Pretty Bras (and Other Decadent Pieces) for Big Breasts: Harlow & Fox

PLEASE read my full review of Harlow & Fox on the Campbell & Kate blog today. Many of us can only dream of owning one of Leanna Williams’ designs, but I have tried to capture a fraction of the brand’s intricacy so that, whether you can buy your favorite piece or not, you will understand the thoughtfulness behind its creation. For those of us who can reach for our credit cards, there is a 15% discount code available at the bottom of the Campbell & Kate post. For those of us who need to save our pennies for a splurge, these gorgeous styles aren’t going away–Leanna understands that her pieces are a special treat that take time to afford.

Leah actually got to try the Viola longline bra! Here are her impressions of the 36E, which was the only size that Leanna had with her in New York when Patsy, Leah and I met her in February.

36E harlow fox viola longline front

The band felt really good and stayed in place well despite the bigger size, due to its length and shape. But I was also wearing it on the tightest setting, so in reality I would need to go down a band from the sample. The boob shape was beautifully rounded without being too “oomph”-y. The side slings were very effective. The straps were a DREAM. It felt like I wasn’t wearing anything at all. The fabric was so light and soft and the width allowed good distribution of weight and kept them from digging into my shoulders. The cups were a little shallow on me, but that’s the case with anything but Polish bras for me. Additionally, since the fabric was so soft, the bottom edge of the band did not dig into my sides even though it stopped right at my natural waist. So I think even petite or short-waisted ladies could wear this, it would just have more of a “tankini” look to it than a bustier. You can see a funny little fold in the lace between my boobs, but every longline I’ve ever tried (three different brands aside from H&F) has done this to me. So I don’t think it’s a design flaw, I think it’s just something about the way I’m shaped.

For more about this brand, Miss Underpinnings gave an excellent introduction and review last year; Kelsey wrote about Harlow & Fox on The Full Figured Chest, and The Lingerie Lesbian has even more pretty Harlow & Fox pictures.  Lost in Lingerie‘s review of the French knickers and tie-side briefs includes this amazing video.

Pretty Bras for Big Breasts: My Fave Fauve

My sister, who requires that I post at least a picture or a quote every day, is currently in Tokyo visiting her precious little grandchildren, so she probably won’t even appreciate these pictures. But here is my favorite Fauve bra for Spring/Summer 2014. With the silver embroidery, it looks amazingly elegant and beautiful in person.

big bust fauve fave blue

I still own my Fauve Lucia, even though it’s now a cup size too small. I confirmed this when I wore it to Freddy’s Eveden Fit School at CurveNY last week, but oh the compliments I got on it during my fitting!

It actually raised an interesting dilemma that some bra fitters face. I was being used for practice by a woman who sells bras in Vermont and was having difficulty fitting her customers into a certain Elomi style. Even though the Vermont seller appreciated having a live model in front of her, she was actually frustrated by my Fauve. Here’s why: none of her customers walk into her store wearing such a pretty bra that is even close to their actual size. Located two hours from any other lingerie store, the customers who come to her for a fitting are wearing stretched out old Balis and Maidenforms in 38DD’s. Freddy advised her to do whatever she could to make the customer’s original bra work before coming up with the first size to try, even if it mean tying the band in a knot in back to make it tight enough! Stories like these make me so appreciate the bra fitters who are doing their best, day in and day out, to put women in the right size.

Let’s finish today with a little more eye candy from Fauve to help erase the nightmare of stretched-out beige 38DD’s that I just put in your brain.

What’s your favorite?

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The sheer Chloe only goes to F, but the balconey goes to G/GG.

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fauve yellow

Living My Large Bust Ballerina Fantasy through Lingerie

Thank you for the great ideas you’ve given Leila for her next Fit Picky Full Bust Alterations post. She’s currently swamped with packing for a huge move, so she’ll publish her next full bust alteration post in September. Instead of Leila coming to Hourglassy this month, why don’t you go to Three Dresses Project to read about her recent bra-fitting adventure since losing 30 pounds, or her fall sewing inspirations? I would love it if she made 2013 her coat year.

Leila’s absence gives me an excuse to share pretty pictures with you from Curve NY, the lingerie trade show that ended yesterday. Here is one of the prettiest things that I have ever seen, from a new company called Monette.

big busts can wear the Monette silk skirt

Seeing this skirt reminded me of  my little girl ballerina dreams, the flowy tulle skirt with the Jaci Fredenburg corset that I wrote about in 2009, and Degas’ Little Dancer of Fourteen Years.

large bust ballerina dreams

Does the matching bra come in large cup sizes? Of course not–the brand is French after all–but as the rep rightly reminded me, the skirt fits ALL cup sizes.

Fortunately, there are beautiful large cup options available if we want to match a bra with a flowy bottom, including a new startup called Sunday Intimates. Founded by two friends from L.A. who wear sizes 30FF and 28G, their brand is designed for small bands (28-34) and large cups (British sizes D-H). You’ll read more about Sunday Intimates from the other full-bust bloggers who fell in love with them, but for now I want to introduce you to their Dottie bra and briefs in their signature “Sunday Nude” and navy.

big bust dottie in sunday nude and navy

Doesn’t the thought of pairing the Sunday Intimates Dottie in Sunday Nude with the Monette skirt make you very happy?

big bust dottie with silk tulle skirt

Pretty Bras for Big Breasts: Crème Bralée

Let’s begin with the most important question: How’s the fit?

Answer: American (32-46 C-G). For those of you who wear up to an F cup in the British brands, you have another beautiful option. For those of us who wear above a British F cup, there’s a chance that the Crème Bralée G cup will fit some of us because I read a comment in an online forum that Creme Bralee’s cups run large. Unfortunately, the two 36G bras that I ordered weren’t large enough for me. For a detailed review of the actual bras that I tried, scroll to the bottom of this post (where you’ll also find a 20% discount code!). For the short story: the bands were great, but the cups were two inches too shallow for me.

Outside of being sized out of Crème Bralée, there are a lot of things I like about the brand.

First, of course, is all the prettiness. The model in the photo below is wearing the Marlena bra in 32DD, and I love the gathers along the cup seams (you can see them better if you zoom in to the photo on their website).

pretty big breast bras from creme bralee

The hot pink Amanda clamshell bra is much more vivid in person and on their website than in my photo above, and this brings me to Crème Bralée’s bold use of color. They choose colors meant to look good on everyone, and they try them out on a variety of skin tones, including that of their Asian-American designer Liz (below left) and their African-American assistant designer Khaaliqa (below right), each of whom I met at the Crème Bralée launch event a few weeks ago.

Creme Bralee designers

Second, I admire the passion of the people behind this brand. It all began with Meryl, their vice-president, who has been at the company for 31 years. Until she stepped in, the 63-year-old parent company, Q-T Intimates, was purely “a white bra company”. Then Meryl introduced a red bra into their lineup, and it became a bestseller. She wanted to add large bust sizes years ago, but she couldn’t get buyers to pay attention.

Now she and Liz visit Europe and Montreal to scout out the trends for their large bust brand, and Liz was very excited to showcase some of their upcoming designs. If they would expand these upcoming designs to cup sizes beyond their current range, I would be thrilled.

Here’s my favorite. It reminds me of something that would come from Aubade or La Perla.

big bust bra in aubade like design

Bows anyone?

rare bows for big busts

This is such an elegant way to add embellishments while maintaining a smooth look under knits.

A pretty embellished aqua bra for big busts

In determining the direction for their brand, I bet you can guess the deciding factor: whether or not to show nipple. Wouldn’t you love to have been in their conference room while they debated this? Ultimately, they decided to keep nipples hidden in order to go in a “sophisticated sexy” direction.

As neither Meryl nor Liz are large-busted, this makes Khaaliqa’s input extremely important. During the design stage, Khaaliqa is constantly asked,“Would a big girl wear that?”, and she constantly answers, “Of course! Confidence doesn’t depend on size!”

Finally, I like the Crème Bralée prices. For my review, I purchased the two most expensive bras, which came to $36 each after the DDD+ surcharge. (Speaking of the surcharge, it didn’t actually bother me until it came time to pay it. Crème Bralée could give a more big-bust friendly impression if they spread the extra cost among all their sizes.) Under $50 is the price I would expect to pay for a Curvy Kate bra in a customs-less and duty-free world.

Right now, Crème Bralée seems to occupy a similar space as Whimsy by Lunaire and Cacique. I hope the design team’s vision will extend to a British JJ because I would love to see Fussy Busty in one of their designs. Gorgeous designs in truly large bust sizes for less than $50 would be a dream come true for American D+ consumers.

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I wanted to try the Bettina in Capri after Liz told me it was their bestseller. The contoured cups were far too shallow on me, and this made me sad because everything else was right about this bra: the band was snug on the loosest hook, the underwires ended where they are supposed to at the side of my breast tissue, and there was no extra space at the bottom of the cups. I so wish I could have everything about this bra in a deeper cup.

Bettina 1

Here are some of the design details that I didn’t notice at the launch event. First, the center gore is actually a sweet black lace.

great black lace center gore for big bust bra

Second, the side bands are in a sheer black stretch lace.

sheer lace band for bettina big bust bra

I had higher hopes that the Colette would fit since it is a two-part cut and sew bra. I could see its mauve color being a happy basic for me (similar to what Claudette offers), but it was not to be. My breasts were less flattened in the Colette, but the cups were still too shallow. Like the Bettina, the band was snug on the loosest hooks, the wires ended exactly at the end of my side breast tissue, and there was no empty space at the bottom of the cup.

Colette 36G from Creme Bralee

I liked the pleated straps a lot, even though that limits our ability to adjust them.

Colette pretty bra for big breasts pleated straps

I also liked the sparkling glass bead at the center gore.

colette center charm on big bust bra

However, I was surprised to find raw edges where the bands attach to the leotard straps. Hopefully this is a production issue that they will address in future runs–unless it’s one of the reasons the price is so low. Interestingly, Colette only has two hooks per column, but the Bettina has three.

big bust bra Colette unfinished seam

If Crème Bralée was designed to fit your bust size, it will fit your wallet size even better with this 20% discount code until June 30: CBLAUNCH20. It applies to all Crème Bralée styles, there’s no minimum order, and it has a one-time use limit per customer. (By the way, if you order matching panties, do NOT open them until you’re sure the bra fits because Crème Bralée will not accept returns of any opened panties.) There’s even a free shipping option!