Welcome to Panache week! With our Find Your Fit Event on Saturday, I thought it would be fun to review two new Panache styles, starting with Petra from the classic Panache line. I’ve been eyeing Petra lustfully since the debut, but I am always hesitant about padded cups. My concern relates less to disliking padding and more to the myriad of fit issues I experience, including too shallow cups which create the “floating boob” or “orange in a glass” effect at the base. I also struggle with the center cups not having enough immediate projection which reduces the ability of the bra to tack, i.e., sit flat against my sternum. Considering my experience with Panache’s molded cups has never been exceptional, I worried Petra would simply be a pretty bra I could never wear.
About two years ago, I received an email from Heidi asking for feedback from a retailer’s perspective on edgy, high quality lingerie and its stateside viability. At the time, she was considering starting her own brand, and we chatted about pricing, materials, and competition between manufacturers and their retailers. A few weeks ago, Heidi contacted me again to announce she took the plunge and hoped to use Kickstarter to launch her brand. Keep in mind, I receive a lot of consulting inquiries from people wanting to start retail stores or lingerie brands, and I seldom hear follow-ups. This was one of the rare instances where not only did I hear from Heidi again but she was actually doing what she set out to do. So today we’re picking up the conversation and discussing her new line Pique Lingerie, the struggles of establishing sizing, and the need for inclusivity. Before we get started, I want to mention we do discuss sexual content, kink, and BDSM in the context of Heidi’s lingerie brand just in case it’s not your thing.
We interrupt your normal broadcast for a review of one of my favorite bras of all time. Yes, of all time. Enter the Avocado Ce Soir bra. A dear, sweet friend of mine gave me this a couple months ago as a surprise. I had no idea what to expect, so when I opened the package, I squealed with glee and danced around my bedroom whilst exclaiming “I have a strappy bra now!” Avocado has been another Polish import on my radar for some time, but as their pricing and quality tends toward luxury bridge (think $78+), I never took the plunge. As a result, not only was the gift exceptionally thoughtful and kind but also a risk-free way to survey the brand for the shop.
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?
Originally, I planned to update everyone on the outcome of my endocrinology appointment for PCOS several weeks ago, but then the spider bite from hell caused all manner of delays and problems for me. Blogging took a backseat to catching up on the copious amount of backlogged work—an ongoing issue I will address later in the post. Speaking of Fred, after a final draining Tuesday, he looks significantly better and has drastically reduced in size. I think my immune system has officially killed him, so . . . ‘Eff you Fred and the spider you rode in on! Ultimately and perhaps a little paradoxically, I am thankful Fred forced me to ruminate on the results of my appointment. Under pressure, I’m cool as the proverbial cucumber, and when an obstacle arises, my instincts are to dispassionately find the best and quickest solution. In many instances, those are great qualities to have, but being able to compartmentalize emotions is at odds with processing how you really feel. When I first heard I had an auto-immune disorder, I was my typical “Can Do!” self and switched to research mode, selecting the best books from Amazon and developing a plan of action. During the reign of Fred, I couldn’t do anything, and I started to unpack those unhelpful feelings I boxed up and realized I needed major changes if I hoped to get better.
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.
I am writing to you sober (for the moment) because my pain levels are manageable without the aid of prescriptions, and since several people asked me to follow-up when I felt better, I thought I would not only update you on my current progress but also sketch out the last ten days of torment I endured. Before delving into the gruesome details, I want to reiterate my heartfelt thanks for all the prayer, thoughts, and well-wishes I received. My dad would read them to me when I was in too much pain to check, and it brightened my spirits. Many of you sent me the sweetest personal messages about how I had helped you or how much my store meant to you, and as a small business owner, I cannot ask for anything more. The love you showed me helped and continues to help me as I recover and move forward after what has been a rather tough couple years. In kind, I wish all of you nothing but the best and success in all you endeavor to accomplish.
First, this message is coming to you courtesy of antibiotics and prescription pain meds, so I apologize in advance if it isn’t up to my usual writing standards. Pain + Painkillers = Pitiful Prose. Anyway, 2017 has not exactly been a banner year for me, what with identify theft, near hospitalization from a stomach flu, an attack on my cat, walking pneumonia, and a recent diagnosis of a thyroid condition. I know, I know. Rattling off negativity like that undermines the many wonderful, positive things I experienced this year, and I am grateful for those shining beacons of happiness. However, we’re not talking about happiness today. We’re talking about the fact I am having an outpatient surgical procedure done tomorrow. Saturday I made it through the day at the store despite being in considerable pain, and things only escalated. On Monday, I had an emergency appointment with my primary care who informed me I needed a small surgical procedure. I’ve spent all week unable to get off my couch without help (seriously) while waiting for the referral paperwork to be completed. Today, after my condition has only continued to worsen while waiting, I called and practically pleaded to be seen. Desperation worked, and I am now on the docket for 10:45a.m. But, what does this mean for the store?
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.
[Trigger Warning: We’re chatting body image, public commentary on weight, and health problems with a sprinkle of NSFW pictures too.]
When I wrote the post outlining my crappy fall (before it got crappier with walking pneumonia), I mentioned how PCOS insidiously corrupted my body, leaving me with symptoms ranging from abdominal weight gain to low vitamin D to scary high triglycerides. Many of my readers sent messages of support or asked about the disorder as well as the book I recommended 8 Steps to Reverse Your PCOS by Fiona McCulloch. Since PCOS affects roughly 10% of all women and trans men of reproductive age, I thought it merited further discussion, particularly because many of us also suffer from depression, anxiety, and poor self image related to weight gain.