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February 2012

DD+ Outfit: Subtly Sheer On Top

For months now, I've seen sheer tops, blouses, and dresses everywhere and the accompanying guidelines about how to pull them off. When I ordered this blouse, I didn't know how transparent it was, but I'm glad I got in on all the sheer loveliness. I also bought a nude warm-wear tank top to pair it with, until the temperature improves. I apologize for the wrinkles! Mr. Underpinnings and I had a technological malfunction that required us to go inside, lounge around, and come back out to take the rest of these photos. In the process, my skirt turned into a used grey napkin.

I don't think there are any "rules" about full busts and sheer items, per se. I've read magazine tips that suggest finding a blouse that has a sheer element, but isn't truly see-through. I suppose that's wise, but I think it's a situational and personal question too. Would I wear a totally sheer top without a camisole and a peekaboo bra effect? Probably, but I'd have to be in the right mood (bold!) and I wouldn't wear it in late February when it's still pretty chilly. Those two factors don't have much to do with the size of my chest.

Ok, thoughts on sheer blouses. If you're DD+, do you avoid this trend completely? Would you wear a sheer top to...the Oscars? Miami? A night club?  (I'm so dorky. Do people call them night clubs still? Or, is it just "club"? Let's call them discotheques, like I learned in 7th grade French class.)

I thought the fabric wasn't quite visible with all the beautiful mid-afternoon sunlight, so here's one more close-up:

Full Bust Bra Review: Curvy Kate Tease Me

Curvy Kate is an amazing, new brand from the U.K. which has just started to emerge in the U.S. and I couldn't be happier to see their products available on this side of the Atlantic! I saw their collection at Curve N.Y. and was blown away by their use of bright colors, innovative bra styles, and scrumptious design details. Currently, their company has two sides: a group of soft cup wired bras (The Emily and the Princess are two of my favorites!) and their "Showgirl Collection" which feature lightly padded, burlesque-inspired bras. This bra, the Tease Me, is a Showgirl style in a seasonal color:

This version of the Tease Me, in powder blue and ivory, reminds me of romantic, pastoral paintings of shepherds. I think William-Adolphe Bouguereau would totally be into this bra's soft tones! Surprisingly, my boyfriend seemed to go crazy for this combination too ("Blue's my favorite color!" was the explanation provided.).  It's not straightforwardly sexy in the contemporary sense, but it does lean more towards a half-cup or plunge-like shape which looks great in a square-necked dress. I've read bloggers call this a "cakes on a plate" look or Marie-Antoinette cleavage, which are both accurate descriptions of the look you'll achieve with this cup shape.

After reading several online reviews of Showgirl range, I decided to size up from a 28GG to a 28H. My breasts are quite full on top so any style that offers less coverage on top can be tricky. When I tried it on, I was a little concerned. Like most women, one breast is fractionally smaller than another so the smaller side looked a little lost in the 28H. However, once I started to move around, I was thankful for the extra coverage and both girls settled in nicely. If you're in between cup sizes or carry your weight on the top of your breasts, I'd recommend up-sizing.

A few small side notes:

  • The straps, which are fully adjustable, are also very stretchy and seemed long to me. This is a nice detail for women with longer measurements between the top of their shoulders and their breasts, but it's also nice for women who have a petite build who need the full strap adjustment.

  • If you have the financial means, it might be wise to invest in the matching panties. There are so many rich details in the Showgirl bras, it's harder to find briefs that match well.

  • The interior lining of the cups on the Tease Me are ridiculously comfy. If you have sensitive skin or can be irritated by the fabric of your bra, the padding on this bra will delight you. It seems counter-intuitive, but this bra is fantastic for lounging around in!

DD+ Outfit: Can You Dig It?

I just came back from the Curve NY trade show and my mind is full of the latest lingerie collections. The bras I saw were drop-dead gorgeous, but I definitely needed to decompress a little today. The weather was so sunny and unseasonably bright that it felt fantastic to be outside and focus my head on simpler matters, like enjoying the spring-like temperatures.

Without further introduction, here's the first Miss Underpinnings outfit post! Although the seventies aren't traditionally considered a decade that offered large busts a ton of style options, I'm into the wider-leg, higher-waist denim trend. When my mom gave me this sweater for my birthday, I knew I had to pull together a throwback outfit.

Outfit: Jeans: Madewell Widelegger/Cardigan: Garnet Hill/Clogs: American Eagle/Earrings: ?/Motorcycle Jacket: H&M (2009)

If you're full busted, what's your stance on patterned cardigans? How do you feel about the return of wide-leg or high-waist denim? What about when those trends are combined? If you're considering purchasing a pair of these jeans and you're DD+, I highly recommend reading this post on StackDD about finding the right cut. I bought these jeans before reading her tips, but I agree that this trend is the most flattering with a slightly low-ish waist.

Lingerie Solutions: Fabric Softener for Sheer Cups

For the last few years, I've found myself in a lingerie conundrum. I love sheer bras, like the Freya Lyla, for their sexy aesthetic and light construction. However, I don't like the fact that the mesh fabric can occasionally irritate, rub, or itch my breasts. I stumbled across a tip for this problem a few months ago and I decided to give it a whirl. I'm happy to report that I found a new lingerie solution: fabric softener.

I'm now regularly using fabric softener to wash my mesh or sheer cupped bras, in addition to my regular liquid detergent. The material generally feels smoother on my skin and I've found I can wear my sheer bras for a lot longer, on a day-to-day basis, than before. When I wasn't using the softener, I'd find myself longing to change out of these bras into something more comfortable.

I wash the bras as usual, in a lukewarm water and Soak wash combination. I simply add a teensy amount of fabric softener, before putting the bras in. After they've 'steeped', I don't allow the bras to sit for long in this concoction. I don't know why exactly. I suppose I feel as if they're in more detergent/chemical elements than the bras I clean only with Soak.

Side note: After incorporating the fabric softener and allowing the bras to sit in the liquid, the consistency of the water mixture begins to look like curdled milk. It grossed me out the first time I saw it, but you've been warned:

I tried to do a little online research on the negative side effects of regular fabric softener usage, but I didn't find much. I saw that some people believe it wears down the material of their garments, but I don't regularly rely on this stuff in my laundry loads. I doubt that the small amount of softener I use will make my bras tear or rip. I've also read that fabric softener can effect absorbancy rates in thicker items, like towels. Since the sheer bras aren't designed to absorb much anyway, I'm not worried.

Does anyone have experience washing their delicates with fabric softener? Is this a common trick that I simply wasn't aware of? Totally off topic: don't you just love the scent of lavender in organic-y cleaning products?

Full Bust Bra Review: Freya "Beau"

I'm crazy about this bra and I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I do. When I first saw the Spring/Summer Freya collection in the catalog, the Beau didn't pop off the page as a bra I couldn't wait to try. I do like cute prints, especially something as eye-grabbing as a bow pattern. I enjoy outlandish, complimentary color combinations which the "Beau" provides as well. The mix of raspberry polka dots, alongside the charcoal bows and muted pinkish base, feels fresh. I ordered it, but didn't really anticipate it as much as I did other Spring/Summer Freya fashions.

When I saw it, my feelings changed dramatically. The lighter shade leans towards a muted pink, rather than a neutral cream. The bra looks dainty and fun, but equally sophisticated with the sheer top panel and intricate, feminine embroidery. The stitching at the top vaguely reminds me of patterns you'd see on the tops of Minnetonka Moccasins. Another company, like Freya, that I'm a big fan of. I purchased the entire set and the briefs feature a ruched, elastic design on the sides and on the derriere. Those details, combined with a slightly higher cut in the bum, make them super flattering for ladies with larger hips.

The design aside, I can't get over the fit:

                                                          Freya "Beau" Plunge, 28GG"
As I've written here before, I recently remeasured myself and decided that I'd be more comfortable in a 28GG rather than a 30G. The Beau is the first 28GG bra I've tried and the fit is completely, epically improved. The Beau sits lower on the side of my breasts which I'm hoping will help to eradicate these weird bruise-like marks I've gotten from other bras. The 28 band didn't shift on my back during the day and the straps don't dig in. Of course, these are all signs that the 28 band is an improved fit for my body. I guess I hadn't imagined that the differences would be this immediate. The Beau was so comfortable the first time I wore it, I forgot I was wearing a bra.

Cup-wise, the fabric laid completely flat against my chest. The material was soft and stretchy, without being too flexible. Since the color is light enough, I plan on using this bra as a basic. I wear several layers under my tops in the winter (warm wear, tank tops, shape wear) so there's no risk of the dark pink or grey peeking through. It's been hard not to wear this bra recently, I'm over the moon about the fit. Just like my post on why bras are like love, I wasn't expecting to fall as hard as I did for the beautiful Beau.

Full Bust Bra Review: Freya "Ashlee"

A little back story: I'm into pink and I have been for a long time. When I was a kid, the human-size Barbie was on my Christmas list and I owned normal-sized Barbie, her outfits, her car, her house, etc. Just like my love of sequined fabric and huge honking floral prints, my love of pink hasn't changed as the years have gone by.

Enter the Freya Ashlee. The Ashlee is based on one of Freya's bestselling bras, the Deco, which comes in several continuity basics (black, grey, nude) and seasonal "fashion" colors (there's a sizzlin' red available right now). Currently, Freya has two 'enhanced' Deco ranges out: the Ashlee and the Taylor. Both bras feature the same shape, a padded plunge, and the same design details, including double bows at the center gore, smooth velvet-y trim on the the top of the cups and a subtle pinstripe fabric. However, the bras couldn't be more different from one another in their "vibe". Where the Taylor reminds me of menswear and this Toulouse-Lautrec painting, the Ashlee is decidedly more youthful and Barbie-chic. To me, that unrealistically svelte blonde will never go out of style.

                                                  Freya "Ashlee" Moulded Plunge, 30G

When I first saw the catalog for the Spring/Summer Freya collection, I looked at the Ashlee range and knew Ashlee and I would be besties. The shade of pink was boldly flirtatious and the line included the most adorable high-waisted briefs. There's also something about the fabric, on both the Taylor and the Ashlee, which is super comfortable against the skin. I realize that more moulded or padded bras aren't everyone's cup of tea, but the interior side of the cups work well for me. In person, the pink tone really pops too! Below, it's pictured on my boyfriend's piano, which helped to bring out the juicy color.

                                                      Technically it's called "Sorbet"

In terms of size, I've compromised a little for the gorgeous bra above. I am now 100% sure that my best fit is a 28GG and I'd prefer the Ashlee in that size. Unfortunately, Freya has yet to debut any Deco or Deco-relatives in that cup/band combination so the 'next best thing' is a 30G. Since my breasts are naturally more close-set and top-heavy, I've found that plunges can be troublesome anyway. With the Taylor, I often "roll together" during the day; my boobs don't stay as "anchored" as they could. I don't think this is any sort of design issue, rather it's a result of my shape combined with my own decision to go for the size-up-in-band/down-in-cup compromise. This may be controversial, but I actually don't mind the "roll phenomenon" for nights out on the town. It gives me an extra va-va-voom quality.

This set has definitely gotten me excited for warmer weather! I'm considering the idea of wearing this bra under a semi-sheer white t-shirt. I've always wanted to try the 'visible bra' trend, but haven't had the guts until now. The Ashlee is too pretty to stay under big, baggy sweaters for long...

How Bras are like Love

Today, I had an epiphany: bras are like boyfriends (or girlfriends)! Crazy? Maybe. Here's my thinking:

When I was single, I liked to imagine what my "perfect guy" would be like and what I would be like when I was with him. I pictured him with dark curls and pale skin because those traits matched my favorite costume drama men. I also thought he'd be a poet or a philosopher; someone deep, brooding, and romantic. I thought we'd like a lot of the same things and have loads of common interests.

                                                   Basically, I wanted to date Jon Snow.

When I imagined myself, I thought I'd be different too. Taller, for one. Thinner. More "French" maybe? The silliness of my dreams aside, I knew I'd be the best version of myself with this future person. It would be as if all of my great characteristics would bubble to the surface and all the traits I wish would disappear would magically diminish.

                                                         I'd turn into Clemence Poesy.

...then I met him. And he was blonde. He liked all sorts of things I didn't: the entire Rush Hour trilogy, rap music, hot sauce with every meal. The more I got to know him, the crazier I was about him, but some small part of my mind was going, "What!? This isn't supposed to be the guy!". Although he didn't match what I'd imagined, the happy, bubbly feelings I wanted to experience were all happening. Two years later, he still makes me feel like I'm on-top-of-the-world. He makes me feel beautiful. He makes me forget the fact that I'm truly, abysmally bad at math.

Really, I have nothing to complain about. (Photo: Natasha Komoda of Kimono Photography; Bloomington, IN).

Like my ideal-boyfriend hunt, sometimes I meet women who are searching for "the perfect bra". Their bra mission has a laundry list of requirements: thin straps, wide bands, fewer hooks, lace, cotton, seamless, padded, demi-cut, etc. They're hesitant to try on bras that don't fit the criteria or reluctant to consider alternative options. Across all backgrounds, I've noticed one striking similarity. Every woman/girl/trans person wants the same basic experience from their bra: they want to feel beautiful and confident. Just as my boyfriend preferences didn't have anything to do with hair color, that confidence doesn't have anything to do with the number of hooks or the width of the straps.

Don't get me wrong. I think it's wonderful to know what you want! I would never want a woman to settle on any old bra (or man!). But, in my own lingerie drawer, I've found that my best bras are the same ones that I wasn't immediately drawn to. Which makes me wonder, in an effort to narrow down our preferences, do we exclude the things we might love? If we eliminate options too soon or are in a hurry to prejudge, we miss the best and most surprising possibilities. In love and lingerie shopping, maintaining an open mind is essential.

                                               An Unexpected Favorite: the Fantasie "Kara"

To celebrate unexpected love, I urge you to stop counting hooks. Stop declaring war on perceived "back fat". Brush your expectations aside and concentrate on how you feel. Slow down. Look in the mirror. As cheesy as it sounds, you might be surprised at the face smiling back at you.

The Full Bust Wardrobe: BB Dakota "Radley" Coat

Finding a flattering coat -- especially one that suits a full bust -- is difficult. It can be heartbreaking to find a cute coat, try it on, and then be unable to zip/button/snap it near your chest. When I do find coats that look smooth from the waist up, I treasure them and wear them until they start to come apart at the seams.

When I saw the picture below, in the November issue of Glamour magazine, I snorted. It was the featured recommendation for busty women. I thought,  "A double-breasted yellow coat?! Are you kidding me?". I had a double-breasted coat once upon a time. I popped off every button above the waist and it strained against my chest in the most unflattering way possible. I decided that the coat would look hideous on my Gs and flipped the page.

A few days later, I couldn't get this coat out of my head. The real-life model looked adorable and the style was that "Zooey-Deschanel-retro" vibe that I'm fond of. I would periodically dig out the magazine, flip to that page, and stare at the picture. I started to come around to the idea that maybe this coat could be cut with enough space in the bust. When Modcloth had a post-Christmas sale, I went for it.

It turns out, I was wrong about this coat and the Glamour stylists were right. I adore it!  Obviously, there's the color. Yellow cheers me up on grey winter days. The BB Dakota Radley is designed in a way that caters to the DD+ set. In fact, there was actually some additional room in that region (ideal for layering under)! It's also fractionally smaller in the waist and wider in the hips which mirrors my proportions. The collarless feature, with the military accents, works especially well for a larger chest. There's no bulkiness below the neck which streamlines the top half nicely.

                                                         BB Dakota Radley Coat, size M

Things to Know: Since the coat was featured in November and debuted online in the fall, I've had a hard time tracking it down. There are some left on Zappos however, at a discounted price. The coat ran a little larger than other mediums I've had. It's almost like a medium and a half. I've read reviews in which people noted quality issues with the buttons, but I haven't noticed any problems with mine. In terms of temperature, I think this coat will serve me best in the autumn and early spring. New England has had unusually warm weather recently so I managed to wear it today with a long sleeved t-shirt and a button-up cardigan.

Since I've had such luck with the Radley coat, I'm hoping that BB Dakota has other options for full busted ladies. Their coats and dresses seem particularly well suited for a D+ profile. Has anyone else had success with BB Dakota? Which coats have worked for you?

The Full Bust Wardrobe: Express Button-Up Shirt

At this time last year, I was on the hunt for a button-up blouse for a new job. Of course, with a full bust, I was panicking. Anyone with a D cup or higher understands this unique type of dread. Wardrobe wise, well-fitting button-up tops are one of the hardest items to find if you have a large chest.

Then, at a staff meeting, someone mentioned Express. I hadn't actually been to an Express in years, but I looked on their website and found this shirt. It came in the colors I was looking for and had a bunch of great customer reviews. I ordered two, since the website was running a sale.

Miraculously, they worked! The Essential Stretch Long Sleeve Shirt is exceptionally well tailored for a shirt off the rack. It accommodates my G-cups with perfect ease while nipping in at the waist. The V-neck hits at a point that doesn't require a camisole for modesty, but still makes the cut feminine. It's become one of the most flattering shirts in my wardrobe.  They're also ridiculously easy to style. I wear these under blazers and sweaters in the winter for a preppy, pulled-together look. In the summer, I wear them to my seasonal job as a tour guide and they look perfectly appropriate with white capri pants.

                                   Essential Stretch Long Sleeve Shirt, Express (2011), size M

Things To Know: I bought these shirts last year and the version currently on Express's website is slightly different (I noticed the pleats along the sides are more pronounced.). I realize now that the sizing above is a little off. At the time of my purchase, I weighed about 10 lbs. more so these shirts fit a little better then. It's still such a novelty though; it's the first time in my life when I own a button-up and have room to spare in the bust area!

Perfuming Your Delicates Is the Most Feminine Thing You'll Ever Do

In the spirit of my hand washing recommendation, I wanted to write a post about the wash solution, Soak. I bought a big ole bottle of this
liquid magicsoap home this summer and I've used it to wash my delicates ever since.  When I first tried it, I had just begun instructing our customers to hand wash their new bras and I wanted to see if I could find a tangible difference between the non-machine and machine methods.

Well, it turns out there's a noticeable difference and Soak simplifies the endeavor. With this unique wash, you don't have to physically touch the bras after they're in the washbasin. Instead of using your hands to clean the bras, they're submerged in sudsy Soak water for fifteen minutes and then they're good to go. No rubbing, kneading, or rinsing required. Genius.

Although this formula makes it a supremely practical product, it's not the main reason I'm obsessed with it. I love Soak because it smells like beautiful flowers! I was surprised since I'm usually sensitive to the smelly stuff. I loathe the aroma of my all-natural bug spray in the summer and half of the perfume samples in my Birchbox make me want to flee the room I've spritzed them in. Soak is different. The Flora variety smells great in my bathroom while I'm washing my lingerie. Afterwards, the hint of scent lingers in my bras for 24 hours or so. The fragrance is lovely and very, very subtle. It's the most amazing sensation to slip on a freshly washed bra and have it smell like flowers. As the Italians would say, Soak helps me "fa una bella figura".

Lingerie Solution: Hand Washing

At the store, our customers frequently ask us how to properly wash their new bras. Hand washing is the best method, especially for bras constructed with foam lining or sheer fabric. I own a wash bag too, but I use the bag almost exclusively for briefs. I know it's a time-consuming and boring chore, but since I've started hand washing my bras, they show dramatically less 'wear-and-tear'. My moulded bras hold their shape better, my colored bras are still bright months later, and my go-to underpinnings look a lot less 'lived-in'. Plus, I'm game for anything that saves me money on new bras down the road.

The following items simplify the hand washing process:

  • washbasin: I got mine at the dollar store, but I've seen them everywhere from the local art supply store to K-mart.

  • lingerie-safe detergent: Many women tell us that they like to use Woolite and they do make a soap exclusively for delicate items. Of course, there are dozens of other varieties available.

  • lukewarm water

  • drying rack: My mom bought mine as an apartment-warming gift, but these bad boys are available at places like Target, the Container Store, etc. If you don't own one, I have used the shower curtain rods as a substitute. I doubt hang-drying is technically recommended, but the important element is avoiding the rough machines.

Here's the step-by-step breakdown:

1. Fill the washbasin with lukewarm water.

2. Pour one 1/2 teaspoon of the detergent or soap into the lukewarm water. This is a judgement call; if you're washing a bunch of bras at once, you'll want more soap and vice versa.

3. Submerge your bra and then proceed to wash. To thoroughly clean the bra, you'll want to gently rub or lightly knead the fabric. That might sound bizarre, but you do want to 'break up' the fabric and make sure you remove any lingering stains. I pay special attention to the part of the cup that is close to the armpit and the interior side of band.

**Just like your regular laundry, it's wise to wash dark and light items separately. I've seen some of my heavily dyed bras turn the water a pinkish or blueish tint.

4. Remove your bra and gently pat the excess moisture out with a towel.

5. Lay the bras on the drying rack.

Ta-da, you're finished! The entire process takes about 10-15 minutes and your bras will thank you.

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