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.

Exclusive Sneak Peek: Angela Friedman Fall/Winter 2014 Knickers

Sweet Nothings Angela Friedman Adrienne sneak peek FW14

I’m really, really, REALLY excited to share an early preview of two styles from Angela Friedman’s Fall/Winter 2014 Muse collection: the high-waist “Adrienne” ruffle panties and the “Laurel” ruffle bikini panties.

Full disclosure right off the bat: I received these as a holiday present from Angela, because we’re buds and neighbors. She gave me two pairs of handmade silk underwear, and I gave her a jar of caramel sauce, because I’m the worst. So while this post is written in the spirit of embarrassed and overwhelmed gratitude, all opinions on the underwear itself are my own.

Sweet Nothings Angela Friedman Laurel FW14

I’ve been excited for the Muse collection to launch ever since I saw it during February’s market season. The thoughtful details and touches I expect from Angela, like silk, French lace, impeccable lines, and sophisticated silhouettes are all there in abundance, and this new collection introduces a loose-limbed athleticism and some unusually angular, streamlined looks. While her exemplary corsets and beautiful, feminine details are absolutely present, there are also pieces in the collection that I can see appealing to customers who might not identify with frills or corsets or ruffles, like cropped camisoles, silk tap pants, and sleek, body-skimming chemises with elegant racerback details. Basically, just wait. It’s fantastic, and it’s coming soon.

Now, I tend to be of the “ALL THE RUFFLES FOR ME, please” mindset, and fortunately, the Muse collection does not disappoint in that department either. Like, seriously, these are the most Sweets-appropriate underpants in the world.  First up: the stunning high-waist “Adrienne” silk and mesh suspender knickers.

Sweet Nothings previews the Angela Friedman Fall/Winter 2014 Collection

These stunning knickers feature a fabulous keyhole closure at the back of the waist and detachable suspenders for stockings. The center front panel is pure, luxurious silk, available in black, pink, or purple (Angela chose black silk for mine, so that they’d be versatile and go with everything), and the hips and rear are sheer black mesh, trimmed with two parallel rows of delicate dotted mesh ruffles. They feel light and luxurious on the body, and I love that the ruffles add a little bit of volume to my hips to balance the fullness of my bust.

Sweet Nothings previews the Angela Friedman Fall/Winter 2014 Collection

I like wearing the Adrienne knickers under fuller skirts for a little added poof. Also, can we talk about how fabulous the sheer mesh back looks paired with sheer black stockings?

Sweet Nothings previews the Angela Friedman Fall/Winter 2014 Collection

In keeping with the general fanciness of things, I styled these knickers with my luxurious Maison Lejaby bra from my trip to the Journelle Atelier, plus my personalized nylon stockings.

The second piece from the collection is the shorter and sassier “Laurel” bikini panty. Where the Adrienne knickers feel delightfully old-fashioned and grown-up, the “Laurel” knickers feel more contemporary and streamlined. With a silk center panel and sheer mesh hips and rear like the Adrienne knickers, Laurel features two rows of soft, full, floaty ruffles across the seat.

Sweet Nothings previews the Angela Friedman Fall/Winter 2014 Collection

Presenting a sleek face from the front and a little bit of sass from behind, Laurel feels cheeky and playful. I paired mine with the cute open-backed Marcie babydoll from Cleo, the better to let the ruffles peek out and and say hi.

Sweet Nothings previews the Angela Friedman Fall/Winter 2014 Collection

My knickers are slightly modified from the ready-to-wear versions. For one thing, they’re larger than Angela’s RTW sizes (she estimates that they’re somewhere in the XL-XXL range), and for another, Angela made some special adjustments just for me, after a fitting session at her studio. I’m tall, so even though I think of myself as short-waisted, sometimes bikini briefs literally aren’t deep enough to stay on my body (hi, Cleo! Your panties are so cute, and then they fall off me). So Angela adjusted the rise on both the high-waist briefs and the bikini knickers to sit more comfortably and proportionally on my body. The Adrienne knickers rise to my natural waist, just over my navel, and the Laurel knickers rise to a classic bikini cut, a few inches below my navel. This is one of the many, many reasons independent lingerie designers are so amazing: you can get a fit that is tailored to your unique body.

Sweet Nothings previews the Angela Friedman Fall/Winter 2014 Collection

The Muse collection launches in late August, so be sure to keep an eye on Angela’s official site for updates. Interested in getting a custom fit like mine, or want to know more about the upcoming collection? Contact Angela for details!

*****

Photography: Lydia Hudgens

Look 1// Bra: Maison Lejaby, via Journelle; Knickers: Angela Friedman c/o; Stockings: Stockingirl customized RHT stockings; Earrings: Anthropologie (old); Ring: personal; Lips: Stila “Sonya”; Nails: Dior “Violet Graphique”

Look 2// Babydoll: Cleo by Panache; Knickers: Angela Friedman c/o; Earrings: Anthropologie (old); Ring: personal; Lips: Stila “Sonya”; Nails: Dior “Violet Graphique”

Hair and Makeup: Sweets

Sweet Nothings previews the Angela Friedman Fall/Winter 2014 Collection

Review: Pin-Up Shaping Panty from Dirty Dolls Lingerie

DirtyDolls_home_May

When the lovely Darlene of Hourglassy hosted a busty clothing swap a few weeks ago, I was thrilled to get the chance to see her and her readers, as well as to meet Courtney, one of the co-founders of the delightful Dirty Dolls Lingerie.  The line has a cheeky, flirty aesthetic and vintage Old Hollywood feel, and Courtney and Erica, Dirty Dolls’ co-founders, are committed to creating beautiful, high-quality, glamorous lingerie that celebrates curvy figures.  Courtney had brought a huge selection of her beautiful bras, knickers, suspenders, and bralettes for us to check out, and I was blown away by how straight-up pretty it all was.  There are a few more pieces I want to go back and try the next time my budget permits, but there was one item I grabbed the minute I saw it and said “oh my LORDY that is so cute.”  Behold:

Pin-Up Shaping Panty by Dirty Dolls Lingerie

Pin-Up Shaping Panty by Dirty Dolls Lingerie

High-waisted slightly sheer knickers with detachable suspenders and a delicate lace trim.  I kind of had to buy them, because they are magnificent.  Y’all, it wasn’t until I had these on my body that I even realized they’re designed to function as shapewear.  They are, in a word, fantastic.

I was initially attracted to the high-waist/low-leg retro style.  Lately I’ve been finding that classic bikini briefs hit me at an uncomfortable angle, so I’ve yet to meet a fuller-coverage knicker I didn’t like.  High-waist briefs have been a huge trend over the last few seasons, thanks in no small part to renewed interests in mid-century fashion and pin-up and boudoir photography.  For me, they’re just so freaking COMFY, plus I find a lower legline makes my legs look long and my butt look awesome, which pleases me (and my vanity).

Gratuitous Cat Photo ahoy!

Gratuitous Cat Photo ahoy!

They’re also one of the finest pieces of shapewear I’ve ever worn, both from a comfort and aesthetic point of view.

Some of y’all know that I have had mixed feelings about shapewear for a long time now.  When I last wrote about shapewear, I talked about how much I hate the “problem solver” label that gets slapped on shapewear all the time, like the only thing it’s good for is to camouflage all these terrrrrible problem areas our ghastly bodies have, lo, how shameful, the horror, etc. etc.  While body shaming as a selling/marketing tactic clearly sucks, I can’t deny that one of the factors that goes into my underwear-purchasing decisions is the shape a garment gives me, whether it’s a bra or a slip or knickers or what have you.  If I don’t love the shape and feel of a garment, even if it’s the right size, there’s no way I’m going to buy it.  Likewise, I absolutely reserve the right to buy something BECAUSE I like the shape it gives me.  I will never, ever, ever wear a minimizer bra ever again: I feel wide and smushed and not-cute in them, whereas the seamed bras I choose give me a lifted, rounded shape with tons of support.  So while I was initially attracted to the look of these knickers, the way I felt when I put them on (read: SASSY) absolutely sealed the deal.

PinUp Shaping Paty Dirty Dolls

This waistband is genius. Seriously.

While no shapewear options will really truly re-shape a body the way a boned corset will, I find that these knickers offer an incredible amount of bang for the buck.  I have a slim ponte pencil skirt that I sometimes feel self-conscious wearing, and the first time I wore the skirt with these knickers it was a revelation.  The skirt fell smoothly to my knees with no lumps or bumps around my belly or hips, and the stretch lace waistband meant that there was no elastic biting into my waist and interrupting the smooth line.  I don’t know why more shapewear pieces don’t have waistbands like this, but they should!  It stays up on my waist, flat, and smooth without ever curling up, digging in, or falling down.  These knickers are a miracle, truly.

Pin-Up Panty by Dirty Dolls Lingerie

If I had to change one thing, I’d wish the detachable garters were ever-so-slightly shorter.  I’m 5’10”, and my legs take up most of my body: I’m used to stockings and garters being too short, not too long. However, I’ve found that I can’t wear these knickers under some of my shorter skirts, because the tops of my stockings will show when I walk, which isn’t a great look at my office job.  The tops of my stockings are sitting a few inches above my knees, rather than comfortably around the fullest part of my thighs.  It’s not a terrible problem, to be sure, but be warned. That being said, I’ve worn these knickers to work and well into the evenings without once feeling like my stockings were falling down, the way I might with a flimsy suspender belt.  Instead, I feel comfortable, secure, and sexy: a winning combination in my book.  Courtney advised that these run a bit small compared to the size chart, so if you’re between sizes consider sizing up.

I’m always thrilled to get to see the work of independent brands up close and in person.  An enormous amount of passion, inspiration, and creativity goes into creating new lingerie companies, and I loved seeing how Courtney, wearing a sensational outfit from Bettie Page Clothing, talked us through her brand.  She knows the fit of each garment through and through, and she offered us all fantastic size advice.  Bras are available in sizes 28C-44G (US cup sizes), depending on the style, and knickers in sizes 5-10.  Some of the bras fit a bit differently than some of the UK brands you might be familiar with, so if you’re able to try styles on in person, I highly recommend it!  I have my eye on this pretty underwired bralette, which was an unexpected hit with Miss Underpinnings in a size she doesn’t usually wear.

Dirty Dolls' Underwire Camisole

Dirty Dolls’ Underwire Camisole. Also available in black, port royale, and tea rose

I also might need another pin-up panty, this time in pink.  Because it’s really, really awesome.

Pin Up Shaping Panty in Tea Rose

Pin Up Shaping Panty in Tea Rose

Dirty Dolls Lingerie is available online, as well as at Townshop, Sugar Cookies, Brooklyn Fox, and Iris Lingerie in New York City/Brooklyn, among other locations.

Blog Assistant Gus

Gratuitous Cat Photo II: Asparagus Edition

*     *     *     *     *

For more fun shapewear reading, check out this great blog post from Kiss Me Deadly, with a break-down of all of their different shapewear options and how to determine which piece will be a great fit for you!  I think the next thing I want to try is a boned suspender belt or a panty girdle– anything catch your eye?

Review: “Forget Me Not” High-Waisted Knickers by Arabel Petites

Nightingale Knickers and Camidoll

Nightingale Knickers and Camidoll by Arabel Petites

Late last year I started noticing some REALLY PRETTY knickers starting to show up in my feeds. I mean, REALLY, REALLY PRETTY: bows, ruffles, frills, lace, satin, and mesh, in an array of cotton candy colors, all paired with coordinating pastel stockings.  This lingerie was my Happy Place.

Parma Violet Knickers

Parma Violet Knickers with Sugarplum Garter Belt and Lilac Stockings

I was delighted to learn that the creator of these sweet things was Sarah, a young graduate of the Art and Fashion Design course at the University of Gloucester.  She makes all of her lingerie pieces in the UK, and offers a wide range of sizes as well as made-to-measure options.  She is committed to making lingerie that is free of animal-derived products (like silk) but which is nonetheless beautiful and luxurious.

Bubblegum Knicker and Sugarplum Garter Belt

Bubblegum Knicker and Sugarplum Garter Belt with Pastel Pink Stockings

I haunted her Etsy shop for a few weeks, trying to decide how I could possibly choose a piece, when Sarah contacted me to offer an item or two for review!  At the time, she offered classic bikini briefs and simple suspender belts in her store, and she has since added several petite bras and bralettes.  I wrote her back and asked her about the possibility of custom-ordering a pair of high-waist knickers, as all of the knickers in her shop looked very low-cut.  Imagine my delight when she said that not only was she in the process of patterning a new, high-waist style, but she was going to adapt her popular blue ruffle-and-lace Forget Me Knot knickers as one of the first styles!

Forget Me Knot Knickers

Forget Me Knot Knickers by Arabel Petites

I requested this pair (it reminds me of tutus, and of course the black trim makes it easy to pair with a black bra and stockings) and sent Sarah my measurements.  I was a bit nervous about ordering a made-to-measure pair of knickers, as I haven’t always had great success with made-to-measure clothes in the past.  I needn’t have worried.  My knickers arrived in a beautifully wrapped package, tied with a black satin ribbon, and I can honestly say that they are one of the most delightful pieces of lingerie I’ve ever owned.

I mean REALLY:

Forget-Me-Not High-Waisted Knickers by Arabel Petites

Forget Me Not High-Waisted Knickers by Arabel Petites

How lovely are these?  They fit perfectly and feel wonderful– a light sheer lace that’s soft against the skin, trimmed with shining black satin.  The rise hits me right around my navel, although women with longer waists may find that theirs hit just a bit lower.  They’re ABSURDLY comfortable– I wore my pair under a dress on one of the days I spent at Curve, and I didn’t fidget or fuss with them all day.

Forget Me Not High-Waisted Knickers by Arabel Petites

Forget Me Not High-Waisted Knickers by Arabel Petites

I have a black satin plunge bra I wear with them now (Moonlight in Paris by Bravissimo), but I really want to get a sheer black lace bra to have as another option to pair with my froofy, ruffly, lacy, delightful knickers.  Sarah reported that lots of customers love wearing the adorable matching camisole with their high-waisted knickers as a cool, frilly sleep set, perfect for hot summer evenings.

Forget Me Not Sleep Set by Arabel Petites

This is just so freaking adorable.

Pale blue lingerie often reads as “bridal” (not that there’s anything wrong with that), and while I do think that this set would make very lovely bridal lingerie, I love that Sarah trimmed it with black, instead of white, which gives it an edgier, punkier feel.

So, Sweets, I thought you were kind of a big, tall girl?  Why are you reviewing petite lingerie?

I’m so glad you asked that, hypothetical reader.  As a reminder, “petite” in the lingerie world doesn’t necessarily refer to overall stature, the way it does in more mainstream clothing departments.  In lingerie, “petite” generally designates a customer who wears cup sizes in the AAA, AA, A, or B range, regardless of her band size.  There’s been a tremendous amount of growth in the full-bust and full-figure lingerie markets over the last few years, but unfortunately many small-bust customers still struggle to find pretty, sophisticated lingerie that embraces their natural shapes.

Candyfloss Knicker and Bralette

Candyfloss Knicker and Bralette by Arabel Petites. Photo: Chris Yates http://www.chrisyphotography.com

Sarah is passionate about bringing beautiful, luxurious options to this underserved market.  Her bras, bralettes, and “camidolls” (lovely cropped babydolls) show a gorgeous attention detail: take a look at some of the breathtaking lace in the photo below.

Arabel Petites Bralettes

A selection of petite-bust bras and bralettes by Arabel Petites

Just because some women don’t want or need the intense construction or shaping that goes into full-bust bras doesn’t mean they don’t also want some of the frills and prettiness their fuller-busted counterparts wear.  I really love how the structure and formality of wearing a garter belt and stockings plays against the sweet colors and soft, easy structure of Arabel’s bralettes.

Gusbuster

No, Gus Gus, they’re not for you.

What do you think of Arabel Petites?  Have you tried one of these lovely pieces yourself?  A new collection is coming soon, so keep your eye on the website!

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Other reviews: The Lingerie Addict, The Lingerie Lesbian, Undercover Lingerista

Late Summer Wishlist

As I’m making appointments to visit with brands at Curve NY to see the Spring/Summer 2014 collections, some of the Fall/Winter 2013 collections I saw in February are starting to trickle into stores!  I’m waiting on two new bras to come from Bravissimo (one to replace my beloved Starburst plunge, which popped a wire recently, and the other a Cherry Fling, to replace the one I reviewed that developed a fault), which will give me around six really well-fitting everyday bras, so I don’t REALLY need new things, but goodness I want to try these.

From Curvy Kate: Portia and Romance

Portia Curvy Kate Watermelon

Portia by Curvy Kate in Watermelon/Plum

Romance by Curvy Kate in Plum/Watermelon

Romance by Curvy Kate in Plum/Watermelon. Available in sizes 28-40 D-K (UK)

I’ve only tried one unpadded Curvy Kate bra, and that was the beautiful blue Emily last year.  I thought the quality and design were gorgeous, but the fit was way, way off for me– wide wires at the sides, a wide center gore that wouldn’t tack, and shallow-ish cups.  I mentioned this to Curvy Kate’s designer when I spoke with her at Curve, and she advised me that the 2013 collections feature a new and improved fit.  The color scheme for Romance reminds me strongly of my Lola Luxe basque, which I adore, and Portia would add a welcome cheery note in my darker, more subdued lingerie drawer.  Curvy Kate offers some of the prettiest full-bust bras around; I’d love to give these a try and find out if the fit is good for me!

From Panache: Jasmine

Jasmine Panache Champagne Pink

“Jasmine” by Panache Superbra in Champagne Pink. Available in sizes 30-38 D-K (UK)

A great bra, or the greatest bra?  I tried it for the first time back in April and loved it so much I immediately set about tracking down the previous season’s colorway on sale.  A firm back, deep cups, three rows of hooks, a narrow center gore, and wires that don’t reach around my back?  This bra ticks all of the boxes on my preferred-fit checklist.  Add in pretty prints and the amazing stretch lace on the top of the cups?  Perfection.  I really wish Panache would introduce a slightly higher rise matching brief, but that’s a quibble.  The pale dusty rose isn’t necessarily a color I’d gravitate to, but I’m hoping it will act as more of a neutral color for me under lighter-colored clothing, and I can’t wait for the “Envy” range, supposedly based on Jasmine, to arrive later this year.

From Elomi: Roxy

"Roxy" longline bra by Elomi, available in sizes 34-40 E-H (UK)

“Roxy” longline bra by Elomi, available in sizes 34-40 E-H (UK)

Well, not precisely Roxy.  This particular print does nothing for me, and I can’t quite put my finger on why.  It’s not that it’s “too young” or “too old” or dated or too flowery, or that the colors are unflattering, or that denim print bothers me (hello, Cherry Fling), but it’s just … not me, and it’s not what I gravitate towards in my lingerie.  However, I got to try it on when I was in Virginia earlier this month, and IT IS A GREAT BRA.  It is a vast improvement over Freya’s longlines: it’s unpadded (which I know is more of my personal preference than an actual improvement), the band is nice and deep, and finally and most crucially, the band is boned at the front and sides so it doesn’t scrunch up or flip.  There are still only two columns of hooks, which I don’t get, but overall it’s a wonderful, wonderful bra.  It comes in an unusually small size range for Elomi, and I keep hearing that the print has been polarizing.  Dear Elomi: please give this style another chance.  Bring it back with colorblocking, or lace, or polka dots, or some design that complements the vintage/retro cut instead of fighting it, and I will buy it.  I will buy the hell out of it.

From Cleo: Marcie Babydoll, aka The Precious

Marcie Cleo babydoll

“Marcie” babydoll by Cleo, available in sizes 28-38 D-J (UK)

Six months of pining over this thing has not dimmed the flame of my love.

From Tutti Rouge: Frankie in Cornflower with Frenchie Knicker and/or Suspender Skirt

Tutti Rouge Frankie

“Frankie” (center) by Tutti Rouge in Cornflower with suspender skirt, available in sizes 28-38 DD-HH (UK)

I have NO idea when or where this set will be available, but it was hands-down my favorite set from the very first glimpse of the collection we saw back in January.  The color, the print, the non-padded-ness, and the adorable knickers made this one of the sets I’ve most wanted to try this year.

Frankie Tutti Rouge Frenchie Knicker

Frankie with Frenchie Knicker. So, so cute.

Tutti Rouge is still new, so I’m still figuring out fit and size, but if these work for me I will never want to take them off.

From Hopeless Lingerie: All of The Things

Hopeless Cleo Suspender Knickers

Hopeless Cleo Suspender Knickers

Not really ALL of the things.  Just most of them.  Ever since The Lingerie Addict and The Lingerie Lesbian each featured Hopeless Lingerie earlier this year, I can’t stop thinking about the collection.  While some of the bralettes aren’t necessarily full-bust friendly, the GARTERS and the KNICKERS and the SUSPENDERS, oh my!  All the pieces pictured are available in sizes XXS-XXL and are handmade in Australia.  I tried to narrow down my list to the items I wanted the most, but I could only narrow so much.  I recently bought an adjustable choker strap from Esty Lingerie that can be worn with any bra, and it’s really making me want to try out some edgier, strappy lingerie pieces.

Hopeless Maja Harness

“Maja” Harness by Hopeless in Leather (or Vinyl)

Hopeless Megan Garters

“Megan” Garters

Hopeless Charlotte Knickers

“Charlotte” Knickers

Hopeless Kristen Knickers

“Kristen” Knickers

Has anything caught your eye this summer?  What’s on your wishlist?

Sweet Nothing Du Jour: 4/11/13

I’m sorry y’all.  This is a super boring one.  It’s so boring.  I know, I know, my goal in life is to bring you the pretty things, but hello, my name is Sweets, I am wearing boring knickers today, and they feel INCREDIBLE:

Maxi brief by Sloggi, multipack.  Super hot, no?

Maxi brief by Sloggi, multipack. Available in sizes 10-26 (UK).  Super hot, no?

Okay, look, hear me out.

I have this awesome dress, see?

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

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

It fits my boobs, falls to my knees, hugs my waist, repels cat fur, and makes me feel super glamorous.  I wear a scarf with it at the office and whip my cleavage out afterwards.  It rules.  The other thing it does is caress my tush without also caressing my belly.  I love this, because it makes me look like I actually HAVE a tush, but all of a sudden my knickers are really in the spotlight.  I’ve tried all the briefs I own.  I’ve tried the really uncomfortable shapewear shorts that I hate wearing.  I’ve tried thongs, but my feelings on thongs remain unchanged (newbies: thongs are the worst and I hate them).  Tights help somewhat, but tights are slinky, and the dress is slinky, and tights make the dress’s lining ride up around my waist by the time I get to work.  I don’t get THAT bent out of shape about visible panty lines, because I have other things I’d rather worry about, but in this case I really did want to find a comfortable solution.

Enter the giant cotton knickers above.  The rise is high enough to sit right at my belly button and lie smoothly over my hips, the leg line is low enough that panty lines aren’t an issue, they’re black so they go with all my bras, and they’re cotton, so the dress’s lining stays put.  Frankly, they’re comfy as hell.  They’re SO comfy.  I’m not switching to giant knickers exclusively, but I’m really, really glad I’ve added these to my rotation of bikini briefs and shorties.  For the gym, for slinky dresses, and for certain times of the month, these are going to become my go-to.

Available in a 3-pack from Figleaves, which is currently running a 20% off full-price items Spring promotion with the code ‘TWENTY ‘.  There are a TON of gorgeous Spring lingerie and swim styles hitting the site.  There are also boring giant cotton knickers.  Have at it.

Brand Introduction: Freya

For those of us who know our bra sizes better than our social security numbers, Freya is nothing new, but for many women, particularly in North America, who are just getting to know their full-bust sizes, Freya’s is the first friendly face they’ll meet.  While Freya may not be for everyone, I want to share the brand with you because 1) it’s widely available in North America now, 2) it’s moderately priced (generally), and 3) Freya really paved the way for many of the beautiful, varied full-bust companies on the market today.

Lots of Styles

“Deco” molded plunge bra, available in black and beige as well as seasonal colors. Sizes 28-38 B-GG (some exceptions).

Being an internationally recognized leader in the full-bust market, Freya has the resources to offer many, many different styles over the course of a year.  On average, around 20+ new styles hit the market every season, including swim, lounge, lingerie, and athletic wear.

Clockwise from top left: Active, Lingerie, Lounge, Maternity, Swim

Freya offers lots of different shapes, too: padded half-cup, seamed balconette, molded plunge (the enormously popular Deco bra), soft cup, nursing, sports, and strapless bras as well as bikinis, tankinis, and full-length swimsuits, so there’s a chance that even if one shape isn’t your cup of tea, Freya may offer another shape that works for you.  Last year they introduced a longline style which returns this year in multiple prints.  Some bras are padded, some are sheer, some are opaque, some are frilly, some are basic, so you have a great chance of finding underwear to suit your needs and tastes.  Freya will be launching some pretty shapewear next spring, and Freya and sister brands Elomi, Huit, Fauve, Fantasie, and Goddess offer beautiful, colorful options for a range of shapes, sizes, styles, and budgets.

Lots of Sizes (sometimes)

Freya was one of the first labels to offer K-cups and 28-backs, and they should be applauded.  Competitive labels have expanded their size ranges in order to keep up, which means more options for everyone.  However, sometimes there are weirdly arbitrary sizing black holes.  Some bras start at C-cups, others at D, 28 bands frequently aren’t available in the full cup-size spectrum, the athletic and sleepwear ranges don’t go to K cups, and some other styles arbitrarily stop at G or GG instead of extending up to the full GG-K range (particularly in larger band sizes– boo).  Many women are waiting for Freya to adapt the Deco bra for larger cup sizes, and I am baffled as to why the longline bras can’t go higher than a G.  If it’s because the longline bras feature the padded half-cup shape, then make it an unlined balconette longline bra!  Hell, I’d prefer it unlined.  A longline version of the Arabella range would knock my socks off.

Right? Wouldn’t this make a super-sexy longline bra?

Holy crap, you guys, I am a design genius!  Freya, get on that: I will buy the hell out of it.  A longline bra with its six hooks feels like such a blessing to so many full-busted women, since, as we know, support comes from the band.  I know that the design, construction, and, well, architecture of larger cup sizes is more challenging and more time-consuming, but women who wear these sizes often want supportive sleepwear and sports bras most of all, and there’s currently a huge hole in the market.

Lots of Accessories

I’ve made my feelings on matching sets known before: I love them, I crave them, I feel so pretty in them.  Freya usually offers at least two, if not more, coordinating knickers (and occasionally suspenders) for each of their bras and coordinating bottoms for each of their bikinis and tankinis.  As an avowed thong-hater, I love this, because I can build lingerie ensembles of my choosing, with pieces that I know flatter me and feel the most comfortable.

Some of the accessories available in the following ranges: Pier (swim), Gem, Ashlee, Patsy.

Lots of Color

While my first Freya bra was a fairly basic black (“Pollyanna”, I know I keep harping on it but RIP I miss you), the first thing that made me notice the brand was color.  Again, the full-bust landscape has changed dramatically in the last five years, and brands like Cleo, Miss Mandalay, Parfait, Claudette, Curveturiere, and others feature bright, bold, on-trend colors and a sophisticated design approach, but when I first started figuring out how to fit my breasts, my only point of reference was your average US department store, where my options were beige, black, and white, if they carried my size at all.  Freya bras, on the other hand, came in reds and pinks and greens and blues and deep purples, and they were trimmed with lace and contrasting bows and ruffles.  The designs were interesting, the colors popped, and the whole feel overall was so much more youthful, sexy, and fun than the beige minimizer bras I’d turned to for years.

Some of the many, many colorful lingerie pieces released over the last few years.

Lots of Print

Polka dots. Bows. Flowers. Tattoos. Flamingos. Russian dolls. Feathers. Stripes. Freya really stands out in the full-bust market for its sometimes completely bonkers prints (I mostly mean that as a compliment).  While it’s really lovely to have elegant, luxurious lingerie in your drawer, sometimes it’s also nice to inject a little fun into the mix.  I will always love polka dots, and I LOVED the Nieve print (which sort of kills me, because I found the fit in both the balconette and the longline bras to be pretty strange (more later)).  There’s a nice playfulness to some of the prints, and a charming sensuality to others.

Freya Prints: Nieve (longline), Tabitha (balconette), Carly (molded plunge)

Does Freya have it all?  Well . . . they have a lot!  I think branching into shapewear for Spring 2013 was a really smart decision, given that shapewear’s surging popularity shows no signs of stopping.  I hope Freya listen to feedback and continue to expand their size ranges, as there are currently lots of ladies falling into the gaps.  There are sometimes baffling fit inconsistencies that make shopping online a real pain.  In the last year or two it seems like Freya’s bands have gotten much, much stretchier, and sometimes the cups have too.  I have the balconette version of the Nieve in what is, for me, a pretty average size, and I’ve worn it a few times, but it has stretched so quickly I’m already wearing it on the tightest hooks, and the cups are bizarrely unsupportive and droopy.  I almost feel like I should have gone down 1 band size and up 2 cup sizes, a fit adjustment that is impossible to anticipate and which most likely means an online shopper will have to pay shipping and returns.  The “Faye” style is very popular as a basic bra, but I have yet to find the right fit on me.  I find the band somehow loose and tight all at once, the cups are shallow, and the fabric feels flimsy to me.  However, these complaints might be specific to my body type, and maybe to a women with firmer tissue or differently shaped breasts, Freya’s recent design changes are a breath of fresh air.  Freya’s wires tend to run narrower than Panache’s, which are notoriously wide, so Freya bras in general might suit some women better than others.  Finally, many of Freya’s unlined bras give a kind of retro pointy shape, which can be either really appealing or a huge turn-off, depending on your preferences.  I’m not a fan of the shape for me personally, but I have found that the silhouette tends to soften to a more natural look after a few wearings, almost like I have to break it in first.

While I don’t think Freya will ever be everything to any one specific customer,  I do think Freya has a little something to offer a wide range of women, no matter her age, shape, or style.

Have you tried Freya?  Do you have a favorite style?  I’ve mostly featured past styles, but if you want a sneak peek of Spring/Summer 2013 (and the chance to preorder anything that catches your eye), check out A Sophisticated Pair’s preview of some of the beautiful styles to come!

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

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

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

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

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

Curvy Kate

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

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

“Princess” short in black.

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

Parfait

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

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

Elomi and Freya

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

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

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

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

Hips and Curves

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

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

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

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

Curveturiere

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

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

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

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

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

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

Etsy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clothing Your Curves: Suggestions for Fuller Bums, Part 1

With this post I confess I’m treading into what are, for me, uncharted waters.  I am (obsessively) familiar with bras and breast-related foundation garments and clothing because my boobs are the primary reason I struggle to find clothes or lingerie that fit.  While I also struggle to find shoes big enough and pants long enough (huge tangent: I found the holy grail of jeans last year, and I went back to the store this week and tried on the exact same brand, style, size, and wash, and the pair in-store is two inches shorter and at least a size tighter than the pair I have at home, and I AM SAD ABOUT IT), I don’t generally have to worry about a garment’s fitting around my rear and hips.  Sometimes I fuss with the fit around my belly, but by and large fit issues Downstairs are height/foot related.  But as the reader requests began coming in asking for advice on knickers and clothes for curvy bottoms, I really had to sit up and take notice, and DANG, Y’ALL.  As hard as it is to get the word out about clothes/lingerie for curvy chests, the general acceptance, understanding, and options for women with rears and hips of varying sizes are wayyyy behind.

Here’s an example.  Remember Bravissimo’s size chart for their Alana bra?

That’s over 80 different sizes, and it doesn’t even include the large number of women who wear smaller than a D-cup or larger than a 40-band.  So many sizes!  It also doesn’t take into account women who don’t find the Alana bra flattering to their breast shape or placement, so they have to seek out a different bra style.  With all that variety Upstairs, it’s really ludicrous to assume that all women will just so happen to wear somewhere between a size 2-12 in jeans, for example, or that they’ll all wear the same cut.  It’s equally ludicrous to assume that all women’s hips and rears come in the same shapes and proportions.  For example, boyshorts are often touted as great solutions and “flatterers” of women with fuller bottoms, thighs, or hips, but that’s like telling women with breasts that they should wear “wrap dresses”.  I have NEVER found a wrap dress that truly worked for me without tugging and pinning and discomfort, and for a long time I thought the problem was me (it’s not you — it’s your bra; it’s not you — it’s your clothes).  So saying “this [blanket style] works for EVERYONE with curvy hips!” is setting us up for disappointment.

Since my understanding of good and varied fit for women’s lower halves is still poor, I reached out to some other lingerie bloggers, completely unprepared for the outpouring of wonderful shopping suggestions, reviews, resources, and empathy.  I’m going to link to them extensively, because their research and reviews have been very thorough and helpful [Administrative note: all these bloggers (and others) now appear in the list of Lingerie Links on the right.  Check them out!].  I’m going to break these suggestions up into parts and start with clothes, jeans first, because as someone in the midst of a jeans hunting ordeal myself, I wish to spare others my pain. Continue reading

Knickers in a Knot

I know it’s a little pretentious and anglophilic for an American blog, but we’re gonna go with “knickers” here at Sweet Nothings. “Panties” and “underpants” are just sad, and “brief” and “thong” and such describe specific styles, so “knickers” is going to be our catch-all term for rear-covering undergarments. I touched on some of the different styles available in the Lingerie Dictionary, but today I wanted at least to begin to respond to Rachel’s question from this post, about where to start if you’re unsure about knickers.

Women’s bottoms come in as many different shapes and sizes as their breasts, and we all carry our curves differently. Some women have flatter rears and fuller hips, some women have slim hips and fuller bellies, some women have straight and slender frames that curvy-cut knickers slide right off of. Let’s face it: low-rise bikinis and hipsters and thongs are not going to float everyone’s boat. They don’t always float mine: I feel like I’m constantly tugging and adjusting and rearranging and fidgeting with them throughout the day. Also, real talk: elastic digging into the underside of your belly feels UGH. Lest you think your only alternatives are white or beige granny panties or shapewear, here are some ideas for beautiful matching lingerie sets that accommodate different derrières.  This will probably be the first post of many, as I do more research and learn more about how briefs are cut, shaped, and sized.  If you don’t see something that floats your boat (or your budget) this time around, drop me a line and let me know what you’d like to see!

First thing I HAVE to show you are these: Continue reading