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Catching Up with Patsy, Pepperberry & More Front Room

It’s been a while since we’ve published a Fitting In column (Patsy shared her button-front blouse odyssey in December), so when I caught up with Patsy for lunch at a nearby department store on Wednesday, I stole the opportunity to catch up with her wardrobe as well.

Patsy was a complete breath of fresh air when she breezed into the store wearing this Pepperberry ice blue double breasted coat in size 18SC.

pastsy pepperberry coat accessorized

I’m a big fan of the double princess seams that accommodate the bust and define the waist.

patsy pepperberry coat 3 quarter view

Patsy is a big fan of the pockets that are deep enough to keep from losing her cell phone.

patsy pepperberry coat deep pockets

patsy pepperberry coat back view

Underneath that coat she wore one of her More Front Room tops in XL.

Patsy in More Front Room top with blazer

Besides horizontal ruching that runs across the torso, this top has vertical ruching that runs the length of the chest area. Patsy feels there is definitely room for a larger bust than hers and that she could even size down to an L.

patsy more front room top side ruching

patsy more front room top back view

It looks like this style is currently sold out on the More Front Room website, but its popularity is a good sign that It’ll be back. And speaking of being back, Patsy promises she’ll be back with a new column soon.

Fitting In: Button-Front shirts for the large bust.

In real life, when I’m not blogging  or playing music and pretending to be the re-incarnation of my idol Patsy Cline, I work in technology for a Wall Street firm.  Assertiveness, self-confidence and that quality of being self-assured is (for better or for worse) here in droves.  Most of my colleagues are men.  At least 50% of them are multilingual and hail from places around the globe.  What I have in common with all these techies is my nerdiness.  What I have that is tremendously different is another X chromosome and very large breasts.

I bring up all of these things to underscore just how important it is for me to present a professional image and how vital it is to have an impeccable foundation and well tailored, professional looking attire to fit in at my work place.  There is an unspoken uniform on Wall Street and it’s shirt that buttons.  My hunt for a well tailored button front blouse was epic.  What follows is a brief review of those I tried or considered.   All but the Front Room shirts that  I tried were purchased in my own name with my own money.

Here is what I’ve found:


Wearing 36H, 38G and 40H bra various times over the past few years has had me at or slightly above the 18SC in Pepperberry’s shirts.  They were workable only underneath a sweater or with a particularly high-waisted skirt.  Why?  Too short.  I’m not opposed to others baring their midsection, and I’ll proudly sport a bikini on the beach.  But to be taken seriously in the workplace, I need the shirt to be longer.  The fit was fine across the bustline, but the fit in the arms was wonky, and they showed off a wide swath of my mid-section.   I brought a couple of these to last year’s Hourglassy clothing swap, and they found a home with someone a bit smaller than me.  It looks like from customer feedback, the newer Pepperberry shirts are a couple of centimeters longer, but until I travel across the pond and try these in person, I’m hesitant to place another order.

Carissa Rose —

I never got around to trying these, and they don’t appear to be in business any longer.  I kick myself for not trying these, because she absolutely had tunic-length shirts that I’m certain would have been plenty long enough for me.

Rebecca & Drew —

I tried these.  Back in the day, you could order via your bust size.  This was pre-2008, I was then in a 38G, and went for a 38H to give a little extra space.  Back then, I was ignorant of the difference between US & UK sizing and have no idea which R&D were using, but it was a pretty good call, fit-wise.  Even their tall option was a bit short for me, but not so bad that I didn’t keep it, as it’s fine with high-waist jeans.  R&D’s logic went to InStyle and the shirts were to be manufactured in China and a whole lot cheaper.  Has anyone tried?  Looks like they aren’t in business any longer.

BiuBiu — 

These are the shirts that made me realize the power of bloggers.  The lovely Georgina Horne modeled two of these, looked good and looked enough like my shape that I just had to try them.  Thus began a realization that anything she modeled was quick to sell out in my size, so I should not wait for a sale if I want something specific.  This is a line I want to shout to all manufacturers — My size always seems to be out of stock.  Clearly there are alot of us.  Please make more.   Powder blue & white button- downs became mine.  Better than Pepperberry, better than R&D, but not excellent.  I also ordered a fuscia shirt that I wore over the best bra I ever owned and the color ran, turning my white KrisLine bra into a bizzare greyish pink shade from which it won’t recover.  Lesson here – match the shade of the top to the bra.  Always.

Campbell & Kate — 

To be honest, I still don’t fit in an off-the-rack size from C&K and needed to go the custom route so it isn’t a perfectly fair comparison, fit-wise, to the other lines.  As expected in a custom made shirt, the fit is spot on.  But it isn’t just the fit quality that makes these stand out.  The fabric quality and tailoring are above and beyond the others I tried.  Above and beyond.  Rolled up, the sleeves look good.  The weight of the fabric is substantial, and I never have bra show-thru.  I haven’t had the color run and stain another garment.    I wash, shake out and plop onto a hanger to dry and they are ready to wear again within a day.  Because I was getting these custom made, I went for French cuffs on two of them.  I picked these cuff-links up at the airport in Rome when I had a few euros to use up before returning stateside.  Details matter.  My boss wears cuff-links every day and I feel powerful with these, like they are my secret weapon.

Campbell & Kate, with French Cuffs

Campbell & Kate, with French Cuffs

If you fit into C&K’s standard sizes, I envy you.  If you don’t, please join me in pestering her to do more custom work.  With pink, blue & white in my wardrobe now, I could use a few more colors.

 Front Room —

It was a delight to find  Melanie Love graciously sent three tops for me to try that I will review in detail over the next few weeks.  They arrived just before the holidays and I’m in love, love, love with all of them.  So much so that I’ve gone and ordered another essential silk utility blouse plus two more tops from them.  If, like me, you are at or slightly above the largest sizes offered by most full-bust clothing manufacturers, give them a look.    In a 40H bra, the XL fits me nicely, even generously.  From their site:

Is this a plus-size line?

We have some plus-size crossover (can nobody come up with a better term than “plus”??) because so many of us have to size up to accommodate our boobage.  So someone wearing size 18 to 20 with big boobs may be able to size down and wear our XL, especially straight and hourglass shapes.  The key to fit is selecting the size that works for the largest feature of your body.

What I’d been hoping for since first finding Pepperberry is that someone would make more clothing to fit my size and shape.  And my prayers were answered.   I don’t care if a line is called “Plus-sized.” I only care that it fits.  And these do.

Front Room is having a year-end sale, with 60% off and free shipping on orders over $99 CAD. 

Full Bust Knit Fit Follow-up from More Front Room

Don’t be fooled by my worried expression in this photo. Yesterday’s silk blouse and today’s peplum top with split neck are my favorites from the More Front Room collection.
more front room peplum front XS rolled and tucked unzipped

With More Front Room’s more structured items, it may be a good idea to size down, which is what I had to do with both items. Below left, I’m wearing size S. If I lost my luggage and had to borrow this top in size S from a friend, I would be completely fine wearing it. But you can see how much better the XS fits me in the middle photo.

The photo on the right (and above) is how I want it to fit me after I shorten the sleeves and torso. I don’t usually talk about being petite, but at 5’3″, I love shopping in petites departments because the proportions are more flattering on me. However, since no one currently makes busty petite clothing, it’s worthwhile to alter regular busty clothing.

more front room peplum comparisons frontOn the left is the S, and on the right is the XS. Like the silk blouse, the princess seams run to the side of the bust. The armholes are nice and high, allowing for ease of movement and narrow sleeves that don’t add bulk to the bustline.

more front room peplum side comparisonsFrom the back.more front room peplum back comparisons As I mentioned last week, the fabric is very substantial. It barely wrinkles, and Melanie has been wearing this top for six months without any pilling. I can see myself getting a lot of wear out of this top because it’s easy to pack and dress up or down. Plus, I ADORE the color–my photos are more accurate than the website.

Isn’t this knit shell with silk cowl neck intriguing? Since I’m horrible with scarves, I like that the work has been done for me–no figuring out how to tie it, and it always stays in place!

more front room striped shell full length front

But you can also tuck the cowl in if you want a more minimalist look. In this picture, I was also experimenting with shortening the length of the top, but I think it looks better in the original length.

more front room striped shell tucked in cowl

I’m wearing size S in this top, and there’s no way I would go smaller. However, you may notice a little extra room along the princess seam in this photo.

more front room cowl shell side view full length

If it’s not too difficult, I will try to take in the extra fabric along the seam. Otherwise, it isn’t a big deal to leave it as it is.

more front room extra bust room in shell detail

No danger of underarm bra showing with these high armholes!

more front room high armholes demo

I LOVE the lower back zipper. It makes a big difference for getting this top over my hair. The rippling that you see across my back is probably another petites issue.

more front room cowl shell back

Finally, here’s the scoop neck sheath dress. I’m wearing size S, and it’s just right. The colors are too muted and cool for me, but I can see this print being super versatile on others. It’s also completely wrinkle-proof.

more front room scoop neck dress front regular

Once again, here are the alterations I would make so that this dress is less overwhelming on me–shorten the sleeves and hem (but to mid-knee instead of above the knee!).

more front room scoop neck dress front shortened

This dress has GREAT room for busty women with wider hips than mine, but it’s also fine with smaller hips.

more front room scoop neck dress extra hip room

The lining is like a comfortable shapewear–great for confidence!

more front room scoop neck dress side

You can’t tell from the photo, but there’s a hidden zipper that makes this dress very easy to put on.

more front room scoop neck dress back

Melanie has more dresses in the pipeline that I can’t wait to see. She’s also sending Patsy three tops to review, so look for information about sizing at the other end of the More Front Room size chart soon!

Pretty Bras for Big Breasts: Empreinte Again

Empreinte was the inspiration for my very first “Pretty Bras for Big Breasts” post in 2011. Once I saw their bras in person, I longed to own one. As it turned out, I ended up owning the same one twice. First I purchased (and returned) the Kaela and showed you the difference between it and the Melody on me. Then Empreinte gifted me with the Kaela, and I learned the sad lesson that if an Empreinte bra doesn’t tack, it doesn’t fit. My cup size had grown, and I was sized out.

Three things happened recently to cause me to stare longingly at Empreinte again:

First, I’ve drunk the Kool-aid . . . or rather, the champagne! To celebrate the launch of Lingerie Francaise’s new blog, Truly French, Lingerie Francaise invited several bloggers to a dinner with its member brands. I may some day be able to persuade myself again that a bra is just a bra, but right now I’m still inebriated by the idea of lingerie that is “truly French”.

In Empreinte’s case, ALL of its cutting and 20% of its stitching is done in Brest, France, which helps guarantee their quality (the remaining 80% is done in Tunisia, Morocco and Madagascar). Something else “truly French” is their L’Atelier Lingerie that I would love to visit in Paris. Could you imagine having every single bra in your size wheeled into your dressing room?

Second, when Patsy went to Town Shop to find her swimsuit size ahead of our June swimsuit reviews, Empreinte was having a trunk show. She walked away with four Empreinte bras, and she can’t stop raving about them.

Third, as I walked past the Empreinte booth at Curve, I caught a glimpse of this bra hanging on their racks. If Cinderella were to have worn just a bra to the ball instead of a gown, it would have looked like like this. It’s called the Pompadour, and the color is “sky”.

empreinte sky blue pompadour closeup

Empreinte pompadour sky blue briefs closeup

Pompadour will be available in C-G cups and 30-46 bands (depending on the shape, eg., 3/4 balconette or classic with side panels–this applies to all size ranges given below as well).

empreinte sky pompadour model poster

Sky and “powder” (below) ship in January. They are one-time colors.

empreinte pompadour blush closeup

Black ships in December and will be available seasonally.

empreinte pompadour noir on model

If the Pompadour is my fairy tale bra, the Lily Rose is my dream “everyday bra”. The seasonal color “argent” ships in January and comes in C-G and 30-48.

empreinte lily rose closeup

A friend once mocked me for purchasing the matching briefs for my Kaela set. Admittedly, those bottoms were pretty basic, but I can’t imagine owning the Lily Rose without the matching bottoms below.

empreinte lily rose bottoms closeup

Here is another beautiful “everyday” option: the Elsa in “petal”. It also comes in “smoke” and white. It will ship in February and be available in C-G and 30-46.

empreinte elsa blush closeup

empreinte elsa grey closeup

empreinte elsa bottoms

The use of embroidery (vs. lace) and microfiber make Elsa a little less expensive than the more elaborate styles. It retails for $150.

empreinte white elsa on model

Here is the Grace in the one-time color “smoothie”, which ships in March. It will come in C-G and 30-44.

empreinte grace pink closeup

empreinte grace pink bottoms closeup

Excitingly, Empreinte is contributing the Grace in blush (below) or black to our raffle on September 26. If you’re in the area and haven’t already rsvp’d, be sure to do so!

Empreinte Grace

Finally, the ever-popular Melody isn’t going anyway anytime soon, but Empreinte has added a new continuity “color”: gold thread.

empreinte melody gold thread closeup

They took things a step further at Curve by beading and embroidering the Melody live at their booth.

empreinte embroidered melody in my hand

empreinte embroiderer 2

empreinte beadwork description

(Amelie’s day job as a prototype engineer actually involves grading the bras.)

empreinte embroidery step 1

empreinte embroidery on mannequin

You’ve probably noticed that every bra I’ve mentioned goes to a G cup, but Empreinte currently offers two styles that go to an H in their full cup shapes: Thalia and Irina (C-H from a 32; to a G in 30). The Thalia “lagoon” color has been out for a while, so it may be difficult to find in an H cup in anything other than neutrals, but look for a gorgeous turquoise called “Pacific” in March (you can see it peeping out from beneath the smoothie Grace above).

As for Irina, when I saw it in “Byzance” on the Bits of Lace website while researching for today’s post, I realized that I have been seriously behind in covering Empreinte! This FW15 color just shipped on August 15, so it’s still available in H cups from a 32 band and to a G cup in the 30 band (in the demi shape).

empreinte irina

I made up for lost time by contacting Empreinte for information on the FW15 styles, and I post the pictures they sent me after the jump for those of you who love looking at luxury lingerie that fits big busts as much as I do. I also post some of the SS16 swimsuit styles . . . just because. Enjoy! [Read more…]