By HOLLY JACKSON
Earlier this month, I decided to get a puppy. My last dog had come along when he was two years old. He was consistent: sedate, lovely and mostly trained when I adopted him. He lived to an old age, but when I finally felt ready to get another dog I wanted a completely different option: this time I would try the puppy experience. What I didn’t anticipate was how truly tiring the whole thing would be. I have been living in sweatpants and my sports bras, ready to run around with the puppy at any moment so he doesn’t chew up my house. I’ve been getting up at 4:30 am to take him out and getting up early when he starts running around like an insane ball of fluff. The whole thing has caused me to take serious stock of my sports bra drawer and helped me fall in love with some I hadn’t tried out.
One of the most popular sports bras on the market right now is the Panache Wired Sports bra, which most people really love. A new version has come out recently in a performance lace that looks fancy and dramatic, making it fit perfectly into the continuing athlesiure trend. Sculptresse has also put out a sports bra that really works well and goes up to a 46 band size, which can be incredibly hard to find. I love that Panache has two great offerings for curvy figures out currently.
Frequently, writing about lingerie isn’t always about what works for you: it’s about what sells or what works for a lot of other customers. I’ve heard great things from Ellen and others about the Ultimate Fit Sports Bra by Curvy Couture. She’s amazed by the bounce control, particularly when galloping in the desert on her horse.
Se also touts the virtues of the Maximum Support Air Control Delta Pad Sports Bra by Anita. Ellen loves this Anita bra, but my mother also swears that this bra has improved her tennis game dramatically. And believe me, we are talking about two very different people!
I’ll finish with my two personal favorites: the Microfiber Underwire Sports Bra by Elila and the Energise Sports Bra by Elomi. These two have a similar feel and fit to me, but they’re fantastic on my short waisted and curvy figure. They’re serious enough to stand up to high impact exercise but comfortable enough that I can wear them while running around with the puppy without feeling squished or constricted.
By HOLLY JACKSON
The holidays are almost over, which can frequently feel like a mix of stress relief and sadness. Raise your hand if you haven’t pictured yourself away on a beach at some point over the past month — I’m willing to bet that many of us have. If you are lucky enough to be turning that dream into a reality sometime soon, there are some great bets now that it is prime swimwear season.
There are tons of curve friendly swimsuits out there these days, which means there are lots of great options to pick from (and to stock in your boutique). Current swimwear styles range from sedate to sexy, mixing prints and patterns along the way so there is always something that appeals to everyone. The Porto Twilight line from Fantasie mixes stripes and tropical prints in a fresh way that still feels sophisticated. I’ve been a huge fan of Fantasie’s saturated hues and prints for years now, so it’s nice to see them so gracefully applied to their swimwear line this season. For younger beachgoers, Freya’s Gatsby Bikini channels a bit of classic southern style into a stylish and sexy bikini that will really stand out.
For those who are attracted to more classic looks, there’s also lots to love. The Indie swimsuit series has been around from Elomi for multiple seasons, but continues to grow in trendy and accessible ways. My favorite piece is the on trend high-neck bandeau top, but it’s nice to see Elomi embracing options with all levels of coverage. The 60’s inspired crochet look fabric is beautiful without being too loud. The Rush Tankini Top by Curvy Kate offers another crochet inspired piece that offers fuller coverage along with superior support, making it the little black dress of your tropical vacation. The crochet theme is also front and center at Parfait Swimwear
Last, but certainly not least, the Panache Portofino line offers a series of retro inspired pieces in navy and aubergine that will never go out of style. I especially love the Skirted Pant bottom option along with the cinched waist detail on the Balconnet Swimsuit — they’re all very Grace Kelly.
By HOLLY JACKSON
The lingerie world hasn’t always traditionally been friendly towards larger sizes or curvier customers, but if any part of it seemed even more determined to stick with the status quo it was the shapewear market. Shapewear in the past has been a traditional product: it comes in three colors (white, black and beige) and performs one basic purpose (smoothing and slimming). Predictably, it took a gang of younger women to shake things up.
The Nylon Swish isn’t the first business to present a new vision of what vintage inspired shapewear designed by women for women could look like, but it is the first to do that with a focus on curvier customers. What Katie Did and Kiss Me Deadly have been making shapewear for the female gaze for years, but those brands didn’t work if you had curvier thighs or a larger cup size. Elinor, the owner of The Nylon Swish, found herself in that category early on despite only wearing a US size 12.
“I used to suffer from serious body confidence issues. I would hide my body under ill-fitting clothes and stayed well away from cameras at all times,” Elinor explained to me. “That all changed when I was introduced to vintage clothing, especially undergarments and stockings. I immediately loved how I could shape my body using corsets, girdles and bullet bras.” As many new lingerie lovers discover, however, her size was an issue. Her personal search for shapewear spawned a wildly popular blog and then a small boutique selling vintage lingerie in larger sizes. Now it’s evolved into her own line.
The current line consists of a beautifully authentic line of stockings that that run from size medium to 4XL as well as 12 and 14 strap suspender belts for serious shapewear fans. The Nylon Swish has recently branched out into a series of beautiful georgette robes based on classic 1930’s silhouettes, available in sizes small to 4X. The gowns feature design elements that are frequently only seen in higher priced pieces, like bishop sleeves and a dramatic sweeping skirt.
“I want to be the brand that makes glamorous but practical garments for queen sized women everywhere,” says Elinor. Her plans for the future include full retro bra and panty sets redesigned for curvy figures. “I’m really excited about them because they aren’t just garments that we designed for small busted women and just sized up fit bigger busts. I have taken the time to ensure that the straps are suitable and the cut is flattering.”
Curvy lingerie customers and boutiques will now have the opportunity to experience what the new female lead shapewear movement looks and feels like, thanks to Elinor’s vision for herself and others.
All Photography by Russell Thomas & Suz Forrester
By HOLLY JACKSON
I’ve been going through a phase over the past few years where I’m fascinated by textures. Whether it’s a great piece of embroidered lingerie or just petting an antique piano shawl in a local store, I love the look and feel of textured fabrics with elements that put them over the top. While that trend has taken off in other sections of the lingerie industry, it hasn’t really hit the plus size market in a big way yet.
One of the earliest adopters of this trend was the new Tulip Embroidered Underwire bra by Elila, which was shown at Curve over several shows and has finally been released. I wanted it from the first moment I saw it, but I was also interested in how it reflected a change in the look and feel of Elila’s brand. Elila has also focused on maintaining a wide side range with superior support options. Their focus has been fit and construction, which sometimes meant their bras felt plain or retro compared to fashion forward brands like Elomi who were always chasing the latest trends. The release of their Glamour collection felt like a step in a different direction: a combination of their seriously supportive bras with some classic fashion trends.
When I asked Elila about their design inspirations, they cited Grace Kelly and other glamorous black and white movie stars. While the delicately embroidered material makes an impression, there are other changes too. Elila bras are traditionally exceptionally full coverage, so the recent releases of the Glamour and Tulip sets have been designed to be able to be worn with lower cut clothing. This is evident in their new strapless longline bra release as well, which has been designed with moulded cups and a much lower gore than previous pieces.
The Tulip Embroidered Underwire bra features the same supportive materials and three part cup design from other Elila classics, so customers don’t have to sacrifice support for fashion. Available 34 – 46, DD/E to K cups, this is the perfect holiday set for curvy lingerie boutiques and consumers who want to branch out beyond the heavy hitting brands in the industry. In fact, I suspect this will be a great way for new and younger consumers to discover how great Elila bras are.
By HOLLY JACKSON
The world of luxury curvy lingerie is small. Not just small, but nearly infinitesimally so. While budget and mid-tier lingerie brands are expanding curvy and plus-lines as fast as they can, almost no one has chosen to take on the luxury couture market. It’s still an unproven market, although one that seems to have lots of community support. But will curvy women really pay for luxury lingerie? Harlow & Fox has gambled on that idea and won.
Harlow & Fox was one of the earliest brands to experiment with couture lingerie in curvy sizes and they are still going strong. Their pieces show no compromise: the materials are of the highest quality and the designs refuse to be watered down. Harlow & Fox’s commitment to vintage glamour comes through loud and clear, from their gorgeous embroidered slips to a hand beaded gold glass robe that would be at home in The Great Gatsby.
One might think that the pressures of being one of a handful of couture brands in a newer market segment might make one more serious, but Harlow & Fox never seems to lose their sense of fun or of the experimental. A recent collection release included a decadent tulle piece that worked as an evening cape or as a tutu, while the Juliette Hazel collection combines beige silk with an unexpected gold and turquoise peacock feather detail.
The most remarkable part of the latest collection release is that the Juliette Hazel collection is a repeat of a previous collection in a new colorway. The fact that Harlow & Fox exists at all is amazing, but that they have survived and thrived long enough to consider re-releasing collections in new colors over multiple seasons is truly remarkable. While I hope that Harlow & Fox has encouraged other brands to step into this space, I don’t think I’d want to see it without their commitment to quality and innovative design either — they’ve become a classic brand over their short existence, and the classics never go out of style.