Review: Orchard Corset CS-201

It was raining all night, making today one of those grey days where the air is a bit chilly and sets the mood for  creature comforts like big sweaters, tea, and a pot of apple barley pudding on the stove. And, less predictably, the comfy feeling of being laced into my corset while I send out resumes. Even when lounging, I have a penchant for glamour!

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I’ve owned Orchard Corset’s CS-201 in satin for around 2 months and have been modestly attempting to waist train in it. I didn’t want to spend a lot on my first corset, and they seemed like a perfect starter point for delving into the world of corsetry and waist training. An important note is that a real and authentic corset is made with steel bones, unlike many fashion corsets which are made with plastic bones and not at all meant to cinch you or change your natural shape in any drastic sense.

I bought it in a size 22, (my waist was at about 30 inches to start, but I was losing weight so opted for one that would fit my ‘usual’ waist size of 28 as corsets should be bought 4-6 inches smaller than your natural was it size). While I haven’t been the most consistent, I started lacing in at about a 28 inches, and am now at about 26 inches. I can’t say I notice much of a difference uncorsetted, but that will come with time.

I’ve started wearing corsets because I like the way they make me feel, I like the comfort of the compression. On days my anxiety is running high, it’s comforting and gives me a feeling of stability. I am curious about being able to change my body shape to make my hourglass shape even more drastic, and I enjoy the dramatic effect when I wear it under my clothes.

As I have worn the CS-201 I have definitely come to the conclusion that it is not the right shape for me, and is definitely not curvy enough, as I have a 12 inch difference between my hips and waist. As I progress with lacing tighter, the shape is not accommodating my shape and I can see myself moving onto a piece from Restyle or Mystic City instead. Overall though, it is a decent piece and I am happy with it as a starter corset. As a budget brand, don’t expect perfect workmanship or the best materials. The CS-201 is mostly well constructed, my only complaint being that the bottom of the corset where the busk meets creates an awkward area where the piping doesn’t meet up, and often shows under clothing while I am ‘stealthing’ my corset under clothing. It is also not the most comfortable spot, and can sometimes get pinch on my extended wears of 6+ hours. I’ll say again, Orchard Corset is a good place to start for trying out corsets if you’re on a budget but don’t expect perfection.

Here are some snaps of me wearing the corset for your reference as well:

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DSC_2885And, because I know someone will likely ask: yes, it is completely comfortable, I can breathe, and I am not damaging myself by wearing it. Wearing a corset, for me, is like a nice, solid hug around my waist. It feels good to lace in to and helps me keep my posture in better form. The adventures into the corseting world have been interesting, as the garment is fraught with both misinformation and mystery. Many of the great pin up icons waist trained, and that was how they got those incredible figures we often lust over. It’s an important piece of information that is often missing, I think. It is important to know the work that went into shaping the iconic hourglass dames of the past. Femininity is so often a grand construction, with many things making up its forms. It’s a work of art, that much work goes into a lot of the time. Acknowledging that work is important, and knowing that the images of polished women we see are like art, works of time and effort is integral knowledge to undo unreasonable expectations of ourselves and our bodies. We so often see the ‘finished product’ and don’t think about the time and effort that went into the beauty we are looking at.

If you are curious about waist training and corsetry may I recommend Lucy’s Corsetry page for your FAQ: http://lucycorsetry.com She has a plethora of knowledge and videos available for your perusal!

Best,

x. Effie

Review: a few of my favourite things

A few of my favourite things have nothing to do with raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens, but everything to do with the silky feel of Cervin and non-stretch nylon and how fine I feel in black satin.

Today I thought I would talk about two of my staple wardrobe favourites and why I love them. I introduce to you What Katie Did’s Glamour Corsolette and Cervin’s Liberation 45 Denier Fully Fashioned Stockings.

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What Katie Did Glamour Corsolette & Cervin Liberation 45 Stockings

Pt. I – Shapewear 

I own the Glamour Corsolette in a 34D in both black and peach. This is one of my favourite shape wear pieces, hands down. While it will not offer you a seamless option because of how the panels are sewn, the satin panels are incomparable for their slimming effects. My stomach ends up completely flat in it, and it does a good job of nipping me in at the waist a bit as well. It does this all while looking simply saucy and making me feel like a bombshell. As an anti-Spanxer, I am a huge fan of that! It is comfortable enough for me to wear all day, and I have admittedly fallen asleep in it a few times after some late nights!

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It is also great as an option for low back dresses that don’t need a strapless option, as it scoops nicely at the back.

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Do the scoop!

As I sit at a solid 32F right now, I can’t tell you how this sizing makes sense at all except for the fact that if I sized up to my proper size, the wires underneath the arms would cause me a lot of pain, so I compromise on the fit of the cup with the 34D. It manages to work because of the shape of my breasts, as well as the fact that the cup is pushed away and thus the wires at the gore don’t tack.

As my size has fluctuated from a 32DD to a 32F in the past couple of years my wallet hasn’t been able to keep up with replacing these pieces every time my size changes. While it is definitely small by my bra fitter’s standards, I generally save this piece for lower cut items where the bit of boost I get from the smaller cups is favourable. However, I recommend trying your regular size in the corsolette first before experimenting otherwise.

The solid recommendations I can make in terms of fit are that if you have large hips, you will need the ‘band’ size up from your usual size to accommodate your lower half. So if you wear a 34C, I would recommend the 36B (For an explanation on bra size grading check here.) Personally, my waist is 27, and my hips are 41 inches so instead of the 32 band size, I have the 34. The garment is very snug, and takes a practiced wiggle to get into. If you are at all in doubt about what size to get, I would say always try the size up. The ladies at What Katie Did are also extremely helpful on the online chat to help you figure out what size might work best for you should you have any doubts. The returns process is also effortless, so you need not be afraid of ordering and trying different sizes as you go if you don’t mind the postage.

Pt. II – Stockings 

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Worn with this gem, are Cervin’s Liberation 45 fully fashioned stockings. I cannot sing the praises of these enough. They are the strongest, longest wearing stockings I have ever owned, including some ‘run resist’ styles from Charnos. While they cost a pretty penny, I have had a pair last me a whole fall/winter/spring season, and then another half! before ever getting a run in them. For that I will gladly shell out the $40 or so a pair they cost. At 45 denier they are still sheer but offer much needed warmth in colder months. I mean, if I can survive most of a Canadian winter in them, they’re doing something right!

The sizing on the Liberation’s is much more consistent and reasonable than I have found with a lot of their other lines. I take a size 3 in them and have no issue with them cutting into my 27 inch circumference thighs (another thing I love about them!)  While they do come a little shorter than some of my other stockings they still sit at a flattering length and considering the seasons I wear them in, they don’t conflict with my hemlines at all.

They also feature a absolutely gorgeous keyhole in the back, a detail I go absolutely gaga for!

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How delicious is that?

I honestly cannot recommend them enough. If you love fully fashioned stockings, but are hard pressed to splurge due to their delicacy, be liberated! Buy the Cervin 45’s and never look back. They come in black, chocolate, and beige, and recently have come out in a contrast colour way in black/beige and black/red as well though they are harder to come by and I can’t excuse the cost of getting them direct from Cervin at the moment. But as a final thought… regard!

x. Effie

Review: Freya Active Crop Top Sports Bra

#4004 in action with my 25lb kettle bell in hand.

#4004 in action with my 25lb kettle bell in hand.

I feel like a sports bra review is perfect to kick-start my blog back into action. I have tried several sports bras throughout the years and I finally settled on a style I loved and was okay with investing in several of. A higher frequency of working out meant I wanted to be able to wash my bra at least every 2 wears as I have been doing high intensity work outs with kettle bells.

I ordered the Freya Active Crop Top (style #4004) last year and haven’t looked back since. I own this bra in a 32E in both the black and pink colour ways. In terms of sizing, I am currently a 32F/FF depending on the brand. I bought this before my size fluctuated upwards, and it still fits me because my breasts are more shallow. However, I would recommend buying this in your usual size in general. The band is a little snug, however, so if you are between sizes I would recommend trying the larger band size first.

This has a floating underwire, which is well padded. This means I don’t feel it at all when I am working out and find it very comfortable, as well as supportive. Another supporting factor of this bra is its lined cups, that help offer more support without compression. I find I prefer the feeling of these cups to a compression style. Now, this is personal preference but if you’ve never been crazy about more traditional sports bras I definitely say give this baby a try!

Another great design feature is the slightly longer line the “crop top” design offers. It means a greater feeling of support, and since it is a wider band, more distribution of the supporting work being done by the bra band. And if that still isn’t enough support for you, the L hook on the straps gives you the option of making the bra a racerback for an extra strapped in feeling!

The L hook in action!

I prefer this style to Panache’s comparable model. On Panache’s similar style I find the straps to be much too narrow for my frame and overall found it uncomfortable even when trying it on.

The #4004 crop top bra has served me incredibly well for my kettle bell workouts which involve jump squats, swings, snatches and all sorts of boob jiggling moves that put it to the test. As someone who isn’t a big fan of sports bras, Freya delivers on this one.

If you’re feeling down. Lift.


x. Effie

The Prodigal

I am returning to the blogging world after a long and unintended hiatus. It has been a long and hard year with more tough challenges laying ahead of me. While I will not talk about most of those experiences here, I will tell you that I had a significant relapse into disordered eating and distorted body image that took over my life for several months. It has been a tough road to get myself back into a healthier place but I have gotten there through therapy, support from my friends as well as finding a workout regimen that gets me to focus on how much I can lift instead of how much I weigh. I will undoubtedly be posting some items related to this experience that will go more in depth and make suggestions about how you can also find ways to love your body. For now, I am going back to one of my key sources of self-love, which is dressing my body in beautiful lingerie.

As we are on the eve of Spring, look forward to some hosiery reviews, as well as my favourite ways to keep those stockings in place.

x. Effie

Update: Lush’s Lovely Jubblies

I had bought Lush’s Lovely Jubblies cream awhile back, and after shorter term use was unsure of it’s effects of tightening or firming anything as it claimed. After going through a pot and getting started on my second I can attest to this cream’s firming power. My jubbly bits feel a little less so. The skin feels smoother and noticeably tighter.

I’ve been applying it to my neck, chest, hips and bum after showers – which I find is the best time to apply it since you get the most bang for your buck as your skin is most open to lotion loveliness post-shower. For my other thoughts on this product see my past review here.

Spoil your skin!

x. Effie

Notes on Visualization: It’s “About Time” we rethought boy meets girl

Richard Curtis’s newest film About Time (2013) looks like a textbook romantic comedy. Boy meets girl. Boy chases girl- but let us remember the old adage to not judge a book by its cover. A closer observation of the film’s imagery, narrative and filmic techniques reveal a quiet revolution of representation. Small shifts in the film signify a radical adjustment to the mythic dream of big box office imagery that enraptures our culture’s psyche and drives their consumer dollar by causing their dissatisfaction of not living like people in the movies. The film offers a radical adjustment to Hollywood glamour and the socially constructed notions, narratives, and assumptions it ‘naturalizes’ (Barthes, 116) in the audience. It also presents a positive and unexpected step for Curtis as a director in terms of camera work. On its surface the film seems to be a familiar and well-known story but within it important changes are made. It coerces the audience into its new filmic dream by “appeal[ing] to the audience’s sense of the familiar and natural. [It doesn’t] stop [movie-goers] in their tracks and produce a ‘what in the world is that?’ response.” (Karp, 375)

The first challenge to Hollywood grandeur that About Time presents is how it approaches the representation of its characters and their lives. Besides a pleasant beach-side house that the protagonist’s (Tim) family lives in everything shown is quite mundane and ordinary. The houses inhabited could be your next-door neighbor’s; the clothing and hairstyles of the characters could be spotted at the supermarket. The cast is also real in this sense. They are not highly groomed, super beautiful people. The lead female love interest Mary sports an awkward looking fringe at her first meeting with Tim. The visualization of everyday life and people adjusts socially constructed expectations of grandeur so often represented in Hollywood films. Constant exposure to larger than life lifestyles usually depicted in Hollywood cause the audience to normalize those lifestyles as ‘natural’ (Barthes, 116) and desirable. Especially because the characters in romance films (typically) end up happy and in love, denoting a fulfilled life. The lavish dress and perfect bodies become part of the ideological ‘myth’ as ‘signifiers’ (166) of happiness/success/fulfillment that the audience ingests and seeks to reproduce in their own lives. Thus, as the images of the everyday are naturalized in About Time into the film’s world, those images also become normalized in the psyche of the audience. The drive to spur consumers into wanting a rich and lavish lifestyle is minimized, as well as reducing dissatisfaction with not looking like people in the movies. About Time presents a new myth through its visualization of what the ‘every day’ is. It offers less need to go out and consume products to fill the hole created by the myth of the Hollywood dream.

Feels like you could look over in a cafe and see these folks, right?

Another important aspect of the film’s subversive representation is its filmic approach to the meeting narrative of the lovers Tim and Mary. The scene where Tim sees Mary for the first time is not a narrative-stopping gawk at Mary’s body so characteristic of Hollywood cinema, and even Richard Curtis’ earlier film Love Actually (2003). The camera does not pan her body presenting its ‘to-be-looked-at-ness’ (Mulvey, 715) as it had in the couplings of Love Actually. That instant of attraction is three-quarter shot of Mary. It does linger a moment but in a way that communicates the attraction Tim has for Mary. He is beholding her for the first time after their meeting in a restaurant where they ate in the dark. The choice may seem cliché, but it offers a narrative solution to the objectification of women in film. The representation of physical attraction to a person cannot be completely denied in the filmic shots meant to represent the romantic protagonist’s point of view. The shot choice of Tim and Mary’s first visual meeting is more realistic and does not objectify the woman by breaking her body into pieces for observation and participation in ‘scopophilia’ (721) as in other Hollywood films.

Cue Megan Draper 30 seconds into this clip to see what I mean by that “narrative-stopping gawk” so characteristic of scopophilia:

           The scene where Mary bargains with Tim to make plans for their wedding by taking off pieces of her clothing is also shot in a manner that makes the camera passive in its viewing of her body. It stays fairly stationary during the scene and the narrative speed is not slowed down by the exposure of her body. Her underwear is unmatched, and looks a little worn in. It is not a sexy lace ensemble that denotes a sexualization of her body in the way it is dressed. This recalls the previous point about a more realistic visualization of bodies and wardrobe.

Narratively, About Time also offers another solution to the oft creepy pursuit of the male romantic lead. It rectifies it with the fantastical nature of Tim’s time travelling ability. His grand gesture of pursuing Mary (after he loses her number because he went back in time to help his disgruntled playwright uncle) is firmly planted in the world of the non-real. It could not actually happen. Importantly, he has also already met Mary and knows there is chemistry between them. He does not pursue her purely for her beauty, or go through far-fetched persistence that would be liable to come off as stalkerish and obsessive if it occurred in reality (i.e. Love Actually when the Prime Minister rings every doorbell on a street looking for Natalie). Another notable narrative difference in this film is that is does not just tell the story of how Tim and Mary get together. It takes them through engagement, marriage, and two children.

About Time is intrinsically realistic in its form in how it subverts the traditional representation patterns in Hollywood and Curtis’ previous work. Despite its fantastic addition of time travel to the story it realistically deals with the quirky, idiosyncratic nature of life and loss through the love story of two very normal looking people. It is a quiet revolution to the Hollywood narrative that I hope will be used as a blue print for more films of this type (also featuring female protagonists in other narratives) that create a different sort of big box office dream for audiences. A dream that will sneak into their consciousness and hopefully shift their imaginations to a more realistic and attainable set of values for their lifestyles and love lives.

x. Effie

Barthes, Roland. Mythologies. New York: Hill and Wang, 1972. p. 116 

Karp, Ivan. “Cultures in Museum Perspective.” Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display. etd. By Ivan Karp and Stephen Levine. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991. p. 376

Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings. 7th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. p. 715-721

Fall in Love with Fraulein Annie

I have been anxiously awaiting to hear about Fraulein Annie’s new collections so I can add to my own. I have had her Falling in Love bra in cinnamon for quite awhile now and wish I could add a new colour way or style to my lingerie drawer. However, as I patiently wait I will sing her praises.

A really important note here, my bra at the time of being photographed had had an unfortunate run-in with a ‘warm’ water cycle and the cups became a little wrinkly from what I assume was thread shrinkage or something of the like. They were much smoother previous to this laundromat mishap. However, the bra still survived and is still one of my favourites, although I have to wear her under slightly thicker things than I used to.

DSC_1453I own the Falling in Love in a 30F, the cups are definitely generous and the stretch lace on the top half of the cups makes this bra especially suited for very full shapes and anyone with asymmetry. The backband is stung, fitting more like Panache, Ewa Michalak and Cleo ranges. The shape, as illustrated above, is nice and round. Before her laundromat mishap, Falling in Love, was also usable as a t-shirt bra, as the seams and lace laid very smooth under my clothing. She MAY not work under the tightest of t-shirts but it all depends on how picky you are about your seams, which I am not.

The straps are really my only complaint about this bra, as they are only partially adjustable and I find I could tighten them more than is possible to suit my frame.

I especially love the stretch lace on the top of the cups, for reasons mentioned before and also because it’s just incredibly comfortable and hugs to my shape very nicely. The other fabrics are especially luxurious and for the price point – it’s a steal. I love the look and feel of it, and it’s just the right amount of simplicity mixed with the elegance of the lace details.

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The Cinnamon colour way is romantic and dreamy, and I dearly wish I could replace the bra so the wrinkling in the cups was no longer an issue to my OCD mind. It just goes to show that you shouldn’t ever wash your bras in hot water – they aren’t made to stand up to it.

I await the day I can replace this bra with something similar! In the meantime, if you can find her, I highly recommend giving Fraulein Annie a shot yourself.

x. Effie