I have given the Panache Sculptresse brand a lot of grief over the years, but in the last 18 months, they have been killing it! If you are unfamiliar with the line, Sculptresse is Panache’s plus-size collection, and it boasts an impressive size range made from high quality fabrics and materials. I would be remiss without acknowledging my wonderful sales rep Jacquelyn who is always on point with her recommendations for styles, and one of her latest suggestions is the new Siren plunge bra. Plunge bras in plus-size are not always easy to find as many brands tend toward full-coverage fits. Because I wear a UK 34H (US 34K), I am sometimes forced to sister size in Sculptresse into a 36 band, but Siren is one of their styles which actually starts at UK 34FF, meaning I was able to go with my standard size.
For the first four years of our shop’s existence, customers bombarded me with questions about whether we would start carrying bra-sized swim. “It’s so needed!” “The only places around here even with swim are Walmart and Target, and it will do SO well!” “If you guys do swim, it will sell out fast!” Admittedly, I was extremely excited about the prospect because the first year we opened, I ordered my own bra-sized bikini and was hooked. When I first moved to NC, I had lost 60 pounds and had no swim suit, and for those who are reading this from afar, NC is an amazingly beautiful state. There are beaches, lakes, rivers, and pools which are clean, serene, and perfect for a swim, and swimming is one of my favorite things to do. I wanted to experience everything the state had to offer in summer, and so I began the great bathing suit quest of 2010.
In the past, I have seldom had an opportunity to review any products from Cake Lingerie, largely because up until recently the company focused solely on maternity and nursing products. As someone who has chosen not to have children, I’m not exactly their target demographic, but I have stocked the line for over five years in the shop. Cake focuses on bringing moms the best materials, the softest fabrics, and the most selection to make nursing an easier experience. Unlike many companies whose nursing bras are, shall we say, strictly utilitarian and read like an afterthought, Cake provides customers with a range of styles, including beautiful, lacy bras, pumping bras, and sports bras. They also make two of the best starter nursing bras in the business: the cotton candy and the sugar candy. Both options are ideal for the last few weeks of pregnancy as well as to take to the hospital for delivery. Post-partum, the Candy collections function as comfortable lounge, sleeping, and light exercise bras. Of the two, Sugar Candy strictly targets US G (UK F) cups and higher, and the success in nursing led Cake to rerelease it as a good ole fashion full-bust wireless bra.
Let’s just begin this review with a little PSA: People have nipples. Unless there was some kind of beaver-related accident, if you are reading this article, you have nipples. Hell my male cat meowing at me has nipples. As do my dogs. At what point can we agree to stop making such a big effing deal about human females and their nipples? Look, I get it. If you’re female, you’ve probably had people comment on them, perhaps inappropriately. Why? Because we decided a body part designed to feed children was also a sexual object, that’s why. People stare and comment, although let’s be honest: It’s usually men who do so and make women feel terribly uncomfortable, especially in situation where there may not be a recourse. It sucks, and sadly, there are always going to be people who have to make you feel bad about your body. One way to cope is by only wearing padded cup bras, and depending on the prevalence of your nipples, that padding could be thin and flexible or it could be seriously molded (no shame either way). The problem with this scenario is that padded cup bras, especially molded ones, can be pretty hard to fit for certain shapes and also top out in cup and band, leaving many with literally no options. I’m a big advocate of reusable nipple covers if you are self-conscious because it accomplishes discretion without compromising fit, but some people only want padded cups.
In the past, I have criticized the Sculptresse line for being a bit scattered, for not offering solid core styles, and for generally being a bit of a half-ass attempt from Panache to compete head-to-head with Elomi and Goddess for plus-size consumer dollars. Today, I can honestly say that those criticisms have been completely addressed, and Sculptrsse is quickly becoming a powerhouse brand in its own right due largely to its cohesive seasonal aesthetic, improved fit, superb quality, and inclusion of multiple core styles in larger size ranges. After loving the fits of Gina, Candi, and Chi Chi, I was super excited when my sales rep sent me a sample of the new Estel, one of the first offerings in the line to go up to a UK K cup. Suffice it to say, my expectations were set high to see what lovely entry Panache had in store!
Today is my mother’s birthday and also marks day one of our Bolero pop-up shop. Usually, my mom’s birthday is a hard day because of how much I miss her, and I am really thankful (and excited) to have Patricia here to celebrate the beautiful world of bust-friendly clothes with me. Mom would have loved everything, I am sure! For the show, Patricia has brought multiple new styles, including some pop-up exclusive prints, for our busty customers to peruse and enjoy. Among those daring designs is a new variation of her stunning Besame Mucho dress, a style I have not previously reviewed but am so excited to present today.
Patricia of Bolero is not only an amazingly talented designer, but she’s also a close personal friend of mine. She represents the best of what small business has to offer: quality products, excellent customer service, constant innovation, and a special personal touch in all she does. Last year, we were privileged enough to have her visit the shop for a pop-up event, and in what is the best twist of 2018, she is coming back! Patricia will be at the shop on December 7th and 8th for another event complete with her latest collection. I will be posting the relevant details soon, but in honor of the upcoming event, I wanted to write a mini-review of a new Bolero Ezy tunic design.
Excuse me while I geek out on this lingerie review. Indie brand Playful Promises boasts a range of products including lingerie, lounge wear, bras, and accessories and has made a splash season after season because of its unique design aesthetic and ongoing commitment to promoting diversity in advertising. For over a year, I have been purchasing miscellaneous pieces for myself and loving all of them. My love affair began when I first discovered Playful Promises sells wholesale, and I realized they would be an eye-catching and exciting addition to our assortment. Between their fun collaborations, expansive size range, fresh designs, and I-don’t-give-an-eff attitude, Playful Promises could offer our customers something not found in safer or more traditional collections. This was a brand for people wanting something daring and wholly different from what they already had. Naturally, the line had to be tested, and who better to judge the quality and fit than me? I queued up my justification protocol and clicked purchase. As a result, today’s blog comprises several mini-reviews of all the items I have been loving and wearing from the brand.
Welcome back to our two-part series. If you missed the post on special orders, I recommend reading it before proceeding. Again, I want to emphasize that with this post I am not holding any grudges, attempting to shame anyone, or upset by past behavior. My only goal is to help all of our customers understand why we will no longer be making exceptions to these policies.
After I posted about the difficulties we were facing as a business, the rallying cry of support from people whose lives were made better by the shop touched me on such a deep, emotional level that I can only describe it as love. Yes, I truly love all of you who so willingly gave your support, who shared the post, who encouraged others to visit us, who sent me personal words of encouragement and solidarity. You made my life better through your actions, and I have spent the better part of the week crying and smiling while reading everyone’s messages. My takeaway was that I not only made the right decision in fighting to keep the shop afloat, but also that I am very fortunate to be part of such a loving, caring community.