It’s been a long time.
Suffice it to say, my life kind of fell apart around 4th quarter. And subsequently, so did America.

My beloved pet got very sick, and after numerous tears, meltdowns, and a lofty four-figured bill, it seems that the worst is behind us. I also started working 10-14 hour days since my team of 3 became a team of 1; thankfully, since January, we are back to 3. As for America… W E L P. To say the least.

The end of 2016 was bleak, and I simply had no will to write or talk about lingerie. Not all of 2016 was a raging dumpster fire, though: I purchased from numerous independent brands. There were so many beautiful things handmade by so many wonderful artisans, and this post is to talk about my lingerie prized possessions:

Pillowbook order wrapped in Chinese calligraphy paper, tied with a crimson cord.

Pillowbook order wrapped in Chinese calligraphy paper, tied with a crimson cord.

Elegant Pillowbook silk packaging.

Elegant Pillowbook silk packaging.

Pillowbook lingerie by Irene Lu and her phenomenal team. The set I purchased is Aime in the Mondrian colorway - a perfect homage to the artist himself!

Pillowbook lingerie by Irene Lu and her phenomenal team. The set I purchased is Aime in the Mondrian colorway – a perfect homage to the artist himself!

There’s so much that I love about Pillowbook:
– Atelier that offers true couture; none of that mess where “couture” is used interchangeably as ready-to-wear
– Vintage Chinese silhouettes with a modern interpretation
– Gorgeous silk fabrics (not the cheapy lightweight stuff) with branded, customized hardware
– But most importantly, a brand owner and brand who just fucking gets me.

Let’s first get this out of the way:

Upon first look, Pillowbook is considered expensive; however, it isn’t astronomically priced or cost prohibitive for what you get: a 100% handmade item made to your measurements out of luxe silks. I would even venture to say that it is ridiculously well-priced for what you get. Before people insist how they can make it or buy something similar at the mall for $20 (no, the average person does not encompass these skills, and no, you literally cannot buy something like this for under $100), I’m honestly sick and tired of people complaining how things are overpriced because they can’t afford them immediately. It is so disrespectful to scream “overpriced!!!” to a small business who pays an ethical wage to their employees for their labor and skill set instead of paying $2 to the seamstress and $80 to a marketing budget.

For example, the Aime bra that I purchased cost $187; however, the Demelza bra from Agent Provocateur, as reviewed by Karolina Laskowska on TLA costs a mind bogglingly $250 for a bra embellished with a glued applique.

Just let that sink in for a bit: glued applique. On what is supposed to be designer lingerie.

The horror.

The horror.

Pillowbook’s pricing is comparable to other luxe brands such as Loveday London and Harlow and Fox; however, Pillowbook offers custom sizing, custom color selection, and essentially, custom whatever-you-want.

Speaking of custom-whatever-you-want, for the Aime bottoms, I asked Irene if I could get it made into a brief because I despise thongs. I also requested that the gusset be cut from yellow silk instead of snow white because white, especially white gussets, are a total bitch to keep clean. (Bodily fluids aren’t crystal clear like the finest Czech crystal, y’know, and it shouldn’t embarrass people.)

And of course, Irene was more than happy to customize my order. She actually suggested lining the gusset in a pale yellow (versus the yellow on the Mondrian set), so that it wouldn’t be so obvious through the white silk. I appreciate all of her input and suggestions during the order process; it really made the experience quite special!

Now, onto the heart of the post: construction! Not all lingerie is made the same, and Pillowbook’s sewing is just exquisite. This is literally the most beautifully sewn lingerie set that I have ever own. There are so many couture finishes and construction techniques utilized in their work. While I think “heirloom lingerie” sounds ridiculous, when I see this set, I get it. I believe it.

The white silk in this set is snow white. It was hard to capture with this overcast weather, so please forgive the cream tint in the pictures.

Aime Mondrian Bra

LOOK HOW BEAUTIFULLY THE BRA IS PIECED TOGETHER. LOOK AT THE STITCHING

Isn’t it beautiful? The Aime Mondrian Bra (bralette) has bra straps that are made from black, woven silk (no elastic, no stretch) with adjustable sliders. The bra band has elastic in its woven silk casing, and the band is adjustable! I was initially mistaken thinking that it couldn’t be adjusted; I didn’t even realize it. :O How ingenious! Irene sent me a photo for illustrative purposes:

You would remove the clasp and insert it into the next channel.  This is a lot easier to see on fabric that isn't black -- that's for sure!  Photograph (c) Pillowbook.

You would remove the clasp and insert it into the next channel. This is a lot easier to see on fabric that isn’t black — that’s for sure! Photograph (c)Pillowbook.

This style isn’t overly supportive, but it provides light support and is very comfortable and luxurious to wear. This bra offers full coverage in the cups, and it feels so decadent because there seems to be so much of it!

Aime Mondrian Bra - Reverse

Look at the inside of the bra. LOOK AT IT. So much care and thoughtfulness has been put into the construction of this bralette that it could be reversible. I also love how the white lining is so neatly gathered at the band. This stuff makes me happy. You can also see a better view of the bra straps.

Aime Mondrian Bra - Hardware

The hardware on my lingerie is a shiny, gunmetal grey. Here’s a closeup of the branded clasp. It slides into a sewn loop on each side; it functions similarly as the clasp on Damaris bras. As previously mentioned, the bra is not adjustable in the band, but there is some give and flexibility in the band due to the elastic. I personally feel that the clasp is a bit too fiddly: I’ve somehow managed to remove it completely from the bra and drop it on the floor while getting dressed… It’s rather aesthetically pleasing, though, isn’t it?

The knickers are equally gorgeous.

Aime Mondrian Brief - Detail 1

I had the thong converted into a brief style; the pricing for this did go up due to the additional silk pieces (french knicker price of $146). There is elastic along the front and back, but there is none at the sides or in the leg openings. Instead, the adjustable slides on the side of the briefs are made from woven black silk. When I first received the briefs, I almost laughed at how comically huge they looked – and they do look rather big since they’re made of non-stretch silk! But they are comfortable, fit well, if not a bit loose in the rear.

Again, look at the beautiful stitching and piecing. (I’m going to sound like a broken record, thank you very much.) I love the contrast of the black and white threads, and you can see that it’s all carefully sewn. As you can see, the leg openings are binded with black silk, so there aren’t any exposed seams.

image

Here is the direct backside of the afore-pictured brief. The white stitching on the black binding for the leg opening is shown on the reverse (curved edge which goes over the blue silk). Look at the neat, discreet black top stitching on the black lines. Just ~love~.

Aime Mondrian Brief - Topstitching
And here’s how the black topstitching looks like on the other side/inside of the brief. Ahhh, so precise, and it looks damned good. If there’s one thing that I really noticed about my Pillowbook pieces, the insides of the garment are just as beautiful as the outside. Couture seam finishes all around; no overlocked stitch in sight.

I wanted to mention that if you compare the bra and brief, there is a difference in texture if you look at the white silk. I actually handwashed the briefs, as per the direction and care of the garment tags, but haven’t handwashed the bra yet. I’m not too sure if there was much sizing (chemical preservatives used in fabrics) in it, or if it was a result of handwashing silk, or the fact that the white silk hasn’t been treated with dyes, or a combination of all three. Either way, the resulting finish in the handwashed briefs resembles raw silk with less sheen and luminosity than I received them. I don’t think that this is a bad thing. I’m also not going to be taking my lingerie to get dry cleaned either, so handwashing it is! The colored bits of silk still look brand new, though, and the colors didn’t run. (Yes!!!)

The Aime suspender is also a work of art in and of itself. To me, it seems like the most complicated piece to create, due to all of the bits of silk piecing, top stitching, and silk channels. It is superbly sewn and exquisitely crafted, and the price reflects it. I didn’t photograph this piece since it was harder to do it justice, but take my word on it! The suspender held up my stockings even though it felt a bit large/roomy and sat closer to my hips, perhaps due to the silk elastic channels. Like the bra, you can adjust it by removing the clasp and inserting it into the loop that is smaller.

Here's the Aime Mondrian set worn.

Here’s the Aime Mondrian set worn. I feel like a queen!!

Waiting time/shipping:
My order took a long time to get to me. After I placed it, communication tapered off. This disappointed me since I was so excited to support a Chinese brand and really put a lot of thought into this purchase. I can wait for orders and am more than willing to work with indies, but if there are delays, I just want to be informed about them. The turnaround time was supposed to be 15-20 business days. I placed my order on 05/23/16, and it shipped on 07/20/16.

I want to be honest about all aspects of my order, so I’m mentioning it in my review. That said, it appears that the delays I encountered were a result of a perfect storm: a problem with the samples and Irene managing her business, teaching, while getting ready to have her first child (I wasn’t aware of the latter until after the fact). I don’t think that this will be a problem for people moving forward, though. Irene is back, and she has some exciting things planned!

Because my order was delayed, Irene sent me a gift with my purchase, which was the Aime Mondrian Dudou. (I am wearing it in the photo with my back to the front of the camera.) My jaw dropped when I saw it in my parcel; it was completely unnecessary, and I couldn’t believe that she sent this to me. I still can’t… It was beyond generous and breathtaking in construction, and I am very thankful for such a wonderful, thoughtful present.

When my order was posted, it was shipped via DHL Express. It arrived to me quickly and promptly, but please be aware that the shipping cost for this service is priced accordingly. I paid $55 for shipping.


So after talking about the actual lingerie and ordering, I really wanted to chat about why Pillowbook resonates so much with me.

As an Asian women living in the US, who identifies more with nationality than ethnicity, I truly find it so hard to fit in. I remember my first ever visit to Taipei as an adolescent/semi-adult: my relatives kind of shunned me because my Chinese wasn’t perfect, and my mannerisms/thoughts/beliefs were distinctly American. And it was clear that my extended family didn’t accept me for who I was.

In the US, you do have a patriarchal society, but in most east Asian countries, it is the patriarchal society. By Asian standards, a lot of my worth is attached to my looks and age. I’m honestly too fat, too muscular, and probably too ugly to fit in unless I get some surgery. I’m also simply too old for anyone to want to marry me and have kids. I’ve had opportunities to go to China to see family, but I’m not going to lie: I’m terrified to go back because I don’t want to deal with criticisms about my personality or looks. I like myself quite a bit, but that isn’t good enough.

Likewise, in the US, I’ve had people assume that I don’t speak English well or that I want a green card (joke’s on you, assholes; I am a US citizen!). Or I have people telling me that I’m the “whitest” Asian person that they know or that I’m essentially “a white person.” Or that I’m part of the “model minority.” Asian people are good, only up until “Chinese made crap” or stealing jobs from (white) Americans. And I won’t even mention how many creeps have an Asian fetish, yellow fever, and/or watch way too much anime thinking of all the perks that they can reap with an Asian partner.

I’ve also been told that since my perpetual struggle with identity (sprinkled with some self-hatred) isn’t as important as others’ struggles, I’m overreacting or thinking too much. Socially, I feel lost almost all the time. I realize that personally, I’ve never had many Asian friends while growing up because most of the Asian kids in my school had either a more traditional upbringing or were friends primarily/exclusively with other Asians.

When I had reached out to Irene about my order, we started talking about these things, and it was so nice to have someone understand how I felt and had actually experienced similar and/or had similar feelings. (Irene was born in Taipei, like me, and she put down her roots in the US.) I was also so impressed that she moved to Beijing to open up her atelier in an industry that oftentimes has a stigma attached to it.

From her press releases and thoughts that she’s shared on social media (International Women’s Day, Asian American Month, etc.), she is a huge advocate for women and for sexuality – with a clear nod to Asian women embracing and accepting all aspects of who they are. Seriously, I can’t even think of any Asian companies who would offer to embroider your lingerie with a delightfully naughty secret while donating the profits to Love146, an organization that helps out survivors of child trafficking/exploitation?

Oftentimes, you read how being sexy or exhibiting your sexuality makes you incapable of having anything worthwhile to say; however, you can be sexy and still give a shit about other causes, neither of which are mutually exclusive. Here is an unapologetic Asian women who is smashing down the misconceptions of how Asian women should be, who believes that all bodies are good bodies, and is shining a bright light that Chinese-made products can be artisanal, expertly crafted, and command a high price.

I, too, dearly hold onto these views close to my heart, and so do the other Chinese women who comprise of Pillowbook’s customer base (single, white collar women in their 20-30s).

Off the top of my head, I can’t think of an Asian designer that gets a lot of coverage in the media, and I can’t think of another Asian-owned lingerie brand. (If I forgotten you or don’t know about you, please leave a comment!)* And to have similar beliefs and values with the brand owner with products that are true works of art, I really want people to see just how fabulous Pillowbook is, and I want them to succeed!

*Edit: O M G, I am such a dodo! Thanks to Irene and Cora, my sabbatical brain has totally forgot so many brands. YIKES!!! Please forgive me! Here’s a shortlist:
1. Josie Natori
2. Samantha Chang – link currently not working (too many redirects)
3. Meng
4. Creepyyeha
5. Agashi
6. Atsuko Kudo


Pillowbook did not ask me to write this. I was not compensated for my time to put this together (and god, did it take forever). I purchased the products I wrote about with my own money. No affiliate links were used.

After seeing Irene post again on social media, she has a surprise planned on March 8 for subscribers to her newsletter. You can email her to be added, or you can sign up for her newsletter on the Pillowbook website. I really don’t know what the surprise is, but I am looking forward to finding out! In light of her announcement, I wanted to talk about this brand on my blog in case any of you were interested in partaking of her event:

Additionally, if you’re interested in reading other reviews, Karolina is a huge fan as well and has raved about Pillowbook on her website Knickerbocker Stories.

That’s it for now; hope 2017 is treating you all better!

In light of All’s Fair in Love and Lingerie’s post, I wanted to post some additional information about my point of view in regards to whether or not women behind should post their faces. Before I begin, I would like to make extremely clear that there is no expectation of what people should do and that I support anyone sharing whatever they want to share. No one has to post anything they don’t want to, including their faces.

Now that that’s out of the way:

My comments have never been an attack on girls who choose not to show their faces (in fact, I know why most women choose not to show their faces), so I’ll be upfront and say that there’s no need to be defensive. Show what you want, how much you want, when you want. The issue at hand, and what spurned the initial discussion, has always been the lack of diversity in print and online media and its blurred lines*.

Frankly speaking, the intent behind this discussion stems from the slim white girl narrative that is ever so prevalent, and I’m tired of it being shoved down my throat. I find it completely unrelatable, and it has literally nothing to do with me: I am not white, and I am not slim (I wear a US 10/12, weigh about 155-160 pounds). I am constantly bombarded by images of slim white women every day. Every. Single. Day. If I choose to disassociate with images of slim white women with faces, why would I actively partake of images without them? (*This bring up another point that I don’t have the time or energy or discuss, but if I were to only show images from my neck down, how am I presenting myself? Would people know that I am Asian?)

For me, not showing a face removes a personal identifier that sets someone apart from another. I understand that some women may deliberately seek anonymity, and if you want to remain anonymous, I support your decision 100%.

I already know what lingerie I like. I also know that you can NEVER gauge or understand fit or sizing from a photograph, so for me, what keeps me around the community are the close friendships and connections I’ve made (yes, even with slim white women who completely get where I’m coming from; I love you all so much!) and hope to make in the future. This might not be the same for everyone, and I don’t expect my beliefs and personal experiences to dictate others’.

I was extremely apprehensive about posting my face online. However, as a woman of color who has a desk job and is in her 30s who is probably one of the most adultingest adults in the blogopshere, I wanted to represent who I really am. Is it a risk? Yes, but the consequences for me aren’t as grave as others. Do I still get weirded out by creeps? Yep. Do I actively tell people about my blog? Nope nope nope. Have I dealt with judgment about posting pictures of myself in ~provocatively clothing~? Hell yes. Choosing to show your face, part of your face, or your elbow is a decision that each person needs to make. I am not better for showing mine.

I’m at the point in my life where I can say that I like myself, including the Asian part of me that I loathed for years. I want people to know that I am not white and that I have thoughts and feelings that are equally important. I want people to know that without a doubt, I proudly AM a woman of color. This time, with no shame or apologies.

Please don’t message/tweet/contact me saying how I don’t support women and how dare I suggest that women must show their faces. This is the furthest thing from the truth. You do you; I support you 100%.

PS – Megan & I have talked (and still talk!), so there is no secret dramafest going on.  I value her contributions to the lingerie blogging scene, and she makes the cutest underwear. Plus, I’m grateful for her suggestion and tips on buying the right size Fortnight bra. ;)

It’s hot. So damned hot. When the Gulf Coast summers are so humid and stifling hot, I rarely wear any of my nice lingerie. I’ve reached the point where I’m just going to buy a bag of Hanes/Fruit of the Loom/whatever is sold in a sack and call it a day until October/November. (Come to think of it, I’m actually wearing Hanes boxer briefs that I bought 5… 7… years ago. :P) ANYWAY.

When you live in Texas and are being choked by humidity at 6:00AM, you look for very lightweight, comfortable, drapey items. Lately, I’ve been living in these lightweight robes that I purchased from ForBride on Etsy.

Funny enough, someone I met in real life actually sent me a link to this store! When I was getting ready for work in the gym basement at my office (my preferred place to shower although I work out at the YMCA), this friendly, gorgeous girl asked if she could share the vanity with me and complimented me on my shoes. She had on the prettiest robe, and I told her how much I loved it and asked her where she got it. She said she received it from her friend as a bridesmaid gift, but I could easily find something like it on Etsy. I got her business card, dropped her an email, and she sent me a link to a similar robe. :)

(c) ForBride - item image stock photo.

(c) ForBride – item image stock photo.

Apparently these are “typical” bridesmaids gifts, which explains how they can be easily found on Etsy! I ended up purchasing this floral robe in mint and in blue floral plate (lol), both in size large. I paid $19.99 for each robe and $12 for shipping.

Now, I really don’t know if the shop owner’s story is true, but assuming that it is, I’m always willing to support small independent businesses, even more so if they’re owned & operated by WoC. Some people refuse to buy made in China, but I find that general rhetoric ignorant and off-putting; I’m Chinese and talent/opportunities/internet livelihoods are not limited solely to the West. Furthermore, not everyone in China is a big evil faceless factory.

I did email the seller with a question, and she responded back in a few hours. It took a week before my order went into EMS stream. I received my order 10 days after it shipped. All in all, I am very satisfied with the customer service.

The gown has an inside tie, and it has belt loops to hold the belt. The seams are neatly serged, and the hem (and sleeve edge) is double folded, sewn with a straight stitch, ~3mm; not the best but good enough. I think the floral pattern is pretty! (I ADORE the blue pattern as well, but I only had time to snap the mint one.)

Closeup of the floral pattern in the mint color.

Closeup of the floral pattern in the mint color.

The robes were advertised as being 100% cotton, but I actually don’t believe that is the case. The robes are made of a tightly woven fabric that is super silky to touch and incredibly drapey. Methinks it’s rayon. For some, this may be a huge dealbreaker, but I’m honestly not even mad. These gowns are super airy and super floaty but still provide coverage without being see through (did I mention how damned hot it was here??), but please be aware: I would only recommend laundering these in a mesh bag on the delicates/handwash cycle.

I wear my robes at home or at the gym. It feels like such a lovely treat especially when I peel off my sweaty gym clothes and gather my toiletries before I hit the showers. Since I do use my robes predominantly at the gym, the fact that they’re so lightweight without being transparent is such a huge plus. I love my robes, and they’re undeniably in my top 5 favorite, most useful garments that I’ve ever purchased.

ForBride Mint Robe (Worn)
And really, I just can’t say no to a pretty robe!

All items in this post were purchased by me; ForBride did not ask for a review, nor do they even know who I am. :P No affiliate links were used.

By now, I’m sure that many of you are aware of this article written by Cora Harrington of The Lingerie Addict. In a nutshell, white girls are being paraded around in yellowface to sell underwear. And in typical kneejerk reaction, as short-sighted and as white as white can be, Marlies Dekkers blocked Cora from their social media, and Guerrilla Geisha decided to leave a “thought-provoking comment.”

Yeah, this is going to go really well.

Patrizia Grilli designer of Guerilla Geisha, left this comment as of today.

LET’S GET INTO THIS.

My skin is white, and I have been the subject of racist laughter for my Italian accent or looks, yet somehow I feel that this debate is leaning towards the “people of colour” exercise. We are one species, one woman shall I dare say.

First off, I don’t need a privileged white person who claims to experience first hand racism (just lol) condescendingly telling me, a women of color and someone who *IS* Asian who has to deal with a ton of bullshit and stereotypes about Asian women, how I should feel. Until you’ve been treated by men as an ~experience~, objectified by men as a sex object due to disgusting perpetuated stereotypes, have been constantly undermined at work because you are a women of color, have been sexually harassed by men not only in public but also repeatedly in the workplace, deal with bullshit comments how “you don’t talk with an accent, where are you from?! (and it happened AGAIN a few days ago),” and have been told to repeatedly be quiet, seriously, fuck off. Please take your “people of colour exercise” comment, and shove it up your asshole.

BONUS: this Dutch show was apparently really popular where a Dutch woman portrayed a Japanese woman named Ushi Hirosaki. This is 100% yellowface. I can’t even watch it.

I think it’s quite important to remember the true origins of Geisha; that the word Geisha literally translates as “artist” or “person of the arts”, and that they were in fact originally men.

Is Ms. Grilli trying to pay homage to taikomachi? What’s the relevancy of this? This statement literally feels like it was googled in order to come off as somewhat educated about the issue at hand. This collection has nothing to do with taikomachi, and I would eat my shoe if Guerrilla Geisha went into this

1. Doing actual history about Japanese (or Asian culture)
2. With the intention to sell product to transvestites or transgendered or men who like to wear women’s clothing/makeup/etc.

I actually do have my undergrad degree in East Asian History (yeah, totally worthless EXCEPT FOR NOW) that focused on academic writing for both the histories of Japan and China, so yeah. Please stop. Either make an effort to educate yourself, but don’t spit out the first result of google in order to school people.

However, it doesn’t mean that if designers take inspiration from Oriental aesthetics and use it in a tasteful and respectful way, that they are on the racist bandwagon or are out in force to ridicule, sexualize and stereotype Asian women.

I actually have no issue with designers taking inspiration from Asian culture whatsoever. I don’t find the Bordelle imagery to be particularly offensive, but just lay off the chopsticks in hair, mmmk? I know that some people are very sensitive when they see someone who isn’t of that ethnicity in ethnic dress, but for me, especially when it comes to qipao, yukata, etc., they were all “regular” dress before Westernized clothing became popular. If someone who isn’t Asian wants to wear Asian dress, I have no problem with it. I think qipao is gorgeous, and if someone wants to wear it, go right on ahead. (Please avoid those gross cheap polyester satin monstrosities.)

Tang Wei in Lust, Caution. Don't even get me started about the dress in this movie.  *hearts in eyes*

Tang Wei in Lust, Caution. The dress in this movie was beyond gorgeous. *hearts in eyes*

Here's another one. :)  You're welcome!

Here’s another one. :) You’re welcome!

Things get tricky, however, when non-ethnic brands tend to capitalize on ethnic culture, which in this scenario, includes dress. Personally, I’m not against it if a fashion power house wanted to create a line of qipao, but that said, inherently, I would prefer a Chinese brand and company to have similar recognition. The economics and circumstances come into play where this may or may not be possible. I’m not saying how things should play out or what should happen in these scenarios, but brands, people, etc. need to be cognizant and sensitive of the situation.

So the problem here is that some people feel it is somehow racist, or even sexist, to use said stereotypes if you don’t belong to that “culture”, in this case the Orient. Personally I see cultures, not nationalities, and I want to embrace them all, I want to love what every culture has to offer.

If we’re going to play this game, I’m an Asian women, and I hate this campaign. Yellowface is NOT OKAY. Do you seriously need someone of that ethnicity to tell you that it isn’t acceptable? I don’t need to be black in order to know that throwing a plantation party is racist, gauche, and riddled with huge amounts of WTF. While we’re at it, let’s get real: people who say that they don’t see color are delusional. When you have people of color getting paid significantly less than their white counterparts, judged for not integrating better into society, and/or getting killed or having harsh sentences imposed on them, are you for real saying that you don’t see color? People need to act and behave in a manner where color isn’t an issue, but to say that you don’t ever see it, you’re part of the problem.

One thing I can’t help asking myself is: had I used an Asian model, wouldn’t that reinforce the stereotype even more?

As I’ve mentioned before, I would encourage the use of an Asian model instead of a white person in yellowface. (And let me be clear here, yellowface isn’t just about a non-ethnic person wearing Asian dress.) Asian people have long struggled for work in the fashion and media industry, and it’s still a problem today. That said, I don’t see why it would be so difficult or terrible to consult with a local Japanese chapter about what would be appropriate. My personal rule of thumb: if you want to be controversial, fine, but don’t try to present it to me like I should be grateful that you’re doing my ethnicity a service.

Further more, the Japanese brand Bradelis who also trades in USA, has a huge emphasis on boobs; if their images of “blond bombshell” does not reinforce the western stereotype I’m not sure what does!

I honestly don’t have time to get into this, but there is a huge problem that has existed in Asian societies where “being white” is treasured. In my personal experiences when I lived overseas and from experiences shared by my Asian friends and family, there is a desire to look white and be accepted by white people. Skincare products are sold with whitening properties (and despite articles saying that it’s “brightening,” I’ll wait for someone to tell me that dark skin is perceived the same as whiter/light skin), Asian women get plastic surgery to have a European nose/eyes, blue eyes and blonde hair are “prized.” If you want to look a certain way, I support your right to look however you want, but it breaks my heart and makes me angry that so many Asian people find themselves ugly or don’t have white characteristics or traits that makes them attractive. I myself have struggled with self-loathing about my identity in regards to my ethnicity, and to be frank, there were many moments where I wanted to be white because I’d be perceived as “better.” Perhaps “equal” would be the better word…

It’s bad when brands are so obtuse that they don’t even know that they’re sexualizing or stereotyping Asian women and act like we should be grateful because we’re just too dumb to realize how they’re being “tasteful” and “respectful” by allowing white women to wear yellowface. Also, it just shows how much you can’t argue or even carry on an intelligent discussion especially when the so-called enlightened keep referring to Asian cultures – in this day and age – as the Orient, and Asian people, as Orientals*. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

(*I don’t find Oriental/Orient to be racist, but just ignorant, out of touch, and outdated. But YMMV will vary depending on the Asian people you ask.)

Edit – I’ve updated this post for clarification. I got confused with the Guerrilla Geisha/Marlies Dekkers brand, because let’s face it, they’re all the same.
—–

PS – Happy America Day! I am proud to be an American. :)

Ahhh, where to begin? Agent Provocateur – a brand that’s as ubiquitous as Victoria’s Secret in the lingerie world – but markets itself as the epitome of luxury lingerie. Suffice it to say, I have extremely mixed feelings about the brand. In the beginning, I was a huge fan when Joseph Corre and Serena Rees were at the helm, but over time, I felt like the brand has significantly deviated away from its rebellious, punk rock roots. I feel that their marketing is snobby and alienating, and as a minority woman with a distinctly non-mainstream body type (not tall, thin, or white), I’m simply not welcome. Furthermore, I just can’t deal with despicable [shaming comments] from their employees, with no acknowledgement from the brand, that behavior like this is not acceptable.

Honestly, for the prices they charge, the quality should be better, but frankly, it isn’t. People love to slag on Victoria’s Secret, but in my opinion – god, I’m fanning the fire! – regular AP is very much like VS but with silk and better laces that come at a dearer price. Sizing is equally limited if not more restrictive, construction is comparable, the models all look the same, and it’s also produced in China. I’m really failing to see how AP is superior once you peel away all of that marketing.

I’m sure some people would say that I’m just being butt hurt by all of this, but I’m really not! My big ol’ Asian ass can think of 10 brands off the top of my head that would appreciate my money. There is a lot of choice, so I’m not hurting when it comes to options. Like VS, they’ve made their lasting mark on the lingerie industry, and every now and then, they release something that I want to buy.

Bra

Rudy bra with Sophie Hallette Leavers lace over purple silk.

Rudy bra with Sophie Hallette Leavers lace over purple silk.

I purchased Rudy during their spring sale in 2014. I’m a bit surprised that I bought this set because 1) I don’t usually purchase black lingerie and 2) I’m not a huge fan of purple, but somehow, Rudy just spoke to me! I think the strappy details and the lace overlay sealed the deal for me.

Unlike most AP bras, this one actually fit me in the British size that I usually take, 36A. It’s also very comfortable to wear. Unfortunately, the strap detail at the top is not adjustable, so in order for the straps to lay properly on top of my boobs, I have to constantly readjust. For normal wear, I wouldn’t bother, but for pictures, that’s another story.

Beautiful lacing.

Beautiful lacing. Black is so hard for me to photograph, but hopefully you can see some of the details!

I really love the lace on this bra, which is also used in the knickers and the suspender. It’s relatively sturdy, but it’s also stretchy with great stretch recovery. However, you have to be careful or you can put your finger through the more delicate parts… as I found out. :| (Black mesh backings 4 lyfe!)

Brief

Rudy brief - front view.

Rudy brief – front view.

In my older age, I’m anti-thong. Thankfully, AP makes some of the prettiest briefs! I purchased the Rudy knickers in a size 3. As previously mentioned, since the lace is so stretchy, the size 4 – the size I usually take – was too large. Although these look like a high cut leg, they’re not (and if they were, I wouldn’t have bought them); they fit me like a regular brief with a higher waist. There’s also an adorable black and purple bow in the center.

Rudy brief - back. Look at that gorgeous, electrifying purple silk!

Rudy brief – back. Look at that gorgeous, electrifying purple silk!

Suspender

Rudy suspender - detail.

Rudy suspender – detail.

Last but not least, here’s the suspender! Do you ever feel that a lot of suspenders that comes with sets are just kind of half-assed? Oh my god, me, too! The Rudy suspender did not disappoint. It’s very nice to see the lacing motif continued on the sides of the suspender along with the floral lace and hint of purple silk. There’s also a sweet little bow in the center like what you see embellished on the briefs.

Agent Provocateur Rudy bra, brief, and suspender; Leg Avenue (I think) faux seamed stockings.

Agent Provocateur Rudy bra, brief, and suspender; Leg Avenue (I think) faux seamed stockings.

Do I think that this is a luxury set? Not at all but don’t get me wrong: it’s quite nice, and I really like it, but when I think of luxury, I don’t think of regular AP. Quality is on par with a lot of brands I own like Myla, Mimi Holliday, some Bordelle, and dare I say it: VS.

Rudy has long been sold out, but rogue pieces can be found on eBay. Hopefully this review can at least be a point of reference for those who wish to purchase AP in the future. I’m not sure how helpful it actually is since their sizing is all over the place, but at least in my obituary, it can say “at least this basic bitch reviewed AP before she died.”

Apologies in advance for the image quality. I keep losing the quality in resolution, but I also did take these photos when the sun was setting… Also, black is really hard to photograph. Well, I tried. :)

All items in this post were purchased by me. Agent Provocateur did not ask for this review, nor was I compensated for this post. No affiliate links were used.

I am incredibly overdue on this post, so let’s get into it!

Almost a year ago, I purchased the Cassia set from Toru and Naoko. Unfortunately, I had some serious fit issues that left me scratching my head. After my review was published, Camila reached out to me and offered me another set since she had no more Cassia fabric. By then, Toru and Naoko had started tweaking their patterns and had released a second wave of designs. Since Toru and Naoko’s aesthetic really appeals to me and I wanted a set that I could wear, I was incredibly grateful and accepted.

It was a tough decision, but I eventually decided on the Daisy bra and the matching Daisy briefs. Since I was nervous about the set being too small for me, I sized up in both the bra and the bottoms to a large. When the set arrived to me in the mail, I was so excited! Toru and Naoko’s packaging is lovely; the pieces came in PVC pouches with a silver snap and some stickers.

God, I can’t get over how cute this set is. I LOVE patterns, but throw some sequins on it (embroidered nonetheless), and I’m helpless. As with Cassia, the stitching on the Daisy pieces was perfect – no skipped stitches, no wonky sewing – just perfection.

Toru and Naoko Daisy  - embroidered sequins.

Toru and Naoko Daisy – embroidered sequins.

As for fit… Well, let’s just say I overcompensated on the fit for the bra. Sigh. It was much too big in both the band and the cups. I felt my heart sink and just felt awful for all of the hassle. I actually was just going to keep the large, but after contacting Camila, she confirmed that the bra was too big on me, and offered to ship me a medium. I mailed the large bra back to her, and she immediately sent me the medium (even before receiving my parcel!).

Toru and Naoko Daisy Bra - bralette style!

Toru and Naoko Daisy Bra – bralette style!

When I received it, the fit was honestly just right. Hooray! The bra was firm in the band and gave me good support. One thing worth mentioning about this particular cut: I personally feel that this bra style is best suited for someone who has breasts that are fuller on the bottom that splay outwards. On me, the inside edge of the triangle bra just covers my nips. If you have very narrow breasts, you may find yourself slipping out of it! I feel that Toru and Naoko’s bra size chart is true to size based off my experience with the Daisy set, and in the future, I will purchase their bras in a medium.

As for the bottoms, the large fit perfectly!

Toru and Naoko Daisy Brief

Toru and Naoko Daisy Brief

I absolutely love the silver hardware that is used in this set, and I adore how the front panel is attached to the mesh back panel with lingerie sliders. It’s such a lovely small detail.
Toru and Naoko Daisy Slider

That said, I do think their knickers generally tend to run small; however, I truly feel that the sizing with the Daisy knickers is much more accurate than it was with Cassia. Certain brands run smaller on the bottom (old Bordelle and Maison Close come to mind), so knowing how you fit in the brand – as well as the amount of coverage you prefer – are factors to be taken into consideration. For me, my butt is happy and comfortable in the large, so in the future, I will continue to purchase a large in bottoms!

Toru and Naoko Daisy Set - Worn.

Toru and Naoko Daisy Set – Worn. I literally have no idea why my right foot looks mangled in this pic, so don’t look too closely. ;) AHHH, YOU LOOKED.

I’m very, very happy with my Daisy set, and I love wearing it! I think it’s adorable and fun and would look great at spring/summer festivals. Truth be told, I was unsure if I would ever purchase from Toru and Naoko again, but after how everything played out, I can honestly say that I will and that it would be a pleasure. I also now feel confident about purchasing the appropriate size in the future. Camila’s customer service left such a positive impression on me, and I want to support businesses who offer great products but also provide equally great service.

Because seriously… I’m having heart palpitations over their limited Lempicka Collection. Pale pink and black? YES, PLZ.

(c) Toru and Naoko. Lempicka collection featuring the Juana bra and Sharon knickers.

(c) Toru and Naoko. Lempicka collection featuring the Juana bra and Sharon knickers.

Toru and Naoko generously provided the Daisy set to me at no additional cost. Toru and Naoko did not ask for an updated review, nor did they offer monetary compensation, nor did they read this review before publication. No affiliate links were used.

Recently, very interesting narratives have been shared on Twitter. The one that has picked up momentum is the topic of transparency. I actually wrote about my finances a year ago, but I’d like to revisit it in light of our most recent discussions. Please note: this isn’t a call out post or anything of that sort, but rather, a post to be more honest about what’s going on in real life versus what is portrayed on the ‘gram or internet.

I reread my previous post, and it’s pretty accurate. I’m thrifty by nature, picky, and have been buying lingerie for almost 10 years. I’ve worked shitty jobs, dealt with shitty people, but in the end, had things come together. I’m also older than most people who are active on social media and have become more established in my career. Still no kids and still dislike going out. :P

Looking back on my post, one thing stands out to me: my budget was being treated more like an expense account, and I was not being entirely aware of just how much I was spending. I was paying all of my bills on time, had no credit card debt, but somehow, I just never seemed to have that much liquid cash. It wasn’t until October 2015 did I seriously sit down and reassess my habits and literally began to track every. single. penny. that I spent. On top of it, I created a proactive budget with distinct categories that itemized every single monthly expense. Back then, I was using Mint.com. Now, I would not recommend it. Instead, I would use a spreadsheet or any budgeting software that has you manually entering all of your expenses – no import. I currently use YNAB4.

If you asked me now, I can tell you exactly how much I spent on groceries in April: $171.59. Or I could tell you how much I’ve spent on cat food since January: $114.31. Or something perhaps more relevant, on lingerie (adjusted), $433.12.

One of the gorgeous bras I purchased this year from La Lilouche!

One of the gorgeous bras I purchased this year from La Lilouche!

Unlike most people, I’m going to actually give some real numbers. This is an excerpt of a portion of my budget from April. Note: some “expenses” like property taxes, home maintenance, car repairs, vehicle registration, vet care, etc. have not been included in the monthly expense category but are in long term savings (not shown):
April 2016 Budget Excerpt

As you can see, I’m not perfect (nor is Comcast, and I’m still waiting for my damned internet bill to be adjusted). There are times where I do overspend, but I usually adjust my budgets for next month or give myself more money in a category by removing it from another. Since I started proactively managing my money, I’ve seen a remarked improvement in my overall spending as well as my net worth:
May 2016 Net Worth

No Y axis because although I believe in transparency, I’m still not comfortable with telling strangers on the internet how much liquid cash I have. (Just to clarify, the red are my debts where I have promotional financing with 0% interest. My philosophy: if you can’t afford it, don’t finance it. I could pay these debts off immediately, but I prefer to invest my money elsewhere.)

All of this brings me to today. It’s difficult to say and talk about publicly, but since we’re being transparent, I was laid off early this month due to the energy industry taking a huge hit. (Rejoice, haters!) I know for a fact if I didn’t have my hands around my finances, I would’ve probably had a heart attack. I have a little bit of unemployment coming in, surprise severance pay, leftover vacation bank, and some liquid cash for emergencies, but my goal is to find a job ASAP before I have to touch that emergency fund. I’m not sad, and I’m not worried… yet.

Frankly, I have enough lingerie to wear and write about that I never did, so there probably won’t be a huge lapse in content. Then again, I’m not super consistent with updating, soooo… ;)

For more perspective, please visit these lovely ladies who have waxed poetic on this subject:
Morning Madonna – Life: Buying Transparency
Lingerie Detective: Money Talk (series)
Holy Brail – Let’s talk about money, honey: lingerie retail therapy
Of Lambs and Lace – Lingerie Blogging & Financial Transparency
The Lingerista – Lingerie and Full Frontal Finance