Off the Rack ~ A Refreshing Change on Project Runway

Last October, I wrote a post in which I ranted about the television show “Project Runway” and its ill treatment of women (and men!) with any kind of shape. This season, however, I was pleasantly surprised to see a good deal of discussion regarding bras and whom the designers are designing for.

For those of you who haven’t watched the show, here’s some information on the season that just ended: It was an all-stars season, so the crop of designers were all past contestants. The judges were all new, and “mentor” Tim Gunn was replaced by Marie-Claire magazine Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles (whom Adweek named “Editor of the Year” in April).

Having a woman in the mentor position made a huge change on the way the designs were discussed. Instead of us being treated to designers whining about breasts “getting in the way of the design,” there were multiple episodes in which Ms. Coles pointed out that it was impossible to wear a bra (strapless or otherwise) with the clothes the designers were creating…and she said this as a negative thing.

Late in the season, fan favorite Mondo Guerra also stated that his competitor Michael Costello “only created designs for models”—that Michael’s dresses were only flattering on thin, tall, small-breasted young women (i.e. models). Mondo specifically mentioned that Michael’s many backless creations did not allow a woman to wear a bra, and again framed this as a negative thing. Of course, it must be noted that Mondo’s creations were not always bra-friendly either, but he did include shapes that look good on a variety of bodies. Click below to see some specific items from both of the designers (photos courtesy

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Bras and Dignity: From Donations in Chicago to Foster Care in Georgia

Last month I introduced you to Hourglassy‘s adopted cause for the year, Support 1000. This month, I introduce you to one of the charities that receives its bras, Foster Care Support Foundation.

When we were teens, most of us just wanted to fit in with our friends, and even with our ill-fitting or industrial strength bras, we did a pretty good job of it.

But imagine that you’re a teen who has just entered foster care in Georgia. You’ve been dropped off at a new home with the clothes on your back, and your new foster parents are being paid $18 a day to cover your expenses. After meals, there won’t be much left for a toothbrush, much less a new D+ bra when your current one stretches out.

That’s where Foster Care Support Foundation enters the picture. In 1996, Rachel Ewald noticed that caring families with average incomes couldn’t afford to be foster parents in Georgia, the third lowest state which is in the bottom third of states in terms of funding reimbursements for foster care.  Instead, children in crisis were being placed in group homes.  Rachel knew that a real home was the best setting for them, so to encourage stable and nurturing families to foster these children, she and a group of friends began scouring their neighborhood garage sales for quality clothing and other items that would help stretch the daily allowance.

Pretty soon, so many donations were showing up on Rachel’s doorstep that she was operating a “store” out of her garage that has since evolved into a giant distribution center north of Atlanta. Children “shop” there for everything they need right after entering foster care, and again in the spring/summer and fall/winter. Everything is free.

As the Foster Care Support website puts it, “Finally, foster children have a resource where they can receive help so that they may not be identified in a crowd by their shabby appearance as ‘foster children’.” In requesting donations, they specify that “Children in foster care need to fit in with their peers in the unfortunate situation that they are in, and looking like mom and dad does not help self esteem, so we ask that all teen sizes are teen styles.”

And as all Hourglassy readers know, a well-fitting bra makes a giant difference in the self esteem of teenage girls, especially if she’s large-busted. Foster Care Support knows it, too. Their Donations page requests “Teen girls bra sizes 34 and up, including cup sizes D and DD.” You can either donate directly to Foster Care Support or indirectly through Support 1000.

If you’re like me, you’re wondering about the fitting process at Foster Care Support. Unfortunately, there isn’t one. The “customers” fit themselves because Foster Care Support has (1) no fitter and (2) no way to know if anyone will even need a bra on a given day. So it can be hit or miss. I know this (and the specification for 34 bands and up) makes us bra-fitting purists wince, but maybe these details will help put things in perspective:

  • Foster Care Support has five staff members performing the work of ten. What keeps them going? Rachel told me, “It’s a mission. We’re not doing it for us. It’s for the kids.  It’s not just a job.”
  • Each week, 50-200 volunteers work in the resource center (they have 40 regular volunteers a week).
  • On a $400,000 budget, Foster Care Support gives away $50 15 million worth of goods each year.

If there’s a chance that one girl’s life will be made happier by a bra I donate, I want to give it. It may not fit perfectly, but the more sizes that we can provide, the better the chance that a girl will find her way to the right one. What are your thoughts on this?

I wish I could volunteer my own time as a bra fitter at Foster Care Support. Are there any Hourglassy readers on the ground in North Georgia who can do this? After the jump, I brainstorm some other ideas. [Read more…]

The D Cup and Up List: Amanda Redman

Thanks to my parents introducing me to New Tricks, I have discovered yet another full-busted British actress playing a strong, intelligent main character.  This outfit (from my most recent Netflix DVD) has removed any doubt that Amanda Redman belongs on my D list.

Amanda Redman’s outfit also raises two questions for me:

1. In real life, can senior police officers get away with exposing this much cleavage on the job in Britain? This Daily Mail article about criticisms of a newscaster’s cleavage makes me think not, but I don’t know because my second question is . . .

2. Just how far ahead of the game are the British? We know America is behind when it comes to acceptance of large bust sizes and the availability of bras for them, but we may also be dismally behind when it comes to body acceptance in general. For example, see Amanda Redman’s 2010 wedding publicity photo.

Jennifer Kesler wrote a great post about Redman’s scars soon after this photo was released:

If she’d been working in Hollywood instead of the U.K., I doubt she’d have been allowed before a camera without the scars being covered. If she’d been in my generation, even that wouldn’t have worked since going sleeveless, semi-dressed and undressed is considered essential to every female acting part these days.

I just love it that she doesn’t want to hide the scars, and that the people producing her TV shows don’t want them hidden either. I also love that the scars are neither explained nor discussed in the shows I’ve seen her in. These things happen; why should it be remarkable that they happened to her characters?

If an American version of New Tricks were produced in the States, the female lead would be

  • significantly younger (I love that Redman was born in 1957),
  • a C cup or less, and
  • flawless.

Mr. Campbell and I witnessed a similar transformation when a version of Life on Mars was produced in America. We found the model-like main characters so visually perfect that we lost interest in the show during the first episode. The down-to-earth actors in the British version had made all the difference.

For me, as a full-busted, imperfect 46-year-old, it makes such a difference to see a full-busted, scarred 55-year-old playing the strong female lead in New Tricks.



Pretty Bras for Big Breasts: The “I Want My Dessert First” Dilemma of Kris Line

Here’s the dilemma: Kris Line makes amazing loungewear for the D cup and up crowd, but they’re focusing on introducing their basic bras to the U.S. market first.  It’s very practical of them, but I don’t want to be practical. I want to wear this little dress with the lace panel . . .

and the matching fashion bra that goes beneath it!

I also want to work from home in this top.  Guaranteed no boob bifurcation.

If I have to eat my dinner before I can have dessert, at least the Kris Line basics look pretty delicious. Below are photos of the Brilliant, Perle and Fortuna styles that I found at

You can also find Kris Line bras at La Bella Intimates in Florida, which is owned by Santa LaBellman, the Kris Line importer for the United States. In fact, if you have any questions about Kris Line, Santa is the person to contact.  I spoke to her by phone after Curve and learned more than you probably want to know, but that won’t stop me from sharing it.

First, the basics about the basics:

  1. The bands run tight with very little stretch, which is why Santa says that they rarely sell 30 bands.
  2. Once you know which of the 3 basic styles fits you best, you’ll know which size to order in the fashion styles because they use the same structures. The Perle is contour and lace; the Brilliant and Fortuna are all lace.
  3. Some may consider the profile to be “pointy”.
  4. The retail price is around $88/$90.
  5. Everything is made in Kris Line’s three factories outside of Warsaw.

For my fellow bra geeks who want to know more, I’ve put the rest of the details in Q&A format after the jump. [Read more…]