Off the Rack ~ Busty Dressing with Dolman Sleeves Part II

Like Darlene, I mostly avoid dolman sleeves. Sure, they mean there’s more room for boobs, but they usually have a weird boxy shape that completely swallows your figure. Even on rail-thin ladies, I am not a fan. Even with the gorgeous red cocktail dress from Saint Bustier that Darlene shared in her post, I just don’t understand the point. What’s the appeal of webbed armpits??

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I tried the same three dolman-sleeve tops that Darlene included in her post, and my opinion remains unchanged. Of course, Darlene and I have different proportions and heights, so what looks good on her naturally may not work on me, but I still had to laugh at how terrible I think these garments look on me compared to her.

First, the snuggly sweater:

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Look, Ma, no waist! This sweater is super soft, but I was super not-a-fan of the tighter hem hitting me at just the right spot so the folded over bits on the side blossomed out right at my waist—and turned it from my smallest part to my biggest. It was even worse if my arms weren’t glued to my sides:

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What is happening at my biceps??

It’s not as bad if I strike a sassier pose, but I certainly wouldn’t be standing around like this all day—and I still don’t like that webbed armpit!

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Next up is the Rock Cotton tunic, but again I wasn’t happy:

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This tunic was shockingly long. I thought maybe it just looked long on Darlene because she’s more petite, and that it might be true tunic-length on me, but it’s definitely long enough to be a dress. In fact, it would probably look cute with black tights and a pair of moto boots…that is, if it didn’t swallow my waist again.

Like the sweater, the fabric here is a dream. It’s really soft and stretchy, and I like the goth tie-dye look of the print. But it was very tight on my hips, which made te top half billow out even more, a look I did not appreciate. If the whole thing were loose, I could probably wear it with a wide belt, but as it is, the proportions just don’t work for me.

Once again, though, a crooked elbow and a cocked hip make all the difference:

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Finally, we have the cropped blazer, which I actually quite like!

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This one highlights my waist instead of hiding it: The bottom button hits right at my waist’s smallest point, the flared opening creates an arrow pointing right at my waist, and the sleeves stop at my waist. The jacket is conspiring to make me look thinner instead of boxier!

Something about the way the stiffer, tailored fabric lays in the armpit region also keeps it from bunching up on the front side of my armpit.

Still, I think a normal-sleeved cropped jacket with a peplum would be similar but slightly cuter.

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Like the Diva jacket from Heart of Haute—hello lovely!

So, conclusion: Big boobs don’t really affect how flattering a dolman top is…because they’re not very flattering on any shape, in my opinion! (Sorry, Darlene.)

 

Off the Rack ~ Introducing Miss Candyfloss (a Review of the Odette Dress)

I’ve long admired the brand Miss Candyfloss, especially after seeing a few reviews on the Miss Victory Violet website. It’s a vintage reproduction brand that’s inspired mostly by styles of the 1940s. Some of the garments are totally era-accurate, while others have a more modern twist (such as the many jumpsuits they make). If you’re looking to cosplay as Peggy Carter (from Marvel’s Captain America and the Agent Carter TV show—the new season of which premiered this week!), this is the brand to buy.

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Ms. Carter in Season 2, Episode 1. I wish you could see the amazing pants and wide belt she’s wearing, but this was the best outfit photo I could find.

However, prices are a little high and the brand is located in Sweden (with manufacturing in Transylvania), so the Euro exchange rate is usually not in my favor, I’d be limited to under $200 per order to avoid US customs fees, and shipping is expensive. Occasionally, a piece will pop up on ModCloth.com, but those are few and far between. I’ve been scouring eBay for the last year, but the brand rarely shows up there either. It seemed I would be limited to admiring the clothes from afar.

But then I got really lucky, and was given the opportunity to shop through a pre-sale offered by a US-based sellers’ group—at a heavy discount, no less! The first two times I opted into the pre-sale, there was a 4-quantity minimum for each garment, so only the most popular items ended up being available. But I was able to purchase my number one coveted item—the signature Odette dress in navy blue.

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The Odette dress is Miss Candyfloss’s most signature, well-known item, appearing for sale on several other European retail sites. It features a pleated bust, high collar, cap sleeves, zipper up the back, and full flared skirt, and ranges in size from XS all the way to 5X. It also comes in a long-sleeve version called Vedette. A combination of polyester, viscose, and lycra, the fabric is soft and not too heavy, so it’s appropriate for all seasons.

I wore Odette to a wedding last week, and went full vintage (well, vintage reproduction) with brown low-heeled Oxfords, pearls, and red lips. I’m so in love with this dress, and it’s amaaaaaazingly boob-friendly. Let’s get to the (many) photos, and then I’ll discuss fit. (I thought it looked really swell with my custom Etsy coat that I reviewed last year, so I included a bunch of poses with that as well.)

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Miss Candyfloss’s size chart puts me between medium and large for bust, and between small and medium for waist. As such, I’d say I’m probably a medium, but of course that size was sold out. Luckily, I was advised that this particular item is stretchy and very forgiving, so I would be safe to size down to a small.

Readers, it fits like a glove. It holds in my midsection just a little, like built-in light shapewear, and there’s more than enough room for my boobs thanks to the pleating. However, I would probably go with medium if I were to buy the same dress in another color. I think a medium would be a better fit for my shoulders, and the pleating on the bust wouldn’t be pulled as flat as it is here.

However, even in the small I felt perfectly comfortable, and could eat, drink, and dance to my heart’s content. In fact, after the wedding when everyone changed into street clothes for the after-party, I kept my dress on instead. It was more comfortable than the jeans I’d brought with me!

I was so taken with this dress when it first arrived that I immediately had to have more from Miss Candyfloss. Sadly, my number two most coveted item, the navy Margit top, didn’t have enough interest to be included in the pre-sale. But then the jumpsuit version popped up on eBay as the “ModCloth Ship Off the Bold Block” suit for a mere $30. So I bought the jumpsuit, took it apart, and added a new zipper to the back, leaving myself with a crop top and offering the pants to a seamstress friend. It ended up being even cheaper than buying the real shirt!

ModCloth's "Ship Off the Bold Block” jumpsuit

ModCloth’s “Ship Off the Bold Block” jumpsuit

My altered top.

My altered top.

The fabric content is different than the Odette. I don’t remember exactly what it is since the care tag was attached to the pants, but there’s significantly less stretch. In this case, medium was definitely the right choice, as a size down would have been way too tight around my waist and very difficult to pull over my shoulders. The boobs are just about perfect. So I’ll definitely be sticking to size medium going forward. In fact, just recently the minimum order quantity was done away with and there was another pre-sale, so I bought two more dresses and two tops, including a—GASP—button-up blouse. I can’t wait to report back!

 

 

Off the Rack ~ Fitting the Bottom Half of the Hourglass: Freddies Jeans Revisited

Two years after my initial review of jeans from Freddies of Pinewood, they finally had a sale (10% off on Boxing Day), so I could justify buying more. Ironically, I ended up buying two completely different choices than I originally planned. Once again I love them both, though they certainly fit differently than my original two, the 1940s Button Pants and the New Jeanies.

I bought the same size as my earlier pairs (30) and my measurements are still 29” waist and 41” hips at the widest point (with a height of 5’6”, though keep in mind I have short legs and a loooooong torso).

First up are the Utility Jeans, which feature a straight, slightly wide leg, a side zipper, and folded over flaps on the front pockets. The flaps are what really drew me to these, because it made them stand apart from my other vintage repro pants.

Initially, I was interested in the Norma Jeans and the Rivet Jeans, but ultimately I decided the Normas were too similar to my Lady K Loves Hug Me Baby jeans, and the Rivets weren’t quite different enough from my New Jeanies. Then the Utilities caught my eye, and I was sold!

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The zipper is on the side seam, instead of hidden inside the pocket like the New Jeanies, with one button.

The zipper is on the side seam, instead of hidden inside the pocket like the New Jeanies, with one button.

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The first thing I noticed about the Utilities is that they fit more tightly than the New Jeanies did around my waist, upper thighs, and butt—even though the Jeanies are supposed to be 2cm smaller around the hip. The Jeanies have two buttons at the closure, and I sometimes wear it on the tighter setting. But the Utilities have one button, and it’s a bit of a snug fit. Denim stretches with age and wear, though, so I suspect they’ll become just a touch looser over time.

On the plus side, the denim doesn’t feel nearly as stiff as my Jeanies even though they’re both 100% cotton, so it’s a lot easier to bend over to tie my shoes, or to sit at a desk all day.

Additionally, while the Jeanies and the Utilities are supposed to have the same inseam length (82cm), the Utilities are definitely shorter. I have to fold up the Jeanies a few inches to keep them from dragging on the ground, but the Utilities are a perfect length, just barely skimming the ground when I wear thin sneakers:

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Even though they’re snug around my midsection, I love love love these pants! I think the pockets are really cute, and they’re getting more comfy with each wear. Considering that I’ve worn them at least twice a week since they arrived, they should be perfect very soon.

Next up is something I never expected to buy—a jumpsuit! Yes, the kind that requires undressing fully in order to pee! I’ve always been anti-jumpsuit for this very practical reason, but then I fell in love with the Trashy Diva Hepburn jumpsuit, and now I’ve been turned to the dark side. My long torso, however, means jumpsuits that fit will still be few and far between, so don’t expect to see many more of these in my wardrobe.

In any case, the Chain Gang jumpsuit was on sale for a great price (and there are still two sizes left!), plus US customers get 17% off automatically from the VAT removal, plus there was the 10% Boxing Day discount, so I ended up paying about $48 before shipping. Pretty good considering the full-leg Grease Monkey jumpsuit is £95, or $137.

The Chain Gang has capri-length legs, almost elbow-length short sleeves, buttons up the front, a pair of chest pockets, and a belt. The buttons are sewn on a little loose, and one popped off when I first tried on the suit (as you’ll see in the photos, since I’ve been too lazy to sew it back on yet), but otherwise it’s the same stellar quality I’ve come to expect from this brand.

I purchased the charcoal grey striped option, which is made of 98% cotton and 2% elastane. I’m really glad there’s elastane (aka spandex) in this fabric, because it is a little short in the torso on me, and the little bit of stretch means it pulls and bounces back nicely when I reach for something and stretch the length out. I am pretty much obsessed with how cute this suit is, so I have lots of photos, and even threw on a red bandana for a truly Rosie the Riveter look (I also have new glasses and new lipstick, so yay for showing those off too!):

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I feel so freaking cute and sassy in this thing! I can’t wait to wear it this spring. Unfortunately, it’s way too cold right now!

I have the sleeves folded up once and the pants folded up twice. The pants are definitely an awkward length on me without folding, but I think they could look good either way, so this just means ladies of different heights can wear it safely:

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Now, since this suit has a top half, obviously I have to talk about the fit on my boobs! It has the unusual construction of no underbust or side darts, but has darts leading from the shoulder to the base of the pockets, as well as an inverted pleat on the back. As such, it achieves a blouson shape that’s actually very boob-friendly, especially combined with the fitted waistband. While my long torso means my body pulls the fabric taut, if I yank it up so that the top half isn’t being pulled down, you can see that there is no gaping even with the missing button:

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I further appreciate that the tummy and crotch are not super tight. It adds to the comfort and I don’t feel like my belly is being emphasized. However, I do have a couple small complaints: Aside from the torso length being just a touch short on me, it kills me that there are no pockets in the pants. I need pockets! I know there are a pair on the chest, but they’re too small for an iPhone, and who wants to store lumpy things like keys and lip balm on their boobs??

Additionally, since there are no holes or grommets, the belt does not stay tight. It immediately loosens up and almost falls out of the buckle. I’m probably going to use a blank tie tack to pin the end in place to keep it from sliding around.

Still, this suit has really made me think my next Freddies purchase should be another one-piece item, like perhaps the Dungaree Dolls. How cute are they??

 

Off the Rack ~ Reviewing Cleo by Panache’s “Hettie” Bra

Happy New Year, everyone! Now that the holidays are over, I should be back on my usual weekly schedule.

Starting the year off with a mostly positive review, here we go with the Cleo Hettie bra. I was first introduced to Hettie at the Curve show last February, and it was the one bra from that seaon I knew I would absolutely be buying. When Figleaves.com recently put it on sale (it’s still available in limited sizes!), I snatched one up. Not having read any reviews of it yet, I took a chance and ordered a 28GG.

My size in Cleo ranges depending on the bra, including 28GG in Marcie and 30G in Meg/Lily/Erin. Marcie is actually a little too big on my smaller boob, but one size down is way too small on my bigger side, so I size up and fill out my smaller boob with a “cookie.” Meanwhile, the Meg is completely perfect on both boobs in 30G.

There was a time when I always took a 30 in Cleo bras because I found them tighter than other brands, but in recent years the bands have been made out of stretchier materials, so now I’m often my usual 28. Additionally, I sometimes take 28G or 30FF in other British brands (such as Freya), but I find that Cleo’s cups are on the slightly less generous side, which is why I size up with them.

Anyhow! Let’s move on to aesthetics, and then I’ll discuss Hettie’s fit. It’s a three-part bra with one vertical seam on the bottom half, which leads into the straps, and a sheer stretch black lace upper section.

I’m a sucker for blue lingerie, and Hettie is no exception, although the color is a bit muted. The bottom half of the cup is bright blue with a sheer black overlay that allows the blue to peek out through little holes.

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Although Panache’s photo above makes this bra look like a plunge shape, it most definitely is not. The picture from Figleaves is much more accurate, and shows how the bra goes straight across the chest:

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Unfortunately, in GG and up, the black lace portion is lined with black mesh, so you can’t see the pattern at all:

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Also, the center bow is sewn on totally crooked!

Against my white glass table, you can just barely see the lace texture…

Against my white glass table, you can just barely see the lace texture…

But against my hand (or my chest), it’s gone again.

But against my hand (or my chest), it’s gone again.

I do really like the simple coral bow at the gore, and I love the textured straps, especially with the addition of soft felt on the underside, which makes them super comfy without being slippery:

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Additionally, there’s something magical about the bottom edge of the band because it doesn’t curl in or out at all. I think this is literally the only bra I’ve ever had that managed to avoid the curl, which I ordinarily find pretty uncomfortable. I’ve worn this bra a ton since I got it, and you can see in this photo that the edge isn’t bent or curled at all:

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A miracle!

So moving on to fit and comfort: Hettie doesn’t fit quite like any other Cleo bras I’ve tried. The wires are their usual on-the-wider-side but without digging into my armpit. The straps definitely seem wider-set, however, than Marcie and Meg. As such, the profile isn’t quite as up front as those designs, and it gives a slightly more “natural” and less “super rounded” shape than usual.

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Additionally, the cups definitely run small. It’s perfect on my smaller boob, but I get just the slightest quad-boob where the blue fabric meets the upper lace section on my bigger side. I definitely do not need a cookie in this bra.

Further, while I ordinarily wear bra straps adjusted somewhere in the middle, with enough extra length to shorten if needed and plenty of length to elongate, with Hettie I’m wearing the straps as long as they’ll go. Though I have a long torso, I have a relatively short distance from the top of my boobs to the top of my shoulder, so this makes me think taller gals or ladies with a longer shoulder-to-breast distance will have a problem with these straps. Was Cleo getting complaints about too-long straps? All my other Cleos have fully adjustable straps, so this seems unlikely, and I don’t really understand the decision to make Hettie’s so much shorter.

As for the band, well it’s the loosest Cleo band I’ve ever worn, by a long shot. More often than not, I take a 30 from Cleo, but I’m wearing this 28 on the middle or third hook right off the bat. This does not bode well for its longevity.

That’s a lot of negative feedback so far, but despite all my nitpicks, this bra is actually super comfortable! It’s so light and doesn’t dig in anywhere. I forget I have it on no matter how many hours I’m wearing it. It doesn’t even dig in or itch where the band meets the cup on the right side of my ribcage—literally every other bra I own does that!! Additionally, the stretchy fabric of the lower cup and the stretch lace are a dream against the skin.

Overall, I would definitely buy Hettie again if Cleo offers more colors in future seasons.