Off the Rack ~ The Goal Is Not Perfection (Though These “Lady K” Curvy Jeans are About as Close to Perfection as You Can Get!)

It seems like so much of our self worth as women is wrapped up in fashion. From bemoaning ultra-thin models and excessive Photoshop, to bikini shopping and unhappy dressing room ventures, and even blogging about it (guilty!), we’re always talking about, scrutinizing, and (occasionally) loving ourselves based on how we fit into clothing.

I can’t even begin to remember all the times I’ve had a friend or acquaintance complain about her body in relation to clothes. Recently, a friend who has run multiple marathons and is in far better shape than I am despite my being thinner, stated that she was nervous about trying wedding dresses because she thinks they’re all going to be too small and will have to be held up with clips and will all look terrible on her. Instead of being happy or proud of what she has accomplished with her body, she was worrying about looking “bad.”

It seems like “perfection,” in terms of our bodies, is fitting in. It’s not clothes fitting us, but us fitting into a standard.

At 5’6” and about 145 pounds, I’m currently the heaviest I’ve ever weighed. And while I could stand to be a little healthier in terms of physical activity and eating well at home, I’ve never felt more comfortable or confident in my own body. I’ve long since stopped trying to live up to what the rest of the world tells me is “perfection,” especially if “perfection” means torturing myself to achieve some unrealistic image.

Besides, there are so many different opinions on what “perfection” looks like, that it’s literally an impossible goal. There simply is no such thing as perfection, so why bother making it your goal?

Fabulous just the way I am! (Though a good Instagram filter helps.)

Fabulous just the way I am! (Though a good Instagram filter helps.)

All that brings me to the second half of this post, a review of the curve-friendly “Hug Me Baby” jeans from Lady K Loves—and a contest in which you can win your very own pair!
Lady K Love Hug Me Baby review

Disclosure: These jeans were received as a review sample. All opinions are my own and based entirely on my experience.

Since I’ve stopped trying to force myself into clothes that don’t fit and flatter me, it makes it extra fun when I do find something that feels catered to my body, and those are the companies I want to support. Blue jeans are one item of clothing that I’ve just outright stopped buying in brick-and-mortar stores. Major brands simply don’t make them for curvy ladies. Yet instead of feeling frustrated or bad about myself, or buying pairs that only sort of fit, I’m just not giving them any of my money. I’m saving it for companies that embrace my shape.

So I’m sure you can imagine my excitement when I discovered Lady K Loves. A cute, rockabilly-style shop located in the UK, they offer jeans in two styles—classic and the curvy “Hug Me Baby” curvier variety—and two lengths of 32” or 36” inseams in black or dark blue denim. With sizes XS through XXL, they fit a good range of sizes.

Upon checking out the Hug Me size chart and seeing how close to my measurements it follows, I was thrilled that Lady K herself agreed to send me a pair for review, and offered a pair to one lucky reader as well. The mediums are suggested for a waist of 28” and hips from 40”–42” (they can fit a range thanks to slight stretch). My measurements are 29” waist and about 41” around the widest part of my hips. You can find a complete size chart on each item’s individual listing, and feel free to contact the shop if you’re between size and unsure which to choose.

At £65, the jeans cost about $100 US, slightly more than a typical off-the-rack pair in the US, but certainly less than “designer” denim—and completely worth the price considering how perfectly they fit, how impressed I am with the quality, and how infrequently I buy new ones!

These are true high-waisted pants, reaching past my belly button and up to my natural waist. Since I’m on the taller side of average and have a long torso, that leads me to believe they may not work for very petite or short-waisted gals. But average height or even very tall ladies will be totally pleased with them.

With the legs folded up to ankle-length.

With the legs folded up to ankle-length.

The denim itself is thick with a little stretch. When I first put them on, they felt a little stiff, but now that I’ve been wearing them practically nonstop for the last few weeks, they’ve softened up nicely while still holding me in. I find them a little more flattering—and flattening—on my tummy compared to my Freddies jeans.

Lady K Loves Hug Me Baby side view

The Hug Me Babies really nail the vintage style with modern details. There’s a nice long zipper up the front, making them easy to pull on and slide up my thighs without any struggle. They also feature dark yellow stitching, functional front and back pockets (though I wish the front pockets were deeper), a suitably wide waistband, big belt loops, and grommets on the pocket corners.

Lady K Loves Hug Me Baby front

Lady K Loves Hug Me Baby front some more

happy in Lady K Loves

I love the sweetheart yoke stitching on the back above the pockets. Sometimes with high-waisted pants, your butt ends up looking weirdly tall and flat, but I think this extra stitch line breaks up the expanse of fabric and gives a nice, shapely appearance.

With my mini-legs (about a 28” inseam), the 32” inseam of these jeans is a bit long on me, but they’re just loose enough around my calves that I can fold them up or even fold them into ankle-length for these hot summer days. Too-tight calves is another issue I find with off-the-rack jeans, so I’m thrilled to be able to fold these up without cutting off the circulation in my legs!

Finally, these jeans solve the infuriating issue of the waist gap, which I know tons of women suffer from, including those with a smaller waist-to-hip ratio than I. When I wear normal mid- or low-rise jeans, I have to size up in the waist to fit my hips, so I end up with a too-big waist and too-tight hips. Then throughout the day, the pants slowly sink down my butt and I end up with a dropped crotch and visible underwear. With the Hug Me Babies, I can actually feel the waistband keeping its grip on me, and no amount of stretching, bending over, or sitting can manage to pull the waist down. It’s a miracle!

No visible underwear!

No visible underwear!

The waist stays in place even while awkwardly sitting on a planter.

The waist stays in place even while awkwardly sitting on a planter.

I’m so pleased with these that I’ve already donated a couple pairs of old, “regular” blue jeans from my drawer. I have to buy these in black when my size is back in stock so I can replace my ill-fitting black jeans as well.

Between my Hug Me Babies and my Freddies, I’ll never have to buy a badly fitting pair of jeans again!

And now the best news of all: One lucky Hourglassy reader will win her choice of Lady K jeans (you can see all the styles here. Enter with the Rafflecopter widget below. You’ll earn one entry for each activity you complete, and the contest closes at 11:59 pm ET Friday, August 7.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Off the Rack ~ Comparing Underwire Comfort Pads

Without fail, every single bra I own cuts into me in the same spot—my right side where the underwire and the band meet, and then following the band back. And I do mean that literally. Even too-big bands, even my Panache sport with its padded, enclosed wires, still hits that spot and drives me crazy. With some bras, this phenomenon is super itchy. With others, it can actually break the skin like a rug burn. It’s worse when I’m sitting still at a desk all day.

I know I’m wearing the right size and it’s only on the right side, so I suspect it’s the result of where my ribs happen to be located in relation to the band and the fact that I don’t have much squish in that area.

Depending on what I’m wearing, sometimes I’ll tuck my shirt up under that spot on the band to create some extra padding and give my skin a break. But recently I decided to look for a better solution. I ended up buying two types of “underwire cushion” to compare: Braza’s Underwire Comfort Strips, and Nearly Me’s Silicone Underwire Pads. I found both on LadyGrace.com.

Braza’s pads are thin strips of fabric stuffed with a tiny bit of padding. Their backing is a flexible textured plastic that sticks to the soft side of velcro. The texture will also stick to your underwire casing, and that’s how it stays on. It’s slightly curved to follow the curve of your underwire.

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I tried the Braza strips first, and found them pretty much useless. For one thing, they’re simply too small for the purpose I needed. They only fit over the underwire and aren’t big enough to cover the entire band area that irritates me.

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Further, after one day of use, the underwire has permanently squished and made a dent down the center of the strip, so now it’s basically got no padding at all. It’s been several days since I wore the strip and it still hasn’t bounced back. So I definitely do not recommend these. I’m wondering if I can find some other purpose for them, as it seems wasteful to just throw them away.

The silicone pads, on the other hand, are amazing! After trying it once, I’ve been wearing one every day. They’re available in two lengths—four inches or six inches (I purchased the four-inch ones)—and are a little over an inch wide. They’re super squishy and thick. One side is soft, tan fabric, and one side is ultra-sticky, clear silicon.

You get two in a package, and they come stuck together with a sheet of plastic separating them (like the plastic that comes on Dr. Scholl’s reusable gel inserts for shoes). When you’re ready to use it, you peel one strip off and stick it on your body, then carefully put on your bra. They can be washed with gentle soap and water, then allowed to air-dry before sticking back onto the plastic sheet and storing in a zip-loc baggie (which they come in).

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The silicone pads completely solve the discomfort I was experiencing. They’re big enough that I don’t have to be that precise in putting them on, and they stick really well and stay put all day even when I’m moving around a lot. I do sweat a little extra on that spot when wearing one, but so far it hasn’t bothered me and the silicone still stays stuck on despite the sweat.

Here’s a photo of how I placed it under my bra (this is the Comexim Magic Blue):

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And after removing the bra:

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The other red marks you see are not painful or itchy, they’re just normal imprints I always get. There’s just something about the spot under the silicone that is painful for some reason.

I love these pads so much that I’m probably going to order loads more of them, maybe in both lengths. I’ll probably be wearing them every single day from now on.

 

Off the Rack ~ Busty & The Beach: Curvy Kate Cocoloco Bikini

Like Darlene, my first choice for Curvy Kate swimwear was also the Ocean Drive set, with the halter top and shorts bottoms.

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And like Darlene, I had an “I’m begging—don’t send me [blank]” moment with a particular style, in my case a bandeau. Ordinarily, I just don’t do strapless. And just like Darlene, I received exactly what I was hoping to avoid! However, also like Darlene, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I like the item, the Cocoloco bandeau and skirted bottoms.

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Disclosure: This bikini was received as a review sample. All opinions are my own and based entirely on my experience.

Since I’ve never tried Curvy Kate swimwear but I know I’m a 28G in their bras, I opted to request a 30FF top. Having read that their swim bottoms run “true to size,” I went with size Medium.

Unfortunately, the 30FF was too small in the cups, giving me loads of quad boob and escaping side tissue. Apparently Curvy Kate is another brand in which I have to size up in the cup with swimwear:

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The bottoms they originally sent were actually the side-tie briefs. These briefs are extremely low-rise, especially on my extra-long torso:

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Apologies for the grainy cell phone picture.

Most of my underwear just barely grazes the bottom of my hip tattoo, so if a bikini is more than a full inch below it, you know it’s really low. If my bikini area wasn’t groomed, I’m pretty sure there’d be hair visible. Not to mention the fact that any bending would expose my buttcrack, which was about a mere inch below the top of the bikini in back.

Anyhow! Since I had to send the top back for a bigger size anyway, I asked if I could swap for the skirted bottoms too. Since the briefs felt okay in terms of tightness across the waist and across my butt, I stuck with medium.

As I waited for my new set to arrive and stalked the Curvy Kate website in the meantime, the print and color mix of Cocoloco continued to grow on me until I was even more excited to receive the replacements. And I’m happy to report that once I had the bikini in my greedy little hands, the 30G and skirted bottoms are a much appreciated improvement in fit.

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Really loving the black-white-sky blue combination.

I am really impressed by the construction and fit of this top, especially considering that it’s a bandeau, and my full-on-bottom boobs tend not to get along with strapless anything. The cups are made of a lightweight yet strong foam with two vertical seams. It’s then covered in an outer layer of swim fabric that’s gathered and sewn in place in the middle and at the sides.

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The wings are lined with power mesh and feature a piece of vertical boning next to the underwires. There are also removable, fully adjustable straps that don’t attach too far out to the sides (a problem I have with CK bras). Finally, the back of the band is a little thicker than usual, a nice counterpoint to my complaint about the thin-ness of last week’s Fantasie Lombok.

Even though this suit is a 30 band and I’m really a 28, this thing stays up amazingly well. I felt so comfortable in it, and even after jumping around at home it stayed in place. It doesn’t even have silicone strips! I would bet that the thickness of the band is helping with this. It makes me think I should give the CK Luxe Strapless a try—it even has the same vertical seaming as Cocoloco. The gore also tacks really well, a major feat for a strapless.

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Front view, without straps.

Front view, without straps.

Front view, with straps.

Front view, with straps.

Angled view, without straps.

Angled view, without straps.

Angled view, with straps.

Angled view, with straps.

There is one thing I have to complain about: The cups are too shallow. So close to perfection, but my full-on-bottom boobs strike again! Thanks to the looser outer layer of printed fabric, it’s not visible to the naked eye. And thanks to the high quality foam and the vertical seams, cup crushing at the base of the cup is kept to a minimum. But I can clearly feel that it’s slightly too shallow for me and that the wires are being pushed down my ribs. This is such a common occurrence for me, though, that I hesitate to even classify it as a negative trait. It’s more just a fact of life.

Sadly, this was another non-swimming week, so I can’t really assess the practicality of the suit. But I can say that the top of the cups are pretty open, an excellent feature for avoiding quad-boob, but maybe not so great for jumping off a high dive. However, I would definitely feel comfortable wearing it in waves or diving once I attach the straps. They feel nice and secure.

Lastly, let’s discuss the bottoms. I think the adorable-ness of the skirt is self-evident. But as for the fit, honestly I wish I’d requested a large. Although the medium doesn’t cut into my butt at all (success!), it just feels tight and a little binding overall and it’s not doing my muffin top area any favors. Since I’m generally between medium and large, I don’t think these run small, it’s just that I prefer a slightly roomier fit. Additionally, the seam where the skirt is attached is a little itchy in front, and I think a bigger size would help with this since it wouldn’t be pressed against me as closely.

 

Off the Rack ~ Busty & The Beach: Fantasie Lombok Bikini

For my third bikini this month, I’m reviewing Fantasie’s “Lombok” full-cup halter top and scarf-tie briefs. I had the hardest time picking a swimsuit from Eveden. As you’ll recall from our trip to their showroom a few months ago, I was in love with oodles of designs from Freya.

I really wanted the watermelon or the hot pink with neon yellow polka dots. But in both cases, the bikini top style I liked best was the halter, of which I already own two and even covered in my Freya swim roundup of 2013 (the Coconut Grove set). Ultimately I ended up going with a much more subdued suit from Fantasie, because I thought it would be more valuable to both readers and to Eveden to have me assess something new.

Disclosure: This bikini was received as a review sample. All opinions are my own and based entirely on my experience.

I’ve long been intrigued by Fantasie’s full-cup bikini style (which Darlene reviewed earlier this week). Even though it’s billed as “full cup,” it really doesn’t look like an excessive amount of coverage to me, and I really like the gathering at the base of the cup. Plus, Fantasie releases lots of new colors and prints in this style every season.

I almost overlooked the Lombok, but once I realized it was the same full-cup shape but with a halter instead of bra straps, I was hooked. I was also a huge fan of the scarf-tie bottoms, since they have that cute side-tie look, but with more coverage than all my Freya bottoms. The gold beads on the straps and the ties give it just a little more visual interest as well.

So let’s start with the manufacturer’s photo, followed by me:

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Note that the color is more accurate in the manufacturer’s image. Since I find Fantasie to run a smidge larger in the cups than Freya, I went with 30FF instead of sizing up one cup to 30G, and I got the bottoms in Medium since they seemed to offer more coverage and can be adjusted at the sides. I think both sizes are just right, so I would say Fantasie swimwear fits true to size (at least in the full-cup style).

This bikini is so freaking comfortable! The fabric is ultra-soft and stretchy. It almost feels like I’m wearing nothing at all, especially on the bottom.

The top is lined with a double-layer of peach mesh, and the bottoms with a single layer of blue swim lining with a double-layer in the crotch. The gold beads are lightweight plastic, and they can slide around into your position of choice or be removed completely.

Since I wasn’t sure I’d get a chance to swim in the bikini this week, I wore the top all day again, including on my bike-ride to work and an extended ride home as I ran errands. I definitely had not-so-comfortable bounce when I went over big bumps on my bike, but otherwise the support is good. The lift, on the other hand, leaves a little to be desired. The shape is a bit droopy, I suspect because the fabric is so stretchy and not lined with foam for shaping. I’m not sure if there’s any remedy for this without adding foam, but it’s really only noticeable in profile so I don’t much care.

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The gore tacks perfectly, and while the average-width wires could stand to be a little narrower for me, they work fine. Thanks to the stretchiness of the fabric, I had no “orange-in-a-glass” effect, so I think this top would suit a wide range of shapes. Additionally, it has super subtle side slings to keep your breasts forward. The slings are so well hidden that I didn’t even realize their existence until I inspected the top closely, but it definitely keeps you from getting an east-west shape:

I don’t see a seam…

I don’t see a seam…

There it is!

There it is!

Two final negative comments: As you’ll see in the back photo below, the band is very thin. Although the cups are the right volume, the wires an acceptable width, and the gore tacks, the wires tend to shift down my ribs a little throughout the day. I found myself pushing them back up several times. I think this is due to the thinness of the band, and that if it were a little thicker it would anchor to my ribcage better. Conventional straps instead of a halter might also help. Luckily, the Lombok comes in a padded balcony top as well, so you can get both a wider band and regular adjustable bra straps if you prefer (though it doesn’t have the gold beads).

Finally, although halter necks generally don’t bother my neck in terms of strain or weight, the thickness of the straps creates a big, dense knot, which does dig into my neck. It helps to tie it slightly off center to avoid having it jammed against my spine, but I can still feel it significantly.

As for the bottoms, let’s take a look:

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Love it! This is the exact amount of coverage I prefer—enough that I don’t feel on display, but not so huge that I get saggy granny-butt. It also doesn’t cut in at the muffin top area or my buttcheeks. And again I really like the look of the scarf ties.

Luckily, I did end up getting a chance to swim in the suit, after all! This past weekend was my sister’s bachelorette festivities in Newport, Rhode Island, and obviously while there the group had to go to the beach. The temperature was pretty cool, so I didn’t swim a whole lot, but I made sure to go under at least once and paddle around a bit. There were no waves this time, so I couldn’t assess its staying power in a more active situation, but I will say that I was originally concerned the stretchiness of the top might lead it to become more saggy when wet. However, it didn’t move and maintained the exact same shape as it had while dry. There was some visible nipple, but I doubt that’s avoidable without padding in the cups. I also managed to pinch my skin a little with the beads on the halter as I was reapplying sunscreen, so that’s something minor to be aware of.

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This set is definitely more conservatively styled than I usually go for, but I foresee it getting a lot of use due to its practicality and amazing comfort (aside from the neck knot).