Posts by Laura a.k.a. Lola Haze

15 Heart Lingerie Pieces to Spice Up Your Valentine’s Day

Disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links.

Revolve Belle Heart Bottom, $46, size 1-2

Revolve Belle Heart Bottom, $46, size 1-2

Every year around around Valentine’s Day, your lingerie throws a party.  This is its chance to climb out of the doldrums of your drawer where, let’s face it, you’ve probably wadded it under your socks and forgotten about it for a year.  It’s all too easy, even for lingerie addicts, to slip into boring black leggings and t-shirts that came free with a kitchen appliance, rather than bother with the sexy teddies and cute bralettes we spend our time obsessively acquiring.

But NOW is the time to celebrate sexy.  I think of Valentine’s Day as a call to duty to do right by my beloved lingerie collection. It’s the month to put my money where my mouth is and to indulge in buying and wearing things that celebrate passion and good times.

Naysayers decry Valentine’s Day as the Love Industrial Complex’s cynical oppression of our freedom as lovers or non-lovers.  I see their point.  It’s not especially pleasant to be told when and how we should express love, and to feel guilty if we don’t join all the others skulking through chocolate aisles this time of year.  We shouldn’t have to compare ourselves with gorgeous couples in tv ads rolling around in champagne and diamonds and their impossible happiness.  BUT—rather than feeling guilty or sad or un-champagned or mis-diamonded, I choose to enjoy the rolling around and the chocolate.

For me, this is not an occasion for subtlety, nor for luxury.  It is a commercial event that is by nature crass.  If you feel that true love or beauty are best revealed naturally and spontaneously, then Valentine’s Day should not be saddled with unfair expectations for such revelations.  Therefore, it is best enjoyed with a wink and swan dive into its swimming pool of fun delights.

This is why I like the heart icon for Valentine’s Day. I normally don’t enjoy a decorative heart if it is earnest.  I think it’s the tritest symbol for the most ineffable of feelings.  But if, instead, a decorative heart shouts, “I, like, LOVE you! Let’s go skinny dipping!” then I am won over.

It is in this spirit of celebrating Valentine’s fun that I bring you 15 heart lingerie pieces to roll around in this month.

But first, a quick look into the history of this well-worn symbol.  I found a lot of theories circulating on the internet about how the heart came to be.  Who knows where credibility lies, but I figure a PBS article is somewhat more likely than Wikipedia:

“10,000-8,000 B.C.E.

The heart symbol, the popular icon for the heart, can be traced to before the last Ice Age. Cro-Magnon hunters in Europe use the symbol in pictograms, though it remains a mystery exactly what meaning it held for them. The symbol will not become universal until the Middle Ages.

400-200 b.c.e.

Ancient Greeks hold the heart to be the center of the soul and the source of heat within the body. They also make some clever medical assertions.

1000-1400

The image of the heart becomes very important in Christian theology. The Sacred Heart, which is usually seen emitting ethereal light and suffering from wounds, is seen as a symbol for Jesus Christ and his love. Devotion to the Sacred Heart reaches a high point in the Middle Ages, where it is seen in works of art and is mentioned constantly in prayers and doctrine. It remains an icon even today.”

An explanation by Cracked.com is more entertaining. Purportedly, the classic heart icon is the same shape as the seedpod of the silphium plant, which was prized in Ancient Rome as a form birth control.  Apparently, some salacious devil in the Roman mint even imprinted the symbol onto Roman coins.  If this connection between the silphium symbol and our modern heart is real, then the little icon must have had a long and surprising ride from worry-free sallies to enduring love two thousand years later.

Whatever the origin of the heart, here are some ways to enjoy it while lounging, prancing or rolling your way through Valentine’s month.

LingerieBomb Queen of Hearts 3 piece Burlesque Lingerie, $125, Medium –Large.

LingerieBomb Queen of Hearts 3 piece Burlesque Lingerie, $125, Medium –Large

I found some gems on Etsy.  This “Queen of Hearts” costume is three separate pieces, a ruffled panty, bra, and tutu.  I love the frothiness and fantasy.  This is lingerie for showing off, not to hide under clothes or blankets.

Old Navy Womens Heart Pattern Jersey PJ Leggings, $16.94, XS-XXL

Old Navy Womens Heart Pattern Jersey PJ Leggings, $16.94, XS-XXL

I may be partial to Old Navy loungewear from my long ago days of designing it, but I just love the sweetness and comfort of these pj’s.  Plus who can argue with such good value.  I could even imagine a youthful soul layering these under a skirt, leg warmers, and long sweater to wear out.

Bonanza Sequin Red Heart Pasties set, $39.50, one size

Bonanza Sequin Red Heart Pasties set, $39.50, one size

Let’s go extreme this Valentine’s Day.  Remember the gravity-defying burlesque move from the movie, “The Graduate?”  Let’s be THAT lady instead of everyday Elaine.

Victoria’s Secret Embellished Heart Teddy, $68, S-L

Victoria’s Secret Embellished Heart Teddy, $68, S-L

Nice work, Victoria’s Secret.  The strategically placed hearts here are sexy and playful, while the black color keeps the whole thing classic.  I may not personally be partial to cutouts over the belly, but if you got it, flaunt it.  And by “it,” I mean a badass attitude.

Hanky Panky 3 Pack Original Rise Thongs in Leopard Heart Shaped Box, $54. One size fits 4-14

Hanky Panky 3 Pack Original Rise Thongs in Leopard Heart Shaped Box, $54. One size fits 4-14

Practicality in a cute package.  That’s basically my mantra.  And though I keep resisting the thong in favor of more forward-looking trends like high-waist briefs, the shape and stretch lace fabric of Hanky Panky’s bestseller below remains one of the most practical undies on the market.

Toru and Naoko Julia Lingerie Set, $98, XS-XXL, $116 for made to measure

Toru and Naoko Julia Lingerie Set, $98, XS-XXL, $116 for made to measure

I like the is-it-or-isn’t-it? approach to heart motifs on display in this catchy Toro & Naoko set below.  It’s innocuous enough to look like an allover geometric pattern; only upon intimate inspection is it revealed to be adorable scattered hearts..

Mommylicious Maternity Lingerie-Heart Shaped Slip, $44.99, one size fits most.  Avail in 1x/2x.

Mommylicious Maternity Lingerie-Heart Shaped Slip, $44.99, one size fits most. Avail in 1x/2x.

Moms to be: embrace the natural confluence of pregnancy, lingerie, valentines and hearts! After all, it won’t be for long that you’ll have quite so many bumps to show off.

VeryVeryShop Romantic Satin Panties, $28.87, made to order.

VeryVeryShop Romantic Satin Panties, $28.87, made to order.

Another Etsy find, this maker has a range of made-to-order vintage inspired panties.  They look authentic from the high-waist to the ultra shiny satin to the wide zig-zag stitch technique of elastic attachment..

Revolve For Love & Lemons Be Mine Bralette $74, XS-L

Revolve For Love & Lemons Be Mine Bralette $74, XS-L

This bralette from For Love & Lemons manages to be chic while featuring nip hearts, which is quite a feat.  Unlike the model featured here, I will be giggling and galavanting in this cute sheer bralette

Glam Girl Custom Rhinestone Heart Underwear, $21.95, Junior S-XL. 8 color options

Glam Girl Custom Rhinestone Heart Underwear, $21.95, Junior S-XL. 8 color options

I love Alex, not Jeff, and I’m excited for the chance to proclaim it on my underwear.  Since, in wearing these, I would obviously be submitting to full girliness, I would choose red on pink with white lettering.

Oh Cheri Open Heart Plus Size Chemise and Wrist Restraints, $30.95, One size queen

Oh Cheri Open Heart Plus Size Chemise and Wrist Restraints, $30.95, One size queen

This lady is not wasting her time with subtlety.  And why should she when she has the opportunity to be glamorously restrained by hearts and lace and satin.  This would be a fun one to wear under a conservative LBD and then — surprise!

Asos Wildfox Wild Heart Cami and Short PJ Set, $159.18, currently avail in S-M

Asos Wildfox Wild Heart Cami and Short PJ Set, $159.18, currently avail in S-M

Cute scattered heart print on an equally cute lounge set.  The top could work as ready to wear, which is a nice added value.  This feels like a fresh take on the iconic heart.

StockinGirl Velvet Swiss Dot Push up Bra with Matching Garter Thong, $135, S-XL  32B-34D

StockinGirl Velvet Swiss Dot Push up Bra with Matching Garter Thong, $135, S-XL 32B-34D

I like the diva statement of showing up to the party flawlessly decked out in stockings and garter.  This silhouette is modern and spare while still being delicate.  I love the detail of the heart shaped garter clip.

CookieTray Valentine’s Day Lingerie Panties and Boxer Heart Cookies, 12 for $26, includes 10% donation to Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

CookieTray Valentine’s Day Lingerie Panties and Boxer Heart Cookies, 12 for $26, includes 10% donation to Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

And sweetest of all, heart underwear to spike your blood sugar and get you energized.

What are you wearing for Valentine’s Day?  What’s your favorite heart lingerie?

Laura a.k.a. Lola Haze

I’ve loved lingerie since before that was reasonable. I taught myself drawing, designing, and sewing, and after graduating from Harvard with an English degree, immediately went to work disregarding it and following my passion for fashion. After a few years designing for a big company, I went off on my own and started Lola Haze TM, (named after the title character in “Lolita,” my favorite book). Lola Haze is playwear for the bold woman who loves fun and dresses for herself! I feel happy and lucky that I get to love my job so much, and am thrilled to share my lingerie enthusiasm with The Lingerie Addict!

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Lingerie Review: Bracli & G Pearl Thong for ‘Cli’ and G Spot Stimulation

Bracli & G Thong $84.99

Bracli & G Thong $84.99

Disclosure: I received lingerie for this review free of charge.  All opinions are my own.

After my initial shock mellowed, I was delighted by my last encounter with the Bracli pearl front thong bodysuit , which I reviewed here in 2013. When the opportunity came up recently to review Bracli’s new collection, I jumped at it. I was curious how the brand has evolved in the past year since its foray into the US market in 2013.

I was also interested in what a second encounter with such a novelty product would be like. My first impression of the Bracli pearl thong was shaped by its unexpectedness. Before that, I had never seen or imagined a pearl thong and my main reaction was, “this is bonkers sexy!” But once the concept is no longer surprising, what’s left to explore?  Would the experience of wearing it, stripped of its shock value and transgressive excitement, still be worth it?  Aside from feeling naughty, would it feel physically good?

Bracli’s strength is that it does one idea very well. The designers stick to a few raw materials – stretch lace, pearl strings, satin ribbon – and combine them into a few different silhouettes.  The garments tend to not be heavily seamed or structured, but are very simply constructed and use the stretch quality of the lace, and the wearers’ own bodies to lend shape. From a design perspective, this makes sense; the simplicity of the garments and materials allows the focus to remain on the pearl thong, which, after all, is the main reason to buy Bracli. However, though deflection of focus from the garment construction and limitation in the variety of materials makes strategic sense, I felt during my previous experience with the bodysuit that it could have been more thoughtfully designed so the lace would lie more smoothly against the body instead of gaping at the waist.

I also wondered where else the brand could go with their silhouettes. There is a limited number of lingerie silhouettes that would be able to anchor the pearl thong architecturally.  The main category would have to remain panties and body suits, and the garment would have to be snug against the hips, but with enough stretch to work in tandem with the pearl string. Since the pearl string does not stretch and is flush against sensitive areas, the fabric must compensate for the rigidity of the entire pearl section by stretching to accommodate movement and different body proportions.

So how would this product, with its inherent limitation in variety, be able to diversify? One way is through varied customer base.  The website focuses on female wearers, but also includes a product for men, which two male TLA readers enjoyed and commented about.

And then there’s Bracli & G, the newest concept from Bracli. Introduced in 2014, it takes the pearl thong to a new, internal level.  One commenter to my last review used the phrase “extreme lingerie” to refer to the pearl thong.  I love that wording because it connotes lingerie that goes beyond just suggesting to actually perform an action.  Bracli is designed to both visually and physically stimulate.  If the regular Bracli line is extreme, then the new Bracli & G collection is hyperextreme.

Bracli & G Thong $84.99

Bracli & G Thong $84.99

While Bracli pearl thongs have a string of pearls connected to the garment at center front waist and center back waist so the pearls lie against the body from front to back, the new Bracli & G pearl thong features a pearl string that can be detached from the garment at the back. Then the end of the string of pearls, still attached at garment front, can be tied into a cluster and inserted into the wearer, and then the rest is up to you.

The best way to tell, in this case, is to show. Here are stills from Bracli’s instructional video on its site.

Bracli Video 2

Bracli Video 3

Bracli Video 4

Bracli Video 5

bracli Video 7

Now you get it, right?  The video does a serious job of instructing us how to use the Bracli & G thong, but it also launched me into the giggle zone.  I think it’s the combination of the awkward foreign-translation quality of some of the language along with the outrageous intimacy of what the words are telling me to do.  Or maybe I was laughing because I’m secretly a fourteen-year-old boy.

Bracli has a marketing and instructional challenge with the Bracli & G collection.  In its marketing imagery and wording, it needs to strike a balance between conveying sexiness while not feeling over-the-top or pornographic.  There may be limitations to what viewers, advertising outlets, or other intermediaries would be comfortable with—and yet to convey fully what the product does, the company needs to communicate clearly and overtly.  I can understand their strategy of showing still photos of the Bracli & G thong on a model to suggest a mood, while using a video featuring a stylized, unrealistic female form to instruct on how to use it.

I think this marketing challenge for Bracli mirrors a challenge in how someone uses the product.  When wearing regular lingerie, there is generally no right way to enjoy it so the mood is free and playful.  On the other hand, when using extreme lingerie, one is mindful of using it correctly.  This means that while enjoying the emotion of wearing something beautiful, the wearer also has to keep the left brain revving in order to get the pearls correctly unfastened, tied, and then put where they’re meant to go.  You’d think this, the moodiest of lingerie, would be best enjoyed in the full throes of passion, but I think it’s best enjoyed with a bit more mental engagement, or else… ouch.

The Bracli & G thong arrived by mail in a pretty scented black box. Included was an instructional pamphlet.  I found it to fit true to size (it is available in S, M, L, PLUS), and I imagine it would work on a variety of sizes and shapes because of the flexibility of the stretch lace.  It could be pulled higher or lower to make the pearls sit closer or farther from the body.

This thong is a very fun idea.  Because it’s a novelty item it invites engagement, and figuring it out feels like an activity in and of itself.  Pearls are generally things of elegance, and I think as an embellishment on a worn garment, they can elevate it.  Once they become part of a toy that needs to be physically hunched over to figure out and tie, they fall a bit from their position of untouchable grace.

I approached the Bracli & G thong with three questions, which were influenced by reader comments to the last article.  Here are my thoughts about them.

Is it comfortable?

If comfort is the objective, then jockey undies are the way to go.  Both the Bracli pearl thong and the Bracli & G thong are meant to be felt while wearing them.  So if comfort means being able to forget you’re wearing something, then Bracli is not comfortable.  But what it lacks in comfort, it makes up for in interesting sensation.

 Is it sexy?

I showed a picture of the Bracli & G thong to a straight guy to get his perspective.  A bit perplexed, he said, “It looks like her vagina is eating her underwear, like ‘Lady and the Tramp’ style.”  This may not be a fully representative sentiment, but I had to include it if only to show that pearl thongs are not axiomatically sexy to all people.  I think it’s a fun tool to have at your disposal if you want to feel overtly sexy.  It demands attention and a transformation of physical mood, and cannot be ignored when worn.

Should you buy it?

This is of course a totally subjective matter.  The Bracli & G is a superextreme evolution of extreme lingerie.  It is not junior varsity level underwear.  I think that for customers who own and already enjoy the Bracli pearl thong, the Bracli & G thong is a fun fresh adventure. Otherwise I might suggest starting with the Bracli pearl thong to see what you think.  Using pearls in place of a non-wearable insertion toy is a novel idea for advanced players.  But pearls are made by oysters who may not especially have human G spots in mind when they’re designing them. Consequently, the pearl is a pretty if ergonomically imperfect object for this purpose.  A toy designed more specifically for this is likely to do a better job in the sensation department, though it may not double as a cocktail party bracelet after the deed is done.

Have any readers tried the Bracli & G thong?  Men out there, we would love to hear from you too.

Laura a.k.a. Lola Haze

I’ve loved lingerie since before that was reasonable. I taught myself drawing, designing, and sewing, and after graduating from Harvard with an English degree, immediately went to work disregarding it and following my passion for fashion. After a few years designing for a big company, I went off on my own and started Lola Haze TM, (named after the title character in “Lolita,” my favorite book). Lola Haze is playwear for the bold woman who loves fun and dresses for herself! I feel happy and lucky that I get to love my job so much, and am thrilled to share my lingerie enthusiasm with The Lingerie Addict!

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Lingerie Review: L’Exaltante Padded Bra and High Waisted Brief by Rosy

Rosy L'exaltante Padded Bra and High Waisted Brief

Rosy L’exaltante Padded Bra and High Waisted Brief

Disclosure: I received these products free of charge for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.

Rosy feels like a classic French lingerie brand. It is exactly that, but I don’t mean to state the obvious.  Its sensibility is elegant and refined, with understated colors and lace as a main novelty feature. According to its website, the brand sells mostly bras and panties, along with some sleepwear. It is divided into mini collections, which are each defined by an adjective like “L’Honorable,” “La Frivole,” and “La Piquante.” I chose to review a set from “L’Exaltante”– who wouldn’t want to exhilarate in their underwear?

Rosy’s website (translated by Google from French to English) says the brand was founded in 1947, and in its early days focused on garments that enhanced the curves of a woman’s body. In 1989, the brand launched a hosiery line, and in the 2000s it began to celebrate its own vintage heritage.

I was not familiar with Rosy until it was brought to my attention by the British online shop, Hepburn and Leigh, which carries a selection of Rosy. I chose the L’Exaltante Padded Bra (available in 32A-36D at Hepburn and Leigh) and High Waisted Brief (available in XS-L) because I love the piecing of the black lace against the black patterned mesh. The set strikes a beautiful balance of referring to the retro styling of the 50s while feeling modern enough for everyday use. There’s a bit of pinup nostalgia, especially with the brief, but it didn’t feel literally vintage to me.

L'Exaltante High Waisted Brief £34.75

L’Exaltante High Waisted Brief £34.75

First, the brief. I generally prefer low rise bikinis; they sit below the waist of modern pants and they tend to stay in place on my body shape. But I love the look of high waisted briefs, partly because I’ve always respected and enjoyed the retrospection of vintage, and partly because waists are on their way up in fashion, so our eyes are all adjusting to higher waists, which are feeling fresh and relevant. This journey to the natural waist, of course, may be only affecting those of us who spend quality time with fashion. The caveat that big panties are man-repellers still rings true in my experience. My boyfriend’s diplomatic response to the L’Exaltante set was that he liked the bra better than “those.”

Despite this feedback, I have only exultant praise for the L’Exaltante High Waisted Brief.

It’s funny to divide this panty up conversationally into my favorite parts, since the prettiness of the unified whole is maybe more discussion-worthy than each of its attributes. But, because it’s fun to deep-dive into lingerie design, here are my favorite parts, each with a dedicated paragraph below: front piecing, elastic, body fabric, overall silhouette, use under clothes.

The proportions of the piecing in front is lovely. At the center, floral lace is overlaid on beige mesh, and this piece is flanked by narrow inserts of sheer swiss dot mesh. The piecing is conceptually simple, but shows an artistic attention to proportion. It refers to the structure of a shaping girdle of the 50s, where there might have been a similarly shaped front panel that provided support. Panels in the L’Exaltante brief of course are not meant to give support or to minimize, but are decorative. I like the contrasting levels of sheerness with the opaque body, sheer mesh, and lined lace.

All joints on this decorative piecing are finished with 1/4″ soft elastic binding, which then extends in a continuous piece around the leg openings and is used again at the waist. This elastic is clean looking and pretty, and I like the matte finish. It can be hard to find narrow elastic that does not dig into the body and create obvious elastic lines, but I find that this elastic — combined with the careful specifications the design team created — keeps the garment in place while not digging. For me, it fits true to size.

The body fabric is fantastic. It is lightweight polyamide, which feels soft, strong, secure, and smooth. Aesthetically, it’s a great choice to modernize a classic silhouette, and for utility, it’s the right weight for a larger garment like this that has a lot of fabric coverage, where a heavier fabric might be too bulky. It is light enough to be shirred at the center back seam without creating bumps. This modern detail allows the center back seam to hug into the bum more than it would without shirring. I think it’s cute, but in this case I found the shirring placement to be a bit higher on the seam than I would like.

I find this silhouette flattering and sexy. It was popular in the 50s, when curvy silhouettes were idealized more than they are now in popular culture. A high waisted brief with full coverage behind is somewhat out of favor in our era, since it does not necessarily have a visually minimizing effect on the lower half of a body.  It celebrates curves, and for this reason I like it.

I chose to wear this set on a day when I was wearing a one-piece outfit. The underwear wouldn’t have worked with any of my pants that sit below the natural waist, so I was left with the option of either high waisted separates or one-piece. I liked the contrast (that only I knew about) of wearing this gorgeous retro set under a trendy, modern denim romper. It turns out that it was a perfect foundation for this outfit.  Until I wore this very secure brief that doesn’t move anywhere, I hadn’t realized that my regular low rise bikinis do shift around a bit throughout the day under loose clothes.

Rosy L'Exaltante Padded Bra £44.50

Rosy L’Exaltante Padded Bra £44.50

Now for the bra. What I like visually about the bra is similar to what I like about the brief. The pattern mixing in the brief, floral lace over beige mesh and sheer swiss dot mesh, is enhanced in the bra with the addition of opaque beige lining at the bra cup and center front band. This creates an interesting ombre effect of more opaqueness at the center front, medium opaqueness at the outer cups, and sheerness at the wings at the side and back.

Like the brief, the bra has soft elastic binding over the piecing seams in front and along the entire top. A version of the same elastic forms the front straps, which are wider than many modern bra straps and lend a slightly vintage feel because of this. The back straps are shinier grosgrain elastic with Rosy branding woven into them. To me, this branding feels a bit visually intrusive in the otherwise pretty and unified looking garment — but it’s in back and not an aesthetic deal-breaker.

The lining of the cups is slightly unusual in its construction. Rather than being a pre-formed cup as in most lined bras, this one is seamed at the same joints as the lace and mesh on the exterior. Seaming the lining along with the exterior fabric allows for a few things: neater seams; the upper cup can be unlined; the joints of the piecing can be curved to create the unlined acute angle where they meet. It’s very pretty, though for me it created a less rounded shape than I generally like. Where they meet, the three pieces of the cup are a little protrusive, which contributes to a slightly pointy silhouette, reminiscent of the 50s. The seams are also a little crispy to the touch; they feel like a structured garment, not like breast. This is all in keeping with the subtly retro sensibility of the L’Exaltante set, so I don’t think of it as a drawback. However, it’s the kind of bra that’s best AS the main event, rather than as a foundation to disappear under clothes.

It fit true to size and was comfortable enough to wear all day without noticing any chafing. Overall, I think these pieces are beautiful and loved wearing them. Both are occasion pieces that will sit in my lingerie drawer for specific use since they both have slightly unusual fits that wouldn’t work under, for example, mid-rise jeans and a tee shirt. I am always glad to meet classic lingerie brands and learn about how their designers incorporate the brand’s heritage into modern pieces, and I would be interested to check out pieces from Rosy’s other collections.

What do you think about Rosy lingerie?  Do you like high waisted briefs?

Laura a.k.a. Lola Haze

I’ve loved lingerie since before that was reasonable. I taught myself drawing, designing, and sewing, and after graduating from Harvard with an English degree, immediately went to work disregarding it and following my passion for fashion. After a few years designing for a big company, I went off on my own and started Lola Haze TM, (named after the title character in “Lolita,” my favorite book). Lola Haze is playwear for the bold woman who loves fun and dresses for herself! I feel happy and lucky that I get to love my job so much, and am thrilled to share my lingerie enthusiasm with The Lingerie Addict!

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Lingerie Review: Josie by Natori Longline Bras

Disclosure:  Samples were provided free of charge for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.  This blog post contains affiliate links.

Josie Bardot 3/4 Bra

Josie Bardot 3/4 Bra

It was my first pajama breakfast with my boyfriend’s mother. She had entered the kitchen in a silky caftan with a bright painterly floral print, which I immediately identified as a Natori. Natori, the sleepwear brand founded in 1977 by Josie Natori, is characterized by an east-meets-west aesthetic, which expresses itself in bold colors and eastern-influenced prints on drapey robes, caftans, and pajamas. It is a brand favored by many American women of a certain age.

I admire Natori’s bold aesthetic point of view and the way it delivers what could be a dowdy category of clothing it in a sophisticated way. While I’m a fan of the line, I don’t have firsthand experience with it; I am not the target demographic for the brand and do not find myself shopping the Natori section of Nordstrom.

I see every moment in life as an opportunity to talk about lingerie, so why not over breakfast? I asked her what she liked about the caftan and she talked about the femininity of the print, as well as the cut of the garment. The brand specializes in silk pieces, which can cost up to $695, but this caftan was a high quality polyester, which felt like silk but had the advantages of being machine washable and durable. As well as being pretty, it was a practical garment that could be worn as a cover up around the house and outside to pick up the paper.

Natori is exceptional at offering a modern take on the type of loungewear that is vaguely reminiscent of midcentury dressing, when men and women wore robes and pajamas around the house. Except for lingerie devotees, most young people now wear some version of clothes derived from ready-to-wear (leggings, joggers, athletic shorts, tee shirts), so the whole category of robe and pajama dressing has diminished over the decades. Natori and similar brands cater to women in their 50s and up whose tastes were developed when robe dressing was the norm and who want voluminous rather than clingy boudoirwear.

To expand the company’s appeal to a broader age range, it created the youth brand Josie. Josie sells mostly bras and underwear along with a little ready-to-wear, bedding, accessories and a recently launched fragrance. I hadn’t been familiar with its offerings before reviewing two bras for this article, but I was interested in writing this because I was curious about how Natori would interpret its own brand identity for a young crowd.

When I visited the Josie site, I found bras that were lightweight and fun, and, like the Natori brand, always tasteful and sexy without being overtly suggestive. They also share with the Natori brand a boldness of color and slightly eclectic sensibility

I received two longline bras (here’s my past article on the longline bra trend), the Bardot 3/4 Underwire Bra in Purple (available in 32B-36DD $35-$48) and the Spicy Essentials 3/4 Bra in Turquoise/Citrus (available in 32B-34DDD $24-$48).  Both fit true to size for me.

Josie Bardot 3/4 Bra

Josie Bardot 3/4 Bra

The Bardot seems wispy and lightweight even though it has underwire. There is demi lining at the bottom of the cup to add support, but the cup is otherwise made of soft stretch lace, as is the front band. The band from side seams to center back is mesh. The front straps are made of fabric which is bound around the side bra. The back straps are standard elastic, but have the cute detail of contrast metal sliders and contrast ribbon where the strap attaches to the band. The lace pattern is called “butterfly” on the website, and though I don’t see a literal butterfly motif, it does have an organic geometry that’s feminine without being too girly.

I love the way this bra looks off the body — pretty and easy. It is not heavily shaped, so rather than having to fit myself into it, it fit itself to me when I put it on. It doesn’t provide a lot of shape, and I like the natural silhouette when I wear it.  It feels as close to a bralette as an underwire bra can and is a bit of a hybrid, offering more support than a soft bra but not enough for me to want to run down the stairs in it. It comes in sizes up to 36DD, but I would not necessarily recommend it to anyone over a C, unless they enjoy their vigor unrestrained. I appreciate that this bra is not trying to be a corsetry-inspired longline, so the bottom of the band is unelasticated and unboned, unlike some longlines. The comfort advantage to this is that, as I slouch over my computer writing this, the Bardot is not digging into my ribcage at all.

The drawback of this kind of unstructured bra is that it doesn’t lie exactly smoothly, as a more structured bra might. The band doesn’t have facing or a nonstretch lining to give stability, so it tends to bunch up a bit as I move. For the same reasons, the underwire doesn’t stay firmly where it should, but tends to shift around with wear. These are natural effects when a bra is made of mostly stretch lightweight fabric, so I think of them as tradeoffs rather than shortcomings.

Josie Bardot 3/4 Bra

Josie Bardot 3/4 Bra

 

Josie Spicy Essentials 3/4 Bra

Josie Spicy Essentials 3/4 Bra

The Spicy Essential 3/4 Bra is also a longline but offers more stability. Like the Bardot, it has a lace front, but the effects of the lace are visually quite different. This one is two-color, and has a contrast-colored cup lining, which adds visual depth. The lace pattern is a classic floral with a scalloped edge at the inner cup and band bottom. The cups have full lining, and the front band is faced with a nonstretch stabilizer. Unlike the Bardot, the bottom band has elastic to keep it in place. The back band, interestingly, is cotton rib which brings a suggestion of comfort and informality to the look of an otherwise elevated garment. Straps have a gathered ribbon fashion detail, and sliders are contrast color just like the Bardot.

The Spicy Essential feels comfortable with no irritation and enough support — but like the Bardot it tends to bunch in front of the side seams after movement.  This doesn’t have deleterious effects on comfort or support, only on appearance.

This is a very pretty bra that doesn’t take itself too seriously.  The little pops of color in the hardware are fun and youthful, and the colorway I have, Turquoise/Citrus, is fresh and modern.  I generally prefer a lined bra to unlined, so I would wear this one more often than the Bardot.  I also found that the structure of the cups and front band gave the right amount of support for daily activities, where the Bardot trifled a bit.

Josie Spicy Essentials 3/4 Bra

Josie Spicy Essentials 3/4 Bra

 

Josie Spicy Essentials 3/4 Bra

Josie Spicy Essentials 3/4 Bra

Overall, I continue to be a big fan of the group of Natori brands, including Natori and Josie.  I like that the two bras I tried looked like fashion bras but are comfortable enough to wear every day.  I appreciate their thoughtful design and the quirky touches that feel fun enough to be Josie and sophisticated enough to be Natori.

Do you have any Josie bras?  What do you think of them?

Laura a.k.a. Lola Haze

I’ve loved lingerie since before that was reasonable. I taught myself drawing, designing, and sewing, and after graduating from Harvard with an English degree, immediately went to work disregarding it and following my passion for fashion. After a few years designing for a big company, I went off on my own and started Lola Haze TM, (named after the title character in “Lolita,” my favorite book). Lola Haze is playwear for the bold woman who loves fun and dresses for herself! I feel happy and lucky that I get to love my job so much, and am thrilled to share my lingerie enthusiasm with The Lingerie Addict!

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15 Sexy Halloween Lingerie Pieces

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Halloween Jack O Lantern Pumpkin Roller Derby High Waisted Hot Pants $32

Halloween Jack O Lantern Pumpkin Roller Derby High Waisted Hot Pants $32

October! It’s that spooky sexy time of year again. Time to take a break from our quotidian modern uniforms and try on something fantastical and escapist. Halloween is my favorite holiday — not just because of the candy eating and partying (though that would be enough), but because it offers us the opportunity and excuse to dress like someone or something else for a day.

When else do we turn to friends and ask, “So, who are you going to be?” It’s the question of our  era, though rarely asked out loud to anyone over the age of 22. At the neither-young-nor-old age of 34, who I’m going to be has slowly ceded living space in my psyche to who I am, as potential energy transforms to kinetic, and future years and identities are converted to past ones.

I’m pretty okay with this. But aging has changed my favorite holiday for me, and not necessarily in the obvious way of adults bequeathing the day to kids (because I maintain that kids only own the 4pm-8pm timeslot). I continue to be thrilled by fantasy and the possibilities of clothing, but the question of who I’m going to be is less imposing and less tantalizing than it used to be, and this constrains just how far-reaching a thing I want to be for Halloween.

This year I don’t really feel like transforming for Halloween, though I applaud others who do. Maybe it’s because of my place on the life timeline, or maybe it’s just laziness.

All this talk, and the matter of Sexy hasn’t even been mentioned yet! A decade of Halloweening in New York has convinced me that, for many women, the yearly question of what to be is answered in one way: Sexy. Sexy kittens, sexy nurses, sexy vampires, sexy regular ladies in garter belts. Any identity’ll do, as long as it involves fishnets and corsets. It’s a once-a-year chance to drip with the kind of suggestiveness that might be hard to justify the other 364 days of the year.

All of us reading this blog are familiar with sexy. It’s a subject that lingerie enthusiasts naturally encounter.  So I’ve been thinking about ways to incorporate the Halloween spirit into my month without really having to grapple too much with the identity transformation of a full costume. I wanted to preserve sexy. So rather than finding lingerie undead costumes, I’ve looked for lingerie with classic Halloween icons. For me this year, it seems the perfect way to embrace the holiday spirit while feeling like my every-day-of-the-year sexy self.

Here are some of my picks, arranged by icon.

PUMPKINS:

Pumpkins, with their ungainly bulbousness, seem more generally autumnal than strictly Halloweeny, but carve a face in them and you’ve got an adorable holiday mascot!  Here are some quirky wearable options.

Flocked Halloween transparent mesh bra and panty $77.23

A sweet conversational print to lounge in:

Old Navy Pumpkin Lounge Pant $12.50

Old Navy Pumpkin Lounge Pant $12.50

Definitely the outfit I wear for cleaning out pumpkin seeds:

Pumpkin Pasties $6.98

SPIDERS:

Spindly and spooky and sexy – spiders and webs are the perfect icon for Halloween lingerie, whether as a print or an image suggested through fabric texture and silhouette.

Shirley of Hollywood Spider Bodystocking $18.28

Shirley of Hollywood Spider Bodystocking $18.28

This spidery piece could be worn as a dress with a cami or slip underneath, but I would rather wear it as creative loungewear with a black bra and undies.

Devil Night Spider Gothic Shirt 65 GBP

Devil Night Spider Gothic Shirt 65 GBP

Imagine this body chain without the dress…

Spider Web Body Chain $12.99

For those moments when cumbersome underwear would ruin the spirit of spook, gentlemen can try a C string wired thong:

C String Spider Men's Thong $6.95

C String Spider Men’s Thong $6.95

Spookily awesome for everyday:

SPIDER SENSE-ational Push-Up: Black Push-Up Bra with Yellow Spiderman Comics Fabric and Red Bow $75

SPIDER SENSE-ational Push-Up: Black Push-Up Bra with Yellow Spiderman Comics Fabric and Red Bow $75

Just the right price for a probably single wear holiday stocking:

Lace Spider Web Thigh High $6

Lace Spider Web Thigh High $6

 

SKULLS AND SKELETONS:

The classic skeleton-drawn-on-leggings costume has grown up.  I’ve been seeing skulls and bones used more and more in decorative iconography, including in jewelry and as graphics on clothes.  I came across the great site, skullspiration.com, which celebrates skulls by showing interesting decorative uses of the icon.  It’s worth a Halloween browse.

A classic skeleton costume, but with cool dimensional shading in the artwork:

Rubie's Skeleton Bodysuit $22.35

Rubie’s Skeleton Bodysuit $22.35

Skeleton hands!

Skeleton Hands Corset Dress $39

Skeleton Hands Corset Dress $39

I like the sweetness of the silhouette combined with the piratey skull and crossbones motif:

Skull Bustier $49.89

Skull Bustier $49.89

I would love to lounge around in these demure boxers:

Human Skull with Gold Tooth Boxers $12.99

Human Skull with Gold Tooth Boxers $12.99

A playful, upbeat take on the morbid icon:

Cartoon Halloween Skulls Legging $29.99

Cartoon Halloween Skulls Legging $29.99

 

Fellow lingerie addicts, what are you going to be this Halloween?

Laura a.k.a. Lola Haze

I’ve loved lingerie since before that was reasonable. I taught myself drawing, designing, and sewing, and after graduating from Harvard with an English degree, immediately went to work disregarding it and following my passion for fashion. After a few years designing for a big company, I went off on my own and started Lola Haze TM, (named after the title character in “Lolita,” my favorite book). Lola Haze is playwear for the bold woman who loves fun and dresses for herself! I feel happy and lucky that I get to love my job so much, and am thrilled to share my lingerie enthusiasm with The Lingerie Addict!

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Does Your iPhone know your Bra Size Better than You Do? Ask ThirdLove.

Disclosure: This lingerie was sent to me free of charge for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

Editor’s Note: Please also see our earlier review of ThirdLove’s bra fitting app here.

ThirdLove 24/7 T-shirt Bra

ThirdLove 24/7 T-shirt Bra

What has technology done for your breasts recently?  Mine have been enjoying the comfort and support of a ThirdLove bra, all thanks to ThirdLove’s innovative bra-sizing phone app.

I probably shouldn’t admit that I’ve worn the 24/7 T Shirt Bra for five days of the last seven, but I’m willing to accept a dent in my immaculate public image in order to share this evidence of my love of ThirdLove.

ThirdLove, founded in November, 2013, is a San Francisco based lingerie company specializing in bras (they also sell panties).   Their current offering is lean, with six bra silhouettes; three main panty silhouettes, both in various colors and fabrics; and one cami.  This tight collection makes sense; their distinction as a company is not based on product assortment, but on sizing.  ThirdLove brings two innovations to bra sizing: technology that uses an iPhone app to size customers, and bra cup half-sizes.

In our race toward seamless living, we are led to feel that technology should be helping with all things, and that it ought to be better than we ourselves are at them.  In my two years of iPhone ownership, I’ve become a frequent techno tantrum thrower, having lapped up the promise that technology will solve all my problems, only to find that reality delivers far less than Apple ads have suggested.

The fashion and retail industry has advanced in huge leaps from seven or eight years ago, when brands may not have even had websites, let alone webstores.  But even though online shopping interfaces have become more seamless and sophisticated since then—now programmed to know before we do what else we might like to add to our carts, which are ready to be bought in just one click!—we’re still missing the vital tactile connection to product that we have when shopping in three dimensions at brick and mortar shops.

Several apparel companies are taking the lead in imagining fixes to this glitch.  There’s the Jockey Fit Kit, which has a customer buy a bra cup fitting kit that is mailed to her home.

In menswear, Acustom Apparel uses a 3D body scanner to take custom measurements which are then used to tailor a suit.  ThirdLove aims to customize the bra fitting experience by allowing a woman to size herself in her own home with the help of a mirror, a snug tank top and an iPhone.

During a phone call I had with ThirdLove founder Heidi Zak and head of design Ra’el Cohen, Zak said she was driven to create this company by her “dread of going lingerie shopping” and her recognition that a lot of women don’t have access to bra fitters or they might not feel comfortable with the fit process.

How did my virtual fit experience go?  I downloaded the app and followed instructions carefully, ponytailing my hair, changing into a minimal bra and tank, and removing my iPhone case.  I then posed facing the mirror first, and then sideways, holding the phone in the predetermined position.  Several times in each position I was unsuccessful and was instructed by the app’s voice to tilt the phone a certain direction or move it up or down so that it would be angled correctly to capture the photo.  It was a little frustrating to keep getting the alignment wrong and to keep having to try again, but I was spurred on by the novelty of it all, and the optimism that it would eventually do something groundbreaking—which it did!  The technology uses the already-known dimensions of the iPhone as the “measuring tape” for getting the measurements of the person’s ribcage and bust.  In the end the app confirmed the size I usually wear, and I went ahead to order the new 24/7 Memory Foam T-Shirt Bra in nude.

It is offered in black and nude for $55.  Microfiber jersey wings with hidden elastic are snug and feel seamless at the back; the hook and eye panel is padded so there’s no chance of metal digging into skin; straps are set at a width that keeps them from slipping off my shoulders; and the memory foam cups provide smoothing for modesty without creating an overstructured look.  Overall, it felt lightweight and supportive, and like it fit to my body without any points of discomfort.

Design details like gold hooks and pleated straps give the garment a feeling of polish which most nude t-shirt bras lack.  It is a practical bra that doesn’t settle for looking mundane.  This is exactly what I needed, and since I’ve gotten this bra, it’s pretty much all I’ve been wearing.

I think I’ve grown attached to it in the way people rely on their morning coffee or love their Sunday night TV show.  There is nothing spectacular about each individual experience of wearing this bra, but I find it comfortable enough and invisible enough under clothes that it has quickly become part of my routine of dressing.  I don’t have to go through the morning exercise of picking a shirt and then digging through my lingerie drawer to find the bra that will be least badly suited for it, since many of my bras have novelty details like sheerness or visible seaming or T-back or bright colors.  This bra simply integrates into my life, and relieves me of discomfort and decision-making.  It’s not going to replace all my other bras, which I love for different reasons and wear to evoke particular moods, but it is a great default–as the best of T-shirt bras should be.

ThirdLove 24/7 T-shirt Bra

ThirdLove 24/7 T-shirt Bra

 

ThirdLove 24/7 T-shirt Bra

ThirdLove 24/7 T-shirt Bra

It is good value for the price if you’re looking for a bra you can get a lot of use out of.  Affordable luxury is another of ThirdLove’s marketing points.  Cohen said, “we think that every woman deserves to have beautiful European inspired lingerie that has great fit,” and explains that the company is able to offer more for less because their direct-to-customer sales model eliminates the middleman of a retail store, which would otherwise tag on overhead and margin.

The bra has a hangtag that reads, “Luxury doesn’t have to be expensive.”  I wonder a bit at the use of the word “luxury,” which to me is not quite the applicable descriptor of my experience in the 24/7 bra, which, after all, is meant to disappear under a t shirt and into one’s day, not to celebrate sumptuous rare materials.  The company has an abundance of marketing angles, as well as great product, and to me, the luxury message was the one that seemed superfluous.

ThirdLove hangtag

ThirdLove hangtag

Half-cup sizing, on the other hand, is an offering worth shouting about.  I am solidly a C cup, so I’ve never had a need to half-step, but for women who may be in between sizes, this is a great boon in getting a perfect fit.  Especially for women in the small size range, where there is less breast tissue, a half size may be the right incremental step.  ThirdLove currently offers 32 sizes from 28D to 38D, with more coming soon.

I had a few more questions for the ThirdLove team.

How accurate is the sizing app?

Zak said that it is accurate to under 1/2, as accurate as a measuring tape, and that the majority of women complete the fit process successfully.  Customers can call a fit assistant if they have difficulty.

Are they planning to make their fitting technology available to non iPhone users?

Yes, they are working on a version for Android, but it is more complicated because of the variety of Android phone sizes.

What happens to the images we take of ourselves during the sizing process?

ThirdLove’s PR contact, Abi O’Donnell, answered, “I’m glad you asked about this, because it’s something that’s important to ThirdLove – they take privacy and security very seriously.  ThirdLove has undergone a series of extensive security audits to ensure customers’ information is safe and protected.  Customer data moves via the highest level of encryption, 256-bit and Verisign.  ThirdLove uses customers’ photographs for internal sizing purposes only.  The images do not appear on a customer’s Camera Roll or anyplace else on their iPhone, and the photos are only accessed by ThirdLove customer service representatives if there are sizing issues or problems.”

In the end, I’m not sure I particularly benefitted from ThirdLove’s two advances, the iPhone fit app, and the half sizes.  I am a designer, so I can wield a tape measure with fierce accuracy and find it simple to measure myself, simpler than using a somewhat picky app.  I also am not a half size, so I don’t have need for the smaller-increment size offerings.  But I appreciate that ThirdLove is proposing answers for all the women out there who are missing the right size bra for them.  I imagine that the way fashion companies use technology will become more robust and nuanced in time.  Maybe one day we’ll be able to home 3-d print the perfect  bra, molded exactly to our bodies.  For now we are just wading into the possibilities, and ThirdLove is well positioned to lead the advance.  Plus, did I mention I’ve been wearing this bra for the past six days out of eight?

Did you try the ThirdLove sizing app?  Please share your experiences, as well as your thoughts about technology and half sizing.

Laura a.k.a. Lola Haze

I’ve loved lingerie since before that was reasonable. I taught myself drawing, designing, and sewing, and after graduating from Harvard with an English degree, immediately went to work disregarding it and following my passion for fashion. After a few years designing for a big company, I went off on my own and started Lola Haze TM, (named after the title character in “Lolita,” my favorite book). Lola Haze is playwear for the bold woman who loves fun and dresses for herself! I feel happy and lucky that I get to love my job so much, and am thrilled to share my lingerie enthusiasm with The Lingerie Addict!

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Favorite Lingerie Brands at Curvexpo NY: Meng, Gilda and Pearl, Sapphire Bliss, Erica M

Meng silk robe

Meng silk robe

That familiar week of frenzied lingerie shopping is back.  No, it’s not the Victoria’s Secret Semi Annual Sale;  it’s lingerie market week in New York.  The nexus of the flurry is Curvexpo, which takes place every February and August at New York’s convention center, the Javits Center.

Just getting there is a trial and a hoot.  The massive Javits Center sprawls on the westernmost avenue of Manhattan, 11th, remote enough from the closest subway line that its only neighbor is the DMV car tow pound.  Forget Starbucks or Duane Reade.  This is the boonies.

So it can be pretty amusing to find yourself in a stream of high heeled ladies, bloused and trousered in the latest, all trudging en masse from 8th avenue to 11th to choose the best from the newest collections.  These are professional shoppers–boutique owners and corporate buyers–along with various members of the fashion press and assorted interested parties, and they’re visiting trade shows at the Javits Center.  Simultaneously there are several shows: two accessories, one gift, one or two ready-to-wear, and one lingerie.  Brands rent booths at a show, and buyers shop their collections and place wholesale orders of goods to be delivered in the future.

I find that the best strategy for visiting a trade show is to conserve energy by not trying to look at too much.  That must be my ever-present guide or else the rows and rows of booths start blurring together, and I glaze over and can’t tell a chiffon from a charmeuse.

This time I decided to wander in an attitude of leisure, and let my heart be my guide.  Rather than trying to take a survey of the entire show, I passed by most booths after a quick glance and stopped only when something drew my attention.  This left more time to actually sit with a rep at the booth and learn about the brand,   Given my limited goals, I decided against forcing the pieces I loved into trend categories for this piece, but instead am sharing with you a couple of the brands and garments that caught my attention.
MENG

One brand stood out especially.  It was Meng, a UK brand, owned by Silk Road Ltd, making its debut at Curve.  It launched in Fall 2014 and crossed the pond to show its Spring 2015 collection.  According to the brand’s press release, Meng “aims to combine elegant loungewear with art through their distinct prints and inspire confidence in its wearers whether they are relaxing at home or flaunting their style on the beach.”  It is a print-driven collection, with a clear and specific point of view unique in the industry.  “Each collection features hand-drawn illustrations inspired by art and architecture from a variety of periods, world travel, nature and Eastern symbolism.”  I’m not sure these images do justice to the experience of standing before a whole rack of these sumptuous, intricately patterned silk robes and coverups.  I wanted to roll around in them.

www.meng.co.uk

IMG_6487

IMG_6488

meng 2

meng 3

GILDA AND PEARL

Another UK luxury brand, Gilda and Pearl, drew me in and knocked my knickers off.  It is all luxe delicacy with some saucy touches.   Designer Diane Huston is drawn to old Hollywood glamour, which she channels in her silk boudoirwear and lace bras and panties.  She showed me a range of gold lace pieces (which could not yet be photographed until their release to the public in January) with straps the width of actual spaghetti.  I couldn’t believe someone had the patience and steadiness of hand to create a strap so delicate.  Her attention to such details separates this brand from others that throw around the word “luxury” as a marketing technique rather than a reflection of elevated technique applied to the pieces.

www.gildapearl.co.uk

Gilda-Pearl-Lingerie

GildaPearlLorelei

IMG_6507

IMG_6503

 

SAPPHIRE BLISS

A homegrown New York brand debuts at Curve this season, Sapphire Bliss.  I have written about this newcomer before, so I stopped by the booth to see what’s new.  This is a polished collection with a clear point of view, which is a huge accomplishment for a new brand.  The color story and sensibility are focused, and the overall range is very pretty and graceful, with traditional luxurious materials employed in modernized silhouettes. The allover lace Cara robe with scalloped eyelash edging offsets its delicacy of fabric with a slouchy hood–luxury for a cool girl.  Sapphire Bliss showed a few swim pieces, which are new for Spring 2015.  Similar in handwriting to the lingerie, the swim distinguishes itself with geometric block construction and sleek lines.  A white one-piece was crisp with contrast black straps, and a yellow bikini top with wraparound straps popped like the summer sun.  They layer nicely with a breezy beach kimono made of durable washable poly.

www.sapphirebliss.com

Sapphire_Bliss_FW14_1976_2252

IMG_6477

IMG_6480

IMG_6479

IMG_6481

 

ERICA M

Erica M has expanded this season into full body stockings!  I have been a fan of the brand’s super sexy innovative stockings since their launch a few seasons ago.  The full body stocking covers delicate places with an opaque knit while leaving legs, arms, upper chest, and belly suggestively visible through a delicate net, all the more visually interesting because of the irregularity of its holes.  A new stocking with a transparent heart shape at the bikini area (so that colored underwear can be worn as a highlight underneath) shows a lighthearted spirit of play.  Nobody wears these pieces better than designer Erica herself, who looked cool (and professional for a lingerie trade show) in a pair of her stockings and an airy black tunic.

www.ericam.com 

IMG_6474

IMG_6475

IMG_6476

IMG_6473

Which of these pieces do you love?  How would you wear a body stocking out?

Laura a.k.a. Lola Haze

I’ve loved lingerie since before that was reasonable. I taught myself drawing, designing, and sewing, and after graduating from Harvard with an English degree, immediately went to work disregarding it and following my passion for fashion. After a few years designing for a big company, I went off on my own and started Lola Haze TM, (named after the title character in “Lolita,” my favorite book). Lola Haze is playwear for the bold woman who loves fun and dresses for herself! I feel happy and lucky that I get to love my job so much, and am thrilled to share my lingerie enthusiasm with The Lingerie Addict!

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World Cup Lingerie: What to Wear for the Football Finals

sexy woman in lingerie with classic soccer ball

I’m going to miss the World Cup. It has been my constant summer companion, always just a click or glance away. The best thing about the World Cup for a mild soccer enthusiast like myself from a country of middling international soccer achievement is that it provides a reliable flow of delicious drama. I can wade through other people’s joy, frustration, diving, and biting for ninety minutes without having to worry about getting swept away in real emotion. Since the US never had a chance, my team loyalties have been largely a matter of taste, style and mood – which is how fashion designers like myself prefer to make life decisions anyway.

So what about soccer and style? Why has everyone been dwelling on boring stuff like Brazil losing their star player and Costa Rica’s superior off side trap when there’s so much opportunity to play with World Cup fashion? I don’t mean just questioning the concept of Portugal’s wet-look jerseys, or musing about the stink to style ratio of players’ dreadlocks; I mean OUR fashion, we, the humble spectators.

With half the world tuning into this single event, the World Cup has the attention and driving energy of major trend that Birkenstocks and long line bras can only lust after.  So I would like to channel World Cup animus into my outfits, specifically my lingerie choices.

Sunday’s final match promises to be high stakes and high drama. Let’s dress for it. Let’s end with a bang, people.

Here are some thoughts if you are rooting for Germany, rooting for Argentina, or agnostic on team but devoted to cuteness and want in on the action.

GO GERMANY!

Let’s say you are actually IN Brazil during the World Cup. You probably didn’t manage to score tickets to the final, just statistically speaking. But if you plan to watch the game from a hot locale near water, you may want to do it wearing this lovely Jolidon bikini in Germany’s colors, red and gold. Maybe you’ll throw on black sunglasses or slippers to round out the Deutche flag colors. An advantage of this choice is its relative subtlety in conveying German boosterism. Germany’s 7-to-1 trouncefest over Brazil in the semi-finals guarantees that your Brazilian neighbors will be none too keen to sit next to you wrapped in the German national flag. On a style note, the gold faux belt construction is a novel take on the classic triangle bikini.

Jolidon Red and Gold Chic Bikini Swimsuit $129

Jolidon Red and Gold Chic Bikini Swimsuit $129

 

What says “GERMANY! FOOTBALL!” more precisely and efficiently than Adidas, the German athleticwear behemoth? Adidas brought in the feminizing fashion touch of designer Stella McCartney, who has an ongoing partnership with the brand, and I would like to bring that very touch to this otherwise supremely macho event. This pro-Germany choice is red, gold and black again, but with a more participatory athletic spirit than the above bikini.

Adidas by Stella McCartney Bikini Top $56

Adidas by Stella McCartney Bikini Top $56

Adidas by Stella McCartney Studio Shorts $64

Adidas by Stella McCartney Studio Shorts $64

Adidas by Stella McCartney Run Performance Jacket $180

Adidas by Stella McCartney Run Performance Jacket $180

As far as true sport paraphernalia, this one seems inoffensive. Team jerseys can be so boxy and unflattering—not to mention stiflingly synthetic—so why not hang in this feminine white tank with a cute pair of bottoms? For the sake of participating in the German spirit, the bottom should be purchased from a German lingerie brand, so here are two options, gorgeous stockings by Falke (if you really want to celebrate the “foot” in “football”), and everyday briefs by Rosa Faia.

 Germany Soccer Ball  White Tank $18.99


Germany Soccer Ball
White Tank $18.99

Falke Fond de Poudre Stockings $39

Falke Fond de Poudre Stockings $39

Rosa Faia Brief (click image to visit website for store locator)

Rosa Faia Brief (click image to visit website for store locator)

You need to have something on hand for the celebration you hope for post game. Try this bodysuit from German brand Triumph, which supermodel Helena Christensen (not German) has put her name to. After expending all that energy cheering and drinking beer and cursing the ref, you’ll want to relax in something sweet, feminine and German. It also reminds me of the costumes from the current revival of the Broadway show “Cabaret,” so if you’re looking to channel a period of moral decay and sexual prurience in Germany as depicted by American storytellers, there’s that.

Triumph Nightingale by Helena Christensen Bodysuit $173.60

Triumph Nightingale by Helena Christensen Bodysuit $173.60

Finally, if what you really want is an actual German companion to enjoy the game with, snag the Spring 1999 Victoria’s Secret Catalogue featuring German cover model Heidi Klum on eBay.

vs

GO ARGENTINA!

After yesterday’s nail biter of a semi final, you may be in need of a manicure. By the time Argentina finally beat Holland in a penalty kick shootout, my white knuckles and ragged nails could have used some love.

Incoco Team Argentina nail polish $8.99

Incoco Team Argentina nail polish $8.99

Argentina’s most important weapon in Sunday’s final? Star player Messi, who will need your long distance support. Support yourself and Messi at the same time in an authentic Adidas track jacket and Parfait by Affinitas bra in sizes 30D-40G. Or if you prefer to keep your support metaphorical (and your money in your pocket), grab this sporty looking bralette in Argentina’s team colors, light blue and white.

Lionel Messi Track Jacket $60

Lionel Messi Track Jacket $60

Parfait by Affinitas Melissa Unlined Bra $48

Parfait by Affinitas Melissa Unlined Bra $48

American Apparel Baby Rib Bikini Bra $5.00

American Apparel Baby Rib Bikini Bra $5.00

Celebrate Argentina’s home grown lingerie industry by sporting a piece from Jane Pain. You might also want to visit the brand’s website for a taste of Argentine passion and darkness.

Jane Pain Primal Symptom Collection (click image to visit site).

Jane Pain Primal Symptom Collection (click image to visit site).

What happens when you want to learn more about Argentine lingerie? You may wish to google combinations of related words, and if you do, the first thing you find may be an entertaining tangent. Sleepwear and lingerie brand Ultimo has signed Argentine model Luisana Lopilato to be their face and body. I’m not sure wearing this lingerie counts as participating in the Argentine World Cup spirit, but it can’t hurt.

The One Spot Bra 16.80 GBP featuring Luisana Lopilato

The One Spot Bra 16.80 GBP featuring Luisana Lopilato

Let’s play a word association game. I say “Argentina….”

You say….”TANGO!”

I know we’re here to discuss soccer, but can we please just be honest and admit that though we love the beautiful game, we love the beautiful dance more. They’re both leggy, as will you be in these two tango-reminiscent pieces. Dance, kick and strut your way through half time and into a night of celebration in this flirty chemise (from my own brand) and tango dress (from the infamous J Peterman).

Lola Haze Cancan Chemise $94.50

Lola Haze Cancan Chemise $94.50

J Peterman Buenos Aires Tango Dress $798

J Peterman Buenos Aires Tango Dress $798

 

I AM CHEERFUL, BUT I DON’T KNOW WHO TO CHEER FOR!

Who needs national pride? Borders are man made; the soccer spirit is essential. Live up your cheerful neutrality in this sexy referee costume, which admittedly has a bit of girl-trying-too-hard-on-Halloween vibe—but what could be a more spirited way to enjoy twenty-two men sweating it out?

Sexy referee costume $45.99

Sexy referee costume $45.99

 Do you plan on watching the World Cup Finale? Who are you rooting for?

Laura a.k.a. Lola Haze

I’ve loved lingerie since before that was reasonable. I taught myself drawing, designing, and sewing, and after graduating from Harvard with an English degree, immediately went to work disregarding it and following my passion for fashion. After a few years designing for a big company, I went off on my own and started Lola Haze TM, (named after the title character in “Lolita,” my favorite book). Lola Haze is playwear for the bold woman who loves fun and dresses for herself! I feel happy and lucky that I get to love my job so much, and am thrilled to share my lingerie enthusiasm with The Lingerie Addict!

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Radically Gorgeous Mastectomy Swimwear: Monokini 2.0

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Sirpa Monokini designed by TÄRÄHTÄNEET ÄMMÄT for Monokini 2.0

Sirpa Monokini designed by TÄRÄHTÄNEET ÄMMÄT for Monokini 2.0

Mastectomy swimwear doesn’t get much love.  There are a few companies that sell it, like Land’s End, Anita, and Amoena, but when I created a shopping challenge for myself to find a mastectomy suit I might be excited to wear, I failed.  Or maybe, more to the point, the market failed me.

Actually, let me back up, if only to expose how my own assumptions about mastectomy and fashion aligned with the market’s limited offerings.  I feel a little guilty admitting that I was expecting truly horrible swimwear, so I was a teeny bit surprised that any attention had been paid to mastectomy fashion at all.  There were a few one-pieces with some splashes of color that weren’t so bad.  I found a bikini or two that seemed sporty enough and not embarrassing.

But “not terrible” should not be the fashion benchmark for mastectomy clothes.  A woman loses a breast to cancer.  Does she have to lose her style too?

The mastectomy swim market is mumsy and conservative.  I didn’t see any cutouts or strappy suits, or attempts to offer on-trend styles, and very few two pieces.  The overall impression is that the market offers options for a woman to normalize her body, cover herself, and discourage attention.  The main feature of mastectomy swimwear is the hidden pocket that holds a breast form in place.  One company writes, “[our] pocketed swimwear gives you the confidence to show off your figure again.” Another suit is described as “comfortable and supportive, this swimsuit has moulded cups and discreet, hidden pockets for prosthesis.”

This marketing suggests that a woman who has undergone a mastectomy must want to keep her missing breast a secret and that she can have body confidence only when she can disguise her body.

But what if she wants to celebrate her new body?

This is the radical thought behind a new swimwear collection, Monokini 2.0.  The project is the brainchild of Finnish designer Elinia Halttunen (PhD), the self-proclaimed “woman with one tit.”  A group of Finnish designers have come together to design whimsical, gorgeous swimsuits for women who have undergone a mastectomy and who don’t choose to have reconstructive surgery.  Monokini 2.0 “re-examines popular culture’s narrow view of a woman’s ideal appearance.  We strive to expand what is accepted and considered beautiful.”

Reeta Monokini designed by VILMA RIITIJOKI for Monokini 2.0

Reeta Monokini designed by VILMA RIITIJOKI for Monokini 2.0

Mert Otsamo, the designer of the “Katja” suit, writes, “I do not want to hide, I do not want to stop swimming, I do not want to undergo extensive plastic surgery operations, and I do not want to be forced to use the uncomfortable prosthesis on the beach. I want to feel as free and active as I did before my cancer, and Monokini 2.0 gives me a chance to do exactly that.”

Katja Monokini designed by MERT OTSAMO for Monokini 2.0

Katja Monokini designed by MERT OTSAMO for Monokini 2.0

Monokini 2.0 gives women a chance to show their bodies as they are, without having to form themselves to a social notion of what their bodies should look like.  Also, they are such cool designs.  Drawing on the handwriting of various designers gives the collection a breadth of spirit and aesthetic that is as diverse as the women it is designed for.

The “Elina” is geometric and sporty, the “Virve” has a pinup vibe, and the “Reetta” looks like it grew in an enchanted, one-breasted forest.  Each piece is more incredible than the last.

Monokini 2.0 is now fundraising through a Kickstarter campaign in order to bring three of their designs to market.  They aim for these styles to be ready for purchase for Summer 2015.

Please let us know your own experiences and thoughts about mastectomy swimwear.  What do you think of Monokini 2.0?

Elina designed by ELINA HALTTUNEN for Monokini 2.0

Elina designed by ELINA HALTTUNEN for Monokini 2.0

Virve Monokini designed by TYRA THERMAN for Monokini 2.0

Virve Monokini designed by TYRA THERMAN for Monokini 2.0

Milsse Monokini designed by TÄRÄHTÄNEET ÄMMÄT for Monokini 2.0

Milsse Monokini designed by TÄRÄHTÄNEET ÄMMÄT for Monokini 2.0

Camilla_monokini21

Camilla Monokini designed by TIMO RISSANEN for Monokini 2.0

Kristiina_monokini2

Kristiina Monokini designed by OUTI PYY for Monokini 2.0

Solja_monokini2

Solja Monokini designed by KAKSITVÅ for Monokini 2.0

Laura a.k.a. Lola Haze

I’ve loved lingerie since before that was reasonable. I taught myself drawing, designing, and sewing, and after graduating from Harvard with an English degree, immediately went to work disregarding it and following my passion for fashion. After a few years designing for a big company, I went off on my own and started Lola Haze TM, (named after the title character in “Lolita,” my favorite book). Lola Haze is playwear for the bold woman who loves fun and dresses for herself! I feel happy and lucky that I get to love my job so much, and am thrilled to share my lingerie enthusiasm with The Lingerie Addict!

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Top Ten Men’s Sexy Underwear Brands–Reader Picks

Rounderbum Anatomic Coral $22.50

Rounderbum Anatomic Coral $22.50

In March, I wrote an article for this site explaining why I, a straight woman, think more men should wear sexy underwear — for the sake of equality, self expression, and fun.  I wrote it on a bit of a whim, and had no idea it would hit such a nerve.  Thousands of reads and hundreds of comments later, I felt like a follow up or two might be called for.

A lot of readers jumped into the conversation and had great insights, so I’d like to share a few with you.  Then we’ll get to what we’re all really here for: readers’ favorite men’s sexy underwear brands!

Many women shouted some version of “right on!” or bemoaned the bashful or conservative ways their own men dress.

One woman wrote, “I love my boyfriend in tiny underwear, and just think it would be great if men could suggest their junk the way women can suggest breasts and have it not be threatening and/or ridiculous.”

Another argued that the scope of masculine fashion was particularly limited in the US: “men in western europe, japan, south korea, and many many other places have long blurred gender binaries when it comes to fashion. tight jeans, bright colors, speedos…have never been a problem. american sartorial masculinity is super retrograde.”

Unrelatedly but hilariously, another woman, referring to the featured men’s underwear brand, Cocksox, wrote,  “It’s just silly. If I was wearing underpants with a band that said VAG-BAG in giant letters around my waist, nobody would think that was sexy either.”

Many men wrote in, but their feedback was more varied.

One man rejected the idea that underwear can be as sexy an accessory for men as for women, ” It’s unflattering. I have a perfectly acceptable body, but it’s not amazing, and it’s a male body. Sexy underwear for ladies works because there are curves to hang it on.”

Quite a few men detailed their own paths to finding underwear that suited their identities and expressions.  Some felt they had struggled against social expectation and women’s judgments.

“As a man who has occasionally been teased, by both men and women, about his European style underwear I personally don’t understand many peoples aversion to anything that offers less coverage than oversized boxers. But I also don’t understand why men in this country don’t buy properly fitting clothes, both of which probably point to the fact that in this country we don’t like the male form. I am of the opinion that both men and women should stop shaming men into baggy jeans and oversized tee shirts, and embrace the allure of the male body.”

There was so much meat in these men’s underwear comments that I think they deserve a separate article.  Their comments and experiences suggest a new branch to this conversation, more specifically about what it’s like to be a man who likes to wear women’s styled lingerie, and what brands and styles they prefer.  Keep your eyes out for this in the future.

For now, here’s a roundup of reader favorite men’s underwear, ranked according to my own taste (I know, I know, not especially objective–but being a lingerie writer grants me some privileges of judgment, right?), as well as the shopping experience on each company’s website.  Many were new to me, especially the non American brands, and I’m excited to have a new #1 top favorite.

On a side note, a funny thing just happened to me while trying to rank these ten brands.  I couldn’t bring myself to relegate any to the bottom two.  Mind you, I’m not even saying these are the two worst brands out there.  On the contrary, I’m saying these are ten reader FAVORITES.  Just as I’m about to decide on #10, I’ll find something redeeming about it, like a WHOLE SECTION OF METALLIC!  I think that I’m cheering so hard for men’s underwear as an underdog, that I want them all to win.

Here goes:

# 10 Joe Snyder 

I am generally never that interested in generic supersexxxy lingerie, for men or women.  It’s fun and has a place, and it’s a huge business, but as a designer, these hackneyed expressions of sexuality bore my eyeballs.  This is the context for my putting this otherwise perfectly nice brand in number 10.  Somewhat nonsensically, the motto that follows you through the website’s shopping experience is “MAKE YOUR BEST CHOICE IN A WORLD IN WHICH CHANGE IS THE RULE.”  I don’t know what change Joe Snyder has in mind, but I recommend that some of you step away from your computers pronto, and change into this Gold Metallic Short:

Joe Snyder Metallic Short $27.83

Joe Snyder Metallic Short $27.83

Aside from the aforementioned shopping section devoted wholly and exuberantly to metallic men’s underwear, there is a section exclusively for camo, which contains 27 units, and a lot more. This brand traces its roots to 1977 when it was launched in Mexico with the objective of “support[ing] men’s virility.”

#9 Body Aware 

I was a bit turned off by Body Aware’s homepage banner which in red, black and white, screams “BASICALLY AMAZING” — and then goes on to fail at amazing me, in either basic or auxiliary ways.  But once I forgave this false promise, I found some pretty cool things after all, if not quite amazing.  I enjoyed the silliness of the Twig and Berries.

Bodyaware Twig and Berries $17

Bodyaware Twig and Berries $17

And on the more basic end of sensualwear, these silk boxer briefs seem comfortable and luxurious.  They have some spandex content so they shouldn’t stretch out too much.  If boxer briefs aren’t your preferred silhouette, the same fabric is cut in others, like a brief, thong, and long johns.

Bodyaware Silk BoxerBrief $30

Bodyaware Silk BoxerBrief $30

#8 Andrew Christian

This site commits the grievous offense of automatically playing music when you visit.  It must think it’s 2003.  I mean, isn’t it embarrassing enough that we are cruising this site at all?  Don’t call us out with that smutty music?!  I had a general feeling of discomfort while on this site.  In lingerie commerce, some companies choose bluntly to pedal sex in the form of their goods, rather than the more subtle and creative challenge of imbuing their product with the promise or proximity of sex.  Andrew Christian is not going for subtlety.  Their homepage features a picture of two near naked men making out on a couch while 3 others take snapshots.  Enough said.

I do, however, like the creatively designed underwear and the fun way cutouts are used.  Not only in the expected places like the rear, but also as little alluring design flourishes, as they might be used in womenswear, but rarely are in menswear.

Andrew Christian trophy boy beam boxer $25.93

Andrew Christian trophy boy beam boxer $25.93

#7 N2N 

N2N clearly announces itself as high end eroticwear, albeit with elevated fashiony-looking models and photography (as opposed to sex-industry-looking shoots).  One particularly pouty model bites his finger modelishly.  Another is so turned on by his own attractiveness that he appears to be undressing himself, thumbing his own waistband down his own hips.  He’s not wrong.  These are some very appealing undergarments, and they are thoughtfully designed as individual pieces and as a collection.  The price range reflects this sexy but unsleazy sensibility, with the simplest underwear starting modestly at $10 and going up to $48 for these really cool cutout sheer bicycle shorts.

N2N Sheer Biker $48

N2N Sheer Biker $48

#6 Ginch Gonch 

Ginch Gonch has a 70’s porn vibe to it, with its loopy cartoonish font and big snug briefs.  It encourages us to “Live like a kid!” I don’t know about you, but my childhood did not involve this guy:

Ginch Gonch Underman brief $24.99

Ginch Gonch Underman brief $24.99

The site is straightforward, as are the offerings, which are mainly funny printed cotton underwear for men and women.

#5 Hom 

Hom was founded in 1968 in France and claims four “fundamental values: masculinity, style, independence, and being different.”

To support this value statement, Hom offers six separate collections organized by lifestyle concept.     For example, there is “HO1″ which stands for “Horizontal Opening No1″ and is the signature style of HOM.  There’s also “Temptation” for “a modern seducer [who] cares about his physique and for special occasions wears delicate luxury underwear to please his partner.” “Black Addict” may be a poor translation but seems full of goodies.  “The Black Addict man regularly practices sport to keep fit and uses cosmetics…he’s attractive and likes to show it.”  He can show it all in the Shorty Crocodile:

HOM shorty Crocodile 39 Euro

HOM shorty Crocodile 39 Euro

#4 Rounderwear

This company takes a technological approach to selling underwear.  Their claim to fame seems to be “Lift tech,” which purportedly “lifts and supports the buttocks… its innovative design creates a ‘lifting effect’ thanks to hidden bands technology.”  In addition, “seamless microfiber visibly enhances the masculine package.”  A customer can really target his areas with different products, which are organized both by style and feature.  Features include “padded, lift, package, anti-bacterial, and asorbtek.”

I’m curious to know how these actually work.  Women have long been a target market for “solutions” undergarments that shape their bodies to some idealized version (look all the way back to corsetry and foot binding).  It’s interesting to see high tech shapewear spreading throughout the men’s market.

I may or may not, if I were benefitting from underwear-provided butt uplift, choose to advertise this happening on the waistband of said magic underwear.  But perhaps the Rounderbum man is happy to share his glory with the heavily branded elastic waistband on all Rounderbum’s products.  (See photo at top of article.)

#3 Ergowear

I don’t especially love the aesthetic of Ergowear, but I can see that it takes a different approach to shaping from other brands I’ve seen.  Many men’s underwear brands rely on seaming for the most protrusive look.  But Ergowear takes a pouch approach to presentation in its “Feel” collection.

Ergowear Feel Mini Boxer $19.90

Ergowear Feel Mini Boxer $19.90

The brand does also offer plenty of seamed options (for example in its 3dX section), and offers to tailor your online shopping experience according to things like “tender, ergonomic, and breathable.”

#2 Obviously 

This is good underwear.  How do I know? Because the website features no live models, only simple sketches of the products on dummy males of middling attractiveness.  The implication seems to be that Obviously is obviously such great underwear that they don’t need hotness to vouch for them.

Designed in Australia, Obviously uses high quality materials like  Bamboo Rayon, Licensed Lenzing Modal, and Lycra, which, they claim “have significant health benefits over regular cotton and synthetic underwear fabrics, they are highly UV resistant. Non Genetically Modified (GM) fibres, and Sustainable and Environmentally Friendly.”

Obviously Naked Brief $16.95

Obviously Naked Brief $16.95

#1 Bruno Banani 

On its site, Bruno Banani brags under its logo that it’s “Not for Everybody.”  It’s a surprising marketing tactic for a brand that offers a wide range of all sorts of manly garments that seemingly ARE for everybody, if they’re lucky enough to stumble across this brand.  There’s plenty of fun and fashion, but nothing tacky.  The biggest selection seems to be under what we’d call boxer briefs in the US, but are “shorts” in German.  The fit is snug and generally without a fly, and there’s variety in fabric from cotton-based to synthetic, and fun prints as well as simple stripes and solids.  I also appreciate that the items aren’t overbranded like a lot of  men’s underwear — just a small strip at the top WB that says Bruno Banani.

Bruno Banani Funtasic Your Way Short 17 Euro

Bruno Banani Funtasic Your Way Short 17 Euro

For a smaller silhouette, there are “Sportslips” which are briefs, as well as “strings” which are thongs.  A few of my women readers commented that their men were looking for simple, comfortable thongs — I think we have a winner with this brand.

Bruno Banani Fairfax Sport Slip 26.95 Euro

Bruno Banani Fairfax Sport Slip 26.95 Euro

For a little roomier attire, there are a few gentlemanly pajamas, and also a smattering of “lederjacken” and “socken” to complete the underwear look.

Bruno Bananai Funtastics Pajama 53 Euro

Bruno Bananai Funtastics Pajama 53 Euro

A BIG thanks to all of you readers for your thoughts and your men’s underwear brand tips.  Keep ‘em coming!

Laura a.k.a. Lola Haze

I’ve loved lingerie since before that was reasonable. I taught myself drawing, designing, and sewing, and after graduating from Harvard with an English degree, immediately went to work disregarding it and following my passion for fashion. After a few years designing for a big company, I went off on my own and started Lola Haze TM, (named after the title character in “Lolita,” my favorite book). Lola Haze is playwear for the bold woman who loves fun and dresses for herself! I feel happy and lucky that I get to love my job so much, and am thrilled to share my lingerie enthusiasm with The Lingerie Addict!

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