Off the Rack ~ Kinga “Nati I” Bra Reviewed

US flash sale site Zulily.com often has sales on British and Polish big-bust brands, including Panache, Cleo, Freya, Fantasie, Kris Line, and Kinga.

I tried two Kris Line bras from the site a while back, and was not successful. But I wasn’t deterred, so I recently tried another Polish brand through the site, Kinga.

Kinga starts at band size 30/65, uses European cup scheme (so no double-letters), and goes up to K-cups depending on the model.

Zulily had two cage bras available, the Nati I and Nati II. Nati I has less coverage and stops at cup size H, which is about a UK FF (Polish D = UK D, E = DD, F = E, G = F, H = FF). These days, I mostly wear UK 28GG or 30G, which would be a Euro 30I. But Nati II was already sold out of that size, so I gambled and tried the Nati I in 30H (30FF), since I can still get away with 28G/30FF in some brands.

Sadly, the Nati I is too small in the cup for me. When you look at the manufacturer photo, the cage straps on my cleavage are located where the cup edge rests on the model. There’s also plenty of escaping tissue on the sides. It’s very clearly too small all over. Though, impressively, there’s no quad-boob! The band stretches from 23″ to 30″, so I’d say it’s a little small compared to most 30 bands, but not by much. It certainly works well for my 29″ underbust.

I think I would fit quite nicely into the Nati II in 30I, but there don’t seem to be any US retailers carrying the brand other than Zulily. So hopefully Zulily will restock sizes and have another Kinga sale at some point because I really want this bra in my life!

The Nati I bra

The Nati I bra

The Nati II bra

The Nati II bra

Aside from the fact that this bra is not my size, I have lots of positive things to note. First some details: The cups are a two-part construction, and are made of a light foam. The band has three columns of two rows of hook-and-eyes. The band also features side-stays and opaque black fabric wings and gore, with additional mesh lining in the space between the side stay and the underwire and at the gore. Finally, the cups offer pockets for teardrop-shaped push-up pads, which are included.

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The cups are fairly deep. They are deeper than British brands Freya and Panache, but not as deep as Polish brands Comexim and Ewa Michalak. On my extremely projected breasts, there’s just a tiny bit of cup crushing close to the wire. The cups also feature very narrow wires—perfect for me!

I love the stretchy yet strong opaque fabric of the band, and I adore the way the gore curves up instead of being a horizontal line. Sometimes that horizontal style irritates and/or itches my skin since I have a protruding tummy. I’ve got to keep an eye out for more bras with this feature. I also like the material the shoulder straps are made of. It’s firmer than average and not so stretchy.

However, my favorite feature is, of course, the cage straps over the cleavage. I’ve been wanting a properly sized cage bra for ages, but all the ones I’ve seen so far haven’t been quite right. I want the cage strap to be completely parallel to the cup edge while following the curve of my cleavage. I also want the strap to be thin and its attachment mechanism to be flat. The strap also needs to be ultra-light and stretchy so that it doesn’t dig in.

The Nati I (and presumably II as well) ticks all those boxes! If the Nati II never comes back to Zulily, maybe I should just remove the cage strap from Nati I and attach it to a black Freya Deco.

 

Off the Rack ~ Reviewing the Retrospec’d “Norma Jean” Dress

This week I’m revisiting a brand I raved about a year ago, the Australian vintage reproduction label Retrospec’d.

Last time, I tried the Elizabeth dress, which featured a cross-over neckline that was surprisingly boob-friendly. I really liked the quality and fit, so I’ve been eager to try another style. I settled on the Norma Jean dress, but at the time wasn’t really interested in any of the available prints. They were all super feminine florals, and I’m just not much of a florals gal.

Eventually, they released a few graphic prints, as well as a black and white stripe with realistic yellow roses floating on it. And I do mean “floating”—there are shadows behind each flower to make it look like they’re resting above the fabric.

At 37”-29”-41”, I was unsure of sizing because my bust falls in sizes UK/Aus 12 and 14, but my waist falls in 10 (even though my waist is usually size 12), so I hesitated on ordering from Australia. Then one day, the dress disappeared from the Retrospec’d site! I knew it couldn’t have sold out completely, because I’d been keeping an eye on it for months and none of the sizes had yet sold out. Resigned to the idea of ordering my second favorite print, I waited until the $150 (or Australian $195) dress was within my budget.

But then I received an e-newsletter from Unique-Vintage.com, and there was the dress! I guess they sent all the remaining stock to UV. This was great for two reasons: 1) I could try size 10 knowing I could exchange it if necessary, with no international shipping; and 2) I could wait until UV had a coupon or sale, and get it for a better price. Two weeks later, they had a 20% off code for Memorial Day weekend, and I took the plunge!

(Note that UV translated the sizes to American, so to get the Australian 10, I ordered size 6 from UV.)

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Off the Rack ~ Reviewing the Miss Candyfloss “Sia-Katalin” Tuxedo Dress

Just time for a quick dress review this week. It’s another Miss Candyfloss frock, this time with a very different neckline than any I’ve reviewed before.

As usual, my measurements are 37”-29”-41” and height 5’6”, with bra size 28G – 30G (UK) depending on brand. I bought my usual Medium here.

This is the “Sia-Katalin” dress. MCF produced several of these tuxedo-style dresses this season, including navy/red, red/red stripe, navy/white/navy pinstripe, navy pinstripe/pale blue, and black pinstripe/white. To be honest, I wasn’t really into the look until I saw this bright teal/light pink colorway, and then I was smitten. Teal and pink is one of my favorite color combinations and it’s rare to find them in one garment.

In this case, my photos are a little dull, but MCF’s photos are more saturated than the fabric is in reality. So imagine the color is somewhere in between. Additionally, while the manufacturer photo shows a pink belt, it actually comes with a teal one. I personally prefer the pink one, but it’s not really a big deal. Plus, how hard can it be to find a pink belt if I really want one?

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Off the Rack ~ Reviewing the Pinup Girl Clothing “Jenny” Dress

This week, I’m writing a long overdue review of the Pinup Girl Clothing Jenny dress. I bought this beauty a year ago and only wore it a couple times for some reason. I’ve been hankering to wear it again for ages now, but the cold weather kept me from doing so. But then I picked up a perfectly coordinating bolero, and finally made it comfortable enough for the unusually cold spring we’ve been having in New York City. I completely forgot how much I loved it, and it seems to fit even better now, after sitting in my closet for several months, than it did when it was new!

Though I usually buy PUG in size medium, this time I went with a large. My measurements are 37”-29”-41” and height 5’6”.

When the dress first arrived, I posted a photo and described its fit in one of my Facebook pinup groups, and I managed to dig the picture back up to compare fit when it was new to fit now:

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Here’s what I wrote at the time:

“I got a large. I’m normally a medium in PUG. My waist is just over 29” and my bust is 37″. The waist is slightly snug and the bust is perfect. Since the size chart says large is supposed to fit waist 29.5”-30.5” and bust 38”-40”, I’d say the size chart is running small, at least for this size. I think a 30.5” waist would be rather uncomfortable and a 40” bust would be squashed. Works well for me, though! My only complaint is it makes me look smaller-busted than I am since it doesn’t really curve under my boobs. But maybe it will flex closer to my shape as I wear it more.”

The founder of Pinup Girl Clothing, Laura Byrnes, later commented on the post: “Take into account that the sateen is similar to jeans fabric in that it loosens up considerably with wear. So you should expect snugness at first zip, if you wish your fit to be “comfortably form fitting.’”

I still tend to agree with my initial assessment that it runs on the small side. I measured the waist tonight, and it’s 14.5” flat—so 29” total. That’s perfect for me, since I like a slightly snug fit at the waist, but I still have a hard time believing a 30.5” waist would feel comfortable in it. While the sateen may have give, it’s fully lined in a satiny fabric, so there’s not substantial stretch by any means.

As for the bust, I was also correct in assuming the boning would conform to my shape after a few wears. The couple of times I wore it last year were weekdays, so I was sitting at my desk at work all day, and the boning really did conform to my curves. And even after being squished in my closet for 6 months, the curve is still present. Let’s get to some photos, and then I’ll give more details and fit advice below.

Here’s how I styled it on a cool day—Trashy Diva “Bonnie” bolero in magenta stretch satin (purchased on eBay for only $18!), belt, and a pair of low boots.

Here’s how I styled it on a cool day—Trashy Diva “Bonnie” bolero in magenta stretch satin (purchased on eBay for only $18!), belt, and a pair of ankle boots.

Here’s how it looks on its own.

Here’s how it looks on its own.

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Compared to the first photo, I think my boobs are substantially more visible here, with none of the sports bra flatness of the first look. Additionally, whereas I was initially skeptical that a 40” bust would fit well in this dress, now that it’s got a permanent curve, I think it looks like there’s plenty of room to spare. Moreover, I expect the boning to curve deeper under my bust the more I wear it.

Many women remove the boning from these dresses, but I would definitely recommend against doing that, at least until you give the boning a chance to meld to your shape.

So let’s talk about some of the other great features. First up, there are fabulously generous pockets in this dress. I can confidently carry my iPhone around without worrying that it’ll slip out. Even better, the pockets are slightly toward the front of the skirt instead of exactly at the sides of my hips, making them much easier to find within all that gathered fabric.

And speaking of the gathered skirt, it looks pretty limp in these shots since it was crushed between other garments in my closet for so long. But if you hang it upside down and fold the skirt over, it poofs back up. Or you can wear a petticoat, which this skirt is just made for. I was actually a little relieved to see it had lost so much volume, since a giant poofy skirt is a bit much for work.

Another great thing about this dress is that the straps are fully adjustable. This was excellent news for me, because I have rather high-set boobs, and most strappy tops and dresses need to have the straps shortened in order to fully cover my side-bra and not have indecent levels of cleavage.

Even better, the strap placement amost perfectly lines up with bra straps! In these photos, I’m wearing a Cleo Lily bra in 30FF. The straps of the dress are the exact width of the bra straps. Ordinarily I would have worn this dress with a strapless bra, but I skipped it this time because I knew I’d be wearing the bolero all day. But seeing as the Cleo Lily matches so closely, and the straps are a coordinating shade of pink, I may skip the strapless altogether!

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All in all, I would say that the Jenny dress is a surprise big-boob option. The waist runs smaller than the size chart would suggest and the bust runs accurate.

 

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