Off the Rack ~ Fitting the Bottom Half of the Hourglass: Panty Reviews

I’ve written a couple articles now about panties for the hourglass figure. On the search for the perfect pair, I’ve started branching out and trying new brands. This week I’ll be sharing five different underwear styles across three brands, and gauging my success with them as a woman with a rather ample rear compared to my waist measurement.

My natural waist is about 29” and my hips are 41” at the widest point. As such, my waist usually falls into size medium and my butt size large. After noticing that a lot of my size medium underwear is creating massive panty-lines and near-constant wedgies, I’ve started buying size large instead. But even then, it’s still hard to find a truly good fit. Hmm, this is sounding familiar . . . .

First up is two types of underwear from a brand called Warner’s. I found these by browsing on BareNecessities.com when they had an underwear sale a couple months ago. I was looking for something that wasn’t too low-rise, with good butt coverage, no panty-lines, and no muffin top pinching. I ended up with the “No Pinching, No Problems Hi-Cut Brief” and the “No Wedgies, No Worries Hipster.”

Here are stock photos of the briefs:

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These still look pretty low-rise, right? Well they’re not. I think the photo is a little deceiving. They are most definitely a high mid-rise (and I say this as someone with an extremely long torso). So I’m a little limited in which pants I can wear with them.

The fabric is a silky and soft microfiber. I really love the way it feels. The wide waistband is also really fabulous. It hides elastic within the wide band, so it truly doesn’t pinch or create muffin tops. It gives a nice, smooth look.

My biggest complaint is that the legs are cut a little too high. It cuts across my butt cheeks and feels like it’s perpetually on the verge of turning into a wedgie. These are also very granny-looking on the body.

As for sizing, Bare Necessities uses a weird sizing system of numbers 5–8. The size chart only lists hip measurement, and I corresponded to a 7. Of course, when I received the underwear, I discovered that its own label uses the usual word size, in my case Large. So really, 5 is a small, 6 medium, 7 large, and 8 extra large.

The large is a little big for me. There’s too much fabric in the crotch and the butt feels a bit saggy. But I’m afraid if I had ordered Medium, it would pinch on the sides and give me phantom muffin tops.

Next up is the hipster:

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These photos are more accurate. I’m quite pleased with this pair and would certainly order them again. Unfortunately, all the fun colors are sold out in my size, otherwise I might have already done so. I have enough tan and black underwear, thankyouverymuch.

Anyhow, these are low rise enough to wear with my mid-rise jeans (which on my torso are more like low-rise), but not so low that the bikini line is visible. There’s excellent back coverage and I’m pleased to note that they really do live up to the claim of being wedgie-free. Instead of having a wide waistband, this time the wide band is around the legs. The legs are also cut lower so that the fabric actually cups under my butt cheeks and not across them.

Again the crotch is a little baggy, but I think that’s because it’s simply cut too wide. I find this to be a problem with loads of panties. It’s like they’re designed for a huge thigh gap or something. I frequently have fabric bunching up on either side of the crotch because the space between my legs is far narrower than the piece of fabric.

The last underwear I bought from BN is the Maidenform Microfiber Boyshort:

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I often have trouble with boy-shorts because the front will be too long and the back too short, so I end up with excess fabric bunching up in the front, and my butt not fully covered in back. One of the underwear listings I looked at on BN even noted that the front and back were exactly the same—as if that’s a good thing. No matter how small your posterior may be, it’s always going to have at least a little more volume than your front side, right? So why would you wear symmetrical undies??

I’m happy to report that these Maidenform shorts do not have the same length in back as in front. When you lay them out, they are clearly longer in back at both the top and bottom. Thus, I have full coverage in back, covering the entire length of my rear—no plumber’s butt! They’re also long enough that there are no wedgies or riding up at the bottom edge.

To be fair, the front is a little long for me, so I do get a bit of bunching. But it’s minimal and I don’t feel it. It’s more of an aesthetic thing.

The fabric is thinner than the microfiber of the Warner’s underwear and isn’t as silky, but it’s still perfectly comfortable. And the lace trim keeps it from pinching in. The lace texture might show through really clingy fabric, but otherwise it’s not visible. I bought these in 7 (aka Large) and they fit perfectly. They are not saggy anywhere and don’t feel loose or tight. They’re just right.

And finally, we return to my old friend, the Hanky Panky Bare Collection. After seeing the new colors and boy-short style at CurvExpo, I was eager to try the pale pink “vanilla” shade and the new cut. With a fat coupon courtesy of flash sale site Gilt.com, I purchased two more high-rise thongs as well as a traditional thong and the new boy-shorts. Sadly, the boy-shorts are not yet available in vanilla, so I went with the taupe color, but the others are all in the pale pink.

I order all of my Hanky Panky in size Large. And honestly, I think they run a little small. The Large is definitely the right size for me, so anyone who’s even just a little bigger would be sized out. Buying these a size small would defeat their entire purpose, since it would create lumps instead of smoothing them. Maybe some day they’ll introduce some XL’s. They offer XS, after all!

First up is the traditional thong:

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This is the actual color I purchased. The model is quite tan so it stands out a lot, but on my lily-white body, it blends into my skin much better than the taupe does. I have to be very careful to only wash it with like colors, though!

Ordinarily I am not a fan of thongs. But I wear a lot of jersey dresses and those things show terrible panty-lines. So it’s a necessity sometimes. However, the Hanky Panky Bare thong is so thin and free of seams that I can’t even feel it. It’s easily one of the most comfortable pieces of underwear I own, if you can believe it.

They’re totally invisible under clothing. However, I think it was a poor decision to place a seam on each side of the waistband. The high-rise thong only has one seam down the back. It’s really a minor complaint, though, and the reason I care is purely because I intend to wear this under my Cheetara costume—little more than a leotard and tights, which show every seam. The more seamless I can get my undergarments, the better (it’s bad enough having that big, fat line from my tights right up the middle!).

Moving on, I have mixed feelings about the boy-short:

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As a positive, they are appropriately longer in back than in front. And they are amazingly invisible, as the following photos will show. As you can see, this fabric is so thin and clingy that you can see my belly button through it. It’s a bit excessive, really. And I’ve struggled to find underwear that doesn’t show. The Bare boy-shorts are the first I’ve found that actually work.

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Those bumps you see are my tummy and my hips sticking out, not the underwear.

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However, since there’s no seam along the edges, the front does fold up when you sit down or walk a bunch. The fabric is thin enough that I think it’ll remain invisible under normal fabric, but with this particular dress, you can see it if you really look.

Further, the back isn’t quite long enough to have enough volume for my butt. So it’s very low in back, almost with some plumber’s butt happening. It also doesn’t quite cup under my butt cheeks like the Maidenform boy-shorts do. So by the end of the day, after sitting down and getting up and walking up and down stairs repeatedly, there was a mini-wedgie happening at the base of the panty. The faster I walked and the bigger my strides, the worse it got (which is really fun in a city like New York, where you’re pretty much always power-walking).

Still, I would probably buy these again. I’m still hoping Hanky Panky makes a pair of Bare hipster briefs. As long as there’s enough volume in the butt, that’d be perfection!

Off the Rack ~ Wedding Dress Shopping Part III: Alterations

It’s time for another wedding dress post! Yaaaaay! In case you missed the first few, here are some links so you can see the whole story:

Leah’s Happy Swimsuit Memory
Wedding Dress Shopping Part I
Wedding Dress Shopping Part II: David’s Bridal
Wedding Lingerie Shopping: Masquerade Hestia Basque
Hestia Bustier Revisited (and Wedding Dresses!)
Le Mystere Soiree Low-Back Bustier Reviewed

Next, I realized I never shared the rest of the photos from the store where I ultimately bought my dress (there aren’t too many, don’t worry). The store, by the way, is called Lovely Bride, and it is wonderful. If you live in or near one of the cities where they’ve got a shop, I highly recommend them if you’re looking for something pretty but also a little offbeat.

No idea what any of the brands or models are, so it’s just an image dump with some quick thoughts:

This was the shape I initially thought I wanted. This particular dress was very pretty and immediately shot to the top of the list of “maybes.” It has subtle sparkly beading on all those lines. It’s maybe not doing my body any favors, though.

This was the shape I initially thought I wanted. This particular dress was very pretty and immediately shot to the top of the list of “maybes.” It has subtle sparkly beading on all those lines. It’s maybe not doing my body any favors, though.

This was the exact color I actually wanted: Blush pink that didn’t blend in with my skin too much. And I liked this dress a lot. But it had teeny tiny, training bra-sized boob cups so I wasn’t willing to choose it since, even if the designer could make it with bigger cups, I couldn’t get a good idea what the final product would look like since it would be so different.

This was the exact color I actually wanted: Blush pink that didn’t blend in with my skin too much. And I liked this dress a lot. But it had teeny tiny, training bra-sized boob cups so I wasn’t willing to choose it since, even if the designer could make it with bigger cups, I couldn’t get a good idea what the final product would look like since it would be so different.

The red lines are where the boob cups stopped and the blue lines are about where my actual boobs stopped. Way too much of a difference to risk it.

The red lines are where the boob cups stopped and the blue lines are about where my actual boobs stopped. Way too much of a difference to risk it.

Ugh hated this. Don’t know why the consultant even brought it out. I hate these semi-sheer on top lingerie-look dresses. So trashy.

Ugh hated this. Don’t know why the consultant even brought it out. I hate these semi-sheer on top lingerie-look dresses. So trashy.

My face says it all. The cut is way off and the crinkle fabric seemed cool in theory, but messy-looking and weird in reality.

My face says it all. The cut is way off and the crinkle fabric seemed cool in theory, but messy-looking and weird in reality.

Cute and so easy to wear, but Grecian is not really my thing and it doesn’t show off the waist at all.

Cute and so easy to wear, but Grecian is not really my thing and it doesn’t show off the waist at all.

This one was a little pinker in real life. But it was too simple and sweet for me. I need more edge.

This one was a little pinker in real life. But it was too simple and sweet for me. I need more edge.

I loved this one, if for no other reason than it was totally different. But the color was so unfortunate. It was, truly, light brown. Maybe tan. It comes in ivory too, but I looked at a photo of the ivory and it completely lost all impact. I also knew that even in the right color, this is something the fiancé would have actively disliked.

I loved this one, if for no other reason than it was totally different. But the color was so unfortunate. It was, truly, light brown. Maybe tan. It comes in ivory too, but I looked at a photo of the ivory and it completely lost all impact. I also knew that even in the right color, this is something the fiancé would have actively disliked.

I loved the back, though. It had really nice volume and these long, elegant ribbons cascading down the back. So cool.

I loved the back, though. It had really nice volume and these long, elegant ribbons cascading down the back. So cool.

Here comes the worst one! I think I’m actually laughing in this shot. This was supremely unflattering and the fabric was so limp and sad. Chiffon is not my friend.

Here comes the worst one! I think I’m actually laughing in this shot. This was supremely unflattering and the fabric was so limp and sad. Chiffon is not my friend.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the awwwwwesome dress I did choose! I picked it up a month ago and finally took it to the tailor (Sew Elegant in New York City) this past weekend, so the tailor’s future alterations are what I’m really here to discuss.

When I first tried on the dress, the sample was two sizes bigger than I needed, which meant the boob space was actually perfect and the waist was clamped all over in back. The consultant measured me at the same numbers I’ve measured myself at home (37” bust, 29” waist) and ordered me a size 8 with the addition of increased cups and a raised neckline (for extra $$$, of course). Here’s a photo of the actual dress when I picked it up:

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And the back:

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I’m wearing my Le Mystere Soiree Bustier under the dress and it’s looking pretty good! However, as I moved around, the dress shifted and the bra started peeking out more and more:

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Why hello there!

Why hello there!

Aside from the visible bra, though, I thought this was pretty much a perfect fit. How wrong I was!

The tailor will be taking in the bodice at the bottom of the waist, taking in the top line of the cups in two places so it rests more closely against my skin, and will be attempting to lower the gore of the Soiree bustier so it doesn’t interfere with the dress’s ability to cleave to my chest. (And if they can’t fix the gore, well I’m going to attack it with my own sewing skills and, trust me, I will make it work.)

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The blue is where the waist is being taken in. The pink is the two spots where they’ll be taking in the bust cup. This pink alteration will also help make the cups a little more rounded along the top edge. As you can see, right now they come to a bit of a point near my armpit.

I’m also having a bustle put in so I can pin the train up during the reception. All told, the alterations are costing more than half the dress’s price tag. And if I add the extra fee I paid up front to have bigger bust cups, all the alterations together are almost equal to the dress’s original price!

Oof. Us busty gals do not have it easy when it comes to formal wear. Good thing the dress was part of a trunk show and significantly under budget in the first place. I guess it goes to show that if you have a body with any kind of extreme shape, plan to pay at least 50% extra to make the gown work for you.

Off the Rack ~ Curvy Kate Revisited: A Review of the Eden Bra

The last time I tried Curvy Kate, it was an unmitigated disaster. I had to go up two cup sizes, the wires were too wide, the cups too shallow, and the straps were so far apart that they were essentially growing out of my armpit and rubbing me raw.

This was two years ago, and in the time since I’ve heard that CK has improved some of these flaws, including narrower wires and deeper cups. There have been a lot of CK bras that I’ve thought were simply lovely and really wanted to try, but knew they wouldn’t work. With the most recent season, though, there were so many that I liked that I just had to try again. Surprised by the price point (were they always under $50?) and armed with a fat coupon for Figleaves.com, I started with the rose-print Eden. Something about the print just spoke to me:

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I ordered my usual 28G and a 28GG, since I had to size up in the cup last time. First impression upon unwrapping it: so pretty! The darker pink is much brighter than the manufacturer’s photos would lead you to believe, and it’s mixed up with very pale pink flowers and very pale green leaves. What a perfect spring bra. The quality, too, seemed top notch. The fabric is smooth and strong and totally opaque.

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As for fit, well it’s a vast improvement, but it still doesn’t work on me. The internets were correct, the wire width and depth are much better. But the straps are still so far apart! They’re growing out of my armpit again and it’s completely ruining the fit. Here are two shots from ever so slightly different angles to illustrate how deep into my armpit the strap’s base is:

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Now, because the straps are so far out, they can’t provide any lift. Shockingly, 28G is the accurate size this time, but the bra still has the appearance of being slightly big since the cups are basically limp on me no matter how tightly the straps are shortened. There’s simply nothing holding the cups up.

Aside from looking loose, I’m also getting a gap in the very far corner of the bra where the strap is attached. This is because my arms are pushing the straps far inward, and the cup corner is along for the ride. Here’s a photo illustrating this phenomenon:

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Lastly, that lack of support is giving me sad ski slope boobs. My breasts have very narrow roots and are quite full all around. So ordinarily it’s very easy for me to achieve a preternaturally round profile. But in this bra, I’ve basically got a straight line leading from my collarbone down to my boob’s apex. This is unacceptable. The profile I want is a pair of grapefruits glued to a board, not a straight 45-degree angle!

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It’s such a shame. The band felt really good, the price was right, and the bra is so darn pretty. But these ridiculous straps are just unwearable.

Off the Rack ~ Reviewing Figleaves House Brands “Midnight Grace” and “Lulu Tout”

It’s no secret that my favorite online bra and bikini retailer is Figleaves.com. But I don’t think I’ve ever written about their house brand bras and bikinis, a number of which I’ve tried over the years. So this week I’m focusing on three bras that I currently own and are all still available, the Midnight Grace “Pin Up E+ Non Padded Bra,” Midnight Grace “Paige Italian Lace DD+ Balconette Bra,” and newcomer Lulu Tout “Amelie Underwired Bra.”

First up is the Pin Up bra. For the love of God, please ignore the abominable fit on the Figleaves model. Though to be fair, this is how the bra “fit” me the first time I tried it. When I ordered this, it had been so long since my last Figleaves house brand bra that I didn’t remember how they fit. So I went with a 30FF since they don’t come in my usual 28 band.

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I quickly remembered that they run very tight in the band and rather small in the cups. The band on this was so tight that I literally could not close it. It wouldn’t have mattered if it closed, though, because the cups were so teeny tiny that there was no hope of placing my breasts in them. At the time, I even thought maybe it had been marked incorrectly. I don’t know what was going on with this bra, but I was pretty unhappy about the nonsense sizing.

A few months later, though, and the bra went on clearance for $9.90 (and it still is!). Well at that price, I just had to try again. My teal obsession must be indulged! So this time I tried a 32FF (one cup size up) and a 32G (two cup sizes up).

This time the band fit like a slightly tight 30. So it’s do-able for me, but it’s a little looser than I would really prefer, especially since it’s very stretchy. I had a hard time deciding between the FF and the G. Both looked so similar in the mirror! But ultimately I went with the 32G because my boobs tend to settle into quad-boob throughout the day, rarely when I first put a bra on, and the bra was cutting into my bigger side just the tiniest bit. So in the end I had to go up two bands and two cups.

Now as for how this nutty 32G fits, it’s okay. Honestly, it’s about what I would expect for under $10. The fabric is very stretchy and comfy in both the band and the cups. But the profile is a little east-west and a little pointy. The cups are your usual three-part construction with mesh lining on the bottom half. The band is a single layer of mesh. The straps have a great horizontal texture.

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The wires are shaped bizarrely. In the gore, they swoop upwards at a sharp angle, but on the sides they go out at a much wider angle and end up being reeeeeeally wide. I’m talking, you can see the wire wrapping around to my back when my arm is down at my side. Underwires should not be visible when my arm is pressed to my side!

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But overall the bra is super comfortable and it still manages to give pretty good support, so it’s a keeper. It’s certainly an outlier, though, as the next two bras (and the bikini I tried last year but ultimately returned and didn’t write about) fit much more consistently.

Next we have the Paige bra. I actually picked this one up at the Busty Swap/Sell in October. It fits much closer to how it should. I’ve got it in a 30G, so one band up and one cup up.

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The detailing is really lovely: the keyhole in the gore, the metallic-like embroidery, matching gold bow in the gore, and the lace that continues up the straps all make it feel much more luxe than its $38 price tag.

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This one is another standard three-part construction. The bottom half is double mesh and the top piece is a single mesh layer. The embroidery is actually a totally separate piece of fabric that’s only tacked in place with one stitch. As such, it doesn’t lay perfectly flat against the cup. It’s a small price to pay for such a lovely, delicate look, though.

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This time the band is a double layer of mesh. It also has what I consider a much more standard wire shape, with an even level of swooping on both the inside and outside of the wires.

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As for fit, it gives an exceedingly round profile. My boobs are like two perfect orbs, much like the Figleaves model. It doesn’t give that much lift, though, so while my boobs are very round, they’re also a bit low. Wire width and depth seem pretty average, and it’s perfectly comfortable overall.

Finally, we come to my favorite of the three: The incomparably beautiful Lulu Tout Amelie, in 30G again.

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This blue beauty is a total mermaid bra! My photos do not do it justice. The blue is so vibrant and the turquoise embroidery is so shiny and bright that it looks like fish scales.

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This bra is quite delicate, with a three-part construction of very sheer single-layer mesh. The band is a double-layer of mesh.

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Again the embroidery is a separate piece of fabric, this time not tacked in place at all, though it seems to lay flatter than the Paige.

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Since it’s just one layer of mesh, there’s also a hidden double-mesh side sling for extra support. It’s a dark ivory that completely disappears against my skin.

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The width and depth again seem average, though the outside of the wire does swoop out at a slightly wider angle than the inside of the wire, unlike Paige’s nice evenness.

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As for fit, well this thing could fit horribly and I would probably still keep it for the beauty alone, but it luckily fits quite nicely! It’s not as round as Paige, but not as pointy as, say, Freya’s bras. So it’s a nice, natural shape. It’s a little bit east-west, but the side sling helps ameliorate that issue.

I also really, really like the way it fits around my armpit. As you can see in the following image, there’s a bit of a sharp angle along the seam, so it completely clears my underarm and doesn’t rub against my armpit. Hallelujah!

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Further, I loooooove the tall, triangular swoop at the top of the cups. This is just a shape that I absolutely adore, yet it’s so rare among big-bust brands. I’m always on the lookout for straps that gradually blend into the cups instead of being tacked on in one little spot, and this definitely fits the bill.

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All the Lulu Tout bras are similarly lovely, go to a British H cup, and cost a mere $38. I think Figleaves has really done something truly special with this new house brand and I can’t wait to see what else they add in upcoming seasons.