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2011

Welcome to Miss Underpinnings


Hello! My name is Cecily and I'm the blogger behind Miss Underpinnings! During the day, I work as a fitter at Bra & Girl and by night, I drink ridiculous amounts of tea and blog my (under)pants off. Miss Underpinnings is a full bust style and lingerie blog. I write about the pretty foundations for DD+ women, discuss my personal struggles with body confidence and document my own evolving style. I like high waist briefs, garters, and anything handmade. I live in the Massachusetts mountains with my paramour and wayyyy too many Freya sets.

I'm Obsessed: Claudette Mauve

My mom is an interior designer. Through osmosis, I've become attune to colors and shades. I also possess a SAT-like vocabulary of color descriptors: eggplant, mint, nutmeg, charcoal, azure, pearl, dusty rose, cobalt, stone, goldenrod, honeydew, scarlet, plum, etc. As you might expect, every month my head explodes when the J.Crew catalog arrives.

In my lingerie drawer, it's a different story. I have my share of deep reds, sophisticated blacks, and retro floral prints. Lately though, I've noticed what my collection is missing is a muted tone. Although I own a few nude bras and wear them regularly with my light tops, I wanted something a little more unusual. A color that would be bashful, but not boring. A shade that would be girly, pretty, and miraculously make my skin appear less "jaundice yellow" and more pink (This is an entirely seasonal issue - in the summer, I turn a nice light caramel if I'm left out in the sun). Unfortunately, as a full busted consumer, I've been limited to the patterns and shades that certain brands create each a season. Although those offerings are remarkable, they weren't exactly what I was searching for.

A few months ago, I noticed online that  Claudette, a new American full bust retailer, had debuted mauve bras up to a 38G. I knew instantly that this was exactly the type of color I was imagining.  The mauve color is a gentle lilac shade that's understated, unique, and unapologetically feminine. It's youthful, but sophisticated. I believe that Claudette should get some street cred. They haven't created any basic nudes, but have instead introduced this ballsy hue as a continuity option.

[caption id="attachment_88" align="aligncenter" width="202" caption="Image at Faire Frou Frou"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_89" align="aligncenter" width="236" caption="Image at Jada Michaels"][/caption]

Claudette actually makes two bras in this shade, a sexy sheer cup with black trim (above) and a cotton bra with adorable button details (below). To top all the awesomeness off, they make bands between 30 and 38 and cups between A and G. In an interview with The Full Figured Chest, the company added that they are considering 28 bands, 40 bands, and cups up to a K for the future. I'm officially obsessed.

Lingerie Solution: A Delicates Bag, for the Lazy Ladies

I am a supremely lazy person when it comes to cleaning. To make matters worse, I can easily ignore any dirty dish, overflowing trash can, or layer of grime in the bathtub. I'm one of those "bad roommates"; those people who seem sensible when you sign a lease agreement but who slowly allow their space to turn into a Hoarders episode. When I read this to a gentleman friend who has lived with me for several years, he flat-out chortled and said, "It's so true!".

Fortunately, there is one chore that I have been forced to reckon with and take seriously: my laundry. I've had some disasters along the way. Like the ex-boyfriend who put my favorite leopard print cardigan in the dryer and when it came out, it looked like a toddler's sweater. Or this summer, when I thought it'd be totally cool to put my mesh-detail Chantelle C.Chic panties in the industrial strength washing machines at the laundromat. I could go on and on...

Oh, how times have changed! I have discovered a product that was created for lazy chore ladies like myself: a wash bag. It's simple. It's cheap. It completely eases the guilt that comes when you see yourself loading your "hand wash only" items into a washing machine. Before I purchased my wash bag, I would admonish myself while I stuffed my collection into the machines  ("You are a total slob who is in the process of destroying her precious and ridiculously expensive delicates!") and now I'm proud of my resourcefulness ("Wow, what a mature, responsible adult you are!").

There are some basic rules with these meshy wonder-bags. For instance, you can't fill it up 100% to the bursting point with your dirty underthings. Although that seems obvious and is clearly written somewhere on the packaging, I procrastinate extensively before I break down and drive to a laundromat. When I do go, I usually end up bringing every bit of lingerie I own and then trying to jam all those lovelies into a single bag. I've definitely tested the bag's limits. Additionally, I believe it's less effective when thrown into a load with heavier items, like jeans or thick sweatshirts. To protect the items inside, the bag is made of soft material. When the bag is coupled with items that are thicker or heavier and then put on a lengthy/intense cycle, it tends to unzipper itself. I've prevented this issue by adjusting the washing machine onto a delicate cycle. The bag and I have gotten along swimmingly since then.

My wash bag is from Braza. It's white mesh with pink trim (style points!) and the Braza products are made locally, in the wonderful town of Lee, Massachusetts. Braza's Silky Sac Laundry Bags are available at Bra and Girl stores in Western Massachusetts and online at braandgirl.com for $7.50.

 

Falling Into the Freya Abyss?

Since I was properly measured, I've been a huge fan of the English lingerie brand, Freya. However, I've read several posts lately on full bust blogs about a Freya size abyss: increasingly loose bands coupled with a narrow size range. The fitting issues with Freya  are captured beautifully here and here. My gut reaction when I read the first post on this issue was, "Whoa, finally!". I have had exactly this problem and I felt like I was imagining it.

When I bought my first Freya 30G bra  (the Eleanor) in 2008, it fit like a glove. But damn, that bra was tight in the band! However, Eleanor and I have been through a lot since then and now that same bra fits like a second skin. It's the comfiest thing in the world. And yes, it still fits quite nicely.

Lately, the Freya 30 bands I've purchased are tightish when I first purchase them and then, after a few wears & washes, they are crawling up my back and I can easily attach them to the middle or last hook. I wondered, why does it take a few days for the new Freyas to loosen up when it took my Eleanor a year to get to the same flexibility? I remeasured myself and unlike the other bloggers, I am part of the issue. My under bust measurement has driven me into 28" territory. After this discovery, I freaked out. I would need a 28 band and a GG cup...so my options shrunk considerably. More specifically, many of the brand's more popular or exciting styles are unavailable in my new size (I'm looking at you, Deco, Longline, and Padded Half Cups).

Then I had three revelations:

1. Freya's sizing is never 100% consistent. With a little help from human error and size inconsistency, I found that while I need a 30G (for cup space) in the Taylor, I can also wear a 28G in some of their unpadded bras, like the Lyla. If you are near the 28GG/30G abyss, it's something to consider.

[caption id="attachment_52" align="aligncenter" width="214" caption="Lyla Noir - Image via Freya Lingerie"][/caption]

2. I looked through the catalog for the Spring 2012 collection and I found that there was some hope. In the upcoming season, I found 10 styles that offered a 28GG. Some are reliable basics in solid colors, like the Rio, Jolie, and Lauren. But there are some fashion patterns out there for the double Gs too, like the Ellie, Patsy, Elize, and the highly anticipated Beau.

[caption id="attachment_49" align="aligncenter" width="107" caption="Elize - Image via Freya Lingerie"][/caption]

3. Finally, I hate it when any company tries to sell me something that isn't completely reliable. I'm sure everyone has gone through some version of this on their own undergarment hunts: In the last few years, I've bought bras online at low prices and liked them initially, but during the first day of wear (and after removing the tags), found them to be a hideous fit or poorly constructed. I'd rather have Freya strenuously test, research, and study the sizing concerns of a product (like a 28GG Deco) than speedily release a bra onto the market to accommodate a wider size range.

I think Freya deserves a break. Or, I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt. In the full bust market, Freya seems to be the cool girl on the block. If you've ever attended high school, read a tabloid magazine or watched a John Hughes film, you know that everyone likes to hate on the popular kid. Freya's patterns are spectacular, their designs are hip and forward-thinking, and their sizing sets an industry-wide standard for full bust consumers. It's understandable that their customers would like to see every line available from 28C to 38HH, but I can also imagine why that's infeasible. Would I like to see those styles in my size too? Hell YES.  In the meantime, I'll gladly gobble up their 28GG Balconies. Hello, Elize...

The Official Miss Underpinnings Manifesto

1. I want to bring awareness to the American public about the range of bra sizes available to full busted women. When I was first fit into my correct size, my reaction was completely typical: "A 30G?! Since when do they make G cups?!". Little did I know "they" also make 28 bands, 48 bands, and J cups. Sure, these sizes aren't widely available, but these sizes aren't "strange" or "gigantic" either...they're just rare. Harder to find. Occasionally more expensive. Which brings me to my next point...

2. I want to empower lingerie consumers. I strive to be a better consumer myself and I think that has a lot to do with independent feedback. A few days before I began dating my boyfriend, I met his father. My boyfriend's father is an intelligent consumer who has since changed my retail perspective. He regularly reads Consumer Reports, he comparison shops for the best price before he makes a major purchase, and he buys in bulk. He reads reviews of merchandise and makes informed retail decisions. Unfortunately, Consumer Reports doesn't run an annual "Guide to Full Busted Lingerie" section (although that would be a dream-come-true!), so here I am.

3. I want to bring attention to local and independent businesses. Luckily, I grew up in a town that has always had a plethora of interesting boutiques, funky restaurants, and cozy entertainment venues. It's forced me to realize that when you spend locally, you're not only investing in yourself, but in your community. This principle extends to bra shopping; it's a luxury in the United States to try on a sub-32 band or a DD+ cup in a welcoming, friendly atmosphere. I will always be open to promoting small businesses that accommodate or cater to a full bust, plus size, or small band shopper.

4. However, I realize that for some bra shoppers there are no local or independent options within a reasonable driving radius from where they live or work. If you must shop online or from a mall-based lingerie retailer that stock the sizes I've mentioned, I will provide reviews of the sites/chains that are available and why you might like to shop with one over the other.

5. Like curvy girls worldwide, I have been told what to wear to minimize a larger bust line a dozen times. Dark colors on top. No double breasted coats. Slight v-neck t-shirts. These are all accurate and useful tips, but I'm more interested in what works for real women. What specific items happen to be tailored for an hourglass or bustier profile? What garments can be ordered that are cut exclusively for larger breasted women?

6. No bra blog would be complete without some discussion of body issues and physical self-perception. When I was younger, if anyone mentioned my breasts, I would groan inwardly. I hated discussing the size of my chest, drawing attention to it, looking at it in photos, and getting dressed in the morning. During that time, I was extremely vocal with medical professionals about how badly I wanted a breast reduction. I lived in baggy, formless t-shirts. My boobs, for me, weren't just another part of my body; they were a trigger point for a whole web of other issues.

Some days, I wake up and this is all still true. I'll catch sight of myself in the mirror and feel swelled, ache-y, or clownish. When I catch strangers looking at my chest, I feel ashamed! I'll see a photo of myself on Facebook and think, "Whoa, who's that stripper that looks vaguely like me?!".

But you know what, slowly and surely, I'd like to embrace myself and my shape and help others do the same. I think it starts with just owning it: My breasts are all mine and pretty lingerie is one of the biggest perks (pun intended!). And to all the creepy strangers out there, you're being rude. If this blog helps just one person have a more positive self-image about their chest, I'd be a very, very happy lady!

Welcome to Miss Underpinnings!

Hello and welcome to Miss Underpinnings! My name is Cece. I started this blog because I LOVE lingerie -- anything with a ruffle, bow, polka dot, flower, stripe, or bit of lace puts a huge grin on my face. However, that hasn't always been true. There was once a time when I believed that bra shopping was the lowest depth of misery.

I went for my first bra fitting when I was in the fifth grade and I was a C-cup! I remember because I was 1.) the first girl to wear a bra in my grade and 2.) my mother took me and I remember being mortified that I had to show her AND the fitter what the product looked like on me and 3.) it was the last time I ever wore a front-closure bra.

For a little while at least, my "boob garments" and I got along alright. Around a 34D, I remember really, really digging those bra-top camisoles from Vicky's. But then...I got bigger. And bigger. The day I sized out of Victoria's Secret, I cried. One afternoon during my sophomore year of high school, a friend told me that she minimized her, uh, movement (the bouncing/sagging/bulging issue that inevitably comes with wearing an ill-fitting bra) by layering one regular wired bra and two additional non-wire sport bras. I thought she was a genius.

[caption id="attachment_12" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Me and my sister, one of us looking a little bustier than the other."]
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And that's how the Bravissimo fitter found me five years later in one of their Edinburgh dressing rooms: three grungy bras, back bands riding up, and breast tissue spilling out of every available crevice. She put me in a Panache Porcelain 30G. In all seriousness, it changed my life. It looked great, it felt loads better, and the correct fit minimized me enough that I was able to wear blouses and dresses I would have never considered.

After graduating from college in the Midwest (go Big 10!), I moved back to my hometown in Massachusetts. I also began working as a bra fitter at Great Barrington Bra and Girl. I love my job; it almost feels like fate. It's incredibly gratifying to help other women with these mysterious and beautiful products.

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