Posts by Holly

Polish Bra Review: Anna Pardal and Comexim

Florence Bra by Anna Pardal and Comexim

Florence Bra by Anna Pardal and Comexim

This set was purchased with my own funds. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This is the second blog in a series covering all of the various Polish bra brands that cater to full busts, so please go check out my first piece on Ewa Michalak if you haven’t seen it already!

Comexim is the second Polish bra brand I’m covering, mostly because they’re the easiest to come by in the US. They’re sold at three boutiques: A Sophisticated Pair, Wellfitting.com and Zathiya Lingerie. However, each boutique carries different kinds of stock and has a different relationship with Comexim and its collaborative line by Anna Pardal. Zathiya carries Comexim in stock, which means if they have your size and you want your bra quickly that’s the one place you can buy from. Wellfitting functionally deals with Comexim on your behalf, along with offering sizing advice. A Sophisticated Pair can access all of Anna Pardal and Comexim, but all items are special order and have a reasonable wait time.

Comexim sizing, like most Polish bra sizing, works differently than US or UK sizing. I actually contacted Wellfitting ages ago about ordering though them and asked about sizing: they told me I’d be a G cup. Despite not knowing anything about Comexim sizing, I assumed that was totally off base. I’m glad I did, because after two tries through A Sophisticated Pair I’ve finally figured out that 38HH is my size.

Finally, let’s talk about the Anna Pardal line versus Comexim itself. Anna Paradal is a designer who works in collaboration with Comexim. She designs bras using their great construction, with higher-end materials than the original Comexim line.

Okay, now sit back and breathe. Got all that?

To make it easy, I’ve ordered both Comexim sets I’ve tried through A Sophisticated Pair. Erica is great with sizing, knows both lines inside out and can talk you through the scary and varied world of customization options that Comexim offers. When my first bra was almost there but not quite, she took a look at some pictures that I sent and helped me figure out what to change, including adding in some customization options that really helped. I ended up having the gore lowered and the straps moved on this bra, which helped alleviate some issues I had with the first one. While I thought the customizations helped, they didn’t quite solve all of my fit issues like I thought they might. For more details on available customization options, check out this post from A Sophisticated Pair that takes you through all of them. In my case, the customizations were designed to make the straps more comfortable and help the gore tack. While the strap adjustment did help with comfort (I’m working around a very specific nerve issue in my left shoulder, so this may not apply to others) the gore adjustment didn’t make the central gore tack. It’s better, but the customization didn’t take care of the issue entirely.

Florence Bra by Anna Pardal

Florence Bra by Anna Pardal

This Florence set is so new that it’s not actually up on the Anna Pardal website yet. As I said before, this is a 38HH with customization. My UK bra size is reliably 36H, so this is the closest I’ve gotten. That said, you can see that this still isn’t perfect. The gore customization was to help the central gore tack, but it still doesn’t. I also still get some issues with my breast tissue migrating towards the center, which I never get in my Elomi plunges. Having said all that, the issue isn’t the bra — just that my breasts and this line don’t get along as well as I’d like. I’ve still worn this a fair amount, since lots of the issues aren’t visible under a t-shirt or a tight dress. My slouching in this picture probably doesn’t help.

Various views of the Florence Bra

Various views of the Florence Bra

I’ve heard that Anna Pardal and Comexim are still experimenting with designs above an HH+ cup, so Id be willing to give this line another try in the future if they made some changes. I’m also someone who wears lots of UK-based bra brands with zero issues, so I may not have the right shape or breast tissue type to make this line work. Lots of women swear by these and think they’re a godsend, but they also tend to have more trouble with UK-based bra brands than I do. Do I like Comexim? Yes, especially when it comes to their fantastic and original designs. Would I take this over my beloved Elomi plunges or a Bravissimo half cup? Probably not.

Have you tried Comexim or Anna Pardal? What customization options do you use when you order from the brand?

Holly

Holly

The Full Figured Chest provides creative and elegant copywriting for the high end lingerie industry.

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Should Lingerie Companies Charge the Same Price For Standard and Plus Sizes?

Beach Blanket Bingo Swimsuit in Plus Size

Beach Blanket Bingo Swimsuit in Plus Size

Beach Blanket Bingo Swimsuit

Beach Blanket Bingo Swimsuit

A few weeks ago we talked about the term plus sizes and whether it was useful to the current lingerie climate or not. Today I’m going to talk about a related issue that comes up a lot when plus sizes are discussed: pricing. Specifically, we’re going to tackle the great debate surrounding whether plus size lingerie should be priced the same as standard size lingerie. I’ll start with my honest opinion: I don’t have an issue with plus size lingerie being more expensive than lingerie in smaller size. Honestly, I think if everyone understood the way retail pricing really works, we wouldn’t be having this debate at all.

Today I’m going to break a complicated emotional and retail issue down into three smaller discussions that I hope will help illuminate this issue.

1. When most retail companies price a standard size item and a plus size item at the same value, that value normally is set at what the plus size item costs.
In reality, smaller sizes do come in at a lower wholesale cost. This makes sense: they use less fabric, take less development and sometimes need less tailoring than plus sizes do. When you pay the same price at an online retailer, you’re generally paying the price for the plus size item. Yes, this makes the pricing “equal,” but in this case equal is far from fair.

2. If we start pushing “equal” pricing, retailers will just start skimping on fabric and construction on plus sizes pieces.
If you want to see this at work, look at any Walmart or Target. Cute stuff that is reasonably decent in the standard size clothing departments and a swath of ugly that is hidden away in the plus size departments. Access to great plus size lingerie and clothing is enough of a battle currently — if customers attempt to force down pricing any lower, our options will be even worse.

Ever noticed how cheaper plus size lingerie is really plain and disposable? The stuff that costs extra is what will go first: soft fabrics, pretty patterns, extra support and underwires that actually fit. I don’t want to live in that world and I suspect you don’t either.

3. Developing larger sizes takes time and serious funding.
Developing lingerie in larger sizes takes more time and effort than it does in smaller sizes. Bodies become less standard in plus sizes and cup size design becomes much more of an effort beyond a G cup or so. This is why so many lingerie lines stick with D through G sizing – it’s cheaper and easier to develop. I’m happy to pay more for bras that are fashion forward and well made.

The reality is pretty simple: a larger piece of lingerie takes more material, time, and frequently more development than a smaller size. Quality fabrics are expensive, as are all of the parts of well made piece of lingerie. Instead of comparing pricing, I’d love to see customers embracing more speciality designers. It’s unrealistic to expect one brand to do everything in terms of sizing (especially without changing price points), so to me it makes sense to support brands that are experts in your size and shape.

Holly

Holly

The Full Figured Chest provides creative and elegant copywriting for the high end lingerie industry.

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The Dark Side of Body Positivity: Body Snark in the Lingerie Blogging Community

Korpulente Taille

In 2012, The Lingerie Addict became a Body Snark Free Zone. Lots of other websites have followed: in fact, most lingerie blogs proudly display Cora’s anti-body-snark free graphic and frequently declare that all bodies are good bodies. So why am I so depressed about the the body positive movement and lingerie blogging?

I don’t talk a lot about myself in these columns, but today I want to start with the basics as they’re relevant to some of my complaints: I’m 29 years old and a size 14. I’m a 34HH/36H bra size. While I like to think I am perfectly fine looking, I am not a part-time model. I do not have a traditional model’s body shape. I work as a marketing writer and a consultant for the lingerie industry, so I deal with bloggers both from a personal perspective and from a business one every day. I have been both a size 6 as a teenager and my current size (and everything in between), so I’ve experienced both sides of the skinny/fat coin.

All of this is to say that I am completely unlike most of the lingerie bloggers out there, including many of them who run blogs that are dedicated to plus size lingerie. Lingerie blogging, like most aspects of the fashion industry, continues to get younger and whiter as time goes on. It also continues to get both skinnier and more idealized in terms of shape.

At the same time, the body positive movement has become trendy. While some bloggers truly believe this, many bloggers feel compelled to pay lip service to it to make their audience feel better. I interact a lot with bloggers in many different facets of my life and I truly can’t count the number of times I’ve seen “body positive” bloggers freak out over having to go a size up in underwear sample (because they don’t want to be “fat” and “disgusting”) or talk about how they love plus size ladies but would just hate themselves if they gained any weight beyond their small size.

We live in a world where being body positive means starting your statement with “I love plus size women, but…” and then making whatever fat phobic statement you were going to make anyway. These bloggers are generally in their early 20s, white and wear small sizes — but they’ve figured out that jumping on the the body positive train is the one that will help them get more readers. This frequently leaves me frustrated on both a personal and professional level. When I have a client who wants to work with bloggers to advertise a body positive product, do I send them to bloggers I know are making nasty comments about plus size women behind the scenes? Or do I tactfully steer them elsewhere, to bloggers with sincere attitudes but generally smaller numbers? I struggle with the nasty hidden side of lingerie blogging on a weekly basis due to my job and I don’t have an answer yet.

The two most visible figures in the plus size lingerie blogging world are arguably Georgina Horne of Fuller Figure Fuller Bust and Tess Holliday, who recently signed a groundbreaking contract with MiLK Model Management. I know from experience that Georgina is a genuinely lovely person and Tess has a face that feels like something out of classic Hollywood. They are both doing something important for plus size ladies who are interested in lingerie, but as time goes on I can’t ignore the nagging question at the back of my head: where are blogs that show the rest of us?

I’ve talked before about why I feel compelled to post lingerie pictures online, both here and on my own blog. It’s not because I love my body 100% of the time. In fact, some days the ideas of posting pictures of myself in lingerie online feels really uncomfortable. But I think it’s necessary. Realistically, I don’t represent that much diversity from these other bloggers. I’m on the small end of plus size and I’m still fairly hourglass shaped. I’m not a model — even part-time. I struggle to keep lipstick off my teeth (when I remember to wear it) and have stretch marks I can’t get rid of. I vividly remember how much more people liked me when I was thin and struggle to maintain relationships from my childhood now that I’m heavier — at least without a fair amount of anger involved on my part. I hate the raised eyebrows I get when I want to order dessert in a restaurant on a special occasion. I hate that I eat fish four days a week and people openly assume all I eat is pizza and fried chicken. I am not alone in any of this, which is why posting underwear photos feels so important to me. I am the kind of plus size that is not society approved. I’m not in the “acceptable fat” category. I’m just fat and getting through life like everyone else.

I would love to see a world of lingerie blogging that genuinely included everyone: all races, all sizes, all ability levels. But it seems like, as the body positive movement becomes more popular on the surface, the playing field for bloggers shrinks. I used to feel like blogging was just a matter of being courageous and putting yourself out there, but now I feel like it’s harder than that. Would people really read a lingerie blog written by a woman in a wheelchair? Would they actually show up for a blog featuring ladies over size 20 who weren’t built like models? In many cases, I think the answer is no.

When I was younger I used to feel like combating fat phobia was just a matter of educating people and putting yourself out there. Now that I’m older, I’ve realized how deeply ingrained it is in our society. The only difference is that we’ve put this shiny body positive gloss on it so it makes it harder to find and harder to combat. Body positivity may be popular, but the real question is if society is ready to embrace it yet.

Holly

Holly

The Full Figured Chest provides creative and elegant copywriting for the high end lingerie industry.

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Fashion, Fatphobia and Finance: My Thoughts on ‘Droptheplus’

droptheplus_still_just_a_circle.jpg

It’s been a big month for plus size news! We’ve had the Lane Bryant #imnoangel campaign and the response to it and now the #droptheplus awareness campaign is taking over the internet. If this doesn’t sound familiar, here are the basics: the #droptheplus campaign was started in Australia and aims to convince the fashion and modeling industries to stop using the term “plus size.” In their ideal world, any model would simply be labeled as a model and plus size sections would be combined with standard size clothing sections in stores. #droptheplus argues that calling people “plus size” sets them apart in a negative way, so it needs to be removed from use.

There is an issue here with differentiating what fashion considers plus size from what the average person considers plus size. While a size 10 may technically be plus size, I suspect many women who wear a size 10 don’t identify that way. A size 10 woman also wouldn’t experience harassment, rejection and all of the fat shaming that comes with being a size 18+. It’s notable that this campaign focuses on models who aren’t really plus size — even Robin Lawley says that she doesn’t identify that way.

I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with people who say “I’m technically a plus size, but…”. When someone says that, I tend to hear something that sounds more like “I totally support plus size people, but I’m not fat like they are.” The idea of “acceptable fat” is alive and well in our society. I would argue that all of the women at the forefront of this hashtag are in the “acceptable fat” category, who may not have the same experience as those women at the larger end of the plus size range. Having been thin, “acceptably fat” and legitimately plus sized, I can assure you that it’s a very different experience in each weight category.

Setting all that aside, this campaign is such a beautiful and simple idea: surely we can live in a world where people can just be people, right? Sadly, I’m not sure the world is really there yet. My own experiences tell me that despite all the ad campaigns telling us that plus size ladies are just as gorgeous as ladies of any other size, society in general just doesn’t agree. Today I’ll be talking about three big reasons I think this campaign may be far further along than society is, but I’ll also cover some ways to help further the goals of the campaign that anyone can accomplish on an individual basis.

Three Major Reasons Why #droptheplus Isn’t Currently Practical in Fashion:

1. There’s no alternative term.
Yes, the term plus size is frequently used in an insulting way. It’s also a way to describe a clothing store department, just like petite is used to describe a section of clothing that is built for smaller people. It would be great to have a neutral term that we could use to apply to this section of the store, but no one can seem to agree on one. I’ve seen “curvy” suggested, but that has its own problems — curvy is a shape, not a size range.

2. Women with larger bodies need different tailoring than women with smaller bodies.
Larger women aren’t the only ones with this concern — it applies to muscular women, petite women and tall women as well. While I have the advantage of being able to wear a larger version of a standard dress at a size 14, a woman who wears a size 24 needs a dress that is built completely differently. One of the major complaints about plus size clothing and lingerie lines is that not enough thought goes into the way clothing fits on larger bodies to start with, so taking away that point of differentiation will exacerbate the issue.

3. Making “plus size” less visible out in the world may undo progress that has already been made.
I feel like this campaign assumes that things are really getting better for plus size women, not just in fashion but in the way they’re treated in general. Let’s not sugarcoat the issue: while “plus size” is a problematic term, most of the problems with it come from society-wide hatred of fat people that is both visceral and truly frightening. Over the weekend I read an article that fat women have a harder time having children – in part because no one would be willing to have sex with a fat person. Fat women are harassed in stores, on the street, at work and by families and friends. Yes, “plus size” is a problem, but the real problem is that many people don’t believe that fat people deserve to be treated like human beings. In getting rid of a labeled plus size section, we’d be moving one step closer to helping plus size women disappear altogether.

So What Can We Do To Make Things Better, If We Can’t #droptheplus?

1. Patronize stores and brands that cater to a wide range of sizes and don’t divide them into plus or standard size.
Admittedly, this is easier if you’re willing to shop online or live in a city with good boutique options. This is really a version of my much-repeated advice when it comes to lingerie and fashion: spend your money with companies whose policies you respect. If you want to get rid of plus size clothing sections, don’t shop in stores that have them. If there aren’t any local options that treat all sizes equally, shop online with brands that do. If companies saw a serious shift in profits that came from treating larger customers well, they’d be more motivated to actually do it.

2. Think about how you feel about your life and the terms you want applied to your body. Articulate your preferences and become part of the conversation.
While I see “plus size” as akin to “petite” in a fashion context, I know that probably puts me in a minority. #droptheplus has been invaluable as it’s started a conversation about what terms plus size women identify with (which may be different than someone else’s terms) and what terms would be better for the future. Smart retailers will be paying attention to this kind of thing and using it in future advertising cycles. Having the conversation publicly raises awareness, even when people disagree.

3. Be aware that companies make decisions based on financial factors rather than on feel good factors.
Big companies have shareholders who expect profits. While campaigns like #droptheplus are great for awareness, lingerie and fashion companies won’t change anything until their bottom line suffers. Vote with your money. Don’t buy plus size items that are badly made and named insulting things. Speak out on social media so companies know what they could do differently to earn your dollars. Save up and buy a slightly more expensive item from a company that actually respects women of all sizes rather than a cheaper item from a company that sees them as an afterthought.

I applaud #droptheplus for bringing this conversation to the forefront of the internet lately — they deserve tons of credit for standing up for women of all sizes. Unfortunately, like many conversations, this one is complicated and can’t really be simplified down to a hashtag. Until we address the financial factors that motivate change as well as the pervasive fat phobia that society suffers from, it will be hard to see any lasting change in the way fashion companies treat larger women.

Holly

Holly

The Full Figured Chest provides creative and elegant copywriting for the high end lingerie industry.

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20 Pieces of Affordable Plus Size Lingerie from Target

Disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links.

Editor’s Note: This post was updated on 4/29/15 with additional selections.

If you don’t live in a lingerie mecca and you don’t like shopping online, then you’re probably familiar with the lingerie offerings of both Walmart and Target. Today I’m curating items from the more fashion focused of the two stores: Target.

While Target still isn’t on par with any online plus size brand, they’ve made an attempt recently to elevate both their plus size fashion and plus size lingerie collections. If you’re in the plus size range (roughly 36C to 42DD) Target can be an option to find a serviceable lingerie set these days.

If you’re in between misses sizes and plus sizes, don’t forget to check both lingerie sections. Target’s sizing is generous, which means that an XL can often fit up to a US size 16 or so. If you are craving more on-trend items, it’s worth looking through both sections of the store to see what all of your options are.

Read on to see what lingerie made the list. You can click on any items you like to find out more about them.

Madison Unlined Bra by Target

Paramour Madison Unlined Bra by Target – Available up to size 40DDD

Captivate Unlined Bra

Paramour Captivate Unlined Bra – Available up to size 40DDD

Paramour Sweet Revenge Unlined Bra - Available up size 40G

Paramour Sweet Revenge Unlined Bra – Available up size 40G

Inner Secrets Flyaway Babydoll

Inner Secrets Flyaway Babydoll – Available up to size 22/24

Black Robe by Xhilaration

Black Robe by Xhilaration – Available up to size 3X

Lilac Robe by Xhilaration

Lilac Robe by Xhilaration – Available up to size 3X

Pajama Coatset

Gilligan & O’Malley Pajama Coatset – Available up to size 3X

Marie Meili Curvy Women's Latoya String Thong - Available up to a XXX Large

Marie Meili Curvy Women’s Latoya String Thong – Available up to a XXX Large

Elodie Wire Bra by Marie Meili Curvy

Elodie Wire Bra by Marie Meili Curvy – Available up to size 40C

Callie T-shirt Bra by Marie Meili Curvy

Callie T-shirt Bra by Marie Meili Curvy – Available up to size 42C

Fayne Briefs by Marie Meili Curvy

Fayne Briefs by Marie Meili Curvy – Available up to size XXX Large

Gilligan & O'Malley Fluid Knit Wrap - Available up to size 3X

Gilligan & O’Malley Fluid Knit Wrap – Available up to size 3X

Pretty Polly Plus Size Diamond Tights

Pretty Polly Plus Size Diamond Tights – Available up to size XXL

Which piece of lingerie do you like the best? Have you bought plus size lingerie at Target before?

Holly

Holly

The Full Figured Chest provides creative and elegant copywriting for the high end lingerie industry.

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Polish Bra Reviews, Part One: Ewa Michalak

I purchased these bras. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

PL Jagodzianki by Ewa Michalak

PL Jagodzianki by Ewa Michalak

I covered the buying and customer service experience as a separate post last week, so now we’re going to talk about the fun stuff – pretty lingerie! I hadn’t ordered from Ewa Michalak in ages, so I wanted to pick up a new set from them and see what their more recent offerings were like. Ewa Michalak bras used to be one of my lingerie drawer staples several years ago.

A word about sizing and their size calculator: I know that this isn’t true for everyone, but it has never worked for me. I’ve tried measuring their special leaning over way and everything under the sun, but it never gets anywhere close near my real size. For this order, I did what everyone else does, which is guess based on blog reviews and by talking to people in various swap/sell communities. As I result, I got close but still probably need a cup size up in this bra. I feel like this is probably a representative experience for a new buyer, so it’s worth trying to pick up several sizes for cheap and try them before you splurge on a big non-returnable order.

I picked up the PL style, as this used to be one of my staple styles. This is a 80HH, which fits well in the band but is small in the cup. The matching panties are a 44, which is right on for me.

PL Jagodzianki by Ewa Michalak

PL Jagodzianki by Ewa Michalak

The lace detail on this bra was insanely hard to photograph! The bra is made with a moulded cup with a layer of lace stretched over it, which makes it a nice combination between a standard moulded cup and a boudoir style look. The bra has pockets so you can add padding to help personalize the fit and correct for asymmetry. Ewa Michalak used to put a pair of the pads in with your bra, but they either don’t do that anymore or it wasn’t included in my order.

The wires are typical narrow Ewa Michalak wires – they feel strong and high quality. The moulded cup provides great uplift and support! When I wore this the first day, it was easy to remember why I liked Ewa Michalak so much several years ago. Their bras create the closest thing to a push-up bra experience that I’ve ever had.

That said, being a few years more experienced and having tried a ton of bra brands, I don’t feel like this is perfect. While the bra provides uplift, it has more bounce than comparable lower cut bras from other brands. For instance, I’d run for the bus in various Bravissimo half cup bras that I own (which have a comparable level of coverage), but I’d feel pretty uncomfortable doing that in this bra. It isn’t just that it’s off a cup size: the top is so open that I feel like the bra pushes you up but then never truly locks you into it. While this makes it look great, it does mean that you have to tolerate far more jiggle than you do in other brands. I require most of my bras these days to at least pass the test of chasing my dog around the backyard, so I think this style just isn’t for me anymore.

I’ll end with the same question I asked last week: would I buy from Ewa Michalak again after this recent order? Yes, if the bra was spectacular enough that I didn’t care about nitpicking or taking the risk on an order. In a perfect world I’d like to try more of their styles, such as the SM, but I’m not feeling incredibly driven to go back right away. If the right thing comes along, that might change my mind, but I haven’t truly fallen in love with the look of one of their bras in a year or so now. Odds are, it’s unlikely that I’ll be a repeat customer anytime soon.

Final Grade: B

Have you bought from Ewa Michalak lately? What do you think of their bras?

Holly

Holly

The Full Figured Chest provides creative and elegant copywriting for the high end lingerie industry.

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Should You Buy from Ewa Michalak?: 5 Ongoing Concerns

Editor’s Note: This article has been edited regarding the legality/illegality of charging VAT for non-EU countries.

CHP Gazeta Bra by Ewa Michalak - Image used with permission

CHP Gazeta Bra by Ewa Michalak – Image used with permission

Polish bras are a big deal in the full bust and fuller figure lingerie communities, for good reason: they’re awesome. While I’ve written about various Polish bra options before as part of other articles, I’ve never done a direct comparison among the companies. This spring and summer, I’ll be reviewing each of the major Polish bra companies so everyone can get a sense of which one might be the best fit for them (and their breasts).

I’m starting with a two-part series devoted to Ewa Michalak. This week I’m going to talk about the buying experience and customer service history of the company and next week I’ll review my latest purchase from them as the first part of the Polish bra company series. We’re starting with Ewa Michalak for two reasons: they’re arguably the most popular Polish bra option, but they also have one of the most checkered customer service histories. 

Margot Bra by Ewa Michalak - Image used with permission

Margot Bra by Ewa Michalak – Image used with permission

When I came up with the idea for this series, I hadn’t ordered from Ewa Michalak in ages. I ordered a beautiful lingerie set a few weeks ago to see what the typical buying experience was like. The invoice images that you’ll see are from that order, so they’re fairly recent. I’m going to cover the five most common complaints about Ewa Michalak, as well as my own experience – with anecdotal evidence from other bloggers and buyers along the way.

Slow Shipping or Shipments Having to Be Resent A Second Time:

I was really worried about this, as I’d recently heard reports of customers waiting two or three months for their Ewa Michalak orders. Mine came lightening fast, considering the circumstances – in three weeks! Polish Post can be slow and unreliable and packages frequently get stuck in customs, so I was impressed. I didn’t experience the issue that some have where packages were returned to Poland and required another shipping fee before they could be sent out again, which I was thankful for.

Unethical VAT Charges to Non-US Buyers:

VAT stands for Value Added Tax. Think of it like a sales tax, but instead of paying a percentage you pay a percentage extra to the company based on the value of the goods. They then turn that into the government and everyone is happy. If you’ve never heard of this, it probably means you don’t live in Europe! This tax doesn’t apply to the US, which makes most lingerie purchased in Europe is functionally 20% cheaper.

Illegally added VAT on my Ewa Michalak Order

VAT on my Ewa Michalak Order

That is, unless you buy from Ewa Michalak. This was one of my major issues ages ago and they still haven’t fixed it, as you can see from the extra 23% listed on my invoice. I don’t know if they think US customers won’t know that or if they just don’t care, but it’s a legitimately bad business practice and it’s been going on for years. I get that it is a pain to have two different systems, but every other business that sells to multiple countries does this – some even have automatic calculators on the website to let you know what the price difference will be depending on your location. Most lingerie business deals with this without charging VAT fees, except Ewa Michalak.

Paypal Fee Charges:

It’s against Paypal Terms of Service for a company to add a surcharge to get their Paypal fee back, but it is allowed in their TOS to charge a handling fee. See that bottom column? It’s specifically a charge for “payment type” – conveniently, Paypal is the only form of international payment that Ewa Michalak accepts. But the real kicker is when you read over: see how that 23% VAT charge that has also been applied to the Paypal charge? 

S Trapez Bra by Ewa Michalak - Image used with permission

S Trapez Bra by Ewa Michalak – Image used with permission

Lack Of Customer Service or Outright Rudeness to Customers:

Customer service is a really subjective area, especially when you’re dealing with different cultures and a language barrier. I’ve heard from multiple Polish bloggers and customers that the idea of customer service in Poland is completely different than what Americans expect, which is fair.  That said, if you’ve heard of Ewa Michalak it’s probably either through fans of their bras or due to their major customer service issues awhile back that got tons of press in the lingerie community.

The lingerie community has documented these issues pretty throughly: from outright refusal to communicate to pulling various bra sizes off the site as a punishment for customers who responded to a question about fit on the Ewa Michalak Facebook page. Various people have also reported feeling shamed by the company’s descriptions and attitude towards different types of breasts. Some customers were even told to go to a different brand when they questioned the fit of the bra that they received.

Two Ewa Michalak Bras in the same size compared - Image used with permission by FussyBusty

Two Ewa Michalak Bras in the same size and style compared – Image used with permission by FussyBusty

Poor Quality Control and Unequal Treatment of Customers:

I only bought one bra, so I can’t do a direct comparison against another in the same size. I’m tempted to do another order, since there’s a bra I really want and this is an issue that I’d like to look into further. The bra I received was well made, felt right on in terms of fit and is beautiful.

That said, other bloggers have clearly documented some serious quality control issues. Since you can’t really complain about bad products due to the customer service issues, that leaves you with the option of either selling the bra on or just getting stuck with a badly made bra. Ewa Michalak gets great press from bloggers, so I wasn’t surprised to hear from a blogger a few years ago that, when they complained about flimsy wires, they were told that they’d be re-sent a bra with “the good wires” (I heard this in a private forum so I don’t want to out the blogger who said it, but I was really shocked by it at the time).

Given my latest experience, would I buy from Ewa Michalak again? My answer is yes, if the bra was beautiful enough. However, I would do it knowing that I was getting overcharged and that I was taking a calculated risk on what the final product would actually be like. I don’t mean for this article to sound like a hit piece on Ewa Michalak: it’s not and I still like their products very much. I just think that any company, especially one as popular as Ewa Michalak, shouldn’t be able to get away with covering up some dicey business practices with extremely pretty lingerie.

Ultimately, if this stuff bothers you enough, you should shop somewhere else. If you love Ewa Michalak and just want your bras, you can also decide that you don’t care about all of this. Both options are totally valid: that’s the beauty of informed consumer choice.

Holly

Holly

The Full Figured Chest provides creative and elegant copywriting for the high end lingerie industry.

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Addition Elle x Ashley Graham Review: The Plus Size Victoria’s Secret

These items were purchased by me. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Lace Underwire Bra by Addition Elle (Ashley Graham Collection)

Lace Underwire Bra by Addition Elle (Ashley Graham Collection)

I wrote about the banned ads by Addition Elle last week, so this week I’m going to go ahead and review some of their lingerie! Addition Elle has released a lingerie collection in conjunction with Ashley Graham each season for awhile now, but I’d never been able to try their lingerie since they didn’t go up to my cup size. Thankfully they’ve now made several options available in G and H cup models, which meant that I could give two sets a try.

A word about sizing: Addition Elle lists DDD sizes, which made me think they were using US sizing and I wouldn’t fit into the line. However, once I plugged my measurements into the calculator it put me into one of my two standard UK sizes (a 36H). I’m still not sure what sizing system they’re going with, but my experience shows that their calculator is pretty trustworthy.

Underwire Lace Bra by Addition Elle

Underwire Lace Bra by Addition Elle

I purchased both sets available in my size, but they fit fairly differently. While this blue set looked sort of basic to me on the website, I really love it on. It’s completely sheer, which is hard to find in plus size lingerie. The color is perfect for spring, the embroidery is pretty and the cut out gore makes the bra work for lots of different breast tissue types. The matching panties hit right at my belly button, which is my preferred height for high waisted panties. I’m 5’4″ and short waisted, so if you’re taller than me or long waisted then this may be an issue for you. The band on this bra was perfect. This is truly the closest I’ve felt to wearing a Victoria’s Secret set since, well, ever.

One quick note: If you are used to full bust/fuller figure bras with strong side support wings, this bra is going to feel really different. It’s exactly what it advertises – fully sheer stretch lace and not much else. I love this, but I know not everyone does.

Padded Lace Trim Bra by Addition Elle (Ashley Graham Collection)

Padded Lace Trim Bra by Addition Elle (Ashley Graham Collection)

I don’t own a ton of black lingerie or moulded cup bras, but I liked the cut out gore featured with this set and it was on sale for $57.00 including international shipping, so I took the plunge. While it’s pretty, the fit was incredibly different from the first set despite the size being the same.

Padded Lace Trim Bra by Addition Elle

Padded Lace Trim Bra by Addition Elle

While this set is wearable, it’s certainly not the great fit that the first one was. The band on this is much larger – I can wear it on the second set of hooks to start with and would go down to a 34 if it was available. The cups are also smaller, but the fact that they’re moulded and not stretch lace probably contributes to this as well. I have firm breast tissue and really close set breasts, which can make moulded/padded cup bras a challenge to start with. That said, I wore this for a whole day to try it and didn’t have to do much readjustment and didn’t feel like I was falling out of it. I wish the band was smaller and the cups were half a size bigger, but it’s still wearable and comfortable. Again, this bra doesn’t have the super strong side support that full bust/fuller figure companies build with, so it’s going to feel different on than an Elomi or a Panache bra. Once again, the panties are a perfect fit in a 1X (the smallest size Addition Elle makes).

In terms of cost, one of these sets will run you somewhere around $55 to $68, depending on whether you catch them on sale or not. Herein lies my one big issue with this lingerie line: it’s marketed as a luxury plus size lingerie line, while it’s really a fantastic budget option. There’s nothing wrong with that – as I said, this is the closest I’ve gotten to wearing a Victoria’s Secret bra and that’s a good thing. However, I think advertising a luxurious or luxury experience with a budget line is silly. It also helps further confuse customers about the real differences between luxury or couture lines and regular lingerie lines, which makes it harder for everyone to market their lingerie.

So what’s my verdict? The underwired lace set will get put into my regular rotation, while the padded set will be more of an occasional wear. That said, both are worth purchasing, especially if you can find them on sale. I’d eagerly go back and try more Addition Elle sets in the future, especially if they’re of the stretch lace variety.

Holly

Holly

The Full Figured Chest provides creative and elegant copywriting for the high end lingerie industry.

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How Banning Plus Size Lingerie Ads Can Help Further Fat Acceptance

Criss Cross Lace Quarter Cup Bra by Cacique

Criss Cross Lace Quarter Cup Bra by Cacique

Think back to the last lingerie commercial you saw on TV… okay, can you picture it? Now take a minute and watch these.

The first ad is the latest TV spot from Addition Elle for Spring 2015 and the second is a similar ad from Lane Bryant in 2010. Both star Ashley Graham, a superstar of the lingerie world.

What else do these two ads have in common? They were both banned from major tv networks before they could even air. In 2010, networks cited “too much skin” as the reason, while the 2015 ad was deemed “too racy” and relegated to movie theaters as an ad to accompany “50 Shades Of Grey”.

These ads are notable because they’re two of the most visible attempts in recent years to show plus size women as sexual beings in attractive lingerie. While Victoria’s Secret gets major ad placement and even a fashion show, networks seem to feel that consumers will be either confused or offended by seeing plus size women in similar garments and circumstances.

Lace Underwire Bra (Ashley Graham Collection) by Addition Elle

Lace Underwire Bra (Ashley Graham Collection) by Addition Elle

This is a shame for multiple reasons, but most of all because these ads do a wonderful job of portraying plus size women as real people who are universally normal and attractive. The Lane Bryant ad shows an attractive womAn putting a trench coat on over a sexy lingerie set to go meet a lover, while the Addition Elle ad pairs a plus size women with a slim man. Both ads portray plus size women as sexy, stylish, and attractive to people of all weights and sizes.

Personally and as a lingerie professional, I loved these ads. While I’m no Ashley Graham, the idea of seeing a woman with a body even remotely like mine rocking a sexy lingerie set on television is a thrilling novelty. I also love the idea of mainstream television viewers being exposed to these positive images of plus size people. Studies have demonstrated that frequent exposure to different body types can broaden people’s perspective when it comes to body positivity, so what better place to start than in commercials?

Lace Banded Balconette Bra by Cacique

Lace Banded Balconette Bra by Cacique

In reality, all plus size women know that this is true. I’ve lost count of how many plus size women I know who are with tall and slim partners (myself included) and plus size lingerie is booming – a sign that plus size women are rightfully seeing themselves as attractive and deserving of things like pretty lingerie. These ads portray strong women who are in charge of their own bodies, who are wearing pretty lingerie because they love it and who are excited about the sexual relationships they are in. So why do these ads keep getting banned?

In part, because while the reality of being a plus size woman is getting a tiny bit better, the conversation about plus sizes and fat isn’t. Newspapers still cover the obesity epidemic like it’s the plague that is going to come for us all and schools even occasionally send notes home to parents when a child is considered too heavy to be acceptable. It’s impossible to read a positive article about plus size issues on the internet without some commentator immediately accusing the writer of promoting an unhealthy lifestyle. Our society has enough conflicted feelings about sex to start with: combining sexual ads and plus size women is enough to make people’s heads explode.

Padded Lace Trim Bra (Ashley Graham Collection) by Addition Elle

Padded Lace Trim Bra (Ashley Graham Collection) by Addition Elle

Realistically, ads like this won’t be able to air without comment until the entire public conversation about plus sizes, health and the “health at any size movement” changes. Television networks don’t want to deal with nasty letters about how they’re promoting obesity when they air an ad in a major time slot, so it’s easier ban these ads with flimsy excuses like “too racy” and “too much skin.” As you can see, none of these are any worse than a Victoria’s Secret ad and both are less racy than those awful Go Daddy commercials that the Superbowl keepS airing. The upside is that banning the ads is part of what got them all the attention and media coverage in the first place, leading to lots of positive press coverage and several thoughtful interviews by Ashley Graham herself. As Ashley Graham points out in one of her interviews, “America is getting bigger, and women want to see themselves instead of the image of what society says they should be.”

We need stop conflating “plus size” with “self-inflicted illness” – it’s unfair to plus size people and it’s unfair to people who are actually sick. Access to pretty lingerie shouldn’t be dependent on weight or health: it’s something everyone should have without judgement. That includes anyone who is plus size, even if their health isn’t perfect.

Have you seen either of these ads? What do you think of them? What do you think needs to change to make plus size lingerie ads popular with television networks?

Holly

Holly

The Full Figured Chest provides creative and elegant copywriting for the high end lingerie industry.

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20 Beautiful Beige and White Bras for DD+ Busts

 Disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links.

Lucille Bra by Lulu Tout

Lucille Bra by Lulu Tout
Sizes: 30E to 38G

Most of the country is starting to finally thaw out, which means people are getting ready to break out their warm weather wardrobes. For many of us, this is also the time to realize that our basic bra collection may need some updating. Today I’m featuring 20 beige and white full bust bras that will be perfect under all of your spring and summer outfits. This list covers a wide range of bra shapes, fashion tastes and fanciness levels. I’ve also made notes about each, including fit notes about the ones that I’ve tried as well as which ones are my personal favorites. As usual, just click on each image to find out more about each bra.

Lovebird Silk Satin Maxi Bra by Mimi Holliday  Sizes 28FF to 38F

Lovebird Silk Satin Maxi Bra by Mimi Holliday
Sizes 28FF to 38F

This technically isn’t purely white or beige, but it sure is pretty. It would also disappear under most light clothing, so I think it’s a fair inclusion. These silk satin maxi bras have a huge following in the full bust community, so they’re a good bet if you want to splurge a bit.

Satine Bra by Bravissimo  Sizes 28DD to 38J

Satine Bra by Bravissimo
Sizes 28DD to 38J

Bravissimo’s Satine plunge was pretty revolutionary when it came out several seasons ago. While it’s not my absolute favorite plunge bra out there, it’s still a safe bet if you want an all-purpose plunge that goes under everything. This runs a bit small, so you may want to try it a cup size (or two) up from your regular size.

Rebecca Bra by Fantasie  Sizes 30D to 40FF

Rebecca Bra by Fantasie
Sizes 30D to 40FF

The Rebecca Bra is a bestseller for obvious reasons: it’s comfortable, totally smooth and creates a great shape. If you’re someone who lives in t-shirt bras, this is one you shouldn’t miss out on.

St. Tropez Bra in Oyster by Pour Moi  Limited sizes available

St. Tropez Bra in Oyster by Pour Moi
Limited sizes available

I don’t know why Pour Moi doesn’t get more attention – their bras are great and the prices are too. I particularly like the embroidery on this St. Tropez set.

Envy Bra by Panache  Sizes 30E to 38K

Envy Bra by Panache
Sizes 30E to 38K

This is my favorite balconette style bra: I’ve quite literally worn through one already and will probably buy two more to replace it. The pattern is cute, but this bra is really all about the fit and support. The stretch lace top makes this a great option for tons of different builds, tissue types and sizes.

Milk and Honey Bra by Anna Pardal  Sizes 28D  to 44FF

Milk and Honey Bra by Anna Pardal
Sizes 28D to 44FF

Anna Pardal is a newer player in the full bust market, but I’ve been really impressed by her designs. I love this elegant yet basic take on the beige bra. You can order directly through the Anna Pardal site or special order through A Sophisticated Pair to access this line.

Pearl Balconette Bra by Kris Line  Limited sizes available

Pearl Balconette Bra by Kris Line
Limited sizes available

Kris Line makes my favorite range of basic bras. They’re all fairly full coverage, but they create great support and are chock full of beautiful details that make them feel really special. The trick is finding them. This one is from Brastop, but they sometimes show up on Zulily as well.

Cafe Latte Balconette Bra by Kris Line  LImited sizes available

Cafe Latte Balconette Bra by Kris Line
Limited sizes available

Another beautiful basic from Kris Line, this time in beige. That lace is just lovely.

Jana Bra by Fantasie  Sizes 30E to 40K

Jana Bra by Fantasie
Sizes 30E to 40K

I haven’t tried the Jana Bra yet, but I’ve heard it fits like a fusion of Fantasie and Elomi.

Grace Bra by Louise Ferdinand Lingerie  Sizes 28A to 38JJ

Grace Bra by Louise Ferdinand Lingerie
Sizes 28A to 38JJ

If you want a more luxurious basic bra, I love this vintage inspired Grace Bra by Louise Ferdinand Lingerie. This would also make a great bridal set.

Ginger Bra by Comexim  60C to 95D (European sizing)

Ginger Bra by Comexim
60C to 95D (European sizing)

Another elegant take on the basic beige bra, this time from Comexim.

Marvel Bra by Freya   Sizes 28D to 38GG

Marvel Bra by Freya
Sizes 28D to 38GG

I haven’t tried the Marvel bra yet, but everyone who has raves about it.

Edie Bra by Louise Ferdinand Lingerie  Sizes 28A to 38JJ

Edie Bra by Louise Ferdinand Lingerie
Sizes 28A to 38JJ

Another luxury pick from Louise Ferdinand – this Edie bra is both fun and beautiful.

Deco Bra by Freya  28DD to 38G

Deco Bra by Freya
Sizes 28DD to 38G

The Deco is the standard for plunge bras for those in the D through G range: it’s what every other company out there is hoping to recreate.

Romance Balconette Bra by Curvy Kate  Limited sizes available

Romance Balconette Bra by Curvy Kate
Limited sizes available

This is an older Curvy Kate style, but I love the light blue against the white. This is a great choice if you want to inject more fashion into your basic lingerie sets.

Biustonosz S Rarytas Mulitiway Bra by Ewa Michalak  30F to 44GG (larger size range available by special order)

Biustonosz S Rarytas Mulitiway Bra by Ewa Michalak
Sizes 30F to 44GG (larger size range available by special order)

Multiway bras in larger cup sizes are nearly impossible to find, which makes this bra by Ewa Michalak a standout. This bra is actually available in a fairly comprehensive range, although some of those sizes are special order only (and non-returnable as a result).

Biustonosz BM Bibi Bianka by Ewa Michalak  Sizes 30F to 44GG (Larger size range available by special order)

Biustonosz BM Bibi Bianka by Ewa Michalak
Sizes 30F to 44GG (Larger size range available by special order)

Another great basic set by Ewa Michalak, with the same size range and ordering restrictions. I’ve heard nothing but good things about how this BM model fits from everyone who has tried it.

Beatrice Bra in Creme by Tutti Rouge  Sizes 28G through 38FF

Beatrice Bra in Creme by Tutti Rouge
Sizes 28G through 38FF

This is my current favorite plunge bra – I’m seriously contemplating hoarding several fashion versions of it. Thankfully, Tutti Rouge has now released this as a continuity style so I don’t have to worry about it disappearing. This bra works under even the weirdest necklines and looks great while doing it.

Audrey Bra by Louise Ferdinand Lingerie  Sizes 28A through 38JJ

Audrey Bra by Louise Ferdinand Lingerie
Sizes 28A through 38JJ

One more lovely option from Louise Ferdinand, this one more basic than the rest.

Lucille Bra by Lulu Tout  30E to 38G

Lucille Bra by Lulu Tout
30E to 38G

Lulu Tout is doing some amazing things with laces at a truly astonishing price point. If you want a beautiful basic lingerie set on a budget, this is where to start.

What’s your favorite basic bra? Are you planning to try any of the ones on this list?

Holly

Holly

The Full Figured Chest provides creative and elegant copywriting for the high end lingerie industry.

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