Tuesday 28 August 2012

HerRoom.Com Makes Me Want To Punch A Seagull

Note: Readers, I've just found an email I received from Herroom asking me to remove the copyrighted images from this post, as I did not receive permission to use them. I regret not checking my blog email account more often, as I would have found their message sooner. I had intended to show the images for what they are, as they are useful and well done in certain ways (albeit offensive in others), while taking issue with Herroom's phrasing. Legally, I do have the right to use their images without permission in a post that is critical of them. It is not as though I did not mention the source of the images. But it was my mistake to not realize they would react strongly and go on the offensive. The images are removed for now. I'm going to replace them with images of my own that explain what I'm trying to get across. For now, there will just be spaces there--hopefully I'll be able to replace the images with my own images soon.

*Note about the title. I asked my sister if it was a weird title and she said yes. My boyfriend gets really annoyed about noise pollution when he's studying and once said "If I hear another saxophone I am going to punch a seagull." I thought it was hilarious so I'm using it now in my moment of rage. I actually think seagulls are awesome and will not be punching any. I might punch my computer screen, though. Read on to see why:

On a reader's suggestion, I just went to Herroom.com to try out their new "Know Your Breasts" feature. You can check it out here if you're feeling like you've got a thick skin today and can handle some bizarre textual insults about features you never knew you needed to be insecure about.

On the surface, this is an awesome idea--a website that sells bras teaches you how to identify your shape and what works for that shape, and then directs you to those bras. Of course, they are just doing it to try to raise sales for themselves--they obviously don't link you to the cheapest source for a bra, or to better bras that they don't carry, but still. I was actually kind of miffed at first because it would have sort of negated the whole purpose of my blog if it had worked, ha ha. This freaking thing was apparently even featured in the New York Times. Well, BEWARE, girls! We still need blogs because bra sellers and manufacturers STILL don't understand how boobs work! Rage courses through my veins!

To start with I'm going to just go through the problems with the results I got for my shape. I will go into further detail about the results for different shapes later... hopefully with help from you guys, if you do try it out.

The first thing I should mention is that at first I was super impressed by the quiz! They asked a lot of pertinent questions in the first part of the quiz and the illustrations are AWESOME. They show the differences between full-on-top and full-on-bottom better than I could, plus hopefully it will bring those concepts to a wider audience (and help people to realize that full-on-top is NOT a synonym for perky). Of course, the images were all extremely nipply, so here's my slightly less NSFW censorship to show how well they did with these images:

(Image removed)

The boobs on the top left are the shape I consider "full on top". These images are a pretty similar, but more detailed, less teal version of the images I drew in my post on how to figure out the shape of your boobs:

There's a reason I made my image teal, too, by the way... Humans don't have just one skin color, and since none of us have teal skin, I figured it would apply to all of us equally. HerRoom didn't do the same... why are all their boobs white? ALL of them?

My next prickling of discomfort came when, instead of calling full-on-top boobs "full-on-top", they chose to go with "oversized upper breasts."

(Image Removed)

As you might know from my blog, I really hate terms like "oversized," "huge", "abnormal", etc. Seriously, HerRoom, why not just say "FULL upper breasts?" After all, that's what you MEANT--and that doesn't carry a connotation that there is an ideal "normal-sized upper breast" and I fall outside of that golden category. This sort of linguistic subtlety is pretty basic, folks, especially when you're writing about boobs and trying to convince women to pay your high prices.

After establishing your shape, the quiz then goes through some more questions with varying degrees of interest and relevance. Some of the questions regard things I never thought about before, like protruding versus inverted collarbones, and loose skin near the armpit which apparently is common in older women. Some of the other stuff just seemed kind of awkward and unecessary. Do not even ask me why they need to know whether or not you have "large areolas." That affects the fit of a bra how??? It sort of seemed like it was just another opportunity for Herroom to draw attention to "normal" versus "abnormal" features. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I can't see how an areola of any size or shape would have any effect on bra fit. It's just skin that's a different color, really not a big deal at all.

They make you enter an email address to get your results. I fortunately have an email account that I use just for spammy things like this, so I used that--I'd advise doing the same unless you want Herroom to be your newest pen pal. I was still pretty hopeful about my results at this point--not hopeful because I need help, since I know what works for me, but hopeful that the quiz would be awesome and I could recommend it to people.


The bra styles they suggested for my full-on-top boobs (which are NOT oversized, thank you very much) were the total OPPOSITE of what works for me. They are, for the most part the bras I would suggest for someone who has lower fullness. Not one of the shapes they suggested would work for me. Let's examine.

(Image removed)

So first, they give your "very personal results", which are actually just a summary of all the things YOU selected in the quiz... things you already knew. (This also includes a flash of the other thing I LOATHE about HerRoom, their pathetic "Universal Cup Sizing" initiative. Post on that coming later on.)

(Image removed)

 First off, seamless bras. Okay, seamless bras could, in theory, work for full-on-top boobs, but in my general experience, they don't. That's because they are generally made with a lot of space in the apex that is either evenly distributed between the bottom and top of the cup (leaving full-on-top girls looking pointy because they can only fill out the top, and vice versa) or mostly at the bottom, meaning epic quad-boob. Not their worst suggestion (just wait) but a slightly odd one.

(Image removed)

 Multi-what under-who? I assume by this they just mean "seamed bras." Okay... seamed bras can work for every shape, but it is the seam PATTERN that makes or breaks the fit on a particular shape. In the upper sizes, seamed bras are just about all there is, so this suggestion doesn't exactly narrow it down for someone who might be looking for guidance.

(Image removed)

 Say what? Bandeau bras? HerRoom declares that strapless bras will be difficult for me because of my "bountiful upper breast". Okay, "bountiful" is better than "oversized," but a kinda pervy word. It's true, by the way, that strapless bras are tricky. They're tricky for ALL shapes, just for different reasons. Strapless bras are tricky for full-on-top boobs because there is so much weight pushing down from the top, it tends to push the bra into a torpedo/football shape. Strapless bras are difficult for boobs with lower fullness because it is hard to lift the weight at the bottom. I guess I just don't think that a bandeau bra would be any better, or even any different, really. I will also bet you a million dollars that HerRoom doesn't sell any bandeau bras in my size.

(Image removed)

 Okay, that one is basically the same as the first suggestion. I'm baffled by their description, though. These bras "will provide modesty and help mask your lower apex"? Um, NO. You don't "mask" a lower apex--that would mean squashing your boobs down and pretending the apex is somewhere else, which is really bad for your breast tissue and will increase sagging over the years. Instead, you should seek a bra that is lower-cut and hence has an apex that more closely matches your own. (By 'apex', HerRoom and I both essentially mean "where the nipples hit", by the way.) Bras that have less volume in the cup can also help for some people, but that's not true for everyone.

(Image removed)

This gave me a bit of a laugh. Nipple concealers? This was after I had selected "No" to the question about whether I struggled with nipple show-through. So.. not really in need of this "smooth look", but thanks anyway.


(Image removed)

 HerRoom suggests full-coverage bras. For full-on-top boobs. THE WORST PAIRING EVER. Full-coverage bras will basically NEVER work for full-on-top boobs because they are DESIGNED to cover and contain all of your upper breast tissue. Those of us with upper fullness will always struggle to find a good fit in full coverage bras like this because there just isn't enough space for our "bountiful", "oversized" upper breast tissue. Full-coverage + full-on-top = horrible quad boob. Just... never. Not even. No.

Because HerRoom failed so spectacularly at giving any reasonable advice, I'm going to give my own. I've given these same tips before, but not all in the same place, so here they are.

The most important thing to note is that these styles are the OPPOSITE of what works well for boobs with lower fullness! The bras I've pictured, especially the vertical-seam bras, often can give a ton of gaping on full-on-the-bottom boobs. I'll do another post later where I check out what HerRoom has to say about boobs with lower fullness.

One thing I'm glad HerRoom brought up, though, is the question of distance between boobs. I do best with the bra styles I've pictured above, but I don't have a lot of space between my boobs, and several of those bras have very wide gores. That's why I alter my center gores. Distance between boobs is definitely a topic deserving its own post later!

Thursday 23 August 2012

A Mystery Bra Appears On eBay!

Ladies, I have an interesting tidbit of "bra gossip" for you. Remember the great fanfare for the Curvy Kate Smoothie, the "first ever molded bra up to a J-cup"? Well--looks like there's something else floating around out there. Behold:

That's a not a picture of me, by the way. (I WISH I was that tan...) Instead, this is the photo accompanying an eBay listing of a MOLDED bra that goes up to a J cup... just like the Smoothie, except this one goes up to a J cup in more band sizes (and up to a HH in a 40 band). Here's the link to the listing. There doesn't seem to be any risk that these are "US Sizes" and thus smaller than they sound, because it's a British listing.

At this point we're all scratching our heads and saying "What on earth is this bra and who makes it and why haven't we heard about it?" The brand is listed as Full-filled. I have a few theories about this brand, which has popped up here and there. One of the bras I've commonly seen by Full-filled is this one, the "Angel Sweet", which I've seen on Brastop and eBay:

A Curvy Kate model, Laura Butler, is pictured in a Full-Filled bra--the plot thickens. Of course, Laura also models for Brastop so the plot doesn't really thicken that much. Except... it looks a heck of a lot like the Flirtelle "Divine" with the colors reversed:

Now, in case you're losing me here, Flirtelle is Curvy Kate's "sister brand"... more or less exactly the same thing as Curvy Kate, but less marketed and sold only at Brastop at lower prices. I'm not really sure why they do that but hey, why complain if it means continuity colors at lower prices? My theory is that Full-filled is either an old name for Flirtelle, or an even lower link on the food chain... a brand through which Flirtelle/Curvy Kate can test out prototypes without putting a bigger name on the line, or a brand through which they can sell off the bras that they aren't going to market.

See where I'm going with this? I'm curious if this molded-up-to-a-J-cup dark horse Full-filled bra is some kind of prototype for the Curvy Kate Smoothie. And, since the Smoothie hasn't even come out yet, I'm kind of fascinated. Hmmm....


Of course, my theory could be totally wrong. And even if I'm right, this bra could be a much lesser version of the Smoothie, like an original, flawed version. But... it's pretty cheap. And it ships internationally. And I am JUST SO CURIOUS. I'm not planning to buy this bra because I'm trying NOT to buy any more new bras (of course, I know you are all going to try to convince me otherwise in the comments! Comment away and we'll see how strong my willpower is). But I didn't want it to pass by without my loyal readers being aware of this option, in case anyone wants to take the risk and try it out (the seller accepts returns). If you do try it, let us all know how it goes in the comments!

Updated to add: I just looked at my archives and noticed that every post I've done this month has an exclamation point at the end. I guess it's been an exciting month!

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Masquerade Rhea Review--At Last!

In my April review of Bravissimo bras, I first documented my love affair with the Masquerade Rhea. I’d tried it on in a 30H and found it a perfect fit and perfect shape for me. But it’s a very expensive bra at full price, so I was holding out to find it on sale. I searched high and low but none of the cheap sources of the Rhea ever had it in a 30H or even a 32GG. I never quite succeeded in finding the low price I’d hoped to find, but I did eventually find a burgundy Rhea in 30H at a lowISH price, so I figured it was best to take that opportunity while it was there.

First, a disclaimer. I don’t really like padded bras. I wear them in the winter because otherwise my boobs go numb (giggles), hence why I bought four Curvy Kate Showgirl bras, three of which are reviewed here, this winter. I’ve since decided to sell two of those four, as well as selling my Masquerade Delphi. I loved the shape of the Delphi, reviewed here, and it fit me well, but I wasn’t crazy about the thick straps (as comfy as they were) or the color. It made more sense to sell it and get a Rhea, which was what I’d really wanted in the first place. Along with the Cleo Rihanna that I reviewed recently, my collection of padded bras will still consist of four, but four that fit and suit me better. That will be adequate to get me through the cold months.

Anyway, here’s the Rhea!

I don’t think this color is as epic as the continuity mauve shade, this:

…but I like it combined with the gray, and the color suits me, even if it’s not my favorite color. (Royal blue is my favorite color, if you wanted to know.)

The shape from the side is good. It’s a little squashed, but not quite to the point where it would stop looking round and start looking square.

This shape is actually fairly similar to the shape I get in the Curvy Kate Showgirl bras, but a bit more lifted, and the underwire feels more firm and sits closer to my body.

The back band is sort of the WORST, though. I love the back bands on the Curvy Kate Showgirl bras,  as they are so wide and stretchy and comfortable. The Masquerade Rhea, on the other hand, has a very thin, very stiff back band with just two hooks. It’s also angled up a little bit so it looks almost like it is riding up even when it isn’t.

The straps are great—narrow but not too thin, and the same width all the way up. So unlike with the Delphi, these straps will look normal under strappy tops.

The inside of the cups is a sort of cotton fabric, the kind of fabric you would find in a t-shirt, which I know will please some readers who seek breathable fabric.

The thick lace along the top of the cups shows a little bit under tight tops, but not a ton. The Rhea is a good bra, and I’m glad to finally own one. I would recommend it, especially for those with full-on-top boobs who are fans of a rounded shape, and for those who like padded bras and a touch of luxury.

Wednesday 15 August 2012

My First Ewa Michalak Bra!

I happened to come upon a very inexpensive Ewa Michalak bra recently and figured this was my best chance to give the brand a shot. I’ve hesitated to ever order from the Polish bra company for four reasons—first, although the bras themselves are relatively normal in price, the shipping is steep and the bras rarely really go on sale. Second, most of their bras are padded, and I prefer non-padded bras. Third, I was just never really inspired by any of the designs. Cleo by Panache is more my style and most of the Ewa Michalak bras I’ve seen just look kind of plain to me. Fourth, the Ewa Michalak shape is extremely lifted and projected—it makes people’s boobs look great, but not in the way that I prefer. I like a rounder, subtler, almost minimized shape.

That’s why I’d always figured that if I tried any Ewa Michalak, I would have to try the “HM” shape, seen in the Granotowy Motyl, the Gold, the Magnolia, the Burgund, and a few others.

Long story short, the “PL” bras are a plunge shape, the “HP” are padded half cups, and the “HM” are unpadded half cups. The HM bras are known to give a sort of flattened, almost-too-round-to-be-round shape, in contrast to the PL, CH, HP, etc etc which give a more uplifted and out-there shape (this is a gross under-simplification, so like I said, check out Curvy Wordy's post if you are curious for more information).

The Ewa Michalak bra that I found at a low price (£5 because it was heavily used) was the Granotowy Motyl in a size 30GG. For comparison, 30GG is the size I wear in the Freya Deco, but I need a 30H in many other bras, a 30HH in others, and a 30J in the Panache Sienna. So I was counting on this bra running big, as shapes that are so open on top often do for full-on-top boobs. And it did… kind of.

This bra was still nearly a cup size too small for me, but because of the cut, I didn’t get any weird bulges, so this size is still wearable. It is, however, a lot lower-cut than the way most bras would sit on me.

I really like how the band on this bra is angled to sit a bit lower on the back. Some bras have the band angled up a bit so that they feel as though they are riding up even when they are way too tight—a lot of Cleo and Panache bras do that. But the Granotowy Motyl has a nice, wide band that sits perfectly. It’s a 30 band, but the woman who sold it to me said it was stretched to a 32 due to being heavily used. I actually found that the band felt very firm to me, like a normal new 30 band, so I think maybe a 32 band would be best for me in Ewa Michalak (or at least ones that are like this style) if I decided to buy a new one in the future.

The straps are very thin on this bra. They have a ruched, non-stretch ribbon along the front half, and also feature this bizarre butterfly embellishment:

I will probably make an attempt to remove this winged creature lest I give my boyfriend night terrors.

The cups on this bra are totally sheer, made of the same firm, non-stretch mesh you’ll find on the Freya Arabella. You can tell how sheer the cups are from this photo, where you can see my feet through the cup where it hangs off the edge of the sink. This gave me a laugh when I saw how the photo came out.

Finally, Ewa Michalak bras are famous for having narrow underwires. I don’t actually like narrow underwires—I like to have all my breast tissue inside the cup and I don’t like underwires to sit on the front of my ribcage—but these weren’t horrible. I do end up with some tissue outside the cup, though.

So there you have it—my first experience with Ewa Michalak. I am reasonably satisfied with this bra. I continue to believe that the HM shape is the only Ewa Michalak shape I will love. I know I need to go up a cup size in this cut, so next time I’d try out a 30H or 32GG.

Friday 3 August 2012

How To Make A Pointy Bra Round!

Sorry for the delay in posting this tutorial. I had to get major dental work done this week and was so drained by it that I couldn’t inspire myself to do anything other than watch Olympic volleyball with my dog.

Anyway,  you might remember in my last post I showed a method for making a high-cut bra look lower-cut. I’m going to show the alteration to make a pointy bra give a rounder shape on the same bra I showed in that tutorial, but you don’t need to do both together. You can make a bra more round even if you haven’t done any other alterations on it. And in fact, this alteration is in some ways simpler than the alteration that makes a bra lower-cut. To make a bra more round, you don’t need to cut anything, and you can take out the stitching at any time without significant damage to the bra itself. I still wouldn’t recommend doing this to an expensive brand-new bra, but use your judgment and proceed at your own risk. I also wouldn’t recommend doing this to a bra that is too small or close to too small in the cups. The nature of the alteration takes some of the space out of the cups, so it’s better to do this on a bra that fits well or runs a little big on you. However, you won’t lose a whole cup size—more like 1/4 of a cup size, if that--unless you go really wild with it. This alteration will also probably not work with a bra that has a thin lace or mesh upper section—it will only work with fabric that has enough weight to hold a stitch.

The concept for this alteration is pretty basic. Think of it like this: a bra that gives a pointy shape does so because there is too much depth in the cups compared to their width. A view from above:

So to make that pointy-shaped bra give a round shape, you want to take in some of the fabric at the apex so the cup will have less depth compared to its width. Like so:

From the front, the alteration will look like this:

The red line along the seam will be brought up to the red line above the seam. What you will do is take in some of the fabric along the seam that goes diagonally across the cup. Basically you will pull the bottom sections up over the top section and stitch them in place there. When you’re finished, the bottom sections will look the same but the top section will look a bit smaller. It really doesn’t take much to significantly change the shape a bra gives. On my Pippa, I took in slightly more than half an inch at the deepest point of the alteration.

To start, put on your pointy-shaped bra and grab the seam that we are going to sew along. Pull it up over the top section and see how it looks from the side. Try to get a gauge of how much you are going to want to take it in. When you find the best position, tape it in place at the center of the seam (I used scotch tape) and take the bra off.

Now, place the bra over your knee and tape the whole seam.

It’s not going to be at the same width the whole way around. Instead, you will take in the most fabric at the center of the seam and taper off to nothing as you approach the bottom and top of the seam. Remember that you can’t take any volume out of the underwire, so you have to get all the way back out to the normal seam before it hits the underwire. This will probably make more sense to those who sew regularly. For those who don’t, it is ultimately going to look something like this:

When you’ve taped all across the front of the seam, turn the bra inside and tape the inside too. First make sure that the fold is as flat as possible—you want to be sewing three layers of fabric, one of which is the seam, not a crumpled bundle of several layers. This is why I recommend taping. If you want to pin it, you can try to do that too but I think taping makes it a LOT easier to ensure a continuous rounded shape along the alteration.

If you do use the tape, you are DEFINITELY going to need a thimble or two to get the needle through all the layers of fabric and tape. If you don’t have any thimbles, you can make one out of many layers of tape wrapped around your thumb and pointer finger—that’s what I did. I used the tape-thimbles to get the needle partway through the fabric, and then used old tweezers to pull the needle all the way through. DO NOT use your teeth to pull the needle through—you might chip your tooth and it is not worth that risk. (That’s not why I had to get the dental work this week, but it would be a fitting cautionary tale if it was!)

Now that you’re all ready with your thimbles and tweezers and tape, start sewing. It’s sort of an involved process so take your time. I recommend starting at the bottom of the seam, near the underwire, and working your way towards the upper corner where the strap is. You might find that you need to pause a few times to rearrange the tape along the fold so it stays as neat as possible.

When you’ve sewn the whole seam, you should be able to rip the tape off along the stitches. If it’s a really thick layer of tape, be careful and hold the stitches down so the pull of the tape doesn’t distort them.

The finished result from the front:

And the difference from the side, here is the bra before alteration:

…and after!

Here are the two side by side.

I didn’t find that this alteration significantly changed the cup size of my Pippa, but as a couple of people pointed out in my last post, it was slightly big on me to start with. Like I mentioned earlier in this post, you are going to lose some volume in the cup by doing this alteration, so keep that in mind if the bra you’re working on is already a tight squeeze. However, you should be able to get a good idea of how it will fit from the way you tape it before you start sewing.

Here’s the same alteration (taped but not sewn yet) on a Freya Nieve, before:

…and taped for the alteration:

Before and after: