An American in Pepperberry (Part II – Jackets, Tops & Sleepwear)

Here’s a sneak peek at the Pepperberry denim jacket in 12C (the 10C was sold out when I was there) that I’ll review with the DD Atelier denim jacket in a separate post next week. Spoiler: I love them both.

blog denim jacket with my street clothes

The khaki linen biker jacket was a surprise win! It looked especially good with my street clothes above, but I forgot to take a photo. However, since it’s one of only two pieces that I finally purchased, I’m sure you’ll be seeing it in future posts.

blog linine jacket unzipped

I’m wearing a 12C. Unlike the 12C denim jacket, the armholes didn’t feel too roomy.

I probably won’t wear it fully zipped without major accessorization, but these photos demonstrate that there was no boob smashing going on! [Read more…]

An American in Pepperberry (Part I – Dresses)

Last Friday was the big day. I dressed in easy-off sandals, tee shirt and jeans; packed snacks and water for energy; and encouraged my husband to go on a tour of London by himself. Then I spent FIVE HOURS at the Oxford Circus Pepperberry.

Soon it might not be necessary to fly to England just to avoid overseas shipping costs on big bust clothing. While in the store, I heard a rumor that Bravissimo has heard its American customers and is considering plans to open in the United States! It’s unclear whether they will open as a brick and mortar store or online only, but either retail method will be a welcome change.

Until then, if you’re like me and have avoided purchasing from Pepperberry because you’re afraid of the cost of returns for ordering the wrong size, here’s a rundown of the sizes that fit me best during my dressing room marathon. After telling one of the saleswomen that I wear a 32F (but you’ll see that I ended up in a different size in strappy tops and sleepwear), she looked me over and suggested Curvy/Really Curvy in S or M for knits, and Curvy in UK 10  or 12 in wovens and more tailored styles. I tried other size combinations when I couldn’t find a 10C or 12C in a style I liked. I’m wearing my Empreinte Erin in these photos.

[FYI, we don’t get remuneration for any Pepperberry purchases you might make after clicking on the links below, but we do receive a small commission if you purchase bras, sleepwear or strappy tops after clicking this link.]

Safari Dress

I’m wearing a 10C in this picture and a 12C in the photo below it. Even though the 10C cut a little at the armhole, I prefer its overall more fitted look. The 12C was very comfortable but slightly baggy around the waist.

There are so many features that I love about this dress: the subtle gold edging at the neckline and pockets, the working zipper in front, the pockets, the shirttail hem, the soft exterior fabric and the cottony feel of the lining even though both layers are viscose.

blog safari front 10C [Read more…]

Off the Rack ~ Reviewing Bolero Beachwear’s Summer 2016 Offerings

It’s finally starting to feel like spring in New York City, and my thoughts are turning to warm-weather dresses and swimwear. So it’s a perfect opportunity to introduce readers to Bolero Beachwear’s latest styles, the Halter Retro Dress with matching shrug and chiffon shawl, and the three-quarter sleeve Staple Shirt.

Disclosure: These items were received as review samples. All opinions are my own and based entirely on my experience.

You may recall from my last Bolero review that this made-in-USA brand specializes in soft and stretchy boob-friendly clothes that are anti-wrinkle, anti-pill, and washing machine-safe.

Every season, Bolero founder Patricia McCaw introduces new cuts and prints, and I just love the two prints she sent me to test out this time.

First up is the Halter Retro Dress. I think you all know how much I love vintage style, so this Marilyn Monro-esque style is right up my alley. However, truly the first thing I thought of when I saw the beautiful watercolor-like blue print was the ocean. And with its easy-on, easy-off tied halter neck, it would be a perfect beach cover-up. Yet it’s still cute and appropriate to wear to lunch or dinner at a restaurant after a day at the beach. I was so taken with the idea of wearing it to the beach that I photographed it over a bikini:





The bust cups are lined in the same print fabric, and the front waist panel is lined in soft mesh. The dress features a full skirt (with pockets, of course!) and a small bit of elastic at the top of the back to keep it held up. As usual, the waistband remains fully under my bust:


Additionally, since the fabric is so stretchy, I found that I could tuck in the top half and wear it like a skirt:


And thanks to the full skirt, after swimming you could change from swim bottoms into regular underwear under the skirt, and you could pull the dress all the way up to change from bikini to bra:


For those cooler nights, Bolero offers a three-quarter sleeve shrug that perfectly matches the cerulean blue of the dress’s print:



I appreciate the little design detail of a bit of gathering at the ends of the sleeves:


And while I found the chiffon shawl with the dress to be a little too much of the same print for one outfit, I was really into the fringe on the ends of it, which helps weigh it down and drape nicely. I would certainly consider wearing it with a white or pale blue dress:


Finally, we come to the three-quarter sleeve Staple Shirt, this time in a pinup-friendly cherry and pindot print. This super cute top features a flattering wide neckline without visible cleavage and gathered fabric at the bust for contouring. The front is fully lined in white mesh, so there’s no worry of visible bra showing through.





I found the shirt a little loose under my bust compared to the perfect fit I get from Bolero dresses, but I think it’s also exacerbated by the fact that I’m wearing shorts that are, to be honest, too small. (I actually tore them a little in the back when trying to get them on!) However, I would not want to size down from this small to extra-small because I’m afraid the arms would be too tight. They don’t feel too tight right now, but the black trim is more restrictive and not as stretchy as the rest of the arm, so it could be uncomfortable in a size down.

Additionally, when this top first arrived, I couldn’t tell if it was a true white or a very, very, very pale pink. Ultimately I determined that it is white, but some of the cherries bled just the smallest bit while the shirt was folded up in the package, leaving the barest pink spots mirroring the cherries here and there. It’s really hard to see (and exceedingly difficult for me to capture in a photo), but it is there if you look very closely in bright light. As such, I might recommend that shoppers wash this top with color-catchers when it first arrives, and then do a vinegar soak to really set the colors.

Looks like it’s going to be another great season for Bolero, and I’m looking forward to what they introduce next!


The Shadow Bra Industry: Adrienne McGill in Chicagoland

Today I continue my Shadow Bra Industry series with the third of four women that I interviewed who are forging separate paths to help women find their perfect fit. Earlier I introduced you to two New Yorkers, Jessica and Anina, and two direct sales companies, Peach and Essential Body Wear. Today I want you to meet Adrienne Mcgill.

Most of us are happy just to find a bra fitter who wants to put us in the right bra, but Adrienne McGill is a like a bra fitting life coach! I feel ready to take on the world after only a few minutes with her, so imagine how her clients must feel.

The women who work with Adrienne are usually experts in their fields who value others’ expertise and are willing to pay for it. Adrienne spends time developing relationships with each client and visits Curve with each one’s specific preferences in mind. She’ll tell a husband who wants to buy his wife some lingerie, “Truthfully, this is the bra she wants, and it’s coming out early next year, so it’s worth waiting for.”

Advice like that makes me want to refer my Chicago friends to her.  Adrienne has spent over ten years honing her skills. As she puts it, “I’m in the business to help women feel good about themselves. It’s important to me that I leave a woman better than I found her.

If you’re referring a friend who isn’t certain about the financial commitment of working with Adrienne, have her inquire about Adrienne’s once-a-month, entry level, no-fee events. At those events, she usually runs two fitting rooms at a time and spends 20-30 minutes with each client.

Here is what your friend can expect from a fit session with Adrienne:

  • no tape measure (“It’s only a guideline anyway”)
  • encouragement not to worry about size, only fit
  • a separate changing room with a closed door . . . no undressing in front of Adrienne unless she chooses to, and Adrienne will always ask permission before entering the room
  • no touching–especially since she needs to learn how to put her bra on properly at home–but Adrienne will ask permission before adjusting the straps

Adrienne carries bands from 30-44, and cups from European E-H. For women outside this range, she can special order or find someone to help them.

Once Adrienne and the client have worked out sizing, they’ll move on to wardrobing. Adrienne finds the interplay between wardrobing and fit to be very personal and consultative. The key question that guides everything is: What are we trying to accomplish? Although Adrienne may show her client that a cut and sew bra provides a better fit, she won’t sell it to her if she isn’t going to wear it. If her client has been wearing the same bra for 10 years, Adrienne probably won’t start her in the tightest band. If a client is on a tight budget, in transition with her weight, or expecting a baby, Adrienne will recommend just three bras–one to wash, one to wear, and a spare. She’ll find out what shades and colors are in the rest of her client’s wardrobe, whether she prefers smooth or textured bras, and what her lifestyle is like. For example, if she’s a young mom running after kids all day, Adrienne won’t recommend a demi cup.

According to Adrienne, the average woman only returns to a bra store every 3-5 years, so a retailer will try to sell as much as possible in each visit. Adrienne’s business model focuses more on helping her clients than on simply turning product, which explains why they schedule regular sessions with her. If her client’s face doesn’t light up at a bra, then Adrienne can’t get excited about selling it to her.