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Hello! I don’t know if I’ll update any of my social media accounts ever again, but if I don’t, I want my last post to commemorate and shout-out my top 5 brands, brands that I will continue to support, long after I cease posting. They are listed in ABC order.

If I didn’t include you, please don’t be upset! I only could pick 5, so if I ever bought your stuff and raved about it, you know I really love your work!

And before I list my top 5, I would like to mention just how hard these indie brands have worked to stay afloat. I’ve personally interacted with all of them, and a handful of ladies have informed me that their brands struggle every day to keep their doors open. I think a lot of people love the sentiment of supporting indie brands, but when it comes to making a full-priced purchase, most waffle. I’ll be the first to admit that paying full-price for things has been hard because I grew up poor and didn’t have much money for many, many years. However, the more that I focus on labor-intensive work, the more I appreciate all of the skills that women have fine-tuned in the lingerie market. Also, if you ever had to sew elastic, you realize that it’s a difficult skill to master. To this day, I still wanna gouge out my eyes when I have to sew on elastic and kind of avoid it like the plague. :P

Black Friday is around the corner, so in light of all the sales that are going on, please don’t forget to support your indie brands, even after the sales are over!

PS – Please forgive me for the worst flatlays ever. :P

1. Alexandrea Anissa
Vanessa is the badass punk rock seamstress behind this brand. I love how vocal she is about body positivity, how she refuses to undervalue her work, and how she encourages people to sew. She is honest with her personal struggles, and to me, it’s inspiring to hear a story that is authentic and heartfelt, vs. “I started making my lingerie because there was a void in the market where no one has ever made a boring t shirt bra that fit my D cups!” Her lookbooks have such a dreamy aesthetic, featuring women of color and bodies of all shapes and sizes before it became “a thing.”

I LOVE the leopard bra I got from her; it’s super comfy, and I feel so rock and roll and badass like Vanessa when I wear it. :D One thing that I find pretty amazing is how Vanessa has started to release lingerie patterns. I sew quite a bit in my spare time (but still think lingerie sewing is still difficult as hell), and Vanessa is super accessible. I’ve given her feedback on her pattern (specifically, her high waisted panty pattern), and she’s incorporated them into pattern updates.

Alexandrea Anissa Leopard Bralette

The Fawn Lace Lingerie Set is one of her most iconic sets, and I’d love to own it in the future.

2. Between the Sheets
I freaking love Layla. I’ve written about BtS in the past, but as I get older, I find her to be a bright light in the cesspool that is fashion. I feel like a lot of companies greenwash/pay lip service/do things to increase sales, but with Layla, everything she does is a heartfelt action to do and be better in this world (like her B-corp certification!). Every time I have engaged with Layla, she has been so kind and compassionate; you can’t help but love her!

As for her lingerie and loungewear… I LOVE IT. I still ADORE my Birds of Play set and almost can’t bring myself to wear it too often because I want to keep it perfect forever. Her fabrics are thoughtfully chosen, and everything is just so comfortable to wear. I am obsessed with her Specimens of Seduction line, especially her Sheer Romance Peach Robe.

Between the Sheets Birds of Play Bodysuit – the dusky mauvish grey feather print makes my heart go pitter patter. :3

3. Flash You and Me
I remember when FY&M was a new up and coming brand in Latvia. Their aesthetic was a bit sweeter, and they made matching underwear for couples. Since then, they’ve grown and expanded quite rapidly, offering an assortment of on trend, fun and flirty pieces, including loungewear and underwired bras (albeit, in limited sizes). What they’ve done is nothing short of amazing in terms of growth and product offering.

Flash You and Me Knickers (discontinued print) + gorgeous gift boxes.

Flash You and Me hits all points in terms of style, inventory, and price. Digging the strappy trend? If so, they got you covered. Nothing but loungewear for you? Of course they oblige! Want basics? Check, check, check! And if you are looking for swimwear, they offer that, too! My picks: their luxe harnesses at a very modest price point and their versatile tops. I own their limited release crop tops (so stretchy that they comfortably fit my broad shoulders), matching bottoms, underwear, and harness and can personally attest to the quality. Their CS is responsive and friendly, and I adore their lovely boxes! I also converted Vicky, so there’s that. ;)

4. Toru and Naoko
When my Cassia order from Toru an Naoko did not fit me whatsoever, I thought that I would never have anything to do with them again. Camila saw my post and wrote me a nice email and offered to send me a set with their new sizing. And even though the bra didn’t fit me, I was able to return that bra for another that did. Nowadays, brands take everything so personally but play nice with top influencers. Well, I’m a nobody online, but Camila still treated me with nothing but respect. She was so professional and friendly. I’m a loyal person, and this really cemented my patronage.

The grape pieces from the Lempicka collection. This collection is one of my favorites. Their pieces are magical on the body but impossibly hard to translate into a flatlay! (This image also turned out redder than it actually is; Camila’s photos are accurate in color.)

I’ve talked about how I’m bored by blah basics and stereotypical strappy stuff. I’m so jaded, guys. But every time I see a new collection from T&N, I’m just awed. Camila is a fantastic designer and has a real eye for transforming a simple bralette and knickers into something truly special. Her lingerie silhouettes gorgeously frame the body with their thoughtfully placed layers. Lempicka, now discontinued, grabbed me by the face (and I grabbed what I could), and her Lunar Mission and Queen of Hearts have me wanting more. I remember being so blown away when I saw those two collections. They’re wearable for every day activity, but they look unbelievably special.

5. Katastrophic Clothing
This one is not in ABC order because Melissa has currently closed her Etsy shop; however, she has some projects in the pipeline, and I’m suuuuper excited to see what she does! Her lingerie, to this day, is a champion of humid Texas summers. She works with hand-dyed organic cotton and laces and creates some of the most comfortable lingerie ever. Surprisingly enough, her lingerie also gives me the best cleavage ever! Whenever she opens up shop again, I’d love to purchase some more lingerie from her. I can’t wait to see what else her brand will carry in the future.

Katastrophic Clothing Bralettes – organic cotton jersey and laces, hand-dyed.

So, there you have it!
I really am thankful and grateful for everyone I’ve met through the lingerie community. I hope that everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving and winter holiday.

Also, if you’re in the US, please take a look at what’s going on with Net Neutrality. FYI, Chairman Pai was a former attorney at Verizon who specialized in competition and regulatory issues. Please call your senator and make your voice heard. If Congress gets enough votes, they can stop the FCC from allowing ISPs to control what you do/use/access online. (You have until December 14.)

CHEERS TO 2018 – WE GOT A REVOLUTION COMING!!

All items in this post were purchased by me. None of these brands asked me to write about them or include them in my list. No affiliate links were used.

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

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

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

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

Toru and Naoko Daisy  - embroidered sequins.

Toru and Naoko Daisy – embroidered sequins.

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

Toru and Naoko Daisy Bra - bralette style!

Toru and Naoko Daisy Bra – bralette style!

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

As for the bottoms, the large fit perfectly!

Toru and Naoko Daisy Brief

Toru and Naoko Daisy Brief

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

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

Toru and Naoko Daisy Set - Worn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ever since I saw Amber’s Review for the Toru & Naoko Cassia Set, I wanted it.  However, by the time I wanted to make a purchase, the fabric was out of stock!  Thankfully, Camila, the owner & designer of Toru & Naoko, was able to source more of the fabric and make more sets.  (Shout out to her seamstress Daniela!)

I purchased one of Toru & Naoko’s half-price gift vouchers after seeing them advertised on Instagram by the company and some fans.  To my delight, I was pleasantly surprised to see the Cassia set on sale when my voucher went live and snapped it up along with a pair of the party panties.  (Both the gift vouchers and the party knickers were used to raise funds for a new studio space.)  Consulting their size chart, other reviews, and wading 20+ pages deep into Google searches, I took a size medium, my “standard” size.

Shipping was a very reasonable & affordable $6 to the US.  I received my order quickly once it worked its way through the queue and was shipped.  My items were beautifully packaged in a vinyl envelope with a postcard and catalogue.  Hooray!

Finally, the gorgeous Cassia in my hands!

Finally, the gorgeous Cassia in my hands!

This burnout fabric is to die for.  LOVE.

This burnout fabric is to die for. LOVE.

Unfortunately, as I started trying things on, all joy dissipated like the air out of a leaky balloon.  The fit of the Cassia bra was good: runs slightly small but definitely wearable.  The knickers, on the other hand, were TINY.  Like… Maybe I could wear them if I were 20 years younger?  I managed to squeeze my ass into them, and as such, they’re tight and not particularly flattering.  Ehhhh.  Not feeling too good about this especially if I’m worried about popping stitches or losing feeling in my lower body.

As for the party panties, they were on the small side as well.  Like the Cassia knickers, I was able to get them on, but due to the open “cage” effect, they’re 1) completely uncomfortable and 2) all of my body fat feels like it’s being squeezed out of those openings.  Think of a tied roast.  You’re welcome for the visual.

Party panties - pretty lavender mesh + sparkly elastic trim.

Party panties – pretty lavender mesh + sparkly elastic trim.

I reread Karolina’s review, and she mentioned receiving some extremely tiny medium-sized knickers, too. I then took my measuring tape and measured the waist while flat.  The waist is about 10″ across, so roughly 20″ in circumference.  The hips are 11″, so approximately 22″ in circumference.

Cassia Waist MeasurementCassia - Hips Measurement
Party Panties - hip measurements

Knits or fabrics with stretch are usually sewn with negative ease (the finished garment is smaller than your actual measurements).  This is where stretch and stretch recovery are crucial.  For each fabric, stretch and stretch recovery need to be gauged.  I do not feel that the “devore” or burnout fabric has the stretch and stretch recovery to expand an additional 15-17″ to fit properly and comfortably over 37-39″ hips.  (Please note, flat measurements aren’t exact nor solely indicative of whether or not a garment will fit, but to generally explain a few things, I’m using them.)

I decided to compare the Cassia knickers to other brands’ high-waisted mediums.  These brands have similarly sized measurements to Toru & Naoko’s medium.  As you can see, the knickers are roughly the same size throughout the hips across three other brands.  I also took some measurements, and the hip measurements fall within the 30-32″ depending on the stretch of the fabric. (Again, sizing is not limited to a flat comparison, but for simplification’s sake, most of the fabrics/stretch components are very similar.)

Cassia knickers compared to Playful Promises high-waisted medium sized knickers.

Cassia knickers compared to Playful Promises high-waisted medium sized knickers.

Cassia knickers compared to Miss Crofton high-waisted medium sized knickers.  (The Miss Crofton lace fabric is much stretchier than burnout fabric.)

Cassia knickers compared to Miss Crofton high-waisted medium sized knickers. (The Miss Crofton lace fabric is much stretchier than burnout fabric.)

Cassia knickers compared to Chantelle's high-waisted medium sized shapewear knickers.

Cassia knickers compared to Chantelle’s high-waisted medium sized shapewear knickers.  The Chantelle knickers have a very firm hold.

Party Panties compared with a similar brief-style made by Huit.

Party Panties compared with a similar brief-style made by Huit.

I posted about my experience quickly on Twitter to see if anyone else had similar problems, and I heard back from a couple of lovely ladies who typically wear XS/S and confirmed that they also had fit issues with the knickers.  One had received a replacement S (in lieu of the XS that was too small), and even then, it was still too tight to wear comfortably.  After some discussion, I can’t help but feel that the amount of stretch in elastics and fabrics are not accounted for across styles and materials.  After reading Karolina’s and Esty’s review review from early 2014 and hearing that Toru & Naoko announce a rework of their patterns last year, I had assumed that the fit issues were resolved.

I contacted Camila about the fit issues with my products, and she said that there were no complaints on the sizing for Cassia.  She also said that she received feedback from others that the party panties did appear to run small because the elastic used was not as stretchy as other elastics in the past.  IMO, if fit varies per design or style, I feel that this should be noted in the item description. Anyway, Camila was undoubtedly polite and friendly and offered me 50% off a future purchase.  While I truly appreciate this kind gesture, I am not super confident about purchasing from Toru & Naoko again in the near future.

For me, it’s hard to write about lingerie that I’ve had problems with; even more so with a company that I’ve long admired and still respect.  While I like their designs (Cassia was seriously one of my holy grail wishlist pieces) and think that the lingerie is well-made with good craftsmanship, the fit issues are too significant for me to dismiss or overlook.  For now, I’m kind of at a loss with to do with my Cassia since I am Miss Matchy Matchy.  For now, they’ll be relegated to the bottom of my lingerie drawer until I have the energy to sell it or re-engineer them.

All items within this review were purchased by me.  Toru & Naoko did not ask for a review.  No affiliate links were used.