The Label Says to Stop Staring! But It Just Isn’t Possible – Review of the Billion Dollar Baby Dress

Not too long ago, I won a dress from Jessica M’s blog Pin Up Persuasion; she had a blogaversary giveaway, and I was the lucky winner of the Billion Dollar Baby dress from Stop Staring!.

You can get the Billion Dollar Baby Dress from their website by clicking here!

Based on what the lovely Ashley at Stop Staring! told me, and based on my measurements, I selected the size 18 in black. By the numbers, it should have been a bit teeny on my boobs, about right on my hips (though possibly largeish), and about two inches too big on the waist. I expected a tailoring bill, but hey, free dress! And stretchy sexy bengaline as the material! It’s always so forgiving!

Anyway, I had heard of Stop Staring! clothing several years ago. My gorgeous friend Dawn had lost quite a bit of weight (she looked amazing before and after the weight loss, so that isn’t the point of the post, thank you very much! Women of all sizes are beautiful, and no one need take this as an impetus to skip lunch), so she needed new clothes, and bought some dresses from Stop Staring! and I was taken aback by how gorgeous they were. Most of what she bought was a strappy or halter variety, which is frequently an incompatible style with my body. Don’t get me wrong, Dawn is a busty woman, but The Rack of Doom™  is kind of like that friend who sucks all the air out of the room when he/she speaks; kind of all-consuming and suffocating. Because Dawn was so long and lithe and curvy and gorgeous and I was a big fat heifer who couldn’t hope to find good clothing to fit (my mentality of then, not now, thank goodness!), I got the name of the clothing company but never bothered to look them up. I mean, who would make dresses that awesome to fit me?

After I won this contest, I was pleasantly surprised that I could find dresses which suited my measurements, and I’m larger now, due to still retaining a few pounds of post-pregnancy weight.

So the dress arrived.

I tried it on.

Poke me with a pitchfork, it fits like a dream.

SS! BDB Blk 18 Header

I don’t have to take it to the tailor at all! Something about the shaping tightens the waist, although it certainly could stretch more.

I love the square neckline on the back! The sleeves are puffy but a balanced sort of puffy, not that kind of puffy that adds 15 pounds just by putting on the dress. My arms aren’t the tiniest, but the sleeves were comfortable and not tight.

I tried this originally with a Freya Deco, but the straps showed a bit at the back. I’m wearing a Curvy Kate bra in these shots, and don’t have that problem, but Freya strap placement may be an issue in this dress. I didn’t have any band showing, so a strapless bra should work just fine. The dress is snug enough to where I don’t think slippage is a problem, which is so often an issue with strapless bras.

SS! BDB Blk 18 shadow pose

This is a wiggle dress, but so many times, I buy a wiggle dress and the skirt is not tight enough to induce the signature wiggle, and I have belling of excess fabric near my knees. I think that’s because my hip/butt/thigh area is so much larger than just above my knees is. I may have to do some research and get most wiggle dresses tailored in that spot. Buying a smaller size may sometimes fix that issue, but I’m almost certain that I would not have fit the 16 in this dress, and certainly not the 14! Typically, one sizes down with bengaline dresses, and I am between the measurements for the 14 and the 16 on the waist. I’m glad I went with the 18, since The Rack of Doom™ most certainly would not have fit in the smaller sizes.

I should note that I am not wearing shapewear with this. Not a damn thing.

I’m wearing my trusty Fluevog Listen Audrey pumps in black patent leather, and I actually managed to get a reasonable style from my hair. Color me stunned.

Meanwhile, I’m in love with this dress. Stop Staring? Naaaaaah. Not possible.

Hot Milk Nursing Bras Review – Her Tangled Web Tantalized and Luminous styles

Ok, So I had a baby in February of 2012, and being possessed of big knockers made the whole nursing bra thing a bit daunting. I was not enthused at the prospect of locating Even Bigger Bras (TM), and in specialty style to boot.

I usually start at Nordstrom or Intimacy, depending on what city I’m in. I had just moved back to Atlanta, so checked at Intimacy for my options. They completed the most recent in a long line of fails for me by not having anything in my size, or even anything within 5 cups of my size, and gave a nebulous answer of “Oh, check back in two weeks. Or four maybe.” It’ll be a long while before I try them for anything again. Again. And they held such promise years ago…

Then, I went into Nordstrom (same mall as Intimacy, so that was an easy jaunt) and the only nursing bra they had period was a taupe one that went up to a 38 F, so no amount of sister sizing and wishful thinking was going to come close to my 36H/38GG (UK sizing).

My trepidation and I went on a trip to Target, hoping for an alterable miracle. I was ready to forego comfort and full function just to obtain partial usefulness. I was foiled again, mainly due to length of the cups in the available nursing tanks; none of them came remotely close to covering my breasts top-to bottom. If people wonder why larger-busted women feel horrible about themselves, or are resistant to discovering their correct size, one only has to realize that if a full-busted woman can’t fit in a bra tank which is labeled XL, then she must think that she’s heifer huge. In this case, an XXXL wouldn’t have fit me, but apparently I’m the problem, not the society and manufacturers who make these preconceived notions and inferior garments.

I went on Figleaves.com to locate nursing bras, expecting my options to be huge, ugly, expensive, and perhaps available in (racist caucasian) nude. Maybe black if I were very, very lucky.

I’ve rarely been as happy to be wrong.

Meet Australian nursing bra maker Hot Milk. Even if you are not pregnant or nursing, have a look at their site and be pleasantly surprised about the awesome photo styling used to sell their lines; Hot Milk shows pregnant women as the sexy ladies they are! They’re so racy that they gained headlines earlier in 2012, and they even have a cheeky line of mens’ undies. Called “Milkman.” Because why not have a sense of humor about it?

So, I ordered two bras, the Her Tangled Web Tantalized in 36GG and the Luminous in 36G (UK sizes. In the US, that would have been a 36K and 36J, respectively).

Here’s the first:

Good god, it’s beautiful.

It’s lined in jersey knit cotton, so it’s so soft and comfortable. The straps are pretty and ruched! And lined. Lined straps. Straps lined in soft cotton. Shall I say the same thing, yet differently again? Fine – cotton lined straps as well!

It. Has. Six. Sets. Of. Hooks. Six. Talk about modifiable size and flexibility during body changes! The website is just full of useful info, and they say that they offer six sets of hooks to allow for diaphragm expansion during pregnancy. The website is sensational. Did I tell you to take a look at it yet? Did you listen? GO GO GO! But first, look at the details! The lace! The ribbon trim! The layered fabrics!

Oh, and I forgot: matching panties available too! I never would have thought that would be available to me as a pregnant woman at my size.

It looks ok on me, but I could likely have sized up in the cup. My left has always been an overachiever, though, and I expected no different from her during pregnancy and nursing.

 

The cotton lining truly does make this very comfortable. You’ll need the extra hooks to cinch in, as this stretches easily with wear – it’s designed to be more comfortable, so has less of the strong-arm elastics, and you’ll need to wash this more often to refresh the spring in the fibers.

The cons: I hate the uniboob which one gets with soft cup bras. Hate. But it’s a nursing bra, and my boobs belong to my kid for a bit, so I’ll shut up. I heard complaints that the flip-down cup does not open very far, but I found that to be a feature rather than a bug. The greater amount of fabric underneath the breast while the cup was open truly does assist with support for these damned things. The straps are stunning, strong, and comfortable, but I had to keep them covered when nursing or cuddling my baby; the ruching is rough on baby skin when the little ones root and nuzzle and rub their little faces on the straps! The large rings on the shoulder tops could be quite painful, but seeing as the weight was much more distributed with them than without, I’d rather I had them than not.

The Luminous bra in purple and white is just plain pretty!

It has all the same Hot Milk features, with matching panties, color layers, pretty lace, ribbon trims, lined cups and straps, and six sets of hooks.

It doesn’t fit me. It’s way too small in the cup, especially if I’m engorged. This is why I ordered two different sizes. This brand seems to run quite true to size, at least compared to my usual bras from Freya and Fantasie.

 

I successfully used these to hold pump suction cups hands-free while I pumped. I bought a pump bra also, but these worked just fine if I was already wearing one of them.

I cannot stress enough how amazing these are! And so very well made!

They are available on Figleaves.com (who have lovely sales from time to time – you should subscribe to their mailing list), and I also found them on Amazon. Is there anything this place doesn’t have? I’m not sure there is.

Figleaves is in the U.K., so bras ship from England. They have impeccable service, and I don’t have a bad thing to say about them. This pair of bras ran about $120, including shipping.

If you’re concerned about ordering from overseas, I’ll put some Amazon links here: Her Tangled Web Tantalized Bra and matching French panty.

I seem to have a Luminous colorway which may no longer be available, but here are the current Luminous styles on Amazon, as far as I can tell: Bra, High Waisted Panty, and French knickers.

They also have full lines of nursing slips and postpartum shapewear. Seriously, check them out!

While you’re at it, share this post with every pregnant woman you know. We definitely deserve to look and feel nice during a very physically tumultuous time, and I guarantee the thanks you get will be endless!

Lane Bryant and the Empty-Handed Customer, Part One

So, I went to Lane Bryant. Again.

I say this with a fair amount of angst. Why, pray tell? After all, this is a plus-size shop, yes? Good things there, right?

Too bad I couldn’t find any to fit. Again.

Despite wandering in there for years, despite numerous visits, I have never actually purchased a thing from Lane Bryant. I could rant on plus size shops in general (I’m looking at you, too, Avenue), but I’m going to be specific here, and talk about my experiences with Lane Bryant.

I’ve been lured in by nice jackets in the window, lovely lingerie on display, pretty colors, nice cuts, the works. Every time, I end up disappointed.

The jackets are pinned in the back at the waist to make them appear more tailored on the display, but are actually cut far too large for me in the ribs and waist. The lingerie on display is labeled in dress sizes that cover more than one size – for instance, I noted an 18/20 and a 22/24 – but have actual formed bra cups that need to be labeled with an actual band and cup size. This also ignores the fact that a woman may be plus-sized and all boob in the chest as opposed to being plus-sized and all ribcage – this lingerie is designed for the latter, and I swear the 18/20 would have fit a 44C. Nothing wrong with that, but it certainly won’t fit my 36J/K boobs. The colors are great, but these are not accessories; I need to wear these items and have them actually function on me as garments. The nice cuts still balloon on me. I usually leave dejected, likely never to return, until my hope builds again. Then, I go into one on a whim, thinking ‘just maybe this time will be different.’

It never is different.

This time, I went for bras.

Oh, foolish, foolish girl!

I suppose you can guess how that went, but I’m not sparing details. Sorry, not sorry.

I went in specifically for the French Full Coverage bras. They’re supposed to be available in much larger sizes than your average store. In the US, that generally means topping out at a US H cup, but a 40H or 42G can work for me, provided I alter the band down to a 36.

The Lane Bryant bras are made by Cacique, so it’s a known brand. However, I’ve never found a bra of theirs in a size to try on, so I thought I’d mosey over to the Lane Bryant store and pray for a miracle. [Note: to me, a miracle is defined as: finding something lovely that fits in the cup and I won’t mind paying a$20+ premium to get the band altered down to my size.]

Oh, they’re even pretty! Blue with black dots! Black and pink tapestry design! Chevron stripes. Chevron. Stripes. And every one had a special tag which said “Available in F, G, and H cup”. Hallelujah! A miracle!

But where were those larger cup sizes? I searched the rack for the particular style, and nothing. I searched to see if there were a different rack specifically for the larger cup sizes, and still nothing. I asked the lovely saleslady where those bras might be. I was stunned by the answer.

“Oh, you have to go online for those.”

Wait, what?

The feature that is specially tagged on these bras is not available at the location of said tags? I have to go online to buy what is advertised in the store? Let’s go through that step by step.

To buy an item from this store, due to its size I must:

  • Pretend to have an understanding of how the product is sized
  • Decide that I want the item
  • Leave the store
  • Go home or go to a place with a computer and internet connection
  • Find the online store
  • Find the item I desire (which means having noted the item’s name, or else I’m just hunting endlessly in the catalog)
  • Order by that size I’m supposed to hope works.
  • Pay for delivery.
  • Wait for delivery
  • Hope it fits.
  • Deal with it if the item doesn’t fit.

I’ve done a lot of retail work, and if you want a customer to do this when you already had them in the store, ready to buy, you’re just about guaranteed to lose the sale. Personally, it makes me feel like this:

I don't have enough Middle Fingers

Because your larger-busted customers wouldn’t actually want to, y’know, try those bras on before buying, would they?

The last time I dealt with this was at Abercrombie; They used to have some amazing low-rise flare leg jeans and cords, but the last time I set foot in the store, the corresponding rack had a little sign on it which stated that size 12’s could only be purchased online. It might as well have said “WE HATE FATTIES!” and certainly delivered the impression that they did not care to have women who were at the top end of the available sizes but still smaller than the average American woman wear their items.

I can expect that sort of opinion and treatment from an elitist and sizeist chain whose signature ad look includes buff boys and teeny girls, all white of course. But from a store for plus-sized women? Sizeism has no place there. None.

The salesperson was lovely, and also helpfully said that I could purchase in-store, that they would ship to my house for free, and I could return items to the store directly. I thought I’d go online and have a look at a size chart, select my best sister size option and order the next time I was in the area.

Surprise! I find that my two favorite prints – the pink and black tapestry and the blue with black polka dots – are not available in F, G, and H. The size chart is grayed in those sizes for these items.

Apparently, this bears repeating:

I don't have enough Middle Fingers

I don’t have enough Middle Fingers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lane Bryant has failed to make me their customer. Again.