Wearing More Front Room in Real Life

The timing couldn’t be more perfect for me to wear my altered More Front Room pieces for the very first time this week because the company is having an amazing semi-annual clearance sale. All I could think as I wore my peplum top and silk blouse was, “You’d have to be crazy to let this sale pass you by.” $47.60 for the peplum top is a steal. (Yesterday there was a glitch on the company website and I thought I’d missed my chance to show you these pictures before the sale ended. Nothing like a second chance!) As a reminder, here’s my post with pics of how it looked before I had the sleeves shortened and the waistline raised. I like how the bootcut jeans balance the peplum. I would have liked the waistline slightly higher, but I lost that battle with my seamstress.

morefrontroom peplum with jeans front

morefrontroom peplum side

morefrontroom peplum back

Next the silk blouse as I wore it on Sunday. If there’s any chance you will ever need or want a silk blouse, then you need to stock up on this right now.

morefrontroom silk blouse rolled sleeves front

morefrontroom silk blouse rolled sleeves side

The sleeve length is perfect compared to how they looked before my seamstress raised the cuffs.

morefrontroom silk blouse unrolled front

Raising the cuffs means a shorter sleeve placket, but I’m fine with it. I was super pleased that the cuffs could be reattached to the shortened sleeves without any loss of detail.

morefrontroom silk blouse unrolled cuffs point out

My seamstress raised the buttons so the rolled sleeves stop at my elbows, although shortening the tab may have been another option. At first I thought I preferred the rolled sleeves, but I really like the elegance of the full-length sleeves.

morefrontroom silk blouse unrolled button point out

As you can see, I have a very corporate, conservative style with this blouse (my husband said I looked like I was going back to the law firm). Since the length is quite long on me, next time I’ll try wearing it untucked over leggings.

Full Bust Finds: MM.Lafleur Dresses

Last week Kat listed MM.LaFleur as one of 30 workwear brands that Corporette readers had probably never tried.  She was wrong because her readers raved about their MM.Lafleur dresses in the comments.

I checked out the size chart, but the numbers didn’t give me much hope. At 41.5″ around my bust in my 32F Empreinte padded plunge bra, it looked like I would have to follow the old size-up-to-fit-the-bust routine. However, knowing that size charts don’t always tell the complete story, I decided to pay their studio a visit today.

Am I glad I did.

MM.Lafleur targets women who want to look great without the hassle of shopping. The company is known for their Bento boxes–a curated shipment based on a customer’s answers to their questionnaire. Their physical store, on the other hand, is a dream come true for women who want to try things on in person. It’s like going for a bra fitting with fitters who know their product inside and out and don’t mind bringing you anything you ask for–including prosecco and water.

Pauline was my amazing “fitter”. I told her that I was probably a size 8 or 10 in the waist but might be a 16 in the bust. She decided to start me off with a sampling of size 10 dresses that tend to work well on “heart” shapes. Every single one of them fit.

For the rest of this post, I’m going to focus on fit and the seams that caught my eye.  If you want to know more about the impressive fabrics and workmanship, they have some very passionate Yelp reviews on the subject. Here are the seven dresses that I tried.

Emma

The Emma was my favorite, but the photos don’t sufficiently convey how “together” it made me feel. I positively swaggered in it. Pauline described it as the perfect presentation dress. The fabric isn’t stretchy, but I felt that there could be room for an extra cup size or two.

emma front closeup

I’m trying to point out a vertical seam that runs almost parallel to the folded detail.

[Read more…]

The Shadow Bra Industry: New Options, New Issues

Throughout the Shadow Bra Industry series, you met two New Yorkers, Jessica and Anina, one Chicagoan, Adrienne McGill, one Californian, Lisa Cole, and two direct sales companies, Peach and Essential Body Wear. Today I wrap things up with some final thoughts on the subject.

As you read the articles in this series, did you sometimes feel like you were reading infomercial scripts? I certainly felt like I was writing them! I think it’s because I was introducing you to individual women who work from the shadows to bring good fit to their clients. It goes without saying that each fitter in this series is human, so I decided to go without saying anything critical. None of the private fitters has a huge marketing budget or much time to promote herself on social media. She simply cares about other women feeling great in their skin. By agreeing to be interviewed, she gave Hourglassy readers one more answer to the question, “Where should I go for a fitting?”

When I began this series, I also didn’t anticipate the need for discretion–not discretion about celebrity clients (although these fitters have them), but about trade secrets! There may be a limited universe of bra fitting techniques, but when a fitter has spent years tailoring her approach to the way that her clients think and feel, it isn’t fair for a blogger to swoop in and tell everyone exactly how she does it.  I also didn’t think it was fair to include their fees in my posts because what may look expensive on your screen will seem insignificant when you meet the fitter in person. In my opinion, the women who have decided to build their livelihood on private lingerie fittings are the biggest argument against free bra fittings. It isn’t only the time involved for each appointment, but their determination that every client will walk away satisfied (and lifted, supported and comfortable!).

Although I knew better, I naively hoped that a magical solution to every big bust bra fitting issue would emerge from the shadows through this series. Instead, I learned more about the challenges in the industry.  For instance, there’s a reason that you probably know more about big bust bra fit than many department store fitters. In the past, bra manufacturers held early-morning training sessions for department store employees in the hours before the store opened to demonstrate how their products were supposed to work. Today, the bra companies still want to train, but the stores don’t want to pay their employees to show up.

The ability to carry multiple styles in many sizes remains a major challenge.

  • I thought that partnering with an online retailer would be the perfect solution, but online stores haven’t yet learned the value of having someone on the ground to fit their customers for them. One fitter worked closely with a large online seller, only to be told “You’re no longer an affiliate,” when her main contact moved to a different company. She moved her business to another big online store but has never been acknowledged for the giant orders that she brings them.
  • One private fitter confided that she runs into the same dilemma I had hoped to resolve with this series: To whom can she refer women with the largest bands and/or cup sizes that she doesn’t carry? If we’re picky about finding fitters we can trust, you can imagine how a professional fitter must feel!
  • Although the direct marketing model is a great way to offload inventory risk, focusing on one brand can be limiting, especially if the brand doesn’t work for you.  I have to admit that my Peach bra is now my gardening bra. I wore it on my flight to Paris last month and couldn’t wait to take it off. My Essential Body Wear bra continues to perform well, but it’s a basic that isn’t my top choice when I get dressed in the morning.

Finally, while writing this series, I learned about a DIY option from Ali Cudby. Having trained hundreds of bra fitters, Ali has a good idea of who the good fitters are. But even those fitters can have an off day. After a friend of hers had a bad experience at a reputable store, Ali decided it was time to train the customer. For the price of a Victoria’s Secret bra, she teaches all the basics and some of the finer points of bra fitting in three modules that last a total of one hour. Ali’s goal is to empower the customer to be able to find what she needs no matter who the fitter is or what the store’s inventory is like. It’s great to have one more way to help our friends find their fit!

 

 

The Shadow Bra Industry: Uplifting the Girls with Lisa Cole

Today I continue my Shadow Bra Industry series with the final of four women that I interviewed who are forging separate paths to help women find their perfect fit. Earlier I introduced you to two New Yorkers, Jessica and Anina, one Chicagoan, Adrienne McGill, and two direct sales companies, Peach and Essential Body Wear. Today you get to meet Lisa Cole.

Each of the women in this series has taken a separate path to storeless fitting. Lisa Cole began with the biggest store of them all–Nordstrom. She started in their lingerie department in 1993 with seven other women. By the end of her first year, she was the only one remaining. Everyone else had either quit or transferred to a less challenging department. As Lisa explained, lingerie is hard work because there is so much detail involved. You have to be passionate about helping women find the right bra. Otherwise, all the details will scare you away.

Lisa has stuck with the details for 23 years and is still going strong. Today she delivers motivational speeches to women’s groups and helps new store owners find their way. She also continues to work with individual clients who find her through events and referrals. Although based in Los Angeles, she can meet with clients in any city where she has a speaking engagement, which is how I met her in New York City six years ago when she put me into the Panache Tango.

I now prefer other bra shapes and styles, but my experience of being perfectly fitted into the Tango is one reason I know I can trust Lisa to take care of others. After my fitting , I would flash my Tango at every female lingerie store owner that I met, and they’d always be impressed. The other reason for my trust is that Lisa told me, “It is imperative that women feel good about themselves. That’s my bottom line.” Good fit alone isn’t enough. If a client’s response to a bra is, “I guess I can live with this,” Lisa makes sure she doesn’t have to.

Lisa’s typical client is the woman who has been to ten different fitters and stores, has shopped online, and is exhausted. Lisa works with every demographic–she wants the Walmart customer and the Nieman customer. She also works with every niche, including weight gain and loss (she recently helped a client who had dropped from a size 18 to 8 and needed swimwear for a Hawaii vacation), pregnancy, nursing, cancer, breast augmentations, and reductions. Many of Lisa’s clients work 60-hour weeks, and they appreciate that Lisa can have them in and out in an hour with everything from bras to swimwear and everything in between.

If you send your friend to Lisa, what type of experience can she expect? First, the private consultation can take place in your friend’s own home or at a store. Lisa’s approach is consultative because her goal is to help each client into a space where she says, “Oh, OK, I feel good around her.” To determine your friend’s size, Lisa brings a set of bras with her in every size. Afterwards, she shows your friend what she has with her (a curated set based on customer favorites) and what can be ordered in over 100 brands. In-home consultations are great because Lisa can help a client with solutions for what is actually in her closet. On the other hand, she also offers fun group sessions that cost a lot less.

Lisa has watched a lot of changes in the bra fit industry and has been a pioneer as a private fitter. However, her biggest love is simply helping women. As she put it, she may be a speaker, expert and authority on women’s intimate apparel, but lingerie just happens to be her teaching platform to help women see themselves differently through shaping their bodies.