Wednesday 29 February 2012

Titty fittin' time!

The sky was grey, my belly was rumbling for dinner, yet the call of Bravissimo was strong. Off I went, camera in hand with an idea of what I wanted to try. The Manchester store is very small and only has a few sizes out, so I grabbed what I like and what other bloggers have raved about and headed up to the fitting rooms, where I was met by a lovely fitter, Laura, who sized me up at a 28H.

She showed me into the fitting room and went off to see what she could find in my size from my selection. First up, the £23 Juna bra by Cleo. I tried a 28GG and a 28H in this, the former being a little small in the cup, the latter a little big. My issues with this bra were that the straps were a little too wide set for me and the lace gaped so much that it seemed as though it was meant for the next cup size up! Laura said I appeared to be between sizes. I was quite disappointed about this because I was looking for a new everyday bra to replace my badly fitting (but well loved) Freya Decos. You can't really tell the difference between the sizes here. In fact, I couldn't tell which size the middle photo was...

Next I tried the Porcelain bra in nude, £26 by Panache. This is a 30G as it's not made in a 28H, and I knew the 28G would be too small. As expected, the band is too big, and the straps are too long, as is the case with a lot of bras I try. The cups were too small for me too.

Laura soon realised I was a total pain in the arse and bought a different everyday bra out for me to try, the Fantasie Smoothing Seamfree in Nude, £29. The one pictured is (I think) a 30GG. Laura suggested I tried this and mentioned 28H, so I'm guessing she chose this as an equivalent size. I stupidly didn't check the label, sorry guys! There is a very similar style here for £23. To be honest, I don't know the difference other than the little bows on the straps. Anyway, as you can see, it's far too big, and I don't think I'd like it even in the correct cup size either. It's not the kind of moulded cup I like as it pushes the breasts too far apart, as opposed to the Freya Deco that pushes them together. I'm sure that given the correct size I might be tempted to give this one a try for those days when I don't want a cleavage.

For comparison, here's what a Freya Deco looks like on me. This is a 30G, which is not ideal as the back is so large, but since Freya haven't released their much coveted 28GG, this will do for now.

Finally for the bras, the stunning Vava by Miss Mandalay in Jade Animal. At £35 it's a little more than I'd be happy to pay, but the beautiful colour and quality really make you feel a million dollars. This bra is true to size in the back but runs about a size small in the cup. I tried a 28H on first as I thought I was a 28GG, but as you can see from the photo below, it was too small and I was bulging out.

Laura then brought out a 28HH (which I must admit scared me a little!) that fitted beautifully, but not as I personally like a bra to fit me. I felt it spread my boobs across my chest, which some women don't mind, but as I said before, I prefer them pushed forward and together. All in all, this bra is beautiful and luxurious, but the shape is just not for me. Here's one last photo of the 28H and 28HH side by side. The 28H looks good from the front, but remember the photo above.

Time for bed, and what better to wear than a nightdress with an in-built bra, right? Wrong! The Moulin Rose nightdress at £45 is quite an extravagant buy for something to sleep in, so I was hoping it would be spot on. Unfortunately not. I tried on a 28GG/H, which was fine, but the overall fit was not flattering at all. This was not helped by the overly long straps and the fact that the three buttons at the back are IMPOSSIBLE to fasten. I struggled to open them with the damn thing right in front of my face! I'm not giving up hope on Bravissimo's nightwear as I've heard many good things, so try it for yourself, you might be surprised!

Bravissimo is well worth a visit, the staff are really helpful and know their stuff, down to the size discrepancies in various shapes and brands. y only issue with the Manchester store is that it's very small and doesn't stock a lot in my size, but Laura said she could order my size in if I wished. I promised Laura I'd mention her as she was wonderful, I just hope she gets to read this!

Thursday 23 February 2012

Time for a New Look?

A few days ago I went into New Look and saw a few dresses I liked the look of, so I thought I'd share them with you lovely lot! Before I start, my quiff got rained on, so I apologise for the messy hair!!

First up, this jersey wrap dress with belt, £17.99. I tried a size 8 in this, and although the body was fine, I found the sleeves a bit tight. Not too tight as it's made from a stretchy jersey fabric, but if you don't have twig arms, this might annoy you. It's a nice, versatile, staple piece for your wardrobe and could be dressed up or down easily with tights, leggings, heels, flats, whatever you fancy.

The next dress I tried is another wrap dress, this time with short sleeves and a cute ditsy print. I've searched and searched but I can't seem to find this one on their website I'm afraid, although I did find this one in a different pattern, £22.99. I accidentally picked up a size 6 in this one. It's not too bad a fit, but I think a little 'fashion tape' or a camisole wouldn't go amiss! 

Lastly for New Look, and the reason I went in there is this gorgeous tartan skater dress, £22.99. I saw Emma Watson in an Alexander McQueen tartan puffball dress last year and fell in love with it, so I was glad to find a poor man's version!

The fabric is a good quality ponti, and the black and orange tartan is printed on. I love the cut of the dress, it's a very flattering fit and the skirt is pleated, unlike other dresses in the shops at the moment which I feel gives it a higher quality look. I must admit, I'm not keen on the colours chosen for the tartan, I think the orange cheapens it somewhat. I was doubtful that the size 8 would fit, but as you can see in the photo, it's perfect.

I didn't buy any of the dresses above but out of the three, I liked the tartan one the most. I will definately go back to New Look in the future as their clothes seem to fit my curves quite well. I'm off to search for that perfect tartan dress....

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Everything you need to know about Star In A Bra 2012 but were afraid to ask...

'Twas the night before 'SIAB', when all through the house
ran a curvy girl giggling, in nowt but her pants.
Lingerie sets were thrown here and there,
in hope that Curvy Kate would choose her to show off their wares.

If you're reading this, it's likely you're thinking of entering Star In A Bra. Curvy Kate run their model search competition annually and this year entries open on February 23rd 2012. Yes, tomorrow!

It might seem quite a daunting task to pose for someone you don't know in just your skimpies, so I've written this to help you make your mind up whether or not you should enter. Last year I didn't know what I was letting myself in for. I entered on a whim after spying the link on Simply Yours. I had no idea I'd be chosen for the top 30 public vote, let alone make it into the top 10!

The Rules

Curvy Kate are looking for ladies with natural breasts in a D-K cup of any shape or size, aged 18 or above to flaunt their curves. The winner will be crowned 2012's Star In A Bra and will win, amongst other things, a year-long modelling contract with Curvy Kate!

That means that even if you have stretch marks, cellulite, tattoos, scars or in my case an extra nipple, and you know how to work your killer curves, YOU ARE Star In A Bra material! So....are you thinking of entering?

The Photos

Curvy Kate ask for five photos in total. Three must be body shots in lingerie or swimwear so they can see your beautiful body and the other two photos must be head shots with only yourself in the shot. Here are my top tips to get the best photos:

1. Choose sets that you love and that you KNOW you look amazing in! Your confidence will sparkle in your eyes.

2. Practice your poses in front of the mirror beforehand and take inspiration from lingerie brochures on line, such as Curvy Kate's 2012 collection!

3. Take numerous shots, even for just one pose. Sometimes cameras act strangely and might not focus or the light won't be quite right.

4. Use the timer function on your camera. If you don't have a tripod it doesn't matter, use a pile of books or DVDs. I always set up a mirror behind my camera so I can see what is it in the viewfinder too.

5. Try tilting your head a little, dropping your chin, lifting your shoulders a touch, moving your arms. Don't just stick to the same pose.

6. Make an effort with your hair, make-up and lighting. Show Curvy Kate you value the competition and yourself!

7. Smile and show your personality! Curvy Kate want to see that you're comfortable in your own skin and that you're having a ball posing in your undies! If you're not, then maybe Star In A Bra isn't for you.

Here's one of my original entry photos I submitted last year

The Highs
For me, entering Star In A Bra has made me happier and more confident about the way I look. It also enabled me to become friends with a fabulous group of busty ladies, including fellow top 10 beauties Georgina Horne, Astrid Lopez, Lizzie Haines, 'The Hot Blonde One' and Amanda Navin. We are all part of a wider on line community who help each other find bras and clothes to fit our curves. We're all different shapes and sizes, each have our own hang ups but we're all proud of what our mammas gave us!

I've since done a few unpaid modelling jobs for my local newspaper, The Sentinel, so although being in the competition hasn't given me any financial gain, I've enjoyed the shoots and seeing the results.

Even if you don't make it through to the top 30, you'll more than likely find it quite liberating and even just taking the photos will give your body confidence a real boost!

I'm so glad I entered and have no regrets about it. It was a wonderful experience and I've had a blast ever since! All the highs and lows are totally worth it because at the end of the day, you've had the balls to enter!

The Lows
It's worth knowing what kind of issues you might encounter if you get through to the top 30. I can only speak from personal experience and each girl had a different experience.

1. The biggest hurdle is breaking it to your friends, family, workmates and/or partner that you've been chosen to face a public vote wearing nothing but your undies! This can be difficult, especially if you didn't tell them you were entering. Don't be put off by this, I found that everyone was supportive and proud. Don't try to keep it a secret, you'll need all the votes and support you can get. I was lucky enough to have a work colleague who was in contact with the local paper because she dealt with our marketing, so she contacted them to get me some more publicity that way.

2. You WILL get lots of male attention, whether you like it or not, including sexually explicit messages! I know a few of the other girls blocked incoming messages to their facebook accounts, or set up a second profile. I still receive friend requests every few days from men who have seen me on line as a result of Star In A Bra.

3. You may get some negativity. Personally I had someone say I wasn't representing the competition well as I said I'd lost weight. The way I see it is that I lost weight because I personally felt I needed to, and made myself happier with my appearance. If I was still the same weight I would have been not so happy, and would never have even considered entering the competition. It's a personal thing. If you're happy with your own body then fantastic. I was in awe of the variety of shapes and sizes in the top 10, It was fabulous and inspiring! The other negativity I got was from one person who'd set up a fake Facebook accouint, seemingly to harrass me by sending me messages calling me fat. I blocked them. I can guarantee that you'll get a lot more positivity from being in the competition than negativity!

4. If you're lucky enough to find yourself t's hard work. It really is. I found it exhausting trying to put myself out there whilst working a full time job. On my lunch hour I'd go around shops, leaving posters with tear off strips with them, bits of paper with my name and where to vote scattered around in public loos, changing rooms, amongst other leaflets. Then when I got home from work, I'd spend hours finding suitable facebook groups to join and post my link on anything from Quagmire fans (giggidy!) to Jessica Rabbit fans and everything in between! You kind of feel like you're selling your soul to the devil but it's all neccessary to win votes. For the top 10 vote I created this 'campaign poster' too!

And Finally...
So I think that's everything you need to know about entering Star In A Bra 2012! Unfortunately there can only be one winner. Don't be disappointed wherever you end up in the competition. You've done something amazing just by entering! If there's anything else you'd like to know, just ask!

Submissions close on March 16th.

Good Luck Ladies!

Wednesday 15 February 2012

The Triple Nipple Club

This one's a bit of a silly post I know, but I read on wikipedia that 1 in every 50 women have supernumerary nipples. I am one of those weirdos! It's NOT a mole, it's a third nipple. I've checked numerous photos online and yep, it's a full-blown nubbin.

According to folklore, extra nipples meant you were a witch, the nipple being used to suckle Satan himself! I'd be okay with that if it were true. I'd love to be able to cast magic, although back in the dark ages, when women were sometimes tried for being witches, extra nipples were seen as 100% proof and subsequently would lead to certain death! Harsh!

So, you're now wondering where it is and what it looks like, right? Mine is situated below my left breast, typically along the 'milk line'. In fact, I found this diagram online and mine is exactly where the labelled one is;

If you look closely it's visible on all my photos. Here's a closer shot of it, enjoy!!

My nubbin has never bothered me. I know some people have them removed and even pierced! Radio presenter Jo Whiley had hers removed, while Lily Allen famously flashed hers on TV! 

So do you have any extra bits? Of so, let me know!

The moral of the story is that NOBODY'S PERFECT!

Monday 13 February 2012

'Real Women": you just can't win.

I realise this topic has been blogged to death, but it’s been on my mind lately. For the past 10 years or so, there has been a notable movement to feature more ‘real women’ in the media. This all started off well, with Dove toiletries using women of all shapes, sizes and colours in their adverts. Apparently, these women are ‘real’. The definition of real is merely that it exists, so while some argue that this is a silly term to use, I’m of the other way of thinking, in that it’s possibly the shortest and most accurate description they could have used. By real, they mean someone you’d see in the street, your neighbour, the woman sat next to you on the bus, not an airbrushed professional model. I’m not suggesting the ‘real women’ aren’t photoshopped too, because they will be, but in a different manner, such as evening out skintone rather than taking off inches of an already slender body. It’s become a sad fact of life that we’ve grown to prefer the photoshopped image. So what do we prefer? Do 'real women' sell?

The Dove 'Real Women' campaign

Now, it seems the more and more we're seeing 'real' women, the more we're seeing bigger women. I completely agree with using plus size models; it gives us an idea how products will look on a more average figure (which is supposedly a UK 16) but, as pointed out by my boyfriend,  plus sized  models with a less than average figure are used. How many size 16 women do you see that have perfectly proportioned hips, bust and a enviably small waist, with long legs and toned arms? Not many, right? On a size 16 woman you'd see in the street, you're more likely to see an apple shape with bingo wings. In reality, would we really want to see the average shaped (and that's what it boils down to here-shape, not size) woman modelling?

Two average plus-sized women you'd see in the street

For every nice comment ("it's good to see someone like ME modelling") about a plus sized model, there are 10 nasty comments ("pig in knickers")....and in come the "curvy vs skinny" (Yaaaaawn) brigade. People, for whatever reason, feel the need to take sides and bash the opponent. I'm interested to know why. Is it jealousy? Do they believe themselves to be 'better' than the other party somehow? Why do they? Is it a health thing? An aesthetics thing? It always boils down to a matter of personal opinion, although why some people feel the need to express their opinions so brutally is beyond me. When I was in Star In A Bra last year I got a little abuse from someone who made it their job to repeatedly tell me I'm fat. Even Lizzie Haines, the stunning brunette who won the competition also came under fire from a few Daily Mail readers recently when she featured in an article about her winning the 'Plus Size Model of the Year' title from 100% people. I'm guessing these are the sort of people who have an average sized girlfriend/wife at home, yet feel the need to look online at pictures of airbrushed Victoria's Secret models, wishing they were theirs. Well, GET REAL, look what you have and learn to appreciate it, and don't abuse others for their success! I understand this will never happen and being in the spotlight will always leave you open to abuse, no matter what your size and shape :(

Typical 'Skinny Vs Curvy' propaganda

Does it sell?
I'm not bashing plus sized women, don't get me wrong, I'm just pointing out that in the grand scheme of things, the fashion industry can't win when it comes to models. Pepperberry infamously use increasingly smaller models and claim that when larger models were used, their sales figures dropped. Have we all become moulded into the belief that slimmer women look better? Women say they want 'real women' to model the clothes they might want to buy, yet when they do, sales drop? Really Pepperberry??

An old Pepperberry model, no longer used

One of Pepperberry's newer, slimmer models

Recently, Lucy Ann Moore won the competition for Ann Summers to seek out a new model. I walked past Ann Summers on Saturday morning and rather than featuring the model that the public had voted for, a thinner model was being used on the main advertising board, even though I KNOW Lucy was photographed in the very same outfit. And what's more, just take a look at their home page here. Where is Lucy? Is it all merely a publicity stunt? Who cares if they use the model afterwards, they've got people interested in their company by launching the competition and by getting people to vote and share. I care, as I'm sure many others do too. I think it's unfair on Lucy. I realise it's early days but even so...

Lucy Ann Moore

One company you WON'T see hiding their public's choice is Curvy Kate. Their Star In A Bra competition runs annually and last years' winner, Lizzie Haines has enjoyed a whole year of modelling and publicity. Obviously I'm slightly biased towards Curvy Kate, as I featured in the 2011 Star In A Bra top 10 myself. Curvy Kate are only too happy to parade their winner! Check out Lizzie's website, Do It Momma too, you'll see she's more than just a pretty face (and bangin' bod)!

Lizzie Haines

Time to wrap this up as I feel I'm rambling on waaaay too much!

My solution is indeed costly, but companies would find it would make their customers love them more, and thus increase sales. It is to simply use three models per product; one at the smallest end of their size range, not one so small that the clothes have to be pinned to fit-one in the ACTUAL smallest size they make, the next at the largest end of their range, and one in between. It could be argued that this method is costly both moneywise and timewise as the company would use three models, but they tend to use that amount of models anyway a lot of the time. Why not show size variation rather than colour variation (as in colouring, not a racial thing! You know, skintone, hair colour, etc.), as this is what tends to be used currently. I'm interested to know what you think? What would sell the product to you? Someone with the same skintone and hair colour or someone in the same size?

Please let me know your opinions :)