Women cannot live on lingerie basics alone, which is why I'm always seeking out gorgeous, "special" sets. (Note: Special sets are most def in regular rotation - they're just more sassy than the basic ones.) This category used to make up the bulk of my wardrobe but, as I've outgrown them (in one way or another), I just haven't been motivated to replace them. I didn't actually realize this until I took the photos for my inventory (yet another plug for this exercise). Gotta say, this trend has to change!
How do I categorize special? Well, it's either crazily-patterned or brightly-coloured or sexy or frilly - you know, whatever basic isn't. It's also given to influencing one's persona: An outgoing floral brings out one's inner flirt. Midnight navy and lace applique whisper: you are the kind of woman who has cocktails at that chic place, with all of the mysterious people. A modernist geometric print is so London @1965, a hot floral so spicy. Take on a role to suit your mood. Special sets are playful.
You know I'm rather subdued when it comes to my clothing. I like good lines, great fit and luxe materials, but I'm not out there with colour or pattern. Undergarments are how I express my intense, extroverted style.
Kristin's Favourite Special Sets:
The Garden Party: Cleo Ellis
I've written about this one here.
Why this bra is in my current wardrobe: I just find it so pretty and evocative of the deepest summer. In truth, I rarely wear this in the winter. It's hard to look upon it when the weather's bad. This bra is very Cleo - very Jessica Rabbit. I enjoy how the pattern belies the fit. Not particularly comfortable, I will say, so it's not in regular rotation.
The Japanese Tapestry: Freya Nadine
Why this bra is in my current wardrobe: I didn't choose this for myself - I came by it in a trade with my bra-fitter friend Veronica. I would never have chosen it but it's beautiful - serene, but not in any way muted. It actually looks much more luxurious up close. It's also gives a lifted, natural shape with its standard-issue plunge-y balconette. The band is uncommonly firm for Freya, which I appreciate, even at this point. This is one of the bras I've not been wearing because the matching undies I purchased (sight unseen, online) never fit well, and now fit outright badly. Got another thong on the way and I'm looking forward to wearing this more often.
The One to Wear to a Long Lunch, On Vacation: Empreinte Lana
I've written about this one here.
Why this bra is in my current wardrobe: Well, it really is freakin' sexy - in an unexpected, I just took off this jersey wrap dress and look what I happen to be wearing kind of way. It's innocent merged with a kind of knowing insouciance. It's there to have a good time. The details are subtle, but they give this set its edge. See how the thong is asymmetric at the hips? See the buttons? That lace is exquisitely soft and perfectly weighted. It's also invisible under most things so it functions like a neutral. You don't have to gear up to wear it. It just fits well.
One of the best features of Empreinte bras is how they melt away at the underwire. Compare this bra (at the underwire) against a non-Empreinte bra in this post and you'll see how much "sturdier" the other brands seem. (Cleos are particularly implicated.) Extra fabric, below the bust, is uncomfortable for many short and/or short-waisted peeps. At very least it adds unnecessary bulk (not visually, but in terms of compression). So, if you require architecture, but you don't love under band bulk, Empreinte saves the day, yet again.
The Mod: Freya, Style Name Forgotten (cut like the Phoebe)
Why this bra is in my current wardrobe: Well, this is my second oldest bra (along with the beige Phoebe, see link above). It's got all of the same graces and it's unusual to boot. The undies are ridiculously comfortable and cute. I have the shortie (shown) and the thong. This bra has seen just about as much action as the Phoebe and it's holding up just as well.
The Siren: Empreinte Ophelia
I've reviewed this one here.
Why this bra is in my current wardrobe: Um, do I really need to answer this question? Let me just say, when I make my arty sex film, I'm wearing this. And it's an Empreinte so everything about it is perfect.
The Feisty One: Freya Summer (Plunge)
Why this bra is in my current wardrobe: You know what I've been reminded of while writing this post? Freya used to make really gorgeous bras that fit very well. To wit, the Summer. The band is firm for Freya and it's got that brand-distinctive, flattering balconette/plunge happening. There's nothing practical about this pattern and yet it manages to be quite wearable. It's the kind of bra, the straps of which, you show off purposefully.
The Aristocrat: Felina Conturelle
Why this bra is in my current wardrobe: I found it in Barcelona, on a mission to see if it would be possible to buy a non-matrix sized bra in a regular, European department store. I succeeded, but my pickings were slim. This set is incredibly luxe. It feels expensive. It looks expensive. It's serious and you will take it seriously. The colour is moody, like the landscape in which I live. This isn't a bra for mid-summer. Although it fits nothing like any of my other styles - it produces a slightly wider, flatter shape than I'm used to - it fits very supportively. It's also very comfortable. Goes to show that you don't always have to do the same thing in the same way. The most amazing feature of this set is the undies. They are truly spectacular. I wish all bras came with undies that fit like these - high waisted (at the perfect height), low cut on the leg and fully supportive of the derriere. They look awesome - a retro shape in a totally modern textile.
Here's a close-up of the leg opening. I know it looks like the waist band but that's actually the hole for the left leg (the photo is rotated). Do you see how there's no stitching at the opening? It's like that band of fabric simply extends from the very elegant fabric of the main panty. The result is an opening that glides attractively and comfortably over the outer hip and lower butt. I don't know how they've done it exactly but this fabric was obviously carefully designed to make this particular undergarment.
The Ice Princess: Cleo Lori
I've reviewed this one here.
Interestingly, this is one Cleo style that doesn't reinforce the underwires all to hell. It's also a less uplifting bra than those styles - though it gives a lovely, rather round shape and the pattern is unique. The fabric, while non-stretch, is strangely pliable and doesn't give a maximal amount of support. This style modeled on the Lucy (a bra I've still never seen in real life). It's apparently a bit deeper and more open in the upper cup than the Lucy. I imagine this is true since it fits me pretty well, and my boobs are not the shape that the Lucy is designed for. Note: if it weren't as open at the upper cup as it is, there's no way I'd be able to wear it. It's merely accommodating upper fullness, not working to contain it. Mind you, this does produce an excellent wench vibe. Furthermore, the band is veritably loose by Cleo standards (which is to say that it's true to size). The fabric is softer and more pleasing to the touch than the very thick (vaguely industrial) fabric that the brand uses to make the majority of its bras. If you're looking for a natural(ish) shape in a Cleo style, this is probably it.
The Blue Sky Bra: Cleo Melissa
I've written about this bra here and here.
Why this bra is in my current wardrobe: If I were a superhero, this is the set I'd wear under the latex. It's so truly imaginative. The red, cloud lace is unique. The mix of red lace with the bright blue floral is inspired. I defy you to be depressed while wearing this. The look is only improved by the fit, which is so boobs on a plate that I worry about my tits hitting my chin when I wear it. It's all projected, all the time, and really, if you've got mega-projected close set boobs on a narrow frame, it's all good. I urge everyone within the size range to go out and buy this set because it's sassy, cheerful and hot.
So there you go, every bra in my wardrobe detailed in 2 posts - 21 and counting, including 2 sports bras but not including 4 that are currently in transit. (See here for my ramblings on basics.) How many bras do you have in regular rotation? For me, I do feel that 25 is the sweet spot. Have you ever photographed every bra you own? Have you recently reviewed your own bra drawer - for content and fit and to confirm that your offerings suit your current life? If no, why not? Are you afraid? Overwhelmed? Do you have 2 bras and it doesn't seem worth the effort? Note: If you've only got 2 bras you're doing it wrong - whatever the size of your breasts. (And I say this with love.) What's your style when it comes to the frilly undies? Let's talk!