Figuring out the right assortment of bras in a retail store can feel like an insurmountable, ever-evolving challenge. In the past, I wrote more extensively about buying plans, but generally speaking, the process of narrowing down literally hundreds of bras to the profit-turning core collection found in the shop requires time, patience, and feedback. Usually I read through reviews of products left by consumers to help my decision process, but some reviewers do not know how to properly fit themselves and leave complaints more related to purchasing the wrong size than to the bra itself. As a result, I love interacting with other store owners and discussing our best-sellers. Bra fitters have firsthand experience trying the style on multiple body and breast shapes and can often provide more accurate information. In one such conversation, my friend Jackie from Her Underthings in New York raved about the new Serena Lace from Fit Fully Yours, but each store is unique in what works for them. Naturally, I had to test one myself!
Focusing on the silver lining in the clouds—a task I always attempt albeit sometimes unsuccessfully, then the positive side of gaining weight has been the myriad of lingerie options I can now try and review. When I wore a UK 30H (US 30K), there were several styles and even entire lines which were unavailable in my size or which simply did not work for me. In some cases, the fit issues directly related to the size itself, and most people wading through the small band/big cup market can write lengthy treatises on which bras do not scale properly and are plagued with fit and comfort issues. As a UK 34H (US 34K), I still encounter some of the same issues, usually related to my breast shape, but not nearly as many. My lingerie wardrobe boasts a variety of brands and styles now instead of solely representing the latest and greatest from Comexim. Furthermore, I have been able to explore new brands with real hopes they could fit me, and Sculptresse has been one such brand. Panache’s plus-size line starts most styles at 34 or 36 bands and often goes to a 46, and the fit profiles have ranged across breast shapes. Candi is an ideal option for wider set breasts while Chi Chi is perfect for narrow. As part of my ongoing experimentation, my sales rep sent me Gina, and I was eager to determine where this style fit into the line.
You know how there occasionally exists a partnership between a celebrity and a designer which works so impossibly well, you can’t think of one without the other? Cher and Bob Mackie. Lady Gaga and the late Alexander McQueen. Evan Rachel Wood and Ralph Lauren. Erica and Bolero. Okay, clearly I’m not a celebrity, but that’s the great thing about Bolero dresses. Every time I wear one, I feel ready to strut the red carpet like I am. For those just tuning into my ongoing sappy love affair, I have reviewed multiple Bolero dresses, tops, and even pants on the blog and loved them all. But for the shop’s sixth anniversary, Patricia of Bolero managed to outdo even herself when she sent her latest creation: the Margarita Dress.
Alright, dear readers, today we’re venturing into uncharted territory and chatting menstruation, aka periods, that time of the month, the rag, the crimson tide, the red river, shark week, and my personal favorite, Aunt Irma. We’re also going into the nitty gritty details of what it is like to have a period and how to determine which menstrual products suit you. This is not a “tee hee, let’s be cute and not gross anyone out” kind of post. Nope, we’re going real, natural, and a little bit funny because, hey, we’re all adults here, people. It’s about time we have a frank discussion about the human body, even its less glamorous functions. Specifically, I am reviewing three alternative menstrual products: the Diva Cup, Thinx Period Underwear, and Lunapads. Clearly, this post is not for everyone, and in order to review the products, I will need to go super TMI and discuss my own period experiences. The number of twisted comments I delete is going to go through the roof I’m sure, but menstruation is a natural part of life for many of us. We need to acknowledge it and have an actual conversation about how to maximize both our comfort and reproductive health, and part of that starts with opening up to each other.
I have a vision of two Panache designers sitting at a long table with colorful fashion sketches intermixed with swatches of fabric, lace, and ribbon, and one asks “What about making another, slightly different version of Jasmine?” The other nods as she contemplates the question before finally responding “Well, you can never have too much of a good thing.” There’s more to this fictitious conversation obviously, but I truncated it to what is relevant for the review. For those not familiar with the brand, Jasmine is one of those best-selling, crowd-pleasing favorites which brands and retailers alike dub “rent payers,” and because of that success, Panache has tweaked Jasmine several times, including fuller-coverage Envy and plus-size friendly Chi Chi. As a result, when my rep told me last year the Cleo line would now feature a Jasmine-esque style, I was so ecstatic I ordered a bunch for the shop. Yet, I have never seemed to review the style myself.
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.
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.
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.
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.