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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. ;)

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. :)

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

In the forever struggle of dealing with the fact that my 30+ year old body is simply not the same as my 20 year old body has been a challenge. Recently, at work, we had a health screening, and it was disheartening. Comparing my stats from 5 years ago to now, I’ve gained 26 pounds. My waist went up 3 inches! Although my other numbers are still in the healthy range, they’re nowhere near what they were back then. At the end of the day, I want to be in good health and also equally strong. I’ve finally got some of my problematic eating habits under control, and I’ve been able to go back to the gym consistently. I’ve been pretty happy with my progress, but boy, can selfies be an absolute soul destroyer.

This is the only photo that I found remotely likeable. Props to filters for making my skin look so smooth and perfect!

This is the only photo that I found remotely likeable. Props to filters for making my skin look so smooth and perfect!

I like lingerie body shots, so I try to incorporate them with my reviews. Since I have been battling these mental monsters for most of 2015, updates have been sporadic. I’ve also had some super important stuff on the side to take care of, but hopefully come end of April/May, things will be back to normal (with monsters slayed!). ;) Are people okay with just flat-lays? I always love pictures because they help sooooo much. Because I prefer body shots, I feel like that’s what people want to see.

What brought on these thoughts were pictures I took for this review. I think I look like a troll with no shape. I somehow managed to take a literal thousand or so selfies (I got my friend’s old iPhone 5c, and apparently I held the trigger on the selfie stick too long??), and going through them was like this draining, depressing chore. Despite these bouts of “I hate how I look on film,” I’m actually 80% of the time (at least) happy with my body. As a sweet friend wrote, “Death by selfie!” Seriously, no joke.

Recently, I’ve been on a huge bodysuit kick. I just can’t get enough of them!! As I previously mentioned, I’m all about form and functionality, so poppers/snaps are a must. I guess some people move the bodysuit to the side when they pee, but seriously, do they not poop? You can’t move the bodysuit to the side when you’re doing that… The thought of getting naked to use the toilet isn’t fun for me either, especially if you’re going out and trying not to touch anything in the stall.

Moving right along…

I purchased this gorgeous Lola Haze bodysuit, A Perfect Package, from a stockist.

Lola Haze Perfect Package Teddy (but actually a bodysuit according to Wikipedia definitions :p) (c) Lola Haze.

Lola Haze Perfect Package Teddy (but actually a bodysuit according to Wikipedia definitions :p) (c) Lola Haze.

Here’s the item description:

Please note: Lace pattern may vary slightly from photo. A Perfect Package…of you! This gorgeous teddy will flatter any figure and perfect all your assets. Gold mesh draped front leaves a peek of lace to tantalize, while minimizing your waist and keeping your goodies mysterious.

What an appropriate name for this bodysuit! I’m huge fan of the gold mesh draping, which is like a big hug around your body, and I also love how it provides additional coverage. The lace pattern on my bodysuit is actually a rose-print. The snaps are smooth and and don’t require weird body contortions in order to snap together or snap apart. (I really HATE bodysuits that have the snaps set directly into the fabric because it can cause the fabric to tear if you aren’t un/snapping at the snap.)

Rose Lace Close-up; lace pattern may vary!

Rose Lace Close-up; lace pattern may vary!

When I purchase bodysuits, it gets tricky. For one, I have a long torso with short appendages – think Captain Seamus from Family Guy hah. Most dresses don’t fall at my waistline but rather, at the base of my rib cage. When I’m buying bodysuits, I look for the following:

1. Adjustable straps – this allows for more length in the torso
2. …preferably spaghetti strap-like for more flexibility
3. If the bodysuit is like a fitted top with sleeves or a halter neck, I tend to size up.
*Just to be clear, this isn’t foolproof due to garment proportions.

I purchased this bodysuit in a size medium. Fit is wonderful despite my actual measurements being a few inches larger. The lace and gold mesh are very, very soft and stretchy. This bodysuit is also nicely made. Laura, the owner and designer, designs and creates all of her samples, but the finished product is produced by a factory in NYC.

However, I’m honestly torn about how I look wearing this. Worn alone, I think this bodysuit makes me look super stumpy, and I don’t think this bodysuit “flatters” me. I think part of the problem is how high the leg cuts are on my person, and I loathe that 90s high-cut look. It’s literally the one trend that I hope stays dead. High cuts don’t make my legs look longer; they make my body look incredibly distorted and emphasize any skin or fat I have around my hips.

Avec Monsieur Cat Butt. :3 Leg cuts are high on my body. PS - where did my waist go??

Avec Monsieur Cat Butt. :3 Leg cuts are high on my body. PS – where did my waist go??

That said, none of that is a huge deal breaker because realistically, I’d pair this with a bottom and go along my merry way. :) Truth be told, I’m not ogling myself when I’m wearing lingerie, but the narrative is different when you’re putting your body out there on the internet and are deleting hundreds of pictures from a selfie stick misadventure.

Lola Haze has been around since 2008, and they’ve received all sorts of press coverage from big shots like Vogue, WWD, and Elle. I haven’t seen much about the brand in blogs, which I think is a shame! The price point is comfortable and fair, and your purchase directly supports a designer with ethical production in the US. The bodysuit I purchased retails for $69, which is on par with numerous higher-end brands and is attainable for those with some disposable income.

I received confirmation from Laura that the website is up and running and attended, so if you’re someone who gets a bit anxious about no dated updates (I can’t be the only one, right??) and quiet social media accounts (which are usually not a good sign in the lingerie world), rest assured! Laura responded to my questions promptly and within a few hours, and I have no doubt that your order will be handled with the utmost attention and care!

Last but not least, here’s another wishlist item – I really should get that second part written – that has totally stolen my heart. It would’ve been perfect for Marc Jacob’s rollerina disco-chic NYFW 2015 party… :)

Lola Haze Golden Goddess  Teddy. (c) Lola Haze

Lola Haze Golden Goddess Teddy. (c) Lola Haze

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

Happy New Year!

My posting was a bit regular towards the end of the year, kind of like a deflating balloon. :B But I’m alive and hope to write more, but real life always seems to get in the way. I tend to avoid my lingerie blog when I’m feeling down and rough on my body, which unfortunately, was predominantly the 2nd half of 2015. I also took a break on my certification, but I’m throwing myself headfirst into that this year. It may be quiet for a bit longer, but I’m still around! (I’m somewhat active on Instagram, so if you want to keep up with me there, please shoot me a request. Unfortunately, due to the amount of IG spam and creepers, I put my account on private. I’m not super picky about who follows me, but if you look like a spam account or are a s3x account, I won’t approve.)

I haven’t bought much lingerie these past few months, but I’m okay with that! I’ve been working on a true budget in the sense that I account for every single dollar I spend vs. “I have a budget” where I treat my checking account like an expense account. I’ve actually saved about $1000 last quarter by significantly slashing all of my expenses and accounting for every single dollar in my pockets. Progress!! I’m pretty sure that most of the stuff I will be talking about will be covering brands and lingerie I’ve owned for awhile. I actually wear “boring basics” somewhat regularly by choice (don’t want to sweat buckets into fancy laces or silks, don’t want to tear anything while working out, etc.), so a lot of what I own always feels like new to me. :)

Onto more lingerie-specific things, one of the biggest highlights in 2015 for me was getting to know Melissa Taylor of Katastrophic Design. Melissa has this cool girl vibe about her, you know, that girl in school who you wanted to be! I love her look (she’s a chameleon!!), and I also love her work.

katastrophicdesignblueroseshopflat-2

(c) Katastrophic Design – Seafoam Rose Bralette Set, shop photograph.

Melissa got in touch with me to offer one of her awesome sets to me, but I couldn’t take it gratis, so we decided to trade. :D I sent her a set of handmade pizza felt badges and some other gifts while she sent and surprised me with her signature pastel seafoam rose lace organic cotton bralette and undies set. Total hearts in eyes moment, all.

I’ll get around to taking better pictures of myself wearing this set, but for now, here are some filtered to death pictures and my cat. :D

As worn by my little model. :)

As worn by my little model. :)

I’ve raved about this set on Instagram, but let me consolidate this information here…

The main reason behind my adoration of Katastrophic Design is the fact that Melissa is a true craftswoman! I really appreciate how hands-on she is with her business. In addition to drafting a pattern, cutting out the pieces, and sewing up each piece with her hands, she also hand dyes her fabric and laces. She also supports other niche markets by sourcing US grown organic cotton jersey for her base fabric and European organic cotton laces. I read on her Instagram that most laces are constructed with a backing that is dissolved in a chemical bath, but her laces do not undergo this process. For people with sensitivities, I feel that Katastrophic Design would be a wonderful consideration and option.

(c) Katastrophic Design.

(c) Katastrophic Design.

I sent Melissa my measurements, so I’m not super sure what size I received. It’s either a medium or a large or a medium-large. ;) If you have any questions or concerns about fit, drop her a line! She will get you quickly squared away.

Unlike most cotton jersey fabrics, Melissa’s fabric has a really, really good weight to it. It definitely lean towards a heavyweight and is much thicker than average t-shirt material. There’s also a good amount of firm stretch to the jersey and a certain plushness to it. The color is beautiful, similar to the crystalline blue-green waters you see in those perfect beach pictures. The fabric is comfortable on the skin and totally breathable, which is a MUST for hot humid summers! Fun fact: Melissa currently resides in Texas, so she totally understands the absolute misery, my pain, of Gulf Coast Texas summers.

The Seafoam Rose set that I received (pardon the incredibly yellow/overexposed picture - forever battling the night...)

The Seafoam Rose set that I received (pardon the incredibly yellow/overexposed picture – forever battling the night…)

The fit is spot-on. Due to the stretch of the material, I feel like my set fits me like a glove! Also, to my shock and surprise, this bandeau bra gives me some really great cleavage. I’m actually surprised at how much lift and support I’m getting from a bandeau bra (keep in mind, your mileage may vary!). Ahhh, I may never go back to underwires!

Natural lift!

Natural lift!

The cotton lace applique is sewn onto the jersey with a zigzag stitch, and the seams are neatly finished with an overlocker. The straps on this bralette are on the thinner side (I personally prefer thicker straps), but on the plus side, I haven’t had the straps twist on my shoulders excessively. I do get a bit of twisting every now and then, though.

Although I received my set from her via swap, you’ll be hard pressed to find a set of this quality, with this amount of attention, for $66, which is honestly a steal; however, if $66 is still a bit out of your reach, this is your lucky week! Melissa is currently raising funds for her trip to Portland for the Unmentionable Lingerie Show, so this week, through Saturday, enjoy 20% off your order at her Etsy shop with code PDXORBUST!

No affiliate links were used. Katastrophic Design did not ask for this review, nor was I compensated for it. The seafoam rose set was received in exchange for my own handmade goods. :)

My blog has and never will be about bra fitting.  Numerous blogs and the Reddit subforum cover this topic extensively with much more enthusiasm than I could ever muster.  However, after seeing a slew of misinformation and obnoxious judgement, I wanted to dust off all these half-written drafts and talk about sizing.

Now, I’m just going to come out and say it: just because you’ve read “A Bra That Fits,” it doesn’t make you an expert in bra fitting.  Nor does this mean that you have the magical skills to look at a picture of someone, tell them that they are 100% wrong about their size, and a bra in [this size] will fix all of their problems.  Nope. Nope. Nope.

Let me be clear: I think A Bra That Fits is a GREAT resource.  It offers excellent information to people who have never really understood how bras should fit, but it is not the end-all be-all guide to bra fit.  Your measurements may not correspond correctly with how brands are sizing their bras, or you may prefer a particular type of fit.

When it comes to bras, there is no standard across the industry.  Yes, this is totally frustrating, so in my opinion, contacting a brand for their input on sizing is critical.  I always prefer to purchase based off of a brand’s detailed size chart and adjusting from there. I know that this can be expensive and a huge pain in the ass especially if stores do not stock your size or preferred brands, but until the lingerie market gains some traction and people don’t freak out at paying more than $50 for a bra, that’s just the world we live in. And believe me, I hate dealing with international returns as much as the next person.  Ideally, once you figure out your size, it should hold constant, but unfortunately, don’t hold your breath.  Brands can and do adjust their fit over time.  (I’m crying in a corner weeping over Bordelle’s latest fit.)

Embroidered Chantelle unlined bra in 32D.

Embroidered Chantelle unlined bra in 32D.

My underbust measurement is 32″/81.28cm.  My full bust measurement is 36″/91.44cm.  Most resources would have me at a 32D.

When I was looking to place an order with La Lilouche, I got into a discussion with Liya about what size I should take.  At the time, I had purchased quite a few bras in the US tagged with 32D, so I was convinced that this would be the correct size.  However, after we started talking, this was clearly turning out to be the wrong size for me in her brand.  According to her measurement chart, I would be wearing a 36 band since my underbust measurement fell between 78-82cm.  Using my calculated band size, I would find out my cup size by looking at the chart and finding my corresponding full bust measurement. Instead of the 32D that I had thought about purchasing, I was sized into a 36A.

Liya has worked for many designers including those on the high street before she launched her own gorgeous line.  She informed me that the bra underbust/full bust measurements was typical, if not standard, for UK sized lingerie. Moreover, the band size did not correspond directly to the tape measurement.

Courtesy of La Lilouche.

Courtesy of La Lilouche.

This method of sizing is commonly referred to as the band + 4″ method, but IMO, it’s a lot more complicated than that (and honestly, gets more convoluted to the nth degree, especially if you have larger breasts). What actually IS the band size?  Is it solely the underbust measurement?  Or is it underbust +2″? No?  +4″ or +5″? Or is band size determined using another method or a corresponding chart? For instance, what makes my underbust equivalent to a EU 75 band? Or a French 95? Google will bring up the most varied responses.  If anything, there is no set definition, which you already knew. ;)

For this very reason, I ALWAYS recommend inquiring with the designer or brand for more information.  For what it’s worth, I am convinced that most UK brands size their lingerie similarly to La Lilouche (or vice versa), which is why some British 32Ds appear extremely tiny: it’s because they are; they’re meant to fit an underbust of 26-28″, not 32″. For US or French brands, I’ve noticed that the band measurement usually corresponds more closely to the underbust measurement, but again, nothing is standard, so your mileage will vary! (womp womp)

La Lilouche Britt bra - she turned out beautifully and fits like an absolute dream. ♥

La Lilouche Britt bra – she turned out beautifully and fits like an absolute dream in 36A. ♥

So back to my 32D bras.  This size was working for me in brands such as Chantelle, Victoria’s Secret, and Le Mystere, but I’ll be frank: I really, really, really dislike having a new bra that feels excruciatingly uncomfortable until I “break it in.” While a bra’s band should be firm (since it supports your breasts), it shouldn’t make you utterly miserable.  I don’t like when my bra leaves deep imprints on my body, and there is no chance in hell that I will ever wear a bra that does that to me again.

General bra fitting guidelines recommend being able to stick no more than 1 finger under your band, but for me, this isn’t remotely enough.  (That said, you shouldn’t be able to pull the bra band 10″ off your back.) I also dislike with the passion of a thousand suns a band that has been stretched out, especially on more delicate fabrics like silk and lace.  Once you hit the point where your band is so strained that the fabrics can no longer recover or “bounce back,” you end up with a stretched out, misshapen band.

If you prefer a looser fit, go for it – you can always have the bra altered if the band is too big as you wear your bra over time.  If you like a tighter fit, great!  You know your body the best: wear what feels good on you and what makes you feel good.

Remember those 32D bras I purchased?  They work, but I honestly find myself a lot more comfortable in a 34C.  This is usually always the size I take in US/French brands.  If the 34C fits a bit odd on me because of the bra style (plunge, balconette, etc.), I play with the sizing by sizing up or down in band/cup.  Please don’t ever feel that there’s something wrong with your breasts – they are perfectly fine and awesome! Like jeans, not all styles work on every single body.  Brands who can afford to do this usually offer multiple bra styles in one collection: long line, plunge, unlined, molded, etc.  The same goes for things like knickers: tanga, thong, brief, high cut.

Agent Provocateur Cassia in 36C. (AP's inconsistency in sizing is notorious across styles.) I tried this style on in order to assess the proper fit, and even then, I will still wear it with an extender.

Agent Provocateur Cassia in 36C. (AP’s inconsistency in sizing is notorious across styles.) I tried this style on in order to assess the proper fit, and even then, I will still wear it with an extender because the band is just a hair too tight.

Hi, my name is Marionette Mew, and I wear a 32D, 34C, 34D, 36A, and 36C. Sizing is not constant, nor is it rigid. Try on bras, look for things that makes a bra supportive, and find out what works best for you. Also, please let the “80% of women wear the incorrect bra size” phrase die already. Thanks! ;)