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Monthly Archives: May 2016

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.

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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