Mini-Update: Where I’ve Been

Mini-Update:  Where I’ve Been

My beloved blog has been rather silent this year, not for my lack of wanting to write new content, and today I want to briefly update here why posting has been irregular. Last year was not a good year. Between chronic illness and then my brother’s attack in September, the store truly suffered from closures, inconsistent hours, and order delays. We managed to keep our doors open and to even eek out a minuscule growth rate, but there were many times I questioned my decision to continue forward with A Sophisticated Pair. This year, however, has really seen an explosion for us. It feels like we are back on track with our customers and with our plans for expansion, and I cannot be happier. However, busy days, last minute appointments, and all the added responsibilities involved in strengthening our business have tested my time management skills to the limit. Blogging, despite being an outlet for my writing passion, was continually bumped to the bottom of my ever-expanding “To Do” list, along with posting updates on Facebook and Instagram, developing a new fit tool, dying my hair, and cleaning out my shed.

Saturday Spotlight: Scarlet’s Letter

TweetHello Everyone, As I mentioned in a previous post, I wanted to reinvigorate the Saturday Spotlight by focusing more on the businesses and bloggers and allow them to tell you firsthand what makes them worth reading.  Today, I am proud to present the first entry in the rebooted series:  Scarlet’s Letter.  Named one of the five blogs to watch for 2014 by the Lingerie Addict, Scarlet’s Letter is a lingerie and fashion centric blog which showcases everything from full-bust favorites to hand-made Etsy brands.  Before I severely lapsed on the Saturday Spotlight front, Amber’s blog is one I had really wanted to share with you, and I am so glad I now have that opportunity. Website: Email: Instagram: @amberscarletsletter Twitter:  @scarletsletter The blogger behind the curtain:  Hi! My name is Amber, and I run the lingerie blog Scarlet’s Letter. I’m in my early 30s, and have been blogging since I was a teenager…when “blogs” were called “online journals”! 😉 I’ve also been an active actress in stage theater since I was 10 years old, and I love to sing and dance. I’m also a total beauty addict, and a collector of antiquarian books. I speak French, and I’m currently writing my first novel which I hope to have published sometime in 2015. Oh, and I also love love love lingerie. Obviously 😉 Scarlet’s Letter according to Amber:  Scarlet’s Letter aims to showcase intimates for both lingerie novices and addicts alike, with a focus on full bust, handmade, and luxury brands. What made you decide to start Scarlet’s Letter?  What did you hope to accomplish?  Do you feel like you are making progress? I’ve been blogging for around 15 years off and on, before blogging was really as popular as it is now. Though I’d had blogs over the

Reinvigorating “Saturday Spotlight”

TweetHello Everyone, I hope you had a wonderful holiday and are ready to start the new year with renewed optimism!  One of the copious things I hope to accomplish/change in 2015 is the revitalization of an old blog post series I started shortly after we opened called “Saturday Spotlight.”  In the past, I would showcase websites I thought our readers may enjoy and provide a brief synopsis with a few pictures.  With increased activity at the store, the series became hard to maintain consistently, and I never felt I gave the small business, blog, or website adequate attention and detail.  As a result, I created an alternative idea for the new year.  Instead of a generic description which fails to capture the essence of what makes you, your business, and/or your blog special, I wrote a series of interview questions Saturday Spotlight recipients answer instead.  My hope is that Saturday Spotlights will have the opportunity to connect more with our readers and to help them understand what your business/blog/website offers. If you’re interested in being featured in a Saturday Spotlight, please email me at sophisticatedpair[at]gmail[dot]com; however, I do have a few requirements: You must fall into one of the following three categories:  (1) own a small business in the vicinity of Burlington, NC, (2) be involved in the lingerie industry whether through blogging, designing, or manufacturing, or (3)  write blogs/manage a website in topics complementary to our blog, such as body image, fitness/health, or fashion. You must be currently active in your category, meaning you are not retired from owning a business, an inactive blogger, or someone no longer working in lingerie. Your website is something I genuinely think my readers will enjoy.  Obviously, this requirement is the most vague, but I want the feature to expose our readers to

Product Review: Anna Pardal with Comexim Emmeline

TweetHello Everyone, Comexim  has always been a brand I admired from afar because, and I’m not ashamed to admit it, I was a chicken about placing an international order for bras I had never tried with a sizing system that made my brain hurt.  Instead, I contented myself with reading reviews from fellow bra bloggers and fantasizing about the day Comexim decided to export to the US.  Well, in the middle of my trip to the Curves Expo in New York, the fantasy came true.  Anna Pardal and their collaborator Comexim sent me an email saying they wanted to begin selling their products here in the US and asked if I would be interested in including them in my store.  Spoiler Alert:  I jumped at the chance!  Comexim and Anna Pardal sent me two samples each which I will be reviewing eventually, but I want to start with the Anna Pardal Emmeline because that is what we ultimately ordered for the store.  (Note:  If you want more information on Anna Pardal, please read these posts:  Comexim and Comexim Follow-Up.) Sizing:  Since I was reticent about ordering from Comexim directly, I have no idea how their sizing works.  For the export process, all of the Comexim sizes are being converted to the standard UK sizing system employed by brands like Freya, Elomi, and Curvy Kate.  As a result, I will be focusing my review on the UK size because I can speak to it with more confidence.  If you have questions, you can email me, and I will pass them on to Anna. Before I delve into my personal experiences with sizing, I want to note I support Comexim and Anna Pardal’s decision to covert the Polish/European sizing into the more common UK.  I have just gotten many of my customers

Comexim Follow-Up

TweetHello Ladies, Since my original Comexim post, I have been conversing with the brand as well as Anna from Anna Pardal lingerie about our upcoming orders.  First, I need to clear up some confusion.  The pictures I posted in the previous blog are actually from a collaboration between Anna Pardal and Comexim.  Below is an excerpt from the look book I received: When we started out, we knew that producing high quality lingerie is no simple matter, and that without incredible manufacturing and fabrics, our vision would never become a reality. So, we began a worldwide search for the best partner and collaborator, for a manufacturer and brand who takes pride in every piece produced, who never compromises on quality, and who is always looking to generate brassieres that provide that elusive perfect fit. Our search took us to the manufacturing hub of Lodz, Poland where we met the creative and engineering geniuses behind Comexim. With an illustrious track record of creating supportive, flattering, and high quality handmade brassieres, Comexim is a cult name in the lingerie circles. Our initial conversations ranged from fit to fabric, and when we broke our first meeting to abscond to the cutting room, we knew we had found our partner. Countless fabric samples, customer interviews, and flight and Skype hours later, our collaboration was born. Consequently, there are essentially two collections from which our shop can order.  The first is the Anna Pardal Exclusive line which uses luxurious Italian and Spanish fabrics and laces to craft elegant, comfortable upscale bras like Milk & Honey, Emmeline, and Miss Pam.  The second collection is Comexim’s original Linea Artisana line which can be found on their website and Facebook page.  Linea Artisana will be slightly cheaper, but both lines offer a superb commitment to quality and fit. 

Curves Expo: Curvy Kate

TweetHello Everyone, Flash back to 2011:  My hair was brown (I think), and I opened my inbox one bright and sunny day to find an email announcing Curvy Kate was exporting to the US.  Their eclectic mix of fun, frilly, and sophisticated styles resonated with me, and I knew our growing customer base would appreciate both the brand’s aesthetic direction and the impressive size range.  And thus, Curvy Kate and I entered into a tumultuous love affair due in large part to early fulfillment issues for orders, a lack of communication from my sales representative, and constant competition from certain UK-based retailers.  Fit also proved problematic as the designs were wider and shallower than we hoped, leaving many women frustrated and disappointed. Despite my ardent passion for the brand, I distanced myself and explored other brands as well as additional options from our existing manufacturers.  The break-up saddened me because Curvy Kate does push the envelope with their designs and seemed responsive to customer feedback.  Good intentions only take you so far, and while I applaud the effort to serve the millions of women who are unhappy with the selection offered from bigger, more established brands, it did not change the fact that the bras just didn’t sell. With this mix of experiences in mind, I came to the Curves Expo hoping to rekindle a bond with a long lost lingerie love, but I knew I had to be true to myself as a store owner and as a blogger by asking some tough questions.  As it happened, my current rep was stuck in Atlanta due to the storms, so I was given to the very helpful Terri who showed me what jaw-dropping treats Curvy Kate has in store for us this fall. The Princess Sizes Available:  28-40 D-K, 42-44

Product Review: Kris Line Sharon Bra

TweetHello Ladies, Last year, I was nominated for a BraStop Blogger of the Year Award, and while I lost to the very deserving and incredibly gorgeous Georgina of Fuller Figure Fuller Bust, I was given a free set of lingerie as a consolation prize.  Since I had the opportunity to experiment risk-free, I opted to test Polish brand Kris Line.  Holly of the Full Figured Chest posted a fabulous Christmas Round-Up which included the Sharon set, and I was instantly smitten.  The unique silver color seemed like a potential flesh-tone alternative for my pale skin, and given my poorer luck with padded bras in the past, I was eager to branch out to a new designer. Sizing:  From reading reviews in the bra blogging community as well as on Bratabase, I knew Kris Line cups ran at least two sizes smaller than standard UK ones.  However, Kris Line also has an I (“eye”) cup following the HH, and after speaking with someone more knowledgeable on the subject than I am, I learned retailers selling Kris Line products often convert the sizing system into the more traditional UK.  The end result of which is you can order a J cup bra and have it fit more like a HH.  Given my measurements and size preferences, my friend recommended ordering the size 30K, and despite all of my assurances to customers that the letter does not matter, I felt myself instantly struck by the dreaded letterphobia.  How could I possibly wear a K cup???  In fact, I was so nervous about ordering the K cup I wavered on the decision for several days before taking the plunge.  Thankfully, the Sharon fits rather well!  On my larger side, the bra is perfect, but the smaller side does have a hint of wrinkling. However,

Product Review: Fantasie Elodie

TweetHello Ladies, For years, Fantasie was my go-to brand, due in large part to the easy access I had to their smoothing series; however, after I opened the shop, temptation from other brands was powerful and magnetic.  Slowly my lingerie wardrobe shifted toward fun, quirky brands like Freya and Cleo and away from the brand which helped me love my boobs again.  However, when I saw the Elodie in the amazing teal colorway this season, I knew I wanted to rekindle an old flame. Sizing:  For both Fantasie and Freya, a 30H typically fits the best, and the Elodie conforms to the rule.  While Freya’s bands can sometimes tread into stretchy territory, I have always enjoyed how Fantasie fits firmer.  The 30 band feels perfectly snug while the cups contour to the top of my breasts without any overflow, gaping, or puckering. Fit:  Because my breasts are close together on my chest with very little side tissue, I prefer bras with narrow underwires and deeper cups.  Elodie sports a narrow gore and fairly deep cups, but the underwire on the side extends backward too far, leaving empty space near the underwire.  Furthermore, the cups could be deeper near the center gore where the design is forcing my breasts apart.  The silhouette is not quite East/West, but the contrast from Cleo has me more critical of too much separation.  Nevertheless, I am still getting good forward projection from the added side support panels, but I think a slightly deeper cup would have been perfect for me.  To this effect, I am also experiencing some space issues at the bottom of the cup where my breast tissue sits above the underwire.  The coverage level on this bra is also a bit too much for my liking, and the sides of the cups

Saturday Spotlight: Filling a Niche

TweetHello Ladies, Given my busy schedule, Saturday Spotlights have fallen by the wayside recently, but I am hoping to post them more regularly because there are so many amazing businesses, bloggers, and companies I want to showcase!  Today, I want to promote newcomer to the bra blogosphere Filling a Niche:  Yes, You Might See Boobs Here.  Drawing inspiration from other bloggers, writer Missy has created a nice mix of bra reviews, lingerie wishlists, and generally interesting reads on complementary topics.  As someone in the process of going green in more aspects of my life, I found her discussion of the reusable menstrual cups to be informative and thought-provoking. Furthermore, her size is a little more mainstream, and she often wears a 30F or 32E.  Many bra bloggers tend to fall into certain categories, and Missy is right that she definitely fills an underrepresented niche!  As our readers know, Dezi also fits into this size range (although lately she teetering into the 28FF/30F range), but I think what makes Filling a Niche fantastic is that Missy is a mother of two, meaning she has experienced the myriad of breast changes incurred by pregnancy and breastfeeding. I’ve enjoyed her blog so much that I have offered to help sponsor a giveaway for her readers.  You can win a $50 Sophisticated Pair gift card by participating, so definitely visit her blog and check it out.  Have a great weekend everyone! Erica

Product Review: Cleo Lily

TweetHello Ladies, Cleo has become my go-to brand this year—easily usurping Freya and Panache’s Superbra line from the throne, and as a result, I have been avariciously snatching up new styles to add to my collection.  When I first saw the fall version of the Lily, I was not impressed with the aesthetic, but then I saw the gorgeous new spring colorways which channel the modern simplicity of the Claudette Dessous and knew I needed to try one now. Sizing & Fit:  My standard Cleo size is a 30H which is what I have here.  The band feels comfortably firm on the loosest set of hooks, and the cups do not have any overflow or puckering.  However, when I move my shoulders, I experience minor gaping on the smaller breast because the firmer fabric does contour with movement.  Since the issue is camouflaged by clothing, it was not serious enough to dampen my affection for the bra.