Clothing Your Curves: Figleaves Launches Midnight Grace DD+ Clothing

In recent years many of the major full-bust lingerie retailers have started producing their own, in-house lingerie labels.  I love to see this: it gives shoppers more options while the retailers get the opportunity to offer market exclusives.  Bravissimo’s own range is one of the best in the business, with a fantastic size range.  Figleaves, one of the largest e-retailers in the world, got into the act as well with Midnight Grace, their in-house brand offering cute, affordable lingerie in sizes 30-38 B-G and swimwear in sizes 30-38 D-GG.

Hidden Treasure Bikini by Midnight Grace

Hidden Treasure Bikini by Midnight Grace. Bikini top sizes 30-38 D-G (UK), Brief sizes 8-18 (UK)

Paige Italian Lace Bra Midnight Grace

Paige Italian Lace Bra by Midnight Grace. 30-38 D-G (UK)

Over the last few seasons they’ve slowly (and quietly) been adding D+ clothing options to the Midnight Grace line, including some simple jersey dresses and beach cover-ups, but this week saw the launch of an official landing page, complete with size charts and lookbook images.

Fern Wrap Dress by Midnight Grace

“Fern” Belted Wrap Dress in Oxblood. Also available in Teal Multi Print. Sizes 8-22 (UK)

It feels really smart for Figleaves to get into the D+ clothing game right now.  Lots of their major competitors, like Bravissimo/Pepperberry and Simply Be, are already there, and while there are more and more lovely full-bust designs coming out of Poland from Urkye and BiuBiu, some customers may still prefer to order from someone they already know (guilty as charged).

Midnight Grace Iris DD+ Dress in Black

“Iris” Dress in Black. Also available in Ink. Sizes 8-22 (UK).

The first collection is wonderfully cohesive and contained.  Apart from two bold prints, the colors are classics and widely flattering: black, ink (a rich dark navy with teal undertones), oxblood, charcoal, and purple are some of my favorite colors to wear.  Miss Underpinnings pointed out to me while we were chatting yesterday that Midnight Grace, Pepperberry, Urkye, and Biu Biu all offer a classic faux-wrap jersey top, and while it’s true that none of these shapes are complete game-changers, some of them feel a little more contemporary and fashion-forward than Peppberberry’s (as do the colors!).

Midnight Grace Dahlia top

“Dahlia” tucked wrap top in Multi Print. Also available in Ink. Sizes 8-22 (UK)

The collection features five different top shapes and five different dress shapes, each available in one or two colors, including a wrap dress, a ruched-waist dress, and a dress with an empire line and a floating, gentle drape, which I’m really glad to see.  Many full-bust clothing offerings are super nipped-in at the waist, so it’s nice to have at least one or two less-clingy options.

Ivy Top Oxblood

“Ivy” top in Oxblood. Also available in Teal Multi Print. Sizes 8-22 (UK).

As with Midnight Grace’s lingerie and swimwear, the prices are very, very reasonable: tops are all $55 (there’s one for $35) and dresses are $62-71.  They also have the jump on Pepperberry by offering most of their pieces in sizes 8-22 (UK, so approx. sizes 4-18 US), which is really lovely for full-bust women who are sized out of Pepperberry and some other full-bust stores.

Poppy Swing Tunic Charcoal

“Poppy” Swing Pocket Tunic Dress in Charcoal. Also available in Oxblood. Sizes Small-XLarge.

I’m really interested to see what direction Figleaves take with the brand.  I love the collection’s colors: the Usual Suspects for full-bust basics seem to be turquoise, purple, and bright red, and it’s interesting to see how Figleaves puts their own distinct spin on the palette, by offering oxblood and ink.  The prints I can do without, but then that’s often the case with me personally (I’m tall and broad-shouldered and full-busted, and sometimes when I wear prints it’s just, like, A WALL OF PRINT), and I’m sure there are others for whom they’ll be very appealing.  I also like that they’re trying some unusual silhouettes: Lily’s drape is dramatic and billowy, but I’m not sure about the Poppy swing tunic, above.  It doesn’t look like it’s really been modified for a full-bust figure, and I’d worry about its being baggy or shapeless, but maybe that’s just my own personal figure flattery preferences coming into play.  If I had to pick a favorite piece, the lovely oxblood “Fern” wrap dress in the top image is a classic silhouette in a color I adore.

I tried a version of the “Lily” dress last year, when it was on Figleaves’ site without much fanfare or size guidance.  I remember it felt a bit big, but I may have chosen the wrong size.  The new site specifies, “The Midnight Grace collection is fitted on a range of models including a size 18 with a G bust. To showcase how the styles fit, our model Olivia is 5’11″ and although a size 10, wears a 32E bra.”  This is a great start!  I’m looking forward to hearing how my fellow full-bust women find the styles to fit, and I hope that down the road Figleaves might expand their sizes even further, perhaps offering some shapes for women in the G-K range.

Have you tried one of Midnight Grace’s new DD+ dresses or tops?  What do you think of the collection?  I see at least four or five pieces that would work beautifully in my wardrobe, so I may be making my Christmas list a little early this year.

Full-Bust Wishlist: Dresses Edition

I had a much harder time writing this post than I did the Full-Bust Wishlist for lingerie.  Our wardrobes vary SO MUCH depending on climate, lifestyle, age, personal style, coloring, income . . . I could go on and on.  If I say “a plunge bra” or “a longline bra” we’ll generally think of similar things, but if I say “a maxi dress” or “a sundress” or even “a suit” the choices, cuts, colors, fabrics, trims, shapes and styles expand exponentially.  I started to make this a general all-clothing wishlist, but it got a little more personal in that some things that affect my shopping (my height, my broad shoulders, my unabashed love for all things dresses) may not affect other full-bust women.  I’d love to hear what’s on other ladies’ wishlists!

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Right now I’m feeling particularly cranky about clothes, especially as I have a few events coming up this summer for which I know I’ll want to be well-dressed.  Yes, I know, I’m a giant.  My shoulders and back have broadened a bit from pole dancing, and they weren’t exactly delicate to begin with.  I cannot buy hats or gloves in most stores.  Finding pants that are long enough and shoes that are big enough in a brick-and-mortar store, instead of just online, is a never-ending-probably-fruitless quest (and the fact remains that I’m only 5’10″.  There are plenty of taller women out there, so I know my struggles could be worse).  I’ll try to forbear complaining about everything, and focus on my most pressing wishes:

Trixie Playsuit by Trashy Diva.  Super cute, and super close.  It probably WILL work for lots of full-busted women, but between my full-bust and my taller/broader frame, there just isn't enough room in the bust for a good, comfortable fit.

Trixie Playsuit by Trashy Diva. Super cute, and super close to working. It probably WILL work for lots of full-bust women, but between my full-bust and my taller/broader frame, there just isn’t enough room for a good, comfortable fit.

I just want a motherfreaking sundress.  This has been my rallying cry every summer for years now.  YEARS.  It gets hot and humid in Virginia, it gets hot and humid (and smelly) in New York.  I want a cotton, breathable, non-linen (who wants to iron on a 97-degree day? Seriously) sleeveless sundress that I can wear a bra (strapless or otherwise) with.  If you add a synthetic lining, or actually, ANY lining other than more cotton, to an otherwise breezy dress I will smack you across the face, because you have just ruined it.

Scratch that, I just want ALL the motherfreaking sundresses.  I want casual sundresses for beach days, maxi dresses for fashion-y/I-didn’t-feel-like-shaving/boozy brunch days, formal dresses for summer weddings, and breathable work dresses that don’t make my commute a sweltering hell.  Pepperberry just released a button-front cotton sundress, which I confess is adorable (minus the print– all-over floral can be really tough), but I got burned so badly on return shipping with my last order that I’m hesitant to order it.

Chroma Shadow Sheath by Anthropologie.  Flattering and youthful sweetheart neckline, a knee-length that is actually knee-length, sassy cobalt-blue back, work-and-wedding-appropriate.  Zipped everywhere except my boobs, made me cry.

Chroma Shadow Sheath by Anthropologie. This is lined in acetate, not cotton, but it is otherwise so great.  Flattering and youthful sweetheart neckline, surprisingly chic floral print, length the same on the model as it is on me, sassy cobalt-blue back, work-and-wedding-appropriate. Zipped everywhere except my boobs, made me cry.

I also wouldn’t mind some shoulder-baring dresses that are constructed to fit my boobs in conjunction with a strapless or convertible bra (see: weddings, above).  In my imagination I see one in cute nautical stripes with a sweetheart neckline, appropriate for beaches, picnics, and summer parties, but frankly I’d take any that fit well (and was neither beige nor yellow).

Orange Repartee Sweetheart Dress from Anthropologie (now sold out, but they release pretty much the same dress every few months).  Cute solo, cute paired with a cardigan or blazer, cotton lining, cute cute cute.  Elastic back?  NO, GAH.  Even on the beautiful, quite slim model you can see that it's bunching.  I want a strapless dress that's constructed to FIT, not to make do.

Orange Repartee Sweetheart Dress from Anthropologie (now sold out, but they release pretty much the same dress every few months). Cute solo, can be paired with a cardigan or blazer, cotton lining, cute cute cute. Elastic back? NO, GAH. Even on the beautiful, quite slim model you can see that it’s bunching and drooping. I want a strapless dress that’s constructed to FIT, not to make do.

I adore the dresses from Trashy Diva like the Trixie dress (similar to the playsuit above), but even though they are in general curve-friendly, the bust is still not deep, full, or contoured enough to contain the apparent majesty of my boobs.  I used to get annoyed at the ubiquity of strapless dresses, but they really can be so pretty, flattering, and cool and I WANTS ONE.

"Akebono" Halter Dress by Girls From Savoy, via Anthropologie (sold out)

“Akebono” Halter Dress by Girls From Savoy, via Anthropologie (sold out)

“Sincerely Paris” Halter Dress by Girls From Savoy, via Anthropologie (also sold out). It’s covered in POSTAGE STAMPS, y’all. It’s so twee and adorable and kinda dumb and I still love it

First I’d need a longline strapless bra that smooths to wear under them (as I mentioned in my lingerie Wishlist), and then I want a gorgeous strapless, halter or cross-back dress, cut straight through the back and curvy at the front.  I don’t want to size up and up and up just to fit my boobs, and then wind up with weird gapping and bunching around the back and waist and too much length in the torso.  I want something that FITS my body, not just something that covers it.

**

 Let’s move on from sundresses to . . . more dresses!  Sorry, I’m gonna be a one-note song here.  I love dresses, and I live in them.  I know they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, in terms of either their personal or their professional style, but I have never been a white-button-down-shirt-and-trousers kind of lady.  Even when I find button-down shirts that fit, I’m just not drawn to them.  Dresses suit my personal look, my professional dress code, and my occasional early-morning laziness (ugh, who has time to put an outfit together?).  With a dress, I only have to worry about finding one garment that fits my goofy body; with a layered outfit built from multiple pieces I have to worry about finding 3-5 pieces that fit.  I’d love to have a classic, easy shirtdress with an A-line skirt and non-capped sleeves that isn’t mumsy or frumpy.  Some of the full-bust lines have designed some very nice shirt-dresses, but they tend to have an aggressively retro/pin-up feel (think Pin Up Girl) or a very straight-laced and severe finish (think Pepperberry).  I don’t mind a vintage look, but I want one that’s a little more relaxed.

Pocket Tie-Waist Shirtdress by Gap

Pocket Tie-Waist Shirtdress by Gap. Put in a real waistband and get rid of the boob pockets (whyyyy boob pockets noooo), and I’d take one in every color.

“Effortlessness” can feel tricky to come by if you’re dressing a full bust; I, for example, don’t feel comfortable just throwing on any old slouchy, relaxed top.  I’m frustrated that when it comes to a comfy dress, it feels like my only choice is of the pin-up persuasion.  It’s a style I love on other women, but I don’t love it on me: I feel like I’m wearing a costume, and between my height and the style I tend to feel very, very self-conscious and conspicuous.  A shirtdress can be a relaxed and put-together one-stop outfit, dressed up with heels or wedges and dressed down with sandals or sneakers.  It’s the sort of thing I wear in my imaginary life where I frequent farmers’ markets and run into cute boys at used bookstores and ride bikes with baguettes and bottles of wine in the front basket.  In reality I have ridden a bike once in NYC and am in no way inclined to do it again.

This next wishlist item is admittedly more personal-to-Sweets rather than to the full-bust community at large, but bear with me:

Cross Front Maxi Dress by Pepperberry.  138 cm just isn't long enough.

Cross Front Maxi Dress by Pepperberry. 138 cm just isn’t long enough.  It bugs the heck out of me to see a dress that hits the model an inch or two below her knee, only to have it arrive in the USA and hit me three inches over the knee.

Dear designers: People can hem things.  We can’t magically grow them.  I know that getting things hemmed and altered is a pain for a lot of folks, believe me.  If I had to worry constantly about getting everything hemmed, waists raised, sleeves shortened, etc., it would get unbearably old.  But I can’t miraculously add four-to-six inches to make skirts and sleeves long enough.  I can’t buy a too-short dress or a miniature blazer and think “ugh, annoying, but that’s what my tailor’s for.”  The only time this has ever worked was when I was a bridesmaid and J. Crew special-ordered a damaged dress to send me with my proper one, so that my seamstress-friend and I could use the damaged one for extra fabric.  I’m not saying you need to make everything Sweets-proportioned, but some varying skirt lengths would be amazing.

I just collapsed and died of apoplexy in the middle of the Grand Central post office last week because I had to return the entirety of a Pepperberry order and it cost me 60 freaking dollars to mail back to the UK.

Mock Wrap Jersey Dress by Pepperberry.  Yeah, this dress is not REMOTELY this long.

Mock Wrap Jersey Dress by Pepperberry. Yeah, this dress is not REMOTELY this long.  I have no doubt that Pepperberry’s models are in the 5’8″ to 5’11″ neighborhood, which is my hood as well.  How come they get the special extra-long ones? (Sigh, I know why, because they’re modeling what it will look like on a woman of more average height, but still)

I hadn’t placed this order willy-nilly.  I had very, very carefully analyzed my current wardrobe, evaluated the available pieces on the website, looked at what had worked well for me in the past, and ordered judiciously.  I was deeply disappointed with almost everything.  I was hesitating on keeping some pieces anyway because of ongoing quality inconsistencies (the buttons on the red blazer– yikes), but the shortness of sleeves and skirts did me in (as did the fact that I ordered the same sizes as last time and everything was much smaller this time and Pepperberry you’re killing me with the quality control, come on).  Pepperberry just released their lovely black maxi dress (above), and I would have ordered and worn the hell out of it during a NYC summer, except it’s phenomenally, hilariously too short.  I might order it anyway and have an awkwardly mid-calf dress, but . . . GRUMBLE.

**

So what can we do, if we don’t find clothes to suit our tastes, needs, and budgets?  Well, first of all, leave reviews.  Send messages.  Tell designers and stores what you’d like to see.  Second of all, try, try, and try again.  Give custom-measurement sites like eShakti a whirl.  I ordered a bunch of custom-made clothes from eShakti before going to Bangkok and returned them all, not for issues of quality, which was excellent, but because there was no measurement requested to account for torso length, so all of the clothes were far too long-waisted for me.  If I place another order, I plan on emailing first to see if I can provide additional measurements to correct this issue. Try styles, stores, sizes, and shapes you might never have thought of.  Every once in a while the elusive, magical item of full-bust friendly clothing you never thought you’d find turns up in your size and color, and you clutch it to your (magnificent) bosom and shower its upturned face with burning kisses.

Final wish: I want pretty much everything the Duchess of Cambridge has ever worn, just designed for my boobs.  Especially the gowns.  All of the gowns.  You know, for my life, where I go to gown-appropriate events constantly.  I’d also like her hair on my head, but I don’t expect miracles here, people.

Reviews: Full-Bust Dresses From Pepperberry

The last time I talked about Pepperberry on Sweet Nothings, I wasn’t very positive.  I wanted to be!  I love Bravissimo and everything they stand for, and I was so excited to hear about the launch of Pepperberry, Bravissimo’s sister brand offering a full range of clothing for full-bust figures.  As the first few seasons came and went, however, very few of the options really wowed me.  On one level, I didn’t love a lot of the designs.  I liked some of them, sure, but I’m a very, very picky shopper, and I wanted to find something I loved that also happened to fit me well.  Pepperberry is in a bit of bind because their customer base is “full-bust women who ordinarily wear Misses-sized clothing but who need more room in the bust.”  Those women might be older, younger, students, professionals, teachers, stay-at-home mothers, artists, engineers, writers, chefs . . . you see where I’m going.  In trying to offer something to please everyone, there were a few collections that felt too staid or safe, even dull.  There were also some patterning, supply, quality, and consistency issues that took a few seasons to work out and that didn’t begin to justify the prices.  So while I tried a few things every year or so, the dread of having to pay return postage eventually put me off.

Chiffon Spot Blouse and Pleated Pencil Skirt.  Blouse available in sizes 08-18 Curvy, Really Curvy, and Super Curvy.  £45.00 (about $72.00 USD).  Skirt available in sizes 08-18 (UK).  £45.00 (about $72.00 USD)

Chiffon Spot Blouse and Pleated Pencil Skirt. Blouse available in sizes 08-18 (UK) Curvy, Really Curvy, and Super Curvy. £45.00 (about $72.00 USD). Skirt available in sizes 08-18 (UK). £45.00 (about $72.00 USD)

With their 2012 Autumn/Winter collections, I feel like Pepperberry has really proved that they DO listen to customer feedback.  Sizing across the board has been more consistent, the quality has skyrocketed, and each collection has a distinct, unified aesthetic point-of-view.  For Autumn, many of the pieces were shot on the platform of a steam railway station, and the models, with their curled and rolled hair and neutral makeup, evoke a nostalgic, 1940s feel.  For Winter, Pepperberry reached slightly further back into the past, with Art Deco beading and silhouettes that suggest the 1920s-30s and “Downton Abbey”.

Beaded-Flapper-Dress-

Beaded Flapper Dress, available in sizes 08-18 (UK), Curvy, Really, and Super Curvy. £99.00 (about $158.56 USD)

In addition to these mini “historical” collections, each season’s release has featured some wardrobe staples like button-down shirts, fitted tees, and blazers, as well as a few more youthful dresses.  They’ve done away with some of the stranger embellishments on the professional clothes (past collections used studs and sequins . . . not good) and have focused more on tailored details like pleats, seaming, and necklines, as well as improved fabric content.  Popular styles have been re-ordered in new colors, and some styles are now available in Super Duper Curvy sizes in response to customer demand (although more would be nice!).  While the prices are by no means bargains, the attention to detail and improved fit and fabric quality make them much more reasonable.

For my recent work trip to Bangkok we were given fairly strict dress code suggestions.  While I’m a pretty conservative dresser anyway, some of the guidelines threw me for a loop: covered shoulders, knee-length or longer skirts, and black or otherwise neutral shoes.  In addition, it was suggested that we avoid certain colors, including red, blue, and yellow.  Y’all, I LIVE in navy blue and red.  That is what is in my wardrobe.  Any skirts/dresses that did meet the knee-length or longer requirement were almost certainly red or blue or both.  Furthermore, I owned not a single pair of black pumps or black flats, and many of my tops and dresses are sleeveless, to allow for layering in super air-conditioned office buildings.  I had some major, frantic shopping to do, and the desperation (I had about three weeks’ notice to prepare for the trip) convinced me to take a chance on another Pepperberry order.

Abstract Jersey Print Dress.  Available in Sizes 08-18 (UK) Curvy/Really Curvy and Really Curvy/Super Curvy. £55.00 (about $88 USD).

Abstract Jersey Print Dress. Available in Sizes 08-18 (UK) Curvy/Really Curvy and Really Curvy/Super Curvy. £55.00 (about $88 USD).

After checking out UK customers’ pictures on Pepperberry’s Facebook page, I chose the Abstract Jersey Print Dress.  The shape, bow detail, and ruched sleeves appealed to my love of feminine dresses, while the modest neckline, below-the-knee length, and conservative color and print met all the criteria for my trip.  I’ve gained a bit of weight since the last dress I ordered and kept from Pepperberry, so I chose to go up a dress size and keep the same curvy size.  Fortunately, the dress arrived the day before I was due to leave, and I got home and tried it on immediately.

I was deeply impressed right off the bat by the improved quality.  The last jersey dresses I’d tried from Pepperberry had felt thin, almost scratchy, and clingy.  This dress, on the other hand, hangs beautifully without clinging, there’s no polyester sheen to the fabric, and it feels much softer and more comfortable.  It’s a heavy-weight jersey that will be suitable for wear year-round.  I wore it in the 90-degree F. heat in Bangkok, and I layered it over tights under a puffy coat in cold New York.  There’s no static cling, and it doesn’t stick to my tights.  A+, Pepperberry.

Fit-wise, I should have stuck with my old dress size and just gone up a curviness size.  The dress fits, but some of the underbust detailing does ride up a bit onto my bust.  My waist isn’t as defined as it could be, and consequently it’s not the most slimming dress I own.  However, I feel lovely wearing it, and I’ve gotten compliments every time.  In a perfect world I’d exchange it, but I’m more than happy with a pretty-close fit instead of a perfect one.

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If nothing else, the Bangkok wardrobe requirements really opened my eyes to some massive holes in my wardrobe, and they forced me to admit that some of my clothes are worn-out, falling apart, or ill-fitting.  I managed to find some great staple pieces for bargain prices at mass-market retailers like the Gap (thank you for making Tall pencil skirts, the Gap), but I decided to give Pepperberry another shot to invest in some versatile, well-fitting, easily-accessorized dresses to get me through the winter.  I knew I wanted at least one “little black dress” that could go from work to a party with a change of shoes, jewelry, hair, and makeup, and I also wanted a slightly less formal dress that could go from work to more casual weekend events.  After a lot of deliberation, including reminding myself that no, I really don’t need strapless party dresses, I chose the Ponti Skater Dress, the Stripe Skirt Dress, and the Drape Jersey Dress to go with my order of the Lola Luxe Basque from Bravissimo (reviewed here).

Ponti Skater Dress.  Available in sizes 08-18 (UK) Curvy/Really Curvy and Really Curvy/Super Curvy.  £59.00 (about $94.50 USD)

Ponti Skater Dress. Available in sizes 08-18 (UK) Curvy/Really Curvy and Really Curvy/Super Curvy. £59.00 (about $94.50 USD)

I was most excited about the Ponti Skater Dress, so I tried that one on first.  I’ve always been a bit of a girly-girl, and I love me a fuller skirt and well-defined waist.  This time I ordered one dress-size smaller and one curvy-size larger than the Abstract Print Jersey Dress, and the fit is perfect.  PERFECT.  I’m so used to tugging and adjusting clothing that wrinkles or gapes that it takes me aback when something fits so nicely.  There is no straining over the bust and no pulling across the back, just smooth, clean lines that flatter my figure.  The skirt hits me where it hits the model, just over the knee, and the neckline is modest without being frumpy.  There’s a button detail at the elbow and a wide waistband that sits right at my natural waist.  The jersey is once again of excellent quality, and the dress is fully lined (and machine-washable!) with a side zip.  This one will probably be too warm for Summer wear, but it’s going to be great for Fall, Winter, and Spring.  I’ll note that the sleeves are slimmer-fitting on me than they are on the model, and I don’t have particularly full upper arms, so it’s something to bear in mind if that tends to be a fit issue for you.  Overall, this is a great, versatile dress, and I’d love to see it in more colors (green or red or polka dots!).

Striped Skirt Dress.  Available in sizes 08-18 (UK) Curvy/Really Curvy and Really Curvy/Super Curvy.  £69.00 (about $110.50 USD)

Stripe Skirt Dress. Available in sizes 08-18 (UK) Curvy/Really Curvy and Really Curvy/Super Curvy. £69.00 (about $110.50 USD)

This was my wild card purchase, as it takes me a bit outside my comfort zone.  I’ve never loved the way I looked in “wiggle”-style or body-con dresses, but since only the top portion of the dress is jersey, and the rest is woven, I thought I might find it more comfortable, and I also hoped that the horizontal stripes might offer some balance to my fuller-on-top figure.  While I was correct on those points, I was let down by a few fit issues.  First, the skirt is significantly shorter on me than it is on the model, by a good three-to-four inches, like everything from that last orange-red stripe down is missing.  It really throws the proportions of the dress off and affects the otherwise classic silhouette.  Secondly, the side zipper sticks part of the way up, and no amount of tugging or inspecting will make it budge, even though the fit through the bust is otherwise excellent.  Finally, that hem is TIGHT.  I mean, super tight.  I could barely tug it past my bust when pulling the dress on overhead.  Once the dress was on, I loved the way it looked.  My waist looked tiny, my hips looked lovely and curvy, and the neckline was flattering.  And then I tried to sit down in it.  I wonder if the skirt was the proper length whether it would have been less excruciatingly tight when I bent to sit, but since it’s short, the hem rides up to my thighs and strains uncomfortably.  Standing, though, the fit around my hips is fine, even generous.  It’s weird, and it’s a shame, because I thought this would be a fun addition to my wardrobe, but unfortunately it’s going back.

Drape Jersey Dress.  Available in sizes 08-18 (UK) Curvy/Really Curvy and Really Curvy/Super Curvy.  £55.00 (about $88.09 USD)

Drape Jersey Dress. Available in sizes 08-18 (UK) Curvy/Really Curvy and Really Curvy/Super Curvy. £55.00 (about $88.09 USD)

There are a few nice black dresses currently available at Pepperberry, but I knew I really wanted to find a dress that read a little more grown-up, a little more womanly, and a little sexier than anything in my current wardrobe.  Again, this silhouette usually gives me pause, but the slight draping of the skirt and the promise of a mesh lining under the jersey convinced me to give this a try, and I AM SO GLAD I DID.  Once again the quality of the jersey is much improved from past seasons, the neckline is flattering (and deeper than that of the Abstract Jersey Print Dress, so a plunge bra will be de rigueur), and the length is perfect– right at my knees.  It feels a little strange to pull on because the mesh lining is much tighter than the jersey overlayer, but the lining is tight for a reason.  It acts like a built-in slip and provides some smoothing under the jersey so that it doesn’t outline or cling to, say, the line of your bra or your knickers.  It’s a great construction choice that pays off really, really well.  I’m now sad I missed out on the red version from earlier this year, but I hope this becomes one of Pepperberry’s recurring styles.  I can see myself pairing it with boots and a scarf for work, and slipping into heels and sparkly earrings for a night out.

Has anyone else tried any of Pepperberry’s A/W 2012 collections?  What do you think?  If had my druthers, I would have liked to have seen an elegant, classic, structured black strapless dress with a straight skirt (New Year’s Eve!), and I was a little surprised that there wasn’t a single long evening dress available.  That being said, I thought they made great choices this season, and I hope the Spring brings more treasures!  Also, some coats, jackets, and sweaters are currently on sale, so if you’re feeling winter’s chill you should definitely check them out!

Reminder: Any item I review on Sweet Nothings, unless otherwise specified, is something I bought for myself, and all opinions are my own.  Policies.

Clothing Your Curves: Suggestions for Fuller Bums, Part 2: Knickers Edition

In addition to sharing their favorite clothes shopping secrets, my blog buddies all graciously got personal with me and shared some knicker preferences.  The incredible surge in lingerie brands and sizes in the last five years means that there are lots of choices in terms of styles (bikinis, hipsters, cheeky boyshorts, thongs, g-strings, high-waisted briefs, tap shorts, etc.), and while that’s great, it still seems like there hasn’t been much discussion about how to approach fitting these garments.  For example, sometimes a woman tries on one brand of thong, and if the rise isn’t right (the waist rides up too high or is too low to fit comfortably), she’ll write off thongs entirely.  Sometimes a woman finds a bra she loves but hates the coordinating pieces that come with it.  In response to situations like this, some brands, like Freya, have stepped up in recent years and begun offering multiple styles per range.

“Gem” in blue by Freya. Half-cup bra and high-waisted brief pictured.

For example, the new season style “Gem” will offer a half-cup bra up to an F-cup, a balconette bra up to a K-cup, a Brazilian brief, a short, and a high-waisted brief, all in two different colors.  It gives the customer a lot of variety to choose from so that she can purchase the range she likes in the styles that suit her best (I, for example, desperately want the balconette bra and the high-waisted brief in either color), but it can be a burden on retailers.  Erica discusses the issue of briefs and matching sets in this post, and I particularly enjoyed reading her replies in the comments about why matching briefs can be so expensive, and how it can be very, very hard for boutiques to calculate their inventory.   This, in turn, can make it hard for shoppers to have the opportunity to try on all the styles available to find the ones to suit them best.  There’s also such a strong focus on bra-fitting in the general lingerie world that by the time that’s taken care of, knickers can seem like an afterthought.

There’s nothing wrong with knickers being an afterthought, of course!  Nothing at all.  I know lots of women who put their time and energy into selecting bras that best suit their shape, tastes, and style, and who then prefer to buy multi-packs of basic cotton underwear.  These women feel pretty and comfortable, so they should keep on keeping on.  (For some great recommendations on basic knickers for different shapes, check out Braless in Brasil’s knickers post).  However, I remember the first time I had a matching set of underwear (after I’d graduated from college), and I felt so womanly, sophisticated, decadent, pretty, and sexy.  It was like a little treat to myself, after years of thinking I wasn’t allowed to have pretty underwear (really).  For me, finding the right bra opened up the world of lingerie sets.  For women with curvier bums and fuller hips who are looking for some good knickers to make their lingerie sets complete, here are some suggestions.

Curvy Kate

“Emily” bra and brief in Midnight/Blush by Curvy Kate. Also available in beige, black, and white (other colors may be available on sale).

Several bloggers responded that they’d had good luck with Curvy Kate, in particular the briefs for the “Emily” and “Princess” ranges.

“Princess” short in black.

The way CK cut the top of their briefs leads to less digging into the hips, and the rise is better than some other companies’, coming up higher in the back so that the briefs aren’t falling off the bum.  (Bravissimo, for example, who really changed the game in the full-bust bra world, has some work to do with their knickers.  They cut their (own brand) briefs very, very low in my limited experience, and several times it has made me unwilling to commit to overseas shipping, for fear of needing to return the order.  I’d love to see some high-waisted briefs, or even highER-waisted briefs, to go with their lovely bras.)  Curvy Kate in general offers a good range of knicker styles, including briefs, thongs, high-waisted briefs, and shorts with detachable suspenders, so you should be able to try your favorite styles.  I’m also happy to recommend Curvy Kate because of their generous range of sizes (28-40 D-K), and because they’re becoming more and more widely available in North America.  Figleaves (which is also running a competition on Facebook to win a Curvy Kate set), HerRoom, Bare Necessities, Linda’s, A Sophisticated Pair, and Butterfly Collection all carry Curvy Kate, as do many smaller boutiques.

Parfait

“Charlotte” High Waist Brief in Red, in sizes XS-2XL

Their high-waisted retro briefs are to die for.  Check out Invest in Your Chest’s and Sophia’s reviews to see some curvy girls rocking the “Charlotte” range.

Elomi and Freya

I’ve already fessed up to the fact that I don’t have a pronounced waist-to-hip ratio, and that my underwear shopping tends to be fairly straightforward and painless.  I would still be remiss not to say that I have loved almost every single Freya brief I’ve ever worn.  I love the design and details of my Cleo by Panache sets, but the briefs are incredibly hit or miss with me.  Freya’s bikini-style briefs and high-waisted briefs are always winners (their thongs though . . . yikes).  Elomi, Freya’s sister brand for fuller figures, also offers a beautiful range of knicker styles, and their designs just keep getting better and better.

“Betty” ruched brief by Elomi. Available in sizes M-4XL.

“Patsy” ruffled brief by Freya. Also available in black. Sizes XS-XL.

“Taylor” high-waisted brief by Freya. Available in sizes XS-XL.

Hips and Curves

Caged Back Lace Panty. Available in multiple colors in sizes 1X-4X.

Can we talk about how hot those panties are?  They’re SUPER HOT, y’all.  They’d look dynamite with your favorite black bra and hold ups.

Embroidered Lace Front Brief. Available in sizes 8-14 (is this how panties are sized?) in black, white, and red.

Stretch Lace Boyshorts. Available in sizes 1/2X.

Curveturiere

Curveturiere will launch their full catalogue online on September 10.  All knickers will be available in sizes XS-3X in a huge range of styles and colors, including high-waisted briefs, bikinis, and thongs.  Check out this photo from Curve NV for a glimpse at some of the colors:

Their ranges are designed to mix and match to suit each customer’s personal taste.  I’m really looking forward to hearing fit feedback once the brand is available for purchase.

By Baby’s Rules shared with me a good general, curve-friendly construction tip: ruched back seams.  I like a good ruched back seam because it’s sexy, but she pointed out that it can also help the brief fit better to the wearer’s shape, so it’s definitely a design feature to look out for if you have a curvier bum.

The high-waist brief I saw at the Curveturiere preview party, the late and lamented (by me) “Pollyanna” range by Freya, and the lovely “Paris” briefs by Miss Mandalay all share this design feature.

“Pollyanna” brief by Freya. The “Faye” style is supposed to be the same as Pollyanna, except it’s NOT AND I HATE IT. RIP Pollyanna. You were my first favorite bra.

“Paris” brief in hot pink. I had a rotten time getting a good picture of it, but there’s a vertical elasticized seam running up the back of the briefs. I adore these briefs. When the black “Paris” set is available later this year I might totally cave and purchase it.

Etsy

I’ve highlighted some Etsy sellers before.  So, yes, sometimes Etsy is full of nonsense.  Sometimes Etsy is full of INSANELY GORGEOUS UNDERWEAR.  Here are pictures/links to some of my favorite sellers (I’ve deliberately selected items made of natural or eco-friendly fibers):

“Phoenix Lights Garter Short” by ClareBare. Black Bamboo Jersey, available in sizes S, M, L, or to custom measurements.

Bamboo High Rise Panties with Lace Trim by sandmaidensleepwear. Available in multiple colors, sizes XS-XL or custom measurements.

Organic Cotton High Rise Lingerie Knickers by sandmaidensleepwear. Available in multiple colors, sizes XS-XL or custom measurements.

Panties with Pink Heart by knickerocker. Available in S, M, L, or XL. Not organic, but oh-so-cute.

Here’s the cool thing about Etsy sellers: sure, you might pay more than you will at Target.  Sure, you may not be able to find a matching bra.  But some of these sellers are incredibly awesome people.  If you see something super close to want you want, but maybe not in your size or color choice, you can contact the seller directly and ask them about it.  Ask them if they’ll make you a custom-sized pair.  Ask them about how well they’ll fit your bum/hips.  Explain to them that you have this one bra you love but you can’t find a good knicker to match, and if they’d be willing to make a custom size for you.  I know that Knickerocker has taken on a custom-knickers-to-match-a-bra order before, so what have you got to lose?

I hope you find these suggestions helpful!  Again, a huge thanks to A Sophisticated Pair, Braless in Brasil, Curvy Wordy, Fuller Figure Fuller Bust, and By Baby’s Rules for their help with knickers recommendations.  If you have any questions or other recommendations, please let me know!