Kristen Allen contacted me a few months ago about a potential Pop Up Shop at the store for her bust-friendly clothing designs, and I was immediately intrigued by what she hoped to offer customers. Bust-friendly fashion is obviously a subject about which I feel passionately because I have spent the better part of my life struggling to fit into clothing designed for a different body shape than my own. My first properly fitting button-front shirts came from Poland and then Campbell & Kate, and they opened my eyes to not only how sharp a tailored shirt looks but also how confident I felt wearing them. To see another entrepreneur bringing her own perspective to the industry, especially an approach which focuses on Made in the USA products, was fabulous, and I knew immediately I wanted to help however I could. As a result, we’re starting off with an interview where Kristen dishes on her motivations, her mistakes, and how fabulous it is to live in NYC, and then later, I will have a review of one of her classic shirts! Oh, and did I mention that if there is enough interest we’re going to host a Pop Up shop here? If you’re interested in seeing her come to NC, please comment, email, or message me because this is an opportunity I would love to take advantage of for our customers. Stay cool in the heat everyone!
Regardless of your feelings on the issue, I think we can all agree that the modern woman is often encouraged if not outright shamed into not allowing her nipples to show through any clothes. Whether you find an erect nipple obscene or natural is another post entirely, but for today’s purposes, I want to talk about a simple accessory that offers comfortable, long term nipple concealment: the nipple cover! Nipple covers are easy-to-use accessories available in a variety of mediums, sizes, colors, and price points, and all of them (*spoiler alert*) are designed to discreetly hide nipples under clothes. Many times in the shop we hear clients refuse to consider any bras that are not at least lightly padded because of this concern; however, padded bras, especially ones utilizing molded foam, can not only present significant fit challenges but are also unavailable in many sizes. Depending on the nipple, even more forgiving spacer fabric bras can be too thin, leaving customers scrambling to fit into a heavily padded cup all for the sake of their nipples! Wouldn’t it be nice to wear any style of bra you want? Or to purchase bras because they fit and support the best, regardless of the fabric? Most nipple covers range in price from $10 to $40 per pair and are available as either a cloth pad or a silicone gel, but for today, we are focusing on Chippey’s Chips whose gimmicky but playful slogan is “Chips for your nips when you’re in a crunch.”
Flash back to 2002. I was 16, a senior in high school, and on a desperate hunt for dress to wear to my prom that was not neon, a potato sack, or too revealing. Everything I tried in my increasingly self-defeating quest would not zip over my boobs in the size which fit my waist, and after two hours of tedium and disappointment, I nearly cried when I stumbled upon a hidden size 12 dress, out of place and wedged between two spaghetti strap dresses (uh, no). My prom salvation was a sleeveless, A-line dress in an ethereal silver color, and the best part? A corset-style back which laced up as tight as I needed it around the waist without mashing my breast tissue into an unflattering blob. Sold!
Since then, I’ve often wondered why we don’t see more flexible sizing and fit elements incorporated into designs for clothing, whether that means a lace-up back, a tie element, or something else I’m not creative enough to conceive at the moment. Imagine how much easier clothes shopping would be if you had the ability to tighten or loosen certain areas of a garment without resorting to alterations. Patricia of Bolero Beachwear, who has been flush with new ideas the last few moments, tackled this problem and created the Princess Ella Dress, a knee-length A-Line dress with a wide sweetheart neckline and corset back with interchangeable ribbons.
My intention was to post this review about two weeks ago, but if you follow our Facebook page, you’ll remember we spent about a week hanging new fixtures and reorganizing the store. Every time I undertake a new project, I always forget to multiply whatever my initial time estimate is by three, and I distinctly recall thinking while my dad and I plotted out the placement of our new efficient and stylish wall mounts was “Oh, this shouldn’t take more than two hours to hang and maybe another two to put everything up.” Oh how foolish I was!! Even though it is totally unrelated to the review itself, I thought I would share a before and after picture here of our progress:
We now return you to our regularly scheduled review. In my recent reviews of the Freya Fancies bralette and the Fit Fully Yours Kristina, I mentioned how wireless requests have exploded in the last several months, and as part of my scrambling efforts to expand inventory, I began eying the Goddess Sports Bra. One of the challenges of running a lingerie store and planning inventory assortment is determining what to sacrifice carrying on-hand in order to stay open—an agonizing process the result of which customers do not always understand. Sports bras (and to some extent strapless bras) have always been underrepresented because they both are utility pieces, often not purchased until the client needs them. A notable exception to this is the Panache Sports bra which is one of our best-selling bras, and my personal favorite sports bra of all time. As with normal bras, sports bra are available in multiple styles in a range of sizes and fabrics, each designed for different tissue types, breast shapes, and activity levels. Because of this, sports bra could easily have a dedicated department all their own, budget and space constraints notwithstanding.
In conjunction with the bralette trend sweeping the lingerie world, many retailers are fielding more and more requests for normal wireless bras. During our first two years of operation, the stock of wireless bras in the shop was abysmally, embarrassingly low because demand was non-existent when compared against traditional wired options. However, in the last year, we have seen tremendous growth in the need for wireless bras, leaving me scrambling for a strategy to expand successfully. Comparatively, wireless customers still occupy a lower percentage of sales, and even factoring in the demand we are presently unable to meet, I estimate that at most wireless requests would only occupy approximately 15% of cumulative bra sales. Despite the lowness, the aspect worth noting is that before last year, wireless accounted for less than 2% of bra sales, meaning the increase itself is phenomenal. However, the inherent challenge for me as a retailer is to manage our budget for stocking more wireless options, knowing that for every dollar I spend on this market, I am taking away from a wired style which may sell better or faster. Furthermore, like underwire bras, there are multiple sizes which need to be represented as well as different breast tissue types, colors, and budgets. As if the challenge did not seem insurmountable as it is (so much so that I have questioned whether I even want to tackle it all), there is the added issue of finding quality, affordable wireless bras that fit well and meet the demands of our customers.
Earlier this week, I reviewed the fabulous Samanta Mintaka A925 bra, and today, I am following through with my promise to review the other bra gifted to me by Sweet Nothings: The Hana A111. If you have not already done so, I recommend reading the Prelude to a Product Review post I wrote before continuing forward as I discuss Samanta’s sizing, pricing, and brand strategy in depth—all of which I will not rehash here. Also, please check out the original review written by Sweet Nothings on both the Mintaka and Hana as she has additional insights and photos you may enjoy.
When launching a new product or brand in the store, I prefer if I can see samples to determine quality, fit, and materials, especially if those samples are in a size I can try myself. However, given my current size of UK 32H, my ability to try before buying is somewhat limited, but Polish manufacturer Samanta—in addition to molded cups, push-ups, and delightful vertical seam half-cups—makes a few bras designed to fit larger sizes. Since shipping from Poland can be pricey, I was thrilled when Sweet Nothings sent me two of the Samanta bras she reviewed on her blog as gifts. Since we’re size twinsies, it was a fabulous, risk-free way to determine if the designs and products met my exacting standards. As a result, today I will be reviewing the A925 model from the Mintaka collection with a second review of the A111 coming later this week. (Note: If you have not already done so, I highly recommend you read the Prelude to a Product Review post I wrote last week as it covers information on Samanta’s brand strategy, sizing, and pricing that I will not be covering in today’s review.)
When bloggers, retailers, and industry professionals talk lingerie trends, the discussion includes multiple elements like color, print, embroidery, unique detailing, and even popular styles, and lately bralettes have been red hot from the fires of demand, leaving many manufacturers scurrying to release multiple versions in exciting colors and using a variety of fabrics ranging from silk to two-ply modal to soft lace. However, the bralette world has largely targeted the 32-38 AA-C cup crowd with the occasional style able to accommodate a D or DD. Most bralettes do not feature an underwire and either use X-Small to X-Large terminology or a band size only, e.g., 30, 32, 34, for sizing, and the designs themselves tend to rely on triangle shaped cups as well as deeper v-necklines for a lighter, comfortable appearance. For the fuller-bust and/or 38+ band customer, these limitations pose unique fit challenges, particularly in terms of coverage, support, and shape. Freya hopes to address the deficit in the market place by offering a new alternative: the Fancies Bralette!
Back in December (or was it November?), Dixie of Rixie Clip contacted me about her amazing product, and I snagged some for the store in January (note to self: buy more Rixie Clips) with the intention of writing a review that same month. So, yeah. Welcome to Review 1 of the 20 or so in my backlog!
Oftentimes when I do product reviews on the blog, they are usually bras, underwear, or bust-friendly clothing, and I realize I have done my readers a disservice in largely ignoring the wonderful world of bra accessories. Bra accessories are typically designed to solve common bra problems in an easy, no fuss way and range from silicone nipple covers to bra extenders to low back converters. In some cases, these nifty products can even salvage an unwearable bra, giving you more time with a favorite piece.
Today, I am tickled pink to be spotlighting a personal friend of mine: the one and only Iman Woods! Iman and I met when she came to the store in search of bras, and we immediately clicked. Both of us love being personal cheerleaders for people, empowering them to see the beauty within themselves and to appreciate their bodies as they are. Meeting Iman was not like meeting a stranger but more like connecting with a friend, and her generosity of spirit is inspiring. She volunteered to loan me the gorgeous pinup paintings—which she did herself by the way—to decorate the store, and she constantly refers clients to the shop. In keeping with her goals of building a supportive community, Iman often hosts “Girls Night Out” parties to introduce her friends to each other, and every single one of them has been a blast with lots of great conversation and laughter. I love when people build each other up and find ways of working together to create something wonderful, and Iman channels this energy into all of her endeavors.