Full Coverage Reading Roundup for D Cups and Up

I’ve been impatiently waiting for this reading roundup to share these amazing Sue Bryce links with you.  Thanks to a link from Geralin Thomas’s Wardrobe Wisdom Pinterest board, I discovered this Australian portrait photographer who has a passion for helping other photographers bring out the best in women with curves–without photoshop. These before and after images  are found here, along with another mesmerizing set of shots. (Yes, it’s probably cheating to do everything in black clothing, but the poses still make a difference. And yes, I suspect her model could do with a better bra.)

I’ve been experimenting with my own photos after reading these tips:

  1. Posting Tip: Weight on the Back Foot
  2. Girls with Curves No.3 The Hourglass (I love Sue Bryce’s attitude: “Curvy girls want their curves in all the right places. Great boobs, small waist and hip ratio. SO it’s the same goal for everybody. Accentuate the HOURGLASS of a women’s body regardless of the size.”)

Sue Bryce has created an $85 downloadable book and video that I haven’t purchased yet (does anyone want to go in on this with me?), but I have gleaned as many curve-relevant posts from her blog as I could find (at least through page 26!). If you have time, however, just enjoy browsing her blog pages instead of visiting just the links below. You will be inspired. (Yes, she tends to equate curvy with full-figured, but her advice and attitude more than make up for this.)

  1. A Girl with Curves
  2. Girls with Curves
  3. More Gorgeous Curves
  4. Posing Tip
  5. Vogue Celebrates Plus Size Having Another Rang
  6. Recline, Sit Back, Fill the Frame
  7. More Girls with Curves
  8. You Wanted More Girls with Curves
  9. Pose Fest

Here’s another big-bust-affirming piece I’ve been holding onto.  The writer wears a 40N, but you won’t hear her asking for a reduction:

Aside from the possible side effects of the surgery—death (a risk of any surgery utilizing anesthesia), inability to breastfeed, and loss of breast and nipple sensation—I won’t undergo a breast reduction for the same reason I won’t get a face lift: I am who I am, and for the most part, I’m happy with myself. I’m lucky. I may be a 40N, but my breasts don’t hurt me—and pain, as far as I’m concerned, is one of the only valid reasons to undergo surgery. My upper back doesn’t ache, nor do my shoulders have angry red indentations from a lifetime of tight bra straps.

Of course we all agree that she gets this one wrong, unless her definition of “extra-large bosoms” is different from a simple D+:

Very few extremely slender women have extra-large bosoms; they’d topple over.

And I got a kick out of this anecdote:

I’m used to being the most well-endowed woman in the room. I was once at a party when cult film star Kitten Natividad (38HH) sashayed in. We eyed each other warily. It was actually funny how competitive we were.

Finally, here’s a roundup of other great thinking that has caught my attention from the full bust blogging community:

1. If you have any residue of body judgment left after the above posts, you MUST check out  Sophia Jenner’s piece about how Perfection is Overrated. I recently talked to a bra fitter who doesn’t believe there was such a thing as a perfect fit. The more we talked, however, the clearer it became that she was really talking about a perfect body. It goes back to the old bra fitter’s joke: “I’m a fitter, not a plastic surgeon.” Accepting that there’s no such thing as perfection removes our unrealistic expectations of what a bra can do.

2. Bras I Hate has been giving herself a little more leeway with bra bands. Although she doesn’t think we should do it simply to increase our style options, I’m perfectly fine going this route if the sister size truly fits. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with 36G’s when I can’t find 34H’s.  Since the 36G’s fit, I’m not compromising, but this is a new experiment for me, so I may blog more about this after I see how the 36G’s do over time. I’m really pleased with Bras I Hate’s point about being flexible in practice instead of rigidly adhering to what should work in theory.

3. Les Gros Bonnets rants about a style that everyone prescribes for the full bust: the empire waist. It’s another one of those styles that should work in theory but in practice makes a lot of us look top heavy and pregnant. Thank you for writing this, Les Gros Bonnets! I was beginning to think I was the only one who didn’t like empire waists.

4. Last but not least, I’m enjoying browsing this new addition to the full-busted blogosphere: Quest for the Perfect Bra.

 

 

 

 

Off The Rack ~ Fitting the Bottom Half of the Hourglass: Jeans For Curves

With all the focus on boobs and bras here, this week I want to focus on the bottom half of the hourglass figure, in particular an article of clothing that gives me almost as much grief as the top half—jeans!

Yes, readers, I not only have a substantial bust with a small waist, but also fairly substantial hips and butt with that same skinny waist. You’d think this wouldn’t be so hard to fit. After all, my waist size is pretty “normal,” falling somewhere between 4 and 8 or 26-30 depending on the brand and how intense their vanity sizing is.

But having an hourglass figure makes finding well-fitting jeans shockingly difficult! So often, when you hold up a pair of jeans, you’ll see that there is very little curve to the shape. Rather, they’re almost straight up and down. When I was in high school, I took to buying jeans from the men’s half of The Gap because they had higher waists and more curve built into the hips than the ultra-low rise and super straight-waisted pants of the women’s collection.

This straightness results in pants that have a too-tight butt (and calves!—but more about that later) and a gapping waist that sinks down in the back and leaves my—ahem—crack nearly exposed.

Almost 10 years ago, I thought I’d finally found a saving grace in Express’s “curvy” fit, but they’ve since discontinued that style. So frustrating! I thought I’d found a suitable replacement for those with Levi’s relatively recent “Curve ID” series, but that was a disappointment too.

The Curve ID jeans fall into four categories based on your measurements: Slight, Demi, Bold, and Supreme Curve. I fall firmly into the Supreme category, but I went to a Levi’s store two months ago and they did not carry a single Supreme. I didn’t even know they offered Supreme until I went to the website! At the time, I tried on every Bold Curve pair they had—and not a single one fit. The waists were all gapping, the butts completely flattened me out, and even the calves of their skinny and straight-leg offerings were too tight. The calves!!! There were literally some pairs that fit over my thighs, but then wouldn’t go on all the way below my knee.

How dare Levi use the word “curve” when the jeans don’t even fit the curve of a calf, much less a set of hips and a rear! It really made me angry. Additionally, while there are eight different styles and at least 23 distinct pairs available in Slight, Demi, and Bold, there are only three styles (straight, skinny, and boot cut) and nine pairs total for Supreme girls. And only one of those is mid-rise—the rest are all low-rise, the least flattering rise for a curvy girl in my opinion.

So now that I’ve given up on Express and Levi, where does that leave a girl who just wants some decent, well-fitting jeans? Well one surprising success I had on the same trip as the ill-fated Levi’s attempt was The Gap. I know I complained about them above, but these days they offer great variety. You must try everything on, though. I bought three pairs, all in different sizes, including bright blue “legging” jeans in 8, “long & lean” flairs in 4, and charcoal grey skinny jeans (which are not online) in 28. Additionally, don’t trust the listed rise. Those blue leggings were supposed to be low-rise, but turned out to be squarely mid-rise on me (score!). I also tried a pair of high-rise trouser jeans, for which I’ve been searching for a couple years, and they were barely any higher than the mid-rise Long & Lean ones. Gap does offer a curvy line, but they were so boring and basic that I didn’t try any.

Another solution I’ve found is jeans made from material other than traditional denim. I recently wandered into a store here in New York called Barami and found the perfect pair of red skinnies. They’re actually made of thick, stretchy twill, so they have a lot more give than real denim.

Here are my tips for buying jeans:

1. Consider a tailor: If the jeans are perfect except for a little gapping in the waist, or they’re just a touch too long, you can always have a tailor take in the waist or shorten the hem. These are cheap, easy fixes.

2. Fabric: If you’re curvy like me, look for jeans with a high spandex to cotton ratio. The stretchier they are, the more forgiving they’ll be of the rounder bits of your legs (like your butt and calves). Or look for jeans made of twill-like fabric instead of traditional denim.

3. Future care: I never put my jeans in the dryer, but denim naturally stretches a lot, so this means I need to go with a size that’s just a bit tight. If you’re going to use the dryer, you might want to buy a size just a bit loose. Jeans washed in hot water and dried on the hottest setting can shorten up to a quarter inch in all directions, and all natural fibers washed this way will continue to shrink a little bit every time you wash them.

4. No rules! I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules when it comes to jeans. Some skinnies make me look like a pair of short sausages, and some make me look tall and svelte. Some flairs balance out my boobs and some make me look extra heavy. I do recommend trying to balance the volume (i.e. skinny pants with a looser top and baggier pants paired with a smaller shirt), but even I break that rule all the time.

5. Try, try, try! Unless it’s a brand you’re reaaaaaally familiar with, I do not recommend buying pants online or from a catalog. If you follow the “no rules” rule, then you must try them on! One brand can vary greatly from style to style, and one style will definitely vary from brand to brand.

Bras and Dignity: How Heavy Lifting by Support1000 Gets Your Bra Donation Ready to Do Its Heavy Lifting

Each month, Hourglassy features its adopted cause for the year, Support1000. Last month I described how the bras donated to an organization in Chicago benefit girls in foster care in Georgia. This month we’re looking at how Support1000 processes the bras it receives and makes sure they get onto the right bodies.

Step One: The Post Office calls them “the Bra People”

The post office has giant bins full of packages ready for a volunteer to pick up twice a month.

Step Two: Sorting

From the post office, the volunteer takes the packages to the Support1000 storage space and sorts the bras into bins by sizes.

I have a hard time putting a single load of laundry away, but six core volunteers balance the post office and sorting duties with full time careers and families. No one is paid–they simply believe they should keep Support1000 going. (I should mention that Support1000 has grown to the point where it is looking to hire an executive director.)

Step Three: Reaching Out

Next, a volunteer reaches out to organizations that have recently contacted Support1000 or that have received donations in the past. The organizations have a giant turnover in the populations they serve, so they never request a specific size for a specific client. Instead, they try to keep sizes in stock that their clients tend to need.

  • For example, Wings for Success provides women entering (or re-entering) the workforce with interview clothes and enough separates to create two weeks of professional outfits. This includes new bras. Clients of Wings for Success usually need larger bra sizes.
  • Another organization, the Polaris Project, helps women who have left human trafficking situations, many without any of their personal items.  Although Polaris tries to keep a few large sizes on hand in each office, their clients tend to need smaller bra sizes.

The volunteer generates lists of numbers and sizes that each organization needs in preparation for Step 4.

Step Four: Pack and Ship

Every 4-6 weeks, a group of core and occasional volunteers gathers from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on a Saturday to pack and ship bras for the organizations identified in Step 3. Since Support1000 began with the goal of collecting  just 1000 bras, its target has become 1000 bras per Pack and Ship, and they usually reach their goal. It’s hard to imagine that when they first began, the volunteers worried that they would run out of bras!

As you would suspect, a majority of the donations are in the smaller size range. Support1000 receives a lot of A and B cup donations. Julia Green, the board member I interviewed for this post, explained it this way: “Unless I go through a major body change, there’s no way I’m getting rid of my 34DD’s until I’ve worn them out.” We all know how expensive D+ bras can be, and we don’t tend to purchase them lightly! Impulse spending is easier with smaller cup sizes, so those are donated more frequently–and in cuter colors than the beiges, whites and blacks that the D+ donations tend to come in. (Realistically, however, if I were on the receiving end with just one bra in my possession, I would want to begin with those beiges, whites and blacks.)

Are you in the Chicago area? Their next Pack and Ship is on May 4. Living elsewhere? Send your D+ donations to the Support1000 post office box with with this donation form (note that an extra $1 donation per bra also helps with shipping). And make it easier on the sorters by clearly tagging the size for them (you know how faded the print can get, even on a bra that’s in great shape).

 

 

Pretty Bras for Big Breasts: Curvy Kate Pros & Cons

When I spoke to Benita Kimball on Sunday, of course she was wearing a Curvy Kate. She’s loved the brand since she first saw it in a Bravissimo catalog in 2008 and couldn’t wait to carry it.  She hasn’t been disappointed, either as a wearer or as a retailer–she can’t keep them in her store! Here are the brand’s pros and cons from the eyes of a woman who is both a customer and a retailer.

Curvy Kate Pros

  • Curvy Kate bras gives what Benita calls a “natural hang” rather than causing the breasts to “stand at attention”. She doesn’t want her 32J bras to enter a room before she does (but she knows which brands and styles to turn to if that is what she’s going for). She finds her Curvy Kates to be great for lower cut tops and dresses and for casual wear. [As you know from yesterday’s post, I prefer stand-at-attention bras, so this is a con for me. However, if I ever find a stand-at-attention Curvy Kate bra that isn’t a Show Girl style, I will definitely report on it.]
  • If you like color, you can’t beat  the Curvy Kate color lineup.
  • She never has to readjust her boobs during the day.
  • She finds the bras so comfortable that her breasts are actually slightly painful when she has to take the bras off at night, which is a giant contrast to certain styles in certain brands that feel good for five hours, but where by the sixth hour, she’s thinking, “Lord, cut it off me!”
  • Her favorite Curvy Kate styles are the Lottie and Emily.

Curvy Kate Cons

  • You can’t really say, “I wear such and such size, so that’s what I’ll buy in Curvy Kate.” There is no one size that a woman wears in all Curvy Kate styles. This is great for brick and mortar stores like At Last because a hands on fitter remains essential to the buying process, but it’s a big challenge for customers whose only option is to shop online. If she had to make one generalization it would be that Curvy Kate bras tend to run small. In most brands, she wears a 32J, but in Curvy Kate she tends to wear a 34J.
  • The price in the United States is almost double the European price, so most of her Curvy Kate customers are in their fifties*. Younger women will purchase them because of the sizing, but it’s a special expense for them. For instance, a 24-year-old recently asked her father to buy her a Curvy Kate bra as a birthday gift.

*When I told a friend recently about my Curvy Kate fit issues, she said, “Well, isn’t that line targeted to younger women?” At 46, I’m fortunate not yet to have experienced sagging and drooping, so I felt defensive at my friend’s question.  Style-wise Curvy Kate may be targeted to the younger women, but not fit-wise. As the brand’s “about” page states, “whilst we target a young fashion conscious customer, we focus on attitude rather than age.” It was gratifying to learn that age hasn’t been an issue in the fit of a Curvy Kate bra for Benita’s customers.

————–

There is a wealth of Curvy Kate reviews available to you in the blogosphere. I relate best to the reviews by Bras I Hate (her shape in the Princess mirrors mine even though I’m a completely different size, and you can find reviews of many other Curvy Kate styles through the link in the right side bar of her blog), and Curvy Wordy, who describes the same issue that I have with the underwire extending too far back.

Yesterday I mentioned that June of Braless in Brasil has removed the ruffle from her Thrill Me, and she has since posted about the deruffling.

Finally, I haven’t given up on Curvy Kate. I’m going to try a 36GG next.