Bolero Beachwear DD+ Hanky Dress Review (and a special discount for you!)

For ladies with larger busts, finding a proper fit in a dress can be a difficult task.  Its frustrating to see a pretty dress on a store rack but, if you are like me, you quickly assess it for stretch and usually then just walk away.  Clothing designed especially to accommodate larger breasts can be daunting to source out and so I am pleased today to bring you a new dress review from Bolero Beachwear!

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A few months ago, we interviewed Bolero’s owner Patricia McCaw and that interview was featured in our Retailer Spotlight which you can read HERE.

Bolero offers a fun and fashionable line of unique, high quality DD+  dresses and tops which are manufactured ethically in the United States, where the Company is based.  Supporting a woman-owned business and ethical manufacturing is something we can all get behind, isn’t it?!   I was kindly sent the Style #12 Hanky Dress in size X-Small in the DD+ line, in the blue peacock colourway (this dress can also be ordered in black & white, purple or turquoise peacock prints).   The Bolero website picture below shows the black and white version.

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To give you a little bit of background info, I asked Bolero’s owner Patricia what her inspiration was in designing this dress:

This style was inspired by a hanky dress that I made for myself years ago and every time I wore it, I got so many compliments and people asking me where can they get it?

I  realized that was just the perfect dress for events and parties and so I designed a hanky dress especially for our line.  Since so many women prefer sleeves, I added the sexy peekaboo sleeves thinking that would  be perfect for any season.

When I received the peacock print material, it was like the fabric was talking to me and telling me it wanted to be a hanky dress 🙂  The movement of the dress, the fit, the sheer trim at the bottom, the lined top, all was technically designed to fit and flatter our busty and curvy customers with love<3

Close Up of Fabric (at hem of skirt):

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I love the ‘cold shoulder’ trend but one thing I typically have trouble with is that my bra straps always seem to end up exposed and I really detest that look.  This dress thankfully was thoughtfully designed and the fabric lays perfectly over my bra straps (for reference, in my pictures I am wearing my Ewa Michalak S Kleks bra under my Bolero hanky dress).

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I also adore the asymmetrical handkerchief hem on the skirt.  This cut gives a very flattering drape over the hips.  The flared skirt is perfect for a twirl on the dance floor, or just a sexy swish as you walk!

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The fabric content on this dress is 90% polyester and 10% spandex, making it easy care –  completely wrinkle free and quick drying.

 This dress will make a great travel-friendly holiday dress but alas, I am currently in cold Canada, in the dead of winter, in a deep freeze 😦  Still, I thought to myself – I bet this pretty little piece could easily be styled into something perfectly suitable for a day in the Great White North, no? Yes!

I decided to play up the black in the dress pattern for my winter look, and to play up the white and silvery sequins in the dress fabric for my summer look.

Winter Styling:

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I’ve easily given the dress a completely different look by covering the top with a simple black sweater and tall black boots.  The sweater is from Canadian company Rickis (no longer available) but I’ve found a very similar one HERE.   A black cardigan or blazer would be great options too.   My black suede Cole Haan boots are from a past season but I’ve found a similar pair HERE.  In keeping with playing up the black, I’ve accessorized with my beautiful black pearl  choker (similar one HERE).

Now lets take a look at how I’d wear the dress if I was somewhere with better weather than Canada has right now . . . say for example the Caribbean!  Fingers crossed for a holiday soon!!!

Summer Styling:

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For this look, I’ve simply added a pair of strappy silver wedges (similar style HERE), a white gold multi-strand necklace (similar style HERE), and my Raymond Wiel Jasmine watch.   A white or silver/grey shawl or cardigan would be a nice addition for cooler evenings.

Its worth noting that Bolero will happily customize their dresses.  By emailing with instructions / questions,  skirts can be made shorter or longer and tops can be adjusted for proportion.  You will find that they really love to hear from potential customers and get as much information as they can before they ship orders out.

As far as sizing goes, I would say this runs true to size for an Extra Small, and would fit well for those in  the approximate size 2 to 4 range.  I’ m currently wearing a 30GG UK bra and there wouldn’t be too much more bust room in the XS size.   I’ve packed on some extra pounds (blame a combination of menopause / Christmas indulging / laziness) and am currently around 130 lbs and I’m 5’4″.   I think the length of this dress is perfect for me but next time I order, I will choose a Small as the Extra Small is slightly snug at this weight.  Either that or go back to the gym and quit eating junk food! 😛

Be sure to check out the DD+ line on Bolero’s website.  I bet you’ll find something you like!  And, especially for our AEE readers, Bolero has kindly provided a discount code!  Use code ENHANCED15 when you place an order and enjoy 15% off!   Bolero Beachwear dresses can be purchased online through the Bolero website HERE or at select retailers.  Don’t forget to like Bolero’s Facebook page as well so you can keep abreast 🙂 of new styles and info!

 

 

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Retailer Spotlight: Bolero Beachwear

I recently had the opportunity to be in contact with Patricia McCaw, the owner of Bolero Beachwear, a bust-friendly U.S. based clothing company located in Florida.  Although the company’s name would suggest that they only offer beachwear, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that they specialize in not just beach cover ups, but also a wide variety of clothing especially designed for women with large busts (DD and up).

When I asked Patricia if she would be interested in speaking with me and allowing our blog to spotlight her company, she graciously agreed to not only allow us to spotlight Bolero, but to also send a few of her most popular dresses to our bloggers so that we could give our own thoughts on her clothing (reviews coming soon)!  After speaking with her over the phone, a few of the things that jumped out and really impressed me was her absolute passion for what she does, the fact that all of her clothing is made here in the U.S.A., and how open she is to feedback by her customers 🙂  It was a delight speaking with Patricia and getting to know her and her company, and I am so excited to share this with our readers!

How did Bolero Beachwear come to be?

I was a designer for a company manufacturing beach cover-ups when the economy took a turn for the worse and it closed. As one door closed, another opened when I decided to start manufacturing my own line of beach beachwear dresses and cover-ups. I started selling in the retail market because after all, my designs were selling successfully in department stores, mail orders and small boutiques all over the country while working in the previous company which I worked for several years.

Can you tell us about how you came to focus on designing clothing to fit a fuller bust?

When asking one of my customers, a boutique owner who really knows and understands about proper bra fit, what was her favorite Bolero style, I was puzzled by her response! She said, there are some dresses that she loved, but unfortunately, she could not wear them because of her large breast size! She said she would wear a larger size just to accommodate her bust, but the excess material everywhere, especially in the armholes, resulted in a non-flattering look, sometimes even looking like a tent or a boxy silhouette. She is a fit woman with nice body and would love to show off her waistband and her curves. That is when I got the idea that I could manufacture dresses for women with fuller busts.

What type of research went into creating clothing that would fit a variety of full bust sizes while still providing a flattering fit through the rest of the body?

First, let me tell you that I love being a Fashion Designer. I went to fashion school in Fort Lauderdale and one of my favorite’s subjects (areas) was Pattern-making. Most of the other students were intimidated in Pattern-making class, but not me, I loved it! Just to think in rulers, inches, math when a quarter of an inch is important to make a good pattern. Some of my classmates where terrified while is I was fascinated in understanding how the standard for the industry works; sizing, and what is takes to make a final garment with great fit! So when I started brainstorming my busty-friendly styles, I visited lingerie stores, asked questions, bought many size bras, but also, researching on the internet, getting books about bras, constructions, everything! And one very important source of inspiration and learning was reading blogs like yours, who caters to full-busted women. And, because I was working with stretch materials, vibrant colors, making clothes for vacation, I decided to combine the best from both worlds, technically developing comfortable clothes with great fit on your chest area so you feel like you are on vacation on any day you wear Bolero!

What makes your products stand out from other full bust brands?

We use wrinkle resistant and stretchable fabrics that fit and flatter beautifully. Our pieces really are easy care and travel-friendly. We do not mass produce which means paying more attention to the construction, most of your dresses and tops are lined in the bust area to smooth out any lines. We are small enough to customize orders such as adding length to dresses for taller women or visa-versa for more petite women without charging extra.

How long has Bolero Beachwear been in business?

Bolero Beachwear has been in business now for 6 years.

Where are your products manufactured?

In Florida USA by a wonderful team.

What are the pros and cons of manufacturing in the USA?

Pros:

 Providing jobs for everyone involved in the process of making our clothes: fabric and trim suppliers, sewers, office assistant, the hang- and labels maker, the photographer, the models, the web designer, etc.

 Being able to have close control over the production, quality and quantities. You have more control over the quality, if anything happen, and there is always something, I am able to correct it right away.

 Providing work for American women working under ethical conditions.

CONS:

 It is more expensive to manufacture, for example having to order minimum quantities for supplies increases the price.

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

I find inspiration all the time and everywhere! I love clothes design and am always looking for ideas. Walking in town on the street, driving, talking to someone, watching a movie, listening a song, reading and many times while I’m dancing! I can picture elements to make a beautiful dress to wear every day and to dance too.

How often does your company come out with new designs?

Very often but not as often as I would like. As a creative person, I love to make new things all the time but the logical and practical part of me, or the business side, force me to narrow down what can go to production. There is a lot of work involved before a garment is available on the website. The silhouette is part of it, but it’s just one of the components. The fabric selection, the photos, the editing, making sure the suppliers will deliver the materials so we don’t offer something that is not going to be ready is so important.

Are there plans to add any new products and if so, what and when?

I try to have new styles of dresses available every three months or so. And now, we are starting to produce busty friendly tops and matching/contrasting bottoms. I am always looking for ways to transition our existing styles with the time and season by providing accessories such as belts and scarves.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

I enjoy the process of creating new things, the selection of materials, the construction and interacting with people who share that feeling. When I see the final product and a flattering fit it is an amazing feeling! But I think one of the most incredible and rewarding feelings comes from receiving a Thank you email, a note and sometimes receiving a card in the mail is WOW feeling! But I will say, knowing that guys, husbands or boyfriends, love to see their women in Bolero clothes is one the best compliments.

Where can our readers purchase your products?

Online at http://www.bolerobeachwear.com. Our website and our email are always open to receive not only orders but to any questions. Because our Bust-friendly styles are for a specific body type they do not always look as nice on the hanger as they look on a real person.

As you can see from our interview with Patricia, she truly loves what she does and it clearly shows in the beauty and quality of her clothing.  Over the next few months several of our bloggers will be posting their reviews of the dresses they received from Bolero so we hope you stay tuned!

Feeling Fab in Lilly & Lime!

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Something I didn’t realize when deciding to get larger implants was how it would affect swim suit shopping.  It’s truly a pain!!  I was already wearing my proper fitting bras but when wearing swimwear you are very exposed and there’s always a chance of something showing that you would rather keep covered.  Showing off copious amounts of cleavage can be a bit awkward in public, especially when I’m with my 2 youngest kiddos and they are boys!  Suffice to say it’s been a struggle trying to find a cute and modest swim top as I prefer bikinis and triangle tops are much too revealing unless I’m staying in my own pool and not allowing visitors.  I have also struggled with very, very close set breasts so I was doubtful that anything other than a low plunge would work.  In fact, at first I told my fellow bloggers that I shouldn’t even try the suit for fear of it not working for my shape but boy am I glad I did after all (hint…I love it!).   I was kindly gifted the Stripe Balconette and the matching Stripe Hipster Tie Bottom by Lilly and Lime, a new Australian based swimwear company specializing in swimwear for D cup and up.  I was pleasantly surprised when I opened my package to find a very cute tote with my bikini inside, a special touch by the company that stood out to me.  I was even happier once I tried on my suit and my doubts soon faded as I finally found a modest and super cute bikini top that I can proudly wear in public.

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I was sent the Stripe Balconette style in a 30GG which is my UK size and it’s the size I usually wear in Ewa Michalak unlined styles as well (this might help my fellow Polish bra junkies out there..wink…wink!).  The Balconette is the only style that has the option to be worn with or without straps which are fully adjustable.  For fun you could even cross the straps in the back!  As for fit…The band has a plastic clasp closure and is rather loose so I would definitely prefer a 28H so I could safely and securely wear it as the strapless option to avoid those extra tan lines.  The cups fit almost perfectly with nice projection and I would say they are comparable to my other 30GG bras but I would prefer the wires to be just a bit narrower.  The cups are lined with foam and there are no removable pads making it a stiff fit at first but the longer I had the top on the more it molded to my breasts and I must add that when the top is wet it kept it’s shape nicely.  I’m  also happy to report that my breasts were nicely separated  and the gore was actually comfortable!  This really shocked me as I have a very difficult time with high gores and this one is pretty wide too …good thing I didn’t judge it until I tried it 🙂  The wires are on the softer side so that probably contributes to the comfort, a huge bonus since that’s just as important as being cute for me.  As for support, I can’t accurately comment since the band is too loose for me to properly judge.  The bottoms are very cheeky for me;  I received a size 12 in the Stripe Hipster Tie bottom,  I usually wear a large or size 8 in US sizes.

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I am an older mom of four and I nervously told my fellow bloggers that I didn’t think there was any way on Earth I could wear these cheeky bottoms after seeing pictures of other,  much younger girls in them.  Guess what …shocked again,  they look pretty decent and the ties are just the right fun touch.  I would still prefer more coverage in public and definitely in the waves but for floating in my pool they are perfect.  The fabric is very high quality, nicely lined and there’s a very cute Lilly and Lime signature metal tag detail that I love!  The stripes are a vibrant purple/blue shade and white…very hip and fun and for a twist this pattern would look super cute interchanged with either the Nectarine top or bottom.

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Overall I am ecstatic about this new suit,  I feel young and confident in it…nothing could be better then that right?!  I look forward to more from Lilly and Lime!  There aren’t many larger cup options in swimwear so I am thrilled to find this new choice…super cute vibrant prints and high quality!  A huge Thanks to Lilly and Lime for this beautiful bikini!  My Stripe Bikini was graciously provided for review by Lilly and Lime.  All opinions are my own. Peace! 🙂

Karlee Smith Sexy Lady Snap Me Twice Review

In our never-ending quest to find bust-friendly clothing, my fellow blogger Jelz ran across a sports bra company that we hadn’t heard of before called Karlee Smith. Karlee Smith is a unique company as it not only offers, but caters to augmented women! They sell a variety of high quality sports bras as well as recovery/compression bras for women who have had breast augmentation, reduction, mastectomy and/or breast lift surgeries.  To read a full feature of this company, click HERE.   When Jelz reached out to them, they graciously offered to send several of us one of their bras to try out and review, and I just so happened to be one of those lucky bloggers!

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When browsing their website, www.karleesmith.com you will see that they currently offer two different types of bras, Post Op and Sports. Although my post-op days are far behind me, I actually ended up choosing the Sexy Lady Snap Me Twice bra which is in their post-op collection because 1) it was such a pretty bra; and 2) the description stated that along with post operative wear it can be used for yoga, Pilates and lounging. Unlike some of my fellow bloggers who may need a more high-impact sports bra for working out, I typically engage in more low-impact activities that don’t require as much support so this bra seemed ideal for what I needed!

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The ordering process for my new bra was very straightforward on their website; however the sizing did perplex me just a bit mainly because of its simplicity. Their bras are all sized solely based on band size (small 28”-32”, medium 34”-36”, and large 38”-40”) which seems easy enough; I wear a 28”-30” bra band so I’d be a small. My concern was that when I went to their fit guide to confirm I was ordering the right size, it states ‘small fits women who wear the traditional bra size 32B/C/D/DD through 34A/B’. My UK bra size is 30GG which converts to a US 30J, so even if I sister-sized I’d be at least a few cups too big for the small but I knew that the medium would not give me the support I needed under my bust. I actually felt a bit deflated for a few minutes because I thought that this bra wouldn’t work for me. But after some discussion with the other bloggers who were ordering their sports bras as well (and reading through the return/exchange policy on the website), I decided to cross my fingers and took a leap of faith and ordered the small. I placed my order on a Thursday afternoon and with priority shipping in the U.S. my package was waiting in my mailbox the following Monday!

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Upon opening the package, the first thing I noticed (after how cute the pattern was) was how lightweight the material is.  This may not be a positive for all women, since light material can mean less support, but for me it was fantastic!  Since I don’t do any heavy exercising (mainly just power walking) having a light-weight bra that doesn’t create a lot of boob-sweat is A+ in my book.  The bra is 88% nylon and 12% spandex and a lime green with little magenta dots and a flower pattern accented with a white band and straps.  The band is about 1 1/4 inches wide and stretches to about 36 inches, though still feels fairly snug on my 27 inch rib cage.  My fears of the small size not fitting my boobs was (thankfully) completely unfounded, as the bra fit perfectly.  From the top of the cup to the top of the band is 6 inches, but stretches very well and has a double layer of material for extra support.  This sports/recovery/compression bra has a zippered front as well as a small hook closure at the middle behind the zipper.  Now you might be wondering why it’s called ‘Snap Me Twice’, and that is due to the 2 rows of snaps at the straps, which allows you to adjust them a bit depending on comfort.  For me, the tighter row has worked the best.  I also appreciate how sleek the snaps are and the straps are still very smooth under a shirt.

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As far as comfort goes, I’d have to give this bra an A+.  It really is the most comfortable sports bra I own.  It fits me perfectly and supports my breasts without squeezing them at all.  The entire bra feels snug, but not constricting and I have found myself reaching for it every day when I get home from work!  I don’t sleep in a bra every night, but I do on occasion and have slept in this one and was very comfortable in it. The only complaint I have about the construction of the bra (and it is pretty minor), is that there is a flap of material behind the zipper and when it is zipped up, the top of the flap peaks out the top.  It really is just an aesthetics thing, but I do notice it and so in full disclosure I thought I’d point it out.  Other than that, I’d have to say that I really do love this bra!

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The Sexy Lady Snap Me Twice bra runs at a retail price if $92 USD, and I’ll be honest and say that when I first saw the price on the website I thought I’d never spend $92 on any sports bra!  However, after thinking about it I’ve realized a couple things.  First is that this is not just a sports bra, but also a post-op/compression bra.  I’m past my post-op days but I can safely say that I would have chosen this over the ugly, ill-fitting post-op bra that cost me $40 that my surgeon gave me after my augmentation any day!  And second, I have about 4 or 5 sports bras that don’t fit me nearly as well or as comfortably that I’ve paid $20-$30 each for.  So in retrospect, I think I’d rather have a couple of these than a bunch of cheaper ones that I don’t like wearing!  I hope you enjoyed this review, and if you are in the market for a sports bra or post-op/compression bra I’d highly urge you to check out Karlee Smith and see if one of their bras might work for you!

*My Sexy Lady Snap Me Twice bra was graciously provided for review by Karlee Smith.  All opinions are my own.

Retailer Spotlight – Lilly & Lime Swimwear

A couple of months ago my fellow bloggers and I were approached by  new Australia-based swimwear company Lilly & Lime to see if we would like to try out their suits and review them for our readers.  After doing some initial research on the company and finding out that they cater to fuller busted women (D cup and above), we were intrigued and excited to give their suits a try.  Since this company is very new, we thought that it would be beneficial to both review their swimwear as well as dedicate a Retailer Spotlight to them so that our readers can learn not only about the brand, but the two women behind it.

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When you first visit the Lilly & Lime website, you will notice how fun and youthful their swimsuits are.  They use bright solids and patterns that are easily mix-and-matchable and offer three of styles of tops, all meant to support larger busts.  I was quite impressed with their range of sizes as well with tops offered from a 28D all the way to a 38HH (U.K.).  They also offer three styles of bottoms with sizes ranging from 8 – 18, also in U.K. sizing.

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Over the next couple of months each of the bloggers at AEE will be posting our individual reviews and thoughts about the Lilly & Lime swimsuits that have been gifted to us, but before that here is your opportunity to learn more about the company and it’s owners Emma and Ash via my interview with Emma.

What influenced you to get into the retail lingerie/swimsuit business?

My business partner, Ash and I have both struggled our whole lives to find bikinis that we liked and that fitted us. So lack of choice was really the great motivator for us.

How did Lilly & Lime come to be?

We were at a Hens night a few years ago and discussing, over a few glasses of bubbly, how hard it was to find bikinis and so we decided to look into it a little bit more and start our own brand. Needless to say we had no idea what we were getting into and how hard it is to build a good bikini/bra in bigger sizes. It has taken us over three years to perfect the styles and fit. Luckily we have worked with some great technical people along the way who have guided us and become part of the L&L team. 

How long has Lilly & Lime been open?

We have officially be open for two months. Yay happy dance. 

Do you have a storefront, or are you strictly online?

We only sell online at www.lillyandlime.com .

How do you find the majority of your customers?

Currently our customers are finding us through Google, social media and word of mouth which is fantastic. We are launching some marketing campaigns in the next few weeks to broaden our customer base.

What is the best way for potential new customers to find or contact you?

Our site www.lillyandlime.com or lillyandlimeswimwear on Facebook and Instagram.

What makes you stand out from other swimsuit retailers?

We have a youthful, fun feeling about our prints but we take the fit of our bikinis very seriously. We are a new brand so we are constantly working with feedback we get from customers on what we can do to improve the fit and shopping experience. We really do want to make the best fitting bikinis for bigger busts in the world!

What is your favorite thing about your job?

Hands down it has to be happy customers. We recently had a customer who had been battling to find a bikini top that fitted her for years, she bought ours and sent us a message saying it was the best fitting bikini she has ever owned. That was an amazing feeling.

What is your favorite thing about the swimsuit industry?

We love bikinis, Summer, the beach and swimming so it doesn’t feel like hard work. The industry is fun and I don’t think people take themselves too seriously. At the end of the day we are selling a product that most people take on holiday with them or associate with Summer and good times and that in itself is a really nice thing.

What is the most common question that your customers ask regarding fitting?

“I am not sure what size to buy.” And our answer is always to be professionally fitted. We can give many tips on how the bikini should fit but there is no substitute for that one on one service.

Do you have your own personal favorite suit?

For me (Emma), I love to mix and match our colours and prints.  I love the Balconette stripe top with the Hipster Tie bottoms in nectarine.  Ash – I love the underwire halter and also the hipster ties – stripe and floral are my favs!!!  Also a big fan of mix and match!

Do you have any hot, up and coming tips or advice for our readers?

The range is great for mixing and matching styles and colours so when you are looking to buy a bikini buy colours that work well together. Essentially you can buy two bikinis but end up with 4 different options for wearing them.

What would you like our readers to know about you and your company?

We have FREE shipping worldwide, we also accept returns and will do exchanges so you can find the size that’s best for you.  Our prices are in AUD$ on the site so for most other currencies that works in your favour and the bikinis are a lot more affordable than you think.  We are happy to help customers with any fit advice, questions and any feedback that you have for is is always welcome.

We hope you enjoyed learning about Lilly & Lime and please stay tuned for our blogger reviews!

Retailer Spotlight – Karlee Smith Post-Op and Sports Bras

While browsing on-line for products that might be of interest to both my fellow bloggers and our readers, I recently stumbled upon the Karlee Smith company.  I was intrigued to see that this company specializes in medical grade post-operative and sports bras for women who have undergone surgical procedures for breast augmentation, reduction, lift, mastectomy / lumpectomy etc.

Now when you hear the words ‘medical grade’ you probably don’t  think ‘attractive and sexy’ but that is exactly what Karlee Smith has been able to do – deliver a unique and superior quality product which not only assists in post-operative healing, but at the same time allows the wearer to look and feel sexy.

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Furthermore, the Karlee Smith bras can be used long after the healing period is over, but we will get into that in our upcoming reviews because Karlee Smith was kind enough to send four of the AEE bloggers (including myself) our choice of one of their bras each to test out and review for our readers!

Before we get to those reviews, I would like to give our readers an opportunity to get to know more about the Karlee Smith brand and its products via the following interview.

What influenced Karlee to get into the post op and sports bra industry?

Visionary Designer and Brand Owner Karlee Smith started the brand after a personal experience when her surgeon sent her home in a bra that fell apart after one wash and made her feel ugly while wearing it.  At the time she was working for Victoria’s Secret and could not imagine why there were not better and more stylish bra options for women to wear “post-surgery.”

How did the Karlee Smith brand come to be?

Karlee started the brand after she had a personal breast surgery experience that influenced her passion for women to feel sexier after surgery.  She started her own line after leaving Victoria’s Secret because they didn’t see how “post-op” bras could be sexy.  So she developed the brand and made a “new niche” in the market that has dramatically changed the way women feel in their most intimate moments after breast surgery.

From the brand’s original ideas and design concepts through to actually creating apparel garments that are both surgeon and patient approved must have involved a tremendous amount of research.  Tell us about that process?

According to the Karlee Smith design team, there is a lot of research when selecting the fabrics to ensure the best medical properties and the best quality to match our brand expectations for our customers as well as FDA standards.  We spend a lot of time doing fit testing, product research, patient surveys, QA testing, and working with surgeons to improve our bras as well as design new innovations.

What makes Karlee Smith bras stand out from other post op bras and sports bras?

Our sport bras and post op bras are all front closure which as you can probably tell it is difficult to find many front close bras that fit well.  Not to mention, the majority of front close sport bras usually have wires or padding or something making them not so comfortable for all day wear or use after you just had a breast procedure.  Our bras are always tested on women who have had breast surgery.  This process plus our fit models keep our standards high when it comes to making the best bras.  Karlee Smith bras are most loved by women with or without implants.

How long has Karlee been designing post op and sports bras?

Our company is only a few years old, but Karlee, our designer & owner, has been in the fashion industry since she was 16.  She has a lot of experience.  She has worked with some great bra designers at brands like VF Corp., Fruit of the Loom and Victoria’s Secret just to name a few.

Where does Karlee find inspiration for the brand’s designs?

As a company, we attend many fashion shows, trade events (both fashion & medical), travel, and use customer feedback to influence our ideas for the next season or new concepts.

What makes Karlee stand out from other designers?

Our designer, Karlee, is incredibly talented when it comes to picking the perfect styles, silhouettes, and accents on the bras.  It is medical and athletic wear which she reminds us how most people do not consider sexy but we must!  This is what makes her so different.  She knows the importance of making women feel and look sexy all day long even if it is in their workout or lounge wear!  We also have the most innovative designs, fabric, style, comfort, and support in a bra for the medical market who cater to women recovering after surgery.

How often does your company come out with new designs?

We are always improving the quality of our existing bras and generally launch new concepts as we see fit.

Do you have any plans to introduce any other designs in the future?

Yes, the company has plans to expand our product line and launch updates to existing bras.

What is special about the company and the Karlee Smith brand?

The Karlee Smith brand is always fun, exciting, innovative and evolving.  There are so many days that new ideas and things spring up that keep the job a surprise.  Outside of medical and our sport bras, we have other fashion design collaboration projects we get to work on which are always super involved and entertaining.  We are also working on some cool things for retail spaces (both medical and fashion) which is interesting.  Every day there is something new and we love to keep our customers happy.  It is always refreshing getting emails or reading reviews from all the women that support us and love our bras!

What is the best thing about the post op and sports bra industry?

We strive to design bras that women LOVE to wear all day not just post-op or in the gym.  We design bras that make them feel supported and sexy all day long while lounging or even while at work.  The athletic and medical markets are unique and both offer us the ability to be innovative when bringing something new to the market.

Where can our readers purchase your bras?

Our bras can be found online at karleesmith.com or through the patient’s plastic surgeon.  If their surgeon does not provide them with a Karlee Smith bra after their surgery then they can ask their surgeon for a coupon code unique to their surgeon provided by us and if their surgeon is registered with us they will be able to purchase their first bra at  karleesmith.com using this discount from their surgeon.

What is the best way for potential new customers to find or contact you with any questions they may have regarding Karlee Smith bras?

For questions regarding our bras, the fit, or ordering, they can visit us online, call us at 888-640-0942 or email customercare@karleesmith.com.  We would be delighted to hear from you!

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Be sure to stay tuned for our Karlee Smith reviews coming soon on the AEE blog.   You won’t want to miss them!

 

 

Ewa Michalak’s BM Naomi

In my continued quest to try every style of Ewa Michalak bra that is available in my size, as well as stock up on more summer, boob-sweat minimizing bras, I decided that the next style I had to try was the BM.  Like the SM style, the BM is an unlined balconette; and when I saw the new BM Naomi debut a couple of months ago, I knew that was the one for me!  

Bra BM Naomi
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I ordered Naomi, along with the gorgeous S Opium (click HERE for review) from the lovely Jaimie at Bra Obsessed and was thrilled when I got it in the mail the other day!  Although it may look like just a plain brown bra on the website, like pretty much every Ewa bra, it is quite stunning in person.  A big surprise was that there is quite a purple undertone to this bra, with the band being only a shade or two off from the color of my S Glamour (click HERE for review) with a shiny satin look and feel.  On my 65GG, the band has the usual four rows of 3 hooks and eyes and is on the looser side with me being able to stretch it to about 32 inches before much wire distortion occurs, so if you like a firm band you may want to size down in this one.   TIP: Remember that when you size down in band, you will want to size up in cup to keep the same cup size. The band also is reinforced with a black mesh lining on the inner side for extra comfort and a more luxurious feel. The straps have a shiny satin sheen as well, and are fully adjustable for your comfort preference.  

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The cups of the BM Naomi are made up of three-parts made of a stretchy floral lace in a deeper brown, but still with a purple undertone.  The bottom parts of the cup are lined with black mesh that comes up the side to meet the straps.  This mesh lining helps with the structure of the bra since the lace has stretch to it and keeps your breasts feeling secure and supported.  In typical Ewa fashion, no bra would be complete without it’s beautiful details and Naomi is no exception.  This bra has matching polka dot bows at the gore and straps making it both fun and flirty 😉

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Now that we are done with the technical stuff, let me tell you how it feels 🙂  The first thing I noticed when I put Naomi on was how incredibly comfortable it is.  The stretch of the lace molded perfectly to my boobs and the band made me feel very supported (even though I had to wear it on the third tightest row of hooks). I was also very pleased that it wore extremely smoothly under shirts and I didn’t notice any lines showing through at all.  I have tan skin (I am currently somewhere between the color of Triumf and Naomi), and get fairly dark in the summer months, so Naomi is a perfect “nude” bra for me.  One thing I noticed the first day I wore it was that for some reason the bra made my boobs itch just a little bit.  But when I wore it a second time I didn’t notice it anymore, so I’m not quite sure what that was about!

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I can honestly say I don’t really have anything negative to say about this bra, and I’d even venture to say that I find it more comfortable than either of the SMs I currently own (Triumf and Amorek), though they are very comfortable as well.  For those of you ladies who have more (or all) natural breast tissue and have some natural sag or hang, I have heard that the BM is a bit more minimizing than the SM style, which could be a positive or a negative depending on the look you are going for.  For me, who has very little natural tissue and zero sag or hang, I don’t see much of a difference between the two styles as far as the look.  It is definitely not going to give you the BAM! look that the S style does, but if you are looking for a light, airy, comfortable and supportive bra, this might be just the one for you!

Briefs Naomi
Stock photo -Naomi Brief
Thong Naomi
Stock photo – Naomi Thong

Lastly, if you are looking to make this bra into a set, Ewa offers both the Naomi brief (for you ladies who are on #TeamFullBum) as well as the Naomi thong (for girls on #TeamButtCrack 😉 ).  I, unfortunately had to pass on the undies this time around as my wallet was already screaming in protest!  I hope you enjoyed this review and please stay tuned, our summer review line up is just warming up 🙂

Ewa Michalak – S Glamour

G-L-A-M-O-R-OUS, ooh flossy flossy!  Come on ladies, you know the song!  That is what plays in my head when I look at this bra.  But to be completely honest, the first time I saw the new Ewa Michalak S Glamour, I wasn’t over the moon in love with it.  I thought it was pretty, but it seemed very similar to the S Paris Paris I already own (review HERE).  But then, as I was building my list of bras I was going to purchase on my next order, I couldn’t help but to keep being drawn back to it.  I mean lets be honest, it’s gorgeous!  So after much internal debate, I decided that it had to go on the list.  I have worn Paris so much that it’s starting to look a bit worn anyway, so what the heck.

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As some of you may know (based on my lack of reviews), it’s been a stretch since I have purchased any bras, so this time I kinda went crazy!  Between my direct order with Ewa Michalak and two orders through Jaimie at Bra Obsessed, I ordered 7 bras and two undies to make matching sets.  I had heard rumors that Ewa was a bit backed up with orders and that my direct order with her (which included S Glamour, SM Triumph and the SM Amorek with matching thong) might take longer than usual.  I was a little bummed, but have come to accept that waiting is just part of the price you pay when you are a Polish bra junkie like me!  Because I was expecting to wait quite a while, I was thrilled when I got my shipping notice only a few days longer than what my orders usually take (it was about 2 1/2 weeks for production rather than the usual 10-14 days).  Eight days after my bras shipped, they arrived and boy was I excited!  The moment I took Glamour out of the box, I was thanking the bra Gods that I had ordered this one.  It is stunning, I mean seriously magnificent! Every detail on this bra is on point, from the bow accent at the gore with delicate little pink pom poms at the ends, to the luxurious lace that covers the cups, to the shimmery pink satin ribbon. The name suits this bra perfectly, as it is truly glamorous.

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My Ewa bra size has been somewhat of a moving target.  I love the firmness of a 60 band (I have a 26″ underbust), but I have not found that the cups on my 60 band bras fit quite right, even when I size up in the cup.  So I have decided to stick with the 65 band for now.  As far as cup size, I typically order a GG even though I recently realized I really am more of a GG 1/2.  Because of this, I decided to order up a cup size and ordered S Glamour in a 65H.  I was actually quite nervous about sizing up in cup, since I have a phobia about getting bras that are too big, which I blame on being small busted for much of my life and all bras I liked seemed too big on me.   When I first put Glamour on, it seemed very big and I almost panicked.  But then after a little adjusting, it actually fit quite nicely 🙂  I will throw in a small disclaimer that I always take the pads out of my GG bras, and with this size H, I do have to wear the pads to get a proper fit (again, I’m a GG 1/2, not quite an H).  There is also the smallest bit of gap that occurs on the cup near the gore on the side of my smaller breast.  Such are the problems we have when we are in between sizes!  I also noticed that this bra’s band seems to be on the looser side, so if you are in between band sizes I’d definitely recommend the smaller band on this one.

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On to fit. As much as having a gorgeous bra to wear is awesome and all, the most important thing (to me at least) is how comfortable it is.  I wore this bra all day (about 12 hours) and I’ve gotta say, it is darn comfy!  When I first put it on and then put on my shirt, I will say that I was like “Dang, that’s a lot of boob!”  Not only does it give maximum cleavage (as the S style is known for), with the pads in it adds that extra oomph that sets it over the top. Definitely not a bra to wear if you are looking to minimize your assets!  When I wear a bra for the first time, I pay extra close attention to the fit and feel, and can say I was very happy with Glamour.  The straps are on the stretchy side, not super firm, but fully adjustable and didn’t slip at all throughout the day.  There was no digging or poking at the gore like some bras have, and I felt like it stayed in place with very minimal adjusting throughout the day. All of my bras are comfortable, but I do have the ones that I’m very happy to take off after a long day of work, this one I didn’t feel the need to remove immediately, which is a huge plus in my book!  Also, the seams were barely noticeable under my tight-fitting shirt, another huge plus!  I can safely say this bra will be added to my rotation and will be worn very regularly.

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Now to address  my original concern, which was the similarity between Glamour and Paris.  As you can see in the comparison picture below, yes they are similar, but I’d more say that Glamour is like Paris on steroids!  Where Paris is a dusty purple, the fabric in Glamour is actually gray with purple undertones and has more of a sheen to it.  Glamour also has the pink satin ribbon across the seam of the cup, on the gore, as well as sewn into the straps.  What really kicks Glamour up to a whole new level is the the lace overlay Ewa chose to use.  It is quite possibly some of the most beautiful lace I have ever seen.  Its a grayish pink with (what looks like) silver thread woven through it, which almost makes it sparkle.  I would definitely recommend this for any of you who wanted (but missed out on) Paris, anyone who loves gray bras, well heck, I’d recommend this to everyone!

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Glamour also has matching undies that you can purchase if you are a “sets” kinda girl. Unfortunately for me, they are only available in “full bums” and I’m a thong girl (or as the AEE ladies jokingly refer to it, “team butt crack” 😉 ).  Below are stock photos of the matching undies, which look just as beautiful as the bra.

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Glamour has quickly become one of (if not the) most beautiful bras I own. It’s subtle and elegant details coupled with the outstandingly craftsmanship and design that Ewa puts into all her undergarments really makes this bra a complete package winner in my book!  If you have been on the fence up until now, I’d encourage you to scoop Glamour up before its too late!

The Majestic Lady Grey by Comexim

Hi ladies! It literally feels like forever since I’ve written a review for you all, but since buying a new home last fall I’ve not been able to keep up on my usual bra purchasing habits and therefore have not really had anything to write about. However, I am happy to say that along with this bra I also have a couple more on the way so I’m hoping to get some good reviews out for your reading pleasure!

Lady Grey is a bra that was originally made by Anna Pardal and first became available last summer. When it was first released, it had a satin ribbon edging that lined the tops of the cups (as seen below in this picture of Gogobee), but I believe that it caused some fitting issues so they later decided to remove that detail from the newer Lady Greys they made.

 

When this bra originally came out and several of our AEE ladies purchased it, I was obsessed immediately. But due to the ribbon issues I had heard about and the fact that I was still unsure about purchasing an Anna Pardal because of the heftier price tag than Comexim or Ewa Michalak, I held off. Then when we heard the sad news that Anna Pardal was closing its doors, I immediately fell into a regret spiral for not purchasing it when I could.  Luckily, shortly after hearing about AP, we heard the great news that Comexim (who had been producing the bras for AP) would continue to make them while they had the materials to do so.  I was elated and swore that I wouldn’t let this beauty get away from me a second time!

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As any of you who are regular readers of our blog know, we are huge fans of Jaimie at Bra Obsessed.  Though I have always been a “direct buy” kind of girl, purchasing my bras directly through Comexim and Ewa Michalak, this time I decided to try a retailer and reached out to Jaimie.  She was so sweet and wonderful to work with.  Given that the last bra I ordered from AP was a 30GG, I decided to stick with that size for my Lady Grey, ordering a standard plunge with no alterations.   Then I waited…and let me tell you, after being on a bra-buying dry spell for the last few months, I forgot how excruciating it is waiting for my bras to come in!  But finally it did come.  As I say with almost every bra I purchase, Lady Grey is even more beautiful and luxurious in person than in the pictures.  Not to say anything negative at all about my other Polish bras, but the AP bras definitely have a high quality luxury look and feel to them that is quite stunning.  

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The first thing I noticed when I put on Lady Grey was how nice and firm the band and straps were.  It felt very secure and supportive without feeling constricting or uncomfortable.  I thought I had died and gone to Polish bra heaven!  But then upon further inspection of the fit, I noticed that there was a slight pointiness at the apex of the bra, where it wasn’t laying flat against my breasts.  My first thought was that the size might be slightly too big and that my breasts were not fully filling the cups.  I immediately sent the picture to my fellow AEE girls for their thoughts, and it was very clear to them that the cup was actually too small and that I needed to order the next size up, a 30H.  Over the next couple of hours I did that back and forth thing, trying to decide if I should just settle for a bra that was a little too small instead of having to send this bra back and wait for another one to be made (did I mention how much I hate waiting for bras 😉 ?), but in the end I decided that the girls were right and I needed to send it back.  Now one of the greatest perks about ordering through Bra Obsessed (and something I had never been able to experience before) is how easy exchanges and returns are.  I emailed Jaimie that night and asked if she happened to have a 30H in stock, and to my great joy, she did!  She mailed it out to me the very next day and I sent her back my too-small bra.  Easy peasy!

Now, have you ever had a time where you thought something fit fine…until you tried on anther size that fit you perfectly, and it was only then that you realized how poorly the original size fit?  That was basically my experience when my 30H came in.  The 30H did come with a couple alterations, with the straps moved in 3 cm and pockets added into the cups, but no alterations to the actual cups.  Below I have a comparison picture of Lady Grey in 30GG (bottom) and in 30H (top).  As you can see in the 30GG, the apex is too low (causing the pointiness), and the cups are too narrow which push my breasts in too much.  Though the gore is 1.75 cm taller in the bigger size, it is still low enough that the gore is comfortable and the wires don’t sit on my breast tissue at all. It was also a blessing in disguise that this bra already had the straps moved in, since I think that with the larger sized cup, the straps might have been too wide otherwise.

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I have worn Lady Grey both on the weekend and at work, wanting to try it out when I’m running around doing different activities as well as when I’m sitting at my desk job, just to try out it’s comfort level and I’d have to say that this in my top 2 or 3 most comfortable bras I own.  There are a couple of very specific reasons why I say this.  The first is that the band stays put.  I have a few bras that no matter how tight I make the band, because of the material it seems that the band likes to creep up throughout the day and I have to adjust it down.  This band is firm, yet very comfortable and it doesn’t move up my back even when I’m moving around a lot.  The second reason is that the gore is very comfortable.  I find that with most of my bras, by the end of a long day I can feel the gore starting to dig in a bit. I wore this bra for about 8 hours the first day and 10 hours the second and I felt no digging at all.  Overall I am so glad that I was able to purchase this gorgeous bra, and even happier that I didn’t settle for an “almost fitting” size and was able to get one that fit perfectly!

NOTE: Due to needing the larger cup size, I decided to remeasure my breast depth (it had been a while since I’ve done this). I’ve had my implants for 14 months and have had a 10.5″ depth since about 3 months post op, but it appears they have settled a bit more and now am measuring at 10.75″ (left) and 11″ (right). So it looks like I’ll be needing to size up in all my future bra purchases.  Oh darn…I guess I need some new bras 😉

 

 

 

Review: Anna Pardal Emeline

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Anna Pardal Emeline Classic Plunge

On my search for an everyday black bra I found a stunner!  Emeline is far from any ordinary black basic bra even though it can pass for one easily.  The first time I saw it on the Anna Pardal website I was in love and decided I had to order it ASAP and luckily for me Erica from A Sophisticated Pair happened to have a 30g in stock…in stock!  Do you know how rare that has been for me, a bra ready to ship in my size is pretty much non-existent.  I emailed her immediately and she sent it quickly (Erica provides amazing customer service btw).   When I opened the package, just a few days later, it was even more gorgeous in person but unfortunately for me it was a tad too tall and a tad too large.

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Since Erica didn’t have a different size for me to try and the new Anna Pardal styles were soon to be released I decided to reach out to Anna W. of Anna Pardal directly to ensure I got an Emeline thinking it would soon be discontinued and of course Sabine made it into my cart as well since I have no self-control lol.  I decided to try a 30ff and hoped that the unaltered size would work….sadly it was too small.  So I decided to send Anna pictures of the bras and ask her advice on what I should try next to get that perfect fit.  After telling her I loved the narrow gore and that the strap sort of dug into my narrow shoulders, she suggested I try a 30g with reduced cups and straps moved in 2cm and requested that the gore be made as narrow as possible and I also asked her to please add a pocket for an asymmetry pad to be inserted since I have one breast slightly smaller than the other.  Emeline arrived a few weeks later and you know that sound in the movies when the sky opens and you hear aaaaahhhhh, yep that’s what I heard as I tried it on and fell in love with this piece of Heaven.

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The fit is exactly what I needed and it is my most comfortable bra I own,  but that isn’t even the best part.  Emeline is a sophisticated, elegant and rich looking work of art and I feel amazing wearing it each and every time I put it on.

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Nothing can compare to feeling beautiful and comfortable at the same time and let’s face it there have been plenty of occasions when as a woman we’ve had to choose beauty over comfort….darn heels!

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The Emeline Classic Plunge is a lightly lined molded cup bra and while it holds its shape it isn’t stiff like other molded bras I’ve tried.  The 30 band is firm and perfect for my 26.75 inch ribcage measurement on the loosest of 4 hooks and the reduced cups are the perfect depth and height.  The fully adjustable straps sit perfectly on my narrow shoulders and are stiffer then other bras I own but once I found the correct adjustment they haven’t budged and feel amazing.  The narrow wires and projected cup give me the most amazing lifted shape and the perfect amount of cleavage, nothing over the top.  Thanks to the narrow gore I don’t have any problems for my close-set breasts and it tacks perfectly without pinching or digging.  So for fit, dare I say perfect…Absolutely!

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The bra is exquisitely made with high quality fabric and precisely stitched, even the bows are beyond elegant.  The antique peach flower print is subtle yet beautiful against the deep black background reminiscent of an oil painting.

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I feel incredible wearing this amazing bra, the shape is fantastic and is nearly seamless under a fitted tee.  It has become my favorite bra and I reach for it at least a couple of days per week.  If I want to dress up or just hang out in shorts and a tank top I feel beautiful knowing Emeline is underneath.

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I just can’t say enough about how impressed I am by this bra,  I love it so much and Anna has perfected her designs to suit all women of different shapes and sizes.  She is a true artist and even though she must be extremely busy she takes the time to respond quickly to emails and is so kind in her replies,  she truly cares about a perfect fit.  Somehow she created the most elegant, sophisticated and comfortable black bra that I have ever owned.  If you have been on the hunt for perfection, look no further…Emeline is still available in 4 news cup styles with the option of additional alterations for a small fee and if you subscribe to the Anna Pardal newsletter you will receive 10% off your first order at annapardal.com.  If you are anything like me once you look at the site Emeline won’t be the only item in your cart.  Have you tried Anna Pardal yet?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

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