Review: Panache Sport Top

Sweet Nothings reviews the Panache Sports Top

Back in January I shared my thoughts on the super-popular Panache sports bra, and you might recall that they were pretty glowing.  I seriously have four different colors of this bra in my lingerie drawer right now, and I kind of want to buy four more because my size is changing and some of mine are worn out.  After a few successful seasons built around the bra and matching workout shorts, I was really interested to see what I thought of a new addition to the sports range: a new sports top, which features a built-in Panache Sport bra.

Appearance

The debut colorway is a bold, saturated coral with contrasting neon multicolor accents. It’s… I won’t lie, it’s a lot brighter than I normally go for in my workout wear—I prefer black and neutrals. That said, it’s definitely cheerful and summery, and if I’m trying to drag myself to the gym in the morning before work, it’ll wake me up!

Neon yellow contrast piping lines the neckline and continues onto the straps and J-hook, and swooping panels of the multicolor accent sweep down the front and create a long, streamlined look. Well, that might be the idea—in my size I felt like the panels just emphasized the width and curve of my bust, which again isn’t usually something I’m dying for in my workout clothes.

The top contains a built-in Panache Sports Bra (original flavor) with partially adjustable straps, a J-hook, and three columns of three rows of hooks and eyes.

Sweet Nothings reviews the Panache Sports Top

The wonkiness at the neckline is there for a few reasons: I’m stretching, which is pulling the cups closer to each other, the molded cups are fairly open at the top, and the cups are slightly too big, as I lost a little bit of weight between the time I bought the top and the time I reviewed it.

Fit

The bra part? Business as usual, which, as I mentioned in my review in January, is very good business indeed. This is an underwired encapsulation style sports bra (as opposed to a compression style sports bra), meaning that the cups and underwires fully contain (encapsulate) each breast to minimize movement from all sides. I’ve found that this is the style I prefer—I stay cooler and drier during a workout, I can breathe more deeply and easily, and I have a full range of movement without worrying about shifting, digging, squeezing, or poking. I found the bra part fit very similarly to my regular Panache sport bras: the cups are round and full (some women prefer to size down in the cups, and indeed I think it’s time for me to do so with all my sports bras, as I’ve started to get some chafing where the center gore lies because there’s a little too much room in the cups). The band is quite firm (though I find they stretch fairly quickly).

Sweet Nothings reviews the Panache Sports Top

I am so glamorous all of the time.

The top part itself is where I got into a little trouble. I was worried it might be short, as I’m 5’10” and sometimes find clothes made in the UK are short all over for me, but the length is good. Well, at first. The top is cut very slim, which is great as it means that there’s no bagging or drooping or bulk to get in your way while you’re moving. The drawback is if your waist/hips are wider than your underbust (as mine are), the top immediately begins climbing skyward, as you can see in the picture above. By the time I finish a run the hem is usually higher than my navel, if I haven’t been yanking it back down to my hips every minute or so. You also have to really wriggle into that sucker, and then fasten the bra underneath the skin-tight top, so if you have joint pain or any issues with joint rotation and flexibility, be warned that it’s definitely trickier to get into than the standard sports bra (I tend to step into it and pull it up, FWIW). In an ideal world I’d love to see the top have a little more room through the body, with a hem that accommodates the curve of the hips, but then again, that’s just me: many athletes have leaner, more streamlined torsos, so this top might be perfect for them.

Comfort

The bra part? A+! I feel supported and stable, and I feel comfortable running, using an elliptical, dancing, and doing all sorts of other cardio-based activities that made me uncomfortable before I had a good sports bra.

Sweet Nothings reviews the Panache Sports Top

That being said, the top itself isn’t my first pick, unless it’s a really hot day and I’m going to be exercising outside. For one thing, I’m more self-conscious than I realized about my back (so here’s a picture of it! woo!). Because the top is so snug on me and I have a fairly squishy torso, you can see a clear line where the bottom of the bra band digs into my fluffy bits. It also clings to my belly (before it begins traveling upwards), so when I’m not busily yanking it back down I’m busily sucking in my stomach, which—ugh, why do I even care about doing that at the gym? I’m at the GYM, not The Club, and yet here we are. So I usually wind up wearing this on days when I know the gym is going to be underpopulated, like early mornings during the weekends. It’s dumb that I feel self-conscious about how I look at the gym, but there you have it. I’d prefer the top to be looser, so that it hangs better, otherwise I’d just as soon wear a regular sports bra and tank top.

Overall

My personal fit and flattery issues aside, this top is a brilliant addition to the Panache Sports lineup. If my budget allowed I’d love to track down the coordinating running leggings. I really, REALLY like the look of the Fall/Winter 2014 styles, and I’m excited to test out the wire-free version of the sports bra that will debut later in the Fall. I’m not sure if it’s an increased activity level or just a sign that I need to invest in some smaller sizes, but after several years of wearing the underwired style with no problem, I’m suddenly developing some sore, chafed patches of skin where the underwires meet between my breasts. It will be nice to have a wire-free version of my favorite sports bra, so that I don’t have to stop exercising while my skin heals.

Sweet Nothings reviews the Panache Sports Top 1

Panache Sports Bra is available in sizes 28 DD-H, 30 D-H, 32 C-H, 34-38 B-H, and 40 D-GG.  All cup sizes are UK cup sizes, so the cup size progression goes B, C, D, DD, E, F, FF, G, GG, H.

The Panache Sports Top is available in sizes 28 DD-H, 30-38 D-H, and 40 DD-GG.  While this colorway is discontinued, the new colorway (black with multi-print, below) should begin showing up in stores at the end of this month and into August.

Panache Sport Top Black

*****

Photography: Lydia Hudgens
Top: Panache Sports Top (available here with a few sizes left here)
Pants: Gap (yay for tall-person athletic wear!)

My Favorite New Styles for Fall/Winter 2014

As I’m beginning to make my appointments to see the upcoming Spring/Summer 2015 collections at Curve next month, Holly’s recent article for The Lingerie Addict reminded me that I never shared some of my top picks for Fall/Winter 2014! Cecily and I covered some of the trends for this season after the show in February, and now that some of these styles are starting to show up in stores (Fall/Winter styles begin to ship in late July/August and continue through November), I thought it would be fun to show you the pieces I’m most looking forward to seeing!:

Elomi

"Bijou Soiree" by Elomi. Available in sizes 36-44 E, 34-44 F-G, 34-42 GG, H (UK)

“Bijou Soiree” by Elomi. Available in sizes 36-44 E, 34-44 F-G, 34-42 GG, H (UK)

While I thought Elomi’s season wasn’t quite as strong as F/W 2013 or S/S 2014, this baby stood out as a clear winner. With an on-trend trompe l’oeil lace print and a versatile, smooth plunging shape, this bra is a huge stand-out in the full-bust/full-figure market. The price is a little higher than some of Elomi’s other bras (recommended retail is $82 for the bra alone), which might drive it out of the reach of some, but as a special occasion bra it’s pretty outstanding.

Sculptresse

"Flirtini" by Sculptresse, available in sizes 36 F-H, 38 E-H, 40 DD-H, 42-46 D-H.

“Flirtini” by Sculptresse, available in sizes 36 F-H, 38 E-H, 40 DD-H, 42-46 D-H.

Sculptresse is REALLY starting to find its feet, style-wise. After some timid early seasons the brand has stepped up and begun offering vibrant, cheerful and pretty full-bust full-figure lingerie that reminds me of the strongest offerings from sister brands Cleo and Panache. Y’all know how I feel about polka dots, so Flirtini is a no-brainer as my favorite pick. This is one of the brands I’m most looking forward to seeing in August.

Panache

"Envy" Bodysuit by Panache, available in sizes 30-38 D-J.

“Envy” Bodysuit by Panache, available in sizes 30-38 D-J.

I’m so, so excited to try this bodysuit I can’t even handle it. I’m on a major spending lockdown at the moment, but if I buy one piece of lingerie in the next few months, it’ll probably be this one. The placement of the stretch lace, the cool houndstooth pattern, and the careful construction are making me extremely hopeful that this piece will be a winner.

"Clara" by Panache, available in sizes 30-38 D-J (UK)

Runner-up: “Clara” by Panache, available in sizes 30-38 D-J (UK)

While Clara wasn’t the best fit for me, shape-wise (it’s a cousin to Andorra, so if that shape works well for you you’ll probably be set), this gold and black colorway is staggeringly lovely.

Freya

"Deco Darling" by Freya. Plunge Bra AND Strapless Bra in sizes 32-38 B, C; 28-38 D-G; 28-36 GG. Brief, Short, Thong sizes XS-XL, Suspender sizes S-XL.

“Deco Darling” by Freya. Plunge Bra AND Strapless Bra in sizes 32-38 B, C; 28-38 D-G; 28-36 GG. Brief, Short, Thong sizes XS-XL, Suspender sizes S-XL.

I am lukewarm on Deco, at best (it’s a fantastic bra, truly; it’s just not my cup of tea), and I’ve wearied of seasons built around eight different colors of the same bra, but wow: this collection is lovely, versatile, and understatedly elegant.

Claudette

"Fishnet" by Claudette in Pointe Shoe. Available in sizes 28-38 A-G (UK).

“Fishnet” by Claudette in Pointe Shoe. Available in sizes 28-38 A-G (UK).

I am obsessed with Claudette’s color names, because they are consistently perfect, and this pointe shoe color slays me.

"Paloma" by Claudette in Pointe Shoe. Available in sizes 28-38 A-G (UK).

“Paloma” by Claudette in Pointe Shoe. Available in sizes 28-38 A-G (UK).

Not only does it appeal to eleven-year-old me who was convinced that despite her towering height, big boobs, and flat feet she could still ONE DAY be a professional ballerina, it also satisfies my new What Would Miss Fisher Wear? lingerie criteria, by being a lovely retro-ish blush pink. For a shiny, luxurious look, try Paloma, with its fabulous button-back brief OR side-tie knicker, or give the fabulous Fishnet collection a try!

Masquerade

"Aleah" by Masquerade (cancelled). Was going to be size 28-38 D-H (UK)

“Aleah” by Masquerade (cancelled). Was going to be size 28-38 D-H (UK)

Just kidding, it was cancelled. Poor Masquerade—from everything I’ve heard they had a rough season, sales-wise, which is a shame, because I thought it was one of their stronger seasons in years, style-wise. After some dreary lookbooks and drab oatmeal-and-greige color schemes they finally presented a collection featuring sumptuous, flattering colors and some new shapes (and G+) sizes. The Aleah bra, a non-padded, non-molded (hallelujah!) D-H bra in a totally luxe grey-and-gold color scheme, reminded me of one of my favorite books from when I was little – Beauty by Robin McKinley. I was prepared to pay good cash money for this bra (it was one of my favorite bras I’d seen in my size in years), and I was incredibly disappointed that it was cancelled.

"Alice" Slip in Ink by Masquerade (cancelled). Was going to be sizes 28-38 D-G (UK).

“Alice” Slip in Ink by Masquerade (cancelled). Was going to be sizes 28-38 D-G (UK).

My second choice (the Alice slip in a gorgeous navy with gleaming floral embroidery, which also reminded me of Beauty’s wardrobe from the afore-mentioned favorite-book-of-my-childhood) was cancelled too. I’d have loved to have seen both Aleah and Alice at a higher end boutique like Journelle, and I’m not sure why Masquerade had such trouble finding buyers at the show. The collection they’ve been left with for the season feels like a motley crew of stragglers (there’s a dusky berry color with lace for Antoinette, there’s a somewhat basic purple molded bra, there’s a random hot raspberry bra, there’s that one exceptionally boring black lace bra for H-cups, there’s the bridal collection. We’re done). Masquerade is getting a rebrand for SS15 (it will become “Panache Black”), so I’m interested to talk to brand reps at the show in August and get a little more information about what’s been going on behind the scenes.

Fantasie

"Rebecca Mirage" by Fantasie, available in sizes 30-40 D-FF, 30-38 G, and 30-36 GG.

“Rebecca Mirage” by Fantasie, available in sizes 30-40 D-FF, 30-38 G, and 30-36 GG.

I’m going to talk about Ivana in a second, but first: Rebecca Mirage is SUCH a smart choice for both the brand and the style. Rebecca (original flavor) is a really fantastic bra: a seam-free molded bra in lightweight, breathable spacer fabric, it offers smooth coverage and a flexible fit. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea (it’s MUCH more full-coverage than, say, Deco), but for women who don’t like seams but want something more breathable and comfortable than a standard molded cup, this bra is amazing. Rebecca Mirage offers the same great shape in a new, grown-up color and print. I love the stylized swirling floral vines and the delicate velvet bows, and I love that they’ve taken one of their basic, workhorse bras and made it a little special and elegant. A+.

"Ivana" Basque by Fantasie, available in sizes 30-38 D-G (UK).

“Ivana” Basque by Fantasie, available in sizes 30-38 D-G (UK).

Ivana speaks for itself. It’s beautiful and I love it and the color and I LOVE IT.

Cleo

"Jolie" by Cleo, available in sizes 28-38 D-G (UK)

“Jolie” by Cleo, available in sizes 28 D-G and 30-38 C-G (UK)

I was torn trying to choose a favorite from Cleo, because I think the raspberry version of the Marcie babydoll (below) is the perfect marriage of color and style, but ultimately Jolie charmed the pants off me. Look at how interesting the neckline is! Look at how great the charcoal-orange-pink-red color scheme is! Look at all the bows! I don’t even care for padded bras and I still think this is just a damned delight.

"Marcie" Babydoll in Raspberry by Cleo. 28-38 D-J (UK)

Runner-up: “Marcie” Babydoll in Raspberry by Cleo. 28-38 D-J (UK)

Harlow & Fox

"Augusta" Collection from Harlow & Fox: Bra, Brief, Suspender Belt, and Robe. I want it all.  All of the silk, and all of the tassels.

“Augusta” Collection from Harlow & Fox: Bra, Brief, Suspender Belt, and Robe. Bra available in sizes 30-38 D-G, accessories in XS-XL.  I want it all. All of the silk, and all of the tassels. It’s available in both Scarlet (pictured) and Black.

TASSELS! I mean, I could be more eloquent, and I could say that this too belongs on the list of Lingerie for Lady Detectives, and I could talk about how staggeringly lovely we’d all look slinking down a grand staircase by candlelight with a drink in our hands and soft, silky fringe swishing against our thighs, but I don’t reeeeally need to say those things, because duh.

Huit

"Nouvel Emoi" by Huit, available in sizes 32-38 B-E, 32-36 F (UK sizes). Colors: Poppy (pictured) and Noir.

“Nouvel Emoi” by Huit, available in sizes 32-38 B-E, 32-36 F (UK sizes). Colors: Poppy (pictured) and Noir.

I know Huit is more of a core size brand, but this bra goes up to an F-cup and it has sleeves (which can be swapped for regular straps), and they please me. That is all.

Curvy Kate

"Roxie" Camisole by Curvy Kate. Available in sizes 28-30 D-J, 32 D-HH, 34 D-H, 36 D-GG, 38 D-G.

“Roxie” Camisole by Curvy Kate. Available in sizes 28-30 D-J, 32 D-HH, 34 D-H, 36 D-GG, 38 D-G.

I don’t care for padded bras, blah blah blah, you’ve heard this song before, and I don’t care because THIS IS ADORABLE. And it’s available up to a J-cup in some band sizes. It is so stinking cute.

"Dare" by Curvy Kate in Boysenberry/Silver. Available in sizes 28-38 D-J.

“Dare” by Curvy Kate in Boysenberry/Silver. Available in sizes 28-38 D-J.

I also enjoy Dare’s new sparkly embroidery, which continues onto the back of both the bra and the knickers, very, very much indeed.

Parfait

"Danielle" by Parfait, available in sizes 30-40 D-G (UK). Continuity colors Dusty Rose and Imperial Purple.

“Danielle” by Parfait, available in sizes 30-40 D-G (UK). Continuity colors Dusty Rose and Imperial Purple.

I will never stop wishing the Danielle longline bra in pretty pale pink came in my size, and I will never not be jealous that Julia Lambert has one. For those of you lucky enough to fall in this size range, this peacock-blue satin set trimmed with black embroidery is simply dazzling. Please wear it, as I cannot.

Fauve

"Grace" by Fauve. Available in sizes 32-38 B-C, 30-38 D-G (UK).

“Grace” by Fauve. Padded half cup available in sizes 32-38 B-C, 30-38 D-G (UK), plunge balcony bra (pictured) available in sizes 30-38 D-G, 30-36 GG.

 

This bra reminds me of Rapunzel from Tangled. I’m not a huge Disney nerd, although I loved fairy tales from all walks of life when I was little, but this beautiful bra looks like a dreamy watercolor. I think it’s much lovelier in person– the brand images don’t really do it justice. So pretty!

*****

Did any of these make it onto your wishlist? What are your favorite picks for the upcoming season?

Sweet Nothing Du Jour: 7/10/14 Claudette “Fishnet” in Blondie

This is one of my favorite sets of the summer:

"Fishnet" by Claudette in Blondie/Hot Coral. Sizes 30-38 D-G (UK). Matching suspender brief sizes XS-XL.

“Fishnet” by Claudette in Blondie/Hot Coral. Sizes 30-38 D-G (UK). Matching suspender brief sizes XS-XL.

Fishnet, as an entire collection, remains pretty unique in full-bust world, where there tends to be a LOT of “inspiration” (ahem, sometimes outright copying) amongst the different brands. To some extent, a mesh three-piece balconette bra is a mesh three-piece balconette bra is a mesh three-piece balconette bra, and similarities are excusable, but there are some cases (like new brand Bombshell Boudoir’s “Bombshell” bra, which is a pretty blatant ripoff of Parfait’s “Charlotte” style) where a brand deliberately copies another brand’s popular design.

Fishnet by Claudette in Blondie/Hot Coral

I can’t really think of another set in this price range available up to a G-cup that looks like Fishnet.  The fishnet fabric, the sporty lines, the bright colors, and the unusual two-part cup construction make it a real standout collection.  The first few colorways featured neon bases with black contrast, and for summer the color scheme’s been flipped: neutral Blondie makes up the base, with Hot Coral accents.  It’s SO sassy, and kind of lean and athletic, but the suspender knickers make it kind of retro-and-pin-up-y too, and GAH I love it.  It’s currently available at Faire Frou Frou and Butterfly Collection, for those of you lucky enough to fall in the size range. Someone get this and rock it for me, please.

Sweet Nothing Du Jour 6/5/14: Bravissimo’s Monaco Bikini

Presented mostly without comment, because when something is this cute, in this fabulous a color, with this wonderful a size range, there’s nothing much more I can add. Pass me a plane ticket, some sunscreen, and a fruity-umbrella drink, because I want to take this baby on vacation.

"Monaco" Bikini Top (£34.00) and Ruched Brief (£22.00) by Bravissimo. Sizes 30-38 D-K (UK) and XS-XL.

“Monaco” Bikini Top (£34.00) and Ruched Brief (£22.00) by Bravissimo. Sizes 30-38 D-K (UK) and XS-XL.

Also P.S. there’s a matching brief with a ruffle on it. That felt important to share.

Support in Style: My Favorite Full-Bust Swimsuits

Happy Memorial Day, American readers! Summer is definitely on its way, and with the temperatures climbing in NYC I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite full-bust swim collections from this season.  With picks ranging from bikinis to full swimsuits to athletic wear, I hope you see something you love! All of these suits are in UK sizes, so the cup size progression goes B, C, D, DD, E, F, FF, G, GG, H, HH, J, JJ, K.  All of these swimsuits are available up to at least a UK G-cup, and many go higher.

[Note: A lot of the pictures link to Figleaves, because they're currently running a Memorial Day sale in the US: the code "25OFF" gets you 25% off all full-price styles, and it ends tonight! I couldn't include all my favorites, so be sure to check out the full Midnight Grace, Sophina, and Pour Moi? ranges for cute suits at great prices]


I need to start by talking about the one that got away:

Jecca by Cleo

"Jecca" Longline Bikini and High-Waist Brief by Cleo. Available in sizes 28-38 D-H, XS-XXL. Padded bandeau bikini (28-38 D-G) and gathered swim brief also available.

“Jecca” Longline Bikini and High-Waist Brief by Cleo (28-38 D-H (UK), XS-XXL). Padded bandeau bikini (28-38 D-G (UK)) and gathered swim brief also available.

I love this. I straight-up love it. The colors, the print, the shape– it’s awesome, and I KNEW this one was going to sell out. I knew it. I know that every year some swim collections are sold out by Memorial Day, and that when I start looking for a new swimsuit (usually around the Fourth of July) my pickings are slim, but I just didn’t have the disposable income lined up in time to purchase it in my size. Not only was it really hard to find in stores (thanks to late deliveries from Panache), once it did show up it sold out almost immediately. There are a few smaller cup sizes left in stock around the internet, so if you’re in the D-E range, you may still have some luck tracking one down.

Sundaes by the Seaside by Letters from Evie

"Sundaes by the Seaside" by Letters from Evie, exclusively at Bravissimo. Sizes 30-32 DD-G, 34-40 D-G (UK). £36.00

“Sundaes by the Seaside” by Letters from Evie, exclusively at Bravissimo (30-32 DD-G, 34-40 D-G (UK))

Sheesh, this is adorable. I really wanted this post to include lots of G+ options, but I love this suit so much I had to include it despite the smaller size range (although it does go up to 40 back sizes, which is nice!). It has ice cream AND polka dots on it, guys; it is SO in my wheelhouse.

Speaking of polka dots, brace yourself for an avalanche of them:

“Sienna” and “Sicily” by Bravissimo

"Sienna" Tankini (30 E-J, 32-36 DD-J, 38 DD-HH) and "Sicily" Bikini (30-38 DD-K) by Bravissimo.  Coordinating briefs available in sizes XS-XL.

“Sienna” Tankini (30 E-J, 32-36 DD-J, 38 DD-HH (UK)) and “Sicily” Bikini (30-38 DD-K (UK)) by Bravissimo. Coordinating briefs available in sizes XS-XL.

Bravissimo has some tremendously cute options in ever-popular pin-up shapes. The Sienna and Sicily ranges are designed to coordinate, with two tankini tops and a bikini with a whopping four different matching briefs, so you can mix-and-match to find your favorite shapes. In sizes ranging up to 38K (the Sicily bikini and tankini), these styles offer some of the best size ranges out there this summer.

“Ahoy” by Pour Moi?

"Ahoy" Spotty Halter Bikini Top by Pour Moi? (32-38 D-G)

“Ahoy” Spotty Halter Bikini Top by Pour Moi? (32-38 D-G (UK))

"Ahoy" High-Waisted Control Brief by Pour Moi?

“Ahoy” High-Waisted Control Brief by Pour Moi? (Sizes 8-18 (UK))

While Pour Moi? doesn’t offer the same great size range as Bravissimo, they do offer much more budget-friendly prices, and this unabashedly retro style, with ruffled halter and matching high-waist brief, is stupidly cute.

PinUp Bikini by Midnight Grace

PinUp Bikini and High-Waist Brief by Midnight Grace (30-38 D-G UK and 8-18 UK)

PinUp Bikini and High-Waist Brief by Midnight Grace (30-38 D-G (UK) and 8-18 (UK))

I know, it’s another one that stops at a G-cup, but look how cute! It’s green! I love green! There’s also a choice of a halter-style bikini top, if you prefer a little more support, as well as some other shapes (bikini, tankini, etc.) in other colors. That adorable swim brief is selling out quickly, so if you want one hop to it!

Los Angeles by Miss Mandalay

"Los Angeles" bikini in Magenta by Miss Mandalay (30-38 D-GG UK) and deep bikini brief (XS-XL)

“Los Angeles” bikini in Magenta by Miss Mandalay (30-38 D-GG (UK)) and deep bikini brief (XS-XL)

While lots of full-bust women love retro or pin-up styles, they’re not for everyone, and sometimes you just want a change of pace. Enter Miss Mandalay with her fabulous, sleek, and very sexy D+ bikinis. I personally don’t love black swimwear, as it throws my pale skin into sharp relief and makes me look blindingly white in the sun, so this yummy color is right up my alley!  I also love the hot cutouts at the hips on the brief.

“Vegas Baby” by Miss Mandalay

"Vegas Baby" Bikini and Tie-Side Bikini Brief by Miss Mandalay. 30-38 D-GG UK and XS-XL.

“Vegas Baby” Bikini and Tie-Side Bikini Brief by Miss Mandalay. 30-38 D-GG (UK) and XS-XL.

Y’all know I’m not really an animal print person, but I’m aware that I am in the minority, so this sassy beauty is for you, because I want you to have nice things.

“Birds of Paradise” by Curvy Kate

"Birds of Paradise" Tankini by Curvy Kate (28-38 D-K UK) and Mini Brief (8-20 UK)

“Birds of Paradise” Tankini by Curvy Kate (28-38 D-K (UK)) and Mini Brief (8-20 (UK))

It can be frustratingly difficult to find cute swim options that offer a little more coverage in G+ sizes. They’re harder to construct, and some of the big players (Panache and Eveden, primarily) tend to stick to bikinis for G+ sizes, or they’ll offer one solid black G+ swimsuit. Fortunately, Curvy Kate comes to the rescue with tankinis up to a K-cup that coordinate with the rest of the bright and colorful collections, like this lovely hummingbird print. The range also includes two bikini shapes and a skirted swim brief, so you can build the suit you like best.

“Santorini” by Bravissimo

"Santorini" Swimsuit (30 E-J, 32-38 DD-K UK) by Bravissimo

“Santorini” Swimsuit (30 E-J, 32-38 DD-K (UK)) by Bravissimo

For another fuller-coverage style up to a K-cup, check out this suit by Bravissimo in a popular navy blue shade with colorblock detail at the legline.

“Bon Bon” Bikini (Bravissimo exclusive) and “Betsey Yellow” Bandeau Bikini by Hoola

"Bon Bon" Bikini and Side-Tie Brief by Hoola (28 DD-GG, 30-36 D-GG, 38 D-G XS-XL UK) (Bravissimo exclusive)

“Bon Bon” Bikini and Side-Tie Brief by Hoola (28 DD-GG, 30-36 D-GG, 38 D-G (UK), XS-XL) (Bravissimo exclusive)

"Betsey" Yellow Bandeau Bikini and Side Ruche Pant by Hoola (30-36 D-G UK, XS-XL)

“Betsey” Yellow Bandeau Bikini and Side Ruche Pant by Hoola (30-36 D-G (UK), XS-XL)

I hadn’t heard of Hoola before I spotted this candy-striped bikini on Bravissimo, but seriously, you need to click over and look at the rest of these cute D-GG swimsuits. There are some particularly good deals in the sale section, and Hoola offers free worldwide shipping on orders over £50.

Finally, for those of you who are athletic swimmers, there are some great full-bust sports swimsuits available from some of the major full-bust brands. Panache wisely created a swim version of their awesome Sports bra, as did Freya with their Active range, and Figleaves and Speedo both offer full-bust athletic swimsuits, with Speedo’s going up to a J-cup!

Panache Sports Swimsuit (28 DD-H, 30-38 D-H, 40 D-GG UK)

Panache Sports Swimsuit (28 DD-H, 30-38 D-H, 40 D-GG (UK))

"Premier Ultimate Gold" Sports Swimsuit by Speedo (30-38 E-J UK)

“Premier Ultimate Gold” Sports Swimsuit by Speedo (30-38 E-J (UK))

"Active Swim" Underwired Swimsuit by Freya (30-38 D-H UK)

“Active Swim” Underwired Swimsuit by Freya (30-38 D-H (UK))

"Aqua" Underwired Swimsuit by Figleaves Active (34-38 B-H UK)

“Aqua” Underwired Swimsuit by Figleaves Active (34-38 B-H (UK))

Happy swimming! I hope to run another post soon with options for even more sizes, so if you don’t see something in your size but you want to, please let me know!

Sweet Nothing Du Jour 5/15/14: Harlow & Fox “Sophia” Collection

Ever since I saw Harlow & Fox during February’s market week, the brand has become my definitive standard of luxury. Yes, Agent Provocateur is, you know, provocative, and yes there are brands like Myla and Carine Gilson and I.D. Sarrieri that make extraordinarily beautiful (and beautifully made) garments, but, for me, Harlow & Fox surpasses them.  The glamorous, grown-up style, phenomenal details, flawless execution, and, above all, the full-bust size range make me absolutely weak in the knees.  Even better, Harlow & Fox is a leader in the slowly growing luxury full-bust market, offering the finest silk and lace lingerie (all made in the U.K.) to women who until now have been sized out.

Harlow & Fox

Bras are available in band sizes 30-38 and cup sizes D, DD, E, F, FF, and G, knickers in sizes XS-XL, and suspenders and robes in sizes S, M, L. The first collections are available in elegant color schemes like almond, mink, gold, and this week saw the release of “Sophia”, a gleaming lace collection in a soft, dusky mauve.

"Sophia" by Harlow & Fox

“Sophia” by Harlow & Fox

This might be my favorite range so far. For starters, the color: I have never lost my heart to mink in my life, and then I saw the collection in person and wrapped the robe around my shoulders and said “HELLO, MY RADIANT DARLING.” It’s…it’s so, so sophisticated. It’s old-school elegant and classic and romantic and would be right at home in the wardrobe of my new fashion idol The Honourable Phryne Fisher. But I’m getting ahead of myself: we all knew I’d love the kimono, because I’m a robe junkie, so let’s save it for last and talk about the four other pieces of the collection: a lace-and-silk bra, brief, high-waist knicker, and suspender belt.

Harlow & Fox Sophia bra and high-waist brief

 

First of all, I’ve seen both the Spring/Sumer and Autumn/Winter 2014 collections in person, so you can believe me when I say: these things are stitched by fairies. Leanna Williams, H&F’s founder, has summoned up some magical helpers to get this stuff made, because it is IMMACULATE. It is absolutely flawless. The silk bras are lined with silk on the inside as well as the outside, so you feel as good as you look. Seams and finished edges are smooth and nearly invisible, Leavers lace comes from the same manufacturers that made the lace for the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding gown, and silk panels and bindings give a soft, luxurious finish. Every effort has been made to smooth, streamline, shape, and remove bulk, resulting in bras and knickers that give a fabulous fit while feeling and looking fantastic.

Harlow & Fox Sophia bra and high-waist brief

I love the layered tuxedo bows that trim the bra. Sophia is an interestingly sleek collection overall: I usually associate lace with frills and volume, or even girlishness, but the streamlined sheer lace bra and high-waist knickers, especially paired with the floor-length, sweeping kimono, render the wearer a tall, cool drink of water, indeed. It’s a slinkier, sexier look than I expect from lace, and I confess it’s right up my alley.

Harlow & Fox Sophia Suspender and brief

Speaking of sexy: both pairs of knickers feature entirely sheer lace backs, and the coordinating suspender belt can be worn under or over the knickers, to different effect.

Harlow & Fox Sophia bra and high-waist brief

I don’t fit in the size range for H&F’s bras, so I have to admire from afar, but you know what I CAN wear? This kimono. This kimono to beat all kimonos. From the minute I tried it on at the showroom it zoomed straight to the top of my all-time lingerie wishlist. The SLEEVES. The LENGTH. The positively luscious wide silk sash. The woman-of-mystery color. The feel of fine silk against your skin, and the way it ripples and shimmers when you walk. It practically begs you to go sweeping glamorously around some vast estate, classy drink in hand, a dashing paramour in your wake.

Barring any sudden lottery win, I don’t foresee this kimono coming home to me in the near future. I’m on a secretary’s budget in an expensive city; it’s just not in the cards right now. I will say this though: every single item in this collection is worth every penny.  Yes, these are luxury prices: bras are in the $200-280 price range, knickers and accessories in the $130-200 range, and robes and gowns in the $500-800 range (the site now has a nifty currency conversion for those of us in the US, which is very helpful).  But while sometimes I think luxury brands price items super-high because they can get away with it (I’m looking at you, Agent Provocateur), with Harlow & Fox the garments absolutely justify the prices. The design, the materials, the shapes, the stitching, and above all the commitment to local, ethical manufacturing make Harlow & Fox a true standout, and hopefully a game-changer in both the full-bust lingerie and luxury lingerie worlds. I cannot wait to see what comes next! (hint: Autumn/Winter: there will be TASSELS)


Curious about what it’s like to wear Harlow & Fox? Check out Miss Underpinnings’ great review of the gorgeous almond Eleanor collection.

Also, not to brag or anything, but I got to borrow several Harlow & Fox pieces for a photoshoot last month, and just as soon as I’m allowed to share the pictures THEY WILL BE EVERYWHERE, because I will be showing off like mad.

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.

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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.