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

 

Advertisements

Freya Active Underwire Performance Sports Top Review

I ordered this top from Large Cup Lingerie on account of my previous Freya Sport biting the dust after doing a great deal of hard work over a year, and my size change. I was curious as to how it worked and it was discounted.

Construction

Moisture-wicking close-fitting fabric tank over the traditional seamed two-part cup Freya Sport bra. Interestingly, the shoulders are adjustable length in that they have rows of hooks like a back band. Three rows of three hooks in the back.

Fit

Band’s true to size. Cups are true to size, slightly wrinkly at the apex for me as per usual with Freya bras. The cups are wider than most Freya cups (consistent with the Freya Sport bra).

Looks

Well, I didn’t buy this to look sleek. The tank is not very flattering to my ribcage flare or my stomach fluff rolls. I also get the hilaribad unnatural-for-me almost-torpedo shape I’ve gotten from Freya Sport bras before. I look in the mirror and am a bit skeptical that those are my breasts. Those who have a more projected shape or are naturally fuller at the apices may not get the same issue since the tissue won’t be fighting the fabric. It definitely gets the job done at the gym, holding everything in place and the breathable fabric means I don’t need a Shamwow if I overdo it. It’s a bit hazardous to wash because of the eleventy billion hooks and eyes on the straps and band (it’s supposedly machine washable). I could wash it by hand, but I have to squeeze it for ten minutes to get enough water out if I want to use it the next day. If you like the Freya Sport Underwire seamed bra, this seems like a logical extension.

Fit and Active September?

I’m joining the fun some other bloggers are having with Fit and Active September.

I go to the gym about three times a week and generally walk a bunch (Seattle is pretty hilly). I’ve had short breaks since I moved here of not adhering to the practice, but I’ve increased my military press by ten pounds, and some of the other exercises have definitely gotten easier (planks, push and pull ups on a bar, squats). I assume I’ve built some muscle to do this.

Bra bands feel tighter. The exercises do build back muscles, so there’s less squish. I can’t really wear a 30 band anymore except on older stretched out bras. Some 32s need extenders now (Masquerade’s bands don’t stretch much). At first I thought I was gaining fat around my rib cage. That may be the case, but muscle could also be the cause. I’m making an appointment with a trainer to check my body fat/weight. That should give me an idea of how my body has changed.

My sports bras are the most excellent Panache Sport (which my partner tried to fasten the other morning when I was tired and cranky, and he was amazed by the strength it requires) and the Freya Active Underwired. The latter does run quite tight and gives me a hilarious torpedo shape complete with prominent horizontal seams, but it’s sturdy and lightweight. The Panache Sport is a wonderfully comfortable bra and sometimes I wear it just for the day, workout or none.

Have you found that you needed different bras with a different exercise regimens? What’s your favorite sports bra?

Panache Sport review

The Panache Sport has been a big hit since its release, with fun colorways (grays, purples, pink, lime green, navy) and rave reviews. I thought I should see what the fuss was about, because a molded cup sports bra seemed like a dream come true to me. I ordered the navy version from Large Cup Lingerie in size 32G.

Construction:

Molded cups. The underwire casings are silicone-wrapped and sewn between fabric layers of the hefty underband.  Fabric includes microfiber and mesh for moisture wicking. The straps are wide, padded, and only partially adjustable. There’s an included J-hook on the straps to convert to racerback. Three hook closure, and the back is nicely finished with extra padding and no extra label.

Fit/functionality:

This bra’s an encapsulation sports bra, which means one’s breasts are kept in separate capsules/cups for distributing weight so it’s easier to stop movement of the mass. I vastly prefer it to compression-type, which squashes things together and in (and as my friend Sara says, makes you feel like you require a Shamwow in your uniboob cleavage after!).

Amazingly comfortable. I love the padding on the wires! Straps don’t quite adjust short enough for me, so I wear this as a racerback until I figure out how to alter it . It reduces bounce very well, especially with the J-hook! I wonder if a smaller cup would help even more- I couldn’t quite fill out the top, so maybe I should go down a size. Runs full in the cups, so if you’re between cup sizes or shallow profiled, sizing down once in the cup may be a good idea. Band feels true to size. The top of the bra after the wires end does not tack to my sternum- I’m not sure how important that is. Perhaps another sign that shallow profiles should size down or look at alternatives? It seems to keep sweat away well- I’ve felt it dripping down my forehead while biking hard and felt minimal moisture on my chest/sternum where sweat will normally collect.

Looks:

This is an amazing-looking sports bra. Gives a streamlined, non-torpedo shape. I love the patriotic red, white, and blue! The lines are clean, smart, and fierce. It covers a lot, and I could wear this as outerwear in summer or in the gym.

I adore this bra in this colorway. I’m keen to try it in a smaller cup at some point and then decide which works better. The Freya Sport (underwired) functions well, but I vastly prefer the aesthetics of the Panache Sport- the main advantage Freya has in this case is that the Freya Sport is explicitly machine washable.

Other reviews:

A Sophisticated PairObsessed With BreastsFuller Figure Fuller Bust guest reviewBras I Hate and LoveStackddInvest in Your ChestBecky’s Boudoir

Panache Spring/Summer 2013

Some liked the Curvy Kate roundup for this season, so I’ll do another one for the Panache brands. I think Panache is really my go-to brand: I own a Sport, Confetti, Porcelain Plunge, adore the regular Porcelains, and have two Masquerade bras. I’ve also heard great things about Cleo but I’ve never found one that I’ve fit/loved. Panache haven’t put their Spring/Summer collection on their site yet, so I’m going from some other sources to detail what’s new.

Here’s what I found of interest:

Cleo

Generally fun, more ‘youthful’ designs, tend to give a round and in front shape.

Marcie– Marcie’s been a hit with some and a disaster with others. I tried the Natasha which apparently has the same cut in my size and there was so much wrinkling at the top of the cup it was ridiculous. The shape it gives is apparently wonderfully round, so it’s returning for another season in a jolting color! I wonder if sizing down would help, or if it’s just not meant for bottom-heavy breasts. That shade of blue is nice and aggressive- electric with the contrast pink bow! I am happy that it goes up to J.

Maddie– I rather liked the Cleo Karen, but it was too small for me and was unavailable beyond a G. Apparently they’re offering up to an H cup now? I’m not too hot on the print, which I think is overly busy, nor the pink contrast, but I’d love to try the cut in another size- it apparently works well for bottom-heavy breasts. If it works I’ll keep an eye out for future designs.

Nina- I remember trying the Arianna and being unable to fill out the top, or the bra running big. This is an in-your-face pink with purple detailing, evocative of sharp angles- Motorola RAZR pink, but more matte? I like the geometry, but I’m not confident I’d fit in it well.

Panache Superbra

The base collection as I think of it, Panache offers great basics including the beloved Tango, Andorra, and Porcelain.

Fern– I adore purple paisley. I would be all over this if it weren’t for the blasted pink lace on it! It may go well with the gentle purple, but I really dislike any non hot-pink color on my skin. If it were the pink in the Nina, I’d consider it. That said, paisley trend = yes please. I wonder how much of the pink lace is structural- would I be able to remove it? That might ruin the line at the top of the cup.

Andorra Plunge– This model only comes in fashion colors, this time Carribean blue. I am curious as to how the stretch lace works in a plunge bra and if it accomplishes the same forward projection the Andorra and Jasmine are famous for.

Porcelain Viva– I don’t see many white and navy bras out there, and with the stripes, it’s very smart and nautical. There’s also a pink variant. If we changed the darker blue details into white pinstripes I think it would make an excellent swimsuit.

Idina balcony/plunge- These supposedly have similar stretch lace to the Andorra/Jasmine. Are they a new continuity line? They are starting with basic colors- latte and black. I’ll be curious to hear about the shape they give.

I don’t see the Sienna available, but it seems those mainly come out in the fall?

Sculptresse

Panache’s new line starts at a 3t band. Lots of full coverage bras with lots of lace. They’re not to my taste, but very pinup. Here’s my favorite:

Belisse: Fun floral print! The yellow and red really pop!

 

Masquerade

My favorite brand for any day I want to feel a little special.

Amor in dark pink or berry or whatnot. I missed the sapphire version because I was afraid it would fit like the Capella. Maybe I should try sizing down in the cup? Sleek design, not a geometry I’ve seen before.

Arquette Navy/Vanilla. Based on the Delphi shape, apparently, though I will miss the Delphi. The blue overlay seems a bit heavy somehow.

Antoinette is back! Masquerade discontinued this line before I knew of Panache, and they’re reintroducing it in this color. Interesting bandeau design (usually works better for full profiles), dark pink lace overlay. I guess this is also ‘berry’. The vertical seams remind me of corsetry.

Fashion notes/roundup:

Great googly moogly, the pink. It’s spring, I get it, time for gentler colors, but augh. This much pink hurts my retinas. Great for those who like it, but I keep thinking about bags of conversation hearts. You know, those things what taste like Necco wafers with drippy commands on them with a texture somewhere between cheese puffs and styrofoam but you eat a bunch of anyway every year for some compelling yet unknown reason? Whoops, I’m projecting. (And now I want some!) Anyway, my pink must be done in limited doses. For those of you who like it, it’s a bonanza this season!

Panache is not shy with its lace, but I don’t think it ever was. I’ll be curious to try the Amor and figure out the fit of several of these. What attracts you in the Spring/Summer lines? Anything you’re putting on your wish lists or want to figure out the fit of?

Shapewear ramblings

I love myself the Freya Deco, and am delighted that it’s spawned spinoffs like the soft cup and half cup (which runs small and goes only up to F!). In April they are launching a longline, a convertible bra, a verrry high-waisted control brief, and a strapless slip. Shapewear is a giant industry and has been since there were corsets and stays. The options are pretty crazy to me- control pantyhose, control briefs, girdles, waist cinchers, the big torso thing (body?). Of these, I will only wear a corset (nothing heavy duty), and only if it’s on the outside and of a cool design.

Why?

Most shapewear works via compression, or squeezing me. Now, I like to be hugged, and I like close-fitting clothing, but shapewear just feels restrictive most of the time. It’s worn to ‘normalize’ one’s fat and curves to a socially acceptable standard or to fit into a dress, without getting to show off a fun color, cut, design, or print. I’m not including basques, though- they are made to be seen, even if only by a few! I don’t think I’d wear a basque under my clothing for housecleaning, work, or baking several dozen red velvet cookies.

I have pretty narrow hips, very muscular legs thanks to biking a lot, and my behind is quite flat. This leads to awkward constant shifting in most chairs because I lack the padding to keep me comfortable. Whoever designed me put it all on my torso instead, in my stomach, on my ribs, on my breasts. I do have lumps and bumps in tight fitting clothing, though! Once upon a time I wore tummy-control swimsuits, but I’ve decided that my stomach is just a stomach- it’s there in three different fat rolls when I hunch over at all and it’s got some interesting stretch marks from just growing. It works, it’s part of me, and I accept that it won’t look like in the fashion magazines in most dresses. Fashion models and some entertainers spend their entire time and career trying to look a certain way, their livelihood depends on it. I just get up and get dressed and then write code, and people pay me for that. I’d rather spend time with friends than spend it and money trying to make my stomach look different (with the caveat of fitness, that’s a health matter, not an appearance matter!).

I wear a bra because my breasts like support, but why do I care about the shape those give? Why care about the shape of my bust but not my stomach or thighs or butt? My reasoning is that since it’s really optimal for me to wear a supportive bra anyway, I might as well go for something that I like aesthetically without sacrificing comfort- I don’t wear any compression bras, and most of the bras that give the shape I like are also comfortable to me. So it seem that I like approving of how I look in the mirror, but won’t squish myself unless it’s really pretty on the outside.

The Freya Deco shapewear range looks quite beautiful. Normally I will want almost anything Deco that fits, but I’ll pass these up. The floral pattern may appeal to others, though, and I could be tempted by the convertible were it not for me owning six Decos including a strapless already…

Do you wear shapewear? Daily or for special occasions? Do you like it or consider it a ‘necessary’ evil?

strength and positivity!

I am currently rehabbing a hip flexor strain (not sure how I got that), and I was being down that I have to take it easy on some exercises now. I do have some sense of self invested in exercise these days. Here’s a bit about that.

While we were discussing Wagner’s Ring Cycle, my partner told me that I would make an excellent Valkyrie. I was flattered, since he clearly thinks me-as-Valkyrie is a great idea and “totally hot.” However, I don’t know how many women would take that as a compliment.

I had a diabetes scare eight years ago, and that changed the way I thought about my body. I’d just thought it would take care of itself healthwise somehow. My wrongness was pretty intense- the body requires proper maintenance and upkeep, just like the mind. I began regular cardiovascular exercise, and then more recently, weightlifting. My goal is not to lift a certain amount with certain exercises. I just want to give myself the best chance against diabetes and heart disease, and my fitness is a good indicator of this. I will admit I do have some pride in being stronger than average, though- it’s useful in my daily life!

My response to my partner? “I think I’d make a better Amazon.” He seemed a bit confused, so I had to explain that I might be tall and buff and busty, but my hair’s very short and almost black, my eyes are almost black, and my skin tone is almost never found in native Scandinavians. He replied that he likes my singing voice. Good answer, man. Good answer.

Recovery will take time. I have physical therapy exercises I can do. I can still do cardiovascular activity, and I’m cleared for the leg press. Go go go!

A doctor’s appointment triggers a reflection

Warning: this post contains actual numbers about my body and possible weight trigger language!

 

*** *** ***

I had a yearly physical Monday which irked me for several reasons. I’m somewhere between 67″ and 68″, and this time I came out to 67.5″ in height. Weight was 163lb. I’ve gained about 5lb in the past three months due to eating sloppily…and going to the gym? I can definitely lift/press more and that could be involved in the weight gain as well. Anyway, this puts my BMI above 25, so the doctor told me ‘not to gain any more weight.’ This was pretty annoying, because I look at the doctor and my first thought was “I’ve cut regular pasta and white rice and bread and cheese and red meat out of my allowed foods, cardio/weight lift three times a week, and you’ve the nerve to…*sputter*…*sputter*…”

BMI is one of the weirder measures of health since it doesn’t take muscle into account. I’ve traditionally been sensitive about it because I have wide shoulders and a larger frame, and my mom has habitually worried about my “chunkiness”.  I gained 40lb in college (from 150 to 190lb) and then had a diabetes scare- I was insulin resistant, a common problem in my family. I had to change what I ate and begin exercising to reverse the blood sugar problem, because all my doctors told me to lose weight and that would help. The weight didn’t come off, but the blood sugar normalized. Several years later, after my doctors told me to lose some weight to lessen my sleep apnea, I finally asked my psychiatrist to tinker with my medications because they could be involved in my general fatigue. I’m still a pretty sleepy person, but I lost a lot of weight. My mom was overjoyed (although freaked out that my breasts retained the same volume), and that hurt a bit. So I watch my weight for health reasons, because I’m not cool with sleeping problems or possible diabetes. I think there’s still some baggage there on being told I’m not doing enough, though.

Another possible issue she mentioned was varicose veins- the veins on my legs are more prominent since weightlifting began! Whoops! I can’t find a consensus on leg press and varicose veins being linked, and my doctor bit her lip and told me to keep lifting weights but to put my feet up for a while every few hours. I think it was really her manner that made me worry.

Anyway, that’s some uneasy thoughts about my body. In the meantime, I tell myself, keep exercising, and don’t eat everything, especially baked goods, quite as casually. I’ve been lucky that my bra fit hasn’t really changed in half a year.