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 picturesLost in Lingerie‘s review of the French knickers and tie-side briefs includes this amazing video.

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:

warner brief1

warner brief2

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:

warner hipster1

warner hipster2

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:

maidenform boyshort2

maidenform boyshort1

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:

bare thong

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:

bare boyshort1

bare boyshort2

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.

IMG_1258

IMG_1259

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

IMG_1260

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!

A Pressing Issue for Busty Women

 

Leila’s still on hiatus from her Fit Picky column, but today on the Campbell & Kate blog I feature a great tailor’s tool that is perfect for ironing princess seams and bust darts. When it comes to garment upkeep difficulty, I rank pressing bust-friendly clothing just below getting all the extra water out of our handwashed underwire and contour cup bras. If you long for crisp seams across your curves, then check out this option.

bust darts ironing stripe shirt before after

bust dart ironing before after shaped dartbust darts ironing before after campbell plus kate

Corporate Curves Report: Cultural Cleavage – Busts on Magazine Covers

 

I don’t think it’s appropriate to show cleavage in a corporate office, and I’ve often been told that I’m cleavage-shy. In addition to industry norms (ie., advertising versus banking, etc.) and personal style, it turns out that our own personal feelings about the amount of cleavage to display is also tied to cultural norms.

Lola Wallinkoski, ex Miss Finland and Miss Universe second runnerup. Now a television personality, hostess of The  Biggest Loser. She has had a boob job but still opts to wear cleavage revealing clothes.

Lola Wallinkoski, ex Miss Finland and Miss Universe second runner up. Now a television personality and hostess of The Biggest Loser, she has had a boob job but still opts to wear cleavage covering clothes.

I picked this as my topic this week because in the past few weeks the magazine stands at my local stores have had busty women on the covers, but none were actually showing any cleavage. To me, this brilliantly showcases how in my culture, cleavage is so sexualized that women feel objectified easily if they opt to show it.

Janina Fry, ex bikini model and Miss Finland. Now a mother and a clothing line designer. "I've finally learned how to dress my curves with style."

Janina Fry, ex bikini model and Miss Finland, is now a mother, wife and a clothing line designer. She says, “I’ve finally learned how to dress my curves with style,” and talks about how very curvy women are easily objectified if they show skin.

The cleavage issue is complicated since us busty women are always told to wear v-necks to appear more balanced. While that is absolutely true, it causes a dilemma if the body type is such that with even a medium v-neck there will be cleavage on show. For this reason some women, like me, prefer to cover the cleavage. Even though this might enhance the bust area, we prefer that over showing any cleavage.

Satu Silvo, an actress, showing my favorite way of breaking the bust line - wearing a necklace.

Satu Silvo, an actress, showing my favorite way of breaking the bust line – wearing a necklace.

We are quite a busty nation in general, but this is the way busts are mostly dressed in Finland’s media. I suppose if we would grow up seeing well respected women on adverts and magazine covers in cleavage revealing clothes, we might also choose to dress our busts in a different way. However, even Susanna Penttilä, ex Playboy model and now a boutique owner who often wears skimpy clothes, seldom reveals cleavage!

Ex playboy model who seldom wears cleavage revealing clothes these days.

Ex playboy model who seldom wears cleavage revealing clothes these days.

At a recent magazine cover shoot with her young rocker boyfriend, she was dressed rather modestly. I suppose this also might indicate that this is what women would rather see on women’s magazines here in Finland.

More modest look in a weekly womens magazine cover.

More modest look in a weekly women’s magazine cover.

And one final example, an ex fitness model and now a tv-host for a weight loss program.

Jutta

Jutta Gustafsberg, ex fitness model and now a tv-host for a weight loss program on national TV. She’s also had a boob job but the most she seems to reveal is whatever a modest cowl neck will show.

All these recent examples represent the major publications that are on every magazine stand aimed at women. Lads mags, on the other hand, are always tucked away at checkout. I’m sure there are more examples, but these were my wake up to one reason that I personally am cleavage shy and would never show cleavage in my office.