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?
Sarah: 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).