I adore houndstooth and metallics and rainbows. So when Freya made a bra that combines all three of these features, I jumped to try it. I returned it, so I can’t say how it wears over time, but here are some initial impressions and pictures.
Freya calls this a plunge balcony, which I consider to be word salad. I think it’s supposed to mean low gore plus the seams meet the shoulder straps. Three part cup, sheer all over D-G, GG+ cups are sheer on the top part of the cup. Leotard back with two hooks D-G, three for GG+ sizes. Straps are fully adjustable.
Oh dear. I swooped and scooped, rejiggered the band up and down, and the bra just has too narrow a gore for me with its sheer cups. This happens for me in plenty of cut-sew bras, but in a sheer cup, this degree of empty space and foldover towards the center of the bra wasn’t to my liking (it’s not as obvious with my Curvy Kate Dita). A 36F was the correct size (I usually wear between 36F/36FF), the band was the proper tightness, I didn’t get any overspill, and yet I couldn’t get over the fabric folds in the sheer cup.
The shape I get here is a little bit elf shoe: the bra lifts my roots but not in a way that looks very natural or appealing to me from the side. Additionally, the obvious empty spaces and creases made me send this bra back.
In terms of design, though, I think this is a winner. Metallic houndstooth shimmers in a vaguely animal-print design, and who doesn’t like a sheer black cup? The straps and bows are also done in houndstooth, which may be awesome or a little busy. I’m not decided on that point. The embellishment on the bottom of the band had a tendency to fold up on me.
Well, it was worth a try! If the mesh weren’t sheer I might have agonized longer, but as it was Vixen didn’t work for my full-on-the outsides shape.
elomi’s Bijou (a bijou is a little piece of jewelry) is their plunge t-shirt bra with a racerback converter. That screams versatility, and the style comes out in a new fashion color every half-year. There’s also a fancier version for those who like a bit of embroidery on top, the Bijou Soiree.
Molded bra with a continuous, arched band. At HerRoom the tip is that this is a great bra for an “apple-shaped” woman. Leaving aside the confusing-to-me classification of people as fruit, I think that means the arch leaves some room for high tummies. Since it’s a plunge, there’s a very low gore. Leotard back with J-hook to convert to racerback. 2-3 hook closure, depending on the bra size.
A 36F was my best fit in this color, although when I tried it on in a store a while ago a 36FF worked better for me in black. Perhaps the black runs smaller. True-to-size in the band, and your cup size will vary depending on where your fullness is. I get an uneven orange-in-a-glass effect because I have more immediate projection in some parts on the bottom of the cup than the bra is pre-shaped for. Even when I pull down the back of the band, there’s a bit of looseness at the top of the back. I didn’t notice it until I looked at the photos.
If you’re fuller on top or the center, you may want to go up a size. I found the sides were quite high (not the wires, the wings). When I clip the hook in back, tissue spills out towards my armpits. I left this in the photos without rescooping. This does partially mitigate the fabric buckling at the bottom, but means there’s more looseness and rippling in the back where the wings end. Maybe I’m hooking it at the wrong point of the straps? If you’ve advice there I’d love a comment.
Very smooth and uncomplicated. The colors Bijou comes in are usually very saturated, and I liked the jewel tone of this “Pansy” colorway. There’s some contrast zig-zag stitching on the sides of the cup that goes from the back of the band to little bows where the straps meet the cups. There’s also a bow at the gore of the same color as the stitching. The shape isn’t too far from my natural one, a lifted bottom-heavy teardrop. I’m not sure if this would work for somebody who is very round, projected, or full on top.
A comparison to Freya’s Deco is inevitable since they’re both Wacoal Eveden t-shirt bras that sometimes use the same contrast seams. Bijou does not have the upper edging on the cups and plunges more deeply. The coverage and shape are different: Bijou does more of a containment job and doesn’t push my very separate breasts together, the cups are teardrop-shaped and separate. Deco creates more cleavage and pushes in from the sides more. Bijou has thinner padding.
After several months, I can vouch for this bra’s comfort factor in my size: it’s the plunge/t-shirt option that I can put on and forget I’m wearing a bra for the longest time. It’s pricey and the fabric fold and band ripple means it won’t be the most durable of my bras, but it’s a useful staple to have in my wardrobe. Bijou is one of the few molded plunges in higher band sizes, and now I understand why it’s a bestseller.
The past half year has been more Hanky Panky camis and underpants than I really needed, with some of it in storage. Ah well. It’s not like black stretch thongs go bad if I don’t wear them, and they’re more forgiving of size changes than, say, bras. The never-worn still-tagged ones can be resold or donated if I don’t find myself reaching for them.
I also went a bit crazy buying tap pants, pajamas, and chemises. Mary Green was going out of business, so I bought whatever I could in winter 2015. I also bought two Julianne of London knickers and a pajama set for…reasons. The pajama set is so cool, though! Then I visited Christine’s shop in Vancouver and couldn’t resist another chemise and a robe since they were so pretty in person and inexpensive in-store.
There was my luscious Pillowbook purchase. That was just worth it. More about later, I keep promising, once I figure out how to get the demonic yellow eyes out of the photos. That’s not what I think of as doing justice to the pieces.
Bra-wise, I’ve been buying more of the same. Replacing my slightly un-sized Dahlia, Dessous, Decos. Taking some bras out of storage and putting others in because I go back and forth with size! More sports bras, because some are a little small. At the end of the year I purchased some discontinued styles: another elomi Caitlyn because the previous is a bit small and an elomi Rita for its convertibility. Should I review Rita, since it’s being discontinued? Eep.
It’s been a year of discovering more unpadded bras for me. I go back and forth on what I want. I like the lines I get with some padded bras, and unpadded ones are just better for traveling, which I do a bunch (they pack smaller and dry faster when I don’t have drying rack access).
I want to be conscious of what I buy because I don’t have all the space in the world, and I want to stick to a clothing budget. Last year I went over, which I could, but I now know that I don’t need that many clothes/underwear. Cora Harrington of The Lingerie Addict made a resolution to buy 16 pieces of lingerie for herself. I don’t know if I can do that, but I think I may start by keeping count of what I acquire and keep. I’ve already bought three pieces to try on for this month, four if you count pajamas. Do pajamas count? I will try not to buy any more camis or chemises or tap pants for the time being…until something falls apart, anyway. Or swimsuits.
At the end of last year, I also purchased an elomi Bijou and Kris Line Marilou. Reviews for those should come. I’ve also got some PlayOut, PACT and Dear Kate underpants. Anything you want to read about first?
If you’re curious as why there’s been less blogging the past half year, it’s because I’ve put more of my spare time into science fiction romance: writing, reviewing, and blogging about that. As long as I have anything useful to contribute, though, I’ll continue.
When I first saw the design for Allegra more than a year ago, I thought that it was an old Fauve design they were integrating into Fantasie, reminiscent of both Chloe and Delphine. Sheer cups, intricate embroidery, and jewel colors. The art nouveau design charmed me, and I bought a black one from Nordstrom a while back.
Three-part cut-sew bra: one seam goes right up the middle of the cup, and the other is for the side support panels! Fantasie loves its side support panels. Full band with a bit of an arch for higher tummies. Three rows of two hooks in the back. Fully-adjustable straps with little details so the straps don’t slip. Those details also make it a pain to adjust their length.
The band may be a bit generous, or stretches out rather quickly. After a few months I’m on the tightest hooks in a 36F, but I sometimes wear a 34. Even when the band felt tight at the beginning of the wear, it would ride up pretty quickly at the back. It may just be angled that way, because I couldn’t fit more than two fingers in.
The cups are also a little generous, since I wear between a 36F and FF these days. The top seam is elastic and cuts back into the chest, making this a suboptimal solution for tall or full-on-top breasts if they’re not firm. You can also see that the cups are more close-set than I am, so if you have splayed breasts you will see some of the breast crease.
The side support was a good idea on their part because it brings tissue in to fill the projection in front, so somewhat shallow shapes can still fill the bra out. If you have very shallow breasts this may not work for you. I have some trouble filling out the bottom of the cup.
I like the design. The vertical seam may be a bit over-emphasized aesthetically, but I guess that’s how they get the support. The shape is rounded but not hoisted. The design looks sophisticated and can appeal to a wide age range. I assume that’s what makes it sell well, as Nordstrom carries it in black and used to in rouge (Nordstrom is probably the biggest purveyor of F+ bras in the US).
The size range on this Allegra is limited to 30-36 D-G and 38 D-FF, but it’s wider than Eveden’s other vertical-seam bra, the Freya Starlet. The four-part cup construction is more classical Fantasie and has a larger size range, sacrificing the all-over sheerness, but if you want the Swiss embroidery in swirls, that’s where you go. It’ll be out in blue this fall.
I haven’t tried any of the bottoms, I match this with my array of black underpants. The Fantasie Allegra Vertical Seam was a good everyday bra for me, lightweight but not the most supportive. It’s currently a bit loose on me, so I’m giving it a rest until/if my back muscles get bigger and buffer.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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…)
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?
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:
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.
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: