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December 2012

Review: Evollove Dawn in Eden, Lost Love, & New Beauty

Evollove, an Australian full bust lingerie brand, is currently in it's debut season. For a new launch in this size range, they've arrived with considerably little fanfare. Without spectacle or heavy blogging coverage, Evollove has slowly started to appear in gorgeous American boutiques, like 40 Winks in Boston and Journelle in Manhattan. The company manufactures sizes from 30-38 D-G and is managed by the Bendon Group. In the same way that Freya belongs to Eveden, Evollove is a member of a family of brands which include Stella McCartney, Pleasure State, and Elle Macpherson.

I was eager, yet apprehensive, to try their styles out. Fewer or infrequent lingerie reviews are often a sign of a poor fitting brand or a rushed design. I'm fairly loyal to the English sizing system and British brands like Freya. Ok, I admit it: I'm a total Anglophile from my lingerie to my tea habits to my television preferences. To venture out of the realm of Curvy Kate, Panache, and Miss Mandalay seemed unnecessary and intimidating. However, when I tried on the Evollove styles, I was flabbergasted.

Dawn in Eden in Algiers Blue (Fashion)
If you've been reading for awhile, you know that I'm generally bored by contour cups. I realize they have their place, but the perfectly round orb look and the (often) second rate details don't inspire me. At work, I like to remind my clients that contour cups are made from a mold and finding the correct fit is all about discovering which form is closest to your own. When I first shopped at Bravissimo, the Panache Porcelain was a terrific match and since then, I haven't been able to find a good "soul mate" replacement.

Evollove calls this shape a "cut and sew padded" style and it's meant to push the breasts against the chest for a held-up-not-together cleavage. Holy moly, I loved how this made my boobs look! I've been wearing it nonstop and flashing everyone who will let me. With contour cups, there's often a feeling of wearing armor or something artificial, but the Dawn in Eden didn't feel heavy in the slightest. I loved the delicate shaping, lightness to wear, and sexy "presented" decolletage.

If I'd been out shopping on my own, I'm not sure if I would've picked the "Algiers Blue" colorway. However, I appreciated that all the Evollove bras were a bit 'different'. Instead of bows or gems at the center gore, they had funky silver do-dads. The colors are juicy and I wouldn't have put them together in one season, but they looked great side by side. The designs were also happy and lighthearted -- rather than utilitarian and 'basic' -- which is an attitude I appreciate in life as well as lingerie.

Lost Love in Astral Aura (Fashion)
Aesthetically, this bra combines many of my favorite design details so it's a no-brainer that I'd adore it. I love fabrics that are an irregular design or meant to resemble a tattoo impression, like the Masquerade Persia. I'm into the recent craze for tuxedo-style strips (Examples: Masquerade Rosetti, this Avocado bra) and navy is one of my favorite colors year round.

Of the two soft bras I sampled, the Lost Love had the firmer band. The cups reminded me a little of bras like the Curvy Kate Princess and Freya's firmer material balconies. Those bras have firm top panels and at first, it almost looks like the bra's pushing breast tissue out or down. I've been hesitant to review this type of bra in the past, since for the first few test-drives, I'm convinced it's too small or something's off with the fit. Over time, I've noticed these bras and I have a great "working relationship". Eventually, the upper section becomes more elastic or accustomed to the volume. While the fit settles in, I've discovered these bras are awesome for reducing movement and insuring I stay comfortable throughout the day.

New Beauty  
With allover stretch lace, the New Beauty had the softest cups and of the three bras I sampled, the loosest band. Since I'm on the cusp between a 28" and 30" band, the New Beauty got bumped into the too-big band category. I'm a big fan of hot pink and I'm always up for a hyper pigmented, popping hue. Although, with the stellar fit from the Dawn in Eden and the funky pattern in the Lost Love, the New Beauty got a little lost in the shuffle.

A note on fit...

I can't stress this enough: Sizing systems aren't perfectly equivalent to one another. Right now, I've been falling between a 28G-GG in the British brands like Freya, Panache, and Curvy Kate. I've also been wearing 30Gs comfortably and without fit problems from Midnight Grace by Figleaves, Parfait by Affinitas, and now, Evollove. However, while Parfait and Midnight Grace subscribe to the English lettering system (D, DD, E, F, FF, G), Evollove's cups go D, DD, E, F, G. If you've been roller coasting between a 28G-GG/30FF-G like me, Evollove's approach is a godsend. However, if you're firmly or consistently one size in the other brands, you might experience some trial and error.

Evollove Dawn in Eden, Lost Love, & New Beauty c/o Evollove

Review: Miss Mandalay Paige

In the last few months, I've tried to push my lingerie boundaries a bit and try out designs I don't have much experience with. It can be an intimidating endeavor because I've been very happy with the companies I'm familiar with and I want to provide the most accurate and well-researched assessment of each brand. Beyond Claudette and non-padded Curvy Kates, I also had the opportunity to sample Miss Mandalay. I've seen their bras pop up on British retailers like Large Cup Lingerie and Bravissimo, but didn't consider ordering outside of my comfort zone. In a plethora of full bust prints, I became a total magpie and passed over the quietly sophisticated and feminine Miss Mandalay styles. Yet as my drawers brimmed over with clashing and competing patterns, I began to have a new appreciation for Miss Mandalay's clean lines and sweet sensuality.

Miss Mandalay Paige in Coral
Along with the Paris, the Paige is a core style for the company. Just like it's continuity sister, it's a sheer three part cup with an appearance that rests gracefully between a plunge and balconette. The style suggests an everyday sex appeal effect that I continually adore. In the past few seasons, the Paige has also appeared in bright, juicy colorways with contrasting trim. I've been watching their Facebook profile like a hawk (Hint: It's the best place to see what's coming from MM!) and in the upcoming months, their designs are leaning towards deeper hues and delicate retro-inspired prints. Of course, I'd never pass up gingham or polka dots so the new collection looks mighty tempting...if a little sweeter than what's out currently (i.e the reissued Amelie, the Paris in Black). The coral here is breathtakingly gorgeous in person and worked for me under thick white sweaters as a "flesh"/disappearing act bra.

With the exception of the occasional Panache style, Miss Mandalay is the only company I feel I could wear both my band sizes in. After receiving the Paige, I ordered a deeply discounted Paris to compare the fit with. The Paige above is a 28GG and my 'previous season' Paris was a 30G. Obviously, there was a slight difference, but overall I felt either fit would've worked. Thus, I'd suggest ordering larger if you prefer a comfortable fit, checking them out if you are looking for a sub-28 band, and consider how much longer a less elasticized band will last. For me, that's a long time! I loved the shape Paige provided, the cups cradled me perfectly and were epically comfy, even on the first day of my "test-drive". 

A note on bottoms...
In the lingerie blogosphere, and in my own attempts to puzzle out my underpinnings budget, I've witnessed an ongoing discussion of whether matching underwear are or aren't "worth it". My two cents? Yes... EXCEPT when they're not. I've seen way too many matching bottoms that look as if a designer, well, fell asleep on the job? If a bra is well engineered, stylish, and thoughtfully created, then it's matching piece should be as well. With Miss Mandalay, I was blown away by the panties. They were works of art all on their own! If you have gentle OCD like myself and like to invest in your foundation garments, Miss Mandalay creates sets in the truest sense.

Great news for American readers: If you're stateside and would like to try Miss Mandalay, I saw that Journelle stocks one style and Large Cup Lingerie ships for free - a treat that's hard to beat when ordering from the U.K.!

Miss Mandalay Paige c/o Miss Mandalay

Gift Guide: Rich Girl, Poor Girl

I love perusing gift guides, but by mid-December, they all seem the same (Does everyone really want a fancy candle, tumblers, and a make-up palette?). To add spice to the tradition, the Miss Underpinnings gift guides/holiday wish lists will revolve around a single theme and contain two perspectives. If there's interest, Mr. Underpinnings might do one of his own too! The first one in the series is, of course, inspired by the Hall and Oates song: 

1. Colored lace dress: Readers, please tell me in the comments that you go to fancy holiday parties that require dresses like these. I have NEVER, in my life, been invited to a dressy Christmas party. Or, if I was, I was too young to remember and my mother dressed me so it doesn't count. It goes without saying I'm really into colored lace and I've said it before, but I've got to do it again: SLEEVES. {Whistles Avril Lace Dress, around $280 US.}

2. Quirky sweater: If I was rich, I'd get everything monogrammed because I could, especially all my fine fibers. I would also buy neon colors of expensive fabrics, like cashmere and wool, because they wouldn't be "investment pieces", they'd just be, you know, my sweaters. Totally buy hoodies, instead of cardigans, because I think they say, "Look, I'm rich, but casual". {J. Crew Cashmere Popover Hoodie, $248 + $10 for the monogram.}

3. Bright brief: I totally own these. Does that make me rich? No, it means I spend an inordinate amount of my annual income on lingerie. If a pair of underwear could be your best friend, this panty and I would kick it to romantic comedy marathons on a weekly basis. {Eberjey Delirious French Brief, $24.}

4. Sheer black set: When my paternal grandmother passed away, her four adult children decided to bury her in a gigantic mink coat. I've always liked this story since it 1.) proves style runs in the family and 2.) gets my morbid imagination running with what I'd like to be buried in. Too Harold and Maude for ya? I adore this set, I'll leave it at that. {Beaujais Inkling Set, around $175 US.}

5. Polka dot stockings: If I had a dollar every time someone has recommended Wolford tights to me, I'd have enough to buy a pair. I liked the contrast camel spots on these "leggings" and if the rumors are true, they're indestructible. {Wolford Mega Dots Legging in Black, $75.}

6. Modern coat: Le sigh, winter bores me. Don't get me wrong, it's awesome to celebrate the holidays in a location that looks identical to every film dedicated to them. But after say, January 2nd? No thanks. Thus, I'm a firm believer in experimenting with color, shape, and texture through this grisly-no-good season. This electric cobalt coat is too much fun to be denied and would make winter layering about a thousand times less dull. {Francine Zip Coat in Petrol, available from Saint Bustier, $560.}

1. Quirky sweater: We just covered how I think winter clothing is boring, right? This sweater is anything but. You could wear it with jeans and your L.L.Bean snow boots and have a "look". {Modcloth Deer Journal Cardigan, by Knitted Dove, $79.99.}

2. Sheer black set: I ordered the purple version of this set last month and so far, it's probably one of my favorites of the entire season. Without a doubt, the bra is the greatest full bust bargain I've found. To top it off, it's hawt. I'll review it soon (Promise!) but in the meantime, it's an awesome "sexy Santa" gift. {Midnight Grace by Figleaves Paige Set, $57 with matching thong or $60 with short.}

3. Modern coat: With a big bust, coat shopping can be a demoralizing process. I've had to cross my fingers that a button wouldn't pop off on a bunch of public and potentially humiliating occasions. If you're in the market, I'd recommend StackDD's coat guide from last year. Sarah suggests side zippers and tries several belted styles. I like this one from Forever 21 above because I think shoulder biznatch balances my bust and the masculine style would pair well with more feminine pieces. {Forever 21 Quilted Shoulder Coat, $62.80.}

4. Bright brief: Confession: I'm an equal opportunist when it comes to my underpinnings. I'll try anything once and I'll certainly browse through any section. Kmart lingerie? Yeah, I've had a look. Target? Check. Urban Outfitters? Most definitely. Usually, a quick scan won't bear interesting fruit so I was surprised at how much I liked these hipsters. For a while, I thought my blood sugar must be low or my standards had disappeared because I was surrounded by that edgy, blaring music and post-industrial decor. But no, I really like these. {Urban Outfitters Swiss Dot Lace Mix Hipster, $8 or 5 for $25.}

5. Colored lace dress: I'm such a hypocrite, going on and on about dresses with sleeves and then including this ASOS number. Let me make a case, this gem is all stretch so no matter your bust, you can shimmy into the joint. Bonus, this neckline ROCKS a killer decolletage for the DD+ population. {ASOS Pencil Dress in Bonded Lace, $79.16.}

6. Polka dot stockings: Pretty Polly is an English hosiery company that I've worn before and been very happy with. While I haven't tried the polka dots, I own their ripped and garter stockings. I've been pleased with the quality and their "classic" trend appeal. Not too glitzy, not too young. They're just cool tights. {Pretty Polly "Pretty Dotty" Tights, $25.}

Review: Curvy Kate Princess, Lottie & Gia

Curvy Kate is a U.K.-based brand I've reviewed before on Miss Underpinnings and in the past, I've only tried out padded styles (Tease Me, Daily Boost). Mr. Underpinnings is a big fan of their colorful styles and I've enjoyed watching the brand develop the first moulded bra up to a J-cup, plan a multiway release, and expand their swimwear line. When I learned that the company was giving me the opportunity to test these core styles all at once, I was elated. My conclusion? The Gia, Lottie, and Princess are three very different bras. Let's take a look:

Princess in Teal/Blush (Fashion)

For me, the Princess captures the strengths and weaknesses of the Curvy Kate brand as a whole. It's a gorgeous style and in my opinion, looks like a much more expensive bra than it is. As a stylish budget la-day, this is a quality I look for everywhere. The swiss dots and contrast trim are also universally appealing or accessible; I've noticed that many bloggers and lingerie fanatics seem attracted to this particular design from the company's regular arsenal.

Season after season, Curvy Kate churns this style out in colorways that just work. Whether it's lilac, maroon, or beige, the Princess stays pretty and sophisticated. The jewel-toned teal above was hardly my favorite incarnation of this bra, but when it arrived a little darker than the promotional photographs suggested, I was delighted with the festive winter hue.

The appearance, or shape under clothing, is easily the roundest of the Curvy Kate styles I received. The Princess provides a circular and held-close-against-the-body effect on the ta-tas. If you're someone searching for the maximum uplift or a soft cup with less coverage, it wouldn't be one of my recommendations.  It's much fuller than say, the Gia reviewed below or the Tango Plunge, and it's less lift than the soft Cleos usually give. For 'regular' day to day wear, the Princess is perfect for me. I can count on a stable, flattering, and comfortable fit that doesn't sacrifice style. 

Now about that fit...I cannot caution you enough: bras don't fit the same across brands and you could be a range of sizes in a single company. The Princess has a particular reputation for this since the center gore is wider, the cups are fuller and slightly shallow at the top. It's not a fit that is as intuitive or widely attainable as other styles. I'm wearing a 28GG in the Princess, but that size is now too large for me in all my Freyas (*SOBS*).

Lottie in White/Pink (Continuity)

When my friend K saw this bra, she told me it looked like lingerie that a porcelain doll would wear...if they weren't children. I think 1.) she's right and 2.) that's exactly why I love this bra! If I could get away with it in my mid-20s, I'd dress like a doll every day. Aesthetically, I love that the Lottie is an awesome match to everything already hanging in my closet. It's long ribbons, simple recurring trim, and classic color contrasts are delicately appealing in a quiet, modest manner. In a company that's known for it's dramatic fashion and trendy prints, the Lottie is a sweet and unassuming style.

While it was easily my favorite visual design, the Lottie's shape was the funkiest or the most unlike the currently favored high-and-lifted looks. The Lottie cradles the breasts through the bottom and compresses the top of the tissue with a firm panel. I've read reviews where this shape is dismissed as "pointy" or old fashioned, but I really enjoyed it. I felt my chest looked boob-like, which was refreshing, and I didn't feel too jiggly or compact.  

Gia in Cherry/Blush (Fashion)
Curvy Kate released two red bras this season, the padded Tease Me from the burlesque-inspired Showgirl line and the Gia. Somehow, I think the Gia got overshadowed by the beloved Tease Me. It became the "Oh, it's red" bra while it's padded sister was the "HOLY MOLY, get it ON me!" red of the present collection. The Gia shouldn't be discounted so quickly, it's a great offer from the company.

Judging by appearances, the Gia wasn't at the top of my wishlist. Online, the diamond repetition seemed overwhelming, especially alongside such a dominant color and rhinestone gems. When I saw it in person, I learned the truth: Gia's a secret sexpot! The sheer panel is terrifically vampy and the color is flattering. In fit, it was the most unlike the other two bras I tried. It has less coverage (more like a soft plunge?) and much more lift. I needed the 28G, rather than the 28GG required for both the Lottie and Princess, and the cups contained a ton of depth in the top panel.

To give everyone a peek of what's coming, I wanted to include the future Spring/Summer 2013 offerings of the bras I reviewed above. According to their website, the Curvy Kate Lottie in Raspberry will debut this month, the Gia in Seafoam next month, and the Princess in Orchid/Purple in February. (Aren't the CK models gorgeous?! Reminds me that I really need a blow-out!).

{Curvy Kate Princess, Lottie, & Gia c/o Curvy Kate}

Blogger Question: Travel Help!

Ahhh, I've been waiting to break this news on the blog for the longest time and it's finally December! SO, earlier this autumn, Zack's Dad called us up and completely surprised us for a week-long cruise on the Danube river!!! His parents have been married for 25 years (Congratulations, Steve & Liz!) and they generously decided they'd like to celebrate over the holidays with their family. We'll be embarking in Nuremberg, Germany around Christmas and concluding the trip in Budapest, Hungary right before the New Year. The anticipation is killing me; I'm so excited!

European readers, fellow bloggers, and international world travelers, please advise me! Any recommendations for what to pack? Eat? Visit? Buy? And, on that note, does anyone have a suggestion for where to find full bust lingerie? In addition to Nuremberg and Budapest, we'll be stopping in Melk, Passau, and Regensburg. 

(First image, Travel and Leisure. Second image, Viking River Cruises.)

P.s. Our ship will be the Viking "Freya"!! 

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