Non-Boring Neutral Bras for Full Busts

[UPDATED: See note below] As a follow-up to Wednesday’s list of colorful and embellished Spring styles, I thought it would be nice to take a look at some of the equally lovely neutral shades that are available this Spring. Stylists are fond of reminding us to wear “nude” bras under sheer, white, and pastel tops, and while I really hate it when people call beige “nude” (because no one’s skin tone is beige, and not everyone has light skin), lots of people do prefer to find a bra that’s at least close to their skin tone so that it “disappears” under lighter, warmer-weather clothes. While it’s easy to reach for a plain, molded t-shirt bra, I tend to veer away from minimalism, so this list features pretty full-bust bras in shades of cream, brown, sand, gray, and ivory, all of which have a little something extra to make them special. No boring basics here: these sets work equally well as both neutrals and fashion styles.

Bravissimo’s “Rococo Charm”

Rococo Charm by Bravissimo in Ivory/Blue. 28-38 DD-HH, XS-2XL.

Rococo Charm by Bravissimo in Ivory/Blue. 28-38 DD-HH, XS-2XL.

This is stunning. I ADORE the contrasting navy embroidery– it’s sophisticated and unexpected.

Panache’s “Tango”

Panache Tango Balconette in Chocolate. 28 D-J, 30-40 D-K, 42 D-J, 44 D-G. XS-2XL.

Panache Tango Balconette in Chocolate. 28 D-J, 30-40 D-K, 42 D-J, 44 D-G. XS-2XL.

Tango has been around forever in a huge range of sizes, and this season it gets an update with contrasting ombré fern embroidery and a jaunty chocolate/pink color pairing.

Freya’s “Enchanted”

Freya Enchanted. 28-38 D-HH, XS-2XL.

Freya Enchanted. 28-38 D-HH, XS-2XL.

While Freya hasn’t been working so well for me lately, I really, really like the contrasting aqua bows and embroidery of this new style (and I LOVE the white version, with orange trims).

Freya’s “Deco Delight”

Freya Deco Delight in Dove. 28-30 D-GG, 32-38 B-GG, XS-2XL.

Freya Deco Delight in Dove. 28-30 D-GG, 32-38 B-GG, XS-2XL.

The beige and black versions of Deco are hugely popular as full-bust basics, featuring super-round cups and a dramatic, plunging center gore. I like this season’s pretty gray version, trimmed with ivory lace (which I really, really wish continued all the way around the band and onto the straps. When in doubt, more lace). It’s a soft, cool look, and the straps feature a J-hook, so that it converts to a racer-back: perfect for summer tank tops!

Panache’s “Envy”

Panache Envy. 30-38 D-K, XS-2XL.

Panache Envy. 30-38 D-K, XS-2XL.

For a so-called basic style, Envy is a stunner (review of the black version here). The high-waist shaping brief looks both retro/pin-up and very contemporary, and the silky soft fabric has a beautiful, elegant sheen. The soft stretch lace gives fantastic support up to a K-cup.

Bravissimo’s “Alana”

Alana by Bravissimo in Mocha. 28 DD-J, 30 DD-KK, 32-40 DD-L. XS-2XL.

Alana by Bravissimo in Mocha. 28 DD-J, 30 DD-KK, 32-40 DD-L. XS-2XL.

Alana was Bravissimo’s first-ever in-house style, and it’s been with the company ever since. The style is vailable up to an L-cup in some band sizes, as well as a great range of shades (including this season’s neon Orangeade), and this lovely mocha is available as a beautiful continuity color.

Claudette’s “Dessous” in Sand and Godiva

Claudette Dessous in Sand. 28 D-G, 30-38 A-G, XS-XL.

Claudette Dessous in Sand. 28 D-G, 30-38 A-G, XS-XL.

 

Claudette Dessous in Godiva. 28 D-G, 30-38 A-G, XS-XL.

Claudette Dessous in Godiva. 28 D-G, 30-38 A-G, XS-XL.

Claudette are masters of the non-boring neutral. I particularly love how they paired this season’s “Blondie” and “Godiva” with hot coral trims. Not feeling the neon? Check out the Sand/Navy colorway, for something a little more sedate but equally sophisticated.

Elomi’s “Bijou”

Elomi Bijou. 34 F-H, 36-42 E-H, 44 E-G, M-4XL.

Elomi Bijou. 34 F-H, 36-42 E-H, 44 E-G, M-4XL.

Elomi gives the full-figure customer her own version of “Deco” this season, with Bijou’s smooth, molded cups and plunging center front.

Just Peachy’s “Lana”

Just Peachy Lana in Denim/Cream. 30-38 DD-G, 8-18.

Just Peachy Lana in Denim/Cream. 30-38 DD-G, 8-18.

Just Peachy is one of Figleaves’ exclusive brands, offering pretty, delicate D-G styles at incredibly reasonable prices. This pretty sheer bra with contrasting blue embroidery is only $30!

Fantasie’s “Rebecca Nouveau”

Fantasie Rebecca Nouveau. 30-36 D-GG, 38 D-G, 40 D-FF, XS-XL.

Fantasie Rebecca Nouveau. 30-36 D-GG, 38 D-G, 40 D-FF, XS-XL.

I love Rebecca, and a lot of my fit clients do too: the spacer fabric is light and breathable, there are no seams to show under clinging fabrics, and it conforms beautifully to your body. This season sees the introduction of a beautiful black-and-ivory version (it will be available this Fall too, just with the color scheme reversed) featuring floral embroidery and pretty bows. A winner!

[Note: All of these bras are in UK sizes, so the cup size progression goes like this: D, DD, E, F, FF, G, GG, H, HH, J, JJ, K, KK, L. Happy shopping!]

UPDATE: About ten minutes after publishing this I found a great post from The Curves Have It, published yesterday (great minds think alike? Lingerie blogger mind meld?], speaking passionately about the many problems with equating beige and nude. Many (but not all) of the designers/brands in this list use the terms interchangeably, including some of the big guns like Panache and Freya. If this bothers you as much as it bothers her and me, please reach out to your favorite brands and speak up on social media, using the hashtag #nudeisnotbeige. It’s 2014: we can do better.

Sweet Nothings Exclusive: An Interview with Sunday Intimates

Sweet Nothings Exclusive: Sunday Intimates E-Commerce Launches

I am thrilled to announce that today is the official e-commerce launch of Sunday Intimates, a new full-bust brand based in Los Angeles that offers bras in sizes 28-34 D-H (UK cup sizes, which include DD, FF, and GG).  I met Tannis Mann and Simonette Lowy, the founders of Sunday Intimates, at Curve NY in August, where their beautiful, incredibly stylish full-bust lingerie and loungewear absolutely blew me away. I have literally been saving money to buy my own set ever since.

I’m also delighted to share with you an exclusive interview with Tannis and Simonette.  Spoiler: I’m in awe of both these ladies.  Not only are they just about the nicest people on the planet, their knowledge of the market, their fresh and beautiful sense of style, and their passion for the product and future customers is really inspiring.

"Lolita" bra and high-waist brief with "Sara" kimono jacket by Sunday Intimates

“Lolita” bra and high-waist brief with “Sara” kimono jacket by Sunday Intimates

How did you all meet?  When did you realize your shared interest in full-bust lingerie was something you wanted to pursue professionally?

TANNIS: We met in the seventh grade during a dance class at school. We were doing jazz walks across the floor, when Simonette said to me, “You go, girl!” It was instant friendship.

SIMONETTE: We were both late bloomers. We didn’t fill this niche (literally) until college. We would come back home during vacation time and talk about how we couldn’t find bras that fit us properly. Back then, we were shopping at Victoria’s Secret and didn’t realize that this size range even existed. As we became better informed about the lingerie market, we realized we could find bras in our size, but none that met our aesthetic needs and desires. We wanted to wear bras that fit and supported us, while still being fun and hip. We wished we could design our own bras and, when we both found ourselves looking to make a career change, we decided to take a leap of faith and start Sunday Intimates.

Tannis Mann and Simonette Lowy of Sunday Intimates

Do you have a fashion or design background?  How have your previous careers and interests helped shape the creation of Sunday Intimates?

TANNIS: Zero. And it has been a huge learning curve for us. Sure, we grew up in Los Angeles and have always shared an interest in fashion and design, but I was working at a talent agency prior to this.

SIMONETTE: And I was working at an arts and cultural museum.

TANNIS: That said, we had vision and we both appreciate visual mediums. We are both dancers. I studied film in college and Simonette studied art history. We can see designs in our minds before bringing them to fruition.

SIMONETTE: In some ways, not coming from a fashion background is a strength for us. We had different perspectives on business, which have helped guide our decision-making process in this endeavor. But, we are new to this and continue to learn more every day about the business and ourselves.

TANNIS: We have, also, been so lucky to have supportive friends and family who have served as resources and sounding boards to us when we’ve come up against new challenges.

Behind the scenes with Sunday Intimates

What are some of your inspirations for your first collection?  Are there any particular people, places, images, films, or songs that really captured the look you were going for?

SIMONETTE: We really love how women were presented particularly in the 40s and 50s—this idea that curves are sexy and beautiful. It’s disappointing to us how this notion has evolved over time in the media and we wanted to bring back the retro ideals of beauty and femininity.

TANNIS: But, we still wanted it to feel fresh and modern! We started off researching pin-up artists, such as Gil Elvgren and Vargas. Taking inspiration from their work, we designed a collection that celebrates the female form, made up of beautiful pieces that we wanted to wear.

I really love the name: it feels like lingerie I want to wear an on an ordinary day, yet it’s something special and unusual all at the same time.  Will we see other bras besides the Monday and Tuesday inspired by different days of the week?

TANNIS: The name came from the Etta James song, “Sunday Kind of Love.” We were drawn to this idea of “a love to last past Saturday night.” The same is true of our collection. They are sexy pieces that work for the boudoir, but they are also meant for you to live your life in. Form and function.

Behind the scenes with Sunday Intimates

The UK has been a major leader in the full-bust market for a long time, so it’s really exciting to have a new brand that’s designed and made in the USA.  How did you decide manufacture locally?  Have there been any unique challenges or opportunities?

SIMONETTE: We are so proud to produce in Los Angeles and support our local economy. Plus, we can go check up our production regularly and ensure things are up to our standards. This luxury is not without its challenges, though. Our bras are more expensive to sew than ones sewn outside of the US. This drives up the purchase price of our product, which has not been an easy sell to retailers. We hope that retailers and consumers recognize the importance of buying/selling local-made goods and will support our growth.

TANNIS: It was also difficult to find a factory to take on our production. The apparel industry in LA is driven by denim and swimwear. You tell people you want to manufacture intimates and they look at you like you’re from Mars. Fortunately, we landed somewhere with a positive outlook and capable hands.

Behind the scenes with Sunday Intimates

What’s it been like preparing for the launch?  How did you go about sourcing materials and production venues?  Did you face any challenges in terms of developing the full size range or any particular style?

SIMONETTE: It has been a rewarding experience for us, but has had many ups and downs. As we said, we had to start from scratch when it came to developing the product. We did a lot of research and asked many questions. We visited textile showrooms around town and had swatches sent to us from anywhere and everywhere—Belgium, Italy, Japan, New Jersey…

TANNIS: The size range was definitely a challenge. We, originally, planned to carry 36 and 38 bands in addition to what we currently stock. There were so many complications involved though and we had to scale it back and come to terms with start-up/indie brand reality. Down the road, we’d love to expand our size range.

Behind the scenes with Sunday Intimates

Have there been any surprises along the way, pleasant or otherwise?

SIMONETTE: Many surprises! Everyone warned us that nothing happens as you expect in this industry and even with that advice in our heads, it can still come as a shock. We find that all of our deadlines come and go and we almost always have to reevaluate our plans. I would say that everyday something unexpected happens. Sometimes it’s great news and sometimes it’s not so good. It has been such a learning curve for us to adapt, change, and learn how to just get it all done against the odds.

We are lucky to have each other. When one of us is down, the other can build her back up. Our process is a dialogue with multiple opinions and visions, allowing us to create something different and special.

Tannis Mann of Sunday Intimates

Knowing what you know now, what’s the single biggest piece of advice you’d give an aspiring independent full-bust designer?

TANNIS: Ask us in five years! We’re still on the receiving end of that spectrum! If we had to offer one piece of advice, it would be to be flexible. Things aren’t always going to turn out how you want, but if you are amenable to change, there is always a solution.

The full-bust world has grown so much over the last few years, but even with all the new players and new designs, Sunday still feels really special and unique: sophisticated and luxurious without being stodgy or dated, fresh and fashion-focused without being frilly or girlish.  I assume this was deliberate, so I’d love to know: who is the Sunday customer?  For having such a unique look, I feel like the brand has the potential for really broad appeal.

SIMONETTE: Thank you! It’s so nice to hear that, because we wanted to create an ageless lifestyle collection. We think our debut line achieves this goal—Your mom would feel completely at ease in a Sunday Intimates bra, but your younger sister would love to rock it as well. We decided a while back to write our version of, “Who is the Sunday Girl?” (See below)

“She is sexy yet approachable. She is nostalgic for the past but looks forward to her exciting future. She is comfortable in her own skin but enjoys slipping on Sunday Intimates at any moment, for any occasion.”

Apart from your website, where else can customers find Sunday Intimates?

TANNIS: While you can only find the bras and undies on our website, we are pleased to announce that ModCloth.com began carrying a selection of our sleepwear in January.

Tannis Mann and Simonette Lowy of Sunday Intimates

Tannis Mann and Simonette Lowy of Sunday Intimates

Your first collection was so stunning I can’t wait to see what’s next!  Do you have any goals for future seasons, in terms of the kinds of garments and the sizes you offer?  Any major design inspirations for 2014?

TANNIS: Like we said, we hope to expand our size range and, eventually, we’d love to add swimwear into the mix. More immediately, we just redesigned our website to accommodate e-commerce and our new lifestyle blog.

Billy longline bra and high-waist brief by Sunday Intimates for Fall/Winter 2014

Billy longline bra and high-waist brief by Sunday Intimates for Fall/Winter 2014

SIMONETTE: For AW14, expect to see something a bit more sultry and dark. We took inspiration from Film Noir, so it’s definitely a different vibe from SS14. For sneak peaks, make sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and the new blog.

Tannis Mann and Simonette Lowy of Sunday Intimates

A huge thank you to Tannis and Simonette for sharing the Sunday journey with us!  The Sunday Intimates e-commerce site goes live today, and you can begin placing preorders.  Bras are available in sizes 28 DD-H and 30-34 D-H (UK cup sizes: D, DD, E, F, FF, G, GG, H), knickers in sizes XS-L, and loungewear in sizes S, M, L, and S/M or M/L.  I can’t wait to place my order!  Which style from the lookbook catches your eye? 

Lingerie Fashion Week F/W 2014 Day 3: Affinitas & Parfait

Affinitas & Parfait at Lingerie Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2014

“Charlotte” (Parfait) in Purple Wine

It’s become something of a tradition for Affinitas & Parfait to present the closing runway show of Lingerie Fashion Week.  It’s pretty fun seeing them on the runway: both brands make creative twists on classic shapes and styles at incredibly accessible price points.  While I enjoy seeing the unusual or outlandish (like last year’s Rococo Dessous show), it’s also a real treat to see lingerie go down the runway and think “oh! I could wear that!”  While the first two seasons’ shows were marred by some pretty terrible fit (not just in the bras) and some very bland styling, I was really happy to see that this season’s show stepped up its game.

Affinitas & Parfait at Lingerie Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2014

“Coco” (Affinitas)

First of all, we had lighting and set design!  Hurray!  The runway was lined with electric blue lights, with pretty projections of bare tree branches against the walls, and pedestals with white branches and violet flowers spilling out stood on either side of the runway.  It lent the show the look and feel of a formal evening event, highlighting both collections’ more glamorous look.

Affinitas & Parfait at Lingerie Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2014

“Sasha” (Affinitas)

In seasons past, the two brands have been styled differently, with Affinitas skewing younger and sweeter and Parfait sultrier and more grown-up.  I enjoyed seeing how the show brought the two lines closer together in tone, so that the both sets of sizes felt equally sophisticated.  Fall/Winter collections often feature darker colors, heavier embroidery, and sultrier looks, and Affinitas/Parfait was no exception, but the execution was wonderful, and there were some great surprises.

Affinitas & Parfait at Lingerie Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2014

“Lara” (Affinitas)

First of all, a huge round of applause from me: A+ styling.  Boring beige shoes were replaced with some pretty kickass strappy black heels, the models with long hair all sported incredibly sleek low ponytails, there was some really great jewelry (the model at the top of the post in the new purple wine colorway for Parfait’s Charlotte bra?  She is perfection), and stockings!  The models who wore garments with suspenders wore stockings!  All is right in my world.

Affinitas & Parfait at Lingerie Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2014

“Jeannie” (Parfait)

Animal print looks to be huge for 2014, with popular Leslie getting a new blue animal colorway, but I really liked the rich “panther” colorway for Parfait’s molded plunge “Jeannie” style, above.  Both brands presented some classic jewel tones, with Affinitas offering pretty purple and red versions of new style “Sasha”.  Parfait brought out purple and turquoise for Charlotte and Danielle respectively, and I thought I wasn’t going to care for them, and then I got to see them up close and in person at Curve, and I have to say, the Peacock Blue version of Danielle is TO DIE FOR.  I lurved it.  Parfait, if you’re taking requests for the the next style to take up to a K-cup, Danielle Danielle Danielle gets my vote.

Affinitas & Parfait at Lingerie Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2014

“Delphine” (Parfait)

While black and jewel tones aren’t unusual for Fall/Winter, floral prints are, and I frankly think Parfait does a bang-up job with theirs.  They offer an unusual mix of teal, brown, and pink against a lilac base, and it should be musty and fussy, and instead it just WORKS.  But my favorite is the unusual black and red floral print for “Casey” below; I even looked across the aisle and mouthed “ooh, I LIKE that” to another writer, who responded with vigorous nods.

Affinitas & Parfait at Lingerie Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2014

“Casey” (Parfait)

Two other styles really stood out to me, because my first response was also “ooh, I like that!”, only to be followed by “oh. That’s because I RECOGNIZE that.”  Behold:

Affinitas & Parfait at Lingerie Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2014

“Kitty” (Parfait)

Affinitas & Parfait at Lingerie Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2014

“Lea” (Affinitas)

Affinitas & Parfait at Lingerie Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2014

“Lea” (Affinitas)

These are fantastic sets, don’t get me wrong.  I love the polka dots on the “Kitty” babydoll, and if it came in my size I’d wear it in a freaking heartbeat.  The scalloped edges and pinstripe details on the pink and black “Lea” collections are so striking.  The problem?

Marcie Cleo babydoll

“Marcie” babydoll by Cleo

"Ritzy" by Curvy Kate

“Ritzy” by Curvy Kate

They’ve already been done.  Seriously, as these sets were coming down the runway I thought “Oh, look, Parfait’s done their own Marcie,” and then “Wow, that Affinitas set reminds me of Ritzy.”  I know the lines between copying and inspiration can sometimes be fuzzy, but considering the Marcie babydoll was one of the most insanely popular full-bust pieces to hit the market in 2013 (not to mention Ewa Michalak’s babydoll, which also featured ribbon trim and a ruffled skirt), Parfait’s version hits a little too close for comfort.  What do you think?  Am I overreacting, or do you see it too?

Affinitas & Parfait at Lingerie Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2014

“Coco” (Affinitas)

That discomfort aside, I feel like Affinitas and Parfait finally realized that they had a chance to present, you know, a SHOW, and they upped the glam beautifully.  The show felt edited, which consequently made each look feel more special.

Affinitas & Parfait at Lingerie Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2014

“Erin” (Affinitas)

The changes Parfait/Affinitas made for their show, along with strong choices from other brands that showed (like the string quartet for Layneau and the aerialists for Kix’ies) make me really hopeful about future seasons of Lingerie Fashion Week.  I’d love to attend a season where every brand embraces the opportunity to tell their own unique story.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: it’s not enough to put a pretty girl in underwear and send her down the runway.  The shows that feel like walking catalogues are forgettable; the shows that feel like, you know, shows, where I leave with a stronger understanding of the brand and their style, those are opportunities for lingerie brands to reach out to fashion buyers and consumers who might be new to lingerie, and who might begin to treat lingerie as an integral part of their personal style and fashion identity.

Affinitas & Parfait at Lingerie Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2014

“Danielle” (Parfait)

*****

Along those lines, some thoughts on the closing of Lingerie Fashion Week: whenever a new endeavor of this scale is starting out, there are bound to be hiccups.  This is only Lingerie Fashion Week’s third season, and it was the first season in a brand-new venue.  I hope the event continues to grow, to attract new designers and collaborators and journalists and artists, and to really showcase lingerie as a force in the fashion world.  However, this season was undeniably odd, and I left the final show feeling underwhelmed, irritated, and stressed out.

Every single show began at least an hour late, and the Affinitas/Parfait show was a full two hours late, leaving guests standing around to wait with ever-decreasing patience for doors to open.  The new venue is bigger and ostensibly more efficient, yet it’s in an isolated location, meaning that there were no nearby bars or restaurants where guests could leave to get food in the event (as it happened) that shows ran late and no food was served on-site.  Finally, the crowds are growing larger, which is great, but lingerie writers and buyers are increasingly getting shifted to the back rows, to standing room only, or to the entrance to the catwalk, where views (and photos) are obstructed, making it increasingly difficult to cover the shows thoughtfully or well (I was able to slip into a front row no-show’s seat to cover Parfait and Affinitas; my assigned seat was behind a pillar).

Worst of all, invited guests at the Parfait/Affinitas show had two hours to kill during which the only thing to do at the venue was drink, and many of them did just that, which led to a show filled with chatter, disturbances, yelling, and, jeez, I can’t believe I’m about to say this, cat-calling and wolf-whistling at the models as they walked.  Some of the invited guests seem to have confused an actual industry event with lingerie football; I even read a really sickening piece (no, I’m not linking to it, because it’s garbage, and I don’t want to give him the pageviews) by an alleged fashion writer bemoaning the fact that Lingerie Fashion Week was too boring and serious, the guests weren’t dressed fashionably enough (fuck you dude: I wore HEELS for this), and the models were unattractive: “LFW must start bringing in better looking quality models, for the sake of the show and the brands they work with. Goodlooking models make clothing look better, plain and simple, its the reason the fashion world and modeling worlds exist. Let’s be honest, more so with lingerie than any other fashion wear, people need to want to f*ck the models because the lingerie looks so good, that unfortunately happens rarely with the current model groups.”  Gross.  [UPDATE: I have just received confirmation that the blogger in question was not invited by Lingerie Fashion Week organizers. Rather, this person RSVP’d directly to a designer.]

And actually, jackass, LFW’s models are consistently great; with the exception of the Bradelis show, I saw a really wonderful (and undeniably beautiful) range of racial, age, and body diversity, even more than you might see at “real” fashion week.  I’d love to see more!  A full-figure brand’s show!  A show with more ages represented!  A show that included models with disabilities!  A show with athletes and artists!  Another fun burlesque runway performance like last year’s Secrets in Lace show!  But more importantly, the kind of “journalist” who thinks lingerie is about turning him on, or presenting him with spank bank fodder?  Why is that guy there?  Seriously.  It’s a free country bro, so you have the right to be a dickhead, but I don’t understand why he was an invited guest at the shows.  In what possible world is “people need to want to f*ck the models” a professional or appropriate piece of fashion journalism?

I love that there’s a fashion event solely dedicated to lingerie, and I am grateful and thankful that I am lucky enough to attend it.  I don’t envy the uphill climb the organizers face as they continue to expand and take on more challenging logistics.  I really, really hope that this season’s event and some of the accompanying traffic jams and hiccups have provided a clear road map of some of the logistics that will need to be tackled before August’s shows.  I want so much for the LFW to become a major player in the industry, but right now at the end of the season I’m feeling pretty exhausted and disappointed.

Review: “Imogen” Bra, Waist Cincher, and Brief by Elomi

I know, I know, I’ve called about 74 pieces of lingerie “best of the year”; my affections are fickle and ever-changing.  For 2013 I do hereby revoke the title from any previous set I may have foolishly given it to and bequeath it to this one: “Imogen” by Elomi.  In terms of innovation, sophistication, and execution, particularly at this price point, Imogen blew everyone else out of the water.  As soon as I saw it at Curve last February, I knew I wanted to try it for myself, and I was thrilled when Elomi offered me a set of my choice for review.

[Note: while Elomi generously provided this set, all thoughts and opinions are my own]

Model: Sweets, Sweet Nothings. Photographer: Caryn Leigh Photography. Lingerie: Elomi (c/o). Peignoir: Dottie's Delights. Hold-Ups: Gaetano Cazzola.

Photographer: Caryn Leigh Photography. Lingerie: Elomi (c/o). Peignoir: Dottie’s Delights. Hold-Ups: Gaetano Cazzola.

“Imogen” is an elegant, versatile collection consisting of a full-cup bra (up to a JJ-cup), a half-cup bra (up to a G-cup), a waist cincher (or waspie), a full brief, and a thong.  Featuring sheer black floral embroidered mesh laid over butterscotch-colored simplex, I love that the set is dark without being all black– there’s a lovely warmth and delicacy to it that my tragic smartphone pictures below will utterly fail to capture.

"Imogen" Full-Cup Bra, Brief, and Waist Cincher by Elomi.  Review at sweetnothingsnyc.com

Appearance

Stunning?  Beautiful?  Luxurious?  The bra is a four-part cup (a vertical seam in the lower cup, a horizontal seam separating upper and lower cup, and a side panel connecting the lower cup to the strap) featuring a sheer upper cup trimmed in black with matching, slightly puffy bows at the center front of bra and brief.  The bra features fully-adjustable straps and closes with three rows of three columns of hooks-and-eyes, and the cincher closes with two columns of seven rows of hooks and eyes.  The briefs feature elegant panelling details and a sexy sheer mesh back.

"Imogen" Full-Cup Bra, Brief, and Waist Cincher by Elomi.  Review at sweetnothingsnyc.com

As I mentioned, I LOVE that the set isn’t all-black.  All-black lingerie is sexy and classic, don’t get me wrong– much of my lingerie is black or at least trimmed with black.  I just never thought a brown lingerie set would light my fire, but wow.

"Imogen" Full-Cup Bra, Brief, and Waist Cincher by Elomi.  Review at sweetnothingsnyc.com

Fit

I requested the full-cup bra in my most common bra size, and the brief and waist cincher in my usual brief size.  In terms of band size and cup volume, the fit of the bra is spot-on.  I find Elomi’s wires to spread a bit wide for my frame, but that’s really a quibble– I can’t expect an off-the-rack bra to fit my specific body 100% perfectly.  To that end, what got me into trouble was not so much the size as the style.

Simply put, Eveden’s full-cup bras and fuller balcony bras don’t work for me.  Freddy Zappe, Eveden’s national fit specialist, explained the reasons for this to me at last February’s Curve: my boobs are set high on my body and they’re pretty full all-around, and the way Eveden cuts their full-cut bras doesn’t include enough room in the top of the cup.  As a result, the top of the cups dig in to my breast tissue and the center gore can’t tack firmly.  Even sizing up in the cups doesn’t help, as it throws off the fit elsewhere in the bra.  The top of the cups are just too shallow for me.  It doesn’t mean that Imogen, or Fantasie’s “Salsa” style, or Freya’s “Gem” style (which have similar shapes and thus fit me equally poorly) are bad bras; it just means they’re designed for someone whose boobs aren’t as full on top.  If I were in the size range I might have tried the half-cup Imogen bra instead, but as the full cup or the fuller balcony styles are some of the only ones Eveden offers past a G-cup, I just kind of have to make do whenever I want to wear this complete set (and avoid clingy tops).

"Imogen" Full-Cup Bra, Brief, and Waist Cincher by Elomi.  Review at sweetnothingsnyc.com

Now we need to talk about the waspie/waist cincher, and how I think it’s just the greatest.  It’s cut so that the top perfectly lines up with the curve of the bra’s underwire, and on me the bottom slightly overlaps the top of the briefs (I am fairly short-waisted, so it might fall differently on a woman with a longer torso).  What’s lovely about this is it allows you to choose how you want to fit your waist separately from how you want to fit your boobs.  My underbust is  smaller than my waist, so a basque in my true bra size can sometimes squeeze uncomfortably.  With this set, I get the look of a basque with a customized, flexible fit.

20140203-211247.jpg

I requested the waspie and briefs in what I think of as my usual knicker size, and while I love the fit of the waist cincher, I find the briefs slightly large (as I often do with Elomi’s sister brand, Freya).  If you, like me, occasionally find that Eveden’s briefs run a little big, feel free to size down.  My hips and rear aren’t as curvy as my boobs, so these briefs might work really beautifully on those of you with true hourglass figures.

Model: Sweets, Sweet Nothings. Photographer: Caryn Leigh Photography. Lingerie: Elomi (c/o). Hold-Ups: Gaetano Cazzola. Skirt: Leg Avenue.

Me, being a goober. Photographer: Caryn Leigh Photography. Lingerie: Elomi (c/o). Hold-Ups: Gaetano Cazzola. Bustle Skirt: Leg Avenue (currently sold out).

Comfort

While I do occasionally have to adjust the bra throughout the day, on account of the shape incompatibility I talked about above, overall I’ve found the few Elomi bras I’ve tried insanely comfortable.  The bands are deep and sturdy, yet the bottom edge of elastic never digs in the way some other bras do.  Even though the full-cup shape isn’t great for me, I do really like that the wide, soft straps pull more from the center of the bra, rather than the outside edges right at my arms.  This helps prevent slipping straps, and it also helps to provide a little extra lift and stability.  The briefs are higher rise than a bikini brief and yet are slightly lower than a true retro high-waist panty, and they hit me just below my navel.  As this is just about my favorite rise in the world, because it’s super comfortable, I’m a happy girl.

I’ve worn the cincher on both the loosest and tightest columns and been pretty happy in either case.  Because it features elastic and plastic boning instead of cotton coutil and steel boning, like a corset would, it’s not going to offer any sort of radical figure change (you can, in fact, still see the curve of my tummy in the shot above, as well as the clear indentation of my bra band hugging my underbust before my waist thickens).  Neverthless, as light shapewear it functions beautifully– I’ve worn it under a clinging dress and a slim pencil skirt and been really, really pleased with the results- a slight nipping in of the waist plus smoothing.

Behind-the-scenes selfie from the last photo shoot, wearing my beloved Dottie's Delights froofy robe and marabou slippers (Pleaser).

Behind-the-scenes selfie from the last photo shoot, wearing my beloved Dottie’s Delights froofy robe and marabou slippers (Pleaser).

Overall, this set is an absolute stand-out.  I love the rich, elegant color scheme, and I also think Elomi has plenty of room for creativity here: black with a variety of other colors for more of a boudoir feel, ivory and pastels for a lighter (as well as more bridal) feel.  I might like to see a version of the waist cincher with detachable suspenders for stockings, but as you can see, a pair of hold ups also gets the job done.  I had so much fun wearing it at my boudoir shoot, and pairing it with a tulle bustle skirt from my pole dancing wardrobe for more of a burlesque, costumey look.  In a perfect world I’d ask Elomi to come up with a new bra shape for their G+ customers, since the full-cup doesn’t work for me (and also isn’t the sexiest style in town), but otherwise I think this set is a gorgeous, fantastic addition to the full-figure/full-bust lingerie landscape.

Imogen is available at Nordstrom, Bare Necessities, Breakout Bras, Debenhams, Classic Shapewear, Ample Bosom, and Leia Lingerie.

Full-cup bra: Sizes 34 G-JJ, 36-42 E-JJ, 44 E-G.
Half-cup bra: Sizes 36-42 D-G, 44 D-FF, 46 D-F.
Brief and thong: Sizes M-4XL.
Waist cincher: Sizes M-2XL.

Review: “Alexis” Babydoll by Parfait (D-K cups)

When Parfait announced the launch of three D-K cup styles in late 2013, I couldn’t wait to try them for myself.  I really like the brand’s commitment to pretty, colorful lingerie in a wide variety of styles, all at a moderate price point.  I was curious to see how differently each of the shapes would fit (if they were different at all), so when Parfait offered me a second piece to review (after reviewing the gorgeous red “Charlotte” last year), I eagerly said “yes please!”  [Note: while Parfait generously provided this piece for review, all opinions and comments are my own.]

Model: Sweets, Sweet Nothings. Photographer: Caryn Leigh Photography. Lingerie: Parfait (c/o). Peignoir: Dottie's Delights. Hold-Ups: Gaetano Cazzola.

Photographer: Caryn Leigh Photography. Lingerie: Parfait (c/o). Peignoir: Dottie’s Delights. Hold-Ups: Gaetano Cazzola.

For my second piece I skipped right over the very lovely (but rather basic) lace “Sophia” bra and jumped straight over to the “Alexis” babydoll.  Despite still being a fairly new player in the full-bust lingerie market, Parfait continues to offer styles than many other, bigger brands shy away from, like gorgeous satiny longline bras, high-waist knickers, and sweet, sassy babydolls.  Apart from basques, I’ve never really had a super-dressy, flirty piece of lingerie, and certainly not one that could double as nightwear/loungewear.  While I usually choose black over white in my lingerie wardrobe, I decided to try a different look this time and requested the Ivory colorway (I also thought it might hide cat fur better.  Don’t judge).

Appearance

"Alexis" Babydoll by Parfait

“Alexis” Babydoll by Parfait

I think Parfait really doesn’t get enough credit for how well they balance creativity with broad appeal to a wide customer base.  True, they are a mass-market brand, so you’re not going to see any zany prints or super-risky colors, but the pieces they do create tend to be both pretty and memorable.  I’m pleased but frankly astonished that there haven’t been too many knock-offs of the hugely popular “Charlotte”, the satin “Danielle” longline bra and brief set stands out in my mind as one of the prettiest full-bust lingerie sets I’ve seen since I started blogging, and I think the floral “Louisa” style for Spring/Summer 2014 is an unexpected winner.  “Alexis” is a bit more classic and traditional than any of these styles: a fantastic boudoir piece that offers the full shape and support of an underwire bra.

The color is a very bright ivory, almost white, with a full, floating mesh skirt.  The skirt portion is about 18 inches/46 centimeters long, coming down to about two inches below my hips.  The cups are made of sheer mesh and lace with a single seam (more later) and foam interior side slings.  The satiny straps are an inch wide and fully adjustable, and the back closes with three columns of four rows of hooks and eyes.  The satin and mesh band features flexible boning under the arms for extra stability.  For a little added glamour, there are three pretty beaded, crystal drops suspended from the bow at the center gore.

"Alexis" Babydoll by Parfait

Fit

I have a bit of a belly, and since this was going to be more of a bedroom piece than a wear-around-the-city-to-run-errands piece, I requested a band size one size larger than I normally wear, so that the skirt portion would be a bit fuller.  After some trial and error, I found that the cups run at least one size small, if not two, so the size I kept is one band size larger but with the same cup letter as my regular bras, which gives me a size one cup volume larger than I normally wear.  Parfait bands tend to run true-to-size, if not a bit tight, and I found that to be the case here: the band fits comfortably and slightly looser than I’d normally take, which is consistent with my trying a band one size larger.

"Alexis" Babydoll by Parfait

I love the deep band and wide straps to support a larger bust, and I tip my hat to Parfait for keeping the wires in their G+ styles much narrower than brands like Elomi or Freya, but unfortunately Parfait’s G+ cups and I just don’t seem to get along. The cups are much shallower than many of the styles I’m used to, and I find my full-all-around boobs can’t get the projection they need to settle into the cups.

The picture above shows the unusual construction of the cups: the outer layer is made of a single piece of fabric, with one seam stitched into it to pull it into shape.  While I think using a single seam for shaping gives this piece a clean, sexy look, a single seam just can’t give the curve, depth, and projection that very full cups need.  As it is, I’m kind of smooshed into the bra, so even though the gore tacks against my sternum, my boobs keep pushing the underwires away from my ribs and slipping out the bottom of the cups.  While some of this may be related to wearing a larger band than normal (and as such is to be expected), ultimately the shallow cups just don’t give me enough room.  As a result, I’m not getting the sort of lift (or the sort of cleavage) and stability I usually like in a bra.

"Alexis" Babydoll by Parfait

Comfort

While the fit isn’t a great match for me, I still find the babydoll very, very comfortable.  The wide straps and deep band feel amazing– I wish brands like Cleo would make similar adjustments for some of their larger cup sizes, as a deeper band provides much more lift and comfort.  I expected to feel self-conscious about the large open keyhole in the back (as my back is not and has never been what one might call “toned”), but the deep band helps to provide coverage, and the exposed skin just feels very sexy.

Overall, I think this is a really outstanding addition to the full-bust market.  While I hope Parfait continues to refine their G+ shapes and fit (especially to get the cup sizes in line with the rest of the market, so that true K-cup wearers aren’t sized out), having a piece like this available at such a reasonable price is a treat.  I can see it making a fantastic Valentine’s Day, bridal shower, or wedding gift, and it might even be nice for maternity lingerie, since the skirt is very full, stretchy, and soft.  I’d love to see Parfait offer one or two fashion colors each year– how pretty would a bright holiday red or a pale peachy ballet pink be?

Model: Sweets, Sweet Nothings. Photographer: Caryn Leigh Photography.  Lingerie: Parfait (c/o).  Peignoir: Dottie's Delights.

This was towards the end of the shoot, oh my hair. My hair is getting so sad and tired. It’s bedroom hair?  Let’s go with that.  Photographer: Caryn Leigh Photography. Lingerie: Parfait (c/o), Dirty Dolls. Peignoir: Dottie’s Delights.

“Alexis” Babydoll ($65.00) is available in sizes 30-40 D-K (UK cup sizes: D, DD, E, F, FF, G, GG, H, HH, J, JJ, K) at Classic Shapewear, Large Cup Lingerie, Bare Necessities (D-H only), Beautyfull Bras, Helen of Troy Bras (D-G only), and Breakout Bras (D-G only), among others.

Full-Bust Friendly Party Dresses

Argh, I did this totally backwards, didn’t I?  I talked about the underwear to go with your party dress before I talked about the dresses themselves.  And there are some CUTE party dresses out there right now for ladies with full busts.  I had a terrible time coming up with a concise list (not really a surprise), so I’m going to try to pick one dress per boutique or retailer, but I strongly urge you to check out each store individually to see what other goodies catch your eye.

1.  “Down to a Pine Art Dress” by Stop Staring! for Modcloth

"Down to a Pine Art Dress" ($167.99, certain sizes) by Stop Staring! at Modcloth.  Available in sizes XS-1X.

“Down to a Pine Art Dress” ($167.99, certain sizes) by Stop Staring! at Modcloth. Available in sizes XS-1X.

"Down to a Pine Art Dress" ($189.99, certain sizes) by Stop Staring! at Modcloth.  Available in sizes 16-26.

“Down to a Pine Art Dress” ($189.99, certain sizes) by Stop Staring! at Modcloth. Available in sizes 16-26.

Eff me, I freaking love this dress.  The color, the cut, the phenomenal size range– every bit of it.  Please get in my closet, you sassy green beauty.

2.  “Faye Floral Doll” Dress by Collectif

"Faye Floral Doll Dress" by Collectif (£115.00).  Available in sizes 6-22 and 1X-4X.

“Faye Floral Doll Dress” by Collectif (£115.00). Available in sizes 6-22 and 1X-4X.

I can’t even talk about Collectif’s coats, because I love them so much it kind of hurts me.  This one is like a coat for a grown up Samantha doll, SO BASICALLY EVERYTHING I’VE EVER WANTED.  It makes me want to weep.  We are star-crossed lovers, fated never to be together.  Stupid awesome amazing coat.  Anyhoo, since I can’t have it for reasons of size-sold-out-edness and limited-wallet-edness, let’s look at this lovely little black dress, available in a fantastic range of sizes (both standard sizes and plus sizes) with a pretty sheer neckline and a classic retro cut.

3.  “Spot Sweetheart Prom Dress” by Pepperberry

"Spot Sweetheart Prom Dress" by Pepperberry (£85.00).  Available in sizes 8-18 Curvy, Really Curvy, and Super Curvy (dress sizes are UK sizes)

“Spot Sweetheart Prom Dress” by Pepperberry (£85.00). Available in sizes 8-18 Curvy, Really Curvy, and Super Curvy (dress sizes are UK sizes)

I’m still waiting for Pepperberry to really blow me away with their party dresses (I want a knockout, classic strapless dress in a truly sexy shape, for starters), and this year, as is often the case, I had design nitpicks over almost every dress (bear in mind I’m super picky about my clothes).  I crossed my fingers and ordered this one, and I’m very pleased with it.  It’s like I’m wearing a dress that has been custom-made to fit my boobs.  I wish I had a little more room in the back, and I wish there were more dress choices that didn’t have such high waists (or that were longer than 105 cm), but otherwise this is my dress for this year’s Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties.

I’ll throw in some quick review-y type things: I expected the spots to be more brilliantly gold, and when I opened the box I was disappointed to find them more muted (an almost dull, silvery gold rather than a bright yellow gold), and then I decided I liked them again once the dress was actually on– it’s a little more versatile this way.  There’s a lovely mini tulle crinoline built into the dress, and the acetate lining feels very silky and soft (although I’d prefer an all-natural fiber for a lining).  I find Pepperberry’s clothes to run a bit large, which is a blessing to full-bust women on the border of standard and plus size.  I ordered two sizes, one that I think of as my “usual” UK size, and one a size down, and I kept the smaller one.  I do find the sleeves a bit constricting, in that I don’t want to lift my arms over my head, but I don’t really anticipate needing to bust a move in it, so I should be just fine.  It’s a lovely dress in a flattering shape, and the quality is really fantastic.

4.  “Gatsby Fringe Dress” in Red by Laura Byrnes for Pinup Girl Clothing

Just STOP IT, Dress.  Stop being so danged awesome.  "Gastby Fringe Dress" in red by Pinup Girl Clothing ($130), available in sizes XS-3X.

Just STOP IT, Dress. Stop being so freaking awesome. “Gastby Fringe Dress” in red by Pinup Girl Clothing ($130), available in sizes XS-3X.

I CANNOT HANDLE THIS.  I’ve heard so much hand-wringing over the years about how curvy girls should avoid ruffles and fringe for fear of looking (gasp) bigger, and this dress is just like, “HA, EFF THAT.  DRINK IT IN, Y’ALL.”  It’s magnificent.  It is adorable.  It is red and sassy.  I would swish my way all over the place if I owned this dress, and I would applaud any lady I saw at a party wearing it, because I’d be pretty sure that lady would rule.  Dang, this is a slammin dress.  And seriously, y’all need to look at the rest of Pinup Girl’s holiday store (tomorrow’s the last day for 15% off!!), because it is all so glamorous and awesome.

5.  “Splendor Dress” by Bettie Page Clothing

"Splendor" dress by Bettie Page Clothing (currently $109).  Available in sizes XXS-4X

“Splendor” dress by Bettie Page Clothing (currently $109). Available in sizes XXS-4X

Bettie Page Clothing stole my heart with their incredible Alika dress, which I’ve seen look absolutely lovely on so, so many different full-bust women.  Some of the other shapes are more or less bust-friendly, and it’s definitely worth trying on a few different sizes, but in general I love the cheeky retro styles.  This beautiful “Splendor” dress screams classic old Hollywood, and I can see it working equally well for an occasion like New Year’s Eve or a more formal (possibly corporate) occasion.

6.  “Lena Dress” by Trashy Diva

"Lena" Dress by Candice Gwinn for Trashy Diva ($209).  Available in sizes 2-18.

“Lena” Dress by Candice Gwinn for Trashy Diva ($209). Available in sizes 2-18.

Oh Trashy Diva, I love your designs, but I am having a terrible time finding a good fit.  I have the “Jenny” dress in red with short sleeves, and even ordering a different Jenny dress gave me size/quality issues.  That aside, the designs continue to impress and dazzle.  Over at The Full-Figured Chest, Holly has been running a great series examining the relative full-bust-friendliness of some of the different Trashy Diva cuts and styles, and the new arrivals on the website are truly, truly gorgeous.  Take this fantastic “Lena” dress, in an unusual light olive shade trimmed with gleaming gold and pearl embellishments.  It’s festive, retro, and alluring all at once.  I worry a teensy bit about the color with my hair/skin tone, but there’s a coat dress that matches it that has stolen my heart.

What do you think?  Are you wearing any of these dresses this holiday season?  Any other full-bust friendly go-to stores you want to recommend?

Review: “Betty” by Elomi

"Betty" plunge bra in turquoise. 34 G-HH, 36-42 D-HH, 44 D-G, 46 D-DD. Matching brief M-4XL.

“Betty” plunge bra in turquoise. 34 G-HH, 36-42 D-HH, 44 D-G, 46 D-DD. Matching brief M-4XL.

In discussing Elomi previously on the blog I’ve mentioned that for a while I kept forgetting I could wear the brand!  I’ve only grown into their size range in the last year and a half or so, so even though Elomi has been a major player (or indeed, one of the only players) in the full-figure/full-bust market, they feel like a new brand to me!  Their last few seasons have been particularly strong, even daring, from a design and style point of view, so I was eager to begin trying the different styles to find my best fit.  I recently had the opportunity to visit Eveden’s New York City showroom (Eveden is the parent company for Freya, Fauve, Fantasie, Elomi, Huit, and Goddess), and I was able to choose a set to review.  After seeing this vibrantly pretty turquoise “Betty” in person, I knew it was time to try Elomi.

[Note: while Eveden generously provided this set for review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.]

"Betty" in Turquoise by Elomi

Betty is one of Elomi’s continuity ranges: the bra, brief, thong, and babydoll are available year-round in black (I featured the babydoll in my 2013 Holiday Gift Guide), with seasonal colors like red, navy, and this lovely turquoise.  Later this month they’ll introduce a very pretty blush pink version as an additional continuity color, at which point I plan to buy it immediately to wear as my personal “nude” bra.  It’s fairly classic, as far as design goes: unpadded seamed mesh cups trimmed with embroidery, but the oversized roses and whimsical polka dots add a touch of sass and pep.

I requested a bra in the size I usually take in Eveden, Panache, and Bravissimo bras, plus briefs in my usual Panache size (I tend to size down in Freya and Bravissimo, as those brands’ knickers run large on me).

Appearance

“Betty” is a classic four-part seamed plunge bra, with a side panel for support and forward projection.  It closes with three rows of three columns of hooks-and-eyes, and the straps are fully adjustable.  The brief offers more coverage than some other Eveden briefs, rising to just below my navel.  Both pieces are trimmed with fuchsia satin bows.

"Betty" in Turquoise by Elomi

THIS COLOR, Y’ALL.  It is luscious.  I feel so, so pretty in it, and I can imagine it suiting women with a wide variety of complexions and hair colors.  I love that the embroidery is a contrasting fuchsia, instead of pale pink or white: it’s much more striking, and in my personal case it’s more flattering.

"Betty" in Turquoise by Elomi

Here you can really see the seams that go into shaping the cup.

Few Elomi bras are really designed to create or showcase cleavage, and this bra is no exception.  It’s a plunge bra in the sense that the center gore is quite low and won’t show under a v-neck shirt or button-down, but it definitely downplays cleavage.  I tend to prefer this as my personal style, so I’m very happy with it, but for women who prefer dizzying, dazzling cleavage, this may not be the bra for that.

Fit

I found my usual bra size was absolutely spot-on.  The band feels firm, smooth, and secure on the loosest set of hooks, all my breast tissue is encased in the cups with no digging, and the center gore tacks beautifully.  I do find, as a rule, that the wires on the Elomi bras I’ve tried are a bit wide for me, and they seem to angle back under my arms much more than is necessary.  It’s not a fit deal-breaker, because the shape and support aren’t compromised, but I do notice it when I switch to an Elomi bra after wearing, say, a Panache Jasmine.  I keep feeling like I want to tug the wires forward to the front of my body.  The cups are surprisingly deep and offer a lot of projection for a plunge shape, which really delights me.  My only fit complaint is that the embroidered edge of the cups is a bit rigid, so occasionally I find that by the end of the day I get a little bit of digging there (the wide wires pulling the cup back around my body don’t help, and they deter me from wanting to size up to fix the digging), but in general I get a secure, supportive fit with a surprising amount of uplift.

"Betty" in Turquoise by Elomi

I’m glad I went with my “usual” size for the briefs, as they feel more true to the market than Freya’s.  I love the higher rise: it’s insanely, wildly comfortable, and I find it more personally flattering.  I will note that the briefs are ever-so-slightly roomy in the hips, which is good news for women who have fuller hips and rears than I do (my lower half is not nearly as curvaceous as my top half).

Comfort

From the first day I wore this bra I was hooked.  It’s sturdy, supportive, pretty, and flattering.  The wide straps don’t dig painfully at my shoulders, and the deep band provides stability while dispersing the weight of my fuller breasts across a greater surface area.  I sometimes find that bras from Panache or Freya have a very rigid bottom edge to their bands, and they can really dig in and hurt as the day goes on.  Betty’s band, by contrast, seems to stretch uniformly throughout, and it’s incredibly, incredibly comfortable.  I do find, as I’ve heard  others do too, that the bottom edge of the band curls up and flips over on itself as the day goes on, and there’s no amount of repositioning or fiddling I can do to get it to uncurl and lie flat.  Some of that is just the fact that I have some extra fluff around my ribcage, but considering Elomi designs their bras for customers like me, I kind of want to tell them to look into it.

Overall, I can really see why Betty has been such a winner for Elomi.  It’s a beautiful bra that gives great shape, plenty of lift, and lets me wear some super plunging necklines without compromising on bra fit.  While I wish the wires weren’t quite as wide on the sides and that the embroidery wasn’t as prone to digging, I nevertheless highly recommend this bra for the full-figure/full-bust customer, and I can’t wait to add another color to my collection next year!

Betty is available at Figleaves, Nordstrom, Bare Necessities, Karnation Lingerie, Breakout Bras, Townshop, Big Girls Bras, and more.

For more reviews of “Betty”, check out these great bloggers!

Fuller Figure Fuller Bust
The Lingerie Addict
The Full-Figured Chest
Rock the Curves
Fussy Busty
Curvy Wordy

Holiday Gift Guide: Lingerie Picks for Full Busts

You guys, I can’t even hold it back: New York City is breaking out the holiday decorations ahead of the parade, I’ve got my King’s College Cambridge Christmas Carols on shuffle, and it’s making me feel SO FESTIVE, and now we need to pick out our favorite holiday lingerie.  Yes, yes we do.  My goal is to have all holiday posts published before Black Friday (the last Friday in November), so that we can all take advantage of any pre-December sales and discounts that may pop up.  Let’s kick things off with the category dearest to my heart (as it’s my personal category): full bust lingerie!  I had a TERRIBLE time narrowing down my selections: there are some really outstandingly lovely pieces out there now, so I’ve tried to stick to pieces that either scream “holiday” to me (red, green, shiny, sparkly, etc.), or pieces that I just think are awesome, because this is my list, after all.As a reminder: “full-bust” in the lingerie world GENERALLY refers to what we think of as “average” band sizes (usually 28-38) and any cup size over a D.  I’ve included items that go up to at least a UK G-cup, if not higher.  Without further ado: pretty things!

1. “Bronte” by Fauve

Bronte has been a quiet new favorite from Fauve, popping up earlier this year in an unusual, vibrant orange.  Longline bras will always be popular amongst some customers, but I have to admit the orange had the potential to be polarizing.  And then this stunning silver appeared for Autumn/Winter, and it is the most beautiful, Snow Queen-appropriate lingerie I can’t even handle it.

Fauve Bronte Longline Silver

“Bronte” Padded Longline Bra, Thong, and Suspender by Fauve. $112, $45, $56, respectively. Available in sizes 30-38 D-G (UK), XS-XL. Plunge balcony version (no longline) available in sizes 30-38 D-GG.

SEE?  It glimmers.  It gleams.  It takes a lot for me to get super-fired-up about very pale or white lingerie, and I LOVE this.  And if icy loveliness isn’t your thing, there’s also a gorgeous Jade color.

Fauve Bronte Jade

“Bronte” Padded Longline Bra, Thong, and Suspender by Fauve. $112, $45, $56, respectively. Available in sizes 30-38 D-G (UK), XS-XL. Plunge balcony version (no longline) available in sizes 30-38 D-GG.

2.  Babydolls by Cleo, Parfait, and Curvy Kate

2013 should probably go down in some kind of history as The Year of the Full-Bust Babydoll.  There have been pretty, sexy, sophisticated lingerie options for a while now, from bra to basque, but this year is the first year there have been the sassy, flirty, lingerie-loungewear hybrid pieces widely available to the consumer.  First up is Cleo, who decided (brilliantly, in my opinion) to release their popular “Marcie” bra (my reviews here and here), with its rounded shape and sweet polka dots as a sheer, sexy babydoll.

Cleo Marcie Babydoll

“Marcie” Babydoll in black by Cleo, matching brief. $70-75, $29- respectively. Available in sizes 28-38 D-J (UK), XS-XL.

Next up is Curvy Kate, with “Lola”, based on their lightly padded “Daily Boost” style.  Unlike Marcie, Lola features a full skirt (Marcie is completely open in the back) with pretty satin edging, and (my favorite part) there’s an adorable matching sleep mask!  It’s BEGGING to be wrapped up and given as a gift.  It’s also available from size 28D up to a size 40K, a truly phenomenal size range.

Curvy Kate Lola Babydoll

“Lola” Babydoll, Short, and Eyemask by Curvy Kate. $48-92, $18-35, $14, respectively (Figleaves currently has all items, including the brief and short, on crazy sale). Sizes 28-40 D-K (UK), 8-20 UK (4-16 US).

Parfait by Affinitas has offered some pretty ground-breaking shapes for full-bust figures from day one.  In their initial few seasons they carried multiple basques, camisoles, babydolls, and longline bras for D-G cups, and this year saw them expand three styles up to a K-cup.  One of these is the beautiful “Alexis”, with semi-sheer lace cups (there’s a foam interior side sling) and a very, very soft sheer floating skirt.  As with the Charlotte, I had to size up in the cups for a good fit, but it’s lovely and classic, and the crystal accents at the center gore make it a great special occasion piece.

"Alexis" babydoll by Parfait.  Available in sizes 30-40 D-K (UK), in Black and Ivory.

“Alexis” babydoll by Parfait. Available in sizes 30-40 D-K (UK), in Black and Ivory. $65.

3.  “Sienna” by Panache

Sienna is one of Panache’s classic styles, and even though it occasionally disappears for a season or two, it usually comes back.  I adore this season’s warm, romantic “Spice” colorway: it’s like rich wine and autumn leaves and mulled cider and all sorts of good things.  I also like that it’s a “basic” bra that goes above and beyond to offer a little extra glamour.

Panache Sienna Bra Short Spice

“Sienna” Bra and Short in Spice by Panache. $62, $24, respectively. 30-38 D-K (UK), Short and Thong 8-20 (UK).

4.  “Charlotte” by Parfait

As I mentioned in my review on Monday, this bright, cheerful red just screams holiday lingerie to me.   Available up to a K cup at a budget-friendly price point, it’s one of Parfait’s most beloved and unique styles.

Charlotte Parfait Padded Bra bikini brief

“Charlotte” padded bra and bikini in red by Parfait. Available in sizes 28-40 D-K (UK cup sizes). Matching bikini brief and high-waist brief in sizes XS-2XL

5.  “Addicted” by Pour Moi?

Pour Moi? has really been making me sit up and take notice this year, and the “Addicted” collection, available up to a UK G-cup, is truly a jaw-dropper.  There simply isn’t another brand out there offering a style this strappy and this straight-up sexy for fuller busts.  A friend of mine has tried this and recommends sizing up in the band and cup if you’re between sizes, and offers the caveat that it’s not really going to be the most supportive bra around, on account of the style.  But it’s just so straight up HOT.  I love this set, and I can’t wait to see what Pour Moi? does next!

Pour Moi Addicted Half-Cup Bra G-String Suspender

“Addicted” Half-Cup Bra, G-String, and Suspender. $44, $19, $25, respectively. Strappy brief also available. Available in sizes 30 E-G, 32-40 B-G (UK), 8-18, XS-XL.

The lookbook image is also super steamy:

Pour Moi Addicted Half-Cup Bra

“Addicted” Half-Cup Bra, G-String, and Suspender. $44, $19, $25, respectively. Strappy brief also available. Available in sizes 30 E-G, 32-40 B-G (UK), 8-18, XS-XL.

6.  “Tease” by Figleaves Boudoir

Speaking of having an amazing year, have y’all been keeping up with what Figleaves has been up to?  First the expansion of the Midnight Grace clothing line, then the launch of their Erotique boutiqe featuring some totally gorgeous, more risque lingerie pieces and boudoir accessories, and now some really exceptional holiday offerings from their in-house higher-end brand.   This feels almost like Figleaves’ answer to the powerhouse that is the Mimi Holliday Bisou Bisou collection, and it’s in EMERALD GREEN.  Everyone loves emerald green lingerie.  I mean, I assume, because look how beautiful:

Figleaves Boudoir Tease

“Tease” Silk and Lace Demi Bra, Brief, and Suspender (eye mask and thong also available) by Figleaves Boudoir. $75, $50, $53, respectively. Available in sizes 30-36 B-G (UK), 8-16, S-L


7.  “Amelie” in Navy/Black by Miss Mandalay

One of my favorite indie brands, one of my favorite bras, and one of my favorite color combos.  Perfection.

Miss Mandalay Amelie black navy

“Amelie” in black/navy by Miss Mandalay. Available in sizes 28-38 C-H


8.  “Viola” longline bra and side-tie brief by Harlow & Fox

I know the price on this beauty may not make this appropriate for everyone, but what an absolute stunner.  Made entirely in the UK from the finest silk and Leavers lace, the whole collection gleams in silver, gold, and pearl, but this set is a real standout.  The back closes with eight rows of hooks-and-eyes, and the briefs tie with oversized, luxurious silk ribbons.  An absolutely magical set from an amazing debut collection.

Viola Longline Bra and Side-Tie Brief

“Viola” Longline Bra and Side Tie Brief by Harlow & Fox. £189.00 and £105.00, respectively. Available in sizes 30-38 DD-G (UK), S, M, L.


9. Bonus item: Panache Sport in Red

It’s maybe not the frilliest or floofiest, but this bra has seriously changed the way I feel about exercise, and it’s now available in festive red.

Panache Sport sports bra red

Panache Sport in Red, $65-68. Available in sizes 28 DD-H, 30 D-H, 32 C-H, 34-38 B-H, 40 D-GG

Did any of these make it to your list?  I’ll have some favorite picks for fuller figures, smaller-to-average busts, and some miscellaneous, no-sizes-required lingerie items in posts next week.  Have a great weekend!

Review: G+ Style from Parfait- Charlotte Bra and High-Waist Brief

Charlotte Parfait Padded Bra bikini brief

“Charlotte” padded bra and bikini in red by Parfait. Available in sizes 28-40 D-K (UK cup sizes). Matching bikini brief and high-waist brief in sizes XS-2XL

It’s always exciting when a brand chooses to expand their size ranges, and Parfait, with their appealing, classic designs and budget-friendly price points, was a fan favorite practically from their launch for a size expansion.  Earlier this year came the surprise announcement that they would offer three styles up to a K-cup (UK cup sizes, including double letters), and I know I was among the customers eager to take the new G+ styles out for a spin.  Even though I’m not usually a fan of padded bras, I knew “Charlotte”, the retro pin-up style set with dramatic black contrast trim, was hugely popular, so when Parfait generously offered me a set for review, I decided to take a gamble to see how I liked it!

[While Parfait provided this set for review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.]

Parfait Charlotte Wild Rose

The pretty “Wild Rose” colorway I saw at Curve in August (above) wasn’t readily available yet, and the “Dusty Rose” did NOT play well with my super pale skin/dark hair combo, so I requested to try the cheerful, vibrant red version.  I’d heard from other bloggers that the cups ran a bit small and shallow, so I requested my usual band size, plus a cup size larger than I generally take in Panache, the Eveden brands, or Bravissimo.  I requested briefs in my “Panache” size, i.e. one size larger than I take in Freya or Bravissimo, as I find those brands run slightly large on me.

Appearance

Parfait Charlotte G+ Padded Bra High Waist Brief

“Charlotte” is a looker, isn’t she?  The bra lightly padded with a classic three-part cup shape (vertical seam in the bottom of the cup and a diagonal seam connecting the bottom cup with the top panel).  Parfait uses a pretty two-sided shiny fabric for Charlotte, stitching some panels matte-side out, which creates a really nice textural variety.  The cups, for example, are mostly matte, with the exception of the shiny exterior side sling (see picture below).  The bold black stripes are dramatic and striking, and I really, really love the diagonal black stripes on the knickers.  It’s an incredibly sassy set, and I can see some ladies having a blast wearing it at a pin-up or boudoir shoot.

Parfait Charlotte G+ padded bra high waist brief

All the G-K cup versions of Charlotte feature three columns of four rows of hooks-and-eyes, as well as fully-adjustable shoulder straps that are a full inch thick.  On the hanger (or in my case, on the bed), it looks like quite a lot of bra, but the added depth in the band and width in the straps really help the bra feel secure and comfortable.

Parfait Charlotte G+ padded bra high waist brief

Fit

I’ve now tried on three sizes of Charlotte, and I got the best fit wearing my usual band size and a cup TWO sizes larger than usual.  I have some fit nit-picks that have more to do with shape and my personal boobs than they do with size, but having tried several sizes of two different G+ Parfait styles (I’ll have a review of the “Alexis” babydoll later this year) I feel comfortable declaring unequivocally that the G+ Parfait bras, at least this first season’s run of them, are about two cup sizes smaller than other G+ bras on the market, while many bloggers find the D-G versions run true to size.  Depending on your shape you may find a good fit one cup size larger than you’d normally wear, but I strongly advise G+ customers to size up in the cups, potentially more than they might be used to.  Some people found that Parfait bands ran tight in the past, but my usual band size felt great.

So, about the shape.  I tend to need cups that offer A) some flexibility (i.e. they can’t be too rigid) and B) a lot of forward projection.  Charlotte feels quite shallow to me, particularly in the center, and the cups are very tall: I feel like I have plenty of extra room in the cup right in front of my armpit, where I don’t need it, but not enough room in the center of the cups or close to the gore, where I do need it.  Further, the weight of my boobs has already bent and creased the bottom of the cup (although this is pretty common for me).

Parfait Charlotte G+ bra

Even though I’ve barely worn the bra, the cups are already getting bent and creased in the bottom.

The briefs are a great fit, and the waist comes all the way up to my navel (just short of my natural waist).  I’m getting a little digging at the waistband, but I have a bit of a belly, so I imagine women with more nipped-in waists will love the look and the fit.  The legline is fairly low, which I find both more comfortable and less visible under clothing.

Parfait Charlotte high waist brief

Love the shiny/matte texture contrast on the briefs!

Comfort

For being a large-cup, slightly rigid padded bra, Charlotte is very light and breathable.  I’ve seen bras on the lower end of the price spectrum that feel flimsy or scratchy, but Parfait’s quality always impresses me: the materials are soft and comfortable, and the construction is clean and immaculate.  While the deep band and extra-wide straps feel wonderfully secure and comfortable, I find that I keep putting the set on in the morning and then frantically changing into a different set before I leave the apartment.  I love how it looks, but when I think about wearing it all day all over the city, I balk.  I think I would spend the day adjusting and tugging and repositioning the bra to avoid spilling at the center and empty space at the sides and bottom, and when it comes right down to it I never really want to put up with it for a full day’s wear.

Overall, I love the look of Charlotte, but the bra’s tall, shallow shape just isn’t a great fit for me.  While I do think some of my fit issues are specific to me, and that other women might like the shape, I hope Parfait will adjust the cup sizes in future productions of this style to bring them more in line with the rest of the G+ market.  That being said, Charlotte is a fantastic addition to the full-bust world: it’s got a sexy, retro, pin-up vibe, it’s continuously available, the price point is budget-friendly, and the red, in particular, makes it a fabulous set for those who get into holiday lingerie.  It will also work beautifully paired with a black underbust corset (as Bras and Body Image styles it here) or a black waist cincher or girdle (from Kiss Me Deadly, for example) for a great boudoir look!

For more reviews (erm, a LOT more– this bra is popular!) of “Charlotte” by Parfait across a wide range of sizes, check out:

A Sophisticated Pair
Miss Underpinnings
The Full-Figured Chest
The Lingerie Addict
Filling a Niche
Undiegamer
Bras and Body Image
Hourglassy/Off the Rack
By Baby’s Rules
Boosaurus
Invest in Your Chest
Petite & Plentiful
Scarlet’s Letter
Busts 4 Justice
Sophia Jenner
Faustine’s Foundations
Venusian Glow
Quest for the Perfect Bra
Undressed to Impress

Note that some of these reviews are from prior to 2012; Parfait has adjusted their fit slightly with each season.

“Charlotte” retails for around $35-40 for the bra and $13-16 for the brief.  It is available in Peach, Red, Dusty Rose, and Wild Rose.  The set is available at Breakout Bras, Bare Necessities, Butterfly Collection, Large Cup Lingerie, Dollhouse Bettie, Helen of Troy Bras, and A Sophisticated Pair (contact the store directly to order).

Review: “Envy” Bra and High-Waist Brief by Panache

Panache Envy Balconette Bra Black

“Envy” balconette bra and  brief in black by Panache. Available in sizes 30-38 D-K (UK). Brief and high-waist shaping brief available in sizes 8-20 (XS-XXXL). Also available in beige.

Even though it took me a while to try Panache’s “Jasmine” style, when I fell for it I fell hard.  That single bra converted me back to being a Panache customer after some of their other long-standing shapes just didn’t seem to suit my boobs, and its generous size range, great rounded shape, low-profile seams, and flexible stretch lace seem like natural fits for a new core/basic style.  I confess that even though I found the past two season’s colorways for Jasmine more flattering than I expected, they’re both still a bit “off” from what I think of as my true lingerie aesthetic, so to have the same fantastic shape and fit in classic black and beige gives me much more opportunities to mix and match the bra with some of my other lingerie pieces.

[Note: I purchased the bra from Bravissimo using a gift voucher I received for my birthday, and I bought the shaping brief from Breakout Bras with my own money.  All opinions are my own.]

Panache Envy Nordstrom

Appearance

I LOVE that Panache chose a houndstooth pattern instead of all-over lace, mesh, or embroidery.  Not that there’s anything wrong with lace and embroidery, but it’s SO nice to have a more unusual option in a full bust basic bra.  The floral stretch lace on the top of the cup and adorning the cradle keeps the pattern from taking over, and overall the set looks sleek, sophisticated, and elegant without being fussy.  The bra features the same four-part cup found on Jasmine (two panels in the bottom section, a stretch lace top panel, and a shaping side panel connected directly to the fully-adjustable straps, for forward projection).  The bra closes with three rows of three columns of hooks-and-eyes.

Panache Envy High-Waist Shaping Brief

The shaping brief features a powerful shaping mesh tummy panel lining the houndstooth, while the side panels are unlined houndstooth (and therefore stretchier and more forgiving).  The waistband is lined with a strip of silicon, to keep it from flipping over and rolling down.  The rear of the briefs is unlined black powermesh with a ruched backseam for a close fit.

Panache envy bra shaping brief

Arrghh terrible smartphone photography is terrible.

Right off the bat I noticed a new quality: silkiness.  Panache has taken some heat in the past for a slightly scratchy, stiff feel to their new mesh bras.  It usually goes away with wash and wear, but for some women with very sensitive skin it can be a dealbreaker.  Envy, by contrast, feels wonderful: the fabric feels softer and smoother, with a slight sheen that makes it look and feel luxurious.  I love that instead of just cranking out “Jasmine” in solid colors, Panache has taken some feedback on board to offer improvements on an already-loved style.

Panache envy bra shaping brief

My photos don’t remotely capture how lovely it is in person, nor do they capture the slight sheen or the translucency of the pattern.

Fit

I ordered what seems to be my “standard” size right now, meaning the size that’s been suiting me well in Panache, the Eveden brands (Freya, Fantasie, Elomi), and most Bravissimo bras.  I very rarely have to size up or down across different brands, for whatever reason, so take my advice with a grain of salt.  In terms of band length, cup volume, etc., the fit is spot on compared to Jasmine.  I again wish there were an inch or two more length in the straps (which feel softer than Jasmine’s, but no less supportive), but as I’ve said before, that’s a Tall Girl Quibble and I can let it go.

Panache envy bra shaping brief

Side panels FTW.

Now, I have to confess that I feel like my shape has been fluctuating a bit over the last few weeks.  I had to take a break from pole dancing for a bit (and yes it’s been UNFUN), and I’ve been extra-focused on eating lots of veggies and heart-healthy foods (heart disease runs in my family, and now that I’m looking at 30 heading my way I’m trying to adopt some health-positive choices), and I have noticed that my boobs feel a bit less full than normal.  It was therefore not totally surprising to notice that Envy does feel a bit different compared to my completely broken-in and well-loved Jasmines.  The wires feel a touch wider, the gore a touch wider, and the bottom of the cups ever so slightly shallower.  I’m not really filling the bottom of the cups the way I hoped to, although it’s a pretty common fit issue for me, as I’m pretty full all over.  I also was surprised to notice that the gore doesn’t tack quite as securely as Jasmine’s, which I attribute to its being wider.

I hoped a bit that the shaping brief would be super high-waisted on me, like the Deco Shape was, but instead it’s a much more modest height.  The waistband sits comfortably around my natural waist, about 2-3 inches above my navel.

Comfort

Bless this stretch lace, for lo, it is magical.  Part of what makes this bra style so user-friendly is the fact that there’s no stiff upper cup to dig into fuller breasts or gape on shallower breasts (after all, women who wear the same bra size may come in different shapes).  It flexes to fit the wearer’s body, without sacrificing shape or support.  That being said, I do notice the slightly wider wires: I feel like I have to readjust my bra periodically throughout the day, something that never happened with a new Jasmine.  It’s not a dealbreaker by any means: the fact that there is a basic bra out in the world that offers this fantastic rounded shape and great support while looking great is a cause for my personal rejoicing.  It feels a bit churlish to say “I wish the wires and gore were a hair narrower,” but in the interest of full disclosure, there you have it.

The shaping brief is quite comfy, as shapewear goes!  I wore it to work under my pencil skirt, which, as I discovered with the Dirty Dolls Pin-Up Panty, is my new personal shapewear litmus test.  I’ve got a squishy midsection, but the waistband stayed put: it lay perfectly flat without curling over on itself or flipping down, and the silicon grippy strip meant I never once had to pull the brief back up over my stomach.  I will note that the brief features a traditional, not seamless, legline, and the waistband is firm, so it does dig a bit.  If you’re looking for a smoother, completely seam-free look, this may not be the set for you.  I was very pleased with the effect, however, and even though I can’t really go for longer than 10 hours or so in shapewear, I rate this piece very highly.

Overall, Envy is a very, very welcome addition to the world of full-bust basic bras.  Stylish, unusual, and comfortable, offering a lovely round shape in D-K cups, this is a bra I’d love to see catch on as a fit bra in lingerie boutiques.  In particular, I’d love to see it replace Tango as a boutique’s full-bust basic, since Tango is not as near-universally fit-friendly.  I have a few requests for Panache: please offer a fuller coverage brief that isn’t as intense as shapewear, please expand the band sizes to cover your full customer range of 28-40, and please offer a similar bra for your Sculptresse customer.  Some of the most underserved sizes in the lingerie market right now are the 40+ bands and G+ cups, and I’d love to see a bra like this available for as many women as possible.

For another review, check out Bras I Hate & Love.

“Envy” is available at Nordstrom, Butterfly Collection Lingerie, FreshpairBreakout Bras, Figleaves, Bare Necessities, Bravissimo, and ASOS, among others.