Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Urkye Review: Kokarda and Francuski Turkus tops

The final two items of my recent four-item Urkye order included the Kokarda Czerwona and the Francuski Turkus (check out the review of the first part of the order if you haven't already!).

The third item of the order was the Kokarda in red.
Cost: 75zl ($23.67)
Material: Cotton/elastaine
Size: 36oo/ooo

Kokarda 36oo/ooo
I was a little uncertain about the bust portion at first, but I actually think it works quite well! The "bow gathering" (you can tell I'm not a seamstress) adds interest without adding bulk or too much attention, and I think it gives a really cute look.

Back view
The Kokarda does seem to be shorter in length than the other shirts in this order - not too short, but anyone who is quite tall or has a long torso may want to take this into account. I suppose I would categorize the other shirts as "on the long side for me" and this one as "normal". The sleeves also poke out rather roguishly on this shirt (Husband's reaction: "You have little wings!") - I think it's cute, just a bit different.

I was worried about the neckline being too wide - I have fairly wide shoulders, but they also slope, so I was afraid that the sleeves just wouldn't stay up or would constantly expose my bra straps (I thought the problem might be exacerbated in the long-sleeved version of this shirt, the Dzwonek, which is why I decided to start with the short sleeved version). Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised. This shirt may be very slightly more prone to let a bra strap peek through if not adjusted correctly, but definitely not enough to be an issue for me.

Side view
The material is stretchy and not too clingy, and I think this color is cheery and just perfect for the Holiday season (although probably a bit chilly with the short sleeves!).

More reviews of the Kokarda shirt:
Les Gros Bonnets (44oo/ooo)

Reviews of the Dzwonek (long-sleeved version):
Laura of Undressed to Impress (34oo/ooo)
Holly of The Full Figured Chest (42o/oo)

The fourth and final item of my order was the Francuski shirt in turquoise.
Cost: 69zl ($21.78)
Material: Viscose/polyester
Size: 36oo/ooo

I have this same shirt (same size) in navy blue and have reviewed it previously (see post on the Francuski Blekit), so I don't have much new to say here. The Francuski Blekit became one of my favorite shirts, so I just had to order this other color!

The one big thing I'll note is that the sizing for the Turkus color vs. the Blekit color is fairly different. The Francuski Blekit was quite form-fitting on me, almost to the point of being a bit small (and I think it's shrunk a tad with washing and wear). Based on this, I thought of trying out a size 38 in the Turkus. However, Ula (the very helpful owner of Urkye) advised me to just get my usual size, as the Turkus ran looser than the Blekit - and she was right!

Overall, the Turkus color seems to have a tad thinner material, and definitely has a little more stretch/give, and it's much roomier than the Blekit color. I would almost say it's a bit too roomy in the top/shoulder portion in comparison with the other shirts, but if it shrinks a tiny bit as the Blekit did, it should be perfect. It's very comfy, and I see myself wearing it a lot. If you found the Francuski Blekit to be too small for you, or you want to try the Francuski shirt but are concerned about being a bit outside of the given size chart, I would definitely give the Francuski Turkus a go.

More reviews of the Francuski shirt:
Laura of Undressed to Impress (34o/oo)
Leah of Hourglassy (38o/oo)

Urkye also has a long-sleeved version of this shirt.

So, bottom line after my most recent order? Overall, everything I chose was a success, and I feel I've firmly settled on what my usual size is. If you haven't yet ventured into the world of online shopping, Urkye may be a great place to start - their well-fitting clothes, great customer service, and very reasonable prices (especially if you're watching sales!) make them well worth a try!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Urkye Review: Tuba and Wodnik tops

I've been in need of some more casual (yet still nice-looking and well-fitting) tops, and thus decided to place another Urkye order at the beginning of the month. The shirts recently arrived, so it's time for a few more reviews!

First off is the Tuba in grey.
Cost: 59zl ($18.66)
Material: Cotton/elastine
Size: 36oo/ooo
Tuba 36oo/ooo
(Yes, it's been warm enough to wear shorts here!)

This is such a great invention - a sleeveless shirt that completely conceals my bra! The little bands on the shoulder-straps can be adjusted to sit higher or lower for slightly different looks (I just noticed that I have one of them turned the wrong way in the picture... derp). 

Side view
The material is stretchy, and I will say that the shirt is fairly clingy; it doesn't bother me too much, but it may be worth trying a size up (a 38o/oo rather than a 36oo/ooo, for example) if you prefer less cling. I felt that the top had plenty of boob room - I might have even been able to get away with a o/oo - so if you're worried about being a bit out of the size range in terms of bust measurement, you may find this shirt will still work. I also found the shirt to be long, so it would probably also work well for those of us who are taller and/or have longer torsos. All in all, it's a great option for warmer weather, and I feel it could be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.

More reviews of the Tuba shirt:
Leah from Hourglassy (38o/oo and 36oo/ooo)
Chloe from Muscular Hourglass (36oo/ooo)
June from Braless in Brasil (38oo/ooo)
Busty and Thrifty (40o/oo)

The second top I ordered was the Wodnik in black.
Cost: 79zl ($24.99)
Material: Cotton/elastine
Size: 36oo/ooo
Wodnik 36oo/ooo

I generally have a ban on buying any more black clothing (I have too much as it used to be my default!), but this shirt was so interesting that I thought it would be justified. It's certainly not just another plain black shirt!
Business in the front, party in the back!
This shirt is understated yet interesting, comfy and well-fitting - what more can I say? The material is on the thinner side (certainly thinner than the Francuski Blekit), making it ideal for warmer weather without being so skimpy that you would freeze once the weather got a bit cooler. It's mostly cotton, which I find more comfortable than many other materials. There's always the fear that anything cotton will shrink, but I always wash my Urkye purchases in cold/delicate cycles and air dry, so hopefully this won't be a problem. I also think the shirt could go through a bit of shrinkage and still fit me well.

Side view
As you can see, this shirt is also plenty long enough! Having the top and bottom "pieces" sort of separated by a seam makes the shirt a bit more interesting, as well, although I will say it tends to sort of pucker a bit at the seam in the front at this point. Not sure if it's an issue with my shirt in particular, or if they're just all supposed to be like that.

More reviews of the Wodnik shirt:
Laura of Undressed to Impress (34o/oo)
Les Gros Bonnets (42oo/ooo)

Stay tuned for the reviews of the other two items I ordered!

Also, check out Holly from The Full Figured Chest's recent Urkye success, as well as the recent list of Urkye items reviewed by Laura from Undressed to Impress.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

50 Things About Boosaurus

(For a brief moment, I though about titling this "50 Shades of Boosaurus" but then my sanity kicked in and went NO.)

I don't often get too personal or veer off the subject of bras/boobs/clothing in this blog, but this 50-questions list has been making rounds in the blogger world after FussyBusty started it off (and SweetNothings, UndieGamer, A Sophisticated Pair, and Miss Underpinnings followed), so I figured it'd be a fun little random thing to do as well! :)

1. What time did you get up this morning? Woke up around 8, but then fell back asleep until around 9:30. :P

2. How do you like your steak?  Medium rare, but I rarely (ha) eat steak.

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Hunger Games... I don't go to the theater that often, but there's about three movies coming out next month that I really want to see. I think that will exceed my entire theater-going for the rest of the year!

4. What is your favorite TV show? I don't really watch TV (boring, sorry)... I do like watching re-runs of Columbo, The Addams Family, and Monty Python's Flying Circus.

5. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? I like where I'm living now (in a valley, close to the beach), but I wouldn't say no to a nice little farm in the French countryside.

6. What did you have for breakfast? Trader Joe's Multigrain O's cereal with organic 1% milk (I like 2%, husband likes 0%, so we compromise with 1%)
("cereal with milk" sounded too boring)

7. What is your favorite cuisine? Good (real) Mexican food, among other random things like cawl (Welsh) and certain Chinese dishes.

8. What foods do you dislike? Bananas, Coke/Pepsi, whipped cream, pumpkin pie, anything spicy, caramel, milk chocolate, most vanilla-flavored things, anything too sugary (which I guess is most of this list), bell peppers

9. Favorite Place to Eat? Chin's Szechwan and The Yellow Deli

10. Favorite dressing? Caesar

11.What kind of vehicle do you drive? One that has definitely had its share of life.

12. What are your favorite clothes? Lingerie. Tunics with belts. Cozy socks.

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance? Wales, Ireland, France

14. Where would you want to retire? That's a bit far in the future! Ask me in about 40 years.

15. Favorite time of day? Early morning (when I actually get up!)

16. Where were you born? San Diego, California

17. What is your favorite sport to watch? I prefer playing rather than watching! But I always watched baseball growing up.

19. How many siblings? One brother.

20. Favorite pastime/hobby? Reading, playing the piano, writing/blogging, video games, cooking/baking

21. Who are you most curious about their responses to this? The construction of this sentence bothers me... any other bloggers, I should think!

22. Bird watcher? Yes!

23. Are you a morning person or a night person? Either. Depending. Probably night if I had to choose.

24. Do you have any pets? Not currently :( I used to have chinchillas, a few chickens, and a dog.

25. Any new and exciting news you’d like to share?  We finally got a PS3... woop!

26. What did you want to be when you were little? A farmer... I think I just wanted a lot of animals.

27. What is your best childhood memory? Hrm, I really have a hard time with open-ended questions like this... my mind wants the question to better define "best" and "childhood". One that stands out is me really wanting to go to Disneyland when I was 5, and my mom said, "Sure, if you earn the money yourself." So I did the 25-50 cent chores around the house and saved up any birthday gifts, earned the money, and we went!

28. Are you a cat or dog person? Dog. But I don't dislike cats or anything.

29. Are you married? 3 1/2 years this month!

30. Always wear your seat belt? Yup (click it or ticket!)

31. Been in a car accident? Just a small one or two

32. Any pet peeves? People reading over my shoulder or cracking their knuckles (or both... augh!)

33. Favorite Pizza Toppings? Black Olives, mushrooms, any kind of cheese

34. Favorite Flower? Roses

35. Favorite ice cream? Blue Bell Groom's Cake (which you can't get on the West Coast *weeps*)

36. Favorite fast food restaurant? Panda Express counts, right? Or In N' Out!

37. How many times did you fail your driver’s test? None, although I accidentally turned on the windshield wipers during the test, panicked, and couldn't figure out how to turn them off for several minutes.

38. From whom did you get your last email? Brastop (does that count?)

39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? I don't use credit cards (boring? sorry)... but I would spend all I could at little independent book stores.

40. Do anything spontaneous lately? Had a fairly spontaneous early Thanksgiving this past weekend (we'll be eating leftovers until actual Thanksgiving, yay!)

41. Like your job? Not working at the moment, boo

42. Broccoli? I am proud to say that I haven't had to eat it since I have been in charge of making my own meals. :D

43. What was your favorite vacation? I took a random trip to the UK with a friend last year... that was pretty awesome, and I want to go back!

44. Last person you went out to dinner with? My parents and husband

45. What are you listening to right now? The leafblower outside.

46. What is your favorite color? Purple, blue, grey, green

47. How many tattoos do you have? None; I go back and forth on getting one.

49. What time did you finish this quiz? 12:33 pm, aka lunchtime.

50. Coffee Drinker? Tea all the way!

Bonus: If you feel you don't know enough about me already, I did a Follow Friday interview for Invest in Your Chest the other week!

So, what would your answers be?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Real Girls Lingerie: Company Overview

I know from experience that finding comfy loungewear, nighties/nightgowns, sleepwear, and camis (basically, you name it) for busty women can be a difficult (if not impossible) task. I'm more of a wear-a-tshirt to bed kind of girl, but this is mostly due to lack of better options. So when I found out about new company Real Girls Lingerie, I was definitely intrigued!

Real Girls Lingerie offers a few sleepwear options for busty women - both a luxury silk chemise in several colors as well as casual, fun cami separates. The owner, Sarah, kindly agreed to answer a few questions and provided one of her Zinnia Camisole sets for review purposes.

Hi, Sarah! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions! Can you just tell us briefly about Real Girls Lingerie?

I started the company back in 2005 - it took much longer than expected to get a quality product and related website.  I’ve had different “versions” of the process since Dec 2010, but starting in April of this year, it has grown into something that I feel is a good representation of what we want to be.  The Real Girls products are made in USA and everything is self-financed (no debt, no investors).  Like all business owners I have big dreams for the company – I have products in development and plan to have our own lines of bras and swimwear.  I also want to do true cup sizing and add more sizing options (both smaller and venture into full figure sizing). But this takes money, and with the economy the way it is, I don’t feel comfortable taking on the debt this would require.

That's very admirable, and your goals sound very exciting! Can you give us a little more insight into the difficulties you faced in regards to getting a quality product?

Sarah: Real Girls works outside the box.  We had challenges on both the manufacturing side and the development side.  In terms of development we wanted our “standard” size to be a Missys 8 with a natural D-cup and adjust the sizing from there.  Finding a model of this figure for sample sizing is difficult - one of the baffling things about fashion is that a size 8 is “too large”. This is also a non-traditional size for pattern makers and somewhat throws them for a loop too.  Ultimately we decided to create two base sizes simultaneously: a Missys 8 with a natural B-cup and a Missys size 8 with a natural D-cup.  This really helped the pattern developers.  And we were/are lucky to have two great women working with Real Girls who fit this sizing.

On the manufacturing side it was also a challenge.  There are some small production companies in Los Angeles that will help start-up clothing lines with everything from beginning development to final production.  This is where Real Girls began.  Due to our intricate patterns and difficulty finding appropriate models, it took about 6 months to get our initial samples.  This company works with small designers, many who are household names in other industries.  But they also run a in-house uniform business.  From these first samples, it was known their expertise is not in lingerie.  It’s the first time I have ever seen fine lingerie look like an auto-body uniform.  Through a lot of research, we were able to find an assortment of different vendors ranging from underwire suppliers to final production who understand what the “Made in the USA” label should mean, and were able to help Real Girls create a product that reflects this concept.
There were many tears along the way.  I don’t think I will ever forget the day I was crying (as in CRYING) over elastic.  “How can Target get soft elastic on their items and I can’t find it in the smaller quantities that Real Girls needs?!?”.   I had called all the vendors I was aware of and they needed Real Girls to purchase in amounts that Target was purchasing in. I’m located in the Los Angeles area.  Fashion has been around since LA was born, I said to myself “there must be someone that has it”.  I pulled out the old fashioned yellow pages telephone book and started driving around town.  These were hole-in-the-wall businesses who are not used to customers randomly knocking on their doors.  But that’s what I did, and I found exactly what we were looking for.

Wow, you've certainly come a long way and accomplished a lot! Can you tell readers any more about any future particular products you have in development at this time?
Sarah: Our next items will be additional pieces in the Peony Collection, our charmeuse silk lingerie collection.  We have an adorable short silk robe with some special embellishments that will match our existing silk chemises.  Another items I’m very excited about is a silk camisole and panty set.  The camisole with contain our signature built-in underwire with wide straps with ruching and the panties will be made of stretch silk.

That does sound exciting! Last question - I was noticing that in addition to the RealGirl brand items on the site, you also stock Claudette bras [in sizes 32-38 B-G]. It's nice to see that you stock bras in a wider range of cups than is "usual"- what made you choose Claudette in particular?

Sarah: I had been looking for a bra company to add to the Real Girls collections for a while.  I wanted something that was unique, had a full range of sizing, and had the same philosophy about quality and fit as Real Girls does.  I also wanted to make sure there were every day bras available since this is something that is lacking in most full-busted bra collections.

I met the Claudette team at the first show they did, CurveLV – Summer 2011, and I quickly learned that the company had the “ingredients” I was looking for.  I also love that Lindsey, their sales manager, is also their model!!

Thanks so much to Sarah for taking the time to talk to me! I think it's really interesting to get insight into how the small, bust-friendly companies are run and the different issues that they face. I really appreciate that Sarah is including a range outside of the "norm" (34-38 A-D) in the items she offers, and I know from speaking with her that she really has the best interests of customers at heart.

In addition to answering some questions, Sarah also offered to send one of her cami sets for review. Since I'm out of the size range currently offered by the company, Kendra from Art&Other agreed to give it a try. At about a 32F, Kendra is a little outside of the size range that Sarah indicates on the site, but based off of her measurements (39/33/39) and the size chart, Kendra was sent a Large/Large Cup top and Medium boyshorts.

Here's what Kendra had to say about it:

"I've often had a hard time finding loungewear that I feel both comfortable and a little sexy in.  I’m not comfortable with no support at all, but usually those tanks with the built-in bras, while comfortable, just give me the uni-boob problem.

The founder of Real Girls, Sarah, seemed to hear me.  In her About Us section, she writes that her approach is to offer “designs that concentrate on bust support.”  The way the Zinnia Camisole looked on the models made me wonder, because it didn't look to be as supportive as what I was looking for, but I definitely appreciated the honest representation of the product in the pictures.  Overall, I think the photos accurately depict how much support the cami gives.

When I received the package, it was wrapped so nicely in brown paper and had a sweet note from Sarah.  I chose Cocoa Blue and the print and colors were cute; it probably wasn’t something I would have picked out among other choices at a store, but I do have to say it was a nice change from the options I had seen at stores like Target or Kohl’s (where I usually shop for similar items).

The fabric was a very stretchy and soft mesh. It was very subtly sheer and forgiving, I really liked that about it.

My biggest reason for not loving it is the level of support. The right amount of support equals comfort for me. I adjusted the straps until they were as tight as possible trying to find the support I was looking for. The cami definitely provides more support than none, but not quite as much as some of those tanks with built-ins (no risk of uni-boob though! The design is great for that!). The cup fit was very good, although maybe the stretchiness of the material in the cup took away from the overall supportiveness, too. I thought it was great that there was a strip of elastic under the bust and it fit very well around my rib cage, which is something that most lingerie misses on. Perhaps if the shoulder straps were less stretchy or if there were a stronger panel in the back to give the straps something solid to pull against there could be more support.

I chose the boy shorts to go with the cami. They looked great and went with the design of the camisole. Personal preference, I might like to wear them better with the camisole if they were the same print as the bust portion, just to add some contrast. My tummy (which I prefer to distract away from) would have been less of a focal point if the print on the bottoms provided that visual interest.

Thanks so much to Sarah (and Christine) for giving me the opportunity to try something new and better define what I’m looking for. The work that you are doing to help give girls like me lingerie that we can love is much appreciated. I totally respect Sarah’s determination to run her company with so much financial integrity, too. I hope that this review will help her be able to focus in more and more to what real girls are looking for and put her money in the right place to get there. I’m looking forward to future products from Sarah and Real Girls!"

Based off Kendra's review, I think I would recommend going off just the measurements on the size chart when ordering. It seems to me that the cami sets could definitely still work for those who are a bit outside the given estimated size range of 34-38 bands and B-E cups, so those who are 30+ bands and up to an F-FF cup may very well still find the camis work out. The tops aren't going to provide the same support as a bra for most of us, but having a comfy option that provides enough room and some support for larger busts - without even having to integrate a "built-in bra" - sounds great to me! I look forward to seeing the new items Sarah's planning on releasing, and am excited about the possibility of future expansion of sizes to include a Small option (which I would guess would be 28-band friendly).

So, what do you think about small, start-up businesses that are looking at the needs of busty women more? What comments or thoughts (or ideas!) do you have, either for Sarah or for others who might be looking into starting to create a line of items that will specifically cater to bustier women?

For more on Sarah and Real Girls Lingerie, make sure to check out the great overview post of the company by Hourglassy (Also, Hourglassy readers can find a code for 15% off Real Girls Lingerie until 11/21).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why I shop for bras online (and you should, too!)

This is a bit of a continuation of my last post on why I shop for clothing online. I've actually been shopping for bras online for far longer than I have clothing (no surprise!) for several reasons - and I think that nearly all of my reasons for choosing to buy my bras online can apply to most others.

Choices Available
I'll admit, what first drove me to shop for bras online was sheer necessity, plain and simple. Back when I was a 30G, I could find a few, expensive choices in certain stores and cities only. Now that I'm a 28H/HH, it's virtually impossible for me to buy bras in-store. Thus, I have no choice if I want bras - I have to purchase them online.

And I'm not alone in this. In the U.S. at least, if you wear a bra size that's:
-Below a 30-32 band
-Above a 40 band, and /or
-Above a G cup,
you're pretty much going to have to order online. There's really no way around it unless you're extremely lucky and happen to live near one of the rare, really great boutiques that offer a large range of sizes (and even then, you may want to order online from time to time just for variety). In some areas, you'll be stuck ordering online if you're outside of an even smaller range, usually 34-38 A-DD (15, count 'em, 15 sizes).

Since a fairly large percentage of women wear or should be wearing below a 32 band, and a large percentage of women need to wear above a DD cup [remember, all "DD" means is "about 5 inches of difference between underbust and bust measurement"], this means in turn that a large percentage of women will, like me, need to order online to obtain their correct size. I know this isn't fair. We all want to be able to just go into a store and buy things that fit well! Unfortunately, this really, honestly will be very difficult or impossible for many of us. The lack of sizes stocked is the store's problem, not a problem with us or our bodies; still, the fact remains that many women really just are not going to get many (or any) options from their local department stores, and there are a lot of really great online stores that offer a very wide range of sizes.

And, if you are lucky enough to fit into the ranges that your local stores carry, you still will get more choice on brands, styles, colors, etc online. You may wear a 32D and have several choices at your local Nordstrom, but then find that once you need a strapless or nursing bra, the choices are much diminished. You might want a certain color that isn't offered in store. You may want to try out a brand that isn't stocked in the U.S. A quick online search will generally turn up what you're looking for pretty quickly.

Even when I was a size that could sometimes be found in Nordstrom or the odd boutique, I would usually have to make a special trip - sometimes on the order of 2-3 hours away - just to try on a bra or two. And then I would have to deal with the (usually misinformed) fitters. Shopping online can save a lot of time and frustration. (Also, as several of my friends with young children pointed out, it's much less of a hassle to be able to shop online from home than to have to keep any eye on a baby or wrangle a rambunctious toddler when attempting to try on bras.)

One big qualm women have about shopping for bras online is - just like with clothing - the inability to try things on. I definitely understand this, and it's a valid concern. However - many of us won't really have a choice. We'll either have to settle with poorly-fitting, painful, unsupportive bras that are available locally, or we can order some bras online, armed with the best estimate of our correct size and the reviews and advice that can be found online for most brands (and many specific bras). If we happen to order the incorrect sizes, it's not much of a hassle to simply send it back for a refund or exchange. In the end, with a little more research and effort, we'll have exactly what we need - we won't have to settle for what may be very limited local choices.

[Note - I think it's great to buy locally, and if you live by a store that stocks your size, you should certainly try on sizes there and buy bras from them. In this post, though, I'm mainly speaking to the many, many women who simply don't have the choices available to them, or who want to branch out a bit from their current in-store options]

Just like with buying clothes online, some women are scared off because they think that shopping online is always expensive. Not true! I spend far less on bras ordering online than I ever have in-store.

Take one example - you can easily go into a higher-end store like Intimacy or Nordstrom (stores that actually sell a decent range of sizes) and see bras ranging in price from $75-$120 (and higher). Just a quick look at some of the online shops, however, turns up quite a range of (new!) bras in the $30-$50 range, and sometimes dipping to the deeply-discounted $20 range. Yes, you'll still usually be paying more for a good, well-constructed, well-fitting bra than you would an ill-fitting, cheaply-constructed Walmart bra. But the well-constructed, somewhat pricier bra will more than pay for itself in terms of longevity, comfort, and fit. And, it's a bit of a separate subject, but you can find great deals on gently-used and even new bras on places like ebay, Bratabase, and swap/sell groups.

Final Thoughts
So, in a perfect world, would I prefer to be able to buy bras and clothing in store? Sure! However, due to better prices, better selection, time saved, and convenience, online shopping definitely trumps a store experience for me.

How about you? Do you shop online for bras? What are some of your reasons for shopping online (or not)?

If the subject interests you, read also some thoughts from The Lingerie Addict on online lingerie shopping.