I don’t remember how I first learned about Bare Necessities, but I do remember (and this was before I started blogging) being completely overwhelmed by their selection. I’d only thought about bras, panties, and hosiery as purely functional items…they were there to do a job and that’s it. To see all these pretty, lacy underpinnings? Well, it literally opened up a whole new world for me.
Better still, Bare Necessities made me feel like it was okay to experiment. This was a time when I didn’t know my bra size. I didn’t know my knickers size. I didn’t know which styles of lingerie fit and flattered my body. And, as a graduate student, I really didn’t feel comfortable going into my local lingerie boutique (I lived in the Atlanta area at the time) as I knew everything there would be completely out of my price range. I can’t tell you how many items I bought, tried on (sanitarily, of course), and returned…all without any fuss or pushback from Bare Necessities.
I placed my very first Bare Necessities order on January 31, 2008. Since then, I’ve bought my very first pair of Wolford tights from them. I’ve bought my very first La Perla bra from them. And I’ve bought my very first Le Mystere bra from them. They are still the place I go to for everyday basics from Hanky Panky, Cosabella, and DKNY (I actually just placed another order there last night!). You can’t keep a customer for nearly four years unless you’re doing something right.
Yes, Bare Necessities carries over 200 sizes. Yes, they can cover you if you wear a bra size 32A through 56M. Yes, they make an annual donation to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. But at the end of the day, that isn’t why I shop there. I shop there because I know it’ll always be an easy…no, effortless experience. And I know it’ll be the same for you too.
Have you shopped at Bare Necessities before? What do you think of them?
Founded only in January 2010, Canadian brand Fortnight Lingerie is perhaps most famous for being featured in last year’s ‘Super Sexy CPR‘ viral video. But if next season’s collection is any indication, Fortnight is about to be known for a whole lot more.
Sweet, seductive, and deceptively simple, Fortnight’s clean lines and sumptuous fabrics embody today’s trends in fashionable lingerie. Best of all, Fortnight manufactures sizes 30A-38E. This is definitely my kind of sexy.
The ‘Lola’ lingerie set and ‘Mary Jane’ bodysuit have me absolutely smitten. Which piece is your favorite?
But just in case you need a little more convincing, check out The Lingerie Addict Fan Album on my Facebook page. It’s a place just for TLA readers to strut their supersexy stuff.
Want to be featured? Simply send your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t forget to show some like and comment love to the wonderful ladies featured in this album while you’re there. As the saying goes, the more the merrier!
A few months ago, I was on The Lingerie Addict Twitter talking with a reader, when a retailer said to me, completely out of the blue, “For someone who isn’t a lingerie expert, you sure know a lot about lingerie.”
Now, I wasn’t offended by her comment. I’ve always been completely open and honest about the fact that I’ve never worked for a lingerie boutique, a lingerie brand, or a lingerie designer. I’m proud of being one of the very few lingerie bloggers out there who doesn’t come from a fashion, media, or marketing background. The Lingerie Addict is and always has been about talking lingerie from an everyday woman’s point of view…not from the industry point of view.
(As an aside, if you do want to know what my career has been for the last 7 years, sign up for the Very Important Addict List…I’ve got a special announcement to make tomorrow.)
I don’t believe working in a lingerie boutique is enough in and of itself to make one a lingerie expert. I’ve had a bra fitting at one of the most famous lingerie boutiques in America, and was left unimpressed. And I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of visiting a lingerie boutique and realizing the staff knew very little about the merchandise (which, if you’re a boutique owner reading this, is really not okay).
I don’t believe working for a lingerie brand necessarily makes you a lingerie expert either.You’ll learn that particular brand’s products inside and out, but how much of your knowledge is generalizable to other brands? Not to mention the inherent conflict of interest in working for one brand–you’re automatically inclined to think their products are best for everyone…when that may not be the case.
And, to bring things a little bit closer to home, I don’t believe being a writer or an editor (yes, even a writer or editor of a lingerie publication) automatically makes you an expert. As I mentioned in this lingerie article, one of the lesser-known secrets of the lingerie industry (and of fashion in general) is that the brand with the biggest PR team wins. Which means there is a lot of amazing lingerie we never, ever hear about.
I guess what I’m asking is the same question from the title, “What makes someone a lingerie expert?” I don’t think you have to be an “expert” to know what fits and flatters your body, or to know what you like and don’t like. And you certainly don’t need to live in a fashion capital or have a huge lingerie budget to be an expert…though I think that’s the message we get from the media sometimes.
I’ve said a lot about what I don’t think so far…so here’s what I do think. I think every woman has the ability and the capacity to become a lingerie expert, even if you’re just a lingerie expert for yourself. Being passionate about lingerie, being curious about lingerie, being well-informed about lingerie, and being willing to make a lingerie mistake or two…that’s what makes you an expert (and a lingerie addict too, for that matter). It’s not necessarily about being told what to wear or telling others what to wear, it’s about caring enough to make sure you are wearing the best possible undies you can. That your lingerie fits, flatters, and makes you feel like the amazing woman you already are.
I know this a controversial position. I’m basically saying that everyone’s a lingerie expert…or that no one’s a lingerie expert. But I’ve been turning this question over for awhile, and I’m really interested in what other people have to say. So what do you think, dear readers? What makes someone a lingerie expert? Can we all be lingerie experts? Are lingerie experts helpful at all? Share your thoughts in the comments below. I read every single one of them.
Rompers and Onesies and Teddies…oh MY! The one-piece dressing trend has a lot of women worried, but the teddies I’m talking about have nothing to do with claws and teeth, so don’t be afraid!
Rompers have been flouncing around the streets and runways for a few seasons, and they are nowhere sexier than in the boudoir. As a designer, I love designing rompers and teddies. Because they hug the body and visually create one sleek shape for the torso, they are a canvas for creating incredibly flattering and sexy detailing. They can be used to highlight a tiny waist or cute derriere, while drawing attention away from areas that some ladies would rather keep on the DL.
So many women love them–on the hanger. Customers say to me all the time, “I LOVE this, but I could never WEAR it!” Au contraire, ladies.
Here are some tips from someone who designs , loves, and WEARS teddies:
Not ready to go full teddy yet? There’s nothing more playful or alluring than a little peek of teddy under your civilian clothes. A deep V cardigan or top, or a flowy blouse with open armholes can be perfect introductions for a little ruffle or lace to say hello to the world. The world, in turn, will do a double take….and say a friendly hello back.
For a sporty look like Gwen Stefani’s, try multiple layers with contrast colors. Or if you want a more delicate look, try it with just a tiny bit of lace visible. Remember, a little lace goes a long way, so keep your outer layer simple and your lacy piece mostly covered. To really show off your favorite opaque teddy, try it with a high-waisted long skirt or pants.
2) Sun and Fun!
Who says loungewear is only for lounging inside? Summertime and early Fall are practically invitations to rename your romper a “cover-up” and take it to the pool or beach! So lounge away in your swimsuit and romper–and accessorize with some bright wedges and lip gloss, and maybe a bronzed lifeguard or two.
3) Let Me Teddy into Something More Comfortable…
A couple glasses of wine, a romantic dinner…you disappear into your bedroom and then emerge in a stunning teddy and a robe just barely closed…his jaw drops…need I say more? Here is a pick from my own line and a picture of the mistress of teddies, Bettie Page!
So what are you waiting for? Get romping, ladies! Tell us how you like to wear you teddies in the comments.
As a lingerie designer I am constantly on the look out for new and innovative labels from which I gain inspiration and ideas. Now I’m not talking about knocking off original designs (which I do not condone) – I’m talking about searching around for new silhouettes, fabrics or details that can help me to gain insight into what the upcoming trends may be and helping to forecast what will become top sellers a year from now.
Well, after my recent trip to Paris and London to visit some lingerie trade shows and trend services, I have scouted out a handful of start up labels that I feel have lots of potential to make it to the top. Here are a few of those new brands that I plan on keeping a special eye on in the next few seasons!
Shell Belle Couture was recently started by Michelle Blenkinsopp in an attempt to create a luxury lifestyle brand with beautiful feminine details and vintage undertones. And after viewing her newest collection of lace and mesh underpinnings I think you’ll agree that her venture is already a success. Based out of London, Shell Belle uses delicate, lightweight fabrics in some unique and innovative ways, which include antique replicas of eyelash lace, dainty swiss dotted mesh and thoughtfully placed embellishments & bow ties. This luxurious collection is sure to make any woman feel feminine and demure.
Obey My Demand sounds more like an S&M club then a lingerie label but once you check out these designs you will understand why. Creator Leanne Brooke’s new London based brand utilizes a mix of leather and mesh for her avante garde pieces that are equal parts sexy and equal parts rock & roll. Bold cut outs, metallic studs & layers of mesh ruffles make each piece a contradiction of arousing delight. These pieces are not for the faint of heart, which is evident in OMD fan Lady Gaga who sported a sexy leather bra & panty set for her “Born This Way” music video. Oh, and did I mention that OBD just won 2011 “New Designer of the Year” at the UK lingerie awards? I definitely have my eye on this new talent!
A more conservative yet equally beautiful label recently launched is Fraulein Annie by Frauke Nagel which is also designed out of London. With expert craftsmanship and romantic detailing it is easy to see these designs making it big in the mainstream population with its feminine glamour. The current collection is not only stylish but also touted as fashionable shapewear that is easily worn under everyday clothing. With its wide selection of bra cup sizes ranging from size A-G and its advanced, comfort focused fabrics, these pieces are within realistic reach for many of us practical girls and will most likely become an object of my next upcoming lingerie investment.
And finally we have Electric Ibiza – a new line just launched last year by Emma Jean Sharpe out of Ibiza, Spain. These cheeky designs are sexy and edgy with a hint of European flair. The newest collection showcases linear details, transparencies & one piece bodysuits that are designed to be worn as outerwear as well as innerwear. And with pieces this daring & unexpected, any fashion risk taker would look forward to showing off one of these attention-grabbing pieces during a night out on the town.
I wish I could share with you all of the highlights from this seasons shows, but there are just so many great new start ups all worthy of their own attention – it’s almost impossible to just pick a few! I look forward to seeing what these new labels will bring to the table next season and hope they all continue to inspire and impress. Which are your favorites? Tell me in the comments!
I personally have a major love hate relationship with toiling. A bad toile can affect my mood for the rest of the day. Having spent sometimes hours drafting the pattern for your design from scratch, it’s necessary to mock up the garment in cheap fabric (ideally with similar qualities to the final fabric) in order the check fit and make final decisions on finishing techniques, trims and componentry, this is called toiling.
A perfectly fitting first toile is very rare, and not something I’ve been lucky enough to experience yet.
Once toiling, the garment (in this case a Peep Bra from outfit 2 of my Final Major Project range) is fit on a model and necessary adjustments are made. There will usually be a number of issues with the fit of a first toile, some with obvious solutions and some which require further experimentation. It’s this further experimentation that I sometimes love, but often loath.
There’s nothing more satisfying than resolving a problem with the fit which you initially had no idea how to tackle. However, there’s nothing more frustrating than re-toiling time and time again and not seeming able the tackle the problem. Usually I’ll expect to toile a bra between 4 and 8 times before I’m entirely happy with the fit.
Above are some pages from my FMP sketchbook analysing the fit of garments in the toiling process.
6) Fabric Choice Fabric choices are crucial to the success of a collection or range. Usually it’s the bit that designers love, but it’s the bit that panics me more than anything. The wrong decision here can make or break a range (as I learnt two days before a catwalk last November, where I’d chosen terrible fabrics that, when put together, resembled a 14 year olds ice skating costume. Some tears and chocolate later I remade everything in beautiful navy cotton velvet, a much more elegant choice) so I knew I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice.
I’d bought a tiny scrap of stunning olive green silk satin at a fabric sale, and had my heart set on it for my FMP, but couldn’t get my hands on a decent quantity of the stuff anywhere. When I did eventually find it in a tiny shop in Shepherds Bush (London), I bought the whole roll for fear of never finding it again. I then sent the silk satin off to be hand pleated (within the UK), therefore developing my own unique fabric with its own individual texture.
As the pleated silk satin was so luxurious and shiny, I paired it with wonderfully soft chenille / moleskin type fabric. My initial research lead me to the earthy colours which I ended up using.
When selecting fabrics for lingerie, a stretch element is key so that the garment fits as well as possible. Most women will find that the majority of the pieces in their lingerie draw contain some element of stretch fabric.
7) Technical Work
The technical work is the time consuming bit, which you either have the patience for, or you don’t, but either way it’s entirely unavoidable and most be completely fully and accurately at any cost.
The specification sheets are crucial if you are sending your garments to been constructed in a factory (either at home or abroad) as they contain every single detail you could possibly think to include, to the millimetre.
The idea of the specification sheets is that they’re so detailed that the factory don’t need the sample to work off (but they get one anyway), as every pain straking fact is documented. Spec packs include a general technical drawing of the garment, a method of make for the factory, a detailed list of all measurements on the final piece, information on the pattern pieces and a list of componentry, so they know which bit goes where.
Below shows the some of the technical work to support the Peep style bra from my FMP.
8) Final Garment
Constructing the final garment, after so much preparatory work, is the most exciting and nerve racking stage of the whole thing. No matter how prepared you are anything could go wrong, and in a class of 44 girls all highly stressed and focused, I’ve seen some brilliantly prepared people have the worst luck, at the worst moment imaginable.
But somehow, after the stress of 16 hour days for 5 months, it all seems worth it come photoshoot day…
Thank you for letting me take you through the story of a bra. What do you think of the entire process? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
I don’t get out much. Really. My life is a stream of “all dressed up with nowhere to go” days, only that’s kind of how I like it. Oh, I might go swing dancing or to a nice tea house, but that’s about the extent of it. Recently, however, I’ve discovered the joy of traveling large distances, like actually (heaven forbid) leaving the state of California, where I was born and raised.
When corsetry how-to site Foundations Revealed announced a field trip to view the legendary Symington collection in Leicester, England, my interest was piqued. However, it wasn’t until Jenni, of Sparklewren bespoke corsetry, said that she was considering teaching a workshop that I thought I might actually finally make it to the UK. By luck, design, or my continually prodding her on Facebook, the workshop was scheduled for the day before the museum field trip. I bought my plane ticket to England and set out to kill three birds with one stone: view the Symington Collection, attend a corsetry workshop, and visit my sister, who’s been living abroad for seven years.
In the end, I certainly crammed more than three events into my two week stay. Below is a travel diary of where I went, what I did, who I met, and what I bought. (Turns out, what I bought was mostly stockings. Mmmm, stockings.) If you’ve never been abroad before, you’ll find a few helpful tips regarding the regional differences in bra sizes, customer service standards, and how to actually pronounce the names of these towns, etc.
Day 2/3 – Edinburgh (Ed•din•bur•rah)
Oh, Edinburgh. Our romance was far too short. You were the most beautiful city I’ve ever been in. I barely noticed your massive looming castle, too amazed by the age and loveliness of every other building overlooking your confusing, vertically-stacked streets. I arrived too late in the evening, eager to find a hostel and a ladies’ room, then see an Amanda Palmer benefit/ninja gig to save the Forest Cafe arthouse and venue.
The next day my quest for a needle and thread (far harder than it should have been) allowed me to see some of the shops and cafes. The find of the day was definitely a small vintage shop at the beginning of the Grassmarket, where I had my first experience withBritish customer service, which is, in a word: minimal. (By contrast, American customer service might be considered overbearing by a wandering Brit.)
Picture petite little 5’3” me flinging my fingertips at a rack full of vintage girdles above my head, trying to view some sizing information, prices, anything. I’m horrifically shy so brazenly approaching a shopgirl was not an option to be undertaken lightly. No pity was taken in my plight, and I gave up after glimpsing one mildly economically disqualifying price tag. I then returned to the box of vintage stockings and tights, more affordably priced at £2 and up. I left with some 15 denier “Fine Lady” stockings and ’60s “Swinging Super Tops,” £2 and £4 respectively. They cost significantly less than modern-made stockings, and were worth it for the packaging alone.
Day 3 – Newcastle/Durham (Dur•um)
The event of the day was actually to be the Sparklewren workshop, which I’d been eagerly anticipating. As a budding corsetiere, I’ve been making a point to learn from as many are teaching. I think the way of the future is more openness and fewer suspicions between corseting colleagues: we’re all too busy pursuing our own ideas to steal each others’. Fresh innovation has been infiltrating corsetry after a long stagnant period, and the wider variety of designers operating can only serve to attract a broader range of people wearing corsets.
Alison Campbell of Crikey Aphrodite was the only other attendee, so the workshop ended up much more freeform and relaxed than planned. We had a good brainstorming session and discussed construction and patterning techniques. Then the evening devolved into me trying on Sparklewren samples and us all drawing on the chalkboard.
Day 4 – Leicester (Le•ster)
The three of us woke up early to make the long drive to Leicestershire and the Snibston museum, home to the corset collection archived by the Symington corset factory. They’d selected about forty samples, from various eras and makers, for the Foundations Revealed group to examine up-close and hands-on. Additionally, there were many other samples behind glass in their regular fashion exhibit. We were provided with blank notebooks (pencils not included, much to my chagrin). This was a blessing, as my camera had died early on.
Highlights included a very modern looking plunge-neckline piece, ventilated styles, and a corset made out of a tricot knit, as well as their legendary flossing sampler. We all left in a bit of a daze, overwhelmed, very, very inspired, and a bit jealous of the specialty equipment that aided the skilled mass production of period corsets. You can look forward to a particularly fruitful year or two from attending corsetmakers as we process and put into practice the ideas that inspired us. I purchased the book that companioned the collection and a fat stack of postcards, my favorite of which is the Avro Petites ad.
Day 6, 10/11, 13/14 – Chelmsford
Chelmsford, the capital of Essex, is not a particularly famous town, not a tourist destination of any sort, but it does have the advantage in that my older sister lives there and I could stay with her for free. My first find in this sleepy town was a book on the history of “Girlie Magazines.” A later visit to the shop turned up a beautiful book on Marilyn Monroe. As a designer and illustrator, I find I get a lot of inspiration from these sorts of pictoral histories.
The first time I walked past M&S, I was told upon asking that it’s an expensive grocery store. Imagine my puzzlement, then, when I later saw an underwear display in the front window. Apparently it’s more of a department/grocery store and a lot of people buy their underwear at M&S. Not only do they stock a wealth of bras in size 30C (which is what I should wear, except it’s impossible to find in the states), but M&S has a massive selection of retro high waisted panties, which they label as “full briefs.”
The only downside is they are targeted at an older clientelle, so it’s challenging to find any in smaller sizes. Stateside addicts, do be aware that your English size will be two or three sizes larger, and vice versa, of course. I wear a 0/2 here and was a comfortable 6/8 in England. I suspect the vanity sizing trend has not taken them quite so strongly.
And that’s it for the first half of my trip…come back next month for the rest of my UK adventures.