As little as a five pound weight loss or gain can completely change your bra size, and I am often asked by women in transitional weights how to navigate bra buying. Because bras are expensive, no woman wants to invest money in an item she can only wear a short time, so today I want to discuss ways of maximizing your lingerie budget while on a weight loss journey.
Almost every week, a customer will ask if there is a way to determine how weight loss will impact her bra size, and I wish I had a firm answer. Depending on your body type, your bra size may not change, or you may experience fluctuations in the cup, band, or both. Since the weight loss process is so variable, there is no definitive way of knowing how your bra size will be impacted. Nevertheless, in general, most women lose weight in keeping with their body shape. Breasts are composed of both glandular tissue and fatty tissue, and losing weight tends to impact the fatty tissue the most. Consequently, if you gained weight and gained cup sizes, losing weight could mean a drop in breast size, but if you were always on the busty side, losing weight may not drastically reduce your breast size. For example, I have always been between a GG and a H cup at every weight. When I was at my heaviest, I was around a 36GG, and at my lowest weight, I was a 28H. Continue reading →
For a few weeks now, I contemplated the ongoing confusion plaguing the millions of women searching for a bra that fits—confusion due in part to the persistent misinformation circulating the web. However, until now, I have been so busy working at the shop that I was unable to give the issue the time and attention it deserves.
At the end of May, Jockey made waves in the lingerie world by launching a new fit kit which tosses out the band/cup combo of old in favor of a band measurement paired with a series of breast molds used to identify the best cup volume for you. Women were promised a simple solution for their bra woes although many were left scratching their heads at sizes like 2-32 or 5-36. For more information on the sizing system itself, read these comprehensive reviews from Sweet Nothings, Ali Cudby, and Elizabeth Dale.
In addition to Jockey’s system, intrepid bra shoppers can turn to the expansive and resourceful reditt /ABraThatFits which addresses sizing and fit issues on a massive, interrelated, and somewhat jumbled scale only made possible by the Internet. Finally, there is always the advice found on manufacturer’s and retailer’s websites. Of course, if you pick ten different guides and compare the advice, often you will find varying and sometimes conflicting ways of measuring, a limited explanation of why that method is the best, and/or not even a cursory examination on how to ensure the suggested size actually works for you.
Jockey’s promotional picture for the kit.
This confusion has led Jezebel writers (among others) to ponder whether bras actually come from outer space because the garment most women wear seems to baffle just about everyone, and the lingerie industry keeps piling on layer upon layer of complexity. So, what’s the deal with bra sizes? Are they the result of some conspiratorially complex code only Robert Langdon can unravel? Or is there a simpler way of figuring things out?
Let’s start with band size. We recommend breathing normally and measuring your underbust with a soft tape measure, keeping it level around the torso and pulling firmly but not tightly. Why? Most modern brands cut the band to fit that measurement, meaning the average 32 band is designed to accommodate a ribcage measuring approximately 32″. Consequently, if you add inches to the initial measurement, you may buy a band intended for a woman proportionally bigger than you. With the larger band, the rest of the bra is usually scaled for the bigger frame, including the length and shape of the underwires, the height and width of the center gore, and the position of the straps on the cups. The resulting shape change may not work well for your figure.
Women with narrow ribcages and less padding and/or smaller busts may find a band in their actual ribcage measurement is too tight. Because the ribs have less padding, the pressure of the underwire and the elastic band can feel binding and painful. Bumping up a single band size can alleviate the problem although some women prefer to move up two band sizes. Another potential reason to size up is if you do not require much support from the bra and want to keep the band from stretching too much on a daily basis. As an example, both The Lingerie Lesbian and The Lingerie Addict add inches onto their band size.
Having explained the exception, I still recommend testing your initial band size first and then deciding whether a larger size would work better. For instance, if your starting point band is a 28, try it before jumping right to a 32. For every woman who fits the profile of someone who would add inches, there is another who would rather have a tighter band. Like all clothing items, some things come down to personal preference.
Resident blogger Dezi, for example, prefers to wear a 30E or F instead of a 32DD or 34D.
Now that we have a band size, we will examine cup size. Since the band component represents the torso, all cup size does is relate the volume of your breasts to the size of your band. As the band scales by proportion, the cup sizes alerts the manufacturer to how much breast tissue you have relative to that band size. This is why cup sizes mean nothing without the band size. A woman who wears a 30D has proportionally the same size breasts as a woman wearing a 38D, i.e., both women have bust measurements approximately 4″ larger than their ribcage measurements; however, the woman wearing a 30D has significantly less breast volume. In fact, a 38D bra has the same breast volume as a 30FF!
A 28G Cleo Jude in the foreground with sister size 34E in the background
To find your cup size, stand upright and use the soft tape to measure around the fullest part of your bust, pulling the tape loosely. You do not want to compress any breast tissue with this measurement.
Subtract your band size from the bust measurement and use a chart like the one below to find the corresponding cup size:
Our bra size calculator is available to use as well. If you’re between cup sizes, I recommend starting with the larger one first, but again this is only a starting point size. In certain styles you may need to size down in the cup while others require moving up.
As I mentioned in my post on our calculator, another way of determining your cup size involves measuring the bust while bending over at the waist. Even though some women report a more accurate size with this method, I cannot recommend the technique over the one above as I have dealt with several returns through our online store from people who bought cup sizes way too large based on the bending over method. Others recommend averaging the two measurements; however, if you have no idea what size to buy, start with the upright measurement and use the good fit criteria to judge whether you need a larger cup size.
Once you have a general idea about your bra size, the rest becomes a trial-and-error process based on what styles you like and how a manufacturer designs a bra. Some bras, no matter what size you try, will not work for your breast shape. In fact, entire lines from a manufacturer may be at odds with your figure because the fit model they use differs too much from your shape. For example, my struggles with Curvy Kate have been well-documented. The design of the bras is wider and shallower than my breast shape allows, and as a result, nothing seems to fit properly. Meanwhile, I have better luck with Cleo by Panache which features narrower underwires and deeper cups.
Despite the added headache to the bra shopping experience, it’s actually a good thing manufacturers utilize different cuts so that the diversity of women’s bodies can be better represented. Since most brands keep the same model in mind, you may decide to stick with a brand you know works for you.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Because so many of the talented lingerie lovers in the blogosphere have already put together amazing wish lists and recommendations for the holiday, I want to forgo offering my favorites and instead focus on the practical side of lingerie, namely how you can transition it beyond the bedroom. Selecting styles with built-in versatility can aid you in enjoying lovely lingerie throughout the year, but thinking creatively about how to incorporate your latest purchase into your regular wardrobe or routine can add an unexpected dose of glamor to everyday life.
The Basic Matching Set in a Hot Color
If your budget is tight, one of the easiest ways to spice up your lingerie drawer is to snag a tried-and-true basic style in a hot new color or pattern. Variety adds interest while the pre-tested design guarantees you can wear your new purchase every day.
The Sexy Set with Seams and Lace and Embroidery
Tee shirt bras—fit issues aside—are a versatile pick for everyday wear because of their seamless, contoured design. Nevertheless, if you want a new style for Valentine’s Day, I recommend breaking up the routine with something unexpected and fun, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find bras more beautiful than those featuring seams, lace, ribbons, or embroidery. The matching panties are always incredible, and the designs range from daring and bold to sophisticated and ladylike to quirky and cool. Let your personality and taste guide you to the style which suits you best. However, when it comes time to throw on your tee shirt, these stunners often fall short in how discreetly they blend under your tops. To combat this problem, forget wearing an ornate bra under thin knits without layering—a fabulous technique which adds visual interest to outfits and allows you to branch out beyond the basics. For example, experiment with layering a sweater or embellished tee over a button-front, or opt for a simple styling by wearing a colored camisole under a v-neck top. Additionally, schedule some time for testing the bra under the dresses and shirts you own because you may be pleasantly surprised with how many of them camouflage the bra entirely. Prints and thicker weight materials, in particular, are perfect for transitioning that sexy bra to everyday wear, and once you know which items the bra works with, you can easily pair them together in the morning.
The Sheer Robe or Dressing Gown
For Christmas, I received the black sheer robe from my wish list, and not only does it look effortlessly sexy either worn alone or over a matching lingerie set, but it’s also perfect for wearing in the morning while I blow dry my hair and apply my makeup.
Slipping that silky robe around my shoulders instantly transports me to a time when silver screen goddesses powdered their noses wearing lacey chemises layered seductively underneath robes with feathers around the neckline. Valentine’s Day lingerie can bring a taste of old school glamor to your everyday routine whether you decide to wear a sexy robe while drinking your tea or to slip into that chemise for sleeping.
A Bustier or Basque for Everyday
Let me preface this suggestion with a note that much will depend on your lifestyle, personal comfort zone, and workplace environment. However, if you can and are willing to wear underwear as outerwear, a basque or bustier works naturally with fashion. Layer one over a white button-front or a turtle-neck top for a modest yet edgy look, or use a conservative blazer layered on top of a bustier to show more skin.
For the fearless, wear the basque or bustier alone with a skirt or slacks for cocktail attire. Speaking of after-hours, a bustier would look fabulous under one of the nouveau tuxedo ensembles.
Furthermore, many of these tips will work for layering corsets too.
The Three S’s
Even a basic tee shirt bra and cotton underwear can be transformed into a sexy ensemble with the Three S’s: suspenders, stockings, and stilettos. They take the everyday and transform it into something special for the occasion. Usually, these accessories are inexpensive, meaning you can reserve them for bedroom play without a financial investment. However, if you splurge on a quality garter belt, like the Maitresse from Kiss Me Deadly, you can wear it often because it is designed to stay put and hold up stockings all day. Stilettos work for date night, but you can also find heels that work for the office too if you focus on comfort and design features like platforms and padded toe beds.
If Transitioning Does Not Work
However, if you prefer to keep your sexy lingerie secret and for special occasions only, purchase cheaper alternatives to reduce the cost-per-wear of the item. Not to mention, certain items like baby dolls, fuzzy heels, and lacey nightgowns are harder to transition to everyday wear, so buying them at a lower price seems natural. For example, Affinitas sells bra-sized baby dolls for $65, or Shirley of Hollywood has some sexy (albeit less supportive for the fuller-busted woman) lingerie around $35.00
Your Turn: Are you buying something new for tonight? How do you plan to wear it afterward?
Shoes and bras are two of my guilty pleasures because both make me feel confident, sexy, and pulled-together, but whenever I acquire a new gem for my collection, there is a day that I look to with a mix of anticipation and dread: The Break-In day. No matter how comfortable the new bra or shoes feel when I try them on, I know the first day (or three) of wear will be less than ideal. As a result, I want to focus today on the break-in period for bras and discuss why it occurs and what you can do to alleviate the discomfort.
Let’s start with a basic question: What exactly is “The Break-in Day?” Essentially, it is the first day you wear the bra during which the elastic stretches to fit your body and the fabric softens from friction against the skin. Your body also learns where the bra will apply pressure and gradually becomes accustomed to the shape of the bra. How the bra feels on break-in day is usually the worst it will ever feel.
But, shouldn’t bras feel perfect the first time you wear them with no pinching, chaffing, or tightness? Not necessarily. When a bra is shipped from the manufacturer to the retailer, the new fabric is starched, sometimes heavily, so that the bra maintains its shape and hanger appeal after compression in the shipping container. Most of us are guilty of judging clothing by how it appears hanging on the rack too, and the process of starching the bras helps preserve their shape in the retailer’s store even if they have been tried on by multiple people.
Furthermore, the fabric itself is brand new which means it has not been thoroughly washed and worn to soften its texture. The elastic—a chief component in the band and wings of the bra—has yet to be pulled and stretched to contour to your unique shape which makes it feel tighter and firmer. Couple the newness with the above discussion of starch, and you not only have a bra which feels stiff and possibly scratchy but also cannot stretch and shape as much due to the chemicals.
To illustrate these concepts, I want to share with you two very different experiences I had with breaking in a new bra and how this impacted the lifespan of the bra over time. Frequent readers know I rave about the Panache Jasmine because it quickly usurped my former favorites to reign supreme over the lingerie closet. However, the first day I wore the Jasmine was pure agony.
This bra was not making me smile by the end of the day.
The morning started out perfect as I hooked the Jasmine on the first set of hooks and marveled at the lift, shaping, and forward projection the design offered. The band felt firm and anchored to the body, and for the first two hours, I was comfortable. Then, the heavily starched fabric (Panache is one of the worst offenders for over-starching) scratched and rubbed my skin, especially around the band where it was compressing the skin. After lunch, the firm band seemed to tighten around my ribcage, compressing my torso with a vice-like power. The clock slowly counted down the hours of the day, and when I only had an hour of work left, my brother called. He needed a ride home which tacked on another 1.5 hours of wear to the 8.5 hours I had already been wearing it. As I sat in the parking lot waiting for him, the scratchiness and the tightness were too much, and I unsnapped the hook-and-eye closures through my shirt. The next day I wore the much looser Freya Ellie.
After reading my experience, the word “masochist” comes to mind since my so-called “favorite bra” tortured me the first day I wore it. In fact, I contemplated never wearing it again, but I realized that I had yet to wash the bra or thoroughly stretch the elastic. Once I was home from picking up my brother, I soaked the Jasmine in room-temperature soapy water for thirty minutes before rinsing the fabric thoroughly. The next time I wore the bra, I felt a marked improvement even toward the end of the day. Another washing and another day of wear yielded an even more comfortable fit, and I fell in lingerie love with the Jasmine and have ardently supported the style since then. When I wear the bra now (and I do at least three times a week), I receive the lift, shaping, and support I need without the scratchy fabric or too firm band.
The other experience I want to share is the first day I wore the Freya Faye in Beige. It was perfect. I felt like I had the bra for months, and I wore it all day without a problem. A few weeks later, however, the bra was already on the middle hooks, and a few months after that, I had dropped down to the tightest. Finally, in less than 5 months, the bra was in my “wear at home pile,” and I only wore it once or twice a week at most. Meanwhile, in the four months I have been wearing the Jasmine, I am still on the loosest set of hooks. The band of the Faye wasn’t the only component to wear out quickly either. The shape of the cups stretched, and the pliable underwire was bent backwards by how quickly I was wearing the bra on the tightest setting. When I purchased the Faye, the band did not feel as firm as the Jasmine which contributed to how quickly I wore out the band, however I won’t defend the stiffness of Panache’s fabric. In general, I’ve found Freya does not use the same heavy-handed application of starch as Panache, and the break-in day is much easier if the band feels firm but the fabric feels soft.
The black version was fine, but the beige was just too loose in the band.
Since the first day of wear can usually impact how you feel about the bra, I have some tips below for ensuring your break-in period is as easy and painless as possible:
Wash your bras before you wear them, especially if the fabric feels stiff. With the starch removed, the band can stretch to fit your body, the cups can contour to your breasts, and the bra will feel better overall. However, once you wash a bra, you usually cannot return it, so test the bra thoroughly before washing.
Wear the bra for a few hours the first time. Instead of grabbing your new bra for an 18-hour day at the office, try wearing it for 4-6 hours to help the elastic stretch without feeling too tight as your body swells throughout the day.
Use an extender. If you are like me and prefer a snug band, then the break-in period of a bra is usually worse than for someone who prefers a looser band. In these cases, it can be helpful to purchase a bra extender to wear for the first week until the elastic has fully stretched to accommodate your curves.
Evaluate the materials. Certain companies will use soft materials from the outset and do not rely on chemicals or starch which translates to a more comfortable break-in day. The fabric on the cups and wings of the Jasmine felt stiff from all of the starch whereas my Freya bras tend to feel a little more comfortable. Nevertheless, washing the Jasmine transformed it into a completely different bra, so if you’re deciding whether to wear-then-wash or wash-then-wear, examining the materials is the safest bet.
Your turn: Were there any bras that you thought you weren’t going to like based off the first time you wore it that later became your favorites? Do you have any other tips for helping ease the break-in period?
With “Lose Weight” frequently topping lists of New Year’s Resolutions, I wanted to do my part to help you stay on track by providing some sports bra recommendations!
The Panache Sports Bra
Description: Using encapsulation technology to separate and support breast tissue during exercise, the Panache Sports Bra is perhaps one of the most popular styles on the market (and the shop’s best-selling sports bra). With the promise of reducing bounce by as much as 83%, this sports bra features underwire and molded cups to compress breast tissue without creating the dread uniboob under workout gear. Extra fabric at the top of the underwire provides added coverage, and moisture-wicking fabric pulls sweat away from the body. Finally, a J-Hook on the back of the padded straps let you convert the bra to a racerback for added control.
Disadvantages: The use of a foam cup means this style can fall victim to the same gaping and fit issues as other molded cup styles.
Size Range: 28 DD-H, 30 D-H, 32 C – H, 34 -38 B – H, 40 D-GG
Impact Level: Moderate to High
Colors Available: Black, White, and Gray Tri-Color
The Elomi Energise
Description: Our second best-selling sports bra, the Energise utilizes sturdy underwire to separate breast tissue but forgoes a molded foam cup in favor of a traditional four-section design for an improved fit. Moisture-wicking fabric ensures you stay cool and dry during a workout, and the mesh wings anchor to the body while remaining breathable.
Disadvantages: This style is not available in smaller band or cup sizes and cannot be converted to a racer-back.
Description: Similar to the Energise, the Freya Active Underwired Sports Bra separates breast tissue and keeps it contained in the cup without using a (sometimes problematic) molded cup. Moisture-wicking fabric and comfort straps add to the appeal, and Freya recently expanded the size range of this style up to a K cup in select bands. Finally, if you’re not a fan of underwire, there is a wireless version available too.
Disadvantages: This style cannot be converted to a racer-back, and the wireless version has a reduced size range. Although not a disadvantage per se, the shape of the cups is more conical than the other styles listed.
Underwire SizeRange: 28-38 D-G, 30-38 GG-JJ, 30-36 K
Wireless Size Range: 32-38 C, 28-40 D-H
Impact Level: Moderate to High
Colors Available: Black, White, and Beige; Red and Charcoal up to an H cup only
The Wacoal Sports Bra
Description: With a full-coverage design including higher underwires at the center gore, the Wacoal Sports Bra keeps breasts supported and lifted during exercise. Featuring a thick and sturdy moisture-wicking fabric on the seamless cup, this style blends easily under thin knits, and the padded comfort straps detach to be worn criss-cross for added versatility. Because of the fabric and design choices, this bra is especially great for women who may have lost firmness in their breast tissue.
Disadvantages: The size range is limited.
Size Range: US 32-40 C -H (UK FF)
Impact Level: Moderate to High
Colors Available: Black, White, and Beige
The Natori Sport UW Bra
Description: For the girl who loves cotton (or is on a budget!), this super soft and supportive encapsulation style sports bra from Natori is perfect for moderate impact activities like yoga or walking. Thick comfort straps and a wider band at the bottom of the bra give added anchorage and support.
Disadvantages: The fabric is not moisture-wicking, and the size range is limited.
Size Range: US 32-38 B-C, 32-40 D-DDD (UK E)
Impact Level: Low to Moderate Activity
Colors Available: White and Heather Grey
With the juggernaut-like success of Panache’s sports bra, many of our favorite manufacturers are redesigning some of their existing models as well as creating exciting new styles to meet the demand for sports bras that withstand high impact but still look flattering and stylish. Below are two styles we’re looking forward to testing this year:
The Freya Active Molded Cup Sports Bra
Description: Using underwire to encapsulate breast tissue, this new offering from Freya trades in the seamed cup style of old for a flexible spacer fabric for a better fit and more rounded, seamfree appearance under clothes. A J-Hook addition on the back of the comfort straps lets you convert the style to a racer-back for added support.
Disadvantages: This style is not available in higher cup sizes.
Size Range: 34-40 B-C, 28-40 D-G, 28-38 GG, 30-36 H
Impact Level: Moderate to High
Colors Available: Beige, Storm, and Cosmic Blue
Ships: March 13th
The Natori Power Yogi
Description: Fuller coverage cups and rigid comfort straps help eliminate bounce while a Coolmax outer fabric keeps you cool and dry. Ultralight stretch foam cups offer complete encapsulation, making this bra ideal for high impact sports. Providing a natural shape under clothes, the Power Yogi also features convertible straps which can be worn regular or criss cross!
Disadvantages: This style is not available in higher cup sizes or smaller bands.
Size Range: US 32-38 B – H (UK FF), 32-40 C – DDD (UK E)
Impact Level: Moderate to High
Colors Available: Gray/Black, White/Gray
Which sports bra style is your favorite? Are there any on the list you are interested in testing this year?
At A Sophisticated Pair, one of our missions is to help women fall in love with their boobs and find the bra that suits their needs. Sometimes, we assist in finding a supportive, fuller coverage style which lifts and separates, but at other times, we help locate the perfect cleavage baring (or creating) bra to play up their assets. Because a little decolletage amps up the sexy factor to an outfit, I want to review a few personal picks for which bras fit and look the best.
For the D+ Women
Freya Deco: Without a doubt, the Freya Deco is one of the best bras for the D-GG cup woman who hopes to create gorgeous cleavage while still keeping a smooth and rounded profile under tops and dresses. The lower center gore and graduated cup work to pull tissue from the side and bottom toward the center for sexy, full decolletage while the powernet wings provide excellent support and anchorage to keep your breasts lifted. As a bonus, the Deco is always available in beautiful new colors and patterns which allows you to mix fashion with function.
Parfait Casey: Similar in design to the Freya Deco, the Parfait Casey utilizes a lower center gore and graduated cup to create cleavage, but the Casey differs in that it uses slightly wider underwires and a side stay on the wings for added control. Furthermore, the Casey has three hook-and-eye closures for larger cup sizes to give added support, and at $42.00, the price is a steal!
Curvy Kate Elegance: While not as smooth as the Casey or the Deco, the Curvy Kate Elegance features a padded plunge style with shallower cups to fulfill the promise of “to die for” cleavage. The sleek and shiny exterior fabric and ornate embroidery are the perfect framework for highlighting the rounded cleavage the design gives, but if you want more frill, try the Wild or the Tempt Me!
Elomi 1221 Smoothing Bra: Push-ups for women in the traditional plus-size market are harder to find, and the 1221 is a fantastic option. With bump pads built into the cup, a lower center gore, and slightly wider wing for added side support, the 1221 manages to give flattering cleavage and excellent lift too. Unfortunately, Elomi is discontinuing this style in the future, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they debut something exciting to replace it.
For the A-DD Cup Women
Affinitas Nicole: Featuring fully-adjustable multiway straps, the Nicole has boomerang shaped bump pads to push tissue from the side and bottom of the breast toward the center to maximize cleavage while still maintaining comfort. Ranging in size from 30-38 A-DD, the Nicole is a fantastic alternative to Victoria’s Secret bras, and the $32.00 price point is a bargain.
b.tempt’d Double Drama: Because the padding scales to suit the cup size (larger cup sizes have less while smaller cup sizes have more), the Double Drama creates a customized and individual level of cleavage for each woman. The multiway design and sweetheart neckline make it ideal for most tops, and the smooth satin finish on the cup ensures you can wear this push-up under any top.
Wacoal Embrace Lace Petite Push-Up: Even though the this style has a lower size range (30-36 A-C, 32-36AA), the design fits and flatters so many women that it is a much loved best-seller. The Embrace Lace Petite Push-Up features removable pads to let you decide how much cleavage and shaping you want each day. Not to mention, the closer set cups work well for petite figures, and the beautiful lace embroidery on the wings lends a classy, sophisticated vibe to the design.
Balcony Bra Cleavage
Usually, when you want to create cleavage, plunge bras are a fan favorite, but certain balcony style can also provide a rounded, cleavage on the top of the bust rather than the closer-set cleavage created at the center by a plunge.
Curvy Kate Tease Me: With ribbon, lace, and embroidery, the Tease Me is one of the most beautiful bras created for the D+ market, and the lower balcony design gives what some refer to as Marie Antoinette “Cakes on a Plate” cleavage at the top of the breasts. With an impressive size range, a flexible and supportive wing, and soft lining on the inside of the cup, the Tease Me works equally well as a boudoir or boardroom bra.
Masquerade Rhea: With a firmer wing than the Tease Me, the Rhea anchors well to the body, and the padded cups with vertical seaming lift tissue above the cup. Furthermore, the satin fabric with a little sheen lends a luxurious look and feel to this supportive bra.
Freya Padded Half Cups: Freya’s Padded Half Cup bras are always available in new colors and prints every season and can often create cleavage on par with both the Tease Me and the Rhea at a significantly lower price ($64 vs. $73+). Not to mention, you can also find this design in Freya’s longline styles too if you want something with more side smoothing and a trendier design.
Parfait Charlotte: At $38.00, you can’t beat this favorite among the D-G cup community. The fabric is soft, and the slightly v-shaped neckline pushes the tissue to the top and center for the best of both cleavages worlds.
Readers Weigh-In: What is your go-to bra for creating cleavage? I’ve heard good things about Ewa Michalak, but since I haven’t fit any women with them or tried them personally, I was hesitant about adding a style to the list.
I started a new job a few weeks ago that requires me to wear a uniform, so I kind of feel blah about how I can’t wear any of my pretty clothes to work. As a result, I’ve been thinking about getting a set that is sexier than my last purchases (I stocked up on some beige bras, especially the Parfait Casey). My philosophy is I’ll feel like I’m all dressed up in something pretty even if I have to wear a uniform. Not to mention, I’m sure my boyfriend wouldn’t mind if I surprised him with something sexy. I saw the Arabella from Freya and thought this could fit the bill perfectly.
Sizing & Fit: Recently, I’ve been wearing a 30F or 32E depending on the style, so I tried the size 30F first. The band on Freya bras always seem a little stretchier to me than say, Wacoal, so I’m willing to make it through the break-in period to keep the bra lasting longer. The F cup worked okay. I completely filled out the cup, but the ribbon detail at the top is on the firm side (like the Curvy Kate Princess) which makes it cut in a little on the top part of my boobs. The underwire also seems a little shallow for me, so I bumped up to the FF cup. But, that size had some serious gaping at the cup. Overall, I just couldn’t seem to get the perfect fit from this style.
Materials & Design: I loved the mesh fabric used on the cup. Aside from having a sexy, totally sheer quality, the fabric felt amazing against the skin too because it was so light-weight and soft. The straps are fully-adjustable, and the wings of the bra are very supportive and anchored well to my frame. I like the pink embroidery and ribbon detailing at the top too. Black and pink work so well together, and I think the use of the two in this design keeps the style sexy but still tasteful and girly. Finally, I like how this is a plunge style because it lets me wear my v-neck tops easily, and despite not using any padding or foam, I still get the hint of some cleavage too.
Overall Comments: I really like this style, and I think it’s incredibly sexy. However, I think I need wider wires than what Freya designs. Aside from the padded half-cups, I’ve had some trouble getting the right fit from them, but companies like Panache and Curvy Kate fit me well. Even though the bra didn’t work for me, I still highly recommend it!
A few weeks ago, Darlene Campbell of Campbell & Kate and Hourglassy invited me to participate in a “Work Wardrobe Challenge” for a thirty-year old grad school graduate in need of advice on how to build a professional work wardrobe on a budget. After I lost weight a few years ago, I was in a similar circumstance because very few items fit. I overcame the problem by building a small wardrobe of fashion staples in a common color palette with a few unique pieces thrown in for fun. As a result, I want to implement this same strategy here, and fortunately, the woman in need of help, Domestic Outlet, already has a base wardrobe (below) upon which we can build:
Two Express Essential Short Sleeve Shirts—White and Light Blue
Express Essential Long Sleeve Shirt—Deep Purple (slightly big)
Two Tailored Plaid Button-Fronts
Assorted Knit Tops — Scoop and V-Necks (no cami required)
Assorted V-Neck Tops (cami required)
Brown Corduroy/Velour Blazer—Matches Nothing
Snap-Front Cardigan—Deep Purple
Button-Front Cardigan—Black with Silver
Pashminas, Scarves, Shawlettes
Three Pairs of Slacks—Gray, Expresso with Maroon Pinstripe, Khaki (Fit is okay)
Three Skirts—Brown Corduroy A-line, Black Fit-Flare, Light Pink Wool A-line
Magenta Shirt-Dress from Merona
Low heels, Flats, Tall boots, and Danskos in black
However, size, budget, body type, and personal preferences play a key role, and she provided the following information:
1. Budget: $300
2. Job: Interviewing to teach K-8 or work in an office
3. Goal: Command respect but be approachable
4. Vital Stats:
Petite 28H–36″ bust, 26.5″ ribcage, 29″ waist, and 35-37″ hips.
Bottoms: sizes 2-4
Dresses: size 4
Shirts: wears XS/S in Express but can size up to S/M
Prints “eat her up,” but she loves pinstripes.
Loves blues and greens
Skirts and high heels aren’t practical.
6. Climate: Rainy Pacific Northwest
After viewing Domestic’s stats, needs, and existing wardrobe, I have a few recommendations before she even goes shopping.
Purge and Tailor: You should love everything you own, and it should fit well. Spend some time going through your existing pieces and eliminate any that cannot be altered, are showing signs of wear, or do not suit your lifestyle needs or personal tastes. If your friend can perform alterations for you, I recommend tailoring the purple Express shirt as well as the dress slacks. Since you want to change focus from adding skirts to your wardrobe, a rotation of neutral dress pants that fit perfectly will help you build functional and stylish work outfits without needing to outlay extra cash. Be sure to consider what shoes you will wear with the pants so that they can be hemmed accordingly.
Think in terms of outfits. There are some great pieces in your base wardrobe, but there also seem to be orphan pieces, like your brown blazer. In the future, institute the “Three Outfits Rule,” meaning anything you buy must create a minimum of three new outfits to ensure its versatile enough to justify the cost.
Choose a consistent color palette of neutrals. Since your budget is tight, I recommend selecting three neutral colors that work interchangeably so you can use accessories or tops to inject color into the outfit. For example, I love black, white, and gray (although I have added navy recently) because they go together easily. In your wardrobe, the neutral pieces seem to be leaning toward gray and brown both of which can work beautifully together especially if white is introduced. When dealing with neutrals or even color, clothes don’t have to match, they only have to “go.” The brown cord jacket probably works with more than you think, but you just need the right support pieces to spice up the outfit. Finally, colors like oxblood, burgundy, olive, and sage can function as psuedo-neutrals because of their versatility. Likewise, prints such as polka dots, pinstripes, and leopard facilitate pattern mixing while allowing you to add something special to an outfit.
Buy pieces that will bring together your existing items into chic, pulled-together outfits. Since Domestic has a solid base wardrobe, I recommend allocating the budget to new items that not only work with what she already has but also form the basis for outfits she can create from future purchases.
Since that’s a lot of information for one blog, I’m going to pause for today and resume tomorrow with my purchase suggestions. In the meantime, what strategies do you employ when adding to or building your wardrobes?
As a lover of all things fashion, I’ve seen quite a few outfits that involve a sheer or lace top worn without a protective camisole so that the bra is exposed.
While some variations look effortlessly chic, I feel that others seem to say: “Whoops! Silly me! I left the house and didn’t check that my top wasn’t see through.” For example, I love these looks courtesy of Fashion Network Seattle:
The success of this trend depends on making it look intentional as well as balancing the sex appeal of the shirt with appropriate support pieces. For example, the outfit with the polka dot top and jeans would be fun for weekends while the versions featuring leather accessories have a more daring, after-hours appeal.
As a lady who loves pretty lingerie, I find the concept of the trend appealing because you can achieve a sexy but demure balance between coverage and exposure. Your gorgeous bra is on display but in a way that the sex appeal can be tempered and controlled. Check out this version from Mila Keln Fashion:
The relaxed fit of the support pieces and the casual vibe of the boyfriend jeans, brogues, and jacket balance the cheeky peekaboo quality of the top. I also love this quirky version from Who What Wear:
In the other inspiration pictures I found, the bra is more neutral whereas here it takes center stage and even complements the color of her skirt and shoes. With all the gorgeous prints and colors coming up in the lingerie world, the sheer trend allows for showcasing your latest lingerie purchase in a fun but still appropriate way. Imagine the Parfait Danielle or Freya Patsy longlines worn underneath a silky white button-front!
Nevertheless, it did not escape my attention that many of the ladies rocking this trend tend to be slender with smaller busts, and I was curious whether the look would translate well to someone with curves. Then, I found this picture:
With the higher waist and solid colored bra, the effect is almost like a regular plunging neckline instead of exposing your undergarments to the world. Add a black tuxedo jacket, and the boldness of the look diminishes even more and, depending on the office environment, could make this risky fashion choice a viable work option.
If baring your bra isn’t your style, you can still wear a lace tee or tank over something with more coverage—a styling choice I love. Since my bras tend to have sheer lace panels of their own, I worry about showing some nipple along with my bra, and I’m also hesitant about revealing that much skin in the more fashion-conservative south.
Your turn: Would you bare your bra for the sheer trend, or do you feel the look is too risque? Also, do you think this trend is accessible for women of different sizes and shapes, or does it work better for certain body types?