Full Bust Lingerie Trends Autumn/Winter 2017: The Intimate Apparel Industry Returns to Its Strengths
Today's guest post is by Sweets of Sweet Nothings NYC. Sweets has been blogging about bras, baking and body image for the last five years. She lives in NYC, works at a law firm, and would like one day to solve an English country house weekend murder mystery. Do not ask her about her cats; she will show you too many pictures.
Over the last few years I've made a point of trying to assess how (or if) lingerie brands who showcase at Curve were coping with the uncertain economy. The answers ranged from "Not well" to "Okay, I guess?"
Several seasons in a row I left the shows feeling like, while I'd seen some standout individual pieces, there was a tangible undercurrent of panic across the show. This panic manifested a few different, but clearly recognizable ways:
- Approach 1: "We will only make what will sell," which led to brands that never made beige t-shirt bras before trying to wow me with their beige t-shirt bras, or brands that did have a great t-shirt bra (like the Freya Deco) leaning into that collection with all their might - alienating the customer like me who doesn't actually like t-shirt bras
- Approach 2: "Play it safe," which led to seasons full of recolors of older styles, simplified matching accessories, and hewing too closely to trend reports and safe color palettes (see: the great blue-black tidal wave of AW15 that epitomized way-too-much-of-a-good-thing)
- Approach 3: "Throw everything at the wall and see what will stick," which led to collections that weren't cohesive, jarring tonal swerves, half-hearted forays into already-tired trends, cuts that didn't fit properly in all sizes, and styles that were easily mistaken for competitors'.
I was wary heading into the AW17 shows back in March, wondering if I'd feel the same sense of panic and desperation this go around. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised.
While I didn't see anything that, you know, reinvented the bra, I felt a sense of confidence and even playfulness from many of the collections that's been sorely missing the last few years. And though I didn't get a chance to visit every booth that offers full-bust sizes (notably, I missed Curvy Couture, Gossard, and Mimi Holliday), it feels like many of my favorite brands, recognizing that the market and retail environments will continue to be unpredictable for the foreseeable future, have said "Tight, let's get back to basics."
By basics, I don't mean plain t-shirt bras. Instead, it feels like brands have looked back at their core styles, analyzed their strengths, finessed their fits, and innovated within their catalogues. The results are not only appealing, with a confident "voice," but they also feel more innovative, because the prints and color stories are growing out of a secure foundation.
The big mid-market full-bust brands (Panache, Freya, Fantasie, Elomi, and Curvy Kate) especially, are taking more care than ever in choosing and designing their embroideries and lace, resulting in some ostensibly "basic" or "everyday" collections that are very eye-catching.
Standouts for me included Fantasie's Erica collection, with bespoke embroidery on the mesh cups that matches the print, and Freya's truly stunning Soiree collection, which plays to several strengths: an underwire "bralette" adding the support of an underwire to the current bralette craze, a dramatic modern stretch lace on a sheer background, and a versatile range of shapes so customers can customize a set they love.
Elila also added a really lovely dark brown collection embroidered with oversized tulips that also caught my eye.
In addition, more brands than ever are dipping their toes into the trend for strappy accents or high-apex details. While it may feel odd to call these a "trend" at this point, since they've been popular for most of the decade, I'm seeing more creative interpretations of the idea as well as options for an increased range of sizes.
Elomi offers Bijou Flirt and the stunning Nicole for the full-bust plus size customer. Most collections from Scantilly feature strappy elements, cutouts, and laceup details for the full-bust customer. And Rougette will offer a pared down version of this aesthetic for the full-bust customer on a budget.
"Sexy" details like strapping and cutouts are of course a major feature of Playful Promises and Peek & Beau's collections, so if this is a trend that appeals to you, you'll have many opportunities to indulge.
Since The Lingerie Addict has already covered some of the prints and embroideries we'll see next season, I'm focusing my full bust report on shapes and color stories.
Key Trends and Styles for Autumn/Winter 2017:
Sheer black "basic" sets or all-black reinterpretations: I saw several brands introduce lingerie sets crafted from sheer black mesh with minimal frills and fuss, including Curvy Kate, Aubade, and even luxury label Edge O' Beyond.
While these sets will carry a slightly lower price point than sets with opulent lace or embroidery or bespoke prints, they're also, well, really chic. This is my platonic ideal of an everyday lingerie set. You can keep your beige t-shirt bras, give me a light, simple, black lingerie set please.
While it's not sheer, Parfait has introduced a new all-black colorway of their massively popular Charlotte bra that looks SO special. It's an example of a simple change having a huge impact, making this sometimes cutesy set look opulent and sophisticated.
In addition to these "budget-friendly" sheer options, Tutti Rouge launches a new diffusion line called Rougette, aimed at the younger full-bust customer, featuring bras and bralettes up to a GG cup in their signature bright colors and prints.
Many brands are building off successful earlier seasons to introduce expanded sizing. Playful Promises will offer their namesake collection across all of their size ranges (core, DD+, and Curve) as well as offering expanded sizing on select Peek & Beau styles.
The ever-popular Panache sports bra will be available up to size 46 bands in the non-padded version, making it available for the first time to more plus size customers.
Nubian Skin brings DD-G sizes not only to their signature t-shirt bras but also to a truly pretty new dotted sheer mesh collection.
Remember when I said I wanted sheer lingerie for my everyday bras? Sheer, pretty lingerie that matches your skin tone sounds like perfection. Parfait is introducing their first new G+ shape in many seasons, a non-padded basic bra in dusty rose and black with three part cups up to a size 40H.
Finally, I have to give a shout-out to Freya. For most of my blog's life I've complained about not getting a good fit in G+ cups from Freya, but the last few seasons are a completely different story.
Freya has quietly introduced new shapes and an improved fit across many of their styles, so if you wear a G+ cup size and haven't tried Freya in a while, I really recommend checking them out (the Pulse and Hero collections are some personal favorites so far).
As is often the case with holiday collections, be on the lookout for sparkle! There are some really pretty laces, embroideries, and even swim fabrics that boast glitter, metallics, high-shine embroidery, or even an explosion of sequins, like Peek & Beau's fabulous Tallulah bra (Remember the expanded size range? Gimme this one).
Color Trends for Autumn/Winter 2017:
Let's talk color!
Unlike some somber (or weirdly uniform) recent A/W collections, it was a delight to see a range of colors in store for the Fall and Winter. The classic holiday reds are in full force, along with other rich warm shades like berry, plum, wine, and raisin.
Navy, petrol, and indigo have some strong showings as alternatives to classic black, and there are some delightfully fresh accent colors including chartreuse, lime, and grass green.
The line dividing seasons in lingerie is always fuzzier than in mainstream fashion, and I welcomed the softness of ivory and pink, which lighten up the landscape.
One of the standout color story, to me at least, was the range of warm more-than-neutrals that popped up across brands and collections. Think gold, whisky, toffee, rose gold, and softly heathered or dusty colors.
Normally, A/W collections are a riot of jewel tones, but these soft, warm, glowing styles made me think of lounging in some luxury ski chalet with a hot toddy and a roaring fire. Someone please do that so I can live vicariously through you.
Some of my favorite sets ignored specific trends. Miss Mandalay heard my request for a sheer bra that matches my skin tone and said "Would you like some purple with that?" and I WOULD.
Curvy Kate has started to feel a little young for my tastes, but I really liked Trixie, with its elegant mulberry color and peek of lace at the straps. Scantilly continues to kill it with their boudoir full-bust lingerie, with Entwine and its dramatic lace-up decolletage and corset-laced knickers winning my heart.
Elomi created this great metallic fit-for-a-mermaid bikini and tankini for plus sizes. And from Fantasie, some really stunning embroidery in the black Leona collection and the opulently embroidered Erica collection.
Finally, it's not a full-bust set, and I can't show it to you yet because it's embargoed, but it's one of my favorite collections I saw at the show. Fleur of England has a dark green collection called Huntress that's coming out for A/W17 and the brand rep asked "What do you think inspired the embroidery?" and I squealed "DRAGONS!" and she said "Well, it's actually the Arts & Crafts movement of the 19th century, but I'll tell Fleur you said that," so do with that information what you will.
Do you have a favorite upcoming trend for Autumn/Winter 2017? What set are you most looking forward to?