Positive Selfies for Big Busts & Brands

You know how after you’ve shopped for something, it shows up everywhere you go online? Well, the same thing happens when you write about a body positive subject like the Embrace documentary (that is opening in the United States today and inspired this heartfelt post from Shari Deutsch at The Strap Saver). That’s how I discovered a workshop called “Body Positive Selfies” given by Embodied State of Mind on September 3.

selfie-group

Me with Natasha Overton and Kira Munoz, the Body Positive Selfies team from Embodied State of Mind.

Last week I wrote about Campbell & Kate’s recent photo shoot. We worked hard to show my shirts to their best advantage with actual models, hair and makeup artist, stylist, professional photographer and great lighting. As a blogger who wants to portray all bust-friendly clothing that I wear to its best advantage, however, it’s just me and my cell phone or camera. When I’m at home with my tripod and a lot of time, I’m happy with the outcome, but when I’m on the road and just want to give a shoutout that I’m wearing a certain brand, I’m rarely satisfied.

Most recently this happened with my amazing Riley dress from Bitter Lollipop (which is planning to have new styles available in 2017, by the way). I rediscovered it in my closet and have been wearing it weekly ever since. I didn’t want to write a complete new post about it; I just wanted to remind readers how much I love it with a tweet like, “I’m in the muggy train station feeling sharp in my Riley dress from @bitterlolli.” But every selfie was a dud that did NOT show the dress to its best advantage.

So of course I signed up for the selfie workshop.

Like you, I wondered, “What makes a selfie ‘body positive’ instead of just a selfie?” Workshop leader Natasha Overton didn’t give me a cut-and-dried answer, but she gave a ton of tips for taking good selfies that I won’t want to delete . . . and that’s an answer right there. Here are some of her tips: [Read more…]

Posture Power When You’re Busty

If you’re like me, you probably always thought that proper posture was simply a matter of aesthetics–it makes you appear taller, slimmer and more confident. It takes a lot of discipline to maintain, though, so it’s perfectly understandable when we allocate our energy to nice clothing and makeup instead.

Bad idea. It turns out that proper posture isn’t just about looks. It affects the way we think, feel and act, and there’s a physiological reason for it: When we strike expansive poses, our  testosterone (the dominance hormone) increases, and our cortisol (the stress hormone) decreases, causing us to feel powerful and in control. I learned this from Amy Cuddy’s 2012 TED talk that I only discovered this summer. Now whenever I’m feeling nervous before an event, I strike Amy Cuddy’s Wonder Woman pose that I write about on the Campbell & Kate blog.

wonder woman pose

After the TED talk, I marched to the library for her book Presence. The concepts of personal presence and power are much more nuanced than I can develop here, but when she discusses power, she doesn’t mean becoming a blustery bully. Instead, she means the ability to be ourselves and to tap into the resources available to us when we’re feeling calm and capable: [Read more…]

Bending the Rules, Part 1

Guess what unexpected bonus I found while I was looking for a fit model? Another writer!  Kimberly is a recent college graduate looking to begin a career in social media.  When we met, she was wearing an old Target bra and had never heard of any of the large bust friendly clothing brands that we love on this blog.  We immediately got her enrolled in Ali Cudby’s one-hour bra course and set up a fitting with the famous Freddy from Eveden. Now she’s ready to write for Hourglassy. Some day she’ll tell you all about her fitting experiences, but you’re going to love the topic she’s decided to begin with.

Hi, readers! My name is Kimberly, and I’m thrilled to announce my guest series on Hourglassy. With Bending The Rules, I’ll attempt to dissect the various “rules” that have been sartorially imposed on big-busted women. I’ll also try to provide examples of ways to stick to the rules — or break them, if you’re so inclined.

Because I’ve been considered “busty” for over ten years (I was a 34C in the seventh grade and my boobs never looked back), I’ve had plenty of time to figure out the ways society dictates that busty women should dress. Along the way, I’ve thrown caution to the wind and gone against the rules when I felt like it, but I’ve also gone along with them at my own discretion. I’ve been reprimanded for showing “too much” cleavage and praised for being able to “hide” my boobs well. Basically, my closet is full of busty dos and don’ts, and this is my chance to share that with you.

One thing I tend to hold conflicting opinions about is showing my bra straps — it seems like one of those things that’s taboo, ugly, or tacky for no particular reason, and I’ve always resented that. Friends have pointedly told me that my bra was “out” when straps were showing, as if I hadn’t noticed. Family members have shaken their heads at the sight of a bra peeking out the side of my dress. Just because you never see bra straps on the red carpet, people have treated them as something to be hidden.

Living through countless New York summers has presented me with many opportunities to be jealous of the smaller-busted women who can seemingly wear whatever they want, especially in the sweltering heat. They don’t have to wear bras with those halter crop tops or flowing strapless blouses or backless dresses. They can even wear cute, underwire-free bralettes under them if they want to, and since those are lacy and delicate, they’re not considered a fashion don’t. Meanwhile, I’m stuck with huge, sweat-inducing bras, and according to the rules, I have to make sure to cover. those. straps.

It’s a bit ridiculous. If I need to show those straps in order to wear a cute outfit, who cares? I don’t really ever have the luxury of going braless, and plus, if I pay so much money for these special bras, why not show them off?

I do try to buy clothes that cover my bra and its straps, but sometimes that means giving up on a beautiful dress or cute summer shirt. If I want to wear a crop top, I’ll get one in more of a t-shirt style, like this black one:

image1

(shirt by Bershka)

Plenty of the (numerous) dresses in my closet have thicker straps and fuller coverage, in order to pander to the “no straps” rule and hide the bra. These are more for the occasions when playing by the rules is necessary, like in professional environments. I got this pink dress to wear to a work event:

(dress by Ann Taylor Loft)

(dress by Ann Taylor Loft)

But then there are times when I just don’t care about the scandal my visible bra straps will apparently cause, and I buy a tank top like this because I want to be able to wear what other people wear during the summer, even if my boobs are fully out, along with my bra. If someone with a 32A bra size can wear the tank top without any hypersexualized commentary and opinions, I can too:

(tank top by Project Social T)

(tank top by Project Social T)

Or backless dresses like this:

(dress by Kimchi Blue)

(dress by Kimchi Blue)

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And I deal with whatever negative comments I get. Bra straps may be considered unsightly to some, but they support me so that I’m able to wear those cute outfits in the first place.

On that note, if I know I’m going to wear an outfit where my bra straps or band will be visible, I try to match my bra in some way. I once wore the green dress pictured above with a neon purple and pink bra, and my mother (rightfully) told me how ridiculous I looked. Also, I wore it to work earlier that day— not my best choice, but thankfully, no one said anything. I bought this light-blue Claudette Dessous bra specifically to wear under a grey dress, and ended up loving it! The straps are delicately detailed, and the bra is supportive without any extra padding — perfect for summer.

claudette-periwinkle-dessous-mesh-bra-product-0-405193457-normal

The straps on lots of Simone Perele bras like the Amour are also pretty enough to show, and in a color like black, they go with a lot of different outfits:

SIM13R330_anthracite_PD

So go forth and wear whatever you want, readers. If you need a bra, wear one. If you need to show that bra in some way in order to wear something you like wearing, don’t think twice. Anyone who will criticize you over the sight of a strap obviously doesn’t understand the heavy lifting you have to do on a daily basis, and for that — you are strong.

—–

For more on visible bra straps, see Leah’s post from our hot September last year.

Meet Our Newest Writer: Rosalind

Based on my past correspondence with Rosalind, I suspected she would be a perfect match for Hourglassy readers, and when I met her in person last September, I absolutely had to invite her to join the Hourglassy team. When you read today’s post, you’ll realize why I was so overjoyed that she said yes. Her captivating style, love of sewing, nursing bra survivor stories, and experience on both sides of the H-cup divide are some of the reasons you’re going to look forward to her upcoming bi-weekly posts. –Darlene

Let me take you back to middle school, in order to get a full picture of my Adventures in Bra-Wearing…

middle school was so good to us all, wasn't it??

Exhibit A: 8th Grade Dance

I was a bit of a late bloomer. The only reason I started wearing a bra in the 7th grade was because of the inevitable gym class locker room. My mom wanted to shield me from as much teasing as possible, so she loaded me with training bras that my scrawny prepubescent frame clearly did not need. I appreciated them and wore them without complaint, aside from the occasional whining about “not having any boobs”. I desperately wanted to be buxom and voluptuous. My mother and her mother were large-chested, so I knew it could be in the cards for me. I would often stuff my mom’s old bras and parade around the house making jokes about Dolly Parton.

Then, in the summer before I began high school, my chest grew from a barely-there AA, to a solid B/C cup. I had to ask my mom to take me bra shopping three times that summer. I suddenly had the breasts I had been asking for, and I was happy . . . until I realized bras were now uncomfortable, and my breasts didn’t stop growing. I had absolutely zero clue what to do with my breasts.

By the end of my senior year of high school, bra and swimsuit shopping made me cry. I was wearing some horribly uncomfortable 36D bras that my Mom had altered to create smaller bands for me. I had looked up a little bit about bra fitting, just enough to know about “sister sizing”, and thought I would fit a 34DD. I searched for that size only to come up empty handed at every retail store. Looking back, I think I was probably closer to a 28G at the time, but I had no idea that there was such a thing as a band smaller than a 32!

Near the end of my high school days, my Mom came home from a thrift store shopping adventure (I am fairly certain at least 50% of my childhood was spent in thrift shops – I love them) clutching two Fantasie t-shirt bras (you know, this famous one). One was a 32E–a size I had never before heard of–and it fit me so well that I cried!!

I wore that Fantasie 4510 nearly every day for well over a year. When the underwires started poking out, I realized I should really do a Google search on the tag and see if I could find out where to buy another one. Within minutes, I discovered Herroom.com and their wealth of bra fitting and purchasing options. Again, I was so happy that I cried . . . but my tears of joy were quickly replaced by tears of despair once I saw the price tags on most of these lovely-looking bras in sizes I knew I needed.

Pretty soon, I learned to search the lingerie racks at places such as Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx, and Marshall’s for things in my size. Typically I would splurge on a new bra for my birthday and score 2-3 heavily discounted bras through these stores each year. Fitting myself and figuring out sizing took me a few years of trial and error, but I got it all worked out and found my favorite bra (Freya Deco, 30G/28FF!). 

I <3 Deco! At least I'm 99% sure that's what I'm wearing here, haha.

I heart Deco! At least I’m 99% sure that’s what I’m wearing here. Haha.

During this time I found myself in the same position that Darlene discussed in her recent “F Stands for Full Bust” post–I was busty, but not THAT busty and I certainly didn’t look it most of the time. The only time I was really aware of my full-busted size was when my smaller chested sisters would pick up my bras and gawk, or when I would foolishly try to fit into a size “small” shirt or non-cup-sized swimwear.

I *think?* I'm wearing a Panache Porcelain here. Can't remember the size, but man that was a comfy bra.

I *think?* I’m wearing a Panache Porcelain here. Can’t remember the size, but man that was a comfy bra.

When I finally had it all figured out . . . I experienced the miracle of bringing life into the world. Don’t get me wrong — I love my children, and I am insanely grateful for my relatively healthy pregnancies and births. But I do not inherently love pregnancy in all of its nauseating, breast-expanding glory. I shot up five cup sizes from a 30G/28FF to a 28JJ-30K (which was an L or M or N or something insane-sounding in US sizing). I could find absolutely zero pregnancy/nursing bras in my size, even from websites and brands that I knew and trusted. I was SO baffled–isn’t the biological function of breasts to, well, feed babies? Not just to look pretty? So, why were there hundreds of options for non-lactating busty women, but relatively little for lactating busty women? I then realized after more digging that I couldn’t even find regular bras in my current size – which also confused me. I hadn’t yet learned about the dreaded H-Cup Ceiling (Samantha at The Curves Have It has a great post on The H Problem).

Through all of this searching, I knew there had to be other women in my size range, lactating or not. There was no way I was the only one. So I continued to dig, and finally came across Hourglassy–which served as my portal to the the full-bust blog world. I couldn’t believe there was an entire corner of the Internet dedicated to discussing and solving my specific problems! I sent Darlene a very emotional email, asking for any pregnancy/nursing bra resources she could point me to. From there I followed June at Braless in Brasil (whose blog is no longer online), who recommended to me the ONLY comfortable and properly-sized nursing bra I’ve been able to find (Decent Exposures un-bra). I also used this awesome Hourglassy DIY Nursing Bras tutorial with great success, and there have been quite a few Boobs and Babies posts throughout Hourglassy’s lifetime that I found helpful!

Me and my sweet baby #2 at 4 months old. Wearing a poor-fitting nursing bra and trying to hide my bustline. Babies are a great accessory for that ;)

Me and my sweet second baby at 4 months old. Wearing a poor-fitting nursing bra and trying to hide my bustline. Babies are a great accessory for that ;)

So there is my story. I have been pregnant and/or lactating for the past four years (no breaks–yikes!), currently still nursing my second child (15 months old and weaning v e r y slowly). At the moment I hover around a 28-30 band and J-K cup, depending on the brand. I’m still searching for comfortable bras in my size – I have a few that fit, but nothing I actually love to wear! I’ve tried more bras than I can count in the past four years, most of them have been failures, but a couple have been phenomenal successes (which I am looking forward to sharing with you!).

In addition to sharing my experiences as a mother, I hope to share general-busty experiences with all women–especially those who struggle with the H-Cup Ceiling. I LOVE to sew, and am planning tutorials that show how to make inexpensive clothing work for a busty body, and even how to make a swimsuit if you’re that adventurous!! I just finished making one for myself last week, and it makes me so happy. My style is casual, comfortable, and fun. I greatly appreciate clothing that is easy to wear and care for. I have plenty of bra/clothing reviews and op-ed pieces up my sleeve as well. Hopefully you’ll enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them!

I am SO grateful to live in this day and age where bra information and networking with other bra enthusiasts is so easy. I am grateful for blogs, online shopping, Zulily, Amazon, foreign clothing brands, and all of the other incredible resources that make properly fitting bras available to women everywhere! I couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of it all.