Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Simply curves - A virtual tour of 'Simply Yours'

  As a self-confessed DD+ lingerista and shopaholic, it is always exciting to find a company that stocks brands that I love and covet. I had previously heard a lot about Simply Yours (particularly in relation to the Gok Wan range), but I didn't realise quite how much Simply Yours spoils us for choice with their lingerie range! Simply Yours not only have their own products, but also stock the amazing; Freya, Curvy Kate, Fantasie, Panache, Pour Moi, Masquerade, Wonderbra, Gossard and Miss Mandalay - to name but a few of their curve-friendly lingerie brands!

  Simply Yours sell lingerie, swimwear, nightwear, shapewear and clothes, making it a real haven of shopping delights ready to tempt you! The best thing about Simply Yours, though, is their sizing range - with band sizes 30-50 and cup sizes A-JJ, so many ladies can benefit from the fantastic array of products on offer. Simply Yours also boast a small selection of 28 backs and some styles even go up to a super curvy, L, cup!

  With so many large sized bras from Simply Yours to choose from, I could not wait to investigate what styles were suitable for busty girls, such as myself...

  I was very impressed with the Simply Yours website - it is extremely visually exciting, with its girly colours and photo-story layout, complete with thought bubbles. The categories (Bras, Knickers, Lingerie, Shapewear etc) are carefully organised into headings with drop-down menus, making browsing much easier and more efficient.

  Within the bra section, it is also possible to select what type of bra you are looking for (balconette, full coverage, longline, moulded, multiway, strapless, nursing, soft cup etc), select your bra size and even specify which brand to search within.

  With online shopping's growing popularity, it is a dream to be able to go online to a store like Simply Yours, make an order and receive your products a few days later..but what if you don't know your size? Luckily, Simply Yours don't leave you on your own to make wild guesses!

  You can check out the Simply Yours 'Bra measuring guide' here. The measuring guide is an interactive fitting experience, where the Simply Yours fitter, Sarah, takes you step by step through the stages of discovering your correct bra size. I loved Sarah's informal yet friendly tone, as she gives the listener the virtual advice of a real life bra fitter, but in the comfort of your own house! The listener is informed as to the signs of a badly fitting bra (semi-circular ride up, breast tissue not encased properly in the cups etc) and is offered suggestions as to how to correct them with a well-fitting bra. Most importantly, Simply Yours highlights in this video, the importance of ordering and trying on different sizes, as bras can vary across (and within) brands and your bra size can fluctuate depending on your weight. 

  Another aspect of the Simply Yours fitting guide that I really liked, were the videos showing models with different body types. As a 28FF (small back size and larger cup size), the video of slim but curvy, Kiki, gave me some helpful hints as to what bras are available for me on Simply Yours and could suit my figure:

  The only thing that I was not so keen on, was the use of the 'back band measuring table', which follows an antiquated measuring model of adding inches. I have investigated a lot of fitting techniques and have found that the most accurate way to find your band size is by measuring directly under your bust. I measure 27 inches under my bust and find that the best fit for me is a 28 band. I have many bras from brands stocked on Simply Yours, such as Freya, Panache, Cleo and Curvy Kate, which I all own in a 28 band. The one exception is my Wonderbra strapless, which is fairly snug in a 30 band. In my experience, 32 bands have always been too loose. With this in mind, bra measuring has no 'magic formula', so the best place to start is by measuring under your bust and trying the band sizes around that measurement.

(Simply Yours measuring table)

  I was, all in all, impressed by the effort that has gone into the Simply Yours measuring guide - with interactive videos, fitting problem advice, bra care tips, a lingerie glossary and a bra style guide, there are many reasons as to why Simply Yours is ahead of other brands in making women aware of the pitfalls related to bra fitting, as well as the benefits in persevering in getting a bra that fits correctly.

  Simply Yours make the bra buying experience easier for customers by having a flexible payment scheme, so that you can buy on credit or purchase items straight away. With a free returns system, it also means that you can purchase a range of sizes to try, with no worry about extra costs for returning, there really is no excuse for keeping a bra that doesn't fit perfectly!

   To conclude, I am very impressed with my first tour of Simply Yours and am hoping that time will also see an expansion of their 28 backed bra selection. Simply Yours have a great range of products to suit a variety of tastes and they succeed in providing some top quality brands geared specifically towards girls with curves. I am also thrilled to see Simply Yours using gorgeous, curvy models: Erika Elfwencrona and Laura Catterall to model their products. There is nothing better than seeing models with real curves and a bust, looking fabulous in stunning underwear!

  Finally, here is a selection of Simply Yours 'lust-haves' that I am desperate to get my mitts on! Let me know what your favourite pieces are - they may even get a review...

Kitty xo

Monday, 19 September 2011

Lazy living with 'Lazeme' and Freya loungewear!

  It goes without saying that having a bit of ‘down’ time is a welcome respite in today’s constantly ‘on the go’ society. There is nothing better than finishing work for the week; having a lie-in, a late breakfast and a hot chocolate in your pj’s, whilst catching up on your favourite TV programme…

  Although you may own a gorgeous selection of lingerie and swimwear, what does your nightwear and loungewear say about you? How many of you can admit to keeping that old nightie that should have been binned years ago or that shapeless top and shorts that you bought in the sale..or maybe your boyfriend just wants his t-shirt back?

  When going through my wardrobe before I moved house, I was shocked to discover the quantity of badly fitting nightwear that I had kept in storage! As many girls with curves will admit, it is so difficult to find well-fitting and pretty nightwear that accommodates for a bust. It is annoying to have to buy a top a size or two bigger than your bottom half, as it leaves excess material, which swallows up any semblance of a figure.

  If you, like me, have felt nauseous at the thought of a sleepover or staying over at a guy’s house and showing off your badly fitting 'Hello Kitty' nightie, it is definitely time for you to join the loungewear revolution!

  The answer to my loungewear prayers came in the form of Lazeme (who stock an amazing array of swimwear, beachwear, and most importantly, sleep and lounge wear!) As a big Freya lingerie fan, I was thrilled to see that Lazeme stocked a number of Freya loungewear products.

  I absolutely loved the Freya Lounge ‘Gracie’ chemise, which is £29 and comes in three colours; black, lupin pink and teal. The best thing, is that Freya's knowledge of catering for bigger busts does not stop at their lingerie and swimwear. Freya have employed dual sizing in the 'Gracie', merging your clothing size (XS-XL) with your cup size (medium bust: B-DD and fuller bust: E-G), providing a superior fit.  


  With a 28FF bust and a clothing size of  8-10, I was not sure whether to order the 'Gracie' in a small (E-G) or extra small (E-G), so Lazeme kindly sent me both to assess the fit. I chose the teal colour 'Gracie', which arrived very quickly and was beautifully packaged, complete with a glossy brochure:

  As you can see from the picture, the 'Gracie' chemise is a little bit darker in colour than the product photo, but the rich teal colour will suit a variety of complexions. The actual design is fairly classic, offset by intricate, scalloped lace, which borders the bust. The bow at the centre of the 'V' cut neck line adds a touch of romance, making the chemise very girly, whilst also being quite sexy.

  My favourite feature, above all, was the 'secret support panel', which, although hidden from the outside, is integral to the support of  your bust. The feel of the inner panel's band is very different from that of a bra - it feels supportive under your bust, without being in any way constrictive.

  Most importantly, due to the viscose lycra fabric content, the 'Gracie' not only skims your curves, but is also extremely soft against your skin. I found the chemise very comfortable to sleep in and the inner panel kept my bust supported, no matter how much I tossed and turned in my sleep!

  With regards to sizing, I found that Freya's sizing in the body was quite generous in the 'Gracie' and I ended up keeping the XS (E-G). 

  The 'Gracie' is certainly a breath of fresh air for any curvy girl who needs a nightwear revamp. Freya shows that even when you are lounging around the house, that there is now all the more reason to feel comfortable, supported and fashionable. Next on my wishlist is definitely the 'Gracie' black long sleeved top and pj bottoms (£28 and £28) - ideal for the upcoming winter months!

To see Lazeme's full range of sleep and loungewear products, click here.

Kitty xo

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Welcome to the boux-doir - A 'Boux Avenue' review!


   With a background in property finance, investments in Ryman's stationery and a permanent seat on hit TV series, "Dragon's Den", it may come as no surprise that Theo Paphitis is estimated to have a net worth in excess of £170 million! (The Sunday Times, May 2011) Paphitis, however, is no ordinary 'dragon' and certainly knows a thing or two about ladies' undies!

  Perhaps one of the most interesting and lucrative of all of Paphitis' projects, is his contribution to the lingerie market. Having sold La Senza in 2006 for around £100 million, Paphitis embarked on a new mission to bring a new lingerie experience to the UK – one with a strong online presence, in addition to having 'luxe', french boutique-feel stores. The official 'Boux Avenue' site claims to be a brand that is “for everybody, no matter what your age, size or style”, and has clearly been engineered towards inclusivity, whilst being diverse enough to appeal to a wide range of clientele. Paphitis states:

  “Boux Avenue is about appealing to your moods – one day it may be sophisticated, another seductive. Boux Avenue will offer a fantastic lingerie and nightwear shopping experience for women who want to feel special.”

   With these prophetic words, it is no wonder that 'Boux Avenue' has garnered such attention right from its launch in early 2011. What I really wanted to know, however, was how 'Boux Avenue' measured up for a real life customer...

   I decided to go online to the 'Boux Avenue' site to investigate and I was met with a very well-developed web page (with easy to navigate sections) and a plethora of different products on offer; from lingerie to swimwear to nightwear to beauty products. Although 'Boux' does not stock 28 backs, I was impressed to see that the size range went from a 30A up to a 40G. After losing myself for an hour, captivated by the beautiful array of boudoir-inspired lacies and vintage-print babydolls, I decided to check out what was on sale. What better way to justify a lingerie purchase, than to snap up a pretty bargain?

   Whilst I was generally very impressed with the way that the bras were displayed on the 'Boux' site, I was slightly worried by the fitting guide, which resorted to the out-dated 'adding inches' method. For example, the model in their fitting video had a 69cm (27 inch) underbust and was advised to wear a 32 back. Similarly, in the pictures below, the models are said to be wearing a 34B and a 34DD, which would definitely be too big in the band for such small frames. Having around a 27 inch underbust myself, I know only too well that 34's and 32's are not supportive enough for my frame, let alone for the models in the photographs!

  That said, with no 28 backs available, I decided to chance a 30 back, in the hope that it might come up tight. I, therefore, purchased the 'Chloe Lace Plunge bra' in coral in a 30FF and the same bra in violet in a 30F and a 30FF, to try for size. There was a “3 for 2” offer on all sale items and free postage - 3 bras for £18 including postage – a cracking deal! I opted for a free gift wrap as well..because every girl loves a bit of luxury in her life!

   Although I opted for standard delivery, my parcel arrived within about a day or two of placing my order! Not only did I receive my purchases quickly, but on opening my parcel, I was met with a very glossy-looking box with 'Boux Avenue”' embossed on the front. Inside, was lace-print pink tissue paper wrapping, my three lace bras, a scattering of scented petals and a free lily, jasmine and elderflower scented hand cream sample! In terms of delivery and presentation, 'Boux' certainly scored 10/10!

  I really liked the colours of the 'Chloe' lace plunge bras. The coral and violet make for very girly and eye-catching tones - a welcome change from standard black, white and nude coloured everyday bras. The bras are very lightly padded in the DD+ style and the cups are overlaid with lace. The little bow in the centre of the bras and the lace scalloping also add some detail, stopping the bras from looking too 'basic'. I definitely drew a design parallel almost immediately to La Senza's 'Lullaby lace' bras that I used to wear. What I was desperate to know, above all, was the answer to the all important: "How does it fit?"

  I bought both a 30F and a 30FF in the lilac bra to compare the fit and was interested to find (similar again to La Senza), that 'Boux Avenue' bras come up a bit small in the cups. The 30FF was a slightly better fit than the 30F (which I would have assumed would be my size, given that I usually wear a 28FF!) One very marked difference as well, was the width of the straps on the 30F and 30FF bra. As you can see from the picture below, the straps are much wider on the 30FF and it is also a slightly more 'fuller cupped' bra style...

  Sadly, the 30 backs were too loose on me and even on the tightest hooks, the band was riding up. I was also a bit disappointed that the straps could not be tightened very much, leaving me feeling frustrated with the fit and lack of va va voom that I would normally associate with a plunge bra. Unfortunately, I have decided to return all three bras.

  To sum up, I would say that 'Boux Avenue' has quite a lot of similarities to highstreet giant, La Senza. 'Boux Avenue' is rather like a more 'boutique-y' rebranding of La Senza, driven towards a slightly wider age range with more varied lingerie preferences. In terms of improvement, I do think that 'Boux Avenue' could benefit from developing a more accurate fitting guide and  ensure that they provide consistent and standardised bra sizing. I am also hoping that 'Boux Avenue' will continue to update and expand their DD+ range to include their promised K cup! All in all, 'Boux Avenue' scores very highly in terms of its company ethic, user-friendly site, pretty designs, customer service and exceptional presentation!

  Despite not having much success on this occasion, I am keen to try out some 'Boux Avenue' nightwear and swimwear in future, to get a feel for some more of the 'Boux Avenue' range. There are a few things that I will definitely be buying though, and that is some of their beauty products. Both me and my mum loved the free sample of "White Chiffon" handcream so much, that I am going to purchase an array of their lotions and body butters! Boux-tiful!

Kitty xo

Friday, 2 September 2011

Another day in paradise - The Freya 'Eden' bikini

  Whether your ideal summer holiday involves jetting off to sunnier climes or staying closer to home, every girl wants to look and feel fantastic in swimwear! With everyone in search of their ultimate piece of holiday paradise, I felt like I had discover mine in the form of the Freya "Eden" bikini...

Eden Underwired Bandless Tri Bikini Top – Pink £27
Eden Reversible Tie Brief - Pink £23
  The "Eden" range forms part of Freya's more recent Summer swimwear collection and it offers up a stunning variation on their hugely popular, polka dot "Pier" bikini (Review found here). As a huge fan of my red "Pier" bikini, I was very keen to try the "Eden", which mixes pink and white polka dots with vibrant florals. By mixing two key Summer trends, Freya has created a very individual and fashion-forward bikini, which has the look of a designer piece, at just a snip of the price!

  Although the "Eden" comes in an underwired balcony style (back sizes: 28-40 and cup sizes: D-HH), I was much more drawn to the underwired triangle bikini top, as pictured above. Although the "Eden" underwired triangle bikini comes in a less wide range of sizes (back sizes: 30-38 and cup sizes: D-FF), I fell in love with the plunging 'V' cut of the triangle style. To my delight, the fabulous Simply Beach kindly sent me a 30F in the "Eden" bikini top and a size small in the matching tie-briefs to try.

  As you can see, the "Eden" is a real colour-burst of vibrant shades: from hot pink to light pink, purple, green and white. The bikini cups and back are covered with pansy, cherry blossom and chrysanthemum patterning, offset by pink and white polkadot trim, which runs along the top of the band, cups and up the halterneck straps. The "Eden" triangle bikini top presents a sexy alternative to the more 'full coverage' Freya bikini top styles, showing off your cleavage to its best advantage. Despite being a triangle bikini, it is fully underwired, giving you total support and lift where curvy girls need it most! I also fell in love with the bandless centre (with its sexy cut-out detail) and the double-tie halterneck straps, which can be tied as tight or loosely as desired. 

  The tie-side bikini bottoms (xs-xl) are also extremely comfortable, whilst adding inches to your legs as if by magic! My favourite thing about the briefs is that one side boasts a floral and polka-dot print, whilst the other side is bright pink with white polka dots. The fact that the briefs are reversible adds to their versatility and makes them great value for money - for example, if you already own the Freya "Pier" in pink, you can mix and match it with the "Eden" set!

  As with all bikinis, the best way to 'wear test' them is in the water, so when I was whisked away by my boyfriend recently to a hotel which had a swimming pool, I could not wait to put the "Eden" to the test! I was initially a bit nervous about the sizing of the bikini top, as the 30 band felt a bit loose on me, but it stayed on perfectly in the water (jumping about included!) The tie side briefs also fit a treat and there was no worry at all that the ties would undone. All in all, the "Eden" was a great success, so much so that they surely must have contributed to my boyfriend proposing to me that very weekend...! 

  Although the "Eden" triangle bikini does not come in a 28 (Freya, please take note!), for all of you girls that are a 30-38 band, this is a beauty! High quality, comfortable, supportive and with a great design to boot, what more could a girl ask for? The biggest temptation that the "Eden" holds? Trying not to buy everything in the whole range!

  To see more of Simply beach's great swimwear selection (including Freya, Panache, Pour moi, Fantasie and Seafolly to name a few), please click here. (Postage is £1.99 with free returns and exchanges!)

Kitty xo