Review: Helen Valk Varavin Silk Bra, Suspender Belt & Briefs
Disclosure: I was sent this lingerie to review free of charge. All opinions are my own.
Helen Valk Varavin is one of those names I’ve seen pop up fairly often in the online lingerie world, particularly in the realm of Etsy designers. I must admit, however, that I never really made much effort to actively seek out her designs; the majority of what I’d seen was soft silk pieces which, whilst pretty enough, didn’t really pique my design interests. The designer is based in Estonia and the majority of pieces are handmade to order. Alongside the standard size range, the designs are available with custom sizing. When the opportunity to review the brand arrived, I was intrigued as to see and feel the lingerie for myself: I’d only ever read good things about the brand and was curious as to whether these underthings stood up to all the praise!
All of Helen Valk Varavin’s styles are available in a wide range of silk colours (and even an adorable kitty print). I must admit that I was faced with a little choice paralysis when offered a choice of so many delectable colours, so defaulted to classic black. I chose the Astrild bra, suspender and Aphrodite low rise knickers. The brand’s collection all mixes and matches together well, so you can pick whichever silhouette will work best for your body. I was sent the bra and suspender in size S and knickers in M (I usually wear a 30D bra, size UK 10 suspender and size 12 knickers). The pieces are available in standard sizes XS-L, with the bra retailing for 75 euros, the suspender for 67 euros and the knickers for 39 euros. The pieces were made to order and arrived relatively quickly within a few weeks of confirming the styles.
My first impressions of the set were quite wonderful: everything arrived in a beautiful branded gift bag and the attention to detail on these pieces at this price point is quite phenomenal. The construction is impeccable on each piece and everything feels sturdy and well made. The Astrild soft cup bra features a single layer of silk for the cups, with a silk encased underband and silk encased cage strapping detail at the centre back. The corset-inspired lacing at the front is in the form of silk looped gold-toned rings and a silk tie. The only area of the bra that isn’t covered in silk is the adjustable part of the shoulder straps, which has a satin finish with delicate picot loop edging. The construction of all the cage detailing and corset lacing is quite complex whilst the actual bra cups are relatively simple, with simply flat fabric with elastication for shaping and no darts or seaming.
The suspender belt has a similar corset-inspired fastening at the centre back, with the addition of adjustable elastic and a swan hook fastening at the wait for ease of dressing. All seams are French seamed with a decorative three-point stitch on top, to match the four suspender straps that are anchored in at the internal waist and three-point stitched across the full height of the suspender belt. A sturdy strapping is used at the waistline, with a softer frilled elastic on the bottom edges. The suspender clips and all of the adjusters are of the more expensive moulded variety, rather than stamped flat from a sheet of metal.
The knickers themselves are altogether much simpler in their construction, but also very well executed: a simple bikini cut, with French seams, soft frilled elastic and a silk gusset lining. All the pieces are made from an elastane-blend stretch silk which offers a small amount of fit flexibility. There aren’t any fussy bows on these pieces: instead there’s a simple gold charm on each, stamped with the Helen Valk Varavin hummingbird logo. Although overall I’m very impressed with the quality of stitching in these pieces, there is a small area that I’d like to see improved on: raw elastic edges have all been lockstitched, which isn’t the most secure finishing and could potentially lead to fraying at a later date. Ideally, some sort of bar tack or tight zigzag would be best in these areas.
As wonderful as these pieces are in their construction and lovely design details, I unfortunately have to admit that the set has been let down a little by fit and the difficulty in dressing. The knickers I have absolutely zero criticism for: they’re comfortable, fit well and have in fact become part of my everyday lingerie rotation. The suspender also fits well, anchoring well at my natural waist and keeping stockings in place throughout the day. The bra, however, has some fairly major fit issues. I would say that this comes mainly down to the cut of the bust: there is zero shaping to the fabric, so the bra relies on the elastic and stretch of the silk to fit. Unfortunately on my body, all this means is that my bust is squashed by this bra, with unattractive loose fabric at the sides of the cups. The shoulder straps are also very long: I consider myself to have quite a long torso to start with, but I had to wear these at their tightest to fit. Although the corset-style lacing looks gorgeous once it’s on the body, it is quite difficult to get dressed in, particularly since the silk ties provided with the set aren’t actually very long. It can be quite tricky to hold a bra together at that tension when trying to dress. There’s a similar issue with the suspender, though fortunately the elastic and hook at the waist does make life a lot easier.
Overall, I’m actually very impressed with the offerings of Helen Valk Varavin. The stitch quality and attention to detail are excellent at this price point and the designs are versatile. I think the brand has a little way to go to improve their bra fit and I hope to see this addressed in future. I have high hopes for the brand and am looking forward to seeing their future collections!
Readers: Have you ever tried Helen Valk Varavin? Do you have any favourite Etsy lingerie designers?