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August 2012

Friday Favorites

This morning, I feel as if I owed you guys a Friday Favorites post. SO MUCH has happened in the full bust blogging world that I haven't been able to catch up on, until now. I woke up thinking I'd post on dresses, but then I realized there's so much new stuff a float that it'd be a shame to skip!  Also, can you believe it's Labor Day weekend?! Where did this summer go...and when will it be autumn (I love the fall in New England, it's like living in a novel!)? Before all the leaves change, here's some flowers:

The first thing I want to discuss is: new bloggers!! Since I read lingerie blogs daily, I'm always psyched to see new full bust blogs in the mix. Everyone has such a unique voice, it's wonderful to discover their view on boobs, bras, etc. Here are my favorites (please tell me in the comments if I've missed anyone!):

Sweet Nothings NYC: First of all, it's worth reading ALL of Sweets' posts because her voice is hilarious and easy going, even if you're not a cat lover or enthusiastic baker. Reading her blog is like sitting in the kitchen of an old friend, as she tells you her pee-in-your-pants-funny take on all your favorite things.  I've reread her posts on shapewear and hourglass wardrobe options multiple times.

Fussy Busty: At the store, I work with women who are fuller busted and plus size. I've often wondered, why isn't there a good blogging option for them out there? In the intimates apparel industry, there seems to be tremendous growth for this size profile too. Sculptress, a new Panache plus line, is set to come out soon and the Elomi collections get stronger each season. I think Nicole does a wonderful job filling that blogging void for 38/40+ bands and GG+ cups.

Undiegamer: Beware, if you read Windie's blog, she'll get in your head! Hours after I read her review of the Miss Mandalay Paige, I ordered the Lemon/Vanilla colorway from Bravissimo. Is that mind control or what?! I like that Windie tackles brands that don't get as much attention. In addition to Miss Mandalay, she has a Mimi Holliday review up. I also really enjoy her fresh/offbeat topics, like whether putting on make up is a personal decision or how lingerie preferences can change over time.

A few other things...

Bras I Hate wrote an article on the getting-to-know-your-boobs questionnaire on I've got to say, I had a similar reaction!

The new Bravissimo collection comes out on Monday. Are you as excited as I am!?

Speaking of new happenings on the horizon, has anyone checked out the Russian-based DD Atelier? They say they're for the busty and trendy...and I'll definitely be buying this shirt. I can't wait for the launch of their English language site!
Have a wonderful holiday weekend, ladies!

Video Review: Cleo Rihanna

Ok ladies, be gentle with me. I'm trying my (amateur!) hand at video blogging. As I mention below, lately I've seen other bloggers doing them and they've looked like such a blast. Until yesterday though, I thought I didn't have access to a camera that would work well for this medium. Then, my boyfriend announced he'd be happy to lend me the camera he uses to record his gigs with and I got the hook up. He, very patiently, set up the tripod and taught me how the essentials (like the on/off switch, hehe). Expect more of these in the future, as I loved doing this one. The review below is very raw and totally unedited, as I was ridiculously impatient to put it up:

Here's hoping you liked that, guys! And, of course, a HUGE thank you to Panache Lingerie and Ann Magnin Inc., who graciously sent me the set. This broke blogger is thrilled with her Rihanna!

Fitter's Favorites

Ladies, I hate the end of August. I really do. It's not summer, but it's not fall. Everyone's sick of the heat, but the leaves haven't changed yet. It's a danky hang nail of a season. So, in an effort to cheer myself and fill up the time before all the new autumn collections are released, I thought I'd write about the best bras for fitters. Since everyone has a different definition of "the best", I broke this down into four simple categories.

The Little Black Dress

No one can go wrong with a little black dress. Similarly, there are bras that fit everyone. Not all bras are created equal; some can be truly wonky fits. They require firm breast tissue, they're a half cup too small, they're two bands too big, etc. However, there is a class of bras that just work. They go on the body and they fall right where they should. Sometimes, I'll be in a fitting and, for whatever reason, it's a hard process to find a good match for the client. It's in those moments (when I'm internally panicking!) that I'll turn to one of these bras. Nine times out of ten, they fit like they're painted on! And that's when I let out a huge sigh of relief and let out a little prayer, thanking God, Zeus, and Buddha for creating a bra that magically fits everyone in it's size profile.
The Pop Songs

When I wrote this, the Wacoal Embrace Lace Underwire popped into my head. It's a bra we carry at the store which everyone seems drawn to. Young women love it, older women love it. Men love it! Like any catchy pop song, it's a universally appealing product. In the full bust world, you can see which bras are hits. For instance, the Cleo Ellie and the Ewa Michalak Lato were reviewed enthusiastically on several lingerie blogs this summer. Unlike materials that can remain controversial like leopard print or pastel yellow, these designs really spoke to people. If a piece of lingerie can appeal to someone who's 14 and someone who's 84 simultaneously, it's a keeper.
The Miracles

If I were bedridden for the rest of my life or a Victorian hypochondriac (see: the whiny kid in The Secret Garden), I'd want to wear the Freya Deco. I'm not quite sure how they've engineered it, but that bra is the comfiest flying/road tripping/sitting-like-a-slug bra. The crazy cleavage it gives is secondary, in my heart, to the fact that it's the only bra I can travel comfortably in. While your magically unique "it-does-something-no-other-bra-has-ever-done" bra isn't the Deco, I'm sure you can think of a bra that stands alone in it's achievements.
The Problem Solvers

Le sigh. Whether they know it or not, everyone has some sort of fit issue. It could be a feature or a preference that can make searching for bras a more complicated process than a simple number-letter combination. If your breast tissue is softer, your shoulders are narrow, or you have an extended tummy, you know what I'm talking about. These features can make even a enthusiastic lingerie customer run for the hills. Mine is all in the middle; my breasts are close set and full which means that, even when a bra fits correctly, the center gore might not lay flush or can dig in. Usually, these issues can be resolved by finding a product that resolves the issue. Sloping shoulders? Look for racerback or leotard back bras. Soft breast tissue? Balconnets look fantastic! My not-quite-separated boobs are happiest in plunges, like the Panache Tango.

Ok, lingerie store owners/fitters/bra nerds, it's time to weigh in! Am I way off base? Do you have a bra that no other bra has been able to compete with? Have you noticed a bra that seems to fit everyone and their mother? Let's talk about the "best" bras in the comments.

Full Bust Review: Freya Shapes (Ellie, Martha, & Ada)

I purchased a few sets recently and discovered, completely accidentally, that I'd bought the three non-padded bras that Freya currently releases in my size: the Balcony, the Plunge Balcony, and the Plunge. Trying them on all at once, I was struck by how different the base structures looked on me. I'm reviewing them all simultaneously so everyone can see what I'm blabbering on about, instead of having to pull up a separate review for each one.

The Balcony: The Ellie

Freya often splits lines by cup, releasing two bras in the same design for different size profiles. In smaller cups, they'll offer a plunge balcony and for the GG+ crew, they'll make a balcony (Examples: the Faye, Jolie & Lacey). These bras have a wider band and straps, a higher center gore, "sturdier" fabric and more coverage than the typical Freya "look". Flipping through promotional images, it was hard for me to find an accurate representation of this bra's fit, as most of their models seem to be Gs and below. But here's how it looked on me:

The good: I adore this print! I've been looking forward to it for months, but when I saw it in person, it was even lovelier than I imagined. The ivory background is such a timeless color, the detailed, artistic florals appear layered on, and the contrasting trims are freshly current. This type of design is exactly why I'm so taken with Freya! Unfortunately, these patterns don't translate well online. I've seen several digital photos that don't do any favors for the gorgeous Ellie; it's something you have to 'see to believe'. In terms of the silhouette, the balcony looks...boob-like? I've read that some ladies think Freya's bras are pointy, but I prefer the balcony's shape. I like the Ellie's natural/teardrop look. This is essentially the shape of my boobs, abet with some very helpful wires:

The not-so-good: As I've mentioned here before, Freya's balconies are marginally too full for me. Along one side of the bra, I get a slight ripple (or tiny gaping?) running through the apex of the bra. Since it's only on my smaller side and hardly noticeable, I just tinker with the strap and ignore it. However, this is another style where I may be inbetween sizes (G cup being smallish and the GG giving a slight gape). Happily, the Ellie does have a firmer-than-usual band. Now that I think of it, I remember that all these new bands were firmer than my previous Freyas. Hmmmm, the times they are a' changin'...
The Plunge Balcony: The Martha

The plunge balcony seems to be the most widely available style from Freya. Just as the name suggests, this bra is a middle ground between the balcony and plunge coverage. Although I like bras with more or less coverage, most of my everyday bras belong to this group or a similar cut.

The good: Right, I'm not crazy about butterflies. They're okay, but they're not my #1 winged creature (I'd take a hummingbird over a butterfly, any day). However, the print of these butterflies strongly reminds me of Victorian insect collecting, rather than little-girl-butterflies.  A little more morbid, a little less cute. Like the Ellie, Martha's print appears layered, almost like an old photograph. I think the contrast between the bright turquoise trim and the more subtle pattern is very chic and summer-y too. The first time I wore this bra, I went shopping and tried on several sheer shirts. I really liked how you could see the trim and straps through the fabric! The fit in the cups and band was exactly true-to-size.

The not-so-good: If you're someone concerned with the shape a bra provides, the plunge balcony would not be the first bra I'd suggest for you. The bottom of the cup gives a lovely round appearance, but the top panel flattens more significantly. To me, this looks a little like a ski jump. I wouldn't call it pointy, but it's not nearly as round and compact as other bras (the Plunge below, the Panache Andorra).
The Plunge: The Ada

Looking through the recent Freya catalogs, the plunge is an endangered species. This season, the Ada was the only plunge released and it's a shame since, in my experience, it's the best bra Freya offers. For Spring/Summer 2013, there will be a second fashion colorway of the Beau. I wonder, why Freya doesn't make the Beau a basic? I'd gladly buy that bow print in ivory or black.  Despite my aversion to the Ada's fabric, I bought this bra because I was gauranteed a terrific fit. I wasn't disappointed:

The good: I could gush all day about the fit! The minute I put this bra on, it was like a key clicking into a lock. This bra and it's sister shapes are in my personal Bra Hall of Fame for their blend of comfort, flirtatious design, and stellar fit. Like any good lingerie nerd, I've thought deeply about why the fit works so well and I've come up with a few factors. First of all, the bra has a smaller center gore that works nicely with the fullness I have between my breasts. Secondly, the top sheer panel is very accommodating or flexible. It doesn't cut in or restrict as much as the other soft bras I've tried. Finally, I think the cup's depth suits me perfectly. With the GG+ balconies, they're fractionally too deep whereas the same line's 28G plunge balcony creates a margin of spillover.

The not-so-good: I may get massacred in the comments for this, but (eek!) I'm not a fan of the tattoo print. Like the two other patterns, the tattoos are completed in an artistic, detailed way that looks marvelous in person. It actually makes all these bras look quite expensive! Unfortunately, I had an early 2000s "faux punk" phase which soured me on the rocker girl colors of the Ada. I wore Doc Martens, decorated my bedroom with feminist quotes, and regularly listened to the Sum 41 hit, "Fat Lip". I haven't been able to get into hot pink/black combinations since then.

Okay, hopefully this triple review was helpful! Let me know in the comments if you'd like to see more group/comparative posts or if you prefer one style reviewed at a time.

Kocham Polskę

Ewa Michalak, a Polish lingerie company, has been everywhere in the last year. If you haven't heard of them or don't spend hours trolling through their styles yet, there are reviews on almost all the full bust blogs and an introductory post on the Lingerie Addict to get you obsessing. Once you're familiar with the brand, it's easy to see why the company has attracted such enthusiasm. They will custom sew most sizes, their construction is impeccable and their prices are reasonable. They provide a missing piece of the full bust market -- including sheer balconnets and padded plunges -- to women who are unable to find those products elsewhere. Additionally, their design "look" stands apart from their English competitors; a full busted customer would never mistake an Ewa Michalak design!

Last fall, I decided to check them out for the first time and I ordered four bras, choosing one of each of the four styles available (PL, HM, CH, & HP). The PL is a three sectioned padded plunge with a low center gore while the HM is a sheer traditional demi. The CH and HP are both padded half-cups, but the latter holds the breast tissue close to the body while the former pushes it out. The CHP, or combination of the HP and CH models, hadn't debuted yet. I ordered all the bras in a 65G/30G, as I had read reviews stating that many of the styles ran tight in the band. Here's a quick note on how these styles worked for me:

  • HM Halfrek: This bra had the tightest band by far (almost like a 26/28) and the cups have stretched over time. At first, I thought it might be too small, but they've looked perfect lately.

  • PL Burgund: Again, the band was snug and felt more like a 28. The cups were fractionally small, but since it's a plunge, the lack of coverage isn't immediately noticeable when I wear it.

  • CH Toffik: This band was immediately too loose (almost a 32!) while the cups were true-to-size for a G.

  • HP Bella: This bra's cups were the smallest of the bunch, but the band was pretty true-to-size for a 30. I wore this bra frequently when I went down a cup size in the spring.

As you can see above, I had four completely different reactions to the four styles. For the most part, I decided that I'd prefer increased coverage when I ordered again. Even though the 28" band is considered a custom order and isn't returnable, I decided it'd be better to get the smaller band size and have to wear it with an extender than order a 65/30 and be unable to wear it on the loosest setting. Last month, before the company went on vacation, I took the plunge (har, har) and special ordered the HM Finezja in a 28GG.

When I first unwrapped the HM Finezja, I knew immediately it'd be too snug. However, with my trusty extender, I was good to go. Since this is only my second HM bra, I'm hesitant to proclaim that all HMs run smaller in the band. Although both the Finezja and Halfrek had tight bands, I think many of these "fit factors" are a result of specific materials and individual manufacturing quirks rather than a general sizing method for each style. Cup-wise, I think I could go for either the G or GG. Like the Showgirl line from Curvy Kate, my smaller size gives me smokin' cleavage whereas the larger cup is better for "anchorage" and daily running around.

The Finezja speaks to my girliest side. Ya' know, the part of me that still thinks dollhouses, My Little Pony and Flower Fairy books are totally awesome (Tomboys, don't judge!). The white floral design is unusual as well, as most brands have shied away from any details with this traditional neutral. The stitching, straps, and wires are all sweetly delicate. However, my favorite feature has got to be the ruffled fabric beneath the band. It reminds me of another insanely feminine bra I'm obsessed with: the Chantelle Tuileries Demi. Before I received the set, I wasn't keen on the pink pom-poms or the slightly sparkly stitching. Now I think these details added a fun playfulness to the overall feeling. I like that Ewa's designs are mischievous and don't take themselves too seriously.

If you're thinking of ordering from Ewa Michalak, keep in mind that the sizing can be a little inconsistent. All the special order sizes aren't returnable, but the design and construction are absolutely worth the gamble. Lately, the company has been focusing on smaller runs of their more colorful bras, but Ewa recently announced on her Facebook page that there would be several new concepts for autumn. I personally can't wait for more HM designs! Alright, I'm curious, have you tried Ewa Michalak already? What was your experience? Do you love Poland too? ;)

Full Bust Review: Masquerade Delphi

Behold, the Delphi! Named after the city in Greece where an ancient oracle was located, the Delphi is truly a divine creation. The combination below ("sepia/raspberry") belongs to the Spring/Summer 2012 group and there's a gorgeous contrast black/ivory colorway available for this autumn. Like the Persia in Damson from the same collection, I think the golden taupe shade works with my skin tone. Paler colors usually wash me out strangely so it can be challenging to find a so-called "nude" or neutral that flatters against my yellow undertones. Although this bra is billed as a special-occasions piece, I'll definitely wear it under white sweaters and blouses through the autumn and winter.

Regarding the fit, the cups were ideal. With many styles I've tried recently, I've noticed I'm exactly in-between. Not quite one size, but not quite the next either. No such problem with the Delphi; the cups were a spot-on 28GG. Masquerade has a reputation among bloggers for churning out firm bands, which held true for the Delphi as well. The band was noticeably firmer than my new Cleo by Panache bra.

I've been ignorantly avoiding thicker shoulder straps since I started the blog. They remind me of the bras I wore as a teenager, back when I was shopping at the Maidenform outlet and believed I was a 34D (Ha!). When pretty bras pop up on my 'lingerie radar' with these straps, part of me wonders: "But, whhhhhyyy?!". Even after seeing the Delphi's gorgeous embroidery in person, I felt that the straps were awfully padded...then I put it on. And promptly ate my words. They're ridiculously, miraculously, unbelievably comfortable!!! I'm squarely on the fat-strap-bandwagon.

I was a Masquerade devotee long before the Delphi arrived on my doorstep, but this bra has only converted me further. I shouldn't leave out the briefs! The matching brief had a sexy tanga construction, with the whole bum portion made out of this cool "bubble-hemmed" mesh. If you like the look of this beaut or it's autumnal sister, grab it up. In the Spring/Summer 2013 Masquerade collection, there were some truly stunning sets, but no new Delphi colorways.

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