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Lingerie Expedition: An Intimate Reflection

You know this sassy lady is Polish.
Throughout this journey, I felt as if it was something I had to do. I also felt nuts. Ha! I was told repeatedly by the brand owners themselves that they thought I was "crazy". During this experience, in certain quiet moments, I would feel this pit of doubt swell up around me. When I sat down on the bed in my hostel after my flight, I thought: What are you doing here?! What are you thinking!? Zack and I aren't rich. We live in a quiet village in a modest apartment so to afford this trip, we essentially emptied our savings. When I try to express my gratitude to him, I come up empty. How can you communicate to someone who has been that trustworthy and generous?  Even on the blog, when everyone would comment on how brave and heroic I was, I felt like the biggest fake. I was terrified.

But every step of the way, I felt compelled to do what I was doing. I don't want to sound egotistical or vain ("I was called!") but the inescapable pull or the Jumanji drum has egged me on every step of the way. I don't think I'm "introducing" Polish lingerie to the world; that happened long ago and way, way before my time. I'm positive that I'm not even the first English-speaking blogger to call attention to these brands. Again, I've been traveling in other people's footsteps all along. However, last night on the phone with my mom, it crystallized for me. I believe lingerie is art -- not just the visual design, but the construction, fit & 'feminine feeling' you get from putting it on in the morning. Today, I can say confidently that there are incredibly talented artists in Poland and they are creating some of the best full bust lingerie in the world.  Fundamentally, this is the reason I came and it's why I'm honored to cover these companies in detail.

Greatest hostel owner in the world? YES. He's also going to be a dad soon! In the next few weeks, he and Anna, his girlfriend, are having a little baby girl.
While in Poland, I was welcomed with the warmest hospitality, generosity, and enthusiasm by every single person I met. I was delighted to sit down with my heroes there and they were genuinely happy to see me too. Sometimes, that human element can fall by the wayside in business interactions, but this trip had a different tone. As I mentioned above, this excursion was a financial challenge for Mr. & Ms. Underpinnings, but in the end, these simple connections made the cost irrelevant. To all the people who made me tea, analyzed my boobs, or forced me to run to catch a train, thank you. You know who you are and your gestures are tremendously meaningful to me.

Now for a peek at the prettiness ahead...

There's very, very good news from most of the brands about availability overseas! We can talk more about that in the specific brand profiles, but I was super pleased with the announcements made after my -- really, they were yours! -- questions.  

11 Comments

  1. I'm so excited to read all about your trip!

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  2. Congratulations, and well done! I can't wait to hear about all you saw and learned.

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  3. yea! So glad the the trip went well.

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  4. Of course you were scared - that's normal. But you were also brave and very entrepreneurial too. And that “I’ll get on a plane and do a trip I shouldn’t really make” is what will make you a success. I bet if you started your own business selling Polish bras and clothing you’d do really well as most women are scared to order from abroad. (Even I only ordered Avocado bras recently when I discovered Rigby and Peller could no longer fit me, and I’m pretty adventurous.) So yes, spending your savings on a trip to Poland might superficially sound nutty, but it’s a trip you’ll always remember, and this is clearly your passion, and it could be the start of a whole new chapter for you.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Dorothy. Deep down, I agree. It's my passion and so, it makes complete sense. You're completely on target too -- coming back home, I was thinking about how wonderful it would be to have my own exclusively Polish boutique.

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    2. Maybe you should look into Kickstarter or something like that, as there clearly is a market for it. I have cousins in MA who can't get something as 'basic' as a 30D, and even in London I find it very difficult to get nice non-tacky bras in my size.

      Even if it's not a shop, what about an internet site? Or a home-selling business like tupperware parties where you go measure women in their own homes to make sure they end up with the correct size? Then you order for them, acting as the middleman, which is less risky for you.

      I know I recommended Empreinte before, but their 30 band is closer to a 32 now (they say they didn't re-size it but they are suddenly huge) and they only go up to a G in some sizes.

      Every friend I showed the Avocado bras to was very impressed and immediately asked for the web site and help ordering. The Samanta bra was equally pretty in your next post. There clearly is a market for simple but chic and sexy bras in 'unusual' sizes.

      Same with clothes - Bravissimo is hit and miss in terms of design (some a bit frumpy), so I turn to Biu Biu for simple tops - and I bet those would be a huge hit in the States.

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    3. Dorothy, I think the U.S. market is just opening up to these sizes and brands. It'll be interesting to see how it unfolds and I wish it would speed up. Seeing a few Eveden brands in an upscale department store is one thing, but most women do not know these sizes exist AT ALL. I would love to take part in this because I think it's a really exciting time in American lingerie history. I hope to figure out what "my role" will be soon. :)

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    4. The UK is not that much better. I went to Rigby and Peller last week, and they didn't have any bras that worked on me without altering the band (ie fold it over here and there, so a t-shirt bra became a non-tee band ... Once Selfridges kept telling me I was a 34D, I asked to be re-measured, and the second lady said the same - ie the band was almost the same size as my hips and huge, the cups too small (they's insisted on 'fitting' me, but clearly didn't know what they were doing). Only one lady there, Emma, fits well as she is slim but curvy. At John Lewis they said 34F, and when I pointed out the band was huge, they said 32F (better, but still no cigar) ... I could go on and on ...

      You're getting a very distorted image of the UK, which you're basing on Bravissimo, and women only get to them once they realise their correct size roughly - ie only if a fitter who knows what they are doing explains what their size is, but that the shop they are in does not sell it. Most Bravissimo fitters are very good, but I also once had one who was not at all (too big band, etc).

      Sorry, the point I am trying to make is that the vast majorit of women in the UK are still in the wrong size bra.

      And before Bravissimo existed there were two women going through the same thought process in the UK and ... well, they got fed up of not being able to find large cup bras, so ... they started a mail order company selling them called ... Bravissimo. It's actually quite a recent company http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bravissimo_(company)

      Sooner or later, someone is going to set up the US equivalent, just as someone has set up the European equivalent of Victoria's Secret. The closest so far seems to be http://www.butterflycollection.ca which also ships to the US.

      With the US the big issue is that most women can't get to a big city, and for example go to Linda's in NY, so Butterfly as doing Skype fittings, which is clever.

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  5. I don't think you're nuts at all, and I admire how you were brave enough to go on this journey and do some investigative reporting for all of us who can't make the journey ourselves.

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  6. I think it's fabulous that you did this. You've done a great service to women like me who have been struggling for a long time to find something that works and to make sense of all the international stuff. I mean it. I am very grateful for these posts. I have a package of Ewa Michalak bras waiting for me at the post office, so my personal experience will begin there (assuming they are the right size this time), but I really want to try the other brands, and I have been really overwhelmed doing all the research to try to avoid the time and money and hassle of shipping things back and forth, etc. I wish I could do what you did. Thanks so much for doing it.

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