Monday, November 17, 2014

Curvy Kate Luxe Strapless Review [Guest Post]

Today's Guest Post is by fellow bra-enthusiast Danielle. She notes that "Becoming a finalist in the 2012 Curvy Kate USA competition led me to have a passion for well-fitting bras. Finding a bra that fit helped me gain self-confidence and every woman and girl should be fitted to help their confidence grow as well."

The Curvy Kate Luxe Strapless is available in sizes 28-30 D-J, 32D-HH, 34D-H, 36D-GG, and 38D-G. I won this bra in the Biscotti colorway back in August for the "My Ultimate Uplift" contest and chose my usual size of 30G.

The Look: 
Curvy Kate definitely tried (and succeeded) in upgrading this bra from a blah and boring strapless (with adjustable and detachable straps, not shown) by adding cute details, such as a bow and little satine buttons on the gore. Pinstripe fabric used on the non-cup portion is a nice touch, too, which can't really be seen through shirts. The cup fabric and the band fabric are noticeably different, which makes this less of a showy/flashy bra and more of a practical bra.

The Construction:
The triple-part constructed cup helps for shaping, as does the side-support panels on the inside of the cups. The seams themselves CAN be seen through sheer fabric but that can't be helped. With the 4 hooks and eyes, this is meant to keep everything UP, not necessarily hidden behind a thin sheath of fabric.
(Note: The bra got a bit crumpled in shipment, which I think adds to a slightly oddly-shaped cup.)

The Feel:
As a bottom-heavy lady (who needs some help on the sides), this construction works really well! One of the problems I have with other strapless is the lack of side support (Freya Strapless) or how the cup pulls down (Panache Strapless), creating either a slightly frumpy look or quad-boob, respectively. This bra creates neither of those problems.

The Field Test:
I wore this all day at work (I just sit all day at a desk) and it held up VERY well against gravity. I didn't do jumping jacks but I have confidence it wouldn't need substantial adjustment during/afterward. The wire in the gore DID dig into my chest. I think in this circumstance it was because my right breast (which is bigger, and thus heavier) presses the bottom of the wire out which then makes the top points of the wire dig in. That being said, I would still wear this on a night out on the town.

Final Grades:
The Look: B+
The Construction: A+
The Feel: A+
The Field Test: A-
(P.S. Curvy Kate has noted that this bra is a bit shallow in the cups, so if shallow bras are a problem for you then you might want to stay clear.)
Places to Buy the Curvy Kate Luxe:

Other reviews of the Luxe:
Fuller Figure Fuller Bust - 36H

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Lingerie Games: Okami

The idea behind The Lingerie Games series began in a recent twitter conversation between Kurvendiskussionen, Undie Gamer, Under the Unders, and Pixel Pants Play. What pieces of lingerie could be associated with our favorite video games, they wondered? Thus The Lingerie Games blog series was born! They were on board with me jumping in, so expect to see a few posts on the subject, and be sure to check out the various posts on all the different blogs!

To start off, I'm talking about lingerie inspired by characters from one of my favorite video games: Okami. The artwork in this game is breathtaking, and I'm a big fan of the involved storyline.

Image from Okami Wiki
Amaterasu is the wolf form of the sun-goddess. She is intelligent and powerful, and her personality demands stunning and eye-catching pieces.

Eleanor Robe and lingerie set from Harlow and Fox

Masquerade Ivory Serenity set by Panache

Howling Wolves panty from FRKS Lingerie

Image from Okami Wiki
Waka is a strange and rather mysterious figure who shows up at the most unexpected times (along with his sword, christened "Pillow Talk"). He's ethereal, bird-like, flamboyant, quirky, and fond of bright colors.
Queenie Frilly Shorts from Tutti Rouge
Cleo by Panache Lily swan print set

FrouFrou Dressing Robe by Dottie's Delights

Image from Okami Wiki
Ammy's companion Issun is a Poncle - an upbeat bug-sized humanoid who wields a paintbrush. His big mouth gets him into trouble, but his big heart is undeniable. Since the Poncles wear clothing made from plants in the game, I chose inspiration pieces that hit a range of points: comfortable, lightweight, and a touch whimsical.
Panache Sculptress Paradise Babydoll

Lunar Ombre set from ClareBare

Walking on Sunshine teddy from Eberjay

Image from Okami Wiki
Sakuya is a flowering tree-spirit who first calls on Amaterasu for help. She is vulnerable, wise, and cutely alluring.

Freya Flourish Blossom set

Ayame cupped corset by Karolina Laskowska

Zinke Daisy Jumper

So what video games would you be interested in seeing lingerie-inspired posts for? Anyone else a fan of Okami? I'm certainly interested in hearing other suggestions for other lingerie you feel relates to the game in some way!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

On Packing Light (ExOfficio Review)

Greetings, lovely readers! My lack of online presence and my sporadic posting may be partially explained by the fact that I was gone for most of May on a trip to the UK. Although I didn't get much time to do lingerie shopping (a quick stop in a Bravissimo was about the extent of it), I had a great time as Mr. Boosaurus and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary and visited some relatives. :)

One of our favorite days was spent hiking around Rhossili Bay - truly wild and beautiful

After a rather disastrous experience with lugging a heavy, unwieldy duffel bag around on a 2011 overseas trip, I resolved to pack as light as possible for this trip. Our goal was to limit ourselves to carry-on luggage - that meant one "larger" bag each that met carry-on requirements, plus one "personal" bag each (a messenger bag for him, a small purse for me). Since we were going to be gone for a total of 17 days, this task seemed a bit daunting. However, with some planning and strategic purchases, we were able to accomplish our goal!

As just a brief rundown of some of the things we did to help us pack light:

-We invested in a Convertible and a Voyageur pack from MEI Packs, a small company that custom makes their pieces. We found the packs durable, well-suited to our needs, and a great value. The ordering process (through email/Paypal) was straightforward and we received our order quickly.

Packed and ready to go home!

-We used a variety of eBags (also found on Amazon) to help organize and better pack our stuff. The Voyageur pack could fit 4 medium-sized eBags (with a little wiggle room), and the Convertible pack could fit 2, plus a shoe bag or a couple of smaller bags. The outer compartments on the Convertible pack were perfect for a small eBag to fit in.

-We brought layers of thinner clothing rather than bulky items. The weather ranged from high 40's to mid 70's while we were there, with some wind and rain, so it was important to have clothes that worked for a variety of weather situations. We each included a few sport/active tops that were great for traveling and dried quickly. We also each brought a pair of Convertible pants (stylish!).

-We planned to do laundry, both machine and handwashing, while we were there in order to be able to pack less clothing. To prepare for this, we brought some packets of Woolite soap, a small bottle of Dr. Bronner's for handwashing, a clothesline, and a sink stopper.

Laundry was really a key part of being able to pack light. One of the main things I was worried about was packing enough pairs of underwear. I knew I did not want to bring 18 pairs of underwear with me, I didn't want to handwash cotton underwear, and I didn't want to bring any "delicate" underwear even if it did tend to dry faster. The solution I found was Exofficio's Give-N-Go underwear, which I found on sale on Amazon for less than $10 a pair (for certain colors and sizes). I decided to take 5 pairs total (wear one, pack 4) and handwash/air dry throughout the trip (some people may have felt comfortable with even fewer pairs, but I didn't know how often we'd have the opportunity to do laundry).

Mr. Boosaurus also wasn't going to waste space on lots of underthings, and he ended up bringing a total of 3 pairs of boxers for the trip (wear 1, pack 2). Since Exofficio men's boxers were more expensive at about $25 a pair at our local REI store, he brought 2 Exofficio and 1 "regular" pair. He felt the Exofficio boxers were good for two wears before a wash, so we each had 5 "wears" before needing to do laundry. All in all, we did 3 small loads of machine laundry while traveling, 1 larger handwash 'load' in a bathtub, and quite a few small sinkloads (mostly underwear and sometimes an active shirt and socks). We felt that the types and amount of clothing we brought were just about right.

So how did ExOfficio underwear work out for me? I found the undies comfortable and durable while still managing to feel somewhat pretty and delicate. They washed easily and dried quickly (although I found that it was better to plan to dry them overnight rather than hope for them to dry in a few hours' time - I think you'd need to sun them outdoors for that).

Lacy Bikini and Low Rise Bikini
Since my hips are about 36" I technically would be an XS according to the size chart. However, due to color choices and sales and preferring my underwear not to fit too snugly, I chose 4 Small pairs and one Extra Small pair. I found that they all felt comfortable and well-fitting, so I'd say that you could size up or down fairly easily if you feel you're between sizes.

The only caveat I have is the same as I saw mentioned in a few of the reviews - the material doesn't really allow for adhesives to stick, so disposable pads won't work very well used in conjunction with this underwear. Since I generally use cloth pads and didn't expect to need pads at all for the trip I wasn't worried about that aspect, but I ended up having to test this out on the very last day as we were rushing through the airport (of course). No, disposable pads don't work too well with these, but it worked "well enough" for a short time and I was thankful that most of the day was just spent sitting on an airplane. If you're traveling and plan to use disposable pads, you probably will want to have a different kind of underwear for at least those days.

In conclusion, if you're looking to save packing space but don't know if you'll have access to a washing machine, don't want to carry around extra pairs of dirty underwear in your luggage, are looking for a durable and moisture-wicking pair of underwear that isn't super utilitarian looking and washes/dries easily, and don't want to spend a fortune, then ExOfficio is probably a good choice for you!

Products mentioned in this post were purchased by myself. I am receiving no compensation for this post, and all opinions stated are (as always) entirely my own.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How I Learned to Stop Reading Breast Reduction Stories and Love Myself

Note: some may find this post controversial or triggering. I absolutely acknowledge that breast reduction surgery is the right choice for some people. For helpful and frank stories of women who have gone through breast reductions, check out Laura's story and Hourglassy columnist Tammy's posts. 
(Yes, the other week we randomly watched Dr. Strangelove when we couldn't decide on anything else on Netflix...)

It happens every so often. I'll be browsing bra blogs or forums online, and then bam, I click on a link that leads to a breast-reduction forum.

And suddenly I'm back in highschool, during the time before I learned about properly-fitting bras. When I would spend weeks searching online, in tears, about breast reduction options for myself because I couldn't find bras that fit.

The post-op stories are tantalizing; the pre-op stories all-too familiar.

"I hate my body, my large breasts are gross."
"Everyone sexualizes me. I'm sick of it."
"Nothing ever fits."

"I look fat even though I'm not."
"My back hurts all the time."
"I can't play sports."

and after,

"I feel so much thinner! Going from a DDD to a perky B cup is amazing."
"I don't have back pain any more!"
"Everyone says how great I look."

On and on the stories flash before my eyes, all in neat little packages. And I become that depressed 16 year old again, unhappy with my body but not knowing how to make things right. Reading story after story and hoping for an easy fix. My opinion of myself falling lower and lower.

Yes, things are much better for me these days after coming to terms with some of the toxic views on Modesty that I grew up with and after finding out my correct bra size. But even getting into the proper bra (amazing as that experience is) doesn't solve all of one's body-image issues.

Because invariably, your breast size and/or shape will change after finding that "perfect bra" (if you managed to find it in the first place).

Sooner or later, your best bras will wear out or you'll accidentally put them through the dryer or your cat will pee on them, and you'll be left scrambling for extra funds to find something that works at all online because you can't buy anything in stores.

And after the initial high of figuring out what bras work for you wears off, you'll be faced with the prospect of coming to terms with being a "weird" size, the probable scorn of disbelieving friends, and the additional fact that most off-the-rack clothing simply isn't an option for you.

And surgery can seem like a siren call, beckoning from distant shores. If only my breasts were smaller, then.... I would fit in these clothes, I could buy cheaper bras, I would feel better about myself, I would be more "normal"... and on and on the cycle goes.

But I've had to come to terms with some things that are true for me. While breast reduction surgery is a great choice for some, it will not:

-Instantly fix my body image issues
-Fix my current intermittent back and shoulder pain, which is a result of nerve damage and years of poor habits
-Make it any easier for me to buy bras (I'll still have a small back size)
-Guarantee that my breasts will stop growing
-Make me a better person

I used to spend time reading stories of women who had gone through breast reduction surgery, but I've realized that reading these faceless stories isn't healthy for me. Quick forum posts don't show someone's whole experience, or tell their whole story. And I don't want to go through surgery or permanently change my body; I'm just good at letting societal pressures (what I think others think) get to me.

Struggling with body image issues or wearing a difficult-to-find bra or clothing size isn't easy. But everyone has their own struggles, their own story, and their own choices to make. My story right now consists of focusing on loving and accepting myself, and doing what's best for me healthwise right now (which partially consists of eating right, doing yoga, and allowing myself to invest in the right clothing and undergarment pieces).

Allowing yourself to love yourself and make the best choices for you isn't always the easy road (in fact, it often seems to be one of the most difficult things). But it's worth it. Lovely, you're worth it.

(Also, Jaffa Cakes and the BiuBiu Bombay Dress are worth it)

(For further reading, check out this inspirational post on Imperfect Life.)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ask, Don't Tell

(possible trigger warning for discussion of weight)

Today, I came across a comic that really hit home for me:

(Image from InkMurder on tumblr)
(Image from InkMurder on tumblr)

This jumped out at me because I've been there.

Personally, I tend to lose weight when I'm experiencing stress and anxiety. This isn't healthy for me. However, I've had people tell me how "jealous" they are that I can "lose weight easily" - with no mention or consideration of my overall health.

Several years ago, I became very ill and lost 20+ lbs in a short amount of time. Recovery was very slow, and it took me many, many months to gain back the weight I lost in order to get back to a healthy level. But during that time - during which there were periods where I could literally not walk across a room due to weakness - there were people who commented on my weight. Of all the things to comment on. As I struggled through my illness, I had people (both health professionals and friends) telling me that I looked good (because I was thin), had others telling me to just eat more because I was "too skinny", and still others telling me I was "fine" when I expressed concern about my rapid weight loss (people who assumed that since I was still proportionally curvy [read: still had larger breasts despite my weight loss], I wasn't "too thin"). As you might imagine, everything together contributed to a somewhat skewed sense of body image/self.

Today, I am at a healthy weight for my individual self, and I'm working on my overall health by doing the best I can in regards to eating well, getting the right kinds of exercise in, etc. But everyone's "healthy" looks different. It's something holistic that's not determined solely by appearance.

When I created this blog, I decided to use the word "skinny" in my tagline ("skinny, curvy, geeky") as a way to sort of "re-claim" a word that has been used as an insult by some, and to illustrate that someone can be naturally thin and curvy at the same time. But I want to make it clear that I don't think that the words "skinny" or "curvy" are some kind of goals to attain; rather, they're (fairly ambiguous) descriptors for certain body types. No body type is "wrong".

I wish it was common practice to tell friends "You look so healthy!" or ask "How are you doing?" instead of jumping to comment on someone's weight. This may require actual conversations and getting to know people - which, admittedly, isn't as easy as just making quick assumptions and remarks. But I think the aim is to be strong, happy, healthy - words that mean different things for different people. Ask me how I'm doing; don't tell me about myself based on what my body looks like.

What are your thoughts? Do you think that society tends to focus more on weight and appearance rather than overall, individual health?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

On Body Hair and Body Acceptance

I recently had a group conversation online about body hair. It started out the way these conversations usually go - someone admits to having a problem with "excess hair", others gradually start to chime in, and by the end of it everyone's saying "I thought I was the only one!"

This isn't always the scenario. Sometimes you're alone in a group of friends while they're talking about how they saw a woman today with unshaved armpits and how "gross" it was. You're just glad you're wearing a shirt with sleeves, because you don't always shave. Do they think I'm gross? you wonder.

This has come up for me even as part of the blogging world. All of the pictures of lingerie models I come across don't show any body hair. I look at pictures and feel vaguely out of place and even ashamed, because... that's not me.

Sometimes I shave my armpits. And sometimes I go weeks or more without shaving them. I like the feel and don't mind the look of fuzzy armpits, so I don't see a reason to always keep them shaved. That's just me. When I was on a swim team, I shaved a lot more because of practicality.

We have society today telling us that we should - we must - shave "excess" body hair. Ideally, according to some, we need to be completely hairless besides the hair on our heads. This was illustrated to me when once in the company of a (hairy, I might add) guy who expressed loud shock and disgust at the joking suggestion of a female friend that "we girls should participate in No-Shave November, too!" Apparently the thought of a woman with body hair was horribly disgusting to this guy.

Spoiler alert: most of us aren't completely hairless.

I shave my legs below the knee because I tend to like the way it looks and feels. I shave my armpits periodically mostly because of societal pressure. Even the minor backlash I got when one of my blog pictures was misappropriated and posted on a joke-type site (most comments were about how I must've had a breast augmentation, but others were focused on my armpit stubble) has made me nervous about showing any underarm hair in blog pictures.

Truth be told, some of us are just prone to more body hair than others. Certain ethnic groups are. I have pale, sensitive skin and generally dark body hair. In general, shaving tends to irritate my skin.

I apparently inherited my Welsh great-grandfather's awesome dark, full eyebrows, so I pluck and shape them.
(thanks, g-grandpa)
I chopped off my hair to donate and have kept it very short for over two years. I still have acne, even as a woman in my 20's. I have pockmarks and get random hairs on my face and have a thin, white scar under my lip from an injury suffered as an infant.

That's me.

If someone prefers things like smaller breasts, less body hair, long hair, or no tattoos in a significant other, that's great - but it doesn't make it okay for them to make body-shaming comments like "More than a handful is a waste", "Short hair is unfeminine", "People with armpit hair are disgusting", "People with tattoos are trashy".

Some women have dark body hair, facial hair, hair on their toes, hair on their thighs and/or butt and/or pubic region, hair on their stomach or chest or back. Some don't. Some women prefer to remove body hair. Some don't. And either way is great. Whatever we decide to do (or not do) with our body hair - that's okay. And whatever others decide to do - that's okay too.

Other posts and articles on the subject:
Voluptuously Thin
Arched Eyebrow
Article from Global Indian about Balpreet Kaur
American Apparel store mannequins
Woman with PCOS participates in No-shave November