Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ball Essentials

Ok, ok, I know I'm a bad blogger. But I was inspired this morning for a new post.

It's Ball season here in the Army. Not sports balls, but dancing balls. Our Soldiers put on their dress uniforms, spouses and significant others put on their formal wear, we eat food (usually either really good or really bad, no in-betweens), listen to some speeches, maybe drink some grog, and dance a little.

I didn't go to any balls last year since my husband was deployed, and I really am just arm candy at these things. This season, we have a ball in December and another in February. I have a couple formals in my closet that still fit me, so I'm OK on the dress front.

But this is a blog about bras and lingerie. So what do you wear under the dresses?

One of my dresses is a vintage 1960s ribbon lace sheath. It has a high scoop neck and full back so I can wear a regular bra under it. Yay!

The other dress is strapless and has stretch, which means a strapless bra is a requirement. I have issues with strapless bras. There are some great ones out there for us larger cup women, but I also have a short torso. Many of the strapless bras come up so high on my chest that they show over the top of the dress, and this isn't a low cut dress. I have 2 strapless bras right now, and neither is perfect. One fits well enough but isn't supportive and has textured cups, the other is smooth but a little small in the cup so I spill out the top.

I would like to spend a little time talking about other foundation pieces, though.  They are just as important as the bra. Neither of my dresses are super snug on the hips, nor do they show anything underneath, so panties are not a big issue this time. But they can be. I recall the "date" of a soldier at a past Dining-Out (formal dinner). She had a white dress, more dressy than formal, and was rather obviously wearing a white thong underneath. This wouldn't have been quite as noticeable if it weren't for that tattoo on her cheek. Yes, that cheek. It showed through the white dress.

There are tons of "seamless" panty choices out there now. You want something that won't be moving around and getting out of position. No picking wedgies in your ball gown. I am considering wearing my running panties, actually. C9 by Champion (at Target) has some great sports panties. They are super comfy, stay in place, and don't create any bulging. I need to buy a few more.

There is also shape wear that can smooth out your panty line. I do own a pair of spanx, the kind that goes from mid thigh up to the bra band. I haven't worn it in a long time, since my current formal attire doesn't need it. I also own a shaping slip. It's black, stretchy, and has lace at the bottom hem, just in case it peaks out of a shorter dress. It's perfect for covering cleavage as well as giving a smooth outline. These also come in strapless versions and can have built-in bras.

Of course, there are hose or stocking. I personally avoid them at all costs. It's just a personal taste - I hate them. I can't stand panty hose. I don't like stockings. I'm not fond of tights either. However, if you do choose to wear them, they can add in smoothing the silhouette and help avoid the dreaded thigh chafe.

Oh, thigh chafe. Yes, I get it too. That painful spot where your thighs touch together and get rubbed raw if they stay together too long. Or if it's too hot and damp/sweaty. Ick. There are products you can rub on your thighs to prevent chafe, but none of them last all day.

There is a new solution for thigh chafe that doesn't involve panty hose or tights. I plan to get at least 1 pair before my ball in December. Bandelettes are like the lacy top of stockings without the rest of the stocking. I discovered them through Braless In Brazil's review. I'm not one to let them show under my short shorts, but they would be great for a ball, or even under a skirt in the hot, sweaty summer months. Yes, I definitely need a couple pairs.

They have a simple size chart. You just measure your thigh at the point where they need chafe protection, and pick the letter that fits your measurement. In my lack of shame, I will tell you that the widest part of my thigh is 23 inches. That puts me in a B. And since they have the original black and nude options on sale right now..... yes. Going shopping.

So, my under-dress ball essentials? A good (or at least decent) bra, comfy panties (don't want to be picking a wedgie all night), and now, Bandelettes. What are your essentials?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Review: Adore Me & Paili/Arabella

Whew! This review has been a little rough just getting to this stage.

I had previously read a blog post/review of Adore Me by the Lingerie Addict (read it here), so I had some expectations going into this, but I saw an add for your first set for only $20 and had to give it a try.

I knew that the bras in my size were all from Affinitas, so I looked at some of my go-to sites for reviews. It took me all day to decide, but I ordered the Kimberly bra and panty set (Adore Me calls it the Leona).

Now, when you sign up, you only get the $20 set if you register for the VIP membership, which is where they charge your card each month and you get to pick some lingerie. They send you an email before charging, so you can choose to skip a month.

Ok, ok. I signed up. I went with slow shipping because it's free and I'm cheap.

Then I got this in the mail:

box is a little beat up
but it's all "pretty". i hate pink.
I knew about the relabeling. Of course that's the first thing I checked out. I was shocked at how poorly and obviously it was done.

sewn right on top
you can see where they cut out the old tag
they think the sticker there is sneaky. i guess 
old tag fibers
I really expected more, but oh well. I tried it on. I had ordered up a cup size based on the reviews on other sites. By the way, Adore Me uses US sizing, and goes up to an I, so that's what I got.

The set is adorable. I love pinstripes. The fit, on the other hand, was horrid. The band was too tight and I was spilling out everywhere. *Le Sigh*

Failed attempt. I went online and found the exchange page. It was actually really easy. I filled out a little form, got a printable return mailing label, and got an email with a code to get another set for free. So ease of use has been pretty good.

I picked the Arabella set for my next try, or Paili as they call it (is that even a real name?). I went up to a 34I, so up one band and another cup. Time to wait again.

The box was beat up again, and filled with pink tissue paper again. The tags were much better and look like they were done by the manufacturer.

The fit is, well, it's OK. The 34 band is a little loose, and the cups *barely* fit my boobs, but it fits enough for $20. The girls are a little wider than I'm used to, and the textured cups show under thin and/or light colored fabrics, but it looks good under a dark tshirt.

The panties are super comfy! And sexy, with their see-through back side. I will totally wear them even without the bra. 
no pics of these on - gotta avoid the creepers
So what's my final conclusion?


Affinitas bras just don't fit me well, and if that's the only brand Adore Me is going to relabel, then I'll pass. I got a nice deal on this set, but just barely. If Affinitas fit you well, then yeah, check it out. They really are good deals on the bra and panty sets.

I will be canceling my account and heading back over to True&Co. who now carries bras in my size. And lets you try on a handful and keep what fits. Yes yes. In other good news, my town is getting a Nordstrom Rack in October! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they stock lots of bras in my size range.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Size Issue

Size - Why does it matter so much to us? Why are so many women today stuck on being a certain size? It's just a number. Or a letter. Or both. But it doesn't make us who we are. It has no effect on our personality.

I am guilty of this as well. I look at the numbers and think I should be that number. Or number/letter combo. I tell the world on this blog that I'm a 32FF/32H. That alone should be a clue - I have 2 different sizes based on the country of origin. But also, I am currently wearing a Lunaire 34G, rather comfortably. It has a snug band and very stretchy cups, which more than accommodates my girls. It's a comfy bra that fits me.

And that should be the point, right? Fit! In my jean drawer right now I have mostly 8s, some 6s, and a 4. I have another pair of size 4 in my closet because they are still a bit too small. Most of my current jeans are hand-me-downs, and I only kept what fit (or what I hope to fit). So, sometimes I wear an 8, sometimes a 10, sometimes a 6, and occasionally even a 4.

Yet I still fall victim to the size issue. This "should" fit me because it's "my size."

I am also petite in my upper half. I have a petite cut dress that still needs a good half inch taken out of the shoulders. So in one way, for tops at least, I have learned (the hard way) that I can't just rely on a "size" to fit me. I cannot buy clothes without trying them on, or making sure they have a great exchange/return policy. It makes shopping torturous sometimes. I'll try on 10 things and maybe, if I'm lucky, 1 will fit, or at least fit well enough.

But our society pushes the size issue on us. All those fad diets and diet gimmicks. All the body snark. All the "you must be such and such" shoved down our throats. We are conditioned to feel good or bad based on our size or perceived size.

In actuality, if we focus less on the numbers and more on proper fit, we look and feel much better. I am going to try to focus more on finding a good fit, in all my clothes, no matter what size I end up getting. A good fit makes me happy and comfortable. A good fit looks good on me. A proper fit makes me look slimmer and taller. A proper fit can make me look fit. Ha.

I challenge you to think about fit the next time you go shopping for clothing or shoes. Don't focus on a number or letter or combination thereof, but spend the time to find a proper fit and don't worry about the size. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Upcoming Review

Just to let y'all know...

I took the plunge and ordered something from AdoreMe today. They actually have my size, and your first purchase (if you sign up for the VIP service) is only $20 for a set. That's a set, as in bra AND panties. Which is really a great deal if you compare the one brand they seem to carry (Parfait by Affinitas, don't think they make it themselves).

I ordered the Lola Balconette (or Leona according to AdoreMe), in a 32I/32G. Yes, I'm normally a 32H/32FF, but I looked up some reviews on different sites and found that Parfait tends to run a cup size small, and maybe a band size small. I prefer my bands pretty snug compared to most women, so I just went up a cup. Plus, I think my strapless bra is by them, and the 32G is even small. If this doesn't fit, I'll see about a refund since I ordered the largest size they carry.

Anywho, this is just a note that I will be reviewing the bra and service soon. Something to look forward too!

in the mean time, I'm going to go see if Jockey has bras in my size yet (I doubt it; too soon).

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Companies Really Can Learn (Maybe? We Hope So?)

I admit I'm a little jaded when it comes to new online bra retailers. I've seen too many that push their wares and then don't have my size, even if they carry my brands. When I first saw the add for True&Co., I didn't have high expectations.

What is True&Co.? It's an online retailer that offers to send you 5 bras (and 5 other items) for a deposit. You then try them on, then log on and let them know which ones you want to keep. You print a label to send back the ones you don't want, and there you have it - bras tried on at home. Great idea, no?

Sure enough, they carried my brands in up to an F cup. I was still a G when I found them. Le sigh, no luck. I wasn't too sure of their "fit quiz" either. You answer questions in a little quiz and it seems to suggest the same bra size you entered, or maybe a cup size difference. Then I read some reviews of the company from other bra bloggers, and they seemed to all feel the same way.

So what changed my mind? Let's blame it on my bra fairy. I have a friend who brings me bra luck. She's with me when I find awesome deals on bras, or even just find my bras in our city. She sent me the link to Jockey bras. And yesterday, she sent me a link from True&Co. about their new offering - sports bras. She is my bra fairy.

At first I laughed it off, without even clicking the link, but it was stuck in the back of my head. So I clicked on it and filled out the fit quiz, yet again. To my surprise, when I entered the size of my of favorite bra in question 3 (32FF), I got a message informing me that they do not currently carry my size, but are looking to expand their range. I was asked to enter my email address for updates on their stock.

Wow. Totally unexpected. I actually started an account with my real email address and signed up for info on whenever they stock my size. They linked me to a post where they talked about wanting to expand their offerings (although I can't find it right now). I commented with my favorite brands and all the sizes I've worn in them.

I was impressed. So I tweeted about it linking them, and they thanked me in a reply tweet. Ok, good.

I then found out I had previously started an account with my spam email address (the one I use for stuff I expect to spam me). I re-did the fit quiz based on my bra size before I first got fitted. I answered the questions as I would have then, to the best of my memory. Let's see what this gives me, right?

I was a little disappointed here. They corrected the cup size by 1 or 2, but not the band. None of the questions really seemed to pinpoint if I had a proper band size or not. So I decided they needed my feedback. (This NYT thing must have gone to my head, no?)

I emailed them:

Out of curiosity, I started 2 accounts on your site. My main account, which is linked to this email address, has my current size and fit. I was glad to see that you are looking to expand your size range!
For my other account, with my other email address, I took the fit quiz as I would have answered back before my first real fitting. Back then I was wearing a 38DD. Your fit quiz was suggesting 38Fs, 38Es, and 40DDs, but a real fitting found me to be a 36G.

Your quiz was close on the cups, at least trying to get me into a bigger cup size, but nothing indicated that I was in the wrong band. I remember always tugging my bra band back into place as it would ride up my back. A simple question about bands staying in place or moving, either up or down, could help with that.

I just wanted to give this feedback because, like I said above, I'm excited to see you expanding your size range. The area I live in requires online shopping for bras in my size, and the ability to give them a try and easily return those that don't would make life easier. Having trained and worked as a bra fitter, I love seeing opportunities for all women to get a proper fit.

Thanks for taking the time to read my feedback!

And today, I got a response:

Hi Charla,

Thank you for taking the time to offer us this feedback! We're definitely working to improve our quiz so that we can get better at diagnosing the correct band size. If you do ever have questions for us about fit we're happy to chat with you over the phone, since sometimes we do need more information than the quiz currently collects to make the best possible recommendation.

As we continue to improve we really appreciate any and all suggestions you have for us, particularly pertaining to fit and what did or didn't work for you. Keep an eye out as we expand our range as well, since we do hope to be able to fit you better going forward.

Have a great 4th of July!



I think that's a pretty damn good response. And it's real and personal. I must say, I'm pretty impressed. Of course, much like Jockey Bras, I cannot yet use their service. However, my Bra Fairy can, and is considering it. Should she check it out, I will get her to do a review for me. (She has one pending on Jockey, BTW.)

So? My point? Companies can learn. Companies can grow with their market base. And we should support the companies that are trying. I think this one is trying. Check them out. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Home Again (And Looking For Ideas)

Ok, so I've been home for a while. And I've not been blogging. My husband has turned into a better blogger than me (probably because he's still new at it, not disillusioned yet).

Unfortunately, there were no bra stores to stop at on my vacation. I don't have any fun new bras to review.

However, my friend was able to get her hands on a Jockey Bra and is writing up a review for us! Preliminary reports are good - very comfortable. I got to check it out and their underwire resin thingy looks pretty awesome. There are a couple things they could improve on, like some topstitching to hold lining fabrics in place, but all in all it looks like a good start. Even has some pretty hardware on it.

In the meantime, I haven't yet reviewed the bras I have been wearing on a daily basis, and would love to do so. So I will get started on those.

But since I have some new readers (more than just family and friends), what would you like to read about? What can I talk about to keep you interested?

Anything to do with boobs, bras, what have you, is open to suggestion. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

My Boobs Are Famous!

Wow. So, I have never had so much traffic on my blog! If you are one of those reading the archive, you'll notice that I don't write a lot lately.

Thanks to Stephanie Clifford, the writer of the New York Times article I was mentioned in, my blog has exploded (not literally, thank goodness). And of course all this happened as I prepare for vacation.

This is official vacation notice. I will be on vacation for a while, and don't plan on blogging during that time. I may surprise us all with a post, but my plans include more reading and relaxing. There will probably be some research in that reading, and I will try to keep up with comments.

Thanks to everyone for checking out this little blog. I'm just a girl that's obsessed with bras and good fit, ever since it change my own relationship with my boobs.

I will try to keep this blog rolling upon my return, so check back in 2 weeks(ish) and expect more regular posting.

Charla E. Welch
Bra Crusader