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October 2012

Busty Clothing Swap

I attended my first clothing swap on Saturday and I had an amazing time. I met fellow bloggers, nibbled on cupcakes, and took home a bundle of fantastic swapped items. Darlene, from Hourglassy and Campbell and Kate, was a superlative hostess. She warmly welcomed and introduced everyone, mingled regularly, and possesses the perfect inclusive spirit for parties. Moira, of Bra La Mode, attended as well and I could've easily listened to her talk about the intimates apparel industry for the rest of the day. Please don't kill me for this, but I had the chance to hang out with Sweets, the Sweet Nothings NYC blogger, and she's so...sweet. Haha, I know. But get this: she was up for anything, brought baked goods, and was complimentary of everyone who attended. I've got three new girl crushes.

During the swap, I was able to try out two full bust companies and honestly, I hadn't known too much about them before the event. Campbell and Kate provided the full range of sizes for us to try out in their Signature Shirt. Wowza, it made such a difference to wear a button up with some busty room! When I pulled on the sample in my size, I instantly felt chic and pulled together. I've been wearing button-up blouses in a size larger than I need for my waist, which makes a supposedly clean or streamlined item look messy regardless. When the blouse pictured below, it was shocking to feel fabric around my torso. I'd seen this type of shirt fit like this on other women, just never on me.

 Bijte, a lingerie company for full bust women, was also a swap sponsor. Diana, the founder of Bijte, attended the event and brought samples for us to peek at. I'm not going to lie, I geeked out pretty hard over the feminine colors, lace, and seductive ties. While another lucky lady took home the raffle prize Diana donated, I did get the chance to try on the Lace and Silk Front-Tie Drawstring Bustier Cami. Good gracious, this piece puts me in lingerie heaven:
 I'm overjoyed Diana was there to educate us about her designs too. If I had seen her pieces in a lingerie boutique on my own, I wouldn't even consider them. Not that they aren't breathtakingly gorgeous (trust me, they are). However, when I see delicate and sensual lingerie, part of my mind just zooms right past. Even as a lingerie blogger, I'm still not used to considering sexy pieces in my size range. It was a revelation to attend the swap and handle these products; seeing them in person woke me up to the fact that there's more available in my size than I assume.

I've only recently gotten into shopping for secondhand or thrift clothing, but it feels great to find something that's been passed on. It's like treasure hunting and that element of shifting, organizing, and analyzing calms my obsessive side. I'd love to hear the experiences of other swappers or how full bust ladies shop. My tactic? I eyeballed for size, grabbed colors or fabrics I liked, and looked for pieces that would be the easiest to fit into. From the Busty Clothing Swap, I took away several pull over sweaters from brands like J. Crew, Kenneth Cole, and Banana Republic. They're stretchy, warm for winter, and I desperately needed these basics in my rotation.

One of the best parts of the swap? Getting to meet other full bust bloggers. While I love blogging and would encourage anyone who's interested in starting one, I've found that blogging solo can make me a little nuts. Like any passionate artiste, I have to watch out that I don't get too competitive, insecure, or achievement obsessed. It's harder than it sounds! There are tons of wonderful full bust blogs out there and on my "low" days, I have to talk myself out of comparing mine to others. However, by meeting and mingling with some of my blog heroes, it became clear I belong to a community of smart, funny, and down to earth ladies and there's no need to get all squirrel-y up in my corner of rural Massachusetts.

SO...please give me your tips! How do you shop at thrift or secondhand stores if you're DD+? Any tactics? Also, if you're a blogger, have you gotten a chance to meet other bloggers?

5 Shopping Rules I Live By

After years of fashion disasters, I'm pretty content with my current personal style. I know what I like and I typically know what will flatter my figure. However, I wasn't born with any innate styling sense or ideas of what my "look" is. It's been an excruciatingly slow process to learn what slims me, trims my bust, or turns my ta-tas into man-nip. Conversely, it's been tricky to uncover what I gravitate towards. As a kid, my mom dressed me and when she stopped the L.L.Bean from head to toe, I tried to dress like my peers. After years of experimentation, I know what I like (florals!) and what doesn't quite feel like "me" (polo t-shirts). So, I suppose this post is intended for the old me, or anyone who might like style, be the proud owner of a killer set of boobs, and isn't sure how to work with 'em. Here are my top 5 shopping tenets:

1. You will always look best when clothes fit you (Bras especially!).
While this may seem like an obvious one, I've been on each end of the extreme and it isn't pretty. I went through the early 2000s at an age when Britney was cool so I've rocked my fair share of belly bearing tops. In retrospect, my mom was right and they were way too tight. In college, my main style goal was to wear something that would be comfortable for 24 straight hours of cramming at the library. I feel bad for my fellow students; my iffy hygiene and my dad's giant and hole-ridden t-shirt couldn't have left the best impression.

Now, I realize that wearing a garment too big or too small just isn't quite right. Like a bra in the next band up or the cup down, the fit simply isn't there. Whatever the size on the tag says, I reach for the next size smaller/larger when what I've brought into the dressing room doesn't sit right. In a weird way, it's a tough habit to get into. It makes shopping a little more time consuming and obnoxious, but it's worth it when you find a fit that suits you. Which brings me to rule #2...

2. If an item doesn't fit you, it's not your fault.
This one might just be insecure and eating disordered me, but for the longest time, when something didn't fit me, I internalized it in a heartbeat.  Two years ago, I went jean shopping with my boyfriend and I'll never forget it. We had just moved back to my hometown and I wasn't feeling that hot. I was depressed, I'd gained some weight, and I really missed going to school. We drove out to this "special" mall in upstate New York for the express purpose of finding a pair of jeans that fit me. I didn't have any since my size had changed. Well, I couldn't find anything that worked and somehow, in my mind, finding a pair of jeans had gotten wrapped up in all my other emotional stuff. So, I did what any logical person would do: I cried. At the mall. Like a champion, my boyfriend took me to the food court, fed and watered me, and gently reminded me that I had a lethal case of PMS.

You know that scene in Moonstruck when Cher yells "Snap out of it!" in her no-nonsense New York accent? Yeah, that's what I feel like doing to 2010 Cece and every woman who blames herself when something doesn't fit right. Of course, it's important to eat a balanced diet, exercise, and maintain an individually-determined healthy weight. I don't want to discount or ignore that, but I also believe that a healthy lifestyle is a separate issue from anything that goes on in dressing rooms at the mall. Somehow though, these two worlds have become mixed up in one another and in my own head, it's best to divide them again.

3. If you can't find a particular item, don't worry. It's out there.
Before being fit, I believed that my body was weird and there were no bras on the planet that would fit me. When I was walking and saw the Bravissimo sign in Edinburgh, a little voice in my head said, "Maybe they'd have something for you...". Well, it turns out they had a ton of selection for me. I'd spent years thinking that there wasn't anything that would do the trick and what I was looking for was out there the entire time. Today, this attitude can creep in when I'm not vigilant: "Oh, there aren't any pencil skirts in the whole wide world that fit me..." or "Button-up white shirts are so classic! I wish I could wear them...".

Nope, wrong. If you're looking for an item -- button-up white blouses, pencil skirts, plus size hosiery, size 12 shoes -- you might need to search longer than average, check out a small business, or save up for an investment piece, but these items do exist and they're available to purchase. It's just a matter of finding them and that's where over opinionated and easily excitable bloggers come in.

4. Put your money where your mouth is.
Shopping is like voting. There are millions of places to spend your money and when you do, you're sending a message that you support, encourage, and generally like that retail atmosphere, website design or product.  No joke, I could easily blow $1,000 at Forever 21. It's cute, trendy, and addictive as hell. However, by putting my hard earned money into that business, where does that leave me? With big chain quality and suspect design authenticity. On the flip side, if I bought $1,000 worth of merchandise from the Etsy shops I profiled on Friday, I would get fewer items overall, but they'd all be higher quality, last longer and created for my unique shape. Additionally, I'd be helping artisans and small business owners.

I realize that what I'm discussing is a luxury and I'm writing from a standpoint of privilege. I understand that not all the women of America have a choice to vote with their wallets or purchase bespoke pieces on a regular basis. With that stated, if you possess discretionary income, I'd suggest thinking about not just what you spend, but how you spend it. What do you want your money to say? For instance, maybe you want to buy 80% of your wardrobe at Forever 21 and 20% of it with smaller retailers. But just imagine, that seemingly small percentage could mean so much to an independent designer, small business owner, or niche shop.

5. Your body is beautiful. If something doesn't make you feel lovely, forget it.
It goes without saying and I can't even see you: Your body's beautiful. Everyone has one, they're all unique, and your corporeal self is a gorgeous hot mess of blood, guts, and flesh. If you put something on and it doesn't make you feel that way, forget it and find something that makes you want to strut your stuff. My kryptonite is any black and sheer bra. It's the most impractical color and the most seductive combination, but it's what I wear on my days off. You know, when I want to feel beautiful. For me. Oddly enough, my man friend prefers white. Go figure.

Alright, do you have any shopping rules? Do you already practice any ethical shopping disciplines? Alternatively, do you throw the rule book out the window when you're thinking about clothes?
If you're a small business owner, how do you feel when someone makes a special effort to buy from your company?

And, most importantly! What do you wear to feel beautiful??

Custom Curves: the Etsy Series

I created this blog because I wanted a place to share my shopping struggles, write up my style successes, and find out what other curvy girls were up to. I'll have a fan girl obsession with lingerie until the day I die, but I've always been fascinated by how hourglass or full bust women pull looks together. For years, it's been so tempting to wrap myself up in the same old Urban Outfitters t-shirts and a baggy pair of jeans from my senior year of high school. It's only recently that I've realized I don't have to settle for upsizing to accommodate my bust or see what I can squeeze into from bargain stores.

With that light bulb moment, I've fallen in love with the companies -- Urkye, DD Atelier, BiuBiu to name a few -- that specialize in beautiful styles for DD+ women. I've also discovered a second sphere I've been neglecting: Etsy. Of course, cute handmade pieces pop up on my Pinterest feed all the time, but I've shied away from checking the site out myself. I suppose I assumed the categories were too difficult to sort through or I felt left out of the loop. Like Ebay, Etsy seems like a huge Internet planet onto itself. I finally registered this month and ladies, I'm addicted. Through countless hours drooling over all the gorgeousness, I've found a number of shops that offer custom options or accommodate full bust customers.

So, here's the plan: For the next several months, or as my river of cash permits, I'll be writing a new series on the Etsy stores that offer custom sized or made-to-measure apparel. I'll be ordering one garment from each of the small businesses I introduce below. I've spent a great deal of time creating this list, contacting the stores, and finding items that matched my aesthetic, lifestyle, and retail "problem areas". While not every seller I messaged was keen to participate, the boutiques below were all exceedingly helpful, enthusiastic, and quick to respond. I hope you enjoy perusing these list as much as I enjoyed making it:

Michelle Tan
I can't decide what I want to order first from Michelle Tan: the high waist pencil skirt? The polka dot blouse? The Peter Pan collar dress? I could easily spend my entire paycheck at this store! Sometimes, with retro pieces or vintage items, I struggle to steer away from a costume-y direction. Michelle Tan's designs happily solve that styling conundrum with fun colors and streamlined cuts. Her collection feels fresh and modern alongside classic inspiration from the past. Michelle Tan also offers her custom fit designs for all body shapes, there's a $10 charge for plus sizes, and she's happy to discuss sleeve length changes. {The featured item above is the Vintage Inspired Peter Pan Collar Dress in Burnt Orange, $149.} 
Looking through the gorgeously draped items in Lirola, I intuitively knew that my mom and I could spend hours cooing over the same shirts, dresses, and skirts. We don't have the same taste at all (Don't get me started on her opinions of florals!), but in my experience, classic designs speak across generations and individual aesthetics. Liron's clothes are items I could easily wear everyday. With basic flats and a wrap cardigan, they'd be in my weekend rotation, but with heels and a blazer, I could re-purpose the same casual dress or top. This easy-to-style, own-forever collection speaks to my savvy side that firmly believes in investment pieces and calculating cost-per-wear. {Navy blue Peplum Top with Short Puff Sleeves, $65.} 
kay em kay
kayemkay's entire dress collection can be customized for fit and there are fantastic options for an everyday casual wardrobe. An added bonus? Store owner Kasey offers some of the most adorable fabric choices on her blog.  You might've seen her heart cut out bridesmaid dresses floating around on Pinterest too. Once you view her collection, it's easy to see why so many people have fallen in love with her feminine, sweet aesthetic. Her pieces are vintage inspired, but easy to personalize with cute accessories. For the Massachusetts cold, I've been eyeing the long sleeve dress and thinking about the Mustard Blossoms print. {Long sleeve dress vintage style, $93.}
 Lana Stepul Apparel
Lana Stepul Apparel has a tagline -- "clothing to fit your mood" -- and I absolutely believe them. There's something undeniably playful about their dresses, skirts, and leggings. For a print person like myself, it's a wonderland with unique paisley, abstract floral, and metallic brocade. Many of their dresses feature a low or open back design and while that may discourage full bust buyers, Kat told me that they work one-on-one with their customers to insure that their dresses are supportive and comfortable for every body type. They've added bra cups and extended the fabric, depending on customer preferences. They're also sensitive to how each individual approaches her shape. Whether you're celebrating your curves or streamlining your proportions, Lana Stepul Apparel is happy to accommodate your vision. {Metallic Brocade High Waist Pencil Skirt, $75.}
 Bow and Arrow Apparel
North Carolina-based Bow and Arrow Apparel creates bespoke denim for under $200. I'm not sure how it's possible, but I'm so glad I found this gem of a store. While I've had some success with PZI Jeans and Levi's, I've had an impossible time finding any high waist styles that fits my hip-to-waist ratio. Their Stealth Pant is a skinny, high waist cut with a cool tab detail and awesome pockets. To make it even more incredible, Bow and Arrow ships worldwide, sources their material from the United States, and was recently a featured shop on the Etsy blog. {Stealth Pant, $167.}

Ureshii is easily the most flexible retailer I've ever come across. In addition to a custom fit, Ureshii offers personal color and fabric choices. They sew with silk, bamboo, and cozy merino. If you're expecting, their website has a very chic maternity section. Additionally, if you're not taken with a specific feature of the garment offered, they invite you to contact them and inquire with your preferences. They cautioned me that they're designs aren't bust minimizing, but rather work perfectly for a confident and curvy woman who knows what she's looking for. Amen to that. Side note: While they began on Etsy, they now run their own fantastic website and you can peruse their fan page for more individual product details. {Patricia Top, $80.}
Has anyone ordered a custom item before? I'm so curious...what was your experience like?
If you're an Etsy regular, have I left any seller off my list that I should include in the project?
Finally, any suggestions for which store you'd like to see a profile of first? Haha, I want to order everything at once! I can't decide who to begin the series with.

Let's get our swap on

Have you ever been to an organized clothing swap? My first time will be this Saturday and I'm so excited. Darlene, from Hourglassy, and ClosetDash, a swapping concept boutique, will be hosting a "Busty Clothing Swap" event in New York City. If you live, work, or nestle down in the surrounding area, please consider dropping by. I'd love to meet you! Here's how it'll work:
The venue is 30 East 20th St., Suite 402 with the swapping magic happening between 11am - 2pm. You can register here. For the low entrance fee of $10, you'll get
  • a new-to-you wardrobe
  • free raffle tickets to win cool prizes from full bust brands, like Freya and Urkye
  • goody bags sponsored by companies, including Town Shop and DD Atelier
  • free food, good conversation, and a chance to meet other lovely & stylish DD+ women. 
Wanna know more? Hourglassy has detailed information on the gift bags and raffles while Bra La Mode has a post on how the event came together. On the register page, there's also an explanation of the logistics in the swapping process. 
Hope to see you there!

Parfait Spring/Summer 2013 Preview

Last Wednesday, I attended a press event held by Rich PR, the firm that represents Parfait by Affinitas (among other amazing brands). I got a sneak peek at the Spring styles which will debut next year, as well as a few pieces that are available for the fall. However, before I get all opinionated, I wanted to thank the lovely ladies who held the event. Consider the facts: I couldn't manage to get the door open twice, was 15 minutes late, and a hot sweaty mess, but they were gracious and generous all the way.

Angelina (Autumn/Winter 2012)

I'm starting off this post with the dark horse of the entire line. PINK. With brown! It's a bold move, for any apparel market, but I'm coming down on the side of Parfait on this one. I think it works. While I wouldn't assume it's a colorway that would suit everyone (blondes?), I've always gravitated to these shades to complement my warm undertone skin and brunette features. As Danielle at the event reminded me, it's also one of the only designs that feature fun polka dots. The lace throughout is very delicate too, which makes the brown less overwhelming in person. However, if you prefer your lingerie a notch less bold, there's always the slightly more traditional black and silver combination:

Leslie (A/W 2012)

I go bananas for leopard, but in my old age, my animal print preferences have become quite picky (No snake or giraffe for this gal.). I like my cat prints as classic as possible, which is what appeals to me about the Leslie. It's straightforwardly and unabashedly retro with the red bows, a high waist brief option, and chunky black trim. Leslie takes me back to a time when women wore lipstick and hosiery every day and I like it. Happily, Leslie is an Autumn/Winter baby so you can get your Joan on right now.


Madeline is already available in the Dark Grape and Black colorways, but Parfait will be going deeper with this line in the Spring with a gorgeous Ivory/Nude. This collection has already been featured here on Miss Underpinnings so I'm delighted the brand is investing in it. The Spring colorway is a perfect "sexy everyday" style, with lots of sheer pieces (including a bikini, high waist brief, wire bra, and wire camisole) in a completely innocent shade.


Alright, the blogger honesty policy is officially in effect: Of all the Parfait designs, I was least excited about the Arabella. I'm on board for longlines anytime, but after the market shows, many bloggers seemed particularly enthusiastic about this group. My reaction was a little "Meh?". It looked cute, don't get me wrong, but it didn't have the same draw as some of the other new sets from Parfait. Then, I saw it in person and the Arabella charmed the pants off me (not literally!). For the ladies who love monochrome, there's the funky contrast and a pink/raspberry colorway for girly girls.

Seriously though, haven't you met someone and been like, "geez I'm not into them!" and then, after the first impressions wear off, you can't get enough of that person? Hopefully that's not just indecisive, over opinionated moi. Anyhoo, the Arabella's adorable. I was also shocked that I preferred the look of the Balconet Bra to the Wire Bralette. If you know my lingerie taste at all, that's not how I roll. But the cups on the padded bra contain tons of intricate detail that look like constellations:

Of the entire Spring line, the Cassandra stood out. While I love Parfait, I'm not drawn to sequins and gems so the more glamorous feeling of their line has never swayed me. However, the Cassandra feels like a whole new side of Parfait. It's a feminine, sophisticated, and classic collection with lovely touches that amp up its appeal. The folded-over bows, the tiniest little ruffle throughout the cups, and the thicker straps on the balconet are all understated features that come together to provide a mature, thoughtful design.


For bridal, my pick would be the new Florence collection. Like the name suggests, this line is sweetly old fashioned and modest. There's complex detail through the netting fabric and removable garters on the bodysuit and panty below. I predict the high waist brief's side ruching is ultra flattering too:


Has anyone watched Deadwood? I'm the biggest fan of that show and the Lola reminded me of that era. It has a very burlesque-inspired vibe which would fit right in with the ruffled petticoats, chockers and stockings that appeared on the show. Or, if you're into steam punk, it would be a fantastic visible-lingerie styling piece.


From the moment I saw photographs of the Danielle set this summer, I was smitten. What can I say? White lace, muted pink, and buttons are the quickest way to my heart.  If you're into feminine and antique elements, then the Danielle will capture your attention too. Online shoppers take note: the color is tricky to capture, but absolutely gorgeous. It comes off looking a little shinier than it actually is in Parfait's images. In person, it's a rich shade and the pleating through the apex of the cup is more prominent. I'm also ecstatic that the company included split straps on both the longline and the padded bra.

What are you most looking forward to from Parfait's new collection? Clearly, I'm really anticipating the Danielle and the Cassandra. Have you ever had a piece of lingerie "grow on you"? Are you looking forward to more longlines? Let's discuss in the comments...

DD+ Outfit: Sick Girl

Internal conversation time! Question: Can you tell I have a cold? Answer: Yes. Question: How? Answer: You're dressed like you're wrapped up in bedding.

You know that stereotype that men become giant babies when they have the slightest cold? It's not just men! This weekend, I was the whiniest, most pitiful creature. After days of hearing me moan about the slightest sore throat, my boyfriend finally said, "Oh boo, you don't handle being sick very well, do you?". Ladies, I've been found out.

I felt this outfit was a fantastic compromise: I'm clothed, but my layers felt like blankets. I also thought this look was half hot bohemian mama and half pirate which is a combination I can never get enough of. The dress is a remix from this post and the sweater is a hand-me-down from my Mom that I can't. stop. wearing. Quite literally, if you've seen me in the last two months, I was most definitely wearing this sweater.

**For fun today and because he BEGGED to have his photograph taken and because I've been the biggest pain in the ass over the hint of a cold, here's this kid:

Me: Sweater: my Mom| Dress: Goodwill| Tights: Berkshire Hosiery #8040| Boots: Urban Outfitters (old)

Him: Shirt: Territory Ahead|Jacket: Marshall's |Jeans: Levi's|Sneakers: Asics (old)|Purse: mine

Saint Bustier Launches Exclusive Preview

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to shop boob-friendly pieces from multiple vendors on one site? Walking through any mall or high street, it's easy to realize that there are tons of curve-flattering options out there. Unfortunately, for every garment that perfectly skims the bust, there are ten that strain, gape, and oddly mangle up top. It's enough to make any stylish lady pull her hair out in frustration! I've been reduced to retail tears of dejection on more than one occasion from the overwhelming number of options that simply for my lady areas.

Saint Bustier, a new U.K.-based online boutique, aims to change all that. Their mission is to source and curate a selection of on-trend and bust-accommodating styles. They'll provide their own model's measurements, suggestions for fit and fabric flexibility, and sell more generous cuts from their vendors. Beyond basic blouses, they'll have a variety of work suits, knitwear, and special occasion dresses. Gemma Holmes, the director and buyer, summarizes her business perfectly:

“As chest-blessed girls ourselves, we find it incredible that fashionable labels ignore up to one in ten women in the UK. We want to give fellow busty ladies everywhere the opportunity to celebrate their curves in fashion that fits and that is easy to find. We took our time cherry picking the most flattering styles from great brands which work for D through to H cups, and providing honest information about how they look on. We give as much information as we can in order to save our customers’ time and to help them feel secure in their choices. Saint Bustier is a personal fashion crusade for us so we also provide a Fashion Advice service where we give one-to-one fit and style tips.”

If your interest isn't already peeked, take a gander at these exclusive behind-the-scenes photos Saint Bustier sent over:

Right now, Saint Bustier is allowing in-the-know ladies to sign up for an exclusive early launch. The website will go live for those on the contact list Thursday, October 11th at midnight (GMT) or Wednesday October 10th at 8pm (EDT). On Friday, the website will debut for the general public. If you'd like to enjoy the preview access, you can sign up here. You'll be in good company; I'll be counting down the minutes until the boutique "opens" (two words: PAISLEY dress).

If you want more: You can follow Saint Bustier on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest for sneak peeks and up-to-date announcements.

Full Bust Bra Review: Parfait Tamara Collection

Last month, Sophia Vergara looked lovely on the cover of Allure magazine. Inside the article, she announced she was a 32F and that her size was unusual for non-augmented breasts. While I dispute that particular claim as a 28GG/30G, I'm overjoyed that another celebrity has "come out of the fitting room" as a full bust size. Eva Amurri revealed she wears a 30E in a recent edition of InStyle too. I gotta say, I'd like to give three cheers for the brave ladies who are willing to smash the 34DD-is-the-largest-cup-size-ever myth! Check out how gorgeous Sophia looks in the lingerie-as-outerwear look below:

With the excitement in the air for the Tamara line, Parfait generously sent me the Half Padded and Padded styles to try out. And wowza, both these bras are true boudoir pieces! No wonder Sophia rocked it as well as she did. I'd wear either of these on a romantic date night or to grab my man's attention after a fight (*insert creepy wink here*). These bras are made for seduction! Foolishly, I "test drive" bras on my days off and those days happen to be when I have a mile-long to-do list. I love both these styles, but I felt a little silly wearing them at the laundromat in a ratty old t-shirt. Not quite the setting they deserve...

Parfait Tamara Half Padded

The Half Padded offers fantastic cleavage, without the push-together effect of a padded plunge like the Deco. If you like Curvy Kate's Tease Me or Ewa Michalak's HMs, then you'd probably like the "presented" sex appeal of this Tamara. At Bra and Girl, I like to explain this as "old-fashioned" cleavage and try to evoke Jane Austen adaptations for the appropriate imagery. It's by no means the most secure or compact look, but that's never really what I'm going for when I turn to a special bra like this one. I was also impressed by the split strap on this model. I adore this feature, but it's something I rarely see on full bust bras. Design wise, I enjoyed the lace sections too. I'm going to betray how ignorant I am of lingerie vocabulary, but the lace has an unfinished edge. I mean, it's finished, but it has these little lines that jut out. Does anyone know what that is called? Anyhoo, it's very glamorous to my clearly untrained eyes.

As I listed above, I did try the 30G since Parfait doesn't produce 28" bands yet. I was very happy with my firmness of the band however and wouldn't want a smaller fit. In the cups, I was nervous at first that it was too small. I've had this happen before though, with the Showgirl line and the Ewa Michalak demis. During the initial try-on, my boobs are like, "It's not happening, we're jumping out!" and then, the top panel stretches or I settle in...suddenly, the bra and I are getting along like old friends. I've learned that while the half cup look isn't perfect on me, it's not a bra style I have to avoid at all costs either.

Parfait Tamara Padded

Before the bras arrived, I was confident that I knew which one I'd prefer. The Half Padded seemed like such a unique style and I had already spent months lusting over it. However, when the package appeared on my doorstep and I slipped on the Padded, I gasped. It's phenomenal! I was flabbergasted since I tend to avoid contour bras at all costs. They seem less "special" or feminine and I'm obnoxiously picky about how moulded/contoured they are. It's a little difficult to see in my photos, but the Tamara Padded is sweetly detailed. It has the same lace consistency of the Half Padded through the top panel of the cups, the side straps, and the band. In terms of shape, I experienced a lovely and subtle lift from the construction. It's definitely one of those bras you put on and think, "Wow, my boobs look awesome today!".

I'm over the moon about this bra. For a padded style, I think it really delivers a punch of sexiness and sophistication. The only drawback? If you're short waisted or your breasts sit high on your chest, it wouldn't be my first recommendation. I know some full bust women are irritated by bras that have high wires or larger support panels and while this bra doesn't have those features, the gorgeous lace strap detailing did rub slightly against my armpit area. However, I've grown accustomed to wearing narrow wires (ala Freya & Ewa Michalak) so it could've been the unfamiliar shape of Parfait/contour cups that threw me off. I might use a little fabric softener on the thicker end of the straps.

Side notes:

  • Parfait is a brand I love to support. They're one of the first lingerie companies to offer a wide selection of bustiers, camisoles, and babydolls to this size profile. If you're on the look out for a bridal gift, a wired top, or a honeymoon item, I'd recommend them first. They definitely think outside of the box for their full bust customers.

  • While I like the gem center gore detail on the Tamaras, I eventually managed to scratch myself on it (I'm a clumsy bra twister - don't tell anyone!) so I might cut the little do-dad off. It feels like lingerie sacrilege, but I'm not convinced these smoking bras "need" those extras.

  • SHEER CROTCH. Holy hell, it's a scandalous panty! Even my poor impervious-to-lingerie-because-he's-seen-it-all boyfriend noticed the matching briefs.

Tamara Half Padded and Padded, c/o Parfait by Affinitas

Hips & Curves: eShakti

I'm so excited to write about eShakti today! As I mentioned in my Autumn Wishlist, I think they're a wonderful option for full bust gals. With an enormous size range, from 0 to 36, there one of the most inclusive online retailers I've come across. Beyond the size diversity, eShakti allows their customers to order their own custom measurements free of any additional charges. The icing on the cake? eShakti also accommodates design alterations to their dresses, skirts, and jackets. You can choose your own garment length, sleeve type, or neckline. In my experience, half of the merchandise I try on pulls across my chest and gapes at my waist. Sizing down in stretchier fabrics has been a nice solution, but even those items could use a tailor's modifications. If you're as fed up as I am with this problem, I'd definitely recommend checking out eShakti for hard-to-fit/find pieces.

I've wanted to try their styles since I read this post on Jezebel, but never summoned the courage to place an order. When eShakti agreed to send me an item, I was ecstatic. After much deliberation, I opted for the Vintage Ponte Knit Dress and requested my custom size, an above-the-knee hem, and elbow length sleeves. Ohmygod, I'm in love! I adore the twee retro look online, so this style suited me perfectly. The weight of the fabric will be great for wearing to work in the winter too. Side notes: The pockets are fake outs which is fine by me, as it would bulk up that section of the dress to include real ones. Also, getting this dress on was comic entertainment for my boyfriend. Since my bust has always been the challenging element of shopping, I'm not used to actually unzipping side zippers. I've grown so accustomed to throwing on oversize clothes that having to literally wiggle into a dress was...a surprise? Ha, ha. Is this what happens when clothes actually fit you? Who knew.

If you're thinking of checking out eShakti, I'd recommend a peek in the near future. They're currently running two sales (one's their first autumn collection and the second's clearance) and the dress I received is now only $59.95! To me, that's an epic bargain for a dress that is custom tailored. I'll be taking advantage of the sale too because, c'mon, a hummingbird applique felted wool pencil skirt? Who could resist wool + hummingbirds? Not this girl!

dress: c/o eShakti | tights: Berkshire Hosiery | shoes: old New Look | earrings: gift from my mama

Reader Question: Where can I find affordable contour bras for work?

For today's post, I wanted to spotlight an excellent reader question I received. Take a look at A.'s situation:

I was fitted a few years ago as a 28GG. To be honest, my question is do you know any places that are reasonably priced for bras? I am having a hard time with finding bras that are smooth and not unlined. I wear a lot of tight shirts so the unlined bras look horrendous. If you can offer any advice please let me know, I work retail and I run around a lot so my back tends to hurt quite a bit. --A

For a minute, A. had me stumped! Since I started Miss Underpinnings, I've gravitated towards cut-and-sew or non-padded bras. Contour styles can also be a bit harder to find in this size. Many full bust brands cut off their size availability in contour bras at a 28G (Cleo Jude) and other brands don't offer padded styles to 28-backs at all (the Panache Porcelain Viva). Finally, a few companies are choosing to release padded versions in a smaller cup range (Freya's Padded Half Cups). After ruminating on A.'s dilemma, I suddenly remembered a ton of awesome and affordable contour bras that are available for 28GGs. Here are my top four picks:

Freya Deco, $60

In the past, Freya only made the Deco up to a 28G, but last season the 28GG appeared on the market. I recently tried out a Deco style (the lovely & amazing Hatty) in this size and I was enamored with the comfort and knockout fit. If A. likes to go seamless, doesn't mind a bit of sassy cleave, and wants a bra that will be comfortable all day long, I think the Deco would definitely do the trick. Now, there's one drawback I can envision: the bra above is a plunge. Obviously, a plunge bra reveals more skin than a full coverage or balcony style. The Deco also offers a push-up effect. While insanely soft against the breast tissue, the push up provides forward projection and lift. So, if you're a lady that does a lot of work-related lifting/bending over and you don't want to be aware of spillage or movement, the Deco might not be the best bet.
Cleo Juna, $53

I have such a lingerie crush on this bra! I haven't bought it yet so I can't speak to the fit, but Cheryl from Invest in Your Chest did a great review of it and the customer feedback on Bravissimo's website is overwhelmingly positive. I'm mildly obsessed with this bra because I'm repulsed by most beige padded bras. Maybe not repulsed, but definitely bored. While I find so-called "nude" bras to be pathetically bland, I adore the Juna's cute patterned trim, center gore bow, and flattering circular shape. If A. is willing to sacrifice for the seam down the middle, this bra is a strong contender for "best work bra".
Ewa Michalak CHP, HP, CH, or PL bras, roughly $23-47 before Paypal fees and shipping

From the styles listed above, it's clear that Ewa Michalak has the best stock list for contour cups in this size. A. is sure to find a color or style she prefers amongst this wonderful selection. The padded bras from this Polish lingerie brand are gorgeously designed, carefully sewn, and look awesome under close fitting tops. Like the Cleo Juna, many of these bras do carry seam texture through the middle of the cup but for coverage and smoothness, they definitely get the job done. Some women find that these bras run snug (the plunge and HM styles, in my experience) so A. might be able to order and return her sister size (30G? 30GG?). However, if she'd like to order a 28, it's considered a custom order and won't be returnable. It's a gamble, but the bras are worth every bit of risk.
**Sister Size Option: Parfait by Affinitas Contour Styles, $38-$58

While Parfait doesn't produce 28" bands quite yet, many of their styles are rumored to run extremely tight in the band. I'm wearing one as I write this (the Tamara Padded) and it feels just as snug as smaller bands from other companies. If A. would like to try out her sister size, I've heard from Parfait that some of the basics lines (i.e. the Jeanie) run generous in the cup as well. Their contour selection is colorful, fun, and contains pretty basic shades for more professional situations.

A note on price...

I've listed the suggested retail price for the styles above. However, If you're on a more stringent budget, there are a few tricks for grabbing a deal. Like any garment, you can wait until a season has passed to buy the fashion colorways at budget sites or boutiques. I've snatched up a few sets in summer shades (fuschia, bright yellow) lately that retailers don't want to carry into the winter. If you're comfortable with independent retailers, ebay has some great options. Also, if you don't mind previously owned bras, I know some of the users on Bratabase sell styles that didn't work out for their shape. My favorite tip? If there's a store or online retailer you especially like, SIGN UP FOR EMAILS. Email notifications allow you to shop a sale first, provide you with special discount codes, and let you know when they have new merchandise.

Alright, ladies. We gotta help A. out! What are your tips for saving $$$ on bras? Do you have a favorite contour style for work that you'd recommend?

Happy October!

Here on Miss Underpinnings, October is shaping up to be a stellar month. I've got a strong editorial calendar planned and a few new things in the works that I hope everyone will like. If you'd like a preview, these are a few things up my sleeve:

  • Lingerie reviews: Of course, I love doing these! However, this month I've had the opportunity to try out samples from a few brands I'm unfamiliar with, including Miss Mandalay and Parfait by Affinitas. I'm very, very impressed so far.

  • Specifically sized clothing and custom measurement items: This is an area of full bust blogging that I haven't completely dived into, but I'm excited to explore it and share my findings with you.

  • More videos: With such an enthusiastic response from my last video, I wanted to continue with this format. How would everyone feel about a "Hits & Misses" list for the top 5 full bust brands? I've totally ripped this off from the Youtube make up goddesses, but I thought it'd be just as applicable to bras.

Finally, a bit of a side note: Yesterday, Bras I Hate published this post and it's too good not to share or wait until Friday to link to. If you only read one thing on the Interweb this week, make it this. It's a thoughtful, articulate, and grounded post that I wish I'd written.

Autumn Lingerie Wishlist

1) Midnight Grace Paige Italian Lace Set: I first saw sneak peaks of this set on Figleaves' Instagram account. My inquisitive lingerie mind immediately went, "Ohhhhhh...what's that?!". Turns out, it's my new best friend, the Paige. The color combination above -- plum with gold -- is to die for, without even mentioning all the other unique details that the bra boasts. C'mon, when was the last time the full bust market saw a bra with lace side scalloping up the strap and partial semi-sheer mesh cups?

2) Knickerocker Retro Style Panelled Panty: Holly, of the Full Figured Chest, is a big fan of the high waist panties from Knickerocker and I'm enthusiastically jumping on this bandwagon! If you have a small waist and wide hips, even the cutest high waist styles never seem to fit properly. With this Etsy store, you can request a custom size so there's no more strange tummy gaping. Bonus? Her designs are kitschy, fun, and completely affordable. Yellow and pink flowers? Gotta get me a pair.

3) Cleo Hazel: From the Panache Press Event, this set was the surprise for me. I was giddily anticipating Cleo's Autumn/Winter collection, but hadn't predicted that the Hazel would be my #1 pick from the entire line. Trust me, there's a lot to get excited for here: a half padded design, tons of strong colors woven into the top cup, and sophisticated grey-black animal print. It hasn't debuted at any of my favorite retailers yet, but keep your eyes peeled for this dark horse.

4) Claudette Dessous Sucre in Animal Print: I'm all about the cheetah print, ladies. If it's reminiscent of a large feline, count me in. I'm also a supporter of the idea that leopard is a neutral. This particular animal print gets my vote for it's soft classic tones, sheer sex appeal and pink accent trim.

5) Miss Mandalay Amelie: This bra debuted out of nowhere on Miss Mandalay's Facebook page and since then, I've been compulsively checking their website for it's retail premiere. I refuse to let this beauty slip through my grasp! From what I gather via their social media pages, the Amelie was a bra that the company has produced before and decided to return to, after enormous customer demand. Personally, I think it's the epitome of fall lingerie: exquisite lace, sophisticated boudoir colors, and a seductive design. It's what the autumn collections are all about!

6) Bravissimo Satine Floral: It's not going to come as a big shock to anyone who's read my blog that I'm obsessed with this version of the Satine. I'm pretty proud of my self control; I was able to include just two floral patterns on this wishlist! Go me. While the Knickerocker panty above (#2) is cheeky, the Bravissimo flowers are strikingly unique and vintage inspired. They're big, bold flowers that sit on a mink base and are accented with navy trimmings. I don't remember ever seeing a bra quite like this confident number.

7) Parfait Madeline: Passing the Parfait booth last February at Curve, I saw this colorway of the Madeline out of the corner of my eye. This mauve shade is one of my favorite colors ever so that Parfait has turned into a gorgeous set with matching high waist briefs makes my heart skip a beat.

8) Freya Gem in China Blue: Okay, this one's a little bit of a mystery to me. I don't even like blue lingerie! It's never been a color I thought suited me and I'd rather take classic red, black, or pink set any day. However, there's something going on with this "China" shade that's got me all in a tizzy. The Gem is set to be a continuity collection with Freya going into 2013 and I'm happy to see the range expand into basic colors, but I just can't shake this color's je ne sais qoui charm.

9) Ohhh Lulu High Waist Panties: If a pair of panties could be a soulmate, these high waist knickers from Ohhh Lulu would be mine. They're playfully feminine, intricately detailed and undeniably old school. Don't you know that feeling when you stumble upon a design that just speaks right to you? Hopefully, that's not just me being a weirdo...Alright, back to the facts: For a single pair they're $35, made to your specific measurements, and you can opt to purchase 3 for $80. That comes out to roughly $26.67 for a beautiful custom panty! Unbelievable.

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