There’s something about Sacha Kimmes

“Lingerie is always a good idea.”

Sacha Kimmes says so and who am I to disagree? I’ve been a fan of her designs for years, so I was beyond excited when she had a sale in Paris earlier this month. The setting was on point too, since the sale took place in Hôtel Amour. I can’t think of a better place for Sasha’s pretty knickers, bralettes and skirts…

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What’s beyond that door? I have no idea, but I passed it on my way to the sale.

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Now what’s beyond that door is a dream come true for any lingerista with a thing for lace, bows and top notch design.

And Sacha’s scrumptious underpinnings were indeed right at home in this cinematic atmosphere.

I’ve longed for a pair of Joan knickers forever, but I ended up getting a Sabrina open back brief as I fell under the spell of their beautiful lace detail, and it’s a limited edition. I am somewhat obsessed with ouvert knickers, but they have to be the right pair. Not something overtly sexy and not something uncomfortable, but something truly special and unique.  Actually, as someone who hates G-string thongs, I feel like my Sabrina is the exact opposite of an industrial thong:

IHAWP_Joan005_large.jpgpetitchat_04_compact.jpgJoan vs Sabrina (courtesy of Sachakimmes.com)

  • They’re not practical. You don’t throw them under a pair of skinny jeans and expect them to disappear.
  • They command attention with a dramatic design.
  • Although they’re not made with just function in mind, they’re extremely comfy, thanks to the high quality material and well thought cut.
  • They’re original rather than cheeky. Sure, there is a lot of skin exposed, but I love how demure the big bow looks.
  • They’re handmade and make me feel really special when wearing them.

 

Here’s my precious up close and personal.

How delightful is that?

Wearing an usual bra size can get frustrating, as you sometimes end up getting “what works” or worse “what’s available”, as opposed to what makes your heart sing. Since I’m lucky enough to fit in most size ranges when it comes to knickers, I find it really uplifting to buy something I truly appreciate in this area. A few months ago, Sacha has expanded her range to include XXS and XXL. I found her size guide to be pretty accurate, although there is some leeway to size up or down depending on your preferences. Since the items are made to order, you can also have them made to measure.

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“Lingerie is always a good idea.”

That bears repeating!

 

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Elomi Energise K cup sports bra review

I was very excited about the Elomi Energise sports bra becoming available in a K cup… and of course I had to get my hands on one as soon as possible! I’m happy to report I wasn’t disappointed. So much so that I might need a replacement for the poor thing already!

Do you ever have one of these days when you’re sore or bloated and no bra feels right? I received my Elomi Energise on one of these very days and as soon as I tried it on I knew I’d have to keep it on all day. That’s how comfy and supportive it is.

The fabric is thick and sturdy, effectively reducing bounce, but still breathable. Like most sports bra, it is high coverage, but the wires don’t come up all the way to the top of the cup, which makes it much comfier. I also appreciate the wide straps, which don’t dig in.

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I have broad shoulders and don’t mind widely spaced straps, but I would advise this bra to more petite ladies. Not only the straps are quite a bit more centered than on most, but a J-hook allows you to turn the bra into a racerback, which brings the strap even closer to your neck. Support is the same regardless, but the J-hook does provide a little more uplift.

 

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Finally, this is a very shallow bra. I understand that some will see this as an issue, but I don’t, even though I’m quite projected. When exercising, I really enjoy a bra that keeps my breasts as close to my chest as possible, in a compact manner. And even on a day to day basis, I like to mix things up in terms of fit. Very projected bras might technically fit better, but in very large cups sizes you can run into issues of wired digging in, which you won’t get in a shallower bra. You might also realize that even if you don’t have any pain, your back gets more of a workout when wearing a very projected bra. All in all, I try not to wear the same type of bras every day. But that is a matter for another blog post!

In terms of sizing, Elomi Energize has quite generous cups, but I’ve noticed that, as it is often the case, this bra runs smaller in black than in white. In my experience, the white bra ran 1 to 2 cups large, wheras the black one ran not quite one cup large. Then again, it might be the particular bras that I’ve tried. Elomi Energise also comes in beige, which I haven’t tried because, well it’s beige and in pomegranate, which might be the colour of my next sports bra.

It is available in the following checked sizes.

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This has become my go-to sports bra (I still wear the Royce for yoga) and it’s great being able to wear racerback tops to my dance class. I’ll definitely get a new one pretty soon. Thanks, Elomi!

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New K cup sports bras!

I’ve posted before about sports bras in H+ cup and noted that at the very extreme of that range, there were only 3 models available: Freya’s, Royce’s and Bravissimo’s, which was discontinued for a while. Not only Bravissimo has recently relaunched their Inspire Sports bra, which used to come up small in a revamped model with more generous sizing, but Elomi has very quietly expanded the size range of they Energise sports bra up to a K cup.energise

Now that particular sports bra is quite generous in size already, meaning you could get away with a J cup if you were a JJ. It is also known to be comfy, supportive and features a J hook to turn it into a racer back, all three things which led me to give it a go and sister size. I’m glad I did because it gives me the best uplift and completely changes my shape, creating the illusion of a perky full on bottom bust. Still, I’m even more excited at the perspective of trying it in a better fitting size! Of course, I’ll report once I get my hands on it!

Bravissimo Inspire is available in 30-38 F-K on the Bravissimo website.

Elomi Energise new JJ and K cup are available on ebay from Belle Lingerie and on Amazon.

Time to hit the gym!

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Brand spotlight: Rochella

It’s been three weeks already since SIL took over Paris with lingerie brands from all over the world. I got the chance to meet up with Mette from 2 cakes on a plate and Anna from Bras and body image, who are both just as lovely in real life as they are online. Thanks to the SIL newsletter, I also discovered an impressive new British brand.

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Created by Karen Johnson, Rochella  offers bras in 32-42 D-J and briefs in 10-24. Karen has a background in bra designing and bra-fitting and wears a 42G/40GG herself, so she makes sure that her sets are not only pretty as hell, but also comfy and supportive.

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I fell in love with the Scarletta and Nina noir sets featured above, but check out Rochella website to discover more designs.

What really caught my attention though is that Rochella is a brand with a mission: a portion of the proceeds is given to a gynaecological cancer research charity (Karen is a survivor), a cause in severe need of awareness and funding.

With bras retailing at £59 and briefs at £30, Rochella is a premium brand with attention to details and quality: Italian super stretch silk feel satin, very strong power mesh, 18 carat gold charms, super supportive rigid liner and, as a reminder of the charity supported by Rochella, all the garments are lined in a lavender shade.

I haven’t had a chance to try Rochella firsthand yet, and that would involve some sister-sizing, but those balconnettes look very promising (hint: these are TRUE balconettes and the gore is not twice as tall as it should!). I’m sure that Karen’s 30 years of experience have worked their magic!

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Latest wish lish

In 2016, I want all the pretty things.

  • I raved about Ewa Michalak’s FB bra, but the one I got has a very colourful print, not the most discreet under thin clothes. Now, they are available in plain black  and the FB Becky will be mine!
  • Ever since I saw a pic of Blue Reign’s designer in her Dynasty set and realised custom sizes of her designs worked in a larger cup size, I’ve been obsessed with getting my own. Check out her Instagram!
  • Panache’s beautiful Georgia proved quite difficult to source in my size (I can feel a rant coming). SS16 colourway is so cute and fresh I’ll make sure to not let it get away.

Who am I kidding? I want other stuff too. But if I can get those in 2016, that will be a good start!

 

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So what should you do if you’re larger than a K cup? – UPDATE

Things go fast and a lot has happened since I wrote this post: some lines have been discontinued, others have been introduced, new bra blogs have appeared… Several readers have written to me recently, asking for advice about very large cups. I’m glad to oblige, so let’s go back through the options I presented back then:

For going braless, wearing and ill-fitting bra and altering your bras, I’ll redirect you to my original post. When it comes to custom-made and ready-made bras though, much has changed.

Custom-made and ready-made bras

You can still order PL bras (padded plunges) from Ewa Michalak up to a 75LL (34LL) and sister sizes. What’s new is that you can also order an S bra (padded balconette) in those sizes. Even better, unpadded Ewa Michalak bras are now available to those on the bustier side and to plus size beauties as well with the recent launch of the FB (Full Bust). Be sure to check out my review.  The FB starts at a 75KK and goes all the way to an 85MM and sister sizes. To order a bra size that is not on the roll-down menu from Ewa Michalak, you’ll have to send her an email, pay an extra fee and your bra won’t be returnable.
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If you’re on the slimmer side, don’t be jealous of the wonder that is the FB. Another Polish manufacturer, Comexim, has also extended their size range. They now go up to a 34KK and sister sizes… Great news if you wear, say a 32L or 30LL and had been altering your bras so far. Upscale sister brand Anna Pardal also offer all those sizes. Their new website is to die for.
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You may also be interested in Polish brand Nessa, distributed by Finnish retailer Lumingerie. Their continuity model Selena is available in an extended size range.
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I haven’t had a chance to try them, so for more info about sizes, get in touch with lumingerie. They speak Finnish and English.

On the British front, I’m sad to report that Panache has discontinued the Melody and haven’t replaced it with any KK cup model, although just like the Harmony, they can still be found on eBay. K is now the largest cup size produced by the main UK full bust bra manufacturers (Panache, Freya, Curvy Kate). The exception is Bravissimo, which has come up with new models up to an L cup. On top of their best-selling balconette Alana, they’ve introduced several models over the year, including balconettes and full cup bras. This Winter, they offer the Peony.

In my original post, I advised trying bras that are known to run large in the cup or small in the band. Bras that can be added to that list include Panache Floris (up to one cup large depending on the colourway) and Bravissimo Floral Haze (small in the band and available up to an L cup!).

Finally

Curvywordy, Weirdly shaped and Bras and Body Image are still around. You might also want to check Xelestial Curves. Edited to add another great K+ blog I’ve just discovered Rolls and Curves.

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Bra review: Ewa Michalak FB Tęczowe

eng_pm_Bra-FB-Teczowe-723_1 I was really excited when Ewa Michalak new FB bras finally came out. I’m currently sized out of the BM, which had been my favourite out of all the EM bra shapes I’ve tried so far, as I have a strong preference for unpadded bras. I’ve also been longing for a manufacturer to tackle the very large cups segment for quite some times now. I guess Ewa Michalak has tackled this segment AND the plus size segment all at once, since the impressive size range goes from a 70L all the way to a 140G!  So here are my thoughts after taking this baby on a test drive: Sizing Ewa Michalak’s website states that the band of the FB is firm to cope with heavy breasts and that the cups are more generous than in her padded styles. I found that to be true and I would suggest to go for the larger band if you’re between band sizes and if you know your PL or S style size to go for two cups smaller. The sizing help on the website has been criticised as inaccurate in the past, but I find it to work much better with the FB than with padded styles. If you use the calculator, please note this instruction that I missed the first time I used it: “If your breasts resemble UU or OO when you bend down, you might need a cup or two more than the calculator gave you, because you’ve got full breasts.” If in doubt, you can always write to Ewa Michalak and ask for advice. Measurements clearly don’t tell the whole story and she was very helpful in guiding me to figure out my proper size. Construction I’m super impressed with the construction. The reinforced fabric offers firm support. The vertical seams provides a nice uplift. The stretch lace on top conforms to the shape of the breast and a clever mesh panel hidden under the lace keeps the bust softly in place. The result is a great shape and all around comfort. In short, this bra is a nice little piece of engineering! The bra description states: “it is possible that the center gore will not touch the sternum” and indeed the gore didn’t tack on me. It started up pretty close and ended up slightly lifted at the end of a long and active day, without readjusting on my part. Still a pretty good performance and I suspect it could be improved by sizing up. Bear in mind that I never get a strong tack and only get a soft tack in a few select bras. All the while, the wire staid firmly anchored at my intra-mammary fold. Styling You may have noticed that the bra is fuller coverage than other EM offerings. I still find that I have no problem wearing a V neck or scoop neck with it. However, it might prove trickier with tank tops, as the armhole comes up pretty high. The wire doesn’t come high under the arm though, so fear not, you won’t get stabbed. There is no wire at the part near my thumb on the picture. FullSizeRender-4 As far as the print goes, I wish it was an abstract rather than a floral, but I like the bright cheerful colour. FB is also a available in an animal print. Not my thing, but I know there are fans and in a plain beige version – not an option for me as a Black woman- which might be practical as a nude for some of you. While the bright colours of the FB Tęczowe look great against my skin, they’re quite visible under thin tops… But a plain black FB is in the works for the next collection. I will DEFINITELY be buying this. I know that the price point is quite a bit higher than other Polish and British full bust bras out there (but on par with the French bras I used to buy as a teen), but for me it is worth it considering the engineering that went into the design even if it means I have to pass on a few sets I had my eyes on.   Disclaimer: this bra was given to me free of charge. All thoughts are my own.

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Brand spotlight: Curvy Kate

Last weekend, lingerie professionals from all over the world gathered in Paris for Salon International de la Lingerie (SIL), a huge lingerie and swimwear trade show. With 450 exhibiting brands and 15,000+ buyers, it is of course very business orientated and some brands might not have the time to chat with a blogger. Still, it’s a great occasion to see the pretty things on a runway, to spot some cool indie designers and to get a sense of what’s in store for next season.

I popped in Curvy Kate stand with particular interest, as it is a brand I had initially ruled out and am now getting really excited about. In the past couple of years, I have heard great things about Curvy Kate new designs and how it might be a better fit for us, H+ cup girls. I finally took advantage of the summer sales to order the Bardot and Madagascar.

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And the Madagascar was a great fit! I felt secure and comfy and the gore actually tacked, which is a big deal for me. Since I’m very close-set with a lot of centre fullness, this is very rarely the case. I credit the lowish gore for this. The cups themselves are less coverage than the bras I usually wear and this fits like a true balconette and is very open on top, so no  quadboob in sight, yay! The Bardot was not as good a fit as the gore is quite a bit taller. Still, I can’t get over the fact that it was the first time I got to try a completely sheer bra! H+ cup bras are usually plagued with the “additional lining for support”, which totally ruins the effect. Not this one. It’s perfectly sheer up to a K cup and I love it for it!

So what does Curvy Kate have in store for AW15? The big story is the Daily Dream, which will replace the Daily Boost. It will only come in black and biscotti.

curvy-kate-daily-dream-black-bra-CK4501-thong-CK4502-pfTo follow up on a recent post, I’ve learned that the Daily Boost in Mocha had been discontinued because it didn’t sell as much as expected. Anyway, the Daily Dream boasts a new uplift technology, and I’m dying to put it to the test of a K cup!

I’m also happy to see that both Madagascar and Bardot are back in new colourways.

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Now autumn-winter is not usually focused on swimwear and I’ve never tried a Curvy Kate bikini or tankini, but I’ve always heard good things about Curvy Kate swimwear. Plus, I just received my first Flirtelle bikini and from what I know they’re cut the same.  It’s the first time I’ve tried a padded bikini and it seems comfy and doesn’t add bulk, which was my fear. We’ll see how it fares once in the water. Anyway, the nautically inspired Plain sailing collection by Curvy Kate is just too cute not too share.

 

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Panache Olivia bra review

I first noticed Oliva almost a year ago, long before it came out, when Viksen, the soon to be closed down best lingerie shop in town hosted an event for her good clients to discuss the what was coming up for SS2015. There she was in the Panache catalogue: a new K cup offering from the brand. That was intriguing. Fast forward a few months and I read that Olivia was modeled after the Floris. I love the fit of the Floris – it is the closest thing Panache has made to a K cup Cleo bra with a three hook and eyes band – but I also quite dislike the style, especially the first few colourways that came out. Based on the bra name, I’m not holding my breath for it too come in anything but a floral print. Anyway, after that revelation, I made it my mission in life to get my hands on Olivia.

The first colourway, named Apricot, is a soft ballet pink with warm undertones. It is the colour of pointe shoes and sweet sweet dreams.

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It is a colour that could work as a nude on some light skintones, without looking like a silly afterthought on others. Anyway, if you want something bolder, Olivia is coming back in teal next season.

As for the fit and comfort, I can see the fit similarities with Floris, but the comfort is vastly superior. I actually think of this bra as the lovechild of Floris and Envy. The fabric is somewhat stretchy and adapts to the breast shape, but it is firmer and more supportive than in the Envy. It is also incredibly soft. I would guess that it is not quite as deep as Floris, but way more so than Envy…. Mmm I might have to a proper comparison on those!

I see what they were going for with the high waist matching panties, creating a retro look. I ended up not getting them though, as I found that they could look somewhat matronly on me in this particular colourway. Also, I’m not keen on so much coverage for a set that will get a lot of wear in the summer. I wish Panache offered a classic brief as another option, but I might try the high waisted panties in teal this winter.

For pretty pictures of the set, check out the review by the always gorgeous Sweet from Sweet nothings

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Thoughts on beige bras, “nude” and being brown skinned

I make no mystery of my hatred for beige bras. There is some cultural bias in that. I get that “nude” bras are very popular in the US, because American tend to take a more utilitarian approach to lingerie. What I don’t get is the insistance that a bra needs to be your exact skin colour for it not to show under clothing, and the endless quest for a “proper” nude bra that follows.

There have been quite a few blog posts, Facebook threads, etc about the lack of nude bras for women of colour and especially Black women. On these social commentaries, there is always a White woman, or several, commenting that they also have a hard time finding a proper nude, because they are too pale (or too yellow toned, or too pink toned…) and that what is sold as “nude” is too dark (or too cold, or too warm…) for them…

I know of exactly TWO bras going up to a K cup (L for the Alana) available in brown as continuity: Curvy Kate Daily Boost in Mocha and Bravissimo Alana in Mocha… except that Curvy Kate is moving from the Daily Boost range next season to come up with the improved Daily Dream, not available in Mocha at the moment, and Bravissimo is discontinuing the Alana in Mocha this season.

bp-au01mob-smallthumbBravissimo Alana

It never occurred to me to complain that they weren’t the exact shade of my skin.

Actually here is the picture of my hand next to the Alana, which has been my go to nude for the past 5 years or so.

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It still doesn’t show under my thinner/lighter tops, which is the point of a nude bra. Colours I’ve worn successfully under thin and light coloured clothing without them showing include black, mocha, chocolate brown, charcoal grey, burgundy, purple.

Colours that are guaranteed to show include bright prints (stripes, polka dots and the like) whith high contrast, neon pink, white and… beige. I guess that is why I only bought one beige bra in my whole life and ended up dying it brown.

That is also why I felt sorry for the non-white contestants in Curvy Kate’s Star in a bra having to wear a beige bra in a line up.

Beige bras are not meant to be seen. On my brown skin, they look like something not meant to be there. Like they used to be a different colour and got used and dirty. Like an old band-aid.

I also sometimes read that beige bras are now harder to find that colourful ones and that the dominance of neutrals in large cup sizes is a thing of a past. Ha! Sure there are way more options today if you want to wear something in a pretty colour, especially, but not only, if you’re in the D-G range. But opposing beige to “colours” is not really fair. If you add up all other colours, there will indeed be more bras in the colour pile than in the beige one. But if you happen not to like pink or florals, you’re not in luck.

Let’s try a little game. Checking all the H+ bras currently for sale on the Bravissimo website, let’s see the colours they have:

Black 43

White/Ivory/Cream 31

Natural skintones (which, at the exception of one white bra with a ditsy print, consists of various shades of beige – I guess my skintone is not “natural”) 25

Pink 15

Blue 15

Red 8

Orange 6

Turquoise/aqua 5

Print/Multi 4

Purple 3

Brown/bronze/gold 3

Yellow 2

Green 2

Grey/silver 1

So, what was the point I was trying to make again?

  • Just because you have a hard time finding a beige bra that fits you doesn’t mean that beige bras are hard to find. A bra that fits is hard to find. It might be that the only one you found comes in a bright colour and doesn’t work under certain clothing. I’m sorry about that. But then again if you tried and bought it, you probably like it and still wear it under thicker clothing. If the only bra that fitted me came in beige, it would be unpractical under thin clothing and on top of that it would be ugly to me. Then again, I wouldn’t know because I wouldn’t have tried it in the first place!
  • If you can only afford a couple of bras, I understand that you want them to work under as many clothes as possible. Similarly if you live in a very hot climate, you may wear thin tops on a regular basis and have no use for a bra in a loud print. I get that not everybody as an extensive bra wardrobe and that people have different needs. But in most cases, you only need a nude bra every now and then if at all.
  • A nude bra doesn’t need to perfectly match your skintone to be effective. If your nude bras don’t show under light clothing, congratulations, they work! In that case, please don’t complain that they’re not “really nude” when other women state that they can’t find something that work at all. That is annoying.
  • People need to stop acting as if the only alternative to beige was neon prints. Most bras in very large cup sizes come in beige, black, white, blue or pink. I’m not here to eradicate beige bras, no matter how much I hate them. I know people like them and find them useful and that’s great. But the more options the better. Don’t take the odd orange or green bra as a threat. Seriously, we need more grey bras. They’re quite lovely and elegant.
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