On Hourglassy, we try to review products that fulfill a range of price points. I’m personally extremely reticent to purchase luxury clothing and lingerie when I can’t find reviews of it online, especially if it’s coming from overseas. To that end, I hope this week’s review will be useful for our regular readers, and that potential buyers will find this post in their search for honest advice as well. This week, I’m bringing you Genus Femininum, the first-ever (that I’m aware of) luxury cashmere brand designed for the full-bust market.
Disclosure: This sweater was received as a review sample. All opinions are my own and based entirely on my experience.
The only piece of cashmere I’ve ever owned is an oversized scarf from J. Crew that was re-gifted to me by a friend who had received it from an ex-boyfriend (before they broke up). Knowing how soft the wool is, I’ve always wanted a cashmere sweater, but with a full bust I’m just not willing to lay out the money for such a luxurious item when it probably won’t fit well. And sure, you can get discount cashmere from flash sale sites or Uniqlo…but flash sites don’t offer returns or exchanges and Uniqlo’s women’s clothes are horribly boxy (seriously, the men’s tops fit me better since they’re at least long enough). So even at a lower price point, it’s still not worth it.
Imagine my excitement, then, when I was introduced to Genus Femininum—and my even greater excitement when they graciously offered Hourglassy both a sweater for review and an interview with the founder, Anna. I’ll start with the brand and its founder, followed by a review of my GF sweater…
Anna says she’s been passionate about knitwear since the tender age of three. Her grandmother and mother taught her to knit and she later studied fashion design, with a particular interest in bras (our kind of woman!). Today, she takes inspiration from ancient Roman and Greek art and architecture (the colors of her first collection are inspired by the interior of a seashell and Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus”).
Genus Femininum is luxury knitwear designed for women with a slim frame and large breasts (natural or surgically enhanced). It unabashedly embraces and encourages femininity. Like most full-bust brands, it offers multiple breast sizes for each “body” size, in this case, XXS-M with bust sizes I, II, and III. The brand’s philosophy is to celebrate women who like to show off their “sculptured” body.
I just love that phrase, “sculptured body”! Anna explained its origin and meaning to me: When she was weightlifting, she was really interested in the shape of female bodybuilders. She noticed that the breasts of extreme bodybuilders would essentially disappear and that many of these women undergo surgery to enhance their breasts. In later explorations of the fashion and blogging worlds, Anna noticed a prevalence of women with a small frame and full bust who showed off their figure on social media, but were stuck wearing tops that stretched out in the front.
She thought about all these different women and came to the realization that a “sculptured body” is “made by someone or something,” be it through training, doctor’s assistance, or simply shaped this way naturally (“sculpted through Mother Nature or God”). It called to her mind ancient Greek and Roman sculptors carving statues of marble.
Finally, Anna started to think of herself as a sculptor as well: Her clothing designs are made for this particular body shape, to highlight its curves and angles. “I wanted to show the beauty of the silhouette,” she says. The designs “come to life on a woman’s body and become one with the woman’s body—like a perfect sculpture.”
Next, you may be wondering what the name “Genus Femininum” means. It’s Latin for, basically, “female gender/female sex.” However, Anna explained that (ironically) the grammatical gender of the word GENUS is masculine and FEMININUM is neutral. She says: “I remember this description since my Latin class in school and love playing with it. For me, the meaning and look of the words is beautiful and represents all aspects of a woman’s character: aesthetics, beauty, femininity, heritage, power of love, wisdom, and connection to other women and the opposite/male gender/sex.”
So let’s check out the actual product! For GF’s first collection, Anna designed a classic crew-neck pullover sweater with an ever-so-slightly deeper neckline. Available in black, peach petal, pink, and a stunning magenta-ish shade of purple, I selected black since I figured it would match more of my existing wardrobe.
I measure 38”-29”-43” with height 5’6” and bra size UK 28GG/30G. After consulting with Anna, she suggested size Small-II. I was extremely nervous to order a small. I mean, I always go for medium or even large. But she was 100% correct in her assessment!
Sidenote: I find the size chart very confusing. It lists underbust measurement, but instead of bust measurement, it lists bra size. But the chart seems to be using the plus-4 bra sizing method (for example, my underbust matches a 34 band on the chart). And if you’re wearing the wrong size or don’t know your size, then you’re really in trouble. Honestly, the best thing to do is just email the company your actual measurements and ask what to order.
Black photographs very flat, so for some of these images I’m including a duplicate with a filter to show more detail. I’m wearing a (rather worn out, to be honest) Ewa Michalak PL bra in size 30G in these shots.
Can you believe how perfectly this sweater fits?? It hugs my every curve without feeling tight or stretched. The sleeves, too, are appropriately snug without feeling binding. Even the length (slightly shorter than I usually aim for) works on my freakishly long torso! I’m wearing mid-rise pants, and the sweater never inched up or flashed any skin. And I actually really like the way it looks not to be all scrunched up at my waist, but instead to lay flat.
So how is this perfect curvature achieved? It’s not with seams! It’s simply creatively angled knitting, which means you get a perfectly smooth finish with no bulky seam layers.
Even when the sweater isn’t being worn, you can see the three-dimensional effect at the breast:
Now, I know some of our readers may balk at this sweater’s €595 price (about $660). But as I was browsing some upscale department stores (Nordstrom, Saks, etc.), I noticed that this price point is entirely in line with other luxury cashmere offerings. At 100% cashmere and made in Italy, plus it will actually fit you, if you’re in the market for a high-end cashmere sweater (or want to gift one to somebody very special), I can’t recommend Genus Femininum enough.
I wore this sweater three times in one week (yes, really), and it still has not stretched or warped at all. Somehow, it’s even mostly immune to my white dog’s fur, as you can see in the photos. (Is that normal for cashmere? To not attract as much loose fiber as cheap blends?) It has pilled a little in the underarm area, but the care instructions note that this is normal, and I’ll just use a sweater shaver to keep it neat.
Anna also takes extreme care in the packaging of such a special item:
As for future seasons, Anna says there will be two collections per year starting in 2020. She will add new light colors and styles for spring/summer and additional styles and yarns next winter.
There are also plans to (eventually) add more sizes and cups to the collection. For this phase, Anna is exploring which missing sizes are most requested, bearing in mind that the knitting technique only works for full-bust proportions. Keeping sustainability at the forefront, GF produces a small number of styles and sizes per collection to avoid overproduction and leftovers.
Sales are not offered because the timeless styles, the artisan Italian work, and the natural materials don’t lose value. Says Anna, “We also want every customer to feel important.”
Lastly, you may have noticed the coming-soon “Genus Femininum Foundation” section of the website. Anna tells me she has plans to use her platform to raise money for breast cancer and is currently researching best options. Just another reason I’m happy to support this fabulous brand!