Off the Rack ~ Reviewing the Miss Candyfloss “Christine Kat” Dress

Oh readers, I think I may have a new favorite clothing brand—it’s Miss Candyfloss! I raved about it in my last review, and mentioned that I had ordered two more dresses and two tops. Well unfortunately, MCF took so long to fulfill the order (three months!) that they ran out of my size in both dresses and one of the tops before my order was filled. I was heartbroken.

The top wasn’t such an issue—it was a button-up style that I mostly wanted to try just so I could review it. But the dresses…oh, the dresses! These are the two I had chosen:

“Sammi Lee.” Note that the details are peach, not white.

“Sammi Lee.” Note that the details are peach, not white.

“Christine Kat.”

“Christine Kat.”

So I suppose I could live without the Sammi Lee. It isn’t as if I have a shortage of navy blue dresses, after all. But Christine! Christine is so amazing. The teal plaid, the mustard accents, the bows on the neck and sleeves… For weeks after I was informed that my order had to be cancelled, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I would’ve considered buying it at full price even, but my size (medium) and the next size up were sold out on the MCF website and I couldn’t seem to find it anywhere else.

Then I finally got the idea to post a “desperately seeking” notice in one of my Facebook groups, and an amaaaazing girl wrote me immediately. There was an online shop in The Netherlands ( that had it! And the girl even found me a 10% off coupon. And for some reason their shipping was really inexpensive (only €6.95—less than 8 bucks!) despite arriving a mere six days after it shipped.

Oh goodness, I love this dress so much! The fit feels made for me. The sleeves are slightly loose for comfort, the fabric has a lovely drape to it, and it really accents my figure. The print is slightly less vibrant in real life compared to the manufacturer photo, but otherwise it’s just perfect. I even already own mustard yellow shoes to go with it!

The fabric is 65% Polyester, 32% Viscose, 3% Spandex. Despite the spandex, it has almost no stretch, just a little bit of give.

I think a golden yellow fabric belt to match the cuffs would be ideal, but that may be a bit hard to find.

I think a golden yellow fabric belt to match the cuffs would be ideal, but that may be a bit hard to find.





Without the belt:




And obviously it wouldn’t be an “Off the Rack” review without some chest closeups! The seams are just perfect for big boobs. There’s a pair of seams that start out parallel to each other at the waist, but flare out as they travel upward, and then stop at the breast apex. It’s a construction I’ve never seen before, and it causes the bodice to totally mold to my shape.



In these photos, I’m wearing an Ewa Michalak CHP bra in 30G, and my measurements are 37”-29”-41” with a height of 5’6”. The MCF size chart lists medium as being up to 36.6” bust and up to 30.3” waist. I’d say the waist is accurate (I do have a tiny bit of extra space at the waist), but most MCF pieces make ample use of pleats, princess seams, and gathering at the bust, so it’s actually quite flexible and generous. Just pay close attention to the construction, and perhaps avoid styles that are flatter on the front.


Hope for Future Large Cup Dressing: Designer Zhiming Liu

As you know, I’ve been searching for the elusive 8L fit model for a while. With so much bra-fitting awareness out there (Hourglassy readers, Facebook groups, Bratabase and Reddit), I thought it’d be easier than it was seven years ago, but it’s actually been harder! I finally gave in and paid $45 for this craigslist ad in the art/media/design section after discovering how many of the free ads in the talent gigs section are actually for models without clothes.

I also crashed this FIT networking conference for models and stylists in hopes of finding one large-busted student who hasn’t given up her modeling dreams. She wasn’t there. All the models were as A to C cup as you would imagine. However, as they walked the runway in their mostly un-curve-friendly garments, this silver dress caught my eye.

bust friendly zhiming dress on runway 4-9-2016 2-18-34 PM

Afterwards, I found the designer, Zhiming Liu, and asked for a closer look. As I suspected, this dress is extremely bust friendly! Here’s a closeup of the bodice. (The rings at the shoulders wouldn’t hide our bra straps, but that’s easily remedied.)

bust friendly Zhiming dress front closeup 4-9-2016 4-37-51 PM

Beneath the drapey top layer is a fitted base with princess seams.

bust friendly Zhiming dress front princess seam details 4-9-2016 4-38-10 PM

The dress is out of a woven, non-stretch satin, so Zhiming uses darts for a fitted back.

bust friendly Zhiming dress back 4-9-2016 4-38-26 PM

In our few minutes to chat, I learned that Zhiming loves working with women’s curves. Later I sent her an email to find out why. You’ll find her answer as interesting as I did.

I was born and raised in Northeast China. My hometown is near Mongolia and Russia where most women are considered curvy compared to the rest of the country. My mom is very petite but she has two sisters are very curvy. When I was a child, I often see them alter their dresses on sewing machines because most of the clothes  in China are not made for the curvy women. They had to buy one, maybe two sizes bigger and alter the shoulder, waist or sometimes hem. I enjoyed to watching them do this, it was like a puzzle game to me. Now when I design any look for women with curves, I always think what would my aunts say about it. How would they look if they wear my garments.

I like to design for both slim women and curvy women. I like to design across both groups thinking would this look good for a less curvy woman or a more curvy woman? What should I change if I let a curvy woman wear a slim woman’s dress? What details should I add on or bring down when I design for curvy woman?  It’s like a mind game to me and I really enjoy thinking like this when it comes to design.

My understand of women with curves is that women who born with curves are born with a gift. They don’t have to do anything and look sexy. However, I think sexy is not the only word to describe women with curves. They can also be cool, intelligent and athletic. When people determine a woman with curves, they usually use the word “sexy” and I think it’s not very comprehensive. I don’t like hypersexualizing women with curves. I want to bring their other personality to those women. 

I was also curious about the inspiration for this dress.

This dress is part of my F/W collection [Zhiming graduated from FIT in December] and was inspired by the movie Tron Legacy. I imagined what the girl would wear in the real life other than the futuristic suit she wore in the movie. So I researched on militaristic uniform looks from comic books and movies, as well as looks from conceptual designers like Gareth Pugh. Then I try to bring the “crazy future look” down to earth.  I attempted to create a futuristic look but didn’t want to go too far. I imagined someone wearing the dress can go to a party, look classic and elegant but also be able to move her body, like dancing or running. She can match this dress with a pair of classic high heels for a classic look or she can wear funky boots to look more like trendy.


The Wall Street Journal recently wrote about versatile dresses that can be worn to multiple styles of weddings in a single summer, advising to “choose one that’s dress-code-flexible: a tea-length number that can morph ‘from black-tie formal to beach casual, depending on the shoes you wear‘”. I immediately pictured Zhiming’s dress. Here are all the ways that Zhiming would suggest wearing her dress for just a single wedding weekend.

She can wear the dress with pumps, adding a blazer and a brooch for the ceremony. At the reception and dinner party, she can wear the dress with her favorite jewelry and dress sandals. For the next day brunch, she can wear the dress with a bolero jacket, adding a scarf or a millinery hat.

I love the dress as an original on a single woman, but its versatility also makes me think it would be excellent for the variety of body types in a bridal party. Right now, that would have to be a bridal party where all the bridesmaids can be fitted in New York City.

If someone wanted to order the dress, it is possible but everything will have to be custom hand made. They can send me their measurements and schedule an appointment for alterations. They can contact me via email []. If someone across the country wanted to order the dress it would be very difficult since they will not be available for fittings and alterations. The dress will be made for their measurements but there would not be an alterations of the dress to make the dress fit perfectly to each person’s unique body.
I’m sorry to tease you with a dress that can’t be purchased in stores, but I have high hopes for Zhiming’s future. I didn’t find my H-cup model at FIT that Saturday afternoon, but I found a new designer who understands our curves and is happy designing for them.
Fit model update: Instead of using only one model, last week I was able to work with a composite of two women who helped me discover the smallest and largest bust measurements that can wear an 8L. I am ALWAYS looking for H cup models, however, so please let me know if you or an acquaintance has the measurements in my ad!

Off the Rack ~ Retrospec’d “Elizabeth” Dress Reviewed

I’m so excited to share a new (semi-) bust-friendly brand with Hourglassy readers: It’s Australian vintage reproduction brand Retrospec’d. I just discovered them a couple weeks ago when someone posted a pair of their dresses for sale in one of my Facebook sell/swap groups. Though they were size XS, the construction looked strikingly boob-friendly and I navigated to the brand’s website straightaway.

That’s when I laid eyes upon one of the most lovely dresses I’ve ever seen:

homepage photo

Readers, I was totally smitten. I clicked around the website until I found the dress—the Elizabeth in Gay Paris print. At first the price seemed prohibitive. $190??? But then I remembered that the American dollar is quite strong against the Australian dollar, and in US dollars that would be about $148. Still not “cheap,” to be sure, but about the same range as many other vintage repro brands such as Pinup Girl Clothing, Tatyana, and Heart of Haute.

Next I checked out the size chart—and couldn’t believe my eyes! The Australian 10 matched my measurements almost perfectly. But…I’m always a 12 in Australian and UK sizes (which is the same as a US 8 / Medium). Size 10 couldn’t be right, could it? Especially since all the other dresses’ size charts put me in a 12 (or none at all, depending on that garment’s particular measurements).

Feeling conflicted about sizing, I was wary of ordering. Shipping from Australia is pricey and slow, and I knew it wouldn’t be worth it to attempt an exchange. Luckily, a lovely gal in one of my Facebook groups pointed me toward a stockist in the US, Bygones Vintage in Richmond, VA. Since it’s a brick-and-mortar store, I called and asked them to measure the actual waist of the dress in size US 6 and 8. The 6 was 29.5 inches—a quarter-inch over my exact waist size! So I placed the order through them and the dress was in my hands a mere 3 days later.

Readers, this dress fits like a dream. With my waist measuring just over 29 inches, and most size charts usually listing medium at 28-29 and large at 30-31, I always have to choose between slightly too small or slightly too big. But this dress is perfect. And it actually has room for boobs! Further, the straps are wide enough and in the ideal placement to cover my bra straps (I’m wearing a Comexim plunge in Polish size 60J [about a UK 28GG] in these photos).

Additionally, the cotton is a fantastic weight. It has enough heft that it doesn’t feel cheap (*cough* Bernie Dexter *cough*), but is still light and airy enough for a hot summer day. And while most of my poofy skirts are gathered, this one is pleated, giving it lots of volume without blowing up and flashing my underwear with every gust of wind.

The print is a gorgeous lavender base with peach and red details, featuring a scene of a painter sitting along the water’s edge in Paris, trees in the foreground and the Eiffel Tower in the distance. It’s an unexpected color combination that works so well—and perfectly matches my lavender heels!

So let’s get to some photos, shall we??









Now, while the Elizabeth has up to nearly an 8-inch difference between the waist and bust, many of the brand’s other styles do not. In fact, some are downright tiny in the bust. There are a lot of different styles, so I’ve compiled a list here of each style and its waist-to-bust difference in inches (in size Aus 12 / Medium), with the biggest difference at the top. With my 8-inch difference, I’d probably avoid anything with less than 7 inches. So I guess there aren’t really that many big-bust options here…but the Elizabeth is so lovely and has enough prints to tide me over!

Avita – 11
Josie – 9
Kathy – 7.9
Kelly – 5.9-7.9 (this one lists a range for the bust due to stretch)
Norma Jean – 5.9-7.9 (stretch)
Elizabeth – 5.9-7.9 (this one’s range is due to fabric gathering at the bust, no stretch)
Ruby – 3.5-7.5 (stretchy shirred back panel)
Sandi – 3.5-7.5 (stretchy shirred back panel)
Sarong – 3.5-7.5 (stretchy shirred back panel)
Bella – 7.1
Kathleen – 7.1
Wendy – 5.1-7.1 (stretch)
1943 – 6.7
Betty – 6.7
Connie – 6.7
Gidget – 6.7
Suzie – 6.7
Lori – 6.3
Audrey – 5.9
Peggy – 5.9
Sophia – 5.9
Tammy – 5.9
Betty Rose – 3.9-5.9 (stretch)
Lilli – 5.5
Dyann – 5.1
Sun Dress – 5.1
Valerie – 5.1
Ella – 4.7
Laura – 4.7
Sammy – 4.7
Empire – 4.3
Vivian – 4.3
Ingrid – No size chart


The Shadow Bra Industry: Brazen Lingerie

Today I continue my Shadow Bra Industry series with the second of four women that I interviewed who are forging separate paths to help women find their perfect fit. Earlier I introduced you to Jessica, and before that to two direct sales companies, Peach and Essential Body Wear. Now I’d like you to meet another New Yorker ready to meet women where they are.

She does so much more than maternity, but whenever I hear a mom-to-be worrying about nursing bras, the first person I want her to meet is Anina Young of Brazen Lingerie. When I first wrote about Anina, she worked from her brick and mortar store in Inwood on the northern tip of Manhattan. Since then, she’s changed her business model. Now instead of trekking up to her, for a fee (unless you’re a mastectomy client, then it’s free) she’ll trek to you–an especially welcome change for women who are about to give, or have just given, birth. Just ask the new mother who gave birth to twins that Anina went to meet in the neonatal intensive care unit!

If you ask Anina why she is so passionate about maternity and nursing, she’ll respond, “Have you ever held a one-day-old baby?” Personally, no. But I have shadowed Anina at Curve and listened to her very specific questions to maternity and mastectomy bra vendors that indicate a deep understanding of her client’s needs. For anyone in the NYC vicinity facing motherhood or breast surgery, Anina needs to be at the top of her to-do list.

Anina also needs to be at the top of the to-do list for anyone who

  • doesn’t like bra shopping
  • has had a bad bra shopping experience in the past
  • has neck problems or other physical issues
  • can’t find her size
  • simply doesn’t want to go to a store

These are the types of friends that Anina told me to refer to her. Like Jessica, the friends we send to Anina shouldn’t be in browse-mode. Instead, they should be in “take care of herself mode”.

When I asked why we should trust our friends to Anina, she answered, “Because you know me. You know I’ll take care of them. You know that I know what I’m doing, I’m not going to scam them, and I’m going to do the right thing.” And it’s true. Any time I’ve eavesdropped on Anina as she’s fit other women, I’ve learned something new. She’s worked with so many different body types that she has solutions for situations that would completely stump a bra fit dilettante like me.

If you’re ready to refer a friend to Anina, here’s what you can tell her to expect. First, Anina will ask a few questions ahead of their meeting to narrow the range of sizes to bring with her. Anina carries over 60 sizes, from 28D to HH and 32 (and higher) A to K (British). So far she has always had at least one bra in each customer’s size.

Once they meet, she’ll educate your friend about fit. Typically, customers buy half a dozen bras and rarely all in the same size. Anina can easily spend at least an hour with your friend, so she’ll tell her to be sure to block out 1.5 to 2 hours for her appointment. (Anina also offers parties that can take 2-2.5 hours.)

Once they’ve whittled the selection down to your friend’s favorites (including at least one boring basic and one “Saturday night hot special”), Anina will work through the prices with her. She’ll go through what’s on sale, what’s fashion and therefore will be gone soon, and what can be special ordered any time. Anina is used to working with a variety of income levels, helping her customers get the most out of the budgets they have right now and planning for what to add later.