Review: Charlotte Soft Cup by Royce

I get a lot of questions about wire-free options in large cup sizes (cup sized/wire free bras differ from custom made bralettes in that they are designed to be as supportive as wired bras, without the restriction of wires). Until now I’ve only been able to speak from a fitter’s perspective and draw on the experience of fitting people for non-wired bras, so my opinions on these styles are not personal and are largely fit-focussed. However, I’ve recently teamed up with Royce Lingerie who sent me some of their bras to try, so now I feel I can give a more rounded review of wire free bras and offer some more recommendations for those of my readers who have struggled to find styles like this in larger cup sizes.

Royce is a family owned business which launched in 1991 – so,  happy 25th birthday! They specialise completely  in wire free lingerie, offering soft cup bras suitable for pregnancy and nursing, as well as post-mastectomy bras and even teen bras in smaller sizes. I love when lingerie companies create a wide range of products and try to include as many customers as possible. Their designs also go through a lengthy testing process, so you know what you’re wearing has been tried and tested until the team is 100%  satisfied with the end product.

I’ll be honest: I know and respect Royce as a brand, but their product was never something I had an interest in myself outside of fitting. I only knew the styles Bravissimo stocked; Ava, Charlotte and the Impact Free sports bra, and going wire free was not something I felt the need to try. Wires don’t annoy or bother me at all and I never really thought much of the shape non-wired bras give. Many women however choose to wear soft cup bras their whole lives, and the majority that I fitted for Ava and Charlotte were always happy with the styles. Royce sent me the Charlotte soft cup bra in black in a 30HH – I went for this size because I remember it being a little tighter or smaller fitting than most of the wired bras I would fit with daily. I’m glad I chose this size as it is perfect.

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Charlotte is available in sizes 28DD-J, 30-32DD-K, 34-36 DD-L and 38-40DD-K. It is also one of Royce’s best-selling styles, and after trialling it I can definitely see why. The styling is mostly plain, but the upper section of the cup is a delicate, polka-dotted mesh which adds a sophisticated prettiness to the overall look. The band closes with the normal hook and eye clasps, which is what I think I miss the most when I wear fashion bralets. Even having had one made to my measurements, I really miss that secure feeling of clasps and the option to go tighter if I’m not feeling supported enough. The band feels perfect on Charlotte. In fact, this bra is really, really, ridiculously comfortable. It’s comfortable in a different way to my wired bras. I won’t compare them too much because like I said I don’t find wires uncomfortable. It’s a completely different kind of comfort, but I still feel just as supported and controlled as I do in a wired bra.

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The main area that underwired bras and wire free bras differ in is the shape they each give. Now, I’ve gone on and on about how much I love the shape my Cleos give me and how nothing compares, and that still stands. But I really was surprised by how much I didn’t hate the shape Charlotte gave me. It’s definitely not what I’m used to. I’m not as lifted nor pulled in at the sides, and normally anything that does the opposite makes me shudder, but I honestly don’t mind how I look in Charlotte. The shape is slightly lower and more east to west than I would usually want from a bra, but I also don’t feel self conscious or uncomfortable with my shape in this bra. One thing that really struck me about Charlotte was how much smaller it made me look. Sure, I’ve embraced my size and am generally happy with my boobs, but sometimes we all want to hide or shrink a little, and this bra makes my boobs less obvious. It’s just nice to have the option!

Sometimes you love the look of a bra on its own but then put a top on over it and hate the look it gives. I was worried this would be one of those times, but the shape is quite cute under a tight fitting top. It’s somewhat similar to the shape you might get from a bullet bra, and now I wish I’d had this bra when I wrote my vintage lingerie post! But hey, big boobed vintage lovers – this bra is for you!

Another reason to love Royce is that, on top of their bras that are specifically for women who have had a mastectomy, there is also the option to have pockets added to some of the other bras. So if you don’t like any of the mastectomy bras or they don’t come in your size, you can always check if any of the bras in their pocketable list are suitable for you!

I know this style of bra may not be for everyone, and I thought I’d be one of those people but after trying and wearing Charlotte, I can honestly say that I’m glad it’s now in my lingerie drawer. Perhaps I need to be more open to all the options available to me, and maybe having one or two wire free bras in our collection is a smart investment!

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Review: Cantaloupe bikini by Meloncup Swimwear

Meloncup is the brainchild of Natalie McGann, a London College of Fashion graduate who wanted to create sleek and supportive cupsized swimwear for women in the DD+ size bracket. I’ve said before how I’m always excited to see new full bust lines being launched, but I was also encouraged to see that Natalie went through the Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme. I’ve also just done the course as I’m working to start my own business, and if any readers in the UK aged 18-30 are thinking of going self-employed, I would definitely recommend signing up for one of these courses. It’s so inspiring and motivating to see young women becoming their own bosses (cough cough, Nicole of MyMilla).

Natalie sent me the Cantaloupe bikini and high waisted pants in candy floss pink, which I was secretly hoping for after seeing a little sneak peek on Instagram. Y’all know I love a good pair of high waisted knickers. Because Meloncup only just launched, there had only been little glimpses of the line posted before the website went live, so it was exciting not knowing exactly what it would look like. I was really excited then to open it up and see the strappy details on the front and back of the bikini top. 


Strappy, harnessy, bondagey style deetz are the trendiest trend right now, but usually aren’t overly accessible in the full bust world. While smaller busts can generally get away with bras without the traditional hook and eye clasps and loadsa fun straps all over the show, bigger boobs just have to make do with bras with one extra strap. Or layer a body harness over a bra (which does look super cool). So I was pretty excited to see that this bikini didn’t have a normal clasped band, but rather a tie back with four strands from each side creating a striking cage look at the side where the wings of a band would be. I was excited, but also a wee bit concerned that this would not hold my 30H/HH (weight gain has me all over the place right now) boobers up properly. 

I tried putting the top on as I normally would and tying it up with my arms behind my back, but I just couldn’t get it tight enough to hold me up. I had to tie it at the front then twist it round and pull the straps up, which I hate doing cuz it will eventually mess the wires up and probably mean the top won’t last as long as it could. Or I could just make sure someone is around to help me and have them tie the back for me, in a pretty little bow! It works much better than I thought it would, but I think being such a Panache/Cleo fan means I find most other brands are never firm enough for me, which is just a matter of personal preference. It IS supportive enough to walk around in, which is all I would ever do in a bikini. I think I also have to accept the fact that, while cup sized swimwear is wonderful, it never feels quite like a firm bra, nor does it give me the narrow, upfront look I crave. Again, it’s personal preference. This is the shape from the front:


I mean, it looks really nice. There’s nothing bad about it. It’s a little lower and more east-west than I would like, but like I said that’s a thing I find with all bikinis I’ve tried and to be honest, I don’t think people are looking at me on the beach thinking “Jeez, I bet she’d get a better shape from a Cleo bra”. So it ain’t no thang. I’m still a very big fan of this bikini and the strappy back. 

Because the band is more adjustable than one that is for a particular measurement, it means the cups aren’t exactly right on me. There’s a little bit of bunching at the bottom of the cup, which is probably more to do with my boobs being too big, and sometimes the material around the wires flips up if I don’t tie it tight enough. Again, I can’t see it being a massive issue and it doesn’t affect the comfort or supportiveness of it. I should mention that the material is ridiculously soft and feels so good to wear. 

You can see that my boobs are sitting lower than a bra and my bigger boob is popping out a little. I did have the band tied super tight and the straps up quite high though as I like to feel really strapped in.

The level of adjustiveness (if that’s even a word) in these tops means the size guide is different, as one Meloncup size could cover more than one bra size. My bikini top is size “ravishing” and the pants are “beautiful”, which is funny because I am often told how ravishingly beautiful I am. So that worked out well. 

Overall, I am really impressed with the fit and quality of this bikini. It may not be for everyone as the tie back does mean a little less support, but it’s definitely worth a try as I was pleasantly surprised. It’s also nice to see swimwear options in plain colours, as I often find the go-to is either polka dots which bore me after a while, or OTT garish prints. Again, the feel of the material is so smooth, you’ll just wanna rub your boobs the whole time. I’m really excited to see this brand grow and develop, and I really hope you all give it a try!

What I learned shopping for custom made bralettes

Bralettes or bralets, whichever way you wanna spell it – and all the spellchecks on all my devices tell me every  version is incorrect – are huge right now. They’re cute, dainty, fun to layer with or wear on their own. Yeah, I don’t need to list for you all the selling points. You’ll also already know that they generally aren’t easily available or hugely suitable for a fuller bust. Anyone with big boobs knows that things sized S/M/L or by dress size don’t work for us. And the people who make these things usually don’t have a clue about how to make things for our boobs. However, there are some majestic lingerie wizards out there who will make things by hand according to your specific measurements, and I’m going to talk about two designers I bought custom made underwear from, and what I learned along the way.

BETTIE FATAL
Owner and designer Avery Barsony started Bettie Fatal in 2012, and actively practices body positivity by shooting her lines on a diverse range of models. I always feel better buying from brands who are clearly body positive, as it generally means they will give a shit about me as a customer. I’d been following Bettie Fatal for a while on Instagram but the thought to buy a non-wired bralette never really crossed my mind til I saw this post with the caption saying something about working for fuller busts:

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Pink Triangle Bra and High Waisted Pants from the Veisso collection – Bettie Fatal

Usually I don’t really give non-wired styles a second glance because I think my brain is just programmed to go “nah, not for me” and quickly move on. But I really liked the chilled out feeling from the Veisso line, and the vaguely sporty look which is not something I’d normally go for. I’m also instantly attracted to high waisted pants, and these just looked so comfy. I got in touch with Avery, who was very happy to do a custom order for me.

I gave her my underbust and overbust measurements (30″/38″) and sorta thought that would be all you’d need to know to create a well-fitting, soft cup bra for my boobs. It was…pretty close. Lemme be clear, I have nothing negative to say about Avery’s skills as a lingerie designer/maker. The quality of the product is perfect. The material is super soft, breathable and really pleasant to wear. But I’d never ordered anything like this before, and I know now that I should’ve slightly tweaked my measurements. A band 30 inches around stretches to more than that, and a non-wired bralette stretches much more than an underwired bra. I’m so used to firmer bands, and I kind of need that firmness to hold my boobs up properly. So while the Veisso bra is really comfortable and actually makes my boobs look GREAT, I can’t move around an awful lot in it without having to constantly readjust myself. The triangle shape is not the most practical for me, as there just isn’t enough material for MY personal preferences.


I’m not put off by this though. It’s nice to lounge or sleep in, and I still wear the pants separately with other bras. And I would definitely order a Bettie Fatal set again, just doing things a little differently. I would ask for a smaller back measurement so I get a little more hold. I’d also ask for more material covering the boobs, as this is something I learnt from ordering my dino bone print set from Bad Bunny Shop.

BAD BUNNY SHOP

If you know me or follow my Instagram, you most likely know I love dinosaurs. I dunno what it is about them, but they’ve made me happy since I can remember. THE FACT THAT THEY EVEN EXISTED JUST BLOWS MY MIND. Like, THEY WALKED THIS EARTH AND THEY WERE REALLY BIG. Ugh, I wish Jurassic Park was real. I will spend stupid amounts of money on things that are dinosaur related in any way. I JUST GOTTA HAVE ALL THE DINOSAUR THINGS. I’ve talked a few times about how I really wanted dinosaur print underwear, and one of the lovely babes in the Instagram lingerie community (@princeofkatslingerie xoxo) showed me the way. I messaged the owner asking if they did custom orders, and she said YES! So I sent Jenn, owner and designer behind Bad Bunny Shop.

Jenn was so patient and lovely to work with. When she first shipped my order, she sent me a message to say she was worried the bra wouldn’t be high enough at the front, and to just send it back to her if it needed any adjustments. I tried it on when it arrived, and she was right. I also noticed again that the band was super stretchy, so I asked if she could take that in a little bit. She was more than happy to rework the bra for me, and the second time around it was completely perfect. AND NOW I HAVE DINOSAUR UNDERWEAR!!!!


SO, what I learned was to give a smaller underbust measurement to get something supportive enough. Next time I order something like this, I’ll probably ask for a 28″ band. I’ll also ask for way more material at the front. If you can sort of measure the vertical height of you boobs in a bra, this will give you an idea of what you need. Then add 3 inches because in a bralette it still won’t be enough. Adjustable straps are still kind of a necessity, because if you aren’t able to tighten them they’ll just do nothing for you and stretch out really quickly. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Most indie designers do really want to work with you and give you exactly what you want. I’m sure I’ll continue to learn more as I delve more into the world of non-wired bralettes. And if you have any tips from your own adventures, feel free to share!

Review: Classic Polka Dot Shirt by Exclusively Kristen

It’s always exciting to me to see more and more companies springing up which cater to fuller busted women – especially when they aren’t solely related to bras or lingerie. Exclusively Kristen is just one of those companies. Founded by  natural entrepreneur Kristen Allen, the company was born out of Kristen’s own frustrations and recognition of the fact that women in the D+ bracket are largely overlooked in the fashion industry. Her clothing is designed to fit busts up to a H cup.

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Image from Exclusively Kristen

If you have bigger boobs, I’m sure you’ll be well aware of the fact that tops, dresses, blouses – basically anything you wear on top very rarely fits the way you’d like it to. Designs and patterns become distorted as they stretch across your bust. Normal length t-shirts become crop tops. Button up shirts gape and look indecent, and safety pins become your best friend. Very often, women with a fuller bust have to buy tops several sizes too big for their body just to fit over their busts, which leaves them with saggy shoulders and shapeless waists. We all know clothes are designed with one particular body shape in mind, and boobs above a D cup are not usually part of the equation. This is unlikely to change anytime soon in the clothing of high street stores, but thankfully, people like Kristen are here to create something new for us.

The clothing from Exclusively Kristen has a slightly professional look, and is intended to be suitable for work wear. This is again another area where women struggle to find appropriate attire. I tend to be a very casual (aka lazy) dresser, and don’t have an office job so was worried I wouldn’t get the wear out of the Classic Polka Dot shirt Kristen very generously sent me, but the cute patter and trendy, contrasting cuffs and collar make it extremely wearable. It would look just as good with black skinny jeans and flats as it would with a smart pencil skirt and heels.

It’s actually surprisingly difficult to take a shirt-selfie. Every one I took looks so wonky, but hopefully you get the idea!

Onto what matters: the fit and quality. While clothing designed with the fuller bust in mind is not the norm, it was not new to me. Many of you may know I worked in Bravissimo, which also has a clothing line (Pepperberry) with a unique sizing system designed to fit and flatter women’s bodies. I had come across Exclusively Kristen a while before I was contacted, and assumed the fit would be similar to Pepperberry. However, Kristen actually asked for my specific measurements and determined which dress size I should go for from that. On the Pepperberry website, there is a calculator which uses your measurements to tell you your ideal Pepperberry size, but I always ended up needing a different size from this, so was worried I would get it wrong here too. Aside from gaining a little extra weight between telling Kristen my measurements and the shirt arriving – the fit is perfect! (For reference, my measurements are (usually!) 38-28-38, and the size 8 shirt fits me beautifully.) The material easily covers my bust, without any weird sagging or extra pockets of material, but also really neatly nips in at my waist. I personally like my clothes to be quite fitted, so when something properly shows off my waist it makes me really happy! There is no gaping at the buttons (after I shifted the weight!) and thankfully the cuffs don’t cut in on my arms. This is something I sometimes struggle with in short sleeved shirts – quite often the cuffs can be too tight and it makes it really uncomfortable when you have to move your arms around.

I really love how it looks on my waist. (Yes I did say it irons easily – but i have a habit of putting crisply ironed closes on then sitting in a heap for several hours so they crinkle again – soz!)

The quality is also really important to note. I couldn’t find anything to fault with this shirt. The material is soft against the skin, and although it is white, it isn’t horrible see through. It’s also 100% cotton which makes it easy to wear in the warm weather (and if you follow me on Instagram I’m sure you’ve read my woes about sweating too much!). It also irons super easily, which is another thing I like, mostly because I’m lazy and hate ironing. Kristen recently informed me that she has changed the placement of the buttons on her shirts, putting a button at the fullest part of the bust to further eliminate any gaping. This surprised me because – aside from the gaping when I was heavier – I couldn’t see that the shirt needed any improvement! But it does make me happy, as it’s so encouraging to see someone who really cares about their product and is constantly working on improving and growing – even if nobody else thinks it needs to improve. Kristen is clearly a perfectionist, and it shows!


All Kristen’s tops are available on the website. Shipping is free in the US and paid shipping is available to several other countries. Stock is also available in The Rack Shack in Brooklyn NY, The Heavy Hanger by Melons: The Complete Bra Shop in Wichita, KS and Broad Lingerie in Toronto, Canada. Be on the look out for pop up shops as well – you can stay up to date by following Exclusively Kristen on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I would highly recommend you give Exclusively Kristen a go – I’m certain it would change your wardrobe for the better!