I have a bunch of product reviews in the pipeline, but I wanted to give my readers a chance to weigh in on what they would like to see first. Below is a list of what I have to review, so feel free to email, tweet, Facebook, or comment your favorites, and I’ll start creating a schedule. Also, don’t forget I am going to Curves this weekend, so I’ll have a bunch of posts on all the gorgeous lingerie I am going to see there, including beautiful new styles from your favorite companies!
Last year, I was nominated for a BraStop Blogger of the Year Award, and while I lost to the very deserving and incredibly gorgeous Georgina of Fuller Figure Fuller Bust, I was given a free set of lingerie as a consolation prize. Since I had the opportunity to experiment risk-free, I opted to test Polish brand Kris Line. Holly of the Full Figured Chest posted a fabulous Christmas Round-Up which included the Sharon set, and I was instantly smitten. The unique silver color seemed like a potential flesh-tone alternative for my pale skin, and given my poorer luck with padded bras in the past, I was eager to branch out to a new designer.
Sizing: From reading reviews in the bra blogging community as well as on Bratabase, I knew Kris Line cups ran at least two sizes smaller than standard UK ones. However, Kris Line also has an I (“eye”) cup following the HH, and after speaking with someone more knowledgeable on the subject than I am, I learned retailers selling Kris Line products often convert the sizing system into the more traditional UK. The end result of which is you can order a J cup bra and have it fit more like a HH. Given my measurements and size preferences, my friend recommended ordering the size 30K, and despite all of my assurances to customers that the letter does not matter, I felt myself instantly struck by the dreaded letterphobia. How could I possibly wear a K cup??? In fact, I was so nervous about ordering the K cup I wavered on the decision for several days before taking the plunge. Thankfully, the Sharon fits rather well! On my larger side, the bra is perfect, but the smaller side does have a hint of wrinkling.
However, the bra features a vertical opening on the interior of the cup where you can add or remove pads to improve fit. The bottom cup is lightly padded but also includes a removable pad too. Without the removable pads, the bra is slightly large on my bigger side, but there is serious gaping on the smaller side. In the future, I would love to compare the fit with a 30JJ, but overall, the K cup works fine. To improve the fit on my smaller breast, I added one of the removable pads I kept from my Ahh Bra, which corrected the problems perfectly.
Furthermore, the band of the Sharon sports stiffer fabrics with less stretch, making the 30 firm but still comfortable. My ribcage measures exactly 30″, but women between band sizes or who find firm bands to be uncomfortable may want to size up. [Read more...]
On the heels of a difficult month both professionally and personally, I was treated to a wonderful gift of generosity and kindness that brightened my spirit and outlook. A longtime supporter of our shop as well as the bra blogging community sent me the Urkye Dzwonek in the gorgeous purple colorway, and needless to say, I was excited to test another style from the bust-friendly brand.
Since my regular 38oo/ooo size was sold out, she ordered me a 40oo/ooo instead which fits well. Even though the description on the website states the torso is “tight,” the top fits clingier than I anticipated, and I am glad she ordered the 40 instead of the 38 (current measurements: 42-29-41). Composed of a 95% viscose/5% spandex jersey blend, the Dzwonek feels dreamily soft without being too heavy, but I think the jersey element contributes to the curve-hugging fit. In my experience, jersey fabrics can tread into an unforgiving territory if the fabric is thinner, and it may require sizing up for a softer drape. In the 40, the fit is perfect although it does sometimes cling to the belt on my jeans a little. Because of the fabric choice, I think the top will transition well into spring, and I love when I can find pieces which work in multiple seasons.
Furthermore, the bust of the blouse fits too although the line at the bottom of the bust needs to be pulled down which then makes the neckline too low. However, the ruching at the center offers flexibility with sizing and contours to a fuller-bust nicely without seeming as though the fabric is stretching uncomfortably.
Dzwonek exploits an open neckline to showcase the neck, chest, and shoulders, but the dip is too low for me to wear without a Perfect Cami. The extra layer adds another textural element to outfits which suits me, but the width to the side does expose the bra strap on my right side occasionally. I will add a simple string snap to the interior to keep my bra strap in place, but layering a tank underneath or a jacket on top would work too. Interestingly, the top is designed in such a way that you could wear the design off the shoulder for a completely different vibe. Moreover, bell sleeves can be worn scrunched on the arm or down at the wrist, but I prefer the former because it adds more volume and movement.
And the color! Oh, that color! If you saw pictures of our new shop, you know I like purple, and the color of the Dzwonek is rich and deep, complementing my paler skin and freckles. Given the flattering tone, I think the color would work across medium and darker skin tones too.
The length on the top is shorter than my recent BiuBiu purchases but still long. Even with my 5’6″ height and long torso, I find Polish tops can end too low on the hip. The length of the Dzwonek works perfect with jeans but can also be worn tucked or untucked with skirts—a fabulous discovery as I love tucking blouses into pencil skirts. I have noticed that the Polish models often wear jeans or pants with the tops, so I wonder if the length is a cultural fashion difference since a longer length can be flattering with pants. However, the longer torso shape in general can pose problems for petites or women with shorter torsos because the proportion of the garment is not scaled to their shape. As a result, the waist can hit too high or too low and the length from bust to waist can be too long. With this in mind, I think the Dzwonek succeeds rather well in balancing between a shorter and longer torso, but I do think the length could be shortened an inch or so without sacrificing the look of the top.
With the hectic holiday season and the stressful moving experience over, I am ready to begin February with a fresh attitude, and what better way to kick off the month than with a review of Bolero Beachwear? Darlene of Hourglassy posted a wonderful review of their bust-friendly beach dresses a few months ago, and I fell in love with the products. She kindly forwarded my contact information to company owner and designer, Patricia. After discussing the dresses and potential for us carry the line in the shop, Patricia generously offered to send me a free dress to review. It arrived in time to be a surprise birthday present, and I have not had a chance to do a proper review until now.
For most of Americans, now is probably the worst time to review beachwear. As I type my review, I am treated to a drab gray visage outside the store window with intermittent bouts of freezing rain. Even in North Carolina, we have consistently experienced below average temperatures which make it difficult to imagine days spent in the warm summer sun. No matter! Where there is a pretty dress, there is a way to layer, so I have made it my mission to find ways of enjoying my dress even in colder temperatures.
Patricia sent me two samples from her fuller-bust line, which features a generous cut in the bust to accommodate larger cup sizes. The size small was perfect for my current 42-29-41 measurements; nevertheless, the medium was not a bad fit either. I think the design and fabric composition of the dresses allows some leeway in sizing, but my personal recommendation is to size down if you want a tighter fit in the waist. [Read more...]
Because we treat our customers like family, I often have the privilege of getting to know more about them than what bra styles they prefer. During one such conversation, I learned that Bridget Miller was a representative for the jaw-dropping Sabika Jewelry, and we quickly began discussing a collaboration. Jewelry and lingerie fit together quite organically, so we decided to host a “Bras & Bling Party” at the shop. The party is significant to me for several reasons, chief among which is that it will be an unofficial “store warming” party. As of January 28th, A Sophisticated Pair will now be occupying the space formerly held by Elegant Bridal, and the party will be the first event we host in the new space. Furthermore, the collaboration will be a great opportunity for customers to shop for both gorgeous jewelry and properly fitting bras. If you’re in the area, we’d love to see you attend!
What: Bras & Bling Party
When: Friday, February 7th from 5p.m. to 8p.m.
Light refreshments provided
Guests can order jewelry from the Classic, Spring, or Winter collections with select styles on sale for up to 50% off the retail value. For our part in the celebration, we will be having a store-wide 15% off sale on purchases made during the party. Update: There will be a special at the part where you can buy one item at full price from the Classic, Fall/Winter, or Spring/Summer collections and receive 50% off all additional Fall/Winter items.
If you have not previously heard of Sabika, you are in for a real treat! Sabika is a family-owned and operated company which showcases beautiful jewelry hand-made in Germany and Austria by female artisans working from their homes. All jewelry is nickel-free and comes from an eco-friendly manufacturing process. Two seasonal collections complement classic staples and layer effortlessly for personalized customization. In fact, Sabika carefully crafts a mix-and-match aesthetic which works well with other Sabika pieces as well as items already in your personal collection.
To better expose my customers to the Sabika product, Bridget loaned me several pieces to model at the store during the upcoming weeks. Aside from my piercings, I tend toward a minimalistic jewelry palette. I wear the same watch everyday and usually add a single necklace or ring into the mix; as a result, my initial concern was that I would feel too fussy in the collection. My jewelry layering is quite limited too, but when Bridget opened up the cases, I knew instantly that these were pieces I could wear and love.
The first collection she loaned me is the “Wine & Dine,” which includes the choker necklace, daisy pendant, and opal golf necklace. Featuring silver, gold, pearl, and turquoise, the Wine & Dine items pushed the edge of my comfort zone since I am normally not drawn to mixes of amber, gold, and pearl, but the contrasting turquoise pulls the entire piece together. With the mix of cool and warm tones, I think the pieces would be flattering across skin tones. Not to mention, the daisy pendant clips onto the necklace easily, meaning you can enjoy the style as a choker or as more of a statement piece. The clip for the pendant is not limited to Sabika items either which allows you to upgrade items in your existing collection too.
Whenever I post reviews, I typically discuss styles I have either recently purchased or those I tested and dismissed; as a result, my reviews often miss a critical component of discussion: how a bra wears over time. For the first entry of 2014, I will revisit my bra purchases of 2013 and relate how the styles fared after the rigors of wash and wear. Keep in mind that this post centers on my personal experience with the styles, meaning my breast shape, size, activity level, and frequency of wear are going to vary from yours. A style that may have failed me could be a perennial favorite for you, which is what makes our open dialog here so interesting and important. All original reviews can be found under the tab in the above menu.
Technically purchased in late 2012, the Panache Jasmine quickly became my go-to for several months and was the bra against which I judged all others. The forward, rounded profile was only matched by the comfort, lift, and durability. Interestingly, my first day of wear was incredibly painful on account of the heavily starched fabric and rigid band, but several strong washes later, the Jasmine was dreamy. Furthermore, Jasmine maintained shape perfectly over time. The band stayed firm for months, and even the delicate stretch lace remained elasticized until the end. Despite loving the bra, I did find two issues. First, my breasts refused to settle into the bottom of the cups as the bra aged. By retirement time, frequent movement resulted in almost an inch of space at the bottom. My breast shape did change around this time too which may be partly responsible for the settling issue. My second complaint revolves around how the width of the wires became uncomfortably warped around my sides as I stepped down the hook-and-eye closures. In all fairness, stepping down the hooks easily modifies the fit of the underwire regardless of the bra, but with Jasmine, it became painful after a long day working. Modified Grade: B+
As an ardent lover of cobalt, Loretta easily nudged her way into my lingerie wardrobe, but my initial excitement faded quickly. The full coverage design which at first seemed practical for my busy days in the store became problematic when the tops of my breasts would slide up and over the cup, necessitating readjustment. Like Jasmine, stepping down the hook-and-eye closures resulted in wire width problems too; however, Loretta never did cause me any pain. Modified Grade: B
Tutti Rouge Liliana
Even though Liliana was a free sample, I am including it in my round-up as I did have a chance to test it multiple times. The high quality fabrics, excellent construction, and soft fabrics stayed fantastic, and the rounded but minimized profile worked perfectly under tops with less bust space. Not to mention, the low center gore created sexy cleavage under v-neck tops and dresses. However, I ordered a 30HH before realizing my Tutti Rouge size is a 32HH or J, making Liliana one band and about two cup sizes too small. I typically used an extender for extra space and often had to tuck breast tissue backward into the cup. Ultimately, I was not able to wear Liliana frequently because of the overflow, but I plan on revisiting the style in my proper size. Modified Grade: Abstaining [Read more...]
I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season this year! Several weeks ago, Erica reviewed the Fantasie Elodie, and let’s just say she wasn’t enthusiastic about the fit. Today I am defending my bra’s honor by reviewing it. Since I have had the bra about two months now, I can also comment on how well it wears over time.
Size & Fit: The last time I bought a Fantasie bra, I was about 15 pounds heavier and wore a UK 32F. Given my recent weight loss, I wasn’t sure where to go with sizing, but Erica recommended trying my normal 30F. It worked out perfectly! The band was snug on the loosest set of hooks, and the cups fit rather well too. On my smaller side, I have the slightest wrinkle, but it’s not visible under clothes and does not otherwise affect the fit of the bra. In her review, Erica mentioned how she found the bra hit high on the sides and was extremely pointy from the side. Personally, I don’t have either of these issues.
Is it as round as my Freya Deco? No, but I like the variety, and I think this gives a natural shape under clothes. Underneath my blouses, the Elodie reigns supreme. Not to mention, you can also see the marks in the above pic from where my Deco Charm was hitting me on the side, and the Elodie sits much lower. The front has moderate coverage, and in the future, I would like to try one of Fantasie’s plunge styles. The bra is also incredibly comfortable and has worn extremely well over the last two months. For those of you new to the blog, I work as a manager in fast food, so I need bras that are going to withstand everything from being a cashier to cleaning the charbroiler. I never have issues with this style feeling uncomfortable, and the support is great.
Materials & Design: Erica, Debbie, and I have a bit of a tradition. Whenever the new catalogs arrive, we flip through the pages making wish lists. Elodie was my favorite for Fall 2013. Even when Erica told me the bra was $78, I vowed to cut back on Pepsi to afford it . . . plus the matching briefs. It was totally worth it! When the shop first opened, I snagged a Fantasie Vivienne, and I wore that bra every other day for a year. So I knew Fantasie made a quality bra, and Elodie is no different. The bottom interior cup is this stiffer satin fabric while the top is a mesh with lots and lots of intricate embroidery. Truthfully, the part of the design that really had me salivating was the gorgeous teal and black color. It just felt so regal and expensive. Okay, it was expensive, but it feels like I am wearing a $100+ bra instead of a *gulp* $78 one. I still can’t believe how addicted I have become to gorgeous bras, especially $70+ ones. It’s probably because when I put on my Elodie, I feel ready to take on the hungry masses and kick butt.
For years, Fantasie was my go-to brand, due in large part to the easy access I had to their smoothing series; however, after I opened the shop, temptation from other brands was powerful and magnetic. Slowly my lingerie wardrobe shifted toward fun, quirky brands like Freya and Cleo and away from the brand which helped me love my boobs again. However, when I saw the Elodie in the amazing teal colorway this season, I knew I wanted to rekindle an old flame.
Sizing: For both Fantasie and Freya, a 30H typically fits the best, and the Elodie conforms to the rule. While Freya’s bands can sometimes tread into stretchy territory, I have always enjoyed how Fantasie fits firmer. The 30 band feels perfectly snug while the cups contour to the top of my breasts without any overflow, gaping, or puckering.
Fit: Because my breasts are close together on my chest with very little side tissue, I prefer bras with narrow underwires and deeper cups. Elodie sports a narrow gore and fairly deep cups, but the underwire on the side extends backward too far, leaving empty space near the underwire. Furthermore, the cups could be deeper near the center gore where the design is forcing my breasts apart. The silhouette is not quite East/West, but the contrast from Cleo has me more critical of too much separation. Nevertheless, I am still getting good forward projection from the added side support panels, but I think a slightly deeper cup would have been perfect for me. To this effect, I am also experiencing some space issues at the bottom of the cup where my breast tissue sits above the underwire. The coverage level on this bra is also a bit too much for my liking, and the sides of the cups dig into my arms, restricting my movement and causing pain. Finally, on the purely aesthetic side, the profile created by Elodie is exceptionally pointy (even for this gal who will rock the vintage silhouette). In fact, the design creates a sharply angled shape which does not make me feel as though my breasts are being lifted enough, and under clothes, it looks rather odd. [Read more...]
Over the last couple of months I have been watching Erica review a ton of fabulous Tutti Rouge bras, which gave me a serious case of bra envy because they’re all so friggin’ cute! I mean, heart-shaped adjusters, flowers, ruffles, frills—what more can a girl want? Even though I am on a self-imposed pretty bra buying hiatus at the moment, I couldn’t resist trying on the gorgeous Betty when I visited the store:
Sizing & Fit: When Erica reviewed the Betty, she said the band ran tight, but the 30F I tried (my standard size) fit pretty well in the band. The cup was too small though, so I bumped up to the 30FF which fits amazingly. Of course, I actually tried on Erica’s bra (should have gotten a picture of that since it was pretty hilarious!), and I can attest that hers is definitely A LOT tighter than the one I am sporting for the photos. So, I guess my only suggestion is to order a couple of sizes if possible and return what doesn’t fit.
Cleo has become my go-to brand this year—easily usurping Freya and Panache’s Superbra line from the throne, and as a result, I have been avariciously snatching up new styles to add to my collection. When I first saw the fall version of the Lily, I was not impressed with the aesthetic, but then I saw the gorgeous new spring colorways which channel the modern simplicity of the Claudette Dessous and knew I needed to try one now.
Sizing & Fit: My standard Cleo size is a 30H which is what I have here. The band feels comfortably firm on the loosest set of hooks, and the cups do not have any overflow or puckering. However, when I move my shoulders, I experience minor gaping on the smaller breast because the firmer fabric does contour with movement. Since the issue is camouflaged by clothing, it was not serious enough to dampen my affection for the bra.