Friday, April 17, 2015

Lingerie Lust List: Summer 2015

It's been a while since I posted a list bras that I've been lusting after.

Now that my size has finally settled in and I've decided which brands work best for me, my lust list is a bit more practical and designed to suit my body and breast shape. I've also found myself becoming more picky. Now that the excitement of pretty bras in my size has worn off I find myself searching for bras that suit my shape and personal style.

Now I just have to convince Mr. Clean to let me budget out enough to buy a handful of these...

Without further ado!

Curvy Kate Arizona - in two colorways!

Styled after the Daily Boost, this bra was created to be the perfect combination of cute and practical. While I find the Denim colorway incredibly charming, my heart is immediately drawn to the AW2015 version in that beautiful, deep navy. It's covered in little yellow and orange polka dots that look like they would be absolutely darling without showing through clothes. The Daily Boost is my favorite bra of all time but it is also the plainest bra in my drawer so I'm looking forward to purchasing one of these!

Tutti Rouge Beatrice in Spotted Mint

I've stated many times before how deep my love affair with polka dots runs. I'm also completely obsessed with anything in mint and plunge bras. So, naturally, this bra is the trifecta of perfection for me. It's a bit young looking but it does have a rather vintage appeal to it, so it's not likely to be a bra I'm going to shy away from any time soon.

Tutti Rouge Liliana in Rouge

I never had much time for Liliana when she first debuted. I've never been a fan of bubblegum pink and it's never done much for me either. But this rouge color just tickles my fancy! Of all of Tutti Rouge's bras, the Liliana seems to have the deepest cup so I've put this lovely option on the lust list. 

Curvy Kate Temptress in Champagne



This bra is part of Curvy Kates AW15 collection so you can't purchase it yet. A padded plunge that goes all the way up to a J cup in 30-40 backs is a HUGE win for the H+ cup group who has had to squeeze themselves into Freya Decos to get a decent, padded T-shirt bra. I know it sounds crazy, but I'm thinking of purchasing two. One to wear with the sexy black embroidery on and one to remove the embroidery from so I can wear it under thin and light colored shirts (because the Smoothie isn't available in my size.)

Curvy Kate Daily Dream

Curvy Kate's Daily Dream is a redesign of their Daily Boost bra. The Daily Dream is designed to be more rounded than its predecessor with beautiful, up-front coverage. With the Daily Boost being my favorite bra of all time I can't WAIT to see what their redesign looks like. 

Fantasie Elodie

I have never owned a Fantasie bra - not because they aren't well made but because in my experience they have always had unpredictable sizing and I've always found them to be a little dull and matronly looking on me. (Sorry Fantasie!) But recently their colorways have been expanding and for the first time I've found a Fantasie bra I just can't live without. I spotted it on Bravissimo but since Fantasie is located in the states I can probably find one at a shop near here. Looking forward to trying this one on!

Bravissimo Genevieve

I've only ever owned one Bravissimo bra as they're only sold from one retailer - Bravissimo of course. I'm not normally interested in bright colors like this one, but there's something about the tone of this particular bra that I absolutely adore. The warm color is perfect for an autumn day and would brighten up any winter blues. (Not that I'm thinking about those! We just finally got spring in Kentucky!)

Bravissimo Rococo Charm

I've had my eye on Bravissimo half cup bras for a while but haven't quite found the right one. THIS is the right one. The colors on this set are stunning - and that's coming from a girl who doesn't even like pink. It's equal parts girly and sexy and I HAVE to add it to my wardrobe. 

There you have it, my favorite bras of 2015. What are your must-have's for this year? Tell me in the comments below! 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Why #DropthePlus Isn't The Answer

If you've been trolling the internet in the past few days you'll have certainly seen heavy debate surrounding the #Droptheplus movement. (If you're not familiar with it, #droptheplus is a campaign to drop the term Plus-Size from all models.) It was started by actress and model Ajay Rochester and Australian model, Stefania Ferrario who hates the idea that the media considers her a plus size model. (And, if I'm being honest, so do I.) But for every woman who hates the term plus size there is another who loves and embraces it and finds freedom in the term. How in the world did this term become so polarized? 

As a size 14-16 I find myself right in the middle of the clothing scale. I find myself fitting into the top end of most clothing ranges - but there have been so many times that the XL was too small for me. And yet I'm not quite in the plus size range. I've always found plus size clothes to fit too large on my frame so I'm not shopping in that department either. And yet I firmly believe we need to keep the "Plus."

So what right does a girl who isn't plus size have anything to say about the #droptheplus movement? Stay with me a moment and hear me out. 

In the days before blogging I watched the plus sized women around me struggle to find clothes suitable for their bodies. They browsed catalogs meant for plus sized women that were filled with size 4 and 6 models. They complained loudly about the lack of photos of women in their sizes who were modeling clothes designed for their bodies. Because, clearly, the way an item fits on a size six has no reflection on how the same shirt will fit a size 16 or 26. They weren't unhappy with their bodies - just the way the media treated them. This always left a profound impact on me and a sour taste in my mouth. 

We all know that the modeling industry has long been out of touch with the average woman. While women come in all shapes, sizes and colors, only women with long, lean bodies and virtually no breasts or ass walk the runway. France has made it illegal to glorify anorexia online and yet any woman who dares wear a size larger than 4 on a runway or in photographs is considered a plus-size model. This kind of standard sets up a dangerous precedent for young girls. Not because there is anything wrong with being plus size but because it further enforces the idea that only those in the under-4 sizes can be considered beautiful and worthy of modeling. It definitely had a strong effect on me in my younger years. When I was a size six I was practically starving myself because I was fully convinced I was fat. And in my mind, fat equaled bad and ugly. And I see it affecting my sister who is 16 and is frequently self-deprecating on Instagram. 

In my college years I struggled with anorexia and body dis-morphia. And yet as I grew up and grew out I found inspiration in plus size models and blogs like that of Gabifresh and Tess Munster. I learned to love my body and discovered that I could have my own sense of style that wasn't bound to fashion created for wafer-thin women. The internet is a great equalizer. Unlike the magazines and catalogs I'd grown up with, it gives everyone a voice and the voice of the body love movement was determined to be heard. And because of this I've come to love the term plus-size and all it represents. It represents beauty and respect and love for yourself and others. Although I don't use it for myself because I know that if I were to walk into a plus-size section of a store I'm not going to fit into any of those clothes, I draw so much wardrobe inspiration from blogs and pins from plus-size bloggers. 

Rocking a crop top and pleated skirt at my band's most recent show.

There are still people in my life who scoff at my decision to wear things like crop tops and horizontal stripes. But I've stopped letting those people control how I feel about my body and the choices I make in my wardrobe. And you know what? I feel amazing. I love my clothes. I love my body. And my friends see my confidence and envy it. Friends who are thinner than me vocalize their dreams of being as body confident as I am. And I have the ability to direct them to plus size bloggers where they can find confidence and love for their bodies. 

When you stop wasting time worrying about what other people think of your body
 you can start spending time doing things you love, like performing.

And while the dream of dropping the plus is a nobel one, rooted in good intention, I think the most important step is to remove the negative connotation associated with the term plus size and to stop referring to straight size models as plus size models. I understand that the term plus size often comes with the idea that women are larger than they should be, but it doesn't have to be that way. Let's change it. We DO have that power. 

The truth is, we can't just throw away our labels. It doesn't work like that. We can't just get rid of the label because nixing the label won't remove the problem. We need to start demanding that the fashion industry embrace women of all sizes. We need to let women love themselves instead of trying to force their bodies to be a smaller size. We need to fuel inspiration rather than desperation. We need to let the plus size bloggers shine and continue to break rules that so many are STILL setting for them. And for that, we need the Plus.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Review: Diva Cup Menstrual Cup

The older I get the more crazy crunchy I become. I recycle everything. I make my own granola. I go for reusable items whenever possible (camelbak bottles, coffee cups, etc) and lately I've been scoping out reusable menstrual items. 

And I'm just going to warn you - you're going to have to get to know your lady flower REALLY well if you want to use one. If you're totally grossed out by the idea of touching the inside of your vagina, the menstrual cup may not be for you. But if you're comfortable with your body and its processes (or your ready to be) and you don't have time to mess around with changing your pad or tampon every hour because you're a very busy lady with important things to do, it might be time to take the plunge and buy a menstrual cup.

I've found myself watching hour after hour of videos from Precious Star Pads, a period vlogger from England. Warning, once you start watching her videos you might not be able to stop. And with her encouragement - along with several of my crunchy friends - I bought my first cup, a Diva Cup

I chose the Diva Cup for two reasons. The primary one is that it was something I could purchase in-store in my hometown. Living in the USA really limits your options as we are a country that loves our disposables. The second reason I chose the Diva Cup was thanks to this handy online quiz that helps you pick the best cup for you. 

So, on to the review! 

Diva Cups come in two sizes simply called Size 1 and Size 2. Size 1 is recommended for women under thirty or who haven't given birth and Size 2 is recommended for women over thirty or who have given birth. Size 2 is a little bigger to accommodate for the changes in your body that occur after giving birth. (I sound like I'm teaching health class...) I'm 27 and I chose the Size 1 and I'm pretty positive it's the right size for me. 

The Diva Cup is made of medical-grade silicone and has a nice firm feel to it. It pops open pretty easily and has fantastic measuring lines on the inside to help you gauge how much blood your shedding each month - if that's important to you. It easily holds an ounce of blood, which doesn't seem like much but you'll find you bleed much less than you expect. It has a hollow stem with nice grips on it. I cut my stem completely off because I found I could feel it and it wasn't comfortable for me but if you have a high cervix you may want to keep it intact - your choice. If you choose to cut off the stem take comfort in knowing that the cup has great grip rings on the bottom so you can still grab it easily for removal. Your cup should be cleaned with the Diva Wash or with unscented water-based soap and boiled at the end of your cycle.

The Diva Cup comes with a cute little purple bag to store your cup in. This is great because you can just throw the cup into your purse so you're never in a situation where you've started and don't have a tampon with you so you're running around the office waddling like a penguin asking for a tampon and letting EVERY SINGLE WOMAN in your office know that you're bleeding and you're probably going to be feeling cranky, eating chocolate and listening to Backstreet Boy (or Etta James, to each their own) for the next week. 

 There is definitely a learning curve for inserting the cup and making sure your cervix is directly above or in the cup so you don't leak. I watched several videos on different folding methods and experimented to figure out which one was best for me. I personally like the punch down method best and find it works well with the Diva Cup. I did find that when I first started using the cup the punch down method would often get the cup hung on my cervix and cause leaks. The best way to figure out whether your cup is all the way open is (and this is where you get to know your lady flower) to squat down and slide your index finger into your vagina after inserting the cup and run it around the outside of the cup to ensure that your cervix is either above or in the cup. (I have a low cervix and find that my cervix is often in the cup. And though this is advised against, it doesn't cause leakage for me.) The packaging recommends turning the cup in a full circle after inserting to ensure that it's all the way open. I personally find this method to be difficult and not necessarily the best way to tell if the cup is open. 

For my first cycle I found it easiest to insert and remove the cup while standing in the shower because I could wash it right then and because I hadn't quite gotten the hang of removing it without spilling blood everywhere. (I've now gotten the hang of it and can empty it outside of the shower.) I'd highly recommend emptying in the shower for your first cycle or two. The steam helps you relax and get the cup into place. And if you don't get it right the first time you can just remove it, rinse it, and try again. The best way to remove your Diva Cup is to squat, bear down, pinch the bottom of the cup to release the seal and pull it out. Don't worry, pinching the cup isn't going to cause all the blood to go everywhere. I was worried about that but I haven't had it happen to me once, not even on my heaviest days. If you struggle to reach or remove it don't panic just relax and try again. (You can call your gynecologist if you're really really struggling to remove it, but that's a pretty rare occurrence. Your vagina is only around 4 inches deep so it can't get lost in there.)  

Once you get the hang of inserting it and establishing a good seal you no longer worry about leaks. In fact, the Diva Cup can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time. Did you catch that? 12 HOURS! Like I said, you're a very important grown-up woman with things to do. You don't have time to be changing your tampon every hour! (Or even every few hours.) Plus, have you ever noticed that tampons and pads have a distinct, unpleasant smell to them? (I was always worried someone else was going to smell me.) Yeah, you don't have that with menstrual cups. Plus you don't get that obnoxious rash/sore skin that you get with tampons and pads because everything is worn internally. And as I mentioned in my last post you don't have wet strings. YES!

By some crazy black magic the Diva Cup has decreased my cramps. I have no idea how this works. I'm just going to enjoy this glorious side effect of moving to reusables. (Cue chorus of angels singing.)

I'm tempted to try a few different cups but I've fallen so in love with those wonderful little grip rings on the Diva Cup that I'm hesitant to try anything else without grip rings. 

The Diva Cup website recommends replacing your cup every year but it's really up to you to decide when to toss it. If you're using it in conjunction with other cups or with other menstrual products you will probably be able to use it longer than a year with proper care and storage. 

Seriously ladies, if you're considering using a menstrual cup the Diva Cup is a GREAT choice. I highly recommend it! I bought mine at my local Whole Foods store but if you're looking for it in your area just pop over to the website and enter your address to find the closest retailer. 

Disclaimer: I bought this cup with my own money and was not endorsed in any way for this review. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

7 Cool Reasons to Use a Menstrual Cup

Ladies, I used to hate my period. Ever since I got my Paragard three years ago I have had terrible periods. The kind that go through the super-duper, extra-large, pillow-sized tampons and leave stains on your mattress that makes it look like the fight of a century occurred while you were sleeping.  I always slept with a super-plus tampon and an extra long pad and panties on and refused to cuddle with my husband for a week for fear I would mark him with my lady-shame. For someone who firmly believes in embracing our bodies I was failing miserably at loving mine for a week every month. 

"It's not my fault I have a heavy flow and a wide set vagina"

This all changed when I bought a menstrual cup. I can't believe it took me so long and I'll never go back to disposables again. 

Some of you may have heard of menstrual cups and some of you might have already converted to the this religion where we worship the goddesses of silicone and rubber. Menstrual cups are trendy and crunchy and most of us have heard the environmental reasons for using a menstrual cup (they don't contain chemicals like tampons, they aren't filling up landfills, yada yada yada) and while I'm a HUGE proponent of recycling and living a green life, the other benefits of the menstrual cup greatly outweigh my environmental reasons for using one. So, if you've never heard of the cup before or you just haven't take the plunge yet, here are my seven "cool" reasons why menstrual cups beat disposables, with a little help from "Mean Girls."

1. They don't have to be changed as often as pads and tampons.

As a girl with a heavy flow, I was frequently stopping off into the ladies to change a pad or tampon. I was CONSTANTLY worried about leaking onto my pants or skirt. (And, in fact, I frequently did.) I can't tell you how many pairs of panties I ruined because I couldn't get to the ladies in time and leaked through my tampon or pad. I had to keep a separate set of undies for shark week that I didn't mind ruining. Mr. Clean always knew when it was lady time because I wore my ugly stained panties. But with the menstrual cup I only have to empty it every 6-12 hours. Even on my heaviest days I have only had to change it every four hours (and that's because due to a medical condition I occasionally miss periods and then the next month have what I call "double periods.") Which leads me to my next point:

2. They Don't Leak.

Once you figure out how to use a menstrual cup properly (there's a bit of a learning curve, but it only took me one cycle) you won't ruin any more of your adorable undies with blood stains. This means wearing your cute panties and feeling adorable during your period. It also means going swimming without having that obnoxious, swollen-tampon feeling. I no longer spend my days in fear that I'm going to hit the loo and find that I've been walking around with blood on my pants for an hour. And I now feel free to take long road trips or hop in a friends car without worry of leaving a big stain on their seat. So now you can stop wearing dark jeans and black yoga pants during your period. 

3. They Save You Shit Tons of Money

Every month I was forking over money for tampons and pads that I could have spent on shoes. I was essentially throwing money away. Your menstrual cup with probably cost you $30-$40 but it can last for years which means you have more money to spend on shoes or chocolate or whatever else makes you feel better when you're dealing with period woes.  

4. They don't make that terrible plastic sound when you use them in a public restroom.

Let's be honest. We're all wondering why they can't just make tampons and pads that don't make noise. There is nothing quite like the sound of a plastic pad being torn open. You're just sitting in the ladies, trying to be inconspicuous when "Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrip." 
And you're just staring down at that little demon with your best Regina George face like this:

5. They don't cause cramps.

Anyone who has ever had period cramps may now rejoice. By some mysterious black magic my menstrual cup has curbed my cramps. I have no idea how it works but I'm not the only woman who has had this amazing side effect. This month I didn't have a single moment of wondering whether or not it was possible to accidentally overdose on ibuprofen because I couldn't remember how many hours it had been since I'd taken it. In fact, this month I didn't need to take any ibuprofen at all.

And usually I avoid coffee and caffeinated beverages during my period because they make the cramps worse. But this month I had my morning espresso every day and didn't once have an issue. 

 That's impressive for a girl who's had to call in sick because the cramps and flow were too awful to go it. 

6. They don't hurt

Ever try to pull out a tampon that wasn't full? It feels like a thousand razors scraping out the skin of your vaginal walls. Unlike tampons, Menstrual cups can be taken out anytime - without pain. Plus, once you get your cup in place and your stem trimmed to the right length (I cut mine off completely) you can't even feel it. They look big, but I swear, most of the time I forget that I'm even on my period. 

7. No more wet strings

Because your menstrual cup is completely inside your body you don't have to deal with wet strings. Need I say more?

Bonus: No more sore lady parts

For me, the worst part about having my period was how sore I would get from having period strings and pads rubbing me raw for a week. By the end of my period I should have been rejoicing and jumping back in the sack with Mr. Clean but I was so sore from the week from hell that I had to give my skin another day just to recover. But now, as soon as it's over I'm feeling hot and ready to kick ass and take names!

Seriously ladies. Not even Regina George can argue with these reasons. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Review: Curvy Kate Daily Boost

Curvy Kate and I have had a tumultuous relationship. It's been a bit love-hate from the start. My first properly fitting bra was the Emily, a style they have since discontinued but is quite similar to the current offering of Romance. I was immediately in love. It was so much better than any of my bras in the past but upon further wear I discovered that it had fit issues. It came up a cup size too small and yet it was too tall on the sides and I often felt like it was stabbing me under the arms. I quickly outgrew it as I adjusted to properly sized bras and sold it to another good home. 

My next Curvy Kate experience was to try on a large selection of beautiful bras at A Sophisticated Pair in North Carolina. The bras were beautiful and well-constructed but the straps were all too wide-set and made my boobs look both ways or be awkwardly pointy which left me feeling frustrated. 

I won a Curvy Kate Gia in one of their giveaways.  I adored the color and comfort of the bra and the wires were the perfect width for me. Many find Curvy Kate's wires a little wide but I actually prefer them to others like Panache where I am constantly pulling them back to keep them from stabbing me. Unfortunately, for all it's great points I just couldn't get over the awkward shape it gave my boobs. It gave me an obvious downward point to my boobs which I found horribly unattractive. It took me a while to figure out what was causing the funny shape because it fully encased my breasts without over spill and going up a size would have just caused gaping and loose fabric at the top. I finally realized that that this shape was caused by the shape not working for my breasts. The bra was designed to give full-on-the-bottom breasts a great shape and wasn't working with my super full-on-top shape. Most of my flesh on my boobs is above the nipple and it was pushing down on the bra giving it this terrible pointy shape.

My shape in the Gia. 
I was just about to give up on Curvy Kate ever working for me when along came the Brastop £13 sale. (That's about $21 for Americans like me.) Last fall I lost my job and new bras haven't been in my budget until now. I'm still trying to get caught up on the bills, but since a $21 bra is utterly unheard of in my size I decided I just had to grab one while I could. I decided to give Curvy Kate one more chance and I went for the Daily Boost in Mocha in a 34J since, in my experience, Curvy Kate tends to run a little small in the cup. I was hesitant but I figured I could probably return it if it was a terrible fit. I have to say, I'm so glad I gave it another go. 

The Daily Boost is a bit of an anomaly. Its one of the few padded bras that go all the way to a K cup - even in a 40 band. I find that I prefer moulded cups but it's so hard to find one in 34HH/J especially one that doesn't buckle in the front, wrinkle in the cups, or give "orange in a glass" effect (where the bra cup is too shallow for the boob leaving empty space in the bottom or sides.) The Daily Boost is less like a traditional moulded cup in that it's actually a three part cup that is foam-lined. This gives it the support and shaping power of a three-part-cup while giving the comfort and security of a moulded cup. I've always felt more secure in lined cups despite the fact that they add additional inches to my already extra-large boobs. (That has never been enough to deter me from wearing them.)  I find them to be much more comfortable than a three-part-cup and have a lot fewer issues caused by the dreaded "seam lumps." (Where your bra seam cuts into your breasts giving your boobs a weird, sectioned-off shape.) 

I can't say I'm wowed with the appearance of this bra but it is an every day bra after all. The Mocha colorway is duo-tone with a pretty brown fabric and slightly lighter trim and accents. The straps are fully adjustable and wide so they don't dig in like some of my Panache bras tend to. They are designed with slip-resistant trimming so they don't get looser and slide off my shoulders mid-day. The bra has a partial band running under the cups but I don't find that it rolls up or under and it gives just enough padding that I don't feel stabbed or rubbed wrong by the 
underwires. I find the construction to be solid, I have't experienced any fraying or loose threads and I've worn it almost every other day for a month.

Like the Gia I find the shape to be just a tiny bit pointy. (I think most Curvy Kate bras are a bit more suited to lower fullness.) However, It's not enough to deter me from wearing the bra.  The distance between the cups (aka width of the gore) is a little more than I usually go for but I don't find it too shallow at the center nor do I find that it gives me an East-West look. The gore is not a plunge but I wouldn't call it too high either. It's in a perfect middle spot where I'm not falling out the center like I do in the Freya Deco but I'm also not getting stabbed in the sternum like I do in the Panache full cup and balconette bras. In fact, it tacks but I don't even notice it. The wires are on the wider side - which I prefer - but don't come all the way around my sides.My roots are on the wider side so if you need a narrow root I don't recommend it but if you find that brands like Elomi's wires are too wide for you this is a great option. I don't have any empty space anywhere in the cup and I don't have any overspill but I also don't feel like it's covering so much of my boobs so that it affects which neckline I choose. The wings and back are made of a breathable mesh that is strong and quite stretchy. I find it's true to size at a 34.

(awesome tan lines right?)

I didn't get the matching briefs but I happened to have some that were a pretty close match, so I usually try to wear them together. (I'm a sucker for a matching set.)

Honestly, this is one of the best bras I've ever worn. I really can't believe I'm saying that after almost gave up on Curvy Kate altogether. I hardly even want to take it off long enough to wash it. I'm completely in love with it. It really gives me hope that I can find another Curvy Kate that works just as well for me. Though, I do think I think I'll be sticking with their lined bras for a while. (Right now I have my sights set on the Lola in black!) 

Seriously, if you want to fall in love with a bra head over to Brastop and pick up one of the Daily Boosts by Curvy Kate. They are currently available in white, black, beige and mocha. I promise you won't be disappointed.