Breaking the Mould in Full-Bust? Love and a Little Category Untangling

Reigning fashion blog The Lingerie Addict has just featured Holly from The Full-Figured Chest on brands providing a breath of air in full-bust, and I have feelings about it, so by the power vested in me as a blogger I shall proceed to unpack them here. (Holly’s post has also elicited a sobering insight regarding a complication that’s got to be layered into the core problem — how we are all going to fix this broken-ass market, full-bust lingerie. I’ll follow up with that part very shortly.)

Feel the first.

It’s outstanding to see such high-profile attention being paid to the problem. And it’s great to see some fantastic brands highlighted that are entering the arena and really, legitimately shaking things up. Like the new indie brand All Undone. All Undone has only three sets for now —  one design, really, in three colorways — but it’s clearly operating at a level of adult aesthetic sophistication you just don’t generally see in full-bust and I am dying to try it out. More on this brand below, however, for reasons.

Holly’s post also does a service by calling attention to Pour Moi? and its groundbreaking Addicted set. I had previously hailed the Figleaves Boudoir style Carmen as the first full-bust cage style to boldly attempt the lower full-bust range of DD-G, but first report suggests that it runs small enough it may have to be disqualified from the lists. Pour Moi? offers Addicted in up to a G. If this one doesn’t run small in the cup, it may squeak into pride of place. And that is some serious Myla-level cage action it’s got going on. Provisional hail!

ongoing sisyphean quest for a cage bra

Figleaves Carmen, to G, runs 2-3 cups small; Pour Moi? Addicted, may offer a true G; Myla Rita, a non-full-bust brand/bra, shows what it is we’re after

 

Feel the second.

OMG we really need to talk about the tangled-up category structure in this market. Holly’s characterization of the Tutti Rouge polka-dotted thingy as OMG! first! ever! cute bra for teens! makes me want to turn my face to the wall and give up. Have you even SEEN Freya or Cleo or Curvy Kate this last three years I can’t even. I mean, maybe it’s just symptomatic, maybe we full-bust bra buyers take the cupcakification of everything so much for granted at this point that we’ve all got Stockholm syndrome and it doesn’t even make us wince any more. But then why is that Tutti Rouge the one that finally flipped Holly’s O HAI YOUTH switch? I’m just done, you guys. Further yet: All Undone is not an example of the androgynous aesthetic! It’s a sophisticated, minimalist aesthetic, is what it is. Not the least bit girlish, no. Not sweet and saucy. No frills and curlicues. But still: feminine as hell. No? Really? Is it just me? Have we all forgotten that femininity is not something you age out of when you leave the first blush of nubile girlhood? EFF YOU, CULTURE. mumble, sputter Androgynous, for my money, would be along the lines of the Freya Taylor and its offspring the Hatty — menswear-inspired elements like pinstripes and charcoal — or, going outside full-bust, something like VPL, all sporty and uncompromising.

unknotting the category structure a little

Category madness! Tutti Rouge: teen appeal, but unique? Really? All Undone: clean and minimal but feminine — the featured Mai is even pink, for crying out loud. And what androgyny looks like: overt menswear elements from Freya’s Deco empire, or sporty, no-nonsense VPL (not in full-bust sizes).

But you know what? If there were a well defined, well understood, well established category structure to speak of in full-bust, I wouldn’t be losing my mind about how broken this market is to the point of blogging about it in the copious spare time I have after my 80-hour-a-week day job. So let’s just give a bye here for entirely natural confusion, praise the more appropriate categorizations — Claudette in sheers, the Pour Moi? Addicted in sexy — and stipulate that there is some sorting out to be done here ASAP for the love of God. I will get to this. (Yeah, I keep promising to get to things and then not doing it. You guys do not even know. Augh.)

 

Feel the third.

Featured here — correctly, as the rare full-bust player that’s boldly filling the near vacuum in sheers — is Claudette. Look at this awesome picture of the iconic Dessous bra. Claudette is taking full-bust seriously. They’re being thoughtful about what it is you actually do when you move up into F, FF, G. See how the wing is higher and the shape and proportion of the cup changes: it doesn’t just mindlessly scale up. I haven’t tried one on, because I assumed it would be much too short.  I’m thinking about it now.

tasty Claudette

The iconic Claudette Dessous, shown in a larger cup and in a smaller one. Groundbreaking not just for sheerness but for that neon yellow. Mmm.

 

And I’ve run long, getting the gushing and sputtering out of my system. So I’ll wrap this post there. Part II will follow up shortly with the sobering market insight stuff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Odeanna

12 Comments

  1. Claudette’s sizing is interesting- some people have found the cup letters okay but I’ve found the cups come up rather small and the bands quite loose.

  2. All Undone is androgynous *compared to what we’ve previously been offered*. That’s why I went ahead and tried it, despite it being out of my normal price range. I am so desperate for something without bows! I really can’t count the Hatty because Freya wires are so soft that they just don’t work for most larger cup sizes.

    But hey, the way things are going, maybe I’ll get my fun, geeky, playful but not girly bras in 5 years.

    • Part of me thinks the Hatty is kind of halfassed as an androgyny feint anyway. They just had to go and baby-blue up those pinstripes and swing it over into the coy burlesque, didn’t they? God forbid they should take ‘dapper’ seriously as a look. I tried and failed the Hatty anyway; I’m just about small enough that the wires aren’t hopeless prima facie, but it’s too short for me at the sides, like all Freya to date on me.

      Patience wears thin, no doubt.

      • As long as we’re complaining (I do so love seeing that!) can we define the term ‘full bust’ to something meaningful? I don’t really think having F, FF and G makes you a full bust brand. I don’t even want to talk about bras that will never fit…

        • It’s really a tactical/timeline argument. But you know what, now that you nudge me the Nth time, there may be a case for developing out some differentiating terminology to indicate and give credit to a brand targeting that entry-level subset of full-bust without making it effectively equivalent to/entitled to ownership of the whole “full-bust” designation. Let me think about potential lexicon-driven solutions. It’s not that easy, of course, getting the language to evolve and crystallize (see also: entire category structure discussion thread) but it would be really insanely clever for a serious full-bust player with major skin in the upper game — that’d be Panache, pretty much — to pick this up as a defensive market shaping idea against upstart competition. I will mull.

          • Ah, the thing about having few venues and bumping into the same people over and over again. Yeah, it probably is me making the same complaint in N different places!

          • No, but it’s a fair cop and you’re right and ultimately I think the truth is that I could have checked my privilege a little more carefully on this. I sort of acknowledged it but didn’t really pressure-test. I need to put some thought into evolving and rearticulating a stance, but at some point soon I’ll revisit.

  3. Hey, I’m so glad you wrote this and the other follow up! I’m responding to them in different comments to keep things separate – but I’m so glad to see more people talking about this.

    There is definitely category confusion which I probably contribute to right off the bat by being both the full bust and plus size columnist for TLA, despite those being separate market categories! Part of it is also due to the fact that, while there are more choices than there were five years ago, options are still more limited. The G cup ranges are doing really well, while anything above an H cup is still struggling – you’ll see that reflected in my piece. As an 34HH cup I buy lots from Polish brands and try to write lots about Polish brands to bring attention to them, but lots of people don’t want to go through that much work/risk for their lingerie.

    As for the teen and androgynous categories, I think stuff is really subjective. I love that you highlight brands like VPL who I think are getting out of the box and still appealing to lots of different types of people. I also think pointing out Curvy Kate is a totally worthy thing! I’ll say this: when I was 17, I would have grabbed a Tutti Rouge bra off the shelf instead of Curvy Kate if presented with the choice, but that obviously has more to do with my fairly froofy personal lingerie tastes. The androgynous category is also pretty subjective, although I’ve seen other bloggers putting All Undone in that category so I felt like that was a fair categorization of their stuff. Like VPL, they have a wider appeal than that and if they came in my size I’d be snapping one of those sets up.

    Again, I really appreciate the thoughtful commentary on the article!

    • Well, that’s an extraordinarily gracious comment considering my spluttering above, Holly, and I thank you profusely for it! I honestly didn’t write this intending to give you shit, FWIW. The well trodden aesthetic range in full-bust is very limited and the roads aren’t paved outside it, so it’s legit nebulous trying to contextualize those very few, sparse outliers. But it’s my personal geek-out: I get obsessive-compulsive for weeks over chaos-wrangling problems like this, awake all night parsing and writing white papers and pitch decks in my head, etc, and I’ve been chewing on this one for ages. Basically I saw your post, went PING and promptly had a major kitten-with-a-ball-of-yarn episode.

      I reckon Tutti Rouge is a cut above Curvy Kate within the juniors, you’re quite right. Not that Curvy Kate deserves to be shorthand for all that is awful! I had a brief obsession a while back with finding a CK Tease Me in a size that might work, finally found one, was taken aback (even knowing, in theory) by just how much riffly-wiffly circus fabric it involved and how very mauve it was. Soon after getting it I had to accept that it was a baaaaad shape for me. And right around that time was also when I had the epiphany of higher expectations, the OMG I am a grown-up not a roller derby girl where are my grown-up bras thing. So with all that I wound up a bit personally jaundiced about the brand. But they’re quite fun really and they do what they do well. And their branding acumen is irreproachable: they’ve a coherent, unified vision, distinct and well differentiated (an impressive trick considering the overcrowding in coy-n-jaunty), and from what I gather they listen well and take fit/engineering seriously. They get a star. I just am 200% done with coy-n-jaunty. It’s pretty well poisoned for me as an aesthetic category. So that poor Lottie, with its bright multicolor polka dots on pink? It’s not THAT garish, the yellow color of that (just one!) bow is honest to God fresh, and my impression is that the Tutti Rouge fabrics are lovely; objectively it’s a respectable entry. But it flat out never had a chance with me. As for All Undone … yeah. I suppose I do see simplicity described as androgyny quite often, and I get why, but it makes me livid. Partly because it’s a symptom of a shrunken and impoverished cultural understanding of femininity, and partly because I have a significant and (for obvious reasons) 99.99% frustrated inner butch streak: I would like androgyny to be something active and assertive and specific that I can do or perform or go to, not a mere negative indicator denoting absence of frilly girly rococo tat.

      Um. See how this is? Kitten, ball of yarn, can’t stop.

      • Oh, but let’s have simplicity, and also boldly androgynous, and also strikingly geeky, and playfully ungirly too! Not all in the same bra, but all as options.

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