Saturday 15 December 2012

What's on BrasiHate's Holiday Wishlist? Something For All Of Us...

Sometimes it really strikes me how far the G+ lingerie industry has come in the past few years. When I first got fitted into a 30GG from a 34DD in 2007, Cleo by Panache and Curvy Kate were not on the map yet. Bravissimo hadn’t started making their own brand bras, and even if they had I didn’t know they existed. The only options available to me then were Freya, Fantasie and Panache. So sometimes when I consider how far we’ve come, I’m just staggered by the massive number of options that are available to me now in a 30H. There are even department store brands (Debenhams) and brands I haven’t even heard of (Gorteks, anyone?) or know next to nothing about (Kris Line) that make bras in my size and are sold on accessible websites at low prices.

But at the same time, there’s something missing for me: the science. Even as the options increase, and as new companies add their offerings, I find the D+ and G+ lingerie scene isn’t really changing that much. It seems like everyone wants to make cute, frilly bras in fashion colors, but I don’t see much innovation in the actual structure of these bras. I have been really glad to see lots of companies starting to regularly add side support panels to their full cup bras, because those panels are necessary for a full-cup bra to give a fully uplifted shape. For instance, Panache’s Emily, Andorra, and Jasmine have side support panels; most of Fantasie’s full coverage bras now have them; Elomi uses them in most bras; and Bravissimo’s new full-cup Melrose and Linear Rose bras have side-support panels too. So I can finally update my bra seam structure graphic to reflect this:

But on the other hand, I also haven’t seen any brand make true advances in the quality or design of their bands or underwire. Instead, everyone is just bringing out fashion color after fashion color, floral print after floral print, without making any real changes. It’s great to have those options, but I’m really hoping for more this year. So I present Bras I Hate’s rather unconventional holiday wish-list—it’s not things I only want for myself, as I have so many bras already, but things I’d like to challenge the lingerie industry to create!

1.      A babydoll that isn’t sheer in the body and is long enough to cover the butt.

 Even if I didn’t mind a sheer babydoll, there’s nothing right now that comes in my size! My closest bets would be the Parfait by Affinitas Honey, which goes up to a G cup but runs small, or something from Figleaves, again in a G. Cleo is going to be coming out with a babydoll version of the Marcie in black, and I expect that to come in my size—but even when that comes out, it will still be sheer and short and that’s not what I want from my nightwear. What I’m really looking for is a nightgown that is attached to a well-fitting bra with proper underwires. Here is my mock-up of what that might look like:

Curvy Kate Tease Me babydoll, featuring the lovely Lizzie
Babydoll with Curvy Kate Elegance, featuring the beautiful Emma
       In the spirit of experimentation, in the new year I’m going to try my hand at making one of these. It shouldn’t really be too hard; all it would require is some fabric sewn to the bottom of a bra band and finished off nicely. I’m planning to use one of the Curvy Kate Showgirl half-cups, which is what I sleep in, or maybe the Curvy Kate Elegance that fascinated me so much last year for a sexier effect. Expect updates as I figure this out!

2.    A bra with an included camisole in “ahh-bra” material, that zips up the front. 

To explain this one, I am essentially looking for something like a very practical, everyday basque with no boning in crazy-stretchy material. I’m of the firm belief that the stretchier a bra band is, the better—cut it really small, but let it stretch a lot! I hate bands that are too big but simultaneously un-stretchy—those lead to back pain AND bulges.

The camisole material would ideally be somewhere between shapewear and the kind of material you get in a seamless camisole. I like the idea of having a super-super-longline cut because there are days when I really would love to be able to spread out the support over my whole torso, rather than just focusing on a small area of my back. Big boobs get heavy sometimes!

Finally, I’d like this comfy everyday contraption to be easy to do up oneself. So I’m going to suggest something that may cause gasps—a front closure. And because it would need to have the proper strength in this closure, I’m going to put my vote forward for a thin zipper that would go all the way up the front.

Here’s a mock-up!

My idea for a bra/camisole--featuring the Freya Deco
       3.   My third wish-list item is simpler. I’d like to see more practical options—more beige, brown, black, and light pink bras that are simple, but still pretty. I’m not looking for a twenty-way convertible, and I’m not looking for anything plunging or molded or seamless—I just wish there were more well-fitting options in colors that blend in under clothing. The brands that make the best unpadded bras continue to focus HEAVILY on fashion colors and prints. I wish there were a better balance. And I think there is also a gap in the market when it comes to CUTE practical options. It seems like the majority of bras in beige-y colors are also a bit boulder-holder-looking, or very plain with no decoration at all. I’d like a few little bows and maybe a lace texture—that wouldn’t effect the practicality of a beige, light pink, brown, or black bra, but it would make it a better ego boost!

      4.      Bras with bands that have a higher stretch content and are positioned lower on the back, to eliminate bulges. 

          I've talked about this before. I wish bands were wider, made of thicker material, and more 'seamless' to prevent awkward bulges. I also feel quite strongly that bra bands should be positioned at a slightly different angle than is common to give the best support and comfort, and to eliminate those bulges. Most British brands have their bands angled like so:

Bra with band angled too high creates bulges even when it fits

Whereas the ideal bra band should be positioned at a slightly lower angle:

Ideal lower angle for a bra band eliminates back bulges

In my few experiences trying Ewa Michalak, I’ve noticed their bands do sit lower, as in the second image. The difference in comfort and appearance is really revolutionary.

5.    Bras with cushioned underwire… seriously, G+ companies, get on this!!! Victoria’s Secret has been making bras with underwires encased entirely in a foam channel for YEARS. If a company that doesn’t even admit G cups EXIST can manage this technical innovation, I’d really expect the more enlightened companies to start working hard on it. Whoever introduces this first is bound to see a BIG bump in business because everyone will flock to them.

Well, there you have it--that's what I'm hoping to see from D+ and G+ lingerie companies in the coming year and beyond. Let me know in the comments if you have any other bright ideas for innovative bra design!

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Pepperberry Button Trim Jersey Top Review

This top is my first item of Pepperberry clothing as their stuff is usually not my style. I've had my eye on this tunic (which also came in grey and navy, and is now available in stripes) for awhile but Pepperberry stuff is SO expensive that I could never justify it. However, I recently found this used one for sale at a much lower price, so I decided to go for it.

This is a size 10C/RC (Curvy/Really Curvy). According to my measurements, I should be wearing a 10SC or possibly an 8SC, so I was worried it wouldn't have enough boob room. However, when I was living in Edinburgh I had briefly popped into Pepperberry to verify my size, and the size that fit me best was actually 8RC. So I decided there was probably a range into which I could comfortably fit, and I'd heard that these tops have a little extra boob space. That turned out to be true.

The top is a perfect fit on me, somewhat to my surprise. It is a little bit low-cut, so I have to wear it with a plunge bra (Bravissimo Thea in 28J with an extender) since everything else shows. The Thea isn't exactly a show-stopped as bras go--it gets kind of saggy throughout the day and I need to occasionally rearrange things to prevent that, but I like that it doesn't show too much cleavage and is unpadded. I would feel pretty exposed wearing my Freya Deco (30GG) with this top.

My favorite aspect of the Button Trim Jersey tunic is that it's actually long enough to wear with leggings! It covers my whole butt. I've always been disappointed that BiuBiu tops are not long enough to pair with leggings, so this is a better option for me.

It's also a higher-quality fabric than I'm used to. I almost always wear a camisole under stretchy clothes to prevent see-through-ness and feel a little more covered up. But this top is thick enough jersey that even colored bras hardly show through it.

I really love this top and I have also managed to scrounge up one of the sold-out gray ones to buy! The size I found for sale in the gray is a 10RC/SC, so it will have more boob space than this pink one. I'm curious to know how that will alter the fit, and will review the gray when it arrives.

Sunday 2 December 2012

Bravissimo Rococo Charm (Ivory/Ice Pink) Review

Recently, I've been on a epic journey to try to find a perfect (or at least passable) skin-toned bra. For my coloring, the best color would be a pale shade of beige-toned pink, but I was also willing to settle for the yellowish beige color that is typically marketed as "nude".

I've had quite a few failures and bras that didn't quite do, but I was pretty convinced that Bravissimo's Rococo Charm bra in Ivory/Ice Pink was going to be The One. Unfortunately, it wasn't--at all.

I ordered it in a 30H, since that was the size I had tried in the Pistachio version of the Rococo Charm. The green version had fit me well in that size, but the Ivory/Ice Pink runs smaller.

From the front, it looks pretty good:

But from the side, you can see that the cup does not have enough volume.

To begin with, half-cup bras like this (and especially the ones from Bravissimo) do not have much depth in the cups, but that is not usually an issue for me since I have very little volume in the bottom of my breasts. (I should have been more clear in the past that in addition to having a lot of upper fullness, I have much very little lower fullness. So I need bras that are cut open on the top, and shallow on the bottom.) So typically the shape of the Rococo Charm would work for my boobs, but this one is just a size too small. A friend who's tried a lot of Bravissimo half-cups tells me that they have been getting smaller and smaller since the Demi Diva--so the Parisian Plume was slightly smaller, the Rococo Charm slightly smaller again, and the Tanzania Stripe ran very small. I haven't tried all of them right in a row, but unfortunately I don't find this Incredible Shrinking Bra Syndrome hard to believe. It's the same thing that has happened to the Curvy Kate Showgirl Bras over the years. (I fit perfectly in a 30H in the Coral/Black Tease Me from a few years back, but would need a 30J to fit into the current colors.)

A half-cup bra (high center gore and vertical seams going up the cups) will typically give a square shape if it is too small. That's what happened with this bra.

Even when I loosened the straps so much that they fell right off the shoulders, the fit was still slightly too small, and with the straps so loose, it didn't really support me at all.

I might have returned the Rococo Charm in favor of a 30HH, but I was dissatisfied for other reasons too. The overall structure just does not seem as strong as I would expect from Bravissimo bras. In these photos you can see how much the underwire stretches:

This is in spite of the fact that the band is NOT too tight on me (I wear a 30 band but measure 28'' around my underbust). What's more, the Rococo Charm has not one but TWO features that are meant to PREVENT distortion of the underwire: the full band that continues underneath the underwires in front, and the non-stretch panel in between the underwire and the stretchy part of the band. Yet these factors didn't prevent the underwire from distorting hugely. I don't mind wide underwires, but no underwire should distort this much--it changes the fit of the cups when the wire stretches.

My quest for a suitable flesh-toned bra will unfortunately need to continue because the Rococo Charm won't do it for me. I'm going to start listing the bras I want to sell on Bratabase, so when I have that set up, I'll add a link to it here.