Try not to die of shock that I posted not once but TWICE in a single week. I have so many amazing products in my review queue that if I don’t get my butt in gear, I’ll never get to them all! With today’s post, we can all officially wave goodbye to the snow pictures, and I can take future photos more reflective of our current weather. Today also marks the last of my Panache freebies as well as my first Cleo review in quite some time. Back in the day, Cleo was my jam (that’s probably not what the kids are saying, but I don’t care). They had narrow underwires and deep cups and a great shape, and hey, did I mention I climbed a freakin’ mountain in the Marcie?
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To be blogging again feels amazing! Writing fulfills my soul, even if I am just chatting about bras, lingerie, and walking pneumonia. Today is all about the Samanta Desert A170 bra and how it relates to the ways European companies curtail their offerings for the North American market. Several months ago, Marzena of Samanta sent me the A170 to examine the fit because the bra specifically targets consumers wanting a minimizer. In the US, the term minimizer is fairly well known, and as the name implies these bras redistribute breast tissue to make the overall shape of the bust anywhere from 1″ to 3″ smaller than it is. Most accomplish this through the use of structured 2-ply fabric which helps compress while simultaneously shifting the bust vertically and horizontally across the chest.
Let me preface this review with a note about the weather. When we had the wonderful snowstorm back in January, I closed on a Saturday due to the inclement road conditions. Now, did I take Saturday as a snow day like any sensible thirty-something? Of course not! I schlepped out my camera and took pictures in the snow of the bras on my review docket thinking a) natural light means no need to edit any brightness/contrast issues created by the camera, b) it’d be pretty, and c) it would still be freakin’ winter when I had time to film the videos and write the reviews. While my bronchitis did contribute to the problematic nature of point C, we also must state the obvious. North Carolina took a vote, and apparently, everyone decided there would be no more winter after January. As a result, the photos for this review are in the snow . . . and so are the pictures for the next two reviews.
My friend Jillian is ready to continue her discussion of designing bras for UK KK+ cups, and I couldn’t be happier to post her latest edition. As I mentioned before, we have seen too many women who are outside of what traditional manufacturers produce and are forced to make due with a poor, sometimes even painful, fitting bras all for the sake of support. Jillian has been crafting her own bras, refining them with each new version, and the results have been exciting to watch. I hope you enjoy this next installment as much as I have, and if you missed her previous posts, you can find them here and here and here.
Since the Sculptresse Candi narrowly missed being chosen for our first bra review of the year to the Freya Fearne, it seems only fair that Candi should be the second. Candi is a new style from Sculptresse and focuses more on a softer, rounded look as opposed to the structured, forward-projecting Chi Chi. When I first saw images of Candi in my catalog, my gut reaction was: “Dayum! Panache has the tenacity to challenge Elomi’s powerhouse Cate/Caitlyn style.” Then there may have been some childish “Let’s get ready to rumble” nonsense going on, but in all seriousness, I think it is natural to invite comparisons between the two. However, since I have never formally reviewed Cate, I will focus more on Candi and only compare to Cate when I feel appropriate.
My wonderful friend Patricia of Bolero gave me a new Erica dress for Christmas/my Birthday, and immediately I knew it deserved a mini-review because of some pleasant updates. Bolero is headquartered in perennial summer state Florida, meaning many of the styles use lighter fabric and much of her early work was sleeveless. However, as the brand gained popularity, one critique was the lightweight fabric did not transition to cooler temperatures in moderate climates or the tundra (aka anything higher than New York . . . maybe even some parts of New York itself). Enter the new Erica dress fabric.
In what was one of the closest polls we have ever asked on Facebook and Instagram, the Freya Fearne review narrowly beat out the Sculptresse Candi to earn the prestigious position of first in my expansive review queue. Thank you to everyone who commented and participate in the poll! Freya and I started as lingerie besties but drifted apart as my upper tissue became fuller and my cup size bumped up above the GG range. Their super cute and fun designs often featured wide wires, higher sides which rubbed my underarms, a splayed profile, and an interesting downward pointing shape, like my boobs were checking out what color my toenail polish was today. They also were lacking in innovation, content to rest on their past victories and recycle bra frames from season to season in the form of new prints and colors. At some point, my reviews felt rehashed, as though I was revisiting the same bra over and over with the same critiques. We parted ways, but I was ever hopeful for a joyful reunion. When they released the magnificent Hero, I cautiously hoped more change was on the horizon. My faith was rewarded because Freya retooled some of their classic designs to fit better, especially in higher cup sizes, by listening to consumer and bra fitter feedback.
This product review has been a loooooooooooooooong time coming. First, I’ve mentioned before how hard reviews are when you are not feeling the most body positive about yourself because, hey, there you are in all your unphotoshopped glory for everyone, but especially yourself, to see. Motivation to be in front of a camera dissipates rapidly, but the world doth not stop for a forty pound weight gain. Consequently, I shot this video and planned to review it a few weeks ago, but in the chaos of the move, Thanksgiving, gift guides, bronchitis, and now Christmas, I have had “Chi Chi Review” on my project list for some time with no forward progression. Friday, in between helping last minute shoppers, I squeezed together enough time to jot down the written portion as well as to organize the copious number of products I plan to review in the coming weeks. Basically, I told myself, and pardon my language, “Girl get your shit together.” And I am, and I will, and you lovely readers get a review in the process.
It’s no secret. Holiday gift guides are not my favorite posts to write. I find myself counting down the minutes until I am finished mostly because the writing feels like a tedious not-so-subtle marketing ploy. This year I put aside my personal feelings to write a couple posts for our shop because we often struggle to attract holiday shoppers in the era of online meccas and big box discounts. Of course, our small business isn’t unique in feeling forgotten, so today, I want to close the series with a final buying guide spreading the love to other retailers, manufactures, and designers with totally cool gifts for everyone on your nice (or naughty) list.
When I was crafting our $100 or less gift guides this season, I wanted to include a category specifically for our younger customers who are often dragged here by a family member to be fitted. Shopping for bras and underwear is certainly not everyone’s favorite activity no matter the age, and I know I personally hated it for many years because of the bad interactions I had as a teenager. However, if fitters and family work together to not only provide multiple foundation options but also to allow young clients autonomy to make their own choices, then the entire shopping experience becomes easier and more enjoyable for them. As a result, I wanted to assemble a mix of bras, underwear, and accessories which work for anyone, regardless of age. In fact, I own several of these at 30 (nearly 31), and some of these gifts are popular with customers in their 60s and 70s too. So remember, “it’s hard, you will find to be narrow of mind if you’re young at heart.”