Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Review: Curvy Kate Daily Boost

Curvy Kate and I have had a tumultuous relationship. It's been a bit love-hate from the start. My first properly fitting bra was the Emily, a style they have since discontinued but is quite similar to the current offering of Romance. I was immediately in love. It was so much better than any of my bras in the past but upon further wear I discovered that it had fit issues. It came up a cup size too small and yet it was too tall on the sides and I often felt like it was stabbing me under the arms. I quickly outgrew it as I adjusted to properly sized bras and sold it to another good home. 

My next Curvy Kate experience was to try on a large selection of beautiful bras at A Sophisticated Pair in North Carolina. The bras were beautiful and well-constructed but the straps were all too wide-set and made my boobs look both ways or be awkwardly pointy which left me feeling frustrated. 

I won a Curvy Kate Gia in one of their giveaways.  I adored the color and comfort of the bra and the wires were the perfect width for me. Many find Curvy Kate's wires a little wide but I actually prefer them to others like Panache where I am constantly pulling them back to keep them from stabbing me. Unfortunately, for all it's great points I just couldn't get over the awkward shape it gave my boobs. It gave me an obvious downward point to my boobs which I found horribly unattractive. It took me a while to figure out what was causing the funny shape because it fully encased my breasts without over spill and going up a size would have just caused gaping and loose fabric at the top. I finally realized that that this shape was caused by the shape not working for my breasts. The bra was designed to give full-on-the-bottom breasts a great shape and wasn't working with my super full-on-top shape. Most of my flesh on my boobs is above the nipple and it was pushing down on the bra giving it this terrible pointy shape.

My shape in the Gia. 
I was just about to give up on Curvy Kate ever working for me when along came the Brastop £13 sale. (That's about $21 for Americans like me.) Last fall I lost my job and new bras haven't been in my budget until now. I'm still trying to get caught up on the bills, but since a $21 bra is utterly unheard of in my size I decided I just had to grab one while I could. I decided to give Curvy Kate one more chance and I went for the Daily Boost in Mocha in a 34J since, in my experience, Curvy Kate tends to run a little small in the cup. I was hesitant but I figured I could probably return it if it was a terrible fit. I have to say, I'm so glad I gave it another go. 

The Daily Boost is a bit of an anomaly. Its one of the few padded bras that go all the way to a K cup - even in a 40 band. I find that I prefer moulded cups but it's so hard to find one in 34HH/J especially one that doesn't buckle in the front, wrinkle in the cups, or give "orange in a glass" effect (where the bra cup is too shallow for the boob leaving empty space in the bottom or sides.) The Daily Boost is less like a traditional moulded cup in that it's actually a three part cup that is foam-lined. This gives it the support and shaping power of a three-part-cup while giving the comfort and security of a moulded cup. I've always felt more secure in lined cups despite the fact that they add additional inches to my already extra-large boobs. (That has never been enough to deter me from wearing them.)  I find them to be much more comfortable than a three-part-cup and have a lot fewer issues caused by the dreaded "seam lumps." (Where your bra seam cuts into your breasts giving your boobs a weird, sectioned-off shape.) 

I can't say I'm wowed with the appearance of this bra but it is an every day bra after all. The Mocha colorway is duo-tone with a pretty brown fabric and slightly lighter trim and accents. The straps are fully adjustable and wide so they don't dig in like some of my Panache bras tend to. They are designed with slip-resistant trimming so they don't get looser and slide off my shoulders mid-day. The bra has a partial band running under the cups but I don't find that it rolls up or under and it gives just enough padding that I don't feel stabbed or rubbed wrong by the 
underwires. I find the construction to be solid, I have't experienced any fraying or loose threads and I've worn it almost every other day for a month.

Like the Gia I find the shape to be just a tiny bit pointy. (I think most Curvy Kate bras are a bit more suited to lower fullness.) However, It's not enough to deter me from wearing the bra.  The distance between the cups (aka width of the gore) is a little more than I usually go for but I don't find it too shallow at the center nor do I find that it gives me an East-West look. The gore is not a plunge but I wouldn't call it too high either. It's in a perfect middle spot where I'm not falling out the center like I do in the Freya Deco but I'm also not getting stabbed in the sternum like I do in the Panache full cup and balconette bras. In fact, it tacks but I don't even notice it. The wires are on the wider side - which I prefer - but don't come all the way around my sides.My roots are on the wider side so if you need a narrow root I don't recommend it but if you find that brands like Elomi's wires are too wide for you this is a great option. I don't have any empty space anywhere in the cup and I don't have any overspill but I also don't feel like it's covering so much of my boobs so that it affects which neckline I choose. The wings and back are made of a breathable mesh that is strong and quite stretchy. I find it's true to size at a 34.

(awesome tan lines right?)

I didn't get the matching briefs but I happened to have some that were a pretty close match, so I usually try to wear them together. (I'm a sucker for a matching set.)

Honestly, this is one of the best bras I've ever worn. I really can't believe I'm saying that after almost gave up on Curvy Kate altogether. I hardly even want to take it off long enough to wash it. I'm completely in love with it. It really gives me hope that I can find another Curvy Kate that works just as well for me. Though, I do think I think I'll be sticking with their lined bras for a while. (Right now I have my sights set on the Lola in black!) 

Seriously, if you want to fall in love with a bra head over to Brastop and pick up one of the Daily Boosts by Curvy Kate. They are currently available in white, black, beige and mocha. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dear Legs

Dear Legs,

Every summer I wish for long, tan, shapely legs like I see on the women around me. Every year I hope that this year will be the year you two make me look awesome.  I day dream about lying around the pool with you, toes painted bright orange or smooth mint. I think about the way we will look in short shorts or in mini skirts. I think about going out to the bar on a hot summer night with friends or Mr.Clean in my favorite dress and laughing over a beer or two.

Every summer I look at you and I wonder what went wrong. You are pale, short and stubbly. My 5'2'' frame doesn't exactly make for long legs. Your hair is dark - inherited, no doubt, from my Italian ancestors who hid their hairy legs under long thick skirts. (Which must have been miserable in the hot, southern Italian sun.) You are super susceptible to mosquito bites (seriously I must be crack cocaine to those things) and when you get bit you get welts the size of China. And then I scratch them in my sleep and the welts become scabs and I look like I've got some horrible contagious disease. And the feet you're attached to are the most unfortunately smell feet anyone has ever had the misfortune to smell. I have no idea why they are so awful but they've always been smelly and so they shall always be. So July first rolls around and legs that should be smooth and tanned and lovely are pale and stubby and scabby.

So then I cover you up. I wear jeans and maxi skirts and Keds. I take long oatmeal and salt baths hoping to relieve the itch and heal the scabs without leaving giant scars. I bathe in DEET (which seems to do nothing to deter the little buggers.) I fuss at you and I whine about you and I scold you for not living up to my hopes and dreams. Whenever someone tells me I'm "smothering them" just looking at me in jeans in Kentucky heat (95 and humid) you agree through your sweaty jeans and I just look sheepish and make some excuse like all my shorts are in the laundry. Every time we go out in a dress I spend the whole time worrying that people are staring at my terrible, scab-covered legs and I end up just tucking you under my skirt and sitting so no one can see you.

Well, legs, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I held you to an impossibly high, air-brushed standard. I'm sorry I didn't take into account the fact that you can't help that mosquitoes love you. I'm sorry I forgot how much I honestly freaking love you and your awesome shape. I forgot how much you do for me like helping me chase my dogs and chickens and run around the job that I love to fetch things for customers and make wine recommendations. I'm sorry I held your genes against you and got pointlessly angry and gave myself (and you) grief over something I can't change. From now on I promise to appreciate you for all you do.

And I promise to keep taking those amazing oatmeal and salt baths, but from now on it's going to be because I like them and not because I'm a vain fool who follows the herd in hating on herself.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Nude Bras that Aren't Beige

One thing I feel very strongly about is the lack of diversity in bras and bra models. We have seen a giant leap in the variety of body shapes in modeling but so little change in the realm of skin color. Most lingerie models are white and a model of any other color is a rare find. Not just that, but clicking on "Nude and Skin Tones" as a color option leads to pages and pages of beige bras. Products labeled "nude" are almost always a peachy beige and women with darker skin find themselves out in the cold in the lingerie industry. Even in my search for non-beige nude bras nearly all the models I found were white.

We need to change the way we see "Nude." Here's how you can help.
  • Write a letter to your favorite lingerie company asking them to introduce more "real nude" shades and to stop using the word "nude" when they mean "beige."
  • Tweet your feelings. Use the hashtag #nudeisnotbeige and get your feelings out there.Talk about what skin-tone colors should be called. Should we use terms like "Mocha" and "Peach" or do we prefer terms like "fair" and "deep?" These conversations need to be started by us. We hold the buying power and that gives us the power to change the industry. Even the fairest of the fair needs to fight for our sisters to bring equality into the lingerie industry. 
  • Share this blog post with your friends and ask them to share it with theirs. Spread the word and support the brands that are creating bras in lots of different "nudes." 
  • Blog about #Nudeisnotbeige and share your favorite nude bras that aren't beige. Tell the world what terms you think we should use instead.

Let's look at a few of my favorite nude bras that aren't beige. If you want to purchase any of these bras just click on the link attached to the name.

Tango Balconette Bra by Panache in Chocolate Pink

This bra is a real stunner. With it's sheer cup fabric and pink detailing this bra shines. I will say that in my experience, the larger sizes this bra can be a little overwhelming. It tends to look a little matronly and fit like a full-cup. I'd recommend trying this bra on at a shop if at all possible before purchasing it.

Alana by Bravissimo in Mocha

Not only does this bra come in 86 sizes from D-L, it it well known for maintaining it's beauty and functionality well into the upper sizes. Bravissimo knows their bras and this is one of their best selling. Alana is best suited to those full on the bottom so if you find yourself frequently overspilling cups you may find that the top of this bra is a little too tight on you. That said, don't let that discourage you from giving it a try. There's a reason Bravissimo keeps bringing back every season.

Pralina Balconette by Kris Line in Brown

Kris Line is a Polish company known for making beautiful bras of excellent quality. The Pralina is a stunner with it's contrasting brown and black and delicate lace. The unpadded cups are embossed with a feminine flower print and it's available up to a HH cup. Plus it's on sale at Brastop right now!

Curvy Kate Daily Boost in Mocha 

I love Curvy Kate. I think they their bras are so lovely and well made. Unfortunately, they work best in the small to mid range cup sizes and be a little wonky or shallow in the upper ranges. So if you're in the upper ranges I highly recommend trying the bra before you buy it if at all possible. Their Daily Boost is a very popular style that goes all the way to a JJ cup. The foam-lined, three-part cup offers superb support for every day needs, and gives a smooth look under clothes. Despite Curvy Kate's trouble in larger sizes, Fuller Figure Fuller Bust loved the fit of the Daily Boost and didn't have much trouble with it giving her a pointy shape, perhaps due to the slight foam lining.  

Fauve Lucia Padded Bra in Sienna

This bra has vertical seams for that awesome uplift. The delicate lace detail on this bra really stands out and makes it one that's perfect for both every day and special occasions. I also love the deep, rich color of this bra and think it would look gorgeous on almost any skin tone.

Wacoal Retro Chic Full Figure Bra in Cappucino 

This bra looks like something you would see in Mad Men (which, if you've been a reader for a while know you'll know I'm pretty obsessed with.) The lace is stunning and the bra comes in a ton of colors - nine to be exact. Wacoal makes beautiful, well-made bras that I highly recommend. This particular bra comes in sizes from American D to H (up to FF in UK sizes.) The Cappucino color is soft and unobtrusive and the lace is delicate and feminine.

Comment below or write your own blog post and tell me what your favorite nude but not beige bra is!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Your Boobs are Yours

Ladies, somewhere along the line we got it all wrong. Somehow we got turned around and let someone else tell us what to think about our bodies. We let our society dictate that boobs were something to be ashamed of, that they are purely sexual objects for others to enjoy -  as if we are walking around with sex toys on our chests. In fact, we've allowed it to go so far that breast size has become an indication of promiscuity - the bigger yours are, the more promiscuous you must be (i.e."porn star boobs.") An on the other side of the coin a woman with small breasts is somehow less of a woman because her breasts don't meet someones expectations. Phrases and terms are tossed around casually. I've heard men tell me "More than a handful is a waste" while others have cat-called or shouted "Damn!" as I passed by, as if it was their given right to make judgments about my boobs without my permission. I'm sure plenty of you have dealt with that too - whether you're big or small or somewhere in the middle.

This has to stop.

Your boobs are yours. They don't belong to the guy who cat called you downtown the other day. They don't belong to that guy you dated who thought they were great (or awful.) They don't belong to your parents. They are a part of your body and they are yours. There's no need to be ashamed of your breasts. If a bra fitting with a professional fitter makes you uncomfortable perhaps it's time to take a look at the reason behind that. Do you feel like your breasts are too sexual to be discussed in a professional manner? Do you feel like there is something wrong with your breasts? (I promise you, there isn't.) Do you feel like you're always being pressured to dress for someone else? These and many other hangups can cause embarrassment or frustration in a fitting and they are damaging to our self-esteem.

I'll say it again - your body is yours and that includes your breasts. Dress to make yourself feel beautiful and comfortable. If cleavage is uncomfortable to you, you don't have to show it. If you don't like crew necks (I always feel like I'm choking in them) then wear scoops or v-necks. Talk to your fitter about what feels comfortable and don't settle for a painful or poor fitting bra just because the fitter says it "looks great" or "gives you lots of cleavage." Wear what you like and don't let anyone tell you that you "shouldn't wear that" because of your skin tone/size/shape/whatever. And stop letting the media tell you that that your boobs are something to be ashamed of.

You only get one body. It's time to start loving it.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Comfort Rule

Sometimes, full-bust bloggers can be a little preachy. We call this Bravangelism and while it has its place, it can be completely misplaced at times too. Sometimes we can be a little too set on the rules that work for us and insisting that those rules should work for everyone. It's just that we are so excited about helping women find the right fit that we can be overbearing and forget that we are really here for one purpose - to make women more comfortable. 

 The comfort rule is probably the most important part of bra fitting. If a woman isn't comfortable in her bra we haven't done our job right and we've only added ourselves to the long line of unsuccessful fitters in her past. Even though her measurements may put her in a certain size, if she doesn't like it she needs to find a different bra. No one should be forced to wear a bra that hurts them. 

Every bra enthusiast has their own set of rules. Bras I Hate and Love has a post in which she defends the "plus 2" method of measuring for the band. Fuller Figure Fuller Bust measures her underband at 35 so she fluctuates between 34 and 36 bands. I personally find I'm more comfortable when I don't add inches to my 34 inch measurement and though I wear 34's and 36's I often find that I get more support from my 34's. The problem with these rules is that they don't take into account each wearer's preference and comfort. While I may not be adding inches, you may find that you're more comfortable adding a few inches to your band. Some women may measure their cup size by averaging several measurements (like standing and leaning forward) and some may take just their standing measurement. I have had readers tell me that my bra is covering too much of my chest when I knew that the bra I was wearing at the time was giving me major quad-boob and looking awful under a shirt. 

The most important thing to remember as a bra wearer is that if the rules aren't working for you throw them out! Not all bras are created equal and just because a bra says it's a 30 band doesn't mean it measures exactly 30 inches. The band may run loose or tight and you may need to size up or down accordingly. Freya's bands tend to be very stretchy and you may want to wear the next size down. Tutti Rouge and Parfait have run small in the past and you might want to size up. What matters is that you're comfortable in what you're wearing. After all, you're going to be wearing it all day, not the fitter. Wear what feels right to you. If you like bras that give plenty of cleavage wear those. If you like bras that cover you wear those. If you're full on top and your bra gives you the dreaded quad-boob (even though it's the "right size") then size up. If the bra is too shallow or if it's digging into your sternum, or if it's giving you crazy east-west boob or if you just plain hate it, don't wear it. It's your body and your bra. Your comfort is the most important part of your fitting experience. 

So fitters, be patient with the women you're helping. You're trying to give them a better experience than they've had before. Listen to them and meet their needs. 

And ladies, never let anyone force you into a bad bra. You're the one wearing it and you should be comfortable in it.