Hanky Panky brandvangelism

I wore my first Hanky Panky thong way back in graduate school. It was $3 at Macy’s, hanging on the clearance rack. I doubt I will ever find one at that price again, but I am no longer subsisting on a grad student’s means. I was new to thongs and although it was billed ‘the world’s most comfortable thong’ I was deeply skeptical. It wasn’t an ‘aha!’ moment to own one, but it was definitely more comfortable than I’d anticipated.

Over the past year I’ve become more interested in clothing manufacturing locales and conditions and have found two NYC brands for my basics: Hanky Panky and Only Hearts. Hanky Panky thongs start at $20 with their panties being more expensive depending on the cut, color, and embellishments.

I have gotten more comfortable with thongs over the years, but HP also makes panties in several cuts. The major difference is in the sizing: thongs come in petite (under US size 2), standard (US size 2-12), and plus (US size 14-24). The panty styles are S/M/L/XL/1X/2X/3X. There are fewer offerings in the petite and plus ranges, but the lace is so stretchy that if you’re on the border between standard and plus, I’d wear a standard. For sized panties, I wear a medium or large depending on how high rise they are- large if they encounter my belly, medium otherwise.You may well find yourself sizing down.

Additionally, the regular rise sometimes folds under the weight of my belly, so I’m torn as to whether I prefer that to the low rise version. The modal thong has the best rise for me, in the middle, but a more limited color selection.

The palette of colors you can get is dizzying. Neons, brights, patterns, combinations, pastels, basics…
(their neutral colors are chai, suntan, taupe, vanilla, chestnut) are available for the signature lace thongs, with a more limited selection for the v-kinis, bikinis, briefs, non-lace items, etc.

I’ve been looking into loungewear the past year, and HP has a line of stretch lace camisoles. They’re billed as bra-friendly because of the wide lace straps, and I was curious as to whether they’d fit a busty lady (as opposed to the bralettes, which fit only up to a 36Cish). To my delight, a medium fits me. A large also fits, but a bit more loosely. I’d say they run large as well. The patterns offer less show-through than the solid colors. I usually wear them around the house or to sleep, I haven’t tried layering them yet. Below’s the limoncello-colored cami and boyshort, both in large.

Hanky Panky cami, large

Hanky Panky debuted their BARE line a few years ago, boasting no lines under clothes and a smooth feel. I’ve yet to try this line and look forward to doing so.

You can buy Hanky Panky from their website, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, and many online retailers. If you have limited means, discontinued colors tend to be on sale, and eBay might be helpful. Many auction items are remainders or resales of sale items from the website, which are not returnable and may not have fit the buyer. These in turn won’t be returnable either, but if you have an idea of your size you can start there.

I’ve had mixed experiences with the lace materials: some colors have felt like butter out of the package, and others are still a bit rough after several washes. Perhaps it’s different dyes? Or fabric treatment? What are your experiences?

Claudette Dessous review- two takes

Claudette Encore buys are not returnable, so I took a chance on ordering the Dessous in two colorways: Cyber Yellow with Navy and Navy with Limeade. The Dessous aesthetic is very simple and two-tone, so I’ve always been intrigued, but I had heard that the sizing is all over the place, even from color to color. I ordered down a band size and up a cup size.


Three-part full coverage cut-sew bra. The bottom part of the cup joins the shoulder strap, making it a balcony. The cups have a big upper section, covering a lot in the middle. All of the cup seems to be made of the same material. Three hooks in the leotard back with fully adjustable straps.

claudette_yellow_front claudette_yellow_back

claudette_yellow_side2 claudette_yellow_side


A 34G is probably the best fit I can get. The band is still quite stretchy so I started on the middle row of hooks in the navy cup bra. Definitely go down at least one band size in this generation! The cups may run a bit small, especially if you have more projection or upper fullness. The cut of the cups make this bra work best for average separation between the breasts. The front of the band has a tendency to flip up on me, as you can see in the photos.

 claudette_blue_front claudette_blue_back claudette_blue_side claudette_blue_side2


The cups are separated less than I am, so you can see the creases in the photos. The shape is pretty natural and relaxed. The cups are, as mentioned, very full coverage. Yellow does not stand out on my skin tone, but you know what? I like it anyway, because it reminds me of the eighties and rebelliousness in leg warmers. It’s also one of my few bras I can wear under lighter-colored shirts.

I kept one of them and donated the other because the blue’s band was a bit stretchier. It doesn’t flatter me the best in terms of the cut, but it’s so comfortable and I wear it more often than I thought I would.  If I see the orange and purple color on zulily again I’ll go for it. The sizing may be different, though.

Curvy Kate Dita review

For many years, all-over sheer bras stopped at a G. I remember the Arabella, Lyla, and Ooh La La styles by Freya added lining to the bottom of the cup in GG+ sizes. What’s the point, I heard, of buying a sheer bra only to have it not actually be sheer all over? Freya believes that making the bottom portion of the cup double lined adds structural integrity. Its current Siren and upcoming Vixen have this issue as well.

Enter Curvy Kate, who said said eff that noise we can be all-over sheer at any size. Over Christmas the Dita and Bardot lines debuted, and they’re set to continue into fall. Next spring Bardot gets a non-black color and Dita has redesigned embroidery to become Cabaret. I’d never wanted an all-over sheer bra before, but the lines looked so smart! The metallic embroidery on Dita was too much a lure for me, and I bought it because I thought it would run large (I don’t recall why I thought that, but it was true).


Three-part cut-sew plunge bra. The fabric is a sheer black mesh but for the seams and some embroidery on the top part of the cup. In 34FF there are three hooks in the closure (yaaaaay). Fully adjustable straps.



Once upon a time the complaint about lots of CK bras was that the cups were always wide as soup tureens and the shape too shallow. CK has redone the fit on several old items and used different dimensions on new ones. My prior unpadded Curvy Kate bra was Emily, which had wraparound wires and a shallow profile. With Dita this is not the case: the wires feel on the medium to narrow side in 34FF. If anything, the cups are a little too deep for me, giving some wrinkling and pulling on the fabric in various places. The cups seem on the generous side in this size.

dita_side dita_side2


These photos were taken from slightly below, so the angle is a bit awkward. The band is stressed because I’m wearing an extender, and the photo is also blurry. The side view also shows a little of my other breast. I thought I’d rather get you suboptimal photos than wait any longer for another photo session.The wrinkles I get in the cup show more prominently in the mirror than in these photos except when I’m lifting my arms.

The shape I get from this bra is slightly lifted and vertically compressed, which I’m cool with. The sheer black works well for me, but the top panel of the bra may dominate the look with its embroidery (I never thought I would say that I could do with less shiny!) depending on how full you are on the bottom. The shiny embroidery is not just silver, it’s a lovely iridescent.

The plunge cut is great if you’re just looking for something under a low-cut top without emphasizing cleavage. This keeps the breasts pretty separate and doesn’t push them up. Tall or full-on-top breasts may have issues with the fit or need to go up a size, and I don’t think I’d recommend this bra if you’re very shallow or close set, since there’s lots of space at the gore. So this bra seems best for projected separate medium-width breasts.

Well that’s all and good, you say, but this cup size is not GG+. How does this bra work in larger cup sizes? Unfortunately I can’t find any reviews on Dita in GG+ (there are pictures for someone in 30GG), but Becky Magson has reviewed the Bardot in 30H, which is their all-over sheer balcony bra.

It’s quite comfortable, lightweight, and I find it aesthetically appealing. It’s also more supportive than I would have guessed, jumping up and down produces surprisingly little bounce. Top marks to Curvy Kate for making an all-over sheer in GG+, I just wish I knew if it worked in larger cups so I could tell you more!

Coffee and Chocolate Pairing

In honor of the name Dita’s German origins, let’s go with a Ritter Sport.

These are very sweet, and I always run the risk of eating the whole bar at a time. Hasselnuss!

Did you know Melitta is a German company? Their founder invented the drip brew paper filter that I and many others use daily. I used to have a coffee maker by them which I left in NJ, and I often use the paper filters they make. I can’t speak to their coffee products, but they now make coffee suitable for Keurig machines.

If any German readers have a coffee brand they prefer, please let me know! I love to try new coffees.

The Middle Class, Buying Habits, and ‘Luxury’ Lingerie

I see the term luxury tossed around for pretty much everything these days, as has The Lingerie Addict. Figleaves calls its vast library of clothes and foundations luxury, when they carry some low-cost brands. Huh? What does that mean, I asked?

Economically speaking, luxury goods are high markup and high prestige. The designer label is important. Some of them are veblem goods, meaning that demand for them is proportional to a high price, which contradicts the law of demand. Humans have funny psychology concerning prestige, exclusivity, and quality, and how they relate to our self-worth. Conspicuous consumption is desired or commended in many social circles or circumstances no matter our income bracket. In the United States, both ‘luxury’ and ‘middle class’ have become stretchy terms. Several models agree that ‘middle class’ means at least some level of college. I’ve heard the term apply to adults whose personal income is anywhere between $30,000 to $200,000 annually. Cost of living varies widely across the country, but I think the idea is to indicate some financial security. However, there are many smart, college educated people working full-time or more and living month-to-month.

The Baby Boomers (and probably earlier Americans) that had lived in the United States for more than a generation tended to have material goods of consistent grade. If you had hand-me-down furniture, chances were you didn’t eat out much unless it was fast food, wore hand-me-down clothing, went to public schools, and if you had a car, drove a small Chevy, GM, or Ford (before the nineties Japanese cars had high tariffs) and kept it until it stopped working. If you were ‘comfortable’, you probably had had decent quality furniture, some technological gadgets, maybe some music or dance lessons or sports for the kids, a mid-size or minivan, and went out to dinner once a week. If you were more than comfortable, my impression is everything in your house was supposed to be expensive unless it had sentimental value.

Today, many young people are opting to ‘trade up.’ Within our budgets, we choose what’s emotionally important to us and invest proportionally more in that good or service and cut on other things. A well-to-do person can have a smartphone, a Roomba, a semi-pro camera, two computers and a tablet, a big entertainment center…and IKEA furniture and no pants that cost more than $30. Another person might take singing lessons, nice audio speakers for the home, $80 bras, and share a place with many roommates, get $20 haircuts, and always brew their own coffee which they bought at the grocery store instead of stopping in a coffee shop.

This applies to lingerie buying as well. You can buy Parfait by Affinitas, Lepel, Pour Moi? and sale lingerie most of the time (or just not have a ton of bras) to save for one Angela Friedman or Christine (often considered luxury) piece. Or like the person above, spend money on pricier bras and have roommates who may hate you. Many people who wear lingerie are on a budget. I tend to buy big brand bras, underpants from $8-20, and simple chemises, pajamas, and loungewear. I go for variety rather than mega high end garments in my bra drawer. (One could argue that the Masquerade bras are high end, but $80 rather than $60 does not seem to be super luxe to me compared to La Perla, Agent Provocateur, Lise Charmel…)

Photography by Matjaz Tancic
Photography by Matjaz Tancic

This year was the first time I indulged in made-to-measure (often considered a luxury) lingerie: pieces from Pillowbook: two dudou, a pair of pants, and slip. I’m super impressed and love the results (more on that in future posts). However, I feel like buying luxury/couture will not become a regular habit. I’m not a fashionista and regular offerings from the Eveden group, Panache, Parfait, Hanky Panky, Wacoal, and Josie satisfy me most of the time.

What are your priorities when buying lingerie? Do you get a few expensive items, or a larger quantity of economical ones? Do you put aside money in case something you dream of comes to light, or is there a special something you’re saving up for?

In Rainbows

June is Pride month. This Saturday starts Seattle PrideFest complete with rally, Trans* Pride event, Queer Art Walk, film festival, many vendors, food, and Seattle’s biggest parade. A UCC minister told me that several churches were squabbling one year about what order they went in during the Pride parade and then he snapped “why don’t we all march together, do you know how many communities in other parts of the country would love to have this problem?” Dan Savage is a local luminary. Seattle elected an openly gay mayor, Ed Murray (who put gay rights as part of his platform), a few years ago. Big corporate sponsors such as T-mobile, Microsoft, Starbucks, Walmart, Alaska Airlines, Macys, and many more show up to put their names on things and be associated with Pride. Microsoft and Starbucks are local companies who have been involved for many years, but seriously, Walmart?! The almighty dollar triumphs again.

In 1996 I made a website with a rainbow spectrum of triangles because I loved rainbows. An acquaintance of mine (a brave teenager who came out in what I think was Northern Florida) told me that was pretty cool and supportive. I was confused. He told me about the Pride connotations of rainbows. “Huh,” I said. I had to be honest with him- I hadn’t thought about it, but now that I knew I’d keep them up there as a message of support. At the time it could be considered daring, as I lived in a conservative Catholic town — our public high school had one openly gay student out of about eight hundred — and my website had my name on it. I considered it low-risk because my peers already thought I was ‘weird.’

Some apparel companies have shown their support in rainbows. As Jeanna of Bluestockings Boutique said, few lingerie companies have given shout-outs about Pride month, but Hanky Panky are spot on:

Image by Hanky Panky. I recommend the retail website.

I will go buy some of their underpants right now to work on making my own rainbow. They have every color I can think of. My personal experience is that they are rather comfortable and roll up well for traveling (bikini or thong, haven’t tried the other cuts). They used to have a proper rainbow colorway in and of itself, but I can’t find it anymore. Have you found any rainbow or Pride-appropriate lingerie?

American Apparel didn’t make rainbow shirts, but they do have a line called Equality Forward with the Human Rights Campaign. They partnered with GLAAD to make a lovely OUT! unisex shirt a few years ago, too. Some proceeds from these tops go to the organizations. I’ve been historically suspicious of some of AA’s ads, but these shirts look cool to me, and the OUT! one is currently $14.

Nike have also embraced the rainbows with their Be True 2015 selection. Sneakers, shoes, tanks, and hats show a rainbow, a hashtag on black. adidas counters with its Pride Pack, sneakers and a slide with rainbow paint and effects. I’m pleasantly surprised that sportswear companies are acknowledging and marketing Pride Month: athletes, especially those who play on team sports, have very few out professionals.

I think every month should be Pride month. Companies should always have inclusive ad campaigns. Our mayor is awesome and should blink more often. Things have changed in the United States, but there’s a lot more to be done in a lot of places before queer (using the term to mean non-cis non-heterosexual) people can be themselves without getting shamed, that they may be murdered at the same rate as the rest of us, and that they have all the rights of non-queer humans. I try to use P-FLAG as a starting point for how to be supportive. If you have better resources, please direct me to them.

Addendum: holy Lego Man the Supreme Court decided to time their decision on same-sex marriage. Extra Happy Pride!

Due to a move with getting out of shape, an enforced period of inactivity after surgery, medication changes, and vacation in several places, I’ve replaced muscle with fat. This means over half my bras don’t fit. Too tight or too small in the cup. I’ve been putting bras in storage (some which I was waiting on wearing until others stretched out) and had to buy a few new ones. Some of them I will give away, and some I might try reselling. It’s been a while since I measured myself anyway. The older bras will be on standby if I get into a different shape. I changed gyms since the move and now go to the Y for weights and stationary cycle at home while reading.

I made myself a new rule: anything that doesn’t fit right now goes in a suitcase. Looking at it in the drawer is just depressing. I do this monthly. The new arrivals I’m rocking include Curvy Kate’s Dita and the Masquerade Antoinette. The new arrivals that did not rock with me were two Claudette Dessous. I will review them all for you as life slows down a bit.

I received my order from Pillowbook and am floored by the lovely silks. Before I get pictures of the treasures on I recommend you check out their site for Far East lingerie with geometric flair. Their showcase garment is the dudou, an evolution of a tied top dating back to the Ming dynasty. Also, check out the Mondrian capsule collection (thanks Caro!). I never thought I’d enthuse over the use of corners in lingerie, but life has taken me stranger places.

Over vacation I went to the Taza chocolate factory and I must say I ate the chocolate covered cashews too fast. Worth it, though. They’re out of stock in the online store right now:

promo photo from tazachocolate.com


Eucalan wash and its applications

I don’t usually hand-wash my bras. I know, I know that it shortens their lives. I don’t have a big basin or room for one, and doing them one or two at a time in the sink is not something I want for all my bras. I do have a few bras and garments that I consider precious, though, and I use Eucalan on them because it is clumsy-proof. No rinse! No rinse makes all the difference, and it works.


I love stuffed animals. Above is Umbreon in a pillow fort (paging Windie Gardie), who needed a bath. I submerged him in the sink with warm water and a tablespoon of Eucalan. I came back to him a half hour later, squeezed him a bunch to get the water. The results were successful enough that I gave Madame Sylveon (below) a pedicure in a similar fashion, as her paws had gotten dirty. The grime came out in the water and her feet were as pink as they should be.


My friends who knit use Eucalan to wash their delicate fabrics. They have a host of other uses, too. I’ve been using lavender and it doesn’t irritate my allergies, but they have a fragrance free version called ‘Natural’ as well.

In the US, you can get Eucalan from Amazon as well as yarn and fabric stores. In other countries, you can use their store locator. 9-15 USD for a 17 oz bottle, which says it’s good for 95 washes. For those who like to buy in bulk, a gallon is currently $45-70 on Amazon, good for 760 hand washes.

Freya Rapture review

For years I’ve heard that Freya’s half-cups are good for full-on-bottom or shallow profile breasts. The designs, though, didn’t inspire me. Floral, polka dot, funky prints…there were some cool longlines like Pansy, but they didn’t come in the simple half-cup version. In the fall Freya debuted the Rapture, which came in a padded half-cup and a side support plunge. This review is about the half-cup. rapture_front rapture_back

Usually I wait until I’ve worn a bra for a while, but since this is a current style that will only last another six months, I’ll do this sooner rather than later. I kept the bra in storage to rotate in, but right now it’s too small for me to wear consistently.


Vertical seamed (two of those seams) padded bra. Two hooks in the back. Fully adjustable straps leotard-style with nubbly bits on the side so the adjustor doesn’t slip.


Band is pretty stretchy for a 34 (dig my ribcage flare!). It’s open on top, which is pretty forgiving. I’ve gained weight since I purchased this bra, so it’s too small in the cups, which makes it probably true to size. The bottom of the cup is not especially projected, so I don’t quite fill it. The fabric doesn’t buckle because it’s not quite shallow enough for that. In my case, it spreads my breasts across rather than projecting, so there’s less of an insecure feel than a very projected bra. I would not recommend this bra if you have very projected breasts or very firm breast tissue. I would recommend trying it for average to shallow breasts which are average-width to wider.

rapture_side2 rapture_side


Geometric lace in diamond patterns. This color is ‘neon’. Yes it is. Bright highlighter orange-pink that makes my skin look darker. I love the color so much I don’t care if it’s flattering or not. The seams offer a slight contrast, and the black on the ribbons sets the rest of the grapefruityness off well. Rapture gives me some lift and makes my breasts look shorter. This makes it more convenient for some shirts, less so for others. The seams show up under close-fitting knits but not looser t-shirts. I am sad I cannot wear it now. Maybe in the future? Maybe I give it away?


Murchie’s Harlequin Rooibos. No caffeine, but peppery, chocolatey, with a bit of cinnamon and cardamom. A standard base with a kick, just like the color of this bra on a well-known frame. The cornflower sets it off a bit just like the black highlighting on the ribbons.

Rapture is out this spring in a terrifying bubblegum color. The side support plunge is a new frame by Freya. I like that they’re trying new styles and not just prints. Have you tried tried Rapture? What did you think?

Panache Rhapsody, Fern, and Clara fit checks

I’ve tried on a few Panache bras recently that didn’t quite work for me. I shall try to explain why and who they could work for.


rhapsody_frontrhapsody_back rhapsody_side rhapsody_side2

I believe the Rhapsody is the same cut as the Tango, with an upside-down U for the bottom half of the cup. This may create lift for some, but since I’m full on the bottom and the fabric is rigid it fights my shape, resulting in in a diagonal line instead of curve at the bottom of the cup. The top of the cup has support but not lift, so it gets pulled down by the bottom of the cup, and it looks like my breasts are pointed at the floor in front of me. It runs pretty true to size, so it’s just a bit too small for me in a 34FF. I do love the rainbow embroidery though, it shimmers! If you like the tango or have some projection and breasts that are not top or bottom-heavy, this could be for you.



fern_front - Copyfern_back fern_side fern_side2

I tried this in a band size up since I was gaining weight at the time (36ff). The bottom of the cup isn’t projected enough for me and the apex is too projected, so I get another fabric fold, wrinkles in the cup, and the top of the cup cuts in. I would not recommend this to the shallow-breasted, but some of the designs have been so pretty! The fabric is very supportive.



clara_front clara_side1a clara_side`1b clara_side2

I mentioned this before, but now I have pictorial evidence! The bottom of the cup is not projected enough, and I have to go up a cup size to get a fit, with a bit of fabric fold on the bottom. Like Jasmine, there’s a bit more projection at the seam than my breasts normally have, so my breasts look shorter. As a result, the top of my breasts are mostly covered in the stretch lace instead of the cool pattern. I didn’t go with this because of aesthetic reasons- I can barely see the lovely print, which is what I bought it for! It does feel more supportive on top than Jasmine/Envy, but the bottom of the cup not having enough room is a bummer. Again, I think this bra would work better for women with more even fullness in their breasts and moderate projection.

Have you tried any of these Panache staples? Fern has been offered forever, Rhapsody has been out for several seasons, and Clara has caught fire and become a basic. Did you have similar issues with the fit, or did you have better luck than I did?

Bravissimo Tropic Exotic and Panache Jasmine fit checks

I purchased the Can Can from Bravissimo for Christmas, but I also bought some items from their holiday sale.

Bravissimo Tropic Exotic Half-cup

tropical_front tropical_side tropical_side2

Bravissimo Customer Service recommended me this in a 34G since I fit the Can Can in a 34FF. I initially thought this was too big when I got it, but then scooped and swept or whatever you want to call the process of getting all the tissue into the cups. Go up a cup size if you fall between them, or just go up a size. I loved the way it fit, but I didn’t keep it because I didn’t like the way the shade of pink looked on my skin. Unfortunately it’s difficult to tell these things from a catalog! The prominent embroidery on the edge of the cups will show up under knits.

Panache Jasmine, Bravissimo-exclusive color

jasmine_front jasmine_side2 jasmine_side jasmine_back

I love the paisley! It fits excellently, true to size. But…the lace is pinker than I wanted with the pictures coming out dark because I’m no lighting whiz, and more dusky instead of maroon. It seems I had a Pink Problem with this Bravissimo order! Oh well. I go back and forth on how I feel about Jasmine’s support, since I feel like the tops of my soft breasts tend to wobble in the projected cup and stretch lace more than I would like. I also feel like there’s an angle in on the underside of the cup instead of a curve.

I returned them both, and was promptly refunded. Good customer service from Bravissimo.