Bravissimo Opening U.S. Store?

The U.K.-based Bravissimo recently announced plans to open a U.S. store.

For those unfamiliar with this company, Bravissimo is a giant in the lingerie world. They specialize in large-cup bras and typically offer British brands like Fantasie and Freya.

Bravissimo introduced a line of busty clothing called Pepperberry a few years back, though they have since simplified the label to Bravissimo clothing.

Naturally, this is the main reason I’m excited about this news. I can get bras anywhere online, and I prefer to support my local, independently-owned shop when it comes to brick-and-mortar establishments.

The clothing, though? I have never had the chance to try busty clothing on in person. Certainly, I plan to hit up Campbell & Kate or Exclusively Kristen whenever I can make it to their pop-ups, assuming I have the time.

I don’t expect Bravissimo to fill the DD-Atelier-sized hole in my heart. I’ve never ordered clothing from them in the past because reviews were so mixed. I was reluctant to pay their prices for items that would be difficult to return. Being able to try them on in person for once would make all the difference.

When their U.S. store opens — Boston and New York are being tossed about as options — I will make plans to visit. Their designs are decidedly cuter than they were a few years ago, and their presence here will only draw attention to the fact that busty ladies deserve more.

A Dressmaker for the Digital Era: Q&A with KIT’s Natalie Christopher

Kit Shift dress in Graphic Poly.jpg

Add “shift dress” to my list of #bustgirlgoals.

When it comes to finding clothing that actually fits, the struggle is real.

The sheer number of female-owned specialized online clothing companies is a testimony to how frustrated shoppers have been. Instead of using the internet to find cat videos and unauthorized downloads of ’90s cartoons like normal people, we buy clothes without even trying them on in person.

And it’s all worth it. Because every time we sacrificed our hard-earned cash to the Fashion Gods, the industry noticed. Every year, new companies offering a specialized fit arise, often generating a devoted fanbase in the process.

Among them is KIT, a spanking-new, U.S.-based company that creates gorgeous, classic pieces customized to their customers’ specific body shapes.

I had the pleasure of meeting the ladies of KIT at a recent pop-up event in Greenwich, CT. To learn more about what KIT is doing to address diverse body types, I spoke with Natalie Christopher, the Director of Customer Experience.

Tell us about KIT, and what role you play in this company.

 

Kit is a dressmaker for the digital era.

We have thrown out the arbitrary vanity sizing chart and built a unique fit algorithm to make clothing that fits. Kit was inspired from a love of women, fashion, and a bit of despair about the options out there for women.  Fed up with the poor clothing options out there, Merin, the Founder, built Kit to be a new type of clothing company that empowers women.

My unique role is the Director of Customer Experience. I focus on the outward elements of the company while working closely with Merin to build internal company systems to improve the customer’s experience.

What is the best piece of customer feedback you’ve received since launching?

A customer wrote us this email:

“Moment of brilliance as I sit under the dryer waiting on the foils to dry at the salon. Wondering if you’ve overlooked a slogan opportunity……

“Kit’s the shit!”

And the best piece of constructive criticism?

“Fix the website.”

As we grew, the ecommerce platform we chose couldn’t grow with us. We kept trying to strap new things to the side of the already bulky and confusing website. Finally, we sat down and figured out that we had to spend a little and start from scratch. We just launched our new website, and we couldn’t be happier with the user experience and ability to see the customizable options.

How did you determine what information to ask for in the “size you” form?

Before starting the company, Merin became obsessed with measuring women. If she had a chance to talk to you, chances are you would end up being measured. She compiled this information and figured out that vanity sizing misses key elements to a woman’s fit.

I would say first and foremost, our primary and secondary body type elements: pear, hourglass, straight, busty, and apple determine what needs to be adjusted on a dress. Every element of our fit quiz goes into adjusting the pattern and making the dress to fit that customer.

kit Tiered Sundress & Swim Cover up in Graphic Squiggles

I am legit obsessed with their fabric.

Most specialized clothing companies focus on one body type — plus size, curvy, petite, and so on. You address nearly every body type there is, and offer different fabric options on top of that! Is anyone worried this is too ambitious? How do you control the overhead costs while offering this level of customization?

Everything about launching a business seems ambitious! We manufacture each garment in house after the point of sale. This helps keep our inventory low. Fabric inventory will always be tricky, but we have found and cultivated relationships with fabric vendors to allow us to do small batch orders allowing to maintain a controlled amount of fabric.

You haven’t been around for too long, but would you consider any of your pieces to be “bestsellers”?

Our bestseller to date is The Popover, but it may be given a run for its money this spring with one of our newest styles, The Short Sleeve Shirtdress.

Kit Sleeveless Shirtdress in Liberty

Merin Guthrie: Business owner. Artist. Model.

For that matter, which piece is your personal favorite?

It is so hard to choose. I would say that I wear The Tunic Blouse the most, but my current favorite is The Short Sleeve Shirtdress. I am a get up and go person, so I love that you can throw The Short Sleeve Shirtdress on and look put together.

kit short sleeve shirtdress

That is one put-together lady.

Are there any plans to feature models with different body types on the website to give a better idea of how garments fit?

Yes, as a fairly new company we have learned two things. First, it is a challenge to have non-professional models model, and second, professional models are EXPENSIVE. Right now, we love our model who is a normal person with a pear shaped body. That said, as we grow, we would love to increase our budget to have a more inclusive selection of models.

Like a lot of smaller clothing companies, you’ve been marketing through pop-up shops recently. Do you have any stories to share from your most recent cocktail parties?

We learn so much about and from our customers. The biggest thing we find is that women say about their bodies when they are being measured. We actually did a short Instagram series about this. The moment the measuring tape comes out women use all different ways to describe their bodies.

All of your clothing is American-made, which is very rare in this industry. Is the plan to stick with domestic talent no matter how big you get?

It is hard to say what the future holds, but as of right now, yes the plan is to continue to build capacity for manufacturing in Houston, Texas. The good news for us is that Houston has a large number of refugees with seamstress experience.

I’m thrilled that you are designing for different body types, but since this is a blog for busty ladies, what specific structural changes do you make to your clothing in order to accommodate busty figures?

Recently, I spoke to a customer on the phone about this very thing. She is busty, and she ordered our fit & flare. She told me that she has never owned a dress in this style because the seam below the bust never fits over her bust correctly and the hips are always too large. Our Fit and Flare accommodates for both those fit challenges.

Kit Fit & Flare in Tomato Supalpino.png

Another garment that has received extra love in pattern making for the busty gals out there is The Lady Blouse. We added extra fabric to accommodate for the busty figure to prevent gaping on the front of the blouse.

Kit Made Lady Blouse in Cream Silk

How can busty shoppers keep in touch with KIT on social media? And are there any upcoming events we should be aware of?

We are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Our final Fit + Flair Pop-ups are in SoCal in mid-May and Chicago in early June.


/end Q&A

If you live in those areas, I highly recommend following Kit on social media and going to their pop-up. Even if you don’t order anything, the Kit ladies are very knowledgeable about their industry and an absolute delight to talk to.

A big thanks to Natalie for answering all of my questions. I look forward to reviewing my first Kit garment soon.

DD-Atelier is Closing and I am in MOURNING.

dd-atelier-closing

I wish I could go back in time and buy a black dress from DD-Atelier.

I have never mourned the passing of a clothing company before, but no other company has meant as much to me as this one has.

Understand that I love most of the companies I have mentioned in the short time I’ve been blogging.

Biubiu introduced me to the busty clothing world. Urkye fits me like a dream. Pinup Girl Clothing made my wedding magical. Naoko is a dream come true.

But DD-Atelier! DD-Atelier changed my life.

When I first discovered this company, the value of the Euro had more-or-less priced me out of ever purchasing anything. This changed around the summer of 2015, when I ordered my first item.

 

dd-atelier-tie-dye-dress

 

 

And . . . it didn’t fit. I couldn’t zip it past my flared ribcage, and as I’d foolishly convinced myself that I could somehow cardio my way into losing a few inches of bone, I never returned the item.

It’s still hanging in my closet, tags attached, waiting for someone with a non-flared ribcage to purchase it.

So why did I order again? Because this piece was so creatively structured around the bust. Often, companies rely on princess seams or darts to accommodate a larger bust.

DD-Atelier took a different approach.

Each piece accommodates the bust in a uniquely flattering manner. Some, like the first item I purchased, utilized additional panels to create an architecturally perfect enclosure for larger busts.

And hey, some of them used princess lines as well — but with a precision that was downright artistic.

dd-atelier-ornella-dress.jpg

More importantly, DD-Atelier was the rare busty line that offered so much more than cotton jersey basics and vintage-inspired numbers. They released basics, yes, but they also provided busty ladies with officewear, sundresses, winter coats, rain jackets, pajamas, evening gowns, cocktail attire, and more.

 

dd-atelier-white_cayenne_jacket

I cannot tell you how much I wish I’d purchased their suffragette suit when it was still in stock.

 

Certainly, the flawless construction of their clothing made me feel like every time I wore DD-Atelier was a special occasion, even if it was anything but. I’ve worn their clothing in job interviews, to meet with my wedding planner, and even on hikes.

 

dd-atelier-diva-dress

The Diva Dress. For divas, by divas.

 

While DD-Atelier had a “signature” collection that included classics like the Diva Dress and the Cayenne skirt set, I will always regard their team as innovators above all else.

 

dd-atelier_cayenne

The Cayenne is equal parts “flattering” and “professional.”

And here’s the saddest part: If the busty clothing world were larger, more profitable, and, let’s face it, less moral, DD-Atelier would have revolutionized the entire industry. Every other company would be copying their styles.

Substandard, mimeograph-quality pieces would be popping up in fast-fashion stores around the world.

Understand, I wouldn’t want that to happen. But I do wish that the small, creative, internationally successful companies that form the backbone of the busty clothing community would receive the accolades and recognition that they deserve.

These are companies that have never participated in Fashion Week. They don’t have name recognition in the wider fashion community.

 

But they make their customers happy. DD-Atelier made me feel beautiful every time I opened my closet.

So I want to honor their contributions to the bust community. I’ll devote a few posts here to the pieces I’ve purchased over the years, with the hope that other busty companies survive, and continue the tradition of creativity and innovation that DD-Atelier embodied.

Introducing Kit: A Bespoke Clothing Company Coming Soon to a Cocktail Party Near You

Kit_dress_page_coupon

Kit: A uniform soldiers wear into battle. Sounds about right!

I am always on the lookout for new busty or bust-friendly companies based in the United States.

This is mostly to save on shipping expenses, particularly for returns. But more than that, I want domestic busty clothing companies to be so successful that investors start to recognize the demand for these products is very real, and very profitable.

In other words, it would be awesome if investors paid more people to design clothing for us.

And by “us,” I mean “me.”

Which is why I was delighted to see that The Houston Chronicle has profiled Merin Guthrie, founder of a new, body-friendly clothing line named Kit.

Guthrie crowdfunded to start this company, and has achieved quite the following thus far. Kit primarily offers classic silhouettes — office-appropriate investment pieces that will last forever and work for a number of occasions. This includes a standard black wrap dress.

kit_wrap_dress

A classic black wrap dress that actually fits? Do those exist?

As a busty lady, I’ve been told repeatedly that wrap dresses are flattering and that they totally hold their shape and flatter the décolletage.

In my experience, however, wrap dresses exist solely to let the curious public know what color my bra is.

I certainly hope Kit can prove me wrong. Because PRETTY.

Kit doesn’t serve the busty community exclusively. Instead, it asks users to create “Size You.”

This is a personalized size based on user-based input, like body shape, height, weight, bra size, and measurements.

kit_body_shape_guide

So this company could potentially be an EXTRA-win. It may be the rare company that offers a Perfect Fit rather than a Good Enough fit.

They recently redesigned their website, making it more responsive and streamlined.  You can also learn more about the KIT team, which is especially refreshing. While busty shoppers are often familiar with company founders, I really haven’t seen anything this personalized on any of the other clothing websites I frequent.

Speaking of personalized, Kit is hosting a pop-up shops this week!

And by hosting, I mean HOSTING.

Their pop-ups include cocktail parties. Two great tastes, one great event.

Actually, make that TWO great events.

If you’re in New York City on Thursday, be sure to visit the Village between 6 and 8 p.m.

If you can’t do weekdays, you can also meet the KIT team in Greenwich, CT between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Be sure to R.S.V.P. if you decide to go. I may visit one or the other, so you just might see me there.

And check back for an interview with Natalie Christopher, their Customer Experience Director.

 

Review: Coeur De Vague Purple & Cream Floral Sheath Dress

coeur-de-vague-purple-cream-floral-dress

If it looks too good to be true . . .

I am beginning to have doubts about Zulily’s sizing advice.

This has been going on more-or-less since I made the mistake of clicking on their bra sizing chart. They had the same antiquated-yet-stubbornly-conventional advice that plagues the U.S. lingerie industry.

Kinga_Bra_Size_with_Plus.jpg

American bra-sizing charts: because they think we don’t know what “centimeters” are.

Size charts like this are the reason that 80% of American woman are wearing the wrong bra size. I can just imagine some bra-illiterate person dictating this outdated and harmful advice:

“Add 4 inches to your underbust measurement, even though this will result in an ill-fitting band that will concentrate all that boob-weight on your shoulders.”

“Forget about the fact that most European brands determine cup size by centimeters, meaning an inch-based fit guide will inevitably result in quadboob.”

It feels worse coming from Zulily precisely because they have done so much to cater to  underserved busty American shoppers. They sell bra sizes that straight-up do not exist in most brick-and-mortar stores here. More importantly, they usually chop at least $20 off the price.

Still, posting an age-old sizing guide isn’t the worst misstep. I had a lot more faith in their sizing guides for clothing.

The Naoko dress was not a perfect fit, but it did match their size guide and sizing tips. Though not perfect, the fit was decidedly Good Enough. I also ordered a steampunky Hearts and Roses London coat based on their size chart and was not disappointed. Given how many bust-friendly companies they work with, I trust them to get it right most of the time.

When I saw the Coeur de Vague dress,  I was blown away by the print and, above all, the fit.coeur-de-vague-purple-cream-floral-dress

This is the quintessential sheath dress. It is serving up all kinds of modern Joan Holloway realness.

joan sheath dress

T.Lo would say the roses symbolize her crappy love life, but who cares in the face of such dress ownage?

I was a big fan of the modern updates Coeur de Vague made to this classic pattern, particularly the shorter sleeves (long enough to cover arm fat and sideboob, but short enough not to be matronly), the waistband, and the higher neckline.

But the biggest appeal was the combination of a colorful, paint-inspired floral print with all that negative space. The silhouette may be Joan Holloway, but that pattern is all about Tahani Al-Jamil.

tahani-al-jamil-floral-dress

I might legit be into Tahani.

Most importantly, though, the color looked more like a magenta than a true purple. This was the deciding factor, really. Purple can make me look green, but magenta makes my skin come to life.

I had to have this dress.

So I checked the size chart:

coeur de vague size chart

My waist is typically around 29-30″, my bust and hips are both usually 40-41″. And, frankly, in the winter, I can add an extra inch anywhere without freaking out about it too much. Since I injured my back in January and haven’t really moved much since, I figured I could order the 14, hope the bust fit, and have the waist and hips taken in if it did.

It didn’t occur to me to try a smaller size. I didn’t want to deal with the discomfort of squeezing my boobs into a too-tight dress. We’ve all been there and it sucks.

I knew the 16 would fit the bust, but I worried taking 4″ off the waist would be a little too much. And since I usually take a while to get alterations, I knew it would be way too loose elsewhere to work. Sheaths are supposed to be form-fitting.

I clicked back to the order page and saw this:

coeur de vague size guide

“Ordering a size up is also recommended.” THANKS, ZULILY.

Since their sizing advice had been so spot-on with other items I ordered, I took them at their word. I have never taken a size 16 even in the most generously-proportioned U.S. sizes, but I trusted Zulily and I had a merchandise credit.

I took the plunge.

And just look where I landed!

baby got back

This dress can stick it.

It’s SO BIG.

That’s what she said.

But seriously, look at this thing!

hand up

This is my sober face.

On the plus side, it’s really, really well-made. I had my concerns when I saw the label:

labeling

The factory sewed in its own label, which doesn’t match the Coeur de Vague tag. That’s an unexpected-but-somewhat-understandable affect of outsourcing labor.

But still, this is thick, silky, quality fabric. The lining stays in place. The seams are perfect. The visible zipper zips and unzips without a problem. Seriously, it’s the Tesla to the Pinto that is eShakti’s crappy side-zipper.

Sadly, all of these strengths turn into weaknesses really quickly when the dress is too big.

meh

Also, just look what it did to my face!

Because the fabric is thick and lined, it holds its shape. This means it doesn’t wrinkle easily, which is amazing.

It also means this dress WILL NOT drape over my body or even hint that I’m not the same size as the dress. I might as well be wearing a hoop skirt.

I mean, on the plus side, this kind of makes my skullcrusher legs look like they belong on the rest of my body, but that’s the only benefit I can see to non-drapey fabric.

Could it be altered to fit? I imagine so, but it would take more steps than I’m comfortable paying for. The shoulders are much too large for me, as are the sleeves, as is the waist, as is the skirt, as is the neckline.

Altering it would be a whole THING. I don’t really want to spend more altering this dress than I did in three rounds of wedding gown fittings.

Nor do I want to size down. It does fit me in the bust, with a little room to spare. Sizing down would mean a snugger bust, but given how poorly this dress fits, I feel like I would still need to alter it. I really don’t like shelling out more than $20 to alter a $40 dress. I’m too used to purchasing dresses that are either perfect or “good enough.”

The sizing advice is just SO far off. The photos picture a model in a traditionally form-fitting sheath dress.

coeur de vague dress back

The 16 does not fit according to the 14’s size chart. If anything, I’d say it’s slightly bigger than a standard U.S. size 16.

Which is great in a way. It can be very difficult for ladies who fall outside of the standard sizing range to find the gorgeous dresses they deserve.

And this is a gorgeous dress, make no mistake. It doesn’t cater to my body shape, but an accurate size chart and interpretation thereof would have let me know that before I ordered it.

It would look absolutely amazing on someone who is not me.

Final note: Zulily’s customer service department really is superb. They responded to my complaint immediately and thanked me for letting them know about the size chart issue.

I would imagine that there is a lot of room for miscommunication between the vendor, the designer, the manufacturer, and the distributor. It’s an inevitable side effect of shopping online.

So I’m not mad, Zulily. Just disappointed.

Needless to say, I would not order this particular brand again. Once they credit my account, I will probably try something from Nife or Peperuna. They look similar to Naoko and I have high hopes they will fit me properly. I’ve had a lot of luck with Polish brands in the past

I only wish I were as lucky with French brands, because this dress is so, so beautiful.