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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. ;)

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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

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! ;)

I’m sure one question that is always in the forefront of someone’s mind is, “How the hell can you afford all of this?” This question is a bit loaded. I don’t want to under simplify it by saying, “I save” or by being dismissive. Talking about finances is always a sensitive issue. I’ve long struggled with portraying what my life is and what it actually is, and I’ve been a firm proponent of stressing that. I think social media has completely distorted reality where many people define or depict their lives based on a carefully curated persona. Hopefully this post will offer more information about myself and how I’m able to afford… life. :)

This is long, so grab a warm fluffy blanket, a cup of tea, and a warm pet to snuggle with!

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The older I get, the more annoyed I get with advertising campaigns and social media accounts. I feel almost embarrassed to state the obvious, but if you’re running a business, you should probably learn how to run your business well. Before people state that I have no idea what I’m talking about, I previously made my livelihood as a manager of a global British brand and in a high-performing store of a multiple CFDA recipient. While social media can be used as an advertising platform (and should be), when it’s solely used as free advertising, I’m no longer a follower. I can just read your website.

Before I begin with all these problems that have bothered me very much as a customer, I want to explicitly state that I do not request samples, nor do I profit by having this blog (all ads listed on the site do not benefit me, but rather, WordPress). I do not use affiliate links. I purchase everything I’ve ever written about unless it was given to me by a friend who has absolutely no affiliation with any company. I have a full-time analyst job and do not wish to pursue other career opportunities outside my industry. This little blog was born out of a longtime love for lingerie and to write about what I liked. Writing about companies I’ve dealt with honestly is important, and I would never ever bully or threaten a brand by using this blog in order to get special treatment – and let’s face it, I’m just an insignificant speck in a sea of well-written blogs. Without further ado, here are five things that I look for in lingerie companies that determine whether or not I will support them or continue to support them in the future.

One drawer from my lingerie armoire.

One drawer from my lingerie armoire.

1. Respond to your customers on social media (and to their emails).
First and foremost, why do companies have social media accounts if they refuse to interact with their customers? I honestly don’t get this. If you don’t care about the “social” part, stick with the “media,” and maintain your website. I’ve tweeted and posted on Gossard’s Facebook page and have even sent in emails inquiring about fit, and to this day, I’ve received nothing. Half the time, their advertised promotions never work, and I see numerous customers inquiring about them with no response. Big “faceless” companies have provided me with better service than Gossard ever has. I unfollowed them on all social media accounts because what’s the point? I can look at pictures on their website if I wanted to. If I ever purchase Gossard again in the future, I’ll purchase from ASOS or a boutique. Perhaps their focus isn’t on retail sales. I don’t know; I can’t figure it out.

2. If your customers are ready to make a purchase, tell them where they can make a purchase if you’re not in the retail business.
After much excitement over Huit’s SS15 collection, I contacted Huit and inquired where I could buy their Fleur de Peau collection. The Ivy colorway was released in December, but after searching for it online at all their linked stockists in January (both international and domestic), I couldn’t find it. I had the money, and I was ready to buy. As a customer, I don’t expect to be catered on every whim nor do I think I’m always right, but I would venture to say that it’s a good thing when your customer has the money, knows what she wants, and is ready to make a purchase. Huit is not in the retail business, so I suppose I can cut them some slack, but simultaneously, I don’t understand why it should require an hour of research to look up where I can buy their products but still come up empty-handed. I was ready to purchase the entire collection, but I spent my money elsewhere. I actually like Huit’s lingerie a lot, so if I see a store carrying their stuff in the future, I will probably make a purchase if I happen to see it.

3. Don’t steal your customers’ pictures.
Captain Obvious, but I’m still shocked I see it happen and find it extremely distasteful when companies like Agent Provocateur do it. Sometimes they give credit, sometimes they don’t; I guess it depends how their PR people feel that day. One customer asked for credit, which AP has ignored without update. If you want to share your customers pictures (please do! this is awesome – I LOVE when companies do this!), please give credit. It should go without saying. If your customers are freely promoting your products, the least you can do is give them credit for any images or posts that come from them. Seriously, don’t steal it.

4. Strongly consider – and reconsider – how your brand is portrayed/advertised.
If you wish to market your brand a certain way, be aware that you may isolate some of your customers. For me, this breakup is with Bordelle. I’ve purchased quite a bit of their lingerie, but after following them on social media, I will not purchase from them again in the future even though I generally like their designs. The incessant “bad/kinky/power bitch” message is incredibly off-putting. While I understand the philosophy behind reclaiming words, I am still uncomfortable with “bitch” for the following reasons: women are still being called bitches for voicing their opinions, and lingerie still has social stigma attached to it. To me, these advertising campaigns feed into the stereotype that lingerie is solely for men or used as a weapon of power over men by a certain “type” of (straight) woman. This may not be an issue for some people, but I personally do not like it. I don’t feel that being called a “bitch” in any sense is empowering, nor do I strive to fit the notion of what a “powerful” woman is to one brand.

I feel that a strong, confident woman can be portrayed much better (for example, Kiss Me Deadly is a brand that comes to mind for female-positive depictions in their advertising campaigns). I closely identify with being a strong, independent woman who has been self-sufficient. I worked long and hard with that one opportunity that appeared after 6 years of tears to get to where I am today. I bought a home. I built a boat. I’ve managed to build a great network of relationships at work and have finaaaaaaally gotten the respect of many men at work in an extremely male-dominated industry.

This scandalous/sexy/naughty thing is neither outrageous nor shocking to me. I just find it completely uninspiring.

5. Promote diversity.
I love, and I mean LOVE, when companies share photos of customers in their lingerie. LOOOOOOVE. While I do post pictures of me in companies’ lingerie for my reviews, if they don’t share it, no big deal. I don’t post for them; I post to show fit and how it looks on my body for others who may be looking for customer photos and notes. However, when companies just post customer pictures of their lingerie on thin, pretty, and tall white women even when their “other” customers share their photos, I can’t even deal with it. I mentioned this on Twitter, but if you’re a company who allegedly promotes diversity and women of all sizes, don’t curate your clientele. As a customer, this gives me the impression that you only want certain women of a certain “standard” to be shown in your lingerie. Nope & goodbye forever.

If you’re a company who doesn’t realize, recognize, or care about minority buying power or the plus-sized market, for example, learn. Furthermore, this comment should not be interpreted as to changing your niche market, nor is this to say that if you make small busted products, to start making full busted products. There are numerous companies that I admire and respect and will try to support in some shape or form even if their products are not marketed towards me. Diversity is also not exclusive to the color of one’s skin nor their size but also inclusive of sexual/gender identity/orientation.

I had touched upon this in a previous post, but I’m starting to realize that diversity is a big deal to me. I would venture to say that I’m willing to support companies based on this characteristic alone. This is just an observation, but if a company cares this much about diversity, chances are, the products they offer would be of – at least – good quality.

I speak primarily for myself as a customer, but I believe in brand loyalty and continuing support brands who value me as a customer. With these types of companies, I buy things at full price instead of only during a sale. I am willing to pay for high-quality, well-made items. Loyalty has always been important to me, and I really wish it was a quality that was still valued by many companies today.

I’m curious: as a customer, what are your dealbreakers? Are there any brands you will not purchase from? I would love to have an open discussion about this! By the way, if you are a huge fan of some of the brands I’ve had problems with, great! Please keep in mind that my bad experience does not negate your good experience and vice versa. I am not here to change your mind, nor am I here to discourage you from shopping with them ever again. :)

Happy November! For those who celebrate, I hope you had a Happy Halloween! I spent this past week with my dear friend and got to experience first-hand a New England fall, complete with carving pumpkins, picking apples, watching Halloween movies, and realizing you can drive 45 minutes and end up in another state. ;)

These past few months, I have spent too much on lingerie! After looking through my drawer, I’m going to gradually put down the brakes on any new acquisitions until I come to a full stop. There are just a few things left that I want that I’ve been stalking for so many months…

As much as I’d like to think that lingerie is an investment, to me, it isn’t. I view it as a consumable, if not a depreciating asset, especially knickers! (But don’t get me wrong; I will still support and pay designers for their gorgeous works.) As much as I’d love to have a glorious closet full of beautiful underthings, I’m more concerned about, in no particular order:

1. Maxing out my 401(k)
2. Looking into my IRA and contributing/maximizing my contributions
3. Putting more into savings
4. Aggressively paying off my mortgage.

I know. SO BORING, right?
(This almost seems like a joke and that my blog has been hacked. I promise it hasn’t.)

Lingerie has always been my little side hobby, but I have always worried about my financial future, especially with the economy being rather unpredictable. With 2015, I hope to have more liquid assets, so I can put some siding on my house! And maybe a new roof. :p

The reason why I mention ALL THE BORING THINGS is because this will most definitely affect the direction of my blog. Recently, I’ve written more about things I could buy now, but when it comes to tightening the belt, lingerie/clothing is always the first to go.

I’ve always obligated to be honest with people who read about what I have to say. I try not to craft an internet persona or mislead people to think I live a certain lifestyle. I’m not sponsored (this blog does not pay the bills), and I have bills to pay. I work a corporate desk job. I budget – usually VERY STRICTLY – with Mint.com, cook most of my meals, drag my butt to the gym, and watch copious amounts of Netflix when I’m not at work or volunteering.

That’s pretty much my daily life in a nutshell.

So here’s the immediate shortlist of things I have planned:
1. Focusing more and writing about the pieces I already own and love
2. Sewing my own basic lingerie (I’ve sewn for many years now but can’t shake the irrational terror of sewing garments)

If there’s anything you’d like to see/read/talk about, please feel free to contact me via the form, on social media, or leave a comment.

And as always, thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to read. I truly do appreciate everyone who spends the time to read all the things that come out of my brain. I hope you you all enjoy your extra hour! :)

Can I confess something?

Lately, I’ve been somewhat obsessed with Victoria’s Secret. WHAT IS HAPPENING.

Prior to this month, I have never, ever bought anything from them. Simply put, I did not like their lingerie, nor did I find their designs something I would wear. I found Pink to be terrible and tacky and wondered how sweatpants tracksuit trends were still managing to perform. Who actually buys this stuff?

Apparently, I do.

Apparently, I do.

While I typically prefer smaller and/or independent companies, I realize that the price point and accessibility are typically a pain in the ass. I completely understand the cost of materials and labor, but I would venture to say that most people in the US are unwilling or unable to pay that much for a designer bra for whatever reason. No judgement. I also find myself passing on a lot of things I like because I have to be, you know, responsible.

And when I have more disposable income to purchase something pretty, I find myself getting exasperated with sizing, worrying something won’t fit, and then dealing with a return despite googling and reading every single review I can get my hands on. I typically have the “buying lingerie internationally game down,” but when it comes to brands that are new to me (ahem, Gossard, Kiss Me Deadly), it can be disheartening and expensive, especially when it comes to shipping something overseas with the “new” USPS pricing scheme based on thickness.

Lingerie sizing is unbelievably finicky, so I understand the appeal in purchasing something in person. While Victoria’s Secret is soooooo limited in their sizing, they’re physically there and become an option, if not THE option, for many women. Maybe one day, they will offer more than the standard 32/34/36/38 band with the A/B/C/D/DD cup… Many of their styles don’t even offer that much size variety, either. One bra might come in 9 sizes only. Their website navigation is not the best, and their inventory varies on a near daily basis. I view them as a primary brick and mortar store. If you see something you like, get it because it may not be available online.

As I previously wrote, I hate the overtly sexual marketing campaigns that lingerie companies use. I don’t think Victoria’s Secret is the absolute worst offender, but it’d be nice if they could drop the “Very Sexy” category, which IMO, is a stupid qualifier. I know that they try to sell you an image, even projecting their Angel name on their customers, but let’s be real now.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way…

I’m really digging the direction of their lingerie. I’m liking what I’m seeing and have actually made purchases from the store. While chatting with Leandra, one of the lingerie consultants at my local shop, she informed me that the company has been listening to customer input, and the newer styles are a reflection of that.

While there’s a long way to go, I can get on board with what I’m seeing. I personally wish that Victoria’s Secret would carry other brands, but given how they reclaimed their Designer Lingerie Collection by moving it in-house, I’m afraid that that likelihood is slim to none.

In Part 2, I’ll review my most recent purchases; in fact, the very pieces that got me to shop with them.