Sleeping Busty Beauty: Help from a Shelf

For all our mockery of those flimsy little shelf bras inside mainstream camisoles and nightgowns, guess what? They can help!

Here’s a Fleur’t nightie that I found the same day as the Deco. It’s size M/L, and the shelf just fit over the expanse of my bosom. If I could have been guaranteed that it would stay put and not ride up while sleeping or putting dishes in the dishwasher, I would have kept this one, even though it cost over $70.

fleurt chemiseThe snugness of the shelf is actually causing a little lift and compression, and I really like the way I look in this nightgown (technically, it was labeled as a “nightshirt”). The fabric was high quality, and the bright pink with the lace along the neckline helped it meet my “pretty and feminine” criteria.

I’d heard good things about Fleur’t from the owner of La Bella Intimates in Winter Park, Florida (she said that American customers prefer the more relaxed fit that it gives, compared to the formfitting Kris Line loungewear), and reader Tracy commented last Monday that her own Fleur’t chemise is pretty near perfect. I’m jealous that she found it at Marshall’s for only $20!

Not all Fleur’t gowns are created equal, unfortunately. This sleepshirt was gone the next time I returned to Town Shop, and none of the other Fleur’t pieces in stock had shelf bras. When shopping online, product descriptions won’t always tell you if there’s a shelf bra. But if there is, it’s well worth giving the piece a try. I wonder if I would have felt more secure in the shelf bra of this sleepshirt in a size L/L? (Neiman Marcus has it in this size in blue; they also have Tracy’s chemise in “fire coral”, which I love).

Although I liked the way I looked in this sleepshirt, I didn’t realize the difference the shelf made . . . until I continued my search for more mainstream options online. I’ve heard others rave about Josie Natori, and this Shangri-la scoopneck gown was exactly what I thought I was looking for.

natori shangrila gown

Sadly, this gown doesn’t do me any favors. The deep back, which is wonderful, doesn’t allow for a shelf bra. But comparing these pictures with those of the Fleur’t sleepshirt above, I realize there’s a lot of Waistline Boob going on, and it’s not only because I’m bra-less. It’s also because the scoopneck simply isn’t scooped enough for me, causing my bosom to be grouped with my waist instead of my neckline.

natori chemise

I found a Josie by Natori chemise that had a shelf bra and was only $38, so I included it in the same order. I liked the little ruching at the center, and I adored the watermelon color and pretty lace, but the shelf bra was the laughable kind we know so well.

josie chemiseHaving tried DD+ specific sleepwear, specialty boutiques, and online stores, I next decided to try a department store clearance rack because you never know what you’ll find there. Four years ago, I found my now-deceased Hanro nightgown for only $15 in the Lord & Taylor clearance racks, so I had to take a chance on being lucky there again.

Sleeping Busty Beauty: Deco Delight Chemise from Freya Lounge

After I finished photographing the first ten nightgowns that I’m going to write about here, I asked my husband which one he liked the most. He picked the Deco Delight (that I had serendipitously discovered at Town Shop–don’t you love it when you can try something like this on in person before purchasing?).

freya basic chemise

I like this chemise, too. Unlike the Sweet Dreams, the neckline does exactly what it’s supposed to do. However, like the Sweet Dreams, you can see that the “secret support”  and underbust line just barely contain my bosom.

The Large/E-G, below right, was slightly better in this regard, but I preferred the overall look of the Medium/E-G, below left.

D plus chemise Deco Delight chemise compare medium with large

With my husband’s vote and the nice fit, why didn’t I keep this chemise?

First, the fabric feels polyester-y (it’s 51% nylon/polyamide, 9% polyester, and 10% elastane). It’s thick enough to conceal most bulges, and it drapes attractively, but it didn’t feel breathable for hot summer nights. (For comparison, the Sweet Dreams is 96% viscose and 4% elastane.)

Second, it’s grey. They can call this one “dove grey” to make it sound prettier than the Sweet Dreams charcoal, but why not choose one of the other nine Universal Colors that flatter most people? It’s not like we need a practical neutral to match other pieces in our wardrobes. Sleepwear is one of the few places where we can be indulgently fanciful and impractical about color. It just needs to make us look good. Unfortunately, this shade of grey causes the chemise to fail three of my criteria: it doesn’t make me look good, it isn’t pretty and feminine enough (for me), and it falls more in the realm of functional than fantasy and pretend.

Unfortunately, I don’t see any hope on the color horizon. Not even from the chemise version of the Freya Pansy that is scheduled to ship in November and December. It is, sadly, only sized by S, M, L and XL with no concession to cup size. However, since it’s manufactured by a full-bust brand, I want to try it . . . just in case.Freya Pansy chemise

freya pansy

You won’t want to sleep in it, but this padded longline will be available in 28-38 D-I.

Since at this point in my search I hadn’t fallen in love with any full-bust-specific nightgown, I wondered if I would have better luck with mainstream brands. That’s what I’ll write about next.

Sleeping Busty Beauty: DD+ Chemises from Freya Lounge and Figleaves Midnight Grace

It was inconvenient when both of my go-to nightgowns died this summer, but it was also a cause for celebration. Finally I could justify ordering the Freya Sweet Dreams chemise! I’d wanted to try it ever since trying the Sweet Dreams long sleeve top and lounge pants in April. To make the shipping worth it, I also ordered the Midnight Grace Camelia and Bow Jersey.

Let’s dispense with the Camelia first. Lesson learned: If a Midnight Grace sleepwear item isn’t described as having “hidden support”, then there’s no way G+ boobs are going to stay within their designated bosom boundaries (unless the bosom is encompassed by stretch lace, as with the Pandora, although I haven’t actually tried the Pandora). [Read more...]

Sleeping Busty Beauty: Looking for the Perfect Nightgown

So how worn out can a nightgown get? After 5+ years, it turns out very.  A few months ago, my two go-to nightgowns finally died. I kept spilling out of their stretched-out necklines, and they were so faded and scraggly that I had to admit they belonged in our rag pile instead of on me.

I vaguely remembered it being a challenge to find a nightgown the last time I went shopping for one, which must be why I stuck with the last two for so long, but I couldn’t remember what was so hard. It seems like it should be so simple. All I wanted was another simple chemise or calf-length gown.  I don’t like long gowns that twist around my legs, and two-piece sets are okay, but they never seem pretty or feminine to me. So add “pretty and feminine” to the list.

And of course I want it to make me look good. And that’s why it’s so hard to find one.

If it were simply matter of finding a pretty nightgown that fit, I would settle immediately on an Eileen West gown like this one.

eileen west plus size nightgown

You can pluck one of these off the rack and know it will fit without even trying it on. However, if you’re big-boobed, you can also know that those accommodating gathers above the bosom will exaggerate your large bust in a very unsexy way. This style should look elegant, floaty, Victorian (a la Downton Abbey), but on me, it only looks matronly.

eileen west big boob nightgown problem

This raises another item on my list that isn’t a must-have, but a very strong wish:  an element of fantasy and pretend.

wendy darling nightgown

A nightgown is the one “dress” I’m meant to wear without a bra. It’s my chance to experiment with all sorts of backs and necklines and armholes that are off limits in everyday clothes.

Finally, there’s one more item on my list. Ideally, the nightgown will cost less than $50. For something that I wear nightly for 26 weeks of the year, that’s an insane cost-per-wear expectation, but I can’t help it. Except for lounge-y weekend mornings, sleepwear only gets seen for a few minutes at night and a few minutes in the morning. I prefer to spend more money on clothing that gets more visibility. But if I fall in love with something over $50, I can easily justify its purchase.

Just as I remembered, it was HARD WORK locating a nightgown that met these five criteria, but I ultimately succeeded. In my next few posts, I’m going to show you what I found along the way.

How about you? What’s on your wish list and what are your must-haves for sleepwear?