As a small business owner, I love when I can spotlight fellow entrepreneurs to highlight the wonderful services and products they bring to our community, and today we’re combining my enthusiasm for shopping local with wine . . . and cheese . . . but mostly wine. A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Michelle the owner of Cork & Cow, a local wine bar and bistro, and we immediately connected over the shared struggles of owning a business and how a glass of wine in the evening is sometimes an absolute essential. She’s funny, knows her stuff, and owns one of the coolest spots in town. If you’re local or just visiting for some fabulous bras *ahem*, add Cork & Cow to your “must go” list. Did I mention they had wine and that today is a Saturday?
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When I first discovered my personal sense of style, it was at the height of a Mad Men frenzy. Christina Hendricks strutted through the show in fitted pencil skirts and nipped in sheath dresses, oozing an unapologetic confidence about her curvy figure. Meanwhile, supermodel Kate Moss was making media rounds again with her effortlessly cool way of combining leather jackets with cocktail dresses and worn-in t-shirts with just about anything. Ultimately, I planned my wardrobe around these two style icons with a hefty ounce of J. Crew chic. At the time, I was at my most svelte, and while I could find pencil skirts and cardigans and breezy t-shirts and kick ass leather jackets, the sheath dress remained elusive. J. Crew had some understated and sophisticated options in their wear-to-work collections, but the size which fit my lower half never had enough space for my boobs. Frequently, the zipper wouldn’t budge, but on those rare occasions when shallow breaths yielded results, breast tissue, desperate to escape the extreme compression, migrated under my arms or up to my chin. As the years passed, I bought many beautiful dresses, but true fitted sheath dresses never worked. Outside of a chic black number from Biu Biu, the bulk of my dresses are usually jersey or ponte blends with a considerable dose of stretch, so when Kristen of Exclusively Kristen offered to send me her new bust-friendly dress for review, I was giddy.
A few years ago, Trusst Lingerie began with a dream of ditching underwires in favor of using new 3D printing technology to offer support and shaping for a fuller bust. Shortly before their successful Kickstarter campaign, the company approached me about providing a review of their prototype as well as offering any feedback on ways it could be improved. It remains my second most controversial review right behind that dreadful Eshakti dress (Yeah, I said it and still stand by it). Many people here and around the web asked why Trusst felt the need to reinvent the wheel. Why throw out all of the progress made by existing manufacturers? After all, bras have steadily improved in the last ten years because of increased interaction between brands and consumers as well as through technological innovations which improve quality without drastically increasing price. Why not use the insights and failures of your competitors to take standard bras one step closer toward consumers’ ideal? As someone with an engineering and math background, this is a classic strategy which often yields consistent success, especially in computer programming. However, there are other times where tenacious risk-takers create something totally unique or even solve problems previously thought unsolvable through unconventional methods. Of course, sometimes those same innovators failed too, so it’s a bit of a toss up.
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?
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.