Friday 29 June 2012

Social Media Is Hard And Confusing

When I first started this blog about nine months ago, I didn’t really think anyone would read it. Realizing that people DO read my blog has given me so much joy and a great sense of purpose over the past months. I’m really lucky that the large-cup-size lingerie blogging community is really small and supportive, so I’ve been able to grow an awesome readership in a pretty short time.

Still, I’m not exactly a high roller. No company has ever tried to send me a free product to review (gosh, I wonder if that’s because of the threatening name of my blog… ha ha). I’ve been invited to a “press event” exactly once—someone forwarded the invite to the Gok Wan shapewear event to my email, but I had class that day and oh, oops, I also don’t wear shapewear. (Well, I wear shapewear leggings because they’re more opaque.) It would have been inconvenient and dishonest for me to attend that event, as well as not very useful because so many other bloggers already wrote about it. So I didn’t worry about not going to that event, and I don’t really think I’m missing much by not going to other press events because they’re not as appropriate to my blog’s content as they are for lots of other people. But I admit I sometimes get a thinner skin than usual and feel hurt when companies don’t invite me to their press events. And then I have to put on my big girl pants and move on with my life.

Here’s how I justify this. My blog is not about companies, it’s about my readers. I want to help people while simultaneously being amusing and irreverent. I usually don't focus as much on pressuring or promoting companies as I do on sharing my excitement or disappointment with certain products, and trying to figure out who would like them or hate them (not simply whether I personally like them or hate them, as I thought I'd be doing when I started this blog). That’s what drives me to write my blog—I love writing, I love feeling useful, and I have a fairly large amount of information and knowledge on large-cup-size bras. If I knew about mountain biking or cupcake baking, I’d try to write a useful blog about those things. That’s why I make a priority of posting often and responding to comments and emails.

Things I HAVEN’T spent any time focusing on are my sad, abandoned Twitter, and my totally nonexistent blog Facebook page. I don’t really understand Twitter and I’ve never fully figured out how to use it. The whole Twitter concept sort of bums me out because it makes me feel like a 95-year-old great-grandmother who has managed to sort of figure out email—the best thing you can say is “At least she’s online at all!” As for having a Facebook fan page for my blog, I haven’t done it because I just feel like it would take up a lot of time that I’d rather spend writing actual blog posts.

Then again, I can’t QUITE give up on my dream of becoming fabulously famous and popular and having hundreds of thousands of people, including random celebrities, reading and promoting my blog! (I’m pretty sure most of us cling to this dream.) And so I sometimes wonder if I might increase my readership by making better use of social media. I like to think that by striving to post regularly and (hopefully) intelligently, I will naturally grow and maintain a loyal readership, and that’s been overwhelmingly true so far. (Thanks, awesome readers!) But I also wonder if there are some more awesome, loyal readers out there who have just never seen my blog at all because I don’t connect over social media much.

Awesome, loyal readers, I would love to know YOUR view. Do you often discover new blogs through social media? Would you find it fun and interesting if I cobbled together some kind of Facebook fan page? Does anyone REALLY read Twitter? (Yeah, yeah, I know everyone except me reads Twitter…)

The other pertinent question is blog design/layout. One of my friends recently made an offhand comment “Yeah, you really need to work on a design update for your blog”, as though it was wearing leg warmers and playing PacMan, or something. My design is admittedly pretty craptastic right now, I sort of just used the first template that popped up and I am only now figuring out that there are ways to add a more interesting or original background. I’m thinking I will add my own background (like maybe gray and white stripes?). BUT, I know that personally I always feel a little sad when blogs update their layout. I just don’t really like change. Plus, I have this odd attachment to having a really low-tech and simple design. So I’m wondering if anyone else has a similar attachment or if more technical updates would make the reading experience more pleasurable. (Like do people wish I had a bigger font? Do you crave more tabs?)

If you have any thoughts on this, please let me know in the comments… thanks a million for that, and for reading my blog to begin with. It honestly means more to me than I can ever express. 

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Urkye, At Last, With Some Very Blurry Photos

You might remember from my last post that I mailed my Urkye order to my parents’ house and wasn’t sure when I’d be able to get it. Well, I asked my mom to send it to me and it arrived yesterday.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a camera right now—my old one broke and a new one is in the mail on the way to me—so all I have is my webcam. And I’m basically living in the woods right now so in addition to the lack of internet, there is also a severe lack of indoor light. So these photos are inexcusably horrible. But I thought maybe you guys would like to see a blurry first view and at least hear my thoughts. Hopefully it will be helpful if you’re trying to make an order yourself!

I ordered the Urkye dress (I’m not clear on the name of the dress from the website, but it’s currently the only dress they have) in a 36ooo. Here it is!

Overall a rousing success! The quality of the dress is really nice. The jersey fabric is thick and forgiving and the pockets in front give it a really satisfying heaviness.

I found that it was also extremely flattering to my shape from the back…

…and especially the side.

I am becoming more and more convinced that the pockets on this dress are utter genius. The location and construction means that they completely solve the problem a lot of other jersey dresses have—the awkward thing where they cling back in under one’s little chubby belly and end up highlighting it. The pockets on Urkye’s dress completely smooth and camouflage this section, so it looks like I don’t have a little chubby belly at all, but trust me, I do. So if you usually skip jersey dresses because you’re afraid they won’t flatter, try this one! I bet you’ll be impressed!

One thing I didn’t like was the puff on the shoulder of the sleeve. I felt like it sort of distracted attention from the rest of the dress, which is so simple and adorable. It also made my shoulders seem wider, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in itself, but I can’t say it is something I seek out. I do wonder, though, if perhaps the puff sleeves were added to draw the eyes to various places other than the boobs and thus balance the figure?

The only other small problem I had with the dress was that the princess seams that come down over the boobs didn’t lie flat—the seam binding switched sides halfway through which created a bump. But this would be solved with a simple ironing so I can’t say I’m too bothered by it.

On to the sizing. The 36ooo is a pretty good fit, just about perfect in the body. I do wonder if I could have maybe downsized to an oo for my boobs. In this photo, you can see that there is a very faint line where the fabric is hanging down slightly over my boobs:

I take this as a cue that there is a little bit of extra fabric in that area. I think this is good news. In the BiuBiu items I’ve tried, I definitely needed a BBB, which means that women with bigger boobs than me wouldn’t have a bigger size to wear. For at least this one item, it does seem that Urkye has a little more wiggle room and could fit those with bigger boobs than me. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend sizing down, however. I think it comes down to shape more than anything. I figure that Urkye’s clothes are designed for Polish bras, like Ewa Michalak or Comexim, which tend to give a more upfront/uplifted shape. I tend to wear Panache and Cleo bras, which give a more minimized, rounded shape. (You can read more about that here.) So I think I would have the ability to size down to the oo while someone else who wears an H/HH/J cup in different bra styles might prefer the ooo.

My biggest piece of advice on sizing is to email Urkye if you are confused about which size to order! I didn’t do that myself, but she suggested it in a comment on my last post, and I’ve heard from several people that she is very helpful and speaks English.

Overall, I would highly recommend this dress! I love it lots and lots.

P.S. I don’t mean to sound as though I am insulting/abandoning BiuBiu. I also recently received a BiuBiu order and those photos/reviews will be up next week.  

Tuesday 19 June 2012

My Urkye Order

Some of you may have heard of the new big-busted clothing line that has just launched, Urkye. Like BiuBiu, it is located in Poland and is similar to BiuBiu and Pepperberry in that each clothing size also has three options for "curviness" sizes. The sizing isn't as similar as I'd expected, though. I read on Urkye's sewing blog that she decided to use a different number of inches between sizes to hopefully get a better fit for more people. I guess I'm one of the people for whom that won't be true, because although my measurements are smack in the middle of a BiuBiu 36BBB, I found that I was weirdly between sizes in every way on the Urkye sizing charts, which look like this:

I ultimately decided to go with a 36ooo but I have to say I felt like I was taking a shot in the dark and have no idea how that size is going to fit me. I'm worried it will be too big.... or too small. But despite this, I made an order anyway, selecting this dress:

The only thing cuter than this dress is this dress paired with the tights this model is wearing. Actually, even cuter than that is the item description:

"This dress is not a serious one... :) We added funny pockets that can hide your treasures."

It can hide my treasures! I'm so ready for this! Unlike most of the items I look over and reject on the Pepperberry website, I saw this dress and knew that I HAD to have it. Like my life would have no meaning if I didn't buy it RIGHT THEN. This reaction makes me happy for so many reasons. When I look at clothes on the Pepperberry website, and even sometimes BiuBiu, I often feel like the only reason I would buy clothes like that is BECAUSE they are designed for big boobs. I usually don't find anything I like but still can't kick the feeling that I am "supposed" to like the clothes because they are "made for my body type" and blah blah depressing. I often find myself considering making a Pepperberry order for this sole reason, but I always stop myself when I realize that I wouldn't even be considering if if I didn't feel like I was supposed to want to.

This dress on Urkye's website is nothing like that! It is all that I want and more! I will wear it obsessively, probably every other day for three months (I have a disturbing tendency to do this) if it fits. It has POCKETS! FRONT POCKETS! I almost ordered it in both the teal and the raspberry color, but then I didn't... but I sort of wish I had.

The one thing driving me crazy is that the dress has been delivered already, but I don't know if it fits me yet! That's because I had the bright idea to mail it to my parents' house instead of where I'm living now at my summer job. I'm not sure when I'm going to make it home to try it on, but I guess I just want my readers to be as psyched about it as I am.

Monday 18 June 2012

What To Do With Your Hideous Work Uniform

In case you’ve been wondering what I’ve been doing the past two weeks I haven’t posted, I started my summer job at the beginning of June and have been CRAZY busy. I work in the office at a summer resort, and since I am the only returning staff member, I had to train the five new people joining my department. In addition to this, we host weddings in the early season, which can be very chaotic and difficult to keep organized. Since I didn’t wanted to leave the new girls alone with anything too complicated until they were ready, I was working loads of extra hours. Throw in a really slow internet connection and that should hopefully explain my two-week absence. Anyway, I’m here now.

My job requires everyone to wear a uniform, and for the office, that means a navy blue polo shirt. For some reason, the sizing for these polo shirts is just crazy. I also choose an Extra-Small, but even men’s sizing doesn’t explain the sheer vastness of this Extra-Small:

It’s not like I am a particularly tiny person; I typically wear a women’s size Medium. This “Extra-Small” is comparable to a normal Men’s Medium or Large. This leads to a conundrum. The whole point of having a uniform is so that we look presentable in the office. But wearing a tent-like polo is the opposite of presentable. So I have to take matters into my own hands.

The alteration I’m going to describe is really simple. It hardly even deserves a tutorial. But I think the pictures speak for themselves in terms of the amazing difference a simple alteration can make. You can do this alteration by hand or by machine, so anyone who has a basic idea of how to sew can do it. It’s obviously a lot faster on a machine but of course not everyone has access to one. I used to do this alteration by hand all the time before I had my own sewing machine.

First, turn the shirt you are altering inside out. Make sure that it is lying flat with no wrinkles, and pull it so that the side seams are all on the side (most shirts have a seam along each side, but if the shirt you’re altering doesn’t have one, just make your best guess for where the sides should lie). Now, select a shirt you already own that fits you well and has a similar level of stretch to the shirt you are altering. Turn that one inside out too and arrange the side seams so they are perfectly on the sides. Lay it on top of the shirt you’re altering, making sure that the shoulders are at the same level.

Now, trace the edges of the smaller shirt onto the larger one. 

I use a special white crayon/pen that supposedly can write on anything, but you can use a regular pencil for a light-colored shirt, or for a dark-colored shirt, you can use any light or bright shade of eyeliner. (Buying a $1 white or lavender-colored eyeliner pencil made by NYC at your local pharmacy, supermarket or Wal-Mart is probably cheaper than finding the same kind of marks-anything crayon/pen that I have, which I stole from my mom seven years ago.) Don’t use a pen or marker because that will permanently mark the shirt and the ink can bleed, while cheap eyeliner tends to evaporate or come off in the wash.

There are various schools of thought on what to do with the armpits. I tend to take the lazy route and just flare out to where the armpit seams lie.

If the shirt you are altering also has massive sleeves, though, you can also take in the sleeves by simply tracing the smaller sleeves of the shirt that fits. It wasn't necessary to do that for this polo, though, so here are the lines I traced:

Now, just sew a simple seam right along the lines you’ve traced. When you’re done, try on the shirt. Keep in mind you are going to have a lot of extra fabric bunched up inside where you took it in, so the fit will be a little looser once you’ve cut that off. With that in mind, decide if the shirt is too big, too small, or just right. If it’s not right, make adjustments; you can take out the seam you’ve put in with a seam ripper or with a pair of scissors and a lot of patience. If the fit is correct, turn the shirt inside out again and just cut off the extra fabric. I usually leave about half an inch between the seam I sewed and where I cut to prevent fraying. If you are altering something especially nice and you’re feeling nervous, you don’t have to cut the extra fabric off at all. But I’ve found the alteration isn’t much use if I don’t cut off the extra, because then all the fabric bunching up inside ruins the look anyway. But do whatever you feel most comfortable with.

And here’s the result:

Before and after:

From frumpy to polished in a ten-minute alteration! I do this alteration to all kinds of clothes. I do it with dresses, tank tops, and even sweaters. I did it to every single thing I owned one time when I lost weight. I can’t even guess at how many  hundreds of dollars this has saved me over the years.

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Pepperberry Has Problems

Pepperberry is probably the biggest and most mainstream brand purporting to make clothes for bigger busts. But they honestly drive me crazy with a lot of their designs. Half the time it seems like they just expand the breast area on clothing by adding pleats...

...or cinch in the waist by adding belts...

...or cover up excessive cleavage by adding a fake cami at the neckline (!?)...

...all without understanding what actually works for a curvy figure, or why. Pleats can be a decent way to add space for a bust but they also can add become bulky and add volume where volume is not needed. Waist belts can be cute--but they look best when they aren't necessary to draw in the waist of a garment, when they are just an accessory. When I do need to use a belt to draw in a top or dress without enough waist definition, I personally always feel annoyed about it. As for camis under low-cut tops--well those are just a solution we use when there are no options available other than trying to wear normal mainstream clothing that isn't cut for a big bust. I feel that Pepperberry should do better than that, since their prices are so high and their whole purpose is catering to a full bust.

I think this is going to be an ongoing series so I will just go over one item that is annoying me currently, and compare to a similar BiuBiu item that I feel is made better.

Check out Pepperberry’s gray Tie Shirt Dress.

Now, in general I like the idea of this: it’s a good color, it’s nice to have something shorter, and a shirt dress is an item that is hard to buy on the high street if you have big boobs, so it makes sense for Pepperberry to sell it.

I hate how it’s constructed though! The ‘boob space’ is added by those lumpy pleats at the neckline. 

The waist definition depends solely on the belt-like item that ties at the back—and as you can see, even on the model, there is tons of extra fabric in the back.

This is exactly what it would look like in the back if you simply belted a large men’s shirt—except with bumpy neckline pleats in the front. Now, I’m not saying this dress is hideous. I’ve seen it looking great on some people (though I've also seen it looking unflattering on other people); if you own it, I trust that you bought it because you know that it looks nice on you. I just feel like Pepperberry ought to have the know-how at this point to construct a garment like this without neckline pleats and waist ties.

To see what I mean, compare to BiuBiu’s Montparnasse gray shirt dress.

The construction here is totally different. The boob space is achieved by the seams down the front of the bodice—a much subtler, more flattering, and less lazy construction. There are no pleats to add bulk, the dress is just cut to have space where space is needed. The waist definition also comes from this seam pattern. 

The belt shown in the photo isn’t nipping in the dress at the waist—it is sitting a bit loose and not even on the waist, it is just there as an accessory. The waist of the dress itself is doing the nipping in! The dress would look good on its own, even without the belt, because it is constructed to fit and flatter an hourglass figure. 

I also find it hilarious how happy the BiuBiu model looks, in comparison to how miserable the Pepperberry model looks! I know that is just styling, but still...

Monday 4 June 2012

Freya Siren Bikini Review

I recently become aware that the site Large Cup Lingeriealways has free international shipping, plus they have a great outlet section. They mostly just sell Freya and Fantasie items, but I was on the lookout for another bikini, and I was thrilled to see how low their prices were for Freya’s Siren bikini.

I’d had my eye on this bikini for awhile, having tried it on in a shop once and loved it. I am also pretty picky when it comes to swimwear designs, and this is one of the rare patterns that catches my eye.

The bikini top has a plunge shape and is constructed with two sections and a vertical seam—similar to Cleo’s Juna bra and several other Freya bikinis with the same plunge shape, including the Fusion, Fontana, Waves, etc.

Freya Fusion Bikini Top
Freya Fontana Bikini Top
Freya Waves Bikini Top
I think vertical seams are one of the best ways to construct a bra, especially for giving a round shape. I got the bikini top in a 32GG. It only goes up to GG, but as the equivalent of a 30H (the smaller of the two cup sizes I normally wear) I hoped this size would fit fine. You might remember that I don’t worry as much about a tight band when it comes to swimwear since I usually just lie out and read a book in my bikinis.

Don't make my mistakes--remember to reapply your sunscreen.
The 32GG ended up being perfect in the cup, which means it runs a little bigger than I was expecting. If you're sized out by just a half size or a single size, you might be able to squeeze into this one. It was big for me in the band, but I guess that’s no surprise since I cheated and got a 32. This one runs true to size in the band, unlike many swimsuits which run smaller because of all the Lycra. I will need to take in the band to feel more stable in it. I think the band runs a little bigger than the band on the Fantasie Ibiza bikini I reviewed earlier, since I felt that the 32 was an okay fit in that one.

The shape from the side is really great—very round.

I also like the fact that it is a bit lower-cut. Since it’s a bright white shade with sassy animal print, I was always intending this to be a flirtier, sexier bikini than my Fantasie Ibiza, and the extra cleavage plays into that. The gore also sits flat, which is a pleasant surprise considering the band is too big.

The biggest annoyance I have with the Siren top is that the seams are pretty bulky. It's not padded at all, but there seems to be a lot of stuff going on in that seam. It shows under tops and I noticed the seam became very prominent when I was lying down on the beach. I wonder if the cups were even too big for me and that's why the seam was taking on a mind of its own because it wasn't being pulled against my body. However, the cups are spot on when I'm standing so I wouldn't want to try a smaller cup size--although I find myself tempted by the notion that I MIGHT fit into a 30GG in this style of Freya plunge bikini, as I do in the Deco. I think the 30GG bikini would be about a half size too small, though. 

As for the bottoms, I was a little unsure what size to order. I normally need a medium for my hips, but a small for my butt. I didn’t want any cutting in on the sides, so I chose the medium. 

I think either size would have had some problems. If I got the small I would have had visible love handles. But with the medium, it is definitely too big on my butt. Swimwear also gets even bigger when it gets wet, so I’m going to have to work some magic to ensure I won’t find myself pantsless after a wave washes over me. The trick I usually use when I have this problem is to take in the crotch section a bit. This pulls down the back of the briefs so they sit where my diminutive butt is and won’t get baggy. Doing that also makes the briefs sit a bit lower on the hips, which I like. I think for people with a more average sized butt in relation to their hips, going with your normal bottoms size should be fine.

It’s hard to tell in photos, but the leopard print on the Siren actually has a border of silver glitter on each spot. 

I hadn’t realized that when I ordered it, but honestly, I’m down with it. I’d recommend this bikini if you want a bit of shimmer and glitz this summer. It really makes me feel gorgeous, which is pretty important when you’re half-naked on a beach, if you ask me!

Friday 1 June 2012

How Many Bras Do You Need To Own, Anyway?

From time to time, I come across blog posts that list the types of bras everyone needs to own. Of course, these posts are often put together by sites that actually sell bras. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I’ve noticed that the lists usually focus on different bra shapes, suggesting that everyone own a balconette, a strapless bra, a moulded T-shirt bra, a convertible/halter bra, and a racerback bra.

I personally feel this is sort of excessive. In the G+ crowd (and even the D+ crowd), I doubt many people own a racerback bra or a halter bra, much less both. The fact is these bras don’t really exist for the high cup sizes and probably aren’t priorities for most of us.

I know lots of people own a strapless bra, but I’m sort of cynical about them. They never seem to be constructed well and usually don’t even go above G cups. The strapless bra I own is actually a sort of basque. It stays up, but it also makes my boobs about four sizes bigger because it is heavily padded and has a downward-pointing construction. So if I’m trying to wear it with a strapless dress, I usually can’t even zip the dress up once I have the strapless basque on. Plus, the really nice strapless dresses I’ve found all have boning and can be worn without a bra even with my H/HH/J cup boobs. So I’m going to go ahead and say that no one should feel that they ‘need’ to own a strapless bra unless they find one they actually like.

When I think about the right number of bras to own, I’ve always though in terms of color instead of shape. To start with, there are the basics: black, white, and nude everyday bras (padded, molded, or unpadded as per personal preference).

White bras certainly are not a ‘must’ for everyone because they usually show under white or sheer tops (hence the need for a nude bra) and therefore aren’t necessary unless you like them (I love them). Black bras are good to wear under black tops because lighter or nude bras can show in photos with flash, like this:

I like a little color in my life, so I’ve always liked to also own two colored everyday bras. The colors I’ve generally gravitated towards are light blue (or sometimes teal) and pink. This adds up to five bras, one for every weekday.

Recently, I’ve also come to feel that red is a great mental boost and a good basic, so I also consider red a bra color that I personally ‘need’ to own. 

In terms of practicality, it’s also useful to own a sports bra and a plunge bra. For some people, this category of practicality might also include a strapless and/or convertible bra.

Here we have 8 bras, which I would consider the basic amount of bras I need to structure my wardrobe around. But of course, it’s also nice to own a few “fun” bras—sexy bras, patterned bras, and other colors. And it’s very easy to suddenly find yourself with multiples of the basic colors if you take advantage of good deals when you find them. I definitely bought way too many bras when I was in the UK—I couldn’t resist all the cheap eBay deals, plus I wanted to stock up before my return to the US. And suddenly I find myself with this bra-splosion:

My collection at this point is massive and overwhelming. And actually, I find this kind of depressing. With so many options, most of my bras never even get worn, even if I like them. I always feel like I have no idea what to choose in the morning. And the bras pictured above are just the ones that I actually wear. I also have a sizeable stack of bras I no longer wear that don’t fit right or are getting too worn out:

Coming home to the US and seeing my old bras—the ones I owned when I first started my collection—makes me feel nostalgic. At that point, I really did own just one black, nude, white, pink, teal, and red bra. And those bras are well-worn but still in really good shape. I loved them and took care of them. In future, if my heap of floral and fashion bras ever thins out, I’m going to try to focus on just the basics when I replenish my collection. I don’t like to have a huge excess of clothing, and bras are no exception. If you’re just starting a bra collection, it’s worth taking some time to think about what you would consider a good ‘basic’ collection before you end up with a massive overflowing drawer, like me!

I also feel like it’s important to consider what matching undies you have. Some people buy the matching panties that go with the bra, but I personally prefer to buy cheaper cotton underwear (Victoria’s Secret Pink makes my favorite styles and they last a lot longer than all the other brands I've tried). Ideally, I would own five pairs of underwear to match each bra. But in real life, that’s not the case at all. I only have five pairs of red underwear to match my three red bras, only one pair of nude underwear to go with my nude bra, and many of the floral bras I have don’t match any of my underwear at all. This is another factor to consider as you build your collection.

How many bras do you own? What bras do you think are essential to form a basic collection?