dress. There are more color/print options available than what is shown, but at the moment, Patricia is still finalizing the details. I will update this post when I know more! (Note: Click photos to enlarge.) [Read more...]
For all the trolls, ignorant comments, and creepers, I still love how the Internet enables you to connect with people in such diverse and rewarding ways. For example, when Johnny Zapp and I first began chatting, he shared with me an editorial he wrote as well as his fantastic blog, The Chivalrous Life, and then earlier this year, he became a sales representative for Kix’ies Stockings. Kix’ies provides women of all shapes and sizes with comfortable, fashionable holdup stockings which stay put regardless of the activity. I confess my initial skepticism. Several years ago, the idea of wearing holdup stockings took root because I despise how pantyhose always have a “control top.” Call me a hypocrite because I can wear skinny jeans, wiggle dresses, and pencil skirts, but when it comes to a control top stocking, I draw the line. At the time, I was also watching Mad Men religiously and wanted to channel my inner Joan. Not only will I feel sexy under my clothes, I reasoned, but I will also solve this pesky control top problem.
The results were disastrous. First, every pair I tried cut into the softer tissue of my thighs to create a less than flattering muffin top effect which sure didn’t make me feel anything other than the need to pick up running. When I finally settled on the lessor of all evils, I wore them to the mall for a day of carefree shopping only to find they would slide or roll with walking. I spent more time ducking into corners, covertly lifting up my skirt, and yanking those annoying things back into place than I did anything else. Eventually I became so frustrated, I tugged with the full force of my irritation and created a sizable run down my left thigh. My next stop was the bathroom, and the stockings next stop was the trash can. I never tried them again, that is until Johnny offered to send me a free pair of Kix’ies. He assured me that I would love these stockings because they were well-made and catered to a curvier leg. With eyebrow appropriately hooked, I accepted. [Read more...]
A few of my fellow bloggers have decided to promote health and exercise for October, and given my recent health issues as well as my commitment to body image rehab, I thought participating in Fit & Active October would allow me an opportunity to focus on positive changes. Speaking of my illness last month, I am pleased to report I feel significantly better even though I am plagued by the occasion setback. My unplanned trip to the Emergency Room provided me with some much needed perspective on how I was treating my body and myself, and I understood how important it is for me to put my needs first occasionally. No matter how committed I am to the success of the store, it matters little if I am not physically able to work.
Recently, my relationship with my body centered on irritation and frustration because of uncontrollable weight gain and issues related to PCOS, but while I was curled up in the hospital bed, sick and an in excruciating pain, I finally grasped how much I undervalued my body for what it is: the source of life. Being healthy and strong allows me to provide the superior service for which our business has a reputation, and I lost sight of how much more vital health is than weighing an arbitrary amount. My goals became so weight centric that I was working toward an “ideal” I created for myself at the expense of my relationship with my body and my esteem. In a perverse way, the emergency hospital visit was a pivotal moment which taught me to rest when needed, stay positive, and work toward healthy decisions rather than a smaller number on the scale.
Part of my recovery involved a mandatory hiatus from exercise, and while I was admittedly not as active lately, I found it challenging to be limited to my daily movements in the store. Occasionally, I would attempt a short walk, but I usually needed to nap afterwards to recover. My physical limitations served as a painful reminder that I was not able to participate in a special hiking trip I had planned a year ago. In the fall, my family and I always drive part of the gorgeous Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoy detours to hike trails and take pictures from better overlooks. Last year, we went to Grandfather Mountain, and my dad, cousin, and I walked one of their easier trails (although my dad vehemently protests the use of “easy”). We had such a wonderful experience, and the view was amazing.
Last year, Parfait stunned the fuller-bust market by announcing they would be expanding their traditional D-G line to incorporate up to a UK K cup. Ultimately, the expansion applied to three styles: the Charlotte Padded Cup Bra, the Sophia Wire Bra, and the Alexis Babydoll. At the time, I did not own a padded cup bra due to my cup size, so I snagged a Charlotte in Dusty Rose. The fit was not fantastic for me, and over time, the bra welted the skin where the side of cup hit the crease of my arm. As a result, I was skeptical about trying anything else; however, my desire for a pure white bra overrode my instinct, leading me to gamble on Sophia.
Sizing and Fit: With Charlotte, the size 30J was the best fit even though I had overflow toward the center, and I opted to try this size in Sophia. The band felt heavenly and worked perfectly on the loosest set of hooks, but the cup did have overflow near the center gore. Ordinarily, I wear around a 30HH, and I recommend sizing up at least one cup size in Sophia. In my opinion, the chief drawback of the HH+ cup sizes in the Parfait expansion is the use of a uniformly shallow cup shape. With Sophia, my close set breasts splay to the side by the shallow center cup while also sitting above the underwire at the bottom. When I first purchased Charlotte, the shallowness issues were manageable because the underwires were narrow and the cup shape open; nevertheless, Sophia abandons the narrowness in favor of underwires which extend far onto the side and fuller-coverage cups at the front. The center gore hits high on my sternum, and I have about three fingers worth of space between the underwire and my breast tissue on the side. The cup is also tall on the side as well, enclosing nearly all of my underarm. For a petite or short-waisted woman, this bra would be murder.
Having brutally critiqued the fit, I do want to note the bra lifts and supports well, and even with the fit issues, the bra is refreshingly lightweight and comfortable. Utilizing wider wings, the Sophia anchors to the side and provides added support for the fuller-bust. It completely relieves any stress on my back and feels like my breasts are self-supporting. My biggest concern is height of the cup on the side since it sits in nearly the same spot as Charlotte. I’m also not crazy about the side profile either. The stiffer top cup is creating a downward pointed shape—a profile which often occurs when the cup darts inward and forces breast tissue to relocate. In my case, breast tissue overflows the top of the cup but is also forced downward in a less flattering shape. In fact, Sophia reminds me a lot of the Panache Rumeur, which also sported a wide, shallow, and tall design. This just does not work for me or other fuller-busted women needing more cup depth. [Read more...]
It’s no secret that Elomi is the best-selling brand for the entire store, and each new season, the brand rises to the challenge of offering customers a fantastic fit, innovative prints, and seasonally appropriate colors all bundled in fresh new designs. For fall, the brand pushed the envelope, albeit with mixed feedback, by releasing prints like Lexi and Kenza in the collection, and for spring, they continue to break free of their comfort zone and explore other options.
Description: Featuring a three-section cup, the Naoka has lined support panels for a forward shape, excellent uplift, and superb separation. Elastic at the neck provides an easier fit while scalloped embroidery adds to the stunning look.
Bra Styles: Banded Underwire Bra, Underwire Longline Bra
Description: The Elomi Emily bandless bra has less fabric under the cups and works well with all body types, especially petite or short-waisted women. A three piece cup and side support panel provide a forward shape, good uplift, and nice separation. Based on the Abi/Yolanda frame.
When the Fantasie Jana first released last year, I was incredibly excited for so many reasons. Not only was the bra priced at an affordable $64 for the entire 30-40D-K size range, but Jana also utilizes a side support panel for added forward projection. When I was first fitted properly for a bra, I lived in the Fantasie smoothing series, in large part because it was widely available; however, after we opened the shop, temptation pulled me away from the brand. When I needed a new flesh-tone option, I thought Jana would be a perfect way to test the brand again.
Sizing & Fit: Originally, I ordered my standard Fantasie 30H which fit perfectly in the band but had too much overflow at the center of the cup. To be fair, I experienced breast changes during the trial period which may have contributed to the size issue. Consequently, I re-ordered the bra in size 30HH, and the overflow was eliminated. Despite finding the proper size, the fit of Jana was not what I hoped. Fantasie is not known for using narrow underwires like Cleo or Comexim, but their designs are not too wide either, leaving me surprised at how far the underwires of Jana wrapped around my back. Recently, Fantasie has experimented with offering designs to bridge the consumer gap between them and sister brand Elomi, and to this effect, Jana succeeds well. If you need a wire width between Fantasie and Elomi, consider Jana or Salsa, but the additional width creates fit issues for women like myself who have close set breasts. The center cup is shallow, and I have a lot of space between the underwire and my breast tissue on the side. Jana also sports a tall, full-coverage design that is puckering near my arm. Again, this may also relate to the incompatibility of my shape and the width of the underwires.
To be perfectly candid, I could forgive some of the width-based shape issues were it not for the terrible profile created by Jana. In the video below, I mention the silhouette is pointy but not bad. Well, I said that before I edited the video and the pictures. Jana creates a weird, lumpy lower half and then a pointed upper half with my breast. Even fans of the bullet-bras will balk, and I do not believe this bra will work for women needing deeper cups. In fact, Jana perfectly embodies a critique I have leveled at manufacturers in the past: Do not offer a bra in a huge range of sizes when the style only succeeds well in a narrow range. Jana may work fine for wide-rooted women with shallower or even bottom-heavy breasts wanting full-coverage, and women between and D-FF cups may also fit the style better too. However, I am not convinced the bra is going to succeed uniformly well in G+ cup sizes. The top of the cup darts inward sharply too, and I imagine full-on-top breast types may need to avoid the style entirely. [Read more...]