Wishing you and yours the very best that 2015 has to offer!
I know it’s a holiday, but since we’re on a bit of a breather right now, I’d love to hear what you want to see more of on TLA in 2015. Please share your remarks below! As with all our comments, though I don’t always get the chance to reply, I read every single one.
In honor of Small Business Saturday, today we’re republishing this 2010 guest article from Alison of Faire Frou Frou. While TLA is not a blog exclusively for indie boutiques and designers, we do make an effort to feature them as often as possible. Please take a look at our Etsy Lingerie Directory, Corset Directory, and Lingerie Boutiques Directory for more small businesses you can support during the holiday season.
I can’t tell you how happy I am to feature a guest post from the lovely, fashionable, and incredibly business savvy Alison Rubke of the world-famous lingerie boutique Faire Frou Frou (seriously…Dita von Teese shops there!). Not only is Faire Frou Frou one of the best lingerie boutiques in the nation, they also have a very popular fashion lingerie blog–Frou Frou Fashionista. As one of the inspirations for getting my own lingerie blog started, it’s an absolute honor to feature an article from them here. Today, Alison is here to talk about what makes shopping at a luxury lingerie boutique different from the typical ‘big box’ store in the mall.
There’s a reason why specialty lingerie boutiques can successfully hold their own in a world of big name department stores…and we’re here to tell you why!
The idea behind a specialty lingerie store is quite simply to provide experience, guidance and excellent customer service as relates to intimate apparel. Sounds pretty simple, right? There are certain advantages to shopping specialty stores that set them apart from your experience at the big guys. We will explore those Pros and will also provide our tips to making your experience in those lingerie shops more enjoyable.
The ADVANTAGES of shopping at a specialty lingerie boutique (such as Faire Frou Frou!):
• An intimate setting where a customer can receive one-on-one consultation and advice regarding his/her needs.
• Access to unique brands
• Ability to special-order a size/color/brand that is not in stock.
• Knowledgeable sales staff. You will work with someone who knows the products well, can tell you when new items are expected to arrive, knows what the trends are for the forthcoming season, has a working relationship with most of the designers/vendors so as to pass along any advice/suggestions you may have, and someone who can properly assess whether an item fits correctly or not.
• A small boutique wants to build long-term relationships with its customers. That being said, we (at Faire Frou Frou) would never suggest an ill-fitting item to a customer just to make a quick sale because we know that customer will never want to come back. We provide honest advice and will even suggest another store if we do not have what someone is looking for. We are very open to providing customers with addresses/websites to other stores or names of brands we do not carry. Customer service like that is forward-thinking and goes a long way.
• A specialty boutique can handle customized and specific requests.
• A smaller store will typically go out of its way to make the customer happy because their business is their passion and their livelihood.
• As the owner of Faire Frou Frou, I make a point of working in the store at least 4-5 days a week to stay in touch with what the customers want. Our experiences with each customer only make us that much better for the next customer who comes in.
• We handle our own social networking, which means we access the opinions and suggestions of potential customers worldwide. We are passionate about what we do and absorb as much advice as we can.
• If anything, a lot of our customers just don’t want to deal with going to the mall!
• Different specialty boutiques have different niche markets. For instance ours is a focus on luxury lingerie, but for others their store specialty may be mastectomy bras, nursing bras, pin-up/rockabilly, plus-size, small-busts, foundations, etc.
Based on the customers we have worked with, here are our TIPS for ladies/gents before going lingerie shopping:
• Be open-minded to trying different sizes. You may be surprised that you wear a 34C in one brand a perfectly fit a 36B in another. So many people can be so rigid about their size! The average customer is unaware that a British bra is often sized differently than a French or American bra…which means you will certainly fit in different sizes in different brands.
• Gentlemen, please do your homework! Knowing her size before you go shopping will make the experience that much easier. You can either peek in her drawer for her sizes, or just ask her!
• Lingerie shopping can be so much more than just Bras and Panties; you have the option of chemises, robes, PJs, bustiers, Camisoles, Hosiery, etc. We always suggest stockings with a lingerie ensemble; it really takes the whole look up a notch.
• Keep in mind that a specialty boutique is accustomed to helping people with very specific needs.
• Don’t be sorry about your size! We tend to notice our small-busted customers apologizing for “being too small”…that’s nonsense! Keep in mind that we see a lot of breasts on a daily basis…like a doctor, we’ve seen it all so there’s nothing to be ashamed of and it’s our job to find the brands that suit you best!
• Some customers feel there is something wrong with their body because they have a hard time finding the right bra…that is not true at all. These customers just have not found the right brand or style yet. There’s a reason there are so many brands to choose from; one bra style/brand does not work on everyone. The right bra for each person is out there somewhere!
• If you do not feel 100% pleased with how you look in an item, do not buy it. We always know when a customer has found the right item when they have an exclamation of excitement from the fitting room!
• We have quite a few customers who shop for Bridal gifts. Sometimes it’s hard to buy your friend a bra (it’s such a personal preference), so we suggest finding a gift that runs sizes small, medium, large, etc. because there’s more wiggle room with fit. Also, if you are completely stumped on what size to buy for a gift, be creative and put together an assortment of accessories (like a pair of stockings and accessories by Maison Close or Booty Parlor…or perhaps Delicates Wash…anything that isn’t so specific with sizing).
• Just because you were ill-fitted and bought the wrong bra at a chain store, doesn’t mean all lingerie stores are that way. Give the specialty boutique a chance! We are prepared to have customers come in and request a bra fitting.
• If a lingerie boutique has an online store, take a peek at it before heading in to shop…some of our customers come in with a shopping list from our website which makes the experience that much easier!
We hope these tips help you out…it’s just a bit of lingerie wisdom that we have gained in our experience in the industry.
Here on the East Coast we have been experiencing abnormally warm weather for the past few weeks. The flowers are budding, the birds are singing and New Yorkers are already breaking out their flip flops! While I am really hoping this is not a sign of global warming I’m also welcoming these signs of spring with an extra bounce in my step and the reintroduction of bold, unabashed color into my wardrobe.
This season, color is popping up as far as the eye can see. Pastels are big & neons are plentiful. Who can resist a smooth mint green or vibrant, energetic orange? Certain colors are able to inflict an emotional response in us and can help to either lift our spirits or bring us back to our zen. Therefore this season I propose to inject some new hues into our lingerie wardrobes for a little bit of personal color therapy. And with the craveworthy pieces some of our favorite designers have released this season there is a style for every color personality. Just follow the ROYGBIV spectrum!
Red is the color of strength, vitality and determination. It has optimistic undertones and a dramatic allure, appealing to those individuals who crave the spotlight and live life to the fullest. Red is also a widely used color in lingerie with its vamped up sexual appeal. While we often tend to see a deeper more sultry shade in lingerie, Lascivious has come out with a lighter raspberry tone that I just can’t get enough of. Still sexy and alluring the Kitty three piece set is more flirtatious than seductive which is perfect for the start of spring.
Kris Soonik “Susan Motion”
Orange is the color of youth, curiosity and warmth. Lovers of orange tend to be optimistic and fun loving and enjoy the popularity and socialness that comes along with it. While this color is much less mainstream, especially in lingerie, it still contains a strong happy factory that just can’t be ignored. And for 2012, Pantone, the leader in color forecasting, has predicted Tangerine Tango to be their top color of the year. So get ready to see more orange on the runways and in stores this season! One beautiful piece is the Susan Motion bodysuit by Kriss Soonik. This orange is bright, yet not over the top and is sure to lift your mood when your feeling blah.
Mimi Holliday “Fizz Gig”
Yellow is the color of creativity, wisdom and good cheer. It inspires a sunny outlook and freedom of thought while supporting an adventurous tenacity. Yellow is also a tricky color in fashion as it can be difficult to harmonize with certain skin tones. However lately there has been a growing affinity towards yellows with different brands showcasing various shades from pastels to citrus, canary to gold. One such bold label is Mimi Holliday which has recently introduced its Fizz Gig collection. This lemon colored group is accented with adorable lavender bows for a fresh new take on spring style.
Behati Prinsloo for Princesse Tam Tam
Green is the color of peace, harmony and hope. Lovers of green tend to be gentle, caring and self-aware. It is also the color of new beginnings and can increase a sense of well being and calmness in others. Green is also known as being a tough sell in intimate apparel however it has been getting an overhaul lately as evident in this gorgeous green lace set from Princesse Tam Tam, aptly named the Joy bra and boxer. The vibrant color is shocking – almost on the verge of neon but still manages to evoke a sense of balance and freshness.
Blue is the color of poise, charm and tranquility. It is the most popular color of the spectrum and often used by businesses to evoke a calming and peaceful atmosphere. It inspires solitude, serenity and open mindedness, which we all long for in these days of plugged-in, stress filled reality. This sophisticated set from Myla does just that. The cool shade of blue is serene and charming in silky satin. Blue has also been said to be the color of good taste which is evident in this refined yet sexy collection.
La Lilouche “Anouk”
Indigo is the color of introspection, compassion and truth. While sometimes difficult to differentiate from blue, indigo has a more royal and refined connotation and tends to be favored by a more serious and conservative personality. However that doesn’t mean that indigo can’t be sexy and playful! In fact indigo has long been used in lingerie to lend a sophisticated flare to sultry pieces, like this Anouk romper by La Lilouche. Classy and understated, this chiffon one piece has a nonchalant sexiness with its sparkly straps and back ruffles.
Violet is the color of authority, royalty and eccentricity. Chances are if you are a lover of purple you tend to be artistic and unique with a witty personality and eccentric character. Take this Cupcake bra set from Huit. The noble color exudes confidence and poise while the scalloped edges and sheer fabric are both quirky and distinctive. This look is clean and easy to wear while still offering that je ne se quoi that purple lovers so avidly possess.
Dirty Pretty Things “Eloise Fluro”
Ok, pink may not be on the official color wheel but there is no denying its place in fashion and specifically in lingerie. Pink is one of the top sellers in the intimate apparel market and its clear to see why.
Pink is the color of romance, affection and fragility. Those who gravitate towards pink tend to be gentle, sensitive and mild tempered while an affinity towards the bolder magenta end of the spectrum yields a more individualistic and non-conformist charm. This Eloise bodysuit by Dirty Pretty Things makes quite the statement with its contrast trim and vibrant hue. This piece will demand attention without you having to say a word.
What are your favorite spring colors this season? Let us know how you plan on incorporating them into your wardrobe!
Today’s “Why Do Lingerie Retailers” feature is a short one, but a good one. One of the questions that’s come up a lot within the lingerie community (and the fashion community in general, really) is “Why don’t retailers hire a model in each size to show how the clothing looks on a range of body types?” Sounds pretty reasonable, right?
Here’s what Catherine had to say–
Put plainly, it’s money. Photoshoots are amazingly expensive. I get an amazing all-in-one deal (model/photographer/makeup artist/stylist) with Morgana but even I tend to skimp on other things – like the back shots of garments. Cost is also why people often don’t vary their models much. Each model comes with a separate fee, agency fee, and arrangements. Unless you are Marc Jacobs.
Eveden, which owns the brands Huit, Fantasie, Fauve, Freya, Goddess, and Elomi, teaches a bra fit seminar at Curve every market season. It’s always well-attended, and after hearing great things about the class from Elisabeth Dale (of The Breast Life) and Laurie Shapiro (of Toad Lillie), I had to go. And I’m glad I did because it was definitely an eye-opener.
Video Screenshot – Me in the Wacoal Lace Embrace
If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that I’m really honest about not being a bra fitter. I’ve never worked in a lingerie boutique. I can’t look at you and guess your size. I’m rubbish with a tape measure. Basically, I have no qualifications whatsoever to fit you for a bra.
All the same, I get a ton of questions in my inbox every week asking about bra fit. And while I’m still not a fit expert of any kind, this short video will tell you if your bra is doing okay or if it’s time to go in and get resized. I recently went up a cup size myself (from a 34B to a 34C) and when I used these bra fit criteria in my old bra size and my new bra size, I definitely noticed the difference.
If you don’t have time to watch the bra fit video right now, here are the key takeaways from it:
There are 3 places you can easily check on your bra to determine if it’s fitting you the right way or the wrong way: the gore, the underwires, and the band.
The center gore (the bit of fabric between the cups) should lie flat against your breastbone with no gaps or spaces.
The underwires should completely surround the breast. There shouldn’t be any breast tissue outside, over, or under the cup. You can test this by pressing on the outside edge of your underwire – it should be laying against your ribcage, directly on the bone.
The band, where most of your support comes from, should be horizontal the ground, not riding up or dipping down. It also shouldn’t be so tight against your body that it hurts or bruises.
I hope you enjoy watching this video, and that if you’re new to bra fitting, it helps you figure out what to do next. If you have any bra fit tips and tricks of your own to share, I’d love to read them in the comments.
Curvy Kate’s “Star in a Bra” Competition is set to America any day now. The “Star in a Bra” search finds a natural, D+ cup woman (i.e. no implants) to become the literal face and body of the brand, appearing in all their campaigns, advertisements, and PR promotions. Without invoking the tired “Real Women” debate, I am extremely happy that Curvy Kate uses real customers in their ads – everyday women who actually wear their bras.
I first saw Fleur of England’s “Dash of Lime” collection as last year’s Curve Lingerie Show, but since it was super new, I couldn’t photograph it yet (and understandably so, since many luxury lines are ripped off almost immediately after the show). I haven’t stopped thinking about it though, and when I saw the impossibly nice Fleur of England ladies during this year’s lingerie market, they told me I could finally share the awesomeness that is this collection with you.
What I love most about Fleur of England’s “Dash of Lime” series is that it perfectly melds lingerie and fashion. So many people think of those as two completely separate worlds, but there’s really a lot of overlap between them, and Fleur of England proves that again and again. Not only is the hyper-neon lime green perfectly on trend for this season, so is the luxurious lace. This is statement making lingerie, and what’s the point of luxury lingerie at all, if it doesn’t make a statement?
The “Dash of Lime” collection isn’t yet available, but the rest of Fleur of England’s exquisite collections can be purchased in their online lingerie boutique.
I was going back through my blog archives earlier this week, and I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t made a post about being on Pinterest! Though I’ve only been on the service for a few months now, I love it. It’s a great way of keeping track of what inspires me without things getting lost the way they sometimes do on blog-style formats (like Twitter and Tumblr). If you’re on Pinterest too, please give me your link in the comments…I’d love to check out your boards!
Today’s article is the first in what I hope is a new, regular column titled “Why Do Lingerie Retailers…?” I was talking with Catherine (from Kiss Me Deadly) on Facebook chat a few weeks ago, and asking her about all the weird things lingerie retailers do (and by weird, I mean, “things I don’t understand because I’ve never worked in the lingerie industry.”)
Catherine, being the incredibly obliging, patient, and kind soul that she is, answered all my questions and at the end we realized this would make a really fantastic column…because chances are if I have those questions, tons of other people do too. The first column is about a question both of us get asked a lot, namely – Why are size ranges limited? Here’s what she had to say –
Catherine: I once wrote a huge thing about this containing some basic stats ideas, and I’m going to return to that, but because it’s pleasingly simple and very gross, let’s talk fingers first. A small amount of people have no fingers. Some people have less than 10. And a very few people have extra fingers (depending on your definition of fingers). This means that the average number of fingers is less than 10. But would you make gloves with less than 10 fingers? No, because the average isn’t always the same as the most common – which, in this case, is 10 ( or 8 fingers and 2 thumbs, for the pedants).
Now lets talk more complicated stuff like dress sizes and bra sizes. There are many dress sizes and even more bra sizes. When you get big numbers, like dress sizes for everyone in the UK, magic things happen to your numbers. Just under 70% of people will fall into the sizes around the most common size. So if you’re a mainstream retailer, how will you make the most money? Do multiple styles in the most common sizes? Or invest heavily in a few ranges that cover all the sizes?
Yep, it’s the first one. However, if you are a specialist, catering to the 15% who are at the top or bottom of the distribution, well then you can concentrate on those less common sizes and do as many styles as you can in that range. But the catch is you only ever target that demographic.
If you’re a big retailer, obviously you’ll do a bit of both. The bulk will be ranges in the usual sizes, with a few brands you have to meet the niche demographics. But if you’re a smaller brand? Well, you just don’t have the negotiating power and the economies of scale those larger companies do, and so you carry fewer sizes. As the saying goes, “It’s not you, it’s us!”