Off the Rack ~ Reviewing Urkye Long-Sleeve Tops “Lodka” and “Veka”

This week I’m reviewing two new long-sleeved tops from Polish big bust brand Urkye. I bought them with my exclusive 30% off coupon that I received at Hourglassy’s Big Bust Clothing Swap last month, plus my 4% returning customer discount, so they only ended up costing about $63 including shipping. Additionally, the shirts were delivered in a mere two weeks! If you like any of them, I’d suggest buying your own right away, because some of the sizes have already sold out.

My measurements are 37” bust and 29” waist, and I bought all these shirts in 38 o/oo. This is the size I always buy from Urkye (unless I want something to fit extra tight or show extra cleavage, in which case I sister-size to 36 oo/ooo). So far, everything I’ve ever ordered in this size has fit consistently.

For those who aren’t familiar with Urkye’s sizing, it works the same as other big bust brands such as the British Pepperberry or Polish BiuBiu—you use your waist measurement to determine the number and your bust measurement to choose from three curvy levels (in Urkye’s case, o, oo, and ooo) for tailored items or two curvy levels (o/oo and oo/ooo) for stretch items. You can find the size chart here, and you can see a list of the Urkye models’ measurements and sizes here, which makes it even easier to figure out the best fit for you.

First up is the Lodka, which Google Translate tells me means “boat.” This makes sense, since it features a boat-neck neckline. It also has two seams up the front and back to give it shaping. It’s a slightly thicker and heavier knit, perfect for fall and winter.

Sometimes the colors on Urkye’s website look quite different from the color of the fabric in real life, and this top is no exception. However, there’s something especially funny going on with this particular photo. The online image looks like a dusty, almost denim blue. But when I saved the photo to my computer, the saved file looked much more teal. In real life, the shirt is teal. Here is a comparison, with a screen shot from the website on the left and the saved photo file on the right:

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Anyhow, here’s how it looks on me:

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I love the seams, as I think they give this plain shirt just a tiny bit of extra interest (as well as creating the excellent fit, of course). I also think the sleeves are the perfect length, reaching just past my wrist, and the perfect level of tightness, just loose enough that they don’t bunch up or feel restrictive. The neckline sits on my shoulders a little funny, so that the trim lifts up and off my body somewhat, but I’ve had this effect with other shirts before too. I think the shirt is simply cut for slightly differently shaped shoulders than mine. It’s a small enough detail that I don’t physically feel it and really don’t care. In fact, I like this shirt so much that I just ordered it in two more colors!

Much to my satisfaction, the Lodka is quite long. With my extra-long torso, this is a rarity indeed. I’m wearing mid-rise jeans here, and to help show the length further, in this photo I’m pointing to my belly button:

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Next up is the Veka top, which doesn’t seem to have a translation. It’s a V-neck with princess seams and three-quarter sleeves. I bought it in purple and green. This time, the colors on the website are actually quite accurate, and didn’t change when I saved the image file:

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The purple is actually more color-accurate in the manufacturer image than my photo this time:

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Though it’s the same 92% cotton, 8% elastane as the Lodka, the Veka is a thinner, smoother material, excellent for layering. I wore it tucked into a high-waisted skirt earlier this week and didn’t feel any extra bulk. The princess seams are, of course, ideal for boobs, and once again the sleeves are not too tight. The fabric does feel a little clingier overall than the Lodka, but I attribute that to its thinner texture. This time, the shoulders sit flush with my body as well.

Finally, another belly button photo for length demonstration (it’s the same length as Lodka), followed by the green top on me, looking slightly more neon in my photos than it is in real life:

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Lastly, I just have to point out one more thing that I really love about these tops: They have a substantial waist! Check out these photos, and marvel at how much they flare out at the bottom. I hate it when shirts are super tight across my hips and baggy at the waist, but these tops accommodate my bottom-half curves as well as my top half. This means no bagging, bunching, or riding up.

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Big Bust Boutique for a Day with DD Atelier

The hands down highlight of our 4th Annual Big Bust Clothing Swap was getting to try DD Atelier in person with founder Olga Promptova. I’ve already rhapsodized over DD Atelier’s incorporation of full bust technical details into its designs, but to be able to experience them in multiple sizes and styles in one afternoon without worrying about return shipping was simply awesome. It was also great to see different styles on different busty bodies.

Olga was her own best advertisement for the faux leather dress she wore to our event. Not surprisingly, the dark blue is almost completely sold out, but several sizes remain in black. (Good news–if you fall in love with anything in today’s post or on the DD Atelier website, you can get 15% off plus free shipping on orders over €200 until midnight this Sunday!)

dd atelier olga measuring

This dress illustrates one of the reasons I’ve hesitated to order from DD Atelier in the past. Its online pictures connote bodycon for me, placing it squarely within the domain of busty bloggers with amazing bodies who have already reviewed DD Atelier, like Thin and Curvy and Weirdly Shaped and Well Photographed. The tight styles that are popular with Eastern Europeans, plus reviews by American women with much higher bust-to-waist ratios than mine, made DD Atelier feel like a niche within a niche that didn’t cater to me.

But seeing this dress in person on Olga (she paired it with sneakers and a cardigan!) and on swap attendee Donna (below), removed the barriers for me. DD Atelier isn’t only for extreme busty figures, and it doesn’t have to cling to every curve.  Olga herself is the perfect example–she wears bra size 30F (I know it doesn’t look like it in the pictures below, but I’ll confirm and edit if I’m wrong). We’re so used to fighting battles for H+ sizes in the full bust blogosphere that we sometimes minimize the challenges for women who wear D-G cups. Thankfully, Olga keeps the complete spectrum of cup sizes in mind with her creations.

dd atelier olga adjusting pleather dress on donna

dd atelier pleather dress on donna front 2

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Olga actually took off her own dress for Donna to try and changed into the technical design masterpiece that is the Cayenne top and skirt. I’m thrilled that this style has reappeared on the DD Atelier website.

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dd atelier olga cayenne 1

The amazing Kimmay fell in love with the plaid dress because it suited her retro style. (Several attendees were brokenhearted to find that the blue plaid dress is already sold out in their size. However, after the swap, the blue and yellow plaid Scotland dress appeared on the website–not exactly retro, but definitely amazing.)

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dd atelier plaid dress closeup

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One reason I wish DD Atelier were permanently available in a brick and mortar boutique setting is for the opportunity to handle the fabrics. Olga takes great pride in her fabric choices, and most come from Italy. The wool blend jersey for the Ornella, for example, has great weight yet remains fluid. I’m looking forward to Sweets’ upcoming review of this dress in Bordeaux, which is, of course, practically sold out–but several sizes remain in beige and grey.

dd atelier ornella bordeaux hanging

dd atelier ornella beige

I’ve posted the turquoise and cocoa Samantha dresses side by side so that you can see the difference in size. I’m wearing the turquoise in 36H and the cocoa in 36D, with a 32FF Panache Hepburn bra underneath. Once we determined that 36D is my ideal DD Atelier size, Olga offered to send the 36D turquoise as a gift. Lucky me! It just arrived yesterday, so I’ll be posting more pictures of it soon.

dd atelier samantha dress comparison

Finally, I just had to try the Francesca maxi dress. I overheard someone say I looked like I belonged on Little House on the Prairie in it, and I can’t argue, but this was a really fun dress to wear. In the first picture, I’m pointing at the folded design detail that I like.

dd atelier maxi dress front

This is a major swirly dress!

dd atelier swirling around in maxi dress

Besides hemming, Olga suggested raising the waist band for a better fit on me.

dd atelier maxi dress adjustment detail

Her suggestions to me and others are hard won from experience. It was fascinating to hear about lessons that she has learned since beginning in 2007. For instance, larger busts require longer zippers, and the zippers must be sewn into the garments in a special way so that the fabric doesn’t pull. This limits production to a few sewing contractors who are willing to work with non-standard features, and it requires constant vigilance over quality. Otherwise, stitchers tend to revert to default production standards, which results in returns to DD Atelier when customers miss their customary fit and quality.

Speaking of customary fit, some of you may be confused by recent changes to the DD Atelier size chart. If you’re used to the old sizes, here are the equivalents in the new chart:

65 = 30

70 = 32

75 = 34

80 = 36

85 = 38

If you have any doubts about your size, Olga is extremely helpful. I thought that my 31″ waist and 39″ bust placed me in a 38D, but even before meeting me at our swap, she told me she thought I could wear a 36D.

Finally, all the pictures for today’s post are of dresses, but the Sicilia blouse was also a big hit at the swap, and you can read a review of it on Plain Jane Vanilla, a new blog about bustiness that I just discovered today. She’s also going to write about the Norway coat when it gets cold enough!

 

Off the Rack ~ Reviewing the Panache Wireless Sports Bra

I’ve been on vacation this week, borrowing my parents’ cabin in the countryside of central New York. My back is feeling quite a bit better, and I have a doctor’s appointment Monday, so as long as she says it’s okay, I’ll probably go back to my once-or-twice-weekly gym visits in just a few more days.

In honor of Hourglassy’s “Fit & Active October,” Panache graciously sent me a wireless sports bra to review before I left town. Unfortunately, my back pain meant I couldn’t try it out for running or gym workouts, but I did bring it with me to try with hiking in the woods.

Disclosure: This bra was received as a review sample. All opinions are my own and based entirely on my experience.

I tried the wireless sports bra in the same size as my wired one, 30G. In regular bras, I vary from 28G to 28GG or 30FF to 30G depending on the brand. In regular Panache bras, I tend to need 28GG, though in some Cleo bras, I also may take a 30 band. In any case, the Panache wired sports bra is perfect on me in 30G, and the 30G wireless feels about the same.

The wireless bra is soft, but has permanent, molded, crease-like shaping in the interior. It’s pretty cool, because it doesn’t feel stiff, but it still maintains its three-dimensional shape.

While at the cabin this week, I’ve gone on several little hikes. One day when it was in the 50s (Fahrenheit), I skipped a bra completely when I took a leisurely two-mile walk on the road, and by the time I got done and took my jacket off, I had huge wet marks on my tee shirt from under-boob sweat. It felt so gross!

The next couple days, I wore a regular wired bra and the sports bra on hikes in the woods in similar weather, to see how they all compared. Before I left town, I also wore the sports bra on a regular day, to check out how it stacked up when worn all day long.

Unfortunately, the wireless sports bra doesn’t work for me. It felt good when I first put it on, but right away I noticed it was crushing over a bit at the base of the cup even after swooping and scooping all my breast tissue and adjusting the straps. On the day I wore it to work, I felt perfectly comfortable, but when I got undressed for bed at night, I realized it was giving me a really saggy profile.

When I took my sports bra hike in the woods, I took photos before and after walking, and the difference is really noticeable. To be fair, on both the workday and the hike, I didn’t feel any jiggling. But the wired sports bra is so successful on me that I would never reach for the wireless one instead.

Before, from the front, side, and a view from beneath the cups, where you can see it crushing over slightly:

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And after, from the same angles. Click to see larger, and note the visible sweat on the underside of the cups on the second and third shots:

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In the third shot, you can see that the base of the cup has not only crushed, but the bra has folded over all the way around except for the hooks and eyes.

Also note in the straight-on shot, originally the Panache logo on the band was fully visible, and in the after-shot, it’s completely covered. Here’s a side-by-side:

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Seems like the band crept up and the cups sagged and went east-west.

You can also see how much of the cups folded over in this shot of the interior of the bra:

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I think my boobs are simply too heavy and too full-on-bottom for a wireless bra. As such, I can’t recommend this sports bra for women who in general require lots of projection in their bras. However, it’d be worth a try for ladies with a different shape—more shallow, mainly.

 

Less Fit & Less Active October

This is not the month I envisioned when I set up our editorial calendar. That month was more of a “Rah rah! I can do it, and you can, too!” kind of month. Instead, it’s turned into a standing-at-the-fork-in-the-road kind of month where I keep venturing a few steps down one path, turning around and doing the same thing down the other.

Needless to say, spending time at the crossroads has led to a lot of reflection. I can’t be smug and say, “This is what I have learned this month,” but I can share what I’m learning.

Changing Seasons, Changing Priorities

In an early meeting with my nutritionist last year, I told her, “It’s a good thing I’m not too busy because I can concentrate on planning my meals and getting to the gym.” She looked at me like, “Huh? What’s the big deal?” and I wondered if I was exaggerating the requirements for a lifestyle change.

Now I know I wasn’t. That’s because other things have become a priority for me this fall. It’s super difficult to tear myself away from my sewing machine so that I can change into workout clothes and walk a mile to the YMCA in time for class. And as dinner time approaches, I keep hoping a balanced and delicious combination of protein and carbs will assemble itself without me so that I can keep blogging. That power walk I said I’d take at the beginning of the month? I meandered along the beach with my 9- and 6-year-old niece and nephew instead.

Each day has a limited set of hours, and sometimes I just don’t want to spend any of them exercising or creating nutritious meals.

Small Choices are Still Choices

I tend to be all-or-nothing about things, but thankfully, our options in life aren’t always either-or. For example, I’ve only been going to the gym once a week this month, but guess what? I’ve been going to the gym once a week this month! I haven’t stopped!

And I finally made an appointment with my nutritionist for her next available opening–October 31, the final day of Fit & Active October. I’ve also set up a physical with my doctor the week before Thanksgiving. The plan is for the impending blood test to scare me straight from saturated fats (and not be hanging over my head as I sit down for Thanksgiving dinner).

My fitness routine has become a bit rigid, so I’d like to introduce a little variety . . . gentle yoga instead of spinning, for instance, or weight machines instead of a formal class–I don’t have to push myself or raise my heart rate every time I go to the gym. And we’re taking the Lehigh Gorge bike train next month. Just making that plan was its own small victory.

Even though I’m not at the top of my physical game this month, I’m glad we have Fit & Active October. Taking care of health requires intention, and sometimes I need (or want) to divert my focus to other priorities. Having this month in our editorial calendar makes me more likely to find ways to stay fit and active for the rest of the year.

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This means that we’ll have more sports bra and active wear reviews for you throughout the year, but if you’re looking for a new sports bra right now, I highly recommend Sweets’ recent Enell review and Curvy Wordy’s recent write-up about her Panache sports bra in a 34J.