Sleepwear Camisoles

Sleeping with big boobs can be difficult. If you have big boobs, you know what I am talking about: they get in the way sometimes. They take up a lot of space. I am sure some of you ladies have had a bed partner roll over onto your boob, right? Because there’s no way it can be just me.

They actually *move* around, which is hard for those without breasts to understand. Here is the best way I could come up with to explain it: imagine that your arms had no bones in them, no way for you to physically control their movement. They would just hang there, right? And when you laid down to go to sleep, they would be all over the place: you’d have to situate them just so, to be comfortable, but if you moved a tiny bit the wrong way, one might fall out of position. Having large breasts is like that.

It is the movement that bothers me the most in terms of physical discomfort. A few years ago I started really analyzing my sleep and I found that any kind of movements in the bed would disturb me even if they didn’t wake me up. And this explained why I always slept more comfortably in tight shirts: they restrained my breasts and let me sleep more comfortably.  But as my breasts have gotten larger, and larger, tight tshirts just weren’t enough anymore. Without a bra, my boobs were all over the place. So, I started looking into sleep bras.

Here are my requirements for a sleep bra: It must fit.  It must be comfortable, and have no underwire (I don’t like sleeping in underwire.) It must keep my boobs close to my body and hold them relatively still when I am sleeping. It must be easy to get on and off (because I’m not wearing any sleepwear that is going to interfere with my sex life, and I don’t want to wrestle with a difficult bra when I am tired.)  And, it must be inexpensive, because I am not paying a lot for sleepwear. I do not actually care what shape it gives my boobs: it is not a bra I am wearing out in the world, it is a bra I am wearing to sleep in. (It seems that at least a few bloggers are concerned about the shape that a sleep bra gives their boobs, and while they are of course free to have whatever standards they like, I think this is silly.)

I knew I didn’t want to wear underwire when I was sleeping, so that narrowed the field. I looked at soft-cup bras in my size range. I almost said I looked at a lot of them, but there really aren’t a lot to look at! It felt like a lot though. I was very attracted to the Royce line of wire-less bras, but many reviewers said they are tight and hard to get off and on. I liked the idea of Bravissimo’s sleep tanks with built-in bras, but they cost more than I can afford to dedicate to sleepwear (and are very rare to find on eBay.) I also considered Panache’s maternity support bras, but again, cost was an issue as well as fit.

So, I started thinking about camisoles with shelf bras. These aren’t a great option for ladies with large breasts: they just generally don’t have enough room in them, and the bras certainly aren’t suitable for regular use. But, I thought I might be able to find something that could work for busty sleepwear. I first tried on the camis at Old Navy, and found them to be of very poor quality: the fabric is very thin, the straps too stretchy. I looked in the athletic department at Target, where there are tanks with built-in bras, but they were all pretty small-cupped. In the end, I got lucky at Nordstrom Rack.

Nordstrom Rack, in case you aren’t aware, is the discount arm of Nordstrom. They carry a lot of the same things Nordstrom does, and some things Nordstrom doesn’t. The Rack is actually a great place to shop for bras; I got my Fantasie Lynsey there for less than $30. They also have great deals on SHOES . . .  Ahem, where was I? Yes, camisoles. Nordstrom Rack carries a line of lingerie called “St. Eve.” Back in the 90s I used to see St. Eve at places like Marshall’s, but they have seriously revamped their line since then, and the quality is much improved.  They now make very robust shelf-bra camis: the straps are strong and not too stretchy, and the fabric is thick. I have heard really good things about St. Eve underpants, too.


Obviously, this is not me.

It turns out that the St. Eve camisoles are great for sleepwear. I like them in medium; I found that while I fit into a small, the smalls are shorter than mediums, and I like the tops to be long so they don’t ride up. A large was too roomy in the bust, and therefore not as supportive as I like.  And these camis are surprisingly supportive! They hold my boobs close to my chest and keep them pretty still. They do give a little bit of lift, but mostly they give support, and as we learned from Astrid in this post, support and lift are not the same thing. In a day to day bra, I want support and lift, but in a sleep bra, I want support overall.  These camis are actually supportive enough for lounging around the house.  (My only complaint is that the straps do cut into my shoulders if I am wearing them while upright, and as I have tender shoulders, this is not fun.  It isn’t always painful, but when it is, it really hurts. ) Yes, they do give a kind of mono-boob appearance, but if I’m just making breakfast or getting ready for bed, I don’t mind.

Also great for my pocketbook: St. Eve camis are $6-$7 at Nordstrom Rack. So I could afford to buy a bunch of them in a rainbow of colors, and I did.  I’ve been wearing them every night for more than a year now, and I’m still pleased. So, I definitely recommend these as sleepwear for someone on a budget.

I would still love to try Bravissimo’s sleep tanks: they are so well-reviewed and look so comfy! But until I can afford those, these St. Eve camis are a good solution.

Superbra Autumn/Winter 2013 Looks Amazing!

I’ve just had a look at Panache Superbra’s upcoming A/W 2013 collection, and I am thrilled!

For years, I thought I was a person who just couldn’t wear Panache lingerie. For most of Panache’s history, it seems they’ve focused on wide, shallow cups and wide center gores. I tried a few Panache bras early on (such as the Tango and the Eliza, neither of which worked out for me) and kind of gave up. Eventually I found the Cleo Sasha, which was a good fit but had features I didn’t like (narrow straps, narrow band, and very flimsy underwire casing.) I learned that there were a few Panache bras I could wear, but not a lot of them.

When Panache released the Andorra, I was smitten. Here was a bra that fit me better than any I had yet encountered (although Empreinte bras had this honor a few years ago, my breasts grew and I sized out of Empreinte, so by “me” I mean “my current breasts”.)  Instead of wide, shallow cups, I had narrower cups with a lot of height, giving me a great deal of support and lift, a natural (not too round) shape, and an inner sling helping to move my boobs forward. Plus, although it is classed as a “full cup”, the fit is more like a balconet. The Andorra has its own share of problems: too-narrow straps being my only major complaint, but for awhile, it has been my favorite bra.

I also like the, Panache Emily, a continuity style that Panache doesn’t seem to give much attention to. It’s another narrow style with side support panels, made with really high-quality fabrics, and I love it, but the rumor is that Emily has been discontinued. So I sadly figured there was not much hope for me in the Superbra range.

Then I saw A/W 2013, and Panache, you may have really come through for me!

The A/W 2013 collection from Panache Superbra has not one, but several new models with side support, 4-part cups! These include the Jasmine, which Panache introduced in 2012, in an absolutely scrumptious champagne pink print:


Panache Superbra Jasmine, pic courtesy

I’m thrilled that Panache has begun using prints in their bras, but so far they haven’t had many prints that I found at all attractive. This print, on the other hand, is classic and elegant, and features one of my favorite shades of pink.

The new Envy, which frankly looks as though it is cut just like the Emily, even down to the internal stitching:


Panache Superbra Envy, photo courtesy

The Envy is coming in nude and black, which also makes it appear to be a replacement for Emily.  However, we also have the Dahlia, which looks like a mesh version of the Emily, and is coming in white and black.


Panache Superbra Dahlia, photo courtesy

The Clara looks very different; it has a very retro, 1920s look to it, and a new, peculiar cut: a 4-part cup with what looks like a side support panel, but only in the top of the cup:


Panache Superbra Clara, courtesy

But then, it has a hidden side sling on the inside!


Panache Superbra Clara, courtesy

And then, my beloved Andorra, in a dark red that Panache calls “spice”:


Panache Superbra Andorra, pic by on flickr.

It’s great, from my POV, to see that Panache is expanding their line to include bras that might fit me! I love Panache’s bands and strong underwires, so making their bras in shapes that work for my body is in my opinion a great step, and one that will win my loyalty as a collector. As a person who has a hard time finding well-fitting bras in general, seeing these models come down the runway makes me feel very optimistic. . .  even though I must wait until fall to get my hands on these lovelies.

Of course, these aren’t the only new, gorgeous bras that Panache has in store for Autumn, these are just the side support models! I strongly suggest checking out this set by Stanikomania, it has many photos of the full collection. All the photos in this entry came from Stanikomania, a Polish-language bra blog that I highly recommend, and are used with their permission.

Hot OIl Treatment

I have naturally curly hair that tends to be dry. I also live for most of the year in a dry climate. It can really wreak havoc on my hair. Hot oiling my hair is a great way to treat and protect it, but I don’t do it often enough. It does take some pre-planning, so often I think I don’t have time.

A few weeks ago, though, my hair had become really dry. I could see that it was on the edge of breaking. So, I had to make some time for hot oil. I wrote up my process and thought to share it here!

First of all, don’t buy a hot oil treatment at the grocery store, drugstore, or beauty supply. Those treatments have only a small fraction of oil, usually mineral oil, and include emulsifiers, scents, and other chemicals that you don’t need on your hair. And frankly, they are not as effective as using a natural oil.

I use Extra Virgin Olive Oil for my hair. I usually buy a lower grade of oil than I would use to cook with (I’m pretty picky about the EVOO that I eat; I usually stick with Star or Colavita brand oils, and I like a fruity, piquant oil for eating. Such oils can be pricey, and my hair doesn’t care how the oil tastes, so go with cheap here.) EVOO is rich in vitamin E and Omega-9 and omega-6 fatty acids. It isn’t just moisturizing, it is also strengthening and protective. EVOO molecules can actually penetrate the hair shaft, and stay there for awhile. Again, commercial hot-oil products have mostly mineral oil and additives that aren’t great for the hair. Extra-virgin olive oil is a much better choice.

Some people like using coconut oil in their hair, and I do too. But as my hair is very dry, I find coconut oil is better for daytime use, like to massage into the ends at bedtime, or on a dry day, or to use as a leave-in treatment (if you like something pre-made, this is a really good leave-in conditioner with coconut oil.) Coconut oil has smaller molecules than olive, and in my experience it just isn’t heavy enough to be a good hot oil treatment. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

So, cheap EVOO. I buy a big bottle of it to keep in the bathroom: it’s good for dry hair, dry skin (especially heels and elbows) body scrubs, etc. I use a squirt bottle to apply it, the same kind I use to apply hair color. Basically, a plastic bottle with a narrow nozzle.  I put the nozzle near my scalp, under my hair, and start squirting small amounts and rubbing them into my scalp and through my hair. Once my scalp is covered, I run my hands through my hair from the roots to the ends a few times, to spread oil outward. Then I start applying oil to the lengths. I basically squirt a little on, then use my other hand to rub that in and down the hairs, repeat, etc, until my hair is saturated from root to ends. You want to do this cautiously and slowly because you don’t want to put on too much and have it running down your neck and face.

If your hair is dry like mine, you will find that it starts soaking up the oil immediately, so basically keep applying oil until the hairs have soaked up as much as they can and are coated. If your hair is still soaking up the oil, keep applying more, until you have a thick coating of oil.

Once your head is coated in oil, you want to keep the oil there and also seal in heat. I use a plastic grocery bag or a cheap plastic shower cap to cover my hair. Then on top of that I like to use a heat cap. A heat cap is like an electric blanket for your head: you plug it in, it gets warm. These are great for deep conditioning, hot oil treatments, and hair color. I’ve had mine for ten years and it still works very well, so I think this is a good investment if you are into hair care.

If you don’t have a heat cap, you can put a thick towel in the microwave to warm it up, then wrap it around your head. The initial heat will warm the oil and the towel will help to insulate it. This isn’t as effective as a heat cap, but it’s better than nothing. Once my head is wrapped and warm, I usually sit around and do homework, or read, or watch a movie, etc, for a few hours. I’ve even slept in it before.

I usually hot oil in the evening so I can go to bed afterward and let my hair rest and let the oil bond with it. After a few hours of heat, I take a shower and wash my hair. When I rinse out the shampoo, my hair sometimes feels a little heavy, almost rubbery. That is normal and will be gone by morning. After washing, I condition as usual. (I alternate between an extra-deep conditioner and a regular conditioner for dry/curly hair; after hot oil I will usually use the lighter conditioner.) Then I squeeze my hair in a towel, wrap it in said towel for a little while so it can dry a bit, and then I go to bed.

Overnight the hair will dry and the oil will bond with the hair (think of it like an oil stain on a shirt: if you let it sit for awhile it will stain permanently, or at least be really hard to get out. That really is molecular bonding!) And in the morning, I wake up with really soft, healthy, great-looking hair. Hot oil helps enhance my curls and make my hair more manageable. It really is like night and day. Every time I do it I think “Wow, I should do this more often!” And really, I should.

I hope this write-up helps someone with dry hair to have the hair they want 🙂

Ask Cleo by Panache for Wider Bands!

Shortly after I posted about my desire for wider bra bands, I ran into this petition. The petition is asking Cleo (Panache’s “younger” aka cheaper line) to please add wider bands to their larger cup sizes.  I hope you will sign it! If Cleo responds favorably, it would make life a lot better for ladies like me.

I want THREE hooks! (at least.)

Being a woman of a particular shape, I have a very hard time finding bras that fit. My needs are specific and bras that fit my shape are relatively rare, even in the big bust brands. So sometimes, I buy bras and wear them even if they aren’t perfect; sometimes, I have to settle for “close enough.”

That’s the way I feel about Cleo and Masquerade bras. Both of these brands are from Panache, Cleo being the “younger” (read: cheaper) brand and Masquerade being the high-end brand. Unlike Panache Superbra, Masquerade and Cleo sometimes offer bras with narrow wires and relatively open tops, two things I need in a bra. Unfortunately, for some reason I can’t understand, both brands choose to make bras that fasten with only two hooks in the back. And that’s all they make. No three-hook bands to be found.

I honestly can’t understand why they have made this choice. Large busts need wider bands to stabilize them. In a two-hook band, I find that my bra is more likely to slip down a little in front during the day, and I also find it much less comfortable. A narrow band concentrates force in a narrow area, which can be painful; a wider band distributes force over a wider area, making it more comfortable and less “cutting”. So WHY would a big bust brand insist on such narrow bands? I could see having narrow bands in smaller cup sizes, but in a larger one, it’s poor design.

I can even understand, a little bit, why they would make only narr0w bands in Cleo: Cleo has much lower quality in general than other Panache brands. But Masquerade? This is supposed to be a high-end lingerie line and they can’t spring for a wider band?

Some of my Fantasie bras also have only two hooks: the Savannah and the Simone. I honestly don’t understand why Fantasie chose to put only two hooks on these bras, but bras like Sylvie and Lynsey have three (which makes them much more comfortable and supportive.)  With Fantasie, the decision seems to be very arbitrary. I would much, much rather that the Savannah and Simone (both of which are gorgeous bras) had wider bands with three hooks.

My Effuniak (Ewa Michalak) unpadded half-cup has only two hooks in the back, in addition to having the narrowest band I’ve ever seen two hooks on. (Seriously, it is super-narrow. I’ve seen wider bra straps.) It cuts in terribly as a result and is not very supportive.

Back when I was wearing the wrong size and used to buy bras at Cacique, one thing I loved was that their bras had very wide bands. It made them very comfortable and supportive, even without underwires.  If an inexpensive  mass-market brand who sells bras for $20 can afford to put wider bands on their bras, the higher-end brands should do it too.

I still buy bras with only two hooks because, well, I don’t have a lot of choices! Every bra is a trade-off, I guess.

Do you prefer wide or narrow bands? What trade-offs do you make in bra-shopping?

What’s new?

It has been many months of medication and diet adjustments, but I finally seem to be in a good place with both the MetforminER and my thyroid medication.

I’m sloooowly starting to drop some of the fat I gained last year. It is a hard process. Most of the weight gained was in my tummy, and it seems that it is coming off everywhere else first. For example, in the last couple of weeks I’ve lost two inches off my back, but my tummy hasn’t budged. Very frustrating!

Also frustrating is the fact that my breasts haven’t shrunk in months. Oh, for a brief moment they shrank a tiny bit, less than a cup size, so now I am in a netherworld between GG and H. I am still hanging on to my GG bras in hopes that in a few months, I’ll be able to fit them again.

I think I mentioned in other posts that I have for  many  years been ill with CFIDS and FMS. I really hoped that the Metformin and diet changes would mean a cure for those as well, but it has not been the case. This winter has been very hard (cold makes my symptoms worse) and I’m really struggling to keep abreast of my school work. BUT I do have a few posts that I hope to finish and put up here. Thanks for sticking with me!

Curvy Kate and Flirtelle

Curvy Kate and Flirtelle are two UK-based “sister brands”, both of which are owned by at least some of the same people who own and  Flirtelle bras are marketed as very slightly lower-cost versions of Curvy Kate bras; CK bras typically have more elaborate embroidery or more fancy-looking fabrics. Curvy Kate is sold by other lingerie sellers, such as Bravissimo, but Flirtelle is only sold at their own online shops.

I have never worn a bra by Curvy Kate or by Flirtelle. They are available to me only by mail, and I’ve had no chance to examine the fit of these brands, so although some of them are gorgeous bras, I have never even tried one on. But I do wonder: why bother having two separate lines of lingerie, using the same cuts and styles? Flirtelle isn’t that much less expensive than Curvy Kate, so it does not seem to be a matter of price point.

What do you think?


Time, time, time, see what’s become of me . . .

I have

so much to say

about bras.


Seriously. I have been on a bra ODYSSEY this year. I have not been able to write much about it here. I’ve been so so busy, and I don’t think that will change soon. But BRA ODYSSEY. Bras still fascinate me and I love a nice bra. I finally admitted that I am becoming a collector. I collect bras.

I just wish I had more time.


Holiday Shopping Thoughts at Fussy Busty

I just ran across this excellent guide to buying lingerie for a significant other at FussyBusty. Definitely check it out!

I especially applaud Mr. Slawson for taking into account  lesbian couples! It is really great to see people acknowledge the existence of queer people. I do quibble a with the assumption that a lesbian will necessarily know more about feminine* lingerie than will a man. In fact many lesbians, especially masculine* types, do not wear bras or other “feminine” lingerie. Some of them never have. So, they wouldn’t actually be more familiar with lingerie than most men would be. However, I think it is natural for a non-lesbian, especially a straight person, to not be aware of these things: most straight people are not aware of the intricacies of lesbian culture.  And again, I really appreciate the author’s inclusiveness.

So, if you are thinking about buying lingerie for your significant other who wears it, check out these tips! They will ikncrease the chances of your partner actually wearing what you buy for her this season 🙂

* Although I am a gender/queer person, I am not a person who thinks that we should demolish the terms “masculine” and “feminine” or that those terms are oppressive. “Masculine” and “feminine” are not words which define men or women. They are words which describe ideas and concepts involving the way we perceive gender. Eliminating those words doesn’t change the way we perceive and think about gender; for that we have to do the actual work of changing the way we perceive and think about gender.