Monday, 7 July 2014

Clothes for curves: Made in Preston dress review

"Style must be adapted to the woman and not vice versa. The same can be said of clothes." Sophia Loren


   Clothes shopping can be a hugely enjoyable and exhilarating experience; I, for one, love nothing more than to stomp up and down Oxford Street, peruse the rails at my local shopping centre, rummage for treasures in vintage markets and bargain-hunt online. That said, for many women, 'retail therapy' is a far-fetched concept, especially after shopping for hours to come back with nothing other than blistered feet and a sartorial headache!

(Photo credit:

   According to a survey, 41% of women find it hard to find clothes that are both 'fashionable and flatter their body shape'. Clothing must therefore deliver on multiple levels - it must suit the individual's body type, appeal to their personal tastes and fit with their lifestyle and budget.

   Shopping on the highstreet can be a particular frustration due to discrepancies in sizing between stores - I even picked up a size 8 and a size 16 in the same store once! Standardised clothing sizes can also only go so far in catering to the wide variety of different body shapes that exist and it comes as no surprise that women are tired of a 'one size fits all' approach..

(Picture credit:

   Having a larger bust can also pose its difficulties when clothes shopping; shirts with gaping buttons, dresses that fit at the chest and not at the waist, tops that hang from the bust and swamp one's shape..the list goes on! With an estimated 'third of UK women say[ing] that they have to buy a bigger dress size just to accommodate their breasts', it seems apt that clothing manufacturers should respond to the demand.

   Although there are already some great specialist clothing retailers that cater to the larger bust, such as Pepperberry by Bravissimo, DD Atelier and Saint Bustier, the market has been crying out for younger, trend-led, curve-friendly fashion at affordable price points.    

   If you struggle to find fashionable clothes to fit your curves, Made in Preston may just answer your prayers! Throw out those shapeless smock dresses and gaping shirts and take a look at what MiP has to offer...

    Made In Preston is a clothing, lingerie and swimwear company, created by entrepreneurial young mum, Nikki Hesford, who spotted a gap in the market for a trendy, fuller-bust-friendly fashion brand that picks up where the highstreet leaves off. With a focus on 'creating well-fitting, beautifully made, affordable fashion', the whole Made in Preston range is ethically UK-designed and manufactured in their Preston-based factory.

   Made in Preston immediately struck a chord with me in that they offer a varied sizing range and their lingerie and swimwear collections begin at a (hard-to-find but much needed) 26 back and go up to a 38 back, DD-J cups. Even more excitingly, perhaps, is that Made in Preston have responded to the need for tailored clothing that accomodates for a larger bust. Their clothing range comes in UK sizes 6-16..but that is not where it stops! MiP take into account an additional bust measurement ('Fit', 'Foxy' or 'Fab'), in order to deliver a perfect fit all-over:

   When Nikki reached out to me and asked whether I would like to a review a piece from the collection, I did not have to think twice before accepting excitedly. After consulting the Made in Preston sizing guide, my measurements suggested that an '8 Fit' would work best for me. I double-checked my size with Nikki (as I currently wear between an 8-10 on the highstreet) and a few days later, my Made in Preston parcel arrived on my doorstep!

   The parcel was beautifully packaged in branded tissue paper, sealed with two heart stickers - a lovely touch that really makes the customer feel special! 

   The piece that I opted for was the Made in Preston green leather bodycon dress (£45), a sophisticated, forest green midi dress with faux-leather side panels and a bust-flattering sweetheart neckline..

    After unpackaging my dress, I was immediately impressed with the look and feel of the fabrics. The green bengaline material is stretchy, meaning that the dress is easy to pull on and very comfortable and lightweight to wear.

   I absolutely adore the design of this pencil dress - it is form-flattering and elegant, with just the right amount of modern edge, thanks to the faux-leather details. The 'trompe l'oeil' side panels are a particularly ingenious design feature as they really flatter curves; not only do they emphasise an hourglass shape, but they also give the illusion of an even smaller waist - what's not to like!?

   What I love most about this dress is that it feels as if it has been tailor-made to my measurements and the bust accomodates for (and flatters) my 28FF bust. The sweetheart neckline has always been one of my favourite necklines and the sweetheart cut on this dress is really flattering, delivering just the right amount of cleavage!

   Made in Preston seem to have carefully considered the construction of the bust section of this dress, using diagonal seams and stretch fabric to allow for extra chest room, with a double-lined interior for reinforcement.    

   Although the chest area fits me beautifully, my only gripe is that the stitching is slightly bumpy/ uneven (see picture below), but it luckily does not detract from the look and feel of the dress when worn. 

   Despite the shape calculator stating that a 'Fit' bust measurement is the 'same fit as you'd buy on the highstreet', I do often need to go up a size to accomodate for my bust, so I really appreciated the chest room in this MiP number.

   Other clever design features of this dress are the concealed zip at the back and the adjustable shoulder straps. The zip closure makes this dress very easy to slip on and off (say goodbye to uncomfortable wiggling and shimmying!), whilst the 'bra style' straps of this dress are ideal for delivering an even more tailored-to-you fit!

   As for the overall sizing of this dress, the '8 Fit' really was my perfect match and the dress hugs my body in all the right places, without feeling too restrictive. As a tall girl (5ft10), the midi length of this dress was an added bonus, as the dress finishes conveniently just above my knee! 

   I have now worn this dress out twice - once to a dinner date and once to an evening work event. The dress picked up compliments on both occasions and I can attest to the fact that this dress is comfortable to wear all night long (although the faux leather panels can get quite hot in this Summer heatwave). If you need more proof as to how awesome this dress is, it even survived a moderately competitive game of table tennis!

   This dress is an incredibly versatile piece that suits so many occasions and it is so easy to 'jazz up' with accessories. For my blog pictures, I have kept things simple by adding my black, faux-leather cuff heels from Sfera, a vintage St Michael's gold chain belt and a pair of gold and black metallic earrings that I bought a few years ago (from Miss Selfridge, I think). 

   The little flashes of gold add glamour to the overall look and I didn't even need to add my usual statement necklace, as the sweetheart neckline speaks for itself. The finishing touch was a bold, red lip - perfect for taking this look from day to evening!

   Overall, I am very impressed with my first taster of Made in Preston clothing and this bodycon midi dress was a total triumph for me. The dress really feels as if it has been constructed with curves in mind; from the seams at the chest and waist, to the bust-flattering sweetheart neckline, adjustable shoulder straps and optical illusion panelling. The dress comes in at £45 and is available in both green and 'winter berry' purple.

  It is fantastic to see a new curve-friendly, trend-led brand on the scene that marries fashionable design with a 'combined-size' fit. I cannot wait to see what Made in Preston has in store for fashion-loving, curvy girls next and I am definitely looking forward to trying more from MiP in the future!

   If you're looking to try Made in Preston for yourself, head to - you can get 20% off your first order with the code: "FIRST20" and don't forget that MiP have a Summer sale on at the moment - the ideal time to grab yourself a busty bargain!


Saturday, 17 May 2014

Cleo by Panache 'Maddie': Bra review

  Panache is a huge name in the fuller bust lingerie sphere and quite rightly so. It has been Panache's mission for over 30 years to provide women the world-over, with quality lingerie that marries form, fashion, function and affordability. The company prides itself on its desire to innovate; at product level, Panache seeks to provide lingerie for different bodies and fit needs, and on a wider scale, Panache strive to lead in a competitive market through campaigns that hinge upon promoting good bra fit and healthy body image.  

   I have been very fond of Panache for years and its sub-brands (Panache Sport and Swimwear, Masquerade, Cleo and (most recently) Cleo Swimwear and Sculptresse). Each sub-brand boasts a distinct identity, with collections that continuously deliver well-fitting and fashionable lingerie to a variety of tastes. 

   Of all of Panache's sub-brands, I predominantly wax lyrical about Masquerade (I am a sucker for luxurious and elegant lingerie like the 'Capella' bra, 'Anise' and 'Amor') but Cleo is definitely an unsung hero of the Panache family on my blog (aside from my review of the Cleo 'Lucy'!)

   What I particularly enjoy about Cleo lingerie is the trendy and fresh vibe that permeates the collections. The designs are fashion-led, with popping colours, quirky prints and pretty detailing; all of which serve as a reminder that fuller bust lingerie can be fun, young and playful!

   When Panache got in touch with me and asked whether I would like to review some of their lingerie, I jumped at the chance. I was incredibly excited to receive a parcel with not one, but two gorgeous Cleo sets inside! One of the sets that I received was the Cleo 'Maddie' bra and matching briefs in aqua..

   The Cleo 'Maddie' comes in sizes 28-38, D-H and is available in various colourways: continuity shades include black and 'nude', fashion variations consist of animal print and aqua, with 'strawberry' and 'floral' as exclusives to Bravissimo. 

   The set that I received was the 'Aqua' colourway; a zingy electric blue/ turquoise shade with a contrasting pink button detail at the centre gore. The bra is a moulded balconette, featuring subtly textured, striped, seamless cups, which are edged by a picot trim. As a regular wearer of moulded plunge bras (such as the Freya Deco), I was especially interested to try a balconette style moulded bra. 

   Neon brights are big news for Spring/ Summer 14 and the electric blue of the 'Maddie' is even more vibrant in the flesh. I instantly fell in love with the highly-saturated aqua shade and the subtle sheen of the fabric, which makes the set look rather luxurious. The pink button detail adds a pop of clashing colour, lending to the set's playful aesthetic.

   Panache have taken the humble seamless bra and have updated it with a stylish stripe pattern, giving the bra subtle textural and visual interest, without compromising on practicality. Generally, the 'Maddie' gives a smooth look under clothing, however, I do find that the lace trim edging shows through slightly under tighter tops and dresses.

   I originally asked for a 30FF in the 'Maddie', but due to recent weight loss, I found myself needing a 28FF instead. Compared to other Cleo styles that I have tried (e.g. 'Lucy', 'Eleanor' and 'Marcie'), I would say that the 'Maddie' comes up looser in the band and more 'true to size'.

   The band does feel quite stretchy and after a few wears, I have already found the need to move on to a tighter hook. (The back band is also quite thin compared to that of some of my other bras - an feature that may not be to everyone's taste.)

   I am pleased to report that the straps are fully adjustable, allowing for increased longevity of wear and a tailored fit (which is ideal for women of different heights and builds). The straps are also quite thin, at just 1.3cm thick, making them well-suited to a Summer wardrobe. It is worth mentioning that the straps are quite widely spaced and this design feature is equally reflected by the wider underwires.

   This brings me to talk about the fit of the 'Maddie', which seems slightly better suited to wider-set breasts. The 28FF is my best fit, although the wider wires and wide strap placement are not the best match for me. As a result, I experience a little bit of 'gapping' at the top of the cups near the armpit, with the straps cutting in slightly at the armpit also (a result of the design being too wide for me). I also find that the 28 back does not completely tack to my sternum, which suggests that this bra is more compatible with shallow breasts.

   Aside from a few fit issues (which are predominantly due to shape incompatibility), the 'Maddie' does feel comfortable to wear. The fabric is soft against the skin and the bra gives a lovely rounded and uplifted shape, resulting in a natural-looking 'Marie Antoinette' cleavage that is ideal for everyday! I also really like the balconette cut, which lends itself well to square necklines.

   I received the matching 'Maddie' briefs in a size 12 (my usual Panache brief size) and they fit perfectly. The shorts feature an all-over seamless stripe pattern, complemented by two diagonal stripes of picot trim and a central pink button detail. The briefs are made of a polyamide, elastane and cotton blend and the material feels buttery soft and smooth against the skin.

   The cut is also very flattering and the briefs have a good amount of stretch, meaning that there is no uncomfortable digging in. My only criticism is that the button prevents the briefs from being 100% seamless, but on the whole, these briefs really deliver on practicality, flattering fit and fashionable design! (Plus, hooray that they are machine washable!)

   The Cleo 'Maddie' set is a great 'fashion staple' and an excellent option for fuller busted ladies who are in search of an eye-catching and trendy moulded balconette bra that serves up comfort, support and style in equal abundance! This set would definitely have appealed to my teenage self too and I am glad that Cleo by Panache is catering fun and practical lingerie solutions to a younger market. The 'Maddie' looks set to remain a continuity style in the Cleo range for seasons to come, with a scrumptious raspberry version coming out this A/W14. 

Cleo 'Maddie' in Raspberry (Coming this A/W14)

   Cleo lingerie is very reasonably priced and the 'Maddie' set comes in at £25 for the bra and £12 for the briefs, available at a range of retailers, such as FigleavesBravissimo and Brastop.

   Keep your eyes peeled for another Cleo by Panache review coming soon and in the meantime, check out the rest of Cleo's gorgeous new Lingerie and Swimwear collections.

What are your favourite pieces from Cleo's latest range?


Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Claudette 'Neon Dessous' bra review & Operation Claudette 28!

   Since its launch in 2011, Claudette lingerie has whipped fashion-conscious lingerie lovers into a frenzy worldwide. Claudette describe their lingerie as "modern, contemporary and effortlessly wearable" and their daring colour combinations, quirky prints and fuller-bust-friendly designs have been featured in magazines such as Vogue and Cosmopolitan and have been championed by a host of lingerie bloggers (including The Lingerie Addict). Based in Los Angeles and designed and developed in London, Claudette is primarily owned and operated by women - all of whom understand the need for lingerie that is engineered to fit beautifully and look amazing! 

   Claudette first captured my heart when I discovered them at the Lingerie Collective trade show a few years ago and I fell head-over-heels in love with their range (30-38, A-G cups). I was particularly smitten with the bold, colour clash 'Neon Dessous' bras, which come in a plethora of highly saturated and vibrant colour options..

   I was lucky enough to meet the brand's designer and product developer, Bok Goodall, who has a strong fashion background and a wealth of experience working in D+ lingerie product development. I was delighted to find out that Claudette would be introducing 28 backs to their collections in the future and Bok kindly offered to send me my very own Claudette 'Neon Dessous' set to try for size. I received a 28G and size Medium briefs in 'Sandstone/Navy':

   The 'Neon Dessous' is a gorgeous, unpadded, 'full coverage' bra, fashioned from peachy-beige mesh, complemented by a navy trim and ribbon motifs. The bra has an understated, vintage feel to it, yet the sheer cups deliver undeniable sex appeal!

   Although the 'Sandstone/Navy' set that I received moves away from the aesthetically arresting neons that I tend to associate with Claudette, the 'sandstone' and navy contrast plays deftly with 'traditional' notions of what beige underwear should look like. The beige mesh has peachy undertones, making this set a perfect 'nude' lingerie set for my fair skin - and it certainly knocks spots off my other nude bras in the style stakes!

  Claudette have carefully considered the construction for fuller busts and this bra is underwired with a 3-part cup construction that reminds me nostalgically of my first unlined bra, the Freya 'Arabella'. The top panel of the cups is single lined mesh (which stretches to accomodate for your breast shape), whereas the lower part of the cups is double lined. The reinforced cups and angled seams act a little bit like a 'sling', keeping the breast tissue fully encased in the cups, whilst providing additional comfort and evenly distributed support.

   The cups are almost 'tear drop' shaped and although they are are fairly 'tall', the elastic at the side of the cups curves away from the armpit, meaning that there is no uncomfortable digging in.

   The straps are around 1.5cm thick, which is slightly thinner than those on my other bras and they are (conveniently) fully adjustable, for a more 'tailored-to-you' fit. The strap placement is closer-set and the underwires are 'U'-shaped and quite narrow - features which make this bra ideal for any ladies with close-set breasts or more narrow shoulders.

   I find the 'Neon Dessous' very comfortable to wear, although I have to wear the 28G on the tightest hook, as the band comes up larger than other 28 backed bras that I own. This is most likely due to the very stretchy mesh that is used in the bra wings (although the fabric feels beautifully soft!) 

   This bra has definitely revived my love for unpadded bras - the cups feel as if they are cradling the breasts, giving a subtle but natural lift. The shape is also surprisingly rounded, which is largely due to the clever placement of the diagonal seam, which sits across the nipple. A by-product of this, however, is that after prolonged wear, the diagonal seam cuts in very slightly and leaves a slight mark (despite not causing any discomfort).

   With regard to the 'Neon Dessous' briefs, I have to say that I am very impressed indeed! The briefs feature soft, stretch mesh at the sides and back, whereas the central panel and gusset are double-lined with 'regular' mesh. The knickers are fairly risqué due to the sheer mesh, but the navy picot trim and ribbon detail add a flirty but sophisticated edge, making these knickers very feminine and wearable. 

     The cut of the knickers is very flattering - they sit at perfect hip height at the front and are generously cut at the back - a combination that is often hard to come by! Additionally, the stretch mesh is incredibly soft against the skin and the elastic does not dig in. These briefs are a winner in every respect! 

   I am really excited by my first taster of Claudette lingerie and the 'Neon Dessous' in Sandstone/Navy definitely reinvents the wheel with regard to neutral tone lingerie! The set demonstrates an excellent balance of style and substance, thanks to Claudette's consideration of fit and cup construction, coupled with a modern (and fearless!) approach to colour contrasting. 

   Having enjoyed the fit of my first Claudette 'Neon Dessous' set, I am hoping to add some of Claudette's distinctive colour clash bras to my collection in future. The Claudette A/W14 'Neon Dessous' shades are absolutely knock-out and the purple/yellow and mint/yellow colourways are at the very top of my wishlist:

   Now, here comes the sad news..

   Despite Claudette introducing 28 backs last year, retailers have been slow on the uptake in stocking them. After doing some research into where I could buy another Claudette bra in a 28 back, I came across a few US retailers (e.g. Faire Frou Frou and Amanda May), but was left frustrated by a lack of 28 backs available in the UK. 

   Claudette is currently stocked at SelfridgesASOS and Beautifully Undressed but none of these retailers stock 28 backs. Not one to take no for an answer, I decided to contact some of Claudette's past and present retailers and was interested by some of the feedback. One ex-stockist stated that they stopped stocking Claudette largely due to costly US import rates and higher price points than other brands. Other retailers expressed interest in stocking Claudette in the future (Large Cup Lingerie) and excitingly, Beautifully Undressed said that they are aiming to stock 28 backs in the Claudette A/W14 collection! Although my research yielded some positive feedback, there is still a way to go in getting 28 backs stocked at more retailers...

   A little while ago, Marielle at Petite & Plentiful started up the 'Operation Claudette 28' campaign, as she ran across the same lack of 28 backs in Claudette available at UK retailers. If you are a 28 back or think that a company should stock Claudette in a 28 back, please get in touch with them to express your interest! One tweet or email could well have an effect on a retailer's buying decisions!


Let me know what you think of Claudette's lingerie and please leave a comment if you'd be interested in UK (and other worldwide) retailers stocking 28 backs in Claudette!