Friday, 28 February 2014

Lingerie Review: Lidia Harness From Karolina Laskowska

When I was a little girl I was taught to believe that visible straps were bad; bra straps showing from under a sleeveless top in Summer were a faux pas, and it was better to wear a vest top with nothing underneath than to risk bra straps being seen.

Obviously as I got older I began to ignore this. I wanted to wear tank tops and no longer felt comfortable going braless; a hint of bra peeking from underneath didn't seem like such a big deal anymore. As it got to the point that all my friends and I were of bra-wearing age, it felt a little silly to be embarrassed of something that was just a fact of life.

This has evolved and I now in fact love unnecessary straps and strappy detailing both in lingerie and outerwear. Harnesses are of course the ultimate in strappy accessories; they provide no practical purpose other than to look pretty. They can be worn both with lingerie or over tops and dresses as statement outerwear. I've been a fan of Karolina Laskowska's designs for some time now, especially her Classics Collection, which features several harnesses and other strappy pieces.

The Lidia Harness Via Karolina Laskowska

When the Kordelia and Lidia harnesses became available at a reduced price for a limited time I couldn't resist any longer. It took a lot of deliberating before I could decide which design to purchase, but in the end the cross-over detailing of the Lidia won me over. As the harnesses were on backorder there was a long wait between placing the order and receiving it in the post; but the anticipation made it all the more exciting when it finally arrived (albeit right before I had to leave for work so I didn't have time to open it!)

Worn with a set by Marios Schwab that I reviewed here

When I got a chance to actually try it on it was just as beautiful as I'd expected. The elastic strapping has a smooth satin finish, which combined with the gold toned rings and sliders give the piece a really luxurious feel. The halterneck and the lowest of the straps around the ribcage are both adjustable, which allows it to be worn either directly under the bust, or lower down to accentuate the waist; whilst still being comfortable. After shooting the pictures for this post I threw a dress on over the top and left the harness on for several hours and was able to forget I was even wearing it.

I had great fun shooting the images for this post, and can't wait to have an occasion to wear this harness over a dress as outerwear. Karolina is definitely one to watch and I'm really looking forward to seeing what her final university collection will look like. Hopefully I'll be lucky enough to own some more of her pieces soon.

To stay up to date with new posts you can follow me on Twitter @CorinneAvellana.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Lingerie Review: Lever Du Soleil Set By eLai London

eLai London is a relatively new brand that was launched in 2012 by designer Eva Lai, and specialises in luxury lingerie and nightwear. All of the products are made to order by Eva herself which makes them feel really special.

Last year I bought the Lever Du Soleil bra and brief, which are from the Quotidien diffusion line; her more budget friendly range of lingerie. The Lever Du Soleil collection features sheer tan-coloured mesh and contrasting black elastic. Although the mesh doesn't blend with my pasty-white skin tone, I imagine it would be a perfect nude for those with tanned or Latin colouring.

Images via eLai London

There was actually a glitch with the website when I placed my order which meant the size menu for the brief wasn't working, but Eva emailed me almost immediately after to confirm which size I needed and apologise for the problem. I ordered the both the bra and the brief in a small, though upon trying on the bra, despite the band fitting perfectly, the cups were much too small for me, so I returned it in exchange for a medium, which arrived very quickly. She even offered me some personal sizing advice over email to help make sure that the medium would work for me. I think this buying experience could have possibly been the best customer service I've ever experienced from any brand; big or small.

The brief is a snug fit on my 8-10 frame, though it doesn't feel like it would fit a slightly larger 10 and I'd recommend going up a size if in doubt. I'd say that the waistband is a perfect fit on my hips, however the leg elastic is a little tight and I've found that after a little while it can start to dig in and be uncomfortable around the inner thighs. It also digs in a little around the bum, which isn't particularly a comfort issue, but does mean that there is a visible ridge when worn under tight clothing. If I were to purchase again I think I'd choose to size up on the bottom to avoid these issues.

The bra however is comfortable enough to be worn all day, and although it isn't as supportive as some might like; I haven't found this to be an issue and can happily wear it while I'm working with no issues. I'm happy to say that this piece is one that's made it into my regular everyday lingerie cycle. I've been wearing this frequently for several months now, and despite my sins of putting it in the washing machine (in a laundry bag), it still looks good as new. Altogether this has been a very happy purchase, and I hope to see more exciting pieces from this brand in the coming seasons. Below are a few of my favourites from the full eLai London range.

Images via eLai London

To keep up with my future blog posts you can follow me on Twitter @CorinneAvellana. You can also view my lingerie sale here.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Lingerie Review: Kallisti By Marios Schwab

This is a set I bought a few months ago at ASOS from the Kallisti collection by Marios Schwab. This is the first lingerie collection from this London based designer, and largely features sheer mesh and lace, which are two things I love. The designs are bold and modern, with elegant lines and not too much fuss or frippery.

 Images via ASOS

The bra comes in sizes S/M/L, I ordered a small and it fitted perfectly, which surprised me as I usually find that bras labelled "small" are too tight in the cup; causing overspill and "quadboob". However this design must allow for some generosity as it was fine. I also opted for a small with the knickers and they were spot on, feeling true to size at around a UK 8-10.

The semi-sheer lace of the bra cups and the knickers is absolutely beautiful, and really soft against the skin. The lower portion of the cups is overlayed with black mesh, which is a nice aesthetic detail, but too low down to provide any extra coverage. The front of the brief features triangular satin detail for modesty, whilst the back is completely sheer. Both parts of the set are comfortable enough to be worn all day.

Briefs worn here with tri-strap suspenders from Malice, which I reviewed here

I love the strap detailing around the cups on the bra, it gives the look and feel of a harness without having to worry about adding an extra item. Although I don't generally follow the current fashions, harnesses are a trend that I'm not ashamed to admit I have totally bought into. I love the look they can add both to underwear and outerwear, and today I received the stunning Lidia harness by Karolina Laskowska in the post, which I shall photograph and review soon. I sometimes wear this bra under strappy vest tops that just allow the harness detail to peek through at the top.

I also have a confession to make. Both parts of this set are described as hand wash only, and I have sinned by putting them in the washing machine (albeit in a laundry bag). Most likely due to this fact, part of the trim around the waistband of the knickers has started to come away, though this could be easily fixed with a needle and thread (I just haven't gotten around to it yet). However I have had this set for several months now and worn it fairly regularly in that time, so I don't think that's too bad going. And it's my own damn fault anyway.

I don't have a great number of matching sets in my collection, as I usually find that I'm only really drawn to one half of the set, and don't have the disposable income to complete the set for the sake of it, when it's not something I'm particularly lusting after. But I'm equally happy with both parts of this one, they are both much loved and much worn, and as matching sets go this is a particularly lovely one. This bra also has a very rare feature that I really love; the sliders to adjust the straps are at the front rather than the back, which albeit unconventional I find really, really practical, and I own a few bras with this detail. Overall, a very successful purchase.


If you love lingerie as much as I do then you may be interested to know that I have a couple of unwanted pieces for sale on my eBay page, for way below the RRP. Occasionally I find myself with items that just aren't the right fit or not quite my style, so I'd like to find them new loving homes where they'll be appreciated and worn to death. You can find my eBay shop here, and there should be more to come soon!

If you want to keep up with new blog posts you can follow me on Twitter @CorinneAvellana.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Lingerie Review: Claudette Fishnet Scoop Neck Bra

Today I am reviewing my newest lingerie purchase; a Claudette bra. This bra marks a bit of a turnaround for me, as for the past couple of years I've largely favoured non-wired bras, and (excluding strapless bras) this is the first underwired bra I've bought in over a year.

Images via ASOS

I fell out with conventional bras due to issues with sizing. The last time I got measured (which was also when I last bought an underwired bra, or any bra in a brick and mortar shop for that matter) I was told that I was a 32B. Even based on limited knowledge of bra sizing I knew that that couldn't be right, but I tried on a few bras in that size to "humour" the fitting room assistant. I was right, and they were far too small. Eventually I found a bra in a 32C that I was fairly happy with, so settled with that. Since then virtually every bra I've bought has been a bralette or soft bra with sizing on a S/M/L scale.

This is also the most expensive bra I've ever bought. It retails for £57 at ASOS, or $88 at Faire Frou Frou. It's available in a wide range of sizes, ranging from a 30-38 band and A-G cup, and comes in neon pink and black too. There are also matching briefs available, in both tanga and high waist styles. Given my uncertainty when it came to sizing, and the ease of ASOS's free returns, I ordered a couple of different sizes to try, which actually gave much more satisfying results than any professional measuring I've experienced. I was confident that I would be most comfortable in a 32 band, however the cup size had always seemed a bit off in my previous purchases. First I tried a C cup, which was an obvious bad fit to even the most ignorant observer; there was a huge amount of over-spill at the tops of the cups, resulting in a very visible ridge. The D cup reduced the problem but still didn't give a smooth silhouette, and to my great surprise it was the DD that fitted like a glove.

I suppose my shock shone light onto the fact that I've always thought of myself as "small busted"; which had only been reinforced when the store assistant who had last measured me declared that I was a B cup, when I'd been thinking I was a C. Even though a 32DD is far from the same as a 36DD, any DD doesn't really fit into that category.

However it was the 32DD that I ended up keeping, and it's turned out to be both the best fitting and most comfortable bra I've ever owned; and may have converted me back to wired bras. The bright colour is also a new one for me as the majority of my collection is black, black and more black. This step out of my comfort zone has been a good one though; this has quickly become my favourite everyday bra, and part of the is down to the fun and cheerful colour. I also love the 90s feel of the fishnet mesh, which is sheer on the top part of the cup, but double layered on the lower three quarters for greater coverage. The scoop neck design and unpadded cups also mean that it gives a really natural silhouette that's great for under tee shirts and other tight fitting clothing.

My only gripe with this bra would have to be that a part of me would like it if the black velvet trims went all the way around the band, rather than stopping at the sides, but that really is a minor detail. Overall this purchase has proven to me that if you spend wisely, it really is worth spending that bit extra on a good quality bra; I'd thought my relationship with wires was beyond salvage until this one came along. Claudette have also found themselves a new fan, as there are already several other bras in their range that I have my eye on, in many other gorgeous bright and pastel shades. That must also mean that I am now a convert to colour, something that is still yet to happen with my outerwear wardrobe. I'm now just counting the days until I can afford to splurge on a couple more of their pieces to add to my everyday lingerie rotation.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

2014 Grammys

I've recently been witnessing a lot of hate directed towards Beyonce regarding her outfit at the 2014 Grammys. Yes, it was revealing. Yes, her dancing was provocative. Is this anything new? Nope. Since the 1920s there have been cabaret clubs full of cancan dancers flashing their knickers, and circus acrobats contorting themselves whilst wearing tight and revealing leotards. You could spend an evening at the ballet and there would be plenty of bodies just as bare.

Photos via circa 1930

As for the dancing, she is a performer. It's what's expected; to put on a show. It might seem racy but it's the kind of dancing that fits with the music she makes. It would simply look out of place if her and Jay Z were to salsa dance or break out into a hand jive. And is this really so different to the ladies from Bucks Fizz having their skirts ripped off mid-song in 1981? People have claimed that Beyonce's performance was inappropriate due to the Grammys being a family show, but last time I checked Eurovision was too.

The Bucks Fizz skirt rip
photo vie

 Beyonce at the Grammys
Picture via

Liza Minnelli in Cabaret (1972)

Most of the complaints have been focused on the fact that there were children watching at home and her performance was too sexual for their young eyes. I have a message for you; young children don't notice sexuality, it's not something they become aware of until they get older, it simply goes over their heads. I can promise that the majority of young children won't see much difference between Beyonce's Grammy outfit and a swimming costume, but you wouldn't refuse to take your children swimming because of the "revealing outfits". Of course you might be uncomfortable watching her performance with your children in the room, but they probably won't even notice, and you're the one that's uncomfortable, not them.

It's a common opinion that women dressing provocatively  is "anti-feminist", and some particularly harsh criticisms have even attacked Beyonce as a mother, calling her a bad role model for her daughter. I'm pretty sure Beyonce wore stage outfits like that and danced during her performances before she was a mother too, and changing everything about herself as a performer and not continuing to follow her career after having a child doesn't sound very feminist to me. Of course Beyonce's daughter is still too young to be aware of any of this, but when she's older and sees this and similar performances, I imagine she'll feel one of two things. Firstly, she may feel proud of her mother for being so successful in her career, and secondly, she may feel embarrassed by her mother's clothing choices and dancing. Isn't being embarrassed of your parents a perfectly normal thing for a child to go through? Particularly upon seeing pictures of what they wore many years ago, or witnessing them dance.

There have also been comments about how she and Jay Z interacted on stage, slating the fact that they were dancing so closely and that they kissed during the performance claiming that this is also a bad example for our children. If a married couple who are very much in love showing affection towards each other is a bad example to set then I'm not quite sure what a good one would be. It feels like some people are just searching for a reason to pick fault, however flimsy.

Beyonce and Jay Z at the Grammys
Photo via

As a brief disclaimer I should add that I am not a "fan" of Beyonce, in fact I would probably struggle to name more than about four of her songs;  this was purely written as a response to criticisms which seemed to be quite unfair. And for those of you interested, the body suit that she wore for the performance was by the very talented Nichole de Carle London.

Taking The "Sexy" Out Of Lingerie

I just read this brilliant post from Caro over at The Lingerie Lesbian about how she's sick of hearing the word "sexy" used to describe lingerie, and I couldn't agree more. This is something that's been irritating me for a while, as often when people find out that I have an interest in lingerie their minds will jump to scenes of steamy bedroom affairs and assume that the only "purpose" for pretty underthings is seduction. Whilst there's nothing wrong with that being your reason for having an interest in lingerie, It's not my reason.

Since my interest first began several years ago, I've learned an awful lot about the lingerie industry, the manufacturing processes, and the vintage styles that many of our modern pieces have evolved from. I enjoy the geeky little facts that most people probably aren't bothered about it in the slightest. When I see a pair of fully fashioned stockings, I see them as something beautiful, but a great deal of my appreciation for them comes down to the fact that I know that they are made in the traditional way, using ancient machines that only a handful of factories in the world still possess and have the expertise to use. They're a rare product of skilled craftsmanship and I love that about them; and hearing them casually labelled as "sexy" demeans that somehow.

Another reason why overuse of the word "sexy" bugs me, is that I mostly wear lingerie because of how it makes me feel, rather than how it looks. It can make you feel feminine and powerful, it can cheer you up when you're having a rough day, and it's a way of expressing some of your personality if you have no choice but to wear a uniform for work, or bulky layers when it's cold. You might have to look like everyone else on the outside, but you can still enjoy wearing something fun or pretty underneath. It doesn't matter if no one else it going to see it, you know that it's there. Shapewear is a great example of this; it can make all the difference to a tight fitting dress when you have the right underwear on underneath, and it can make all the difference to your confidence too. It's really no different to applying foundation before the rest of your make up, and no one thinks there's anything sordid about that, do they?

When it comes down to it, everyone has their own reasons for wearing what they do. People have their own styles when it comes to outerwear, that's a given; so why should the same not be true when it comes to undies? It's considered perfectly normal for girls to get excited about other forms of clothes, shoes and accessories, so why shouldn't we want something more exciting than the same old predictable t-shirt bras in our underwear drawers? And sometimes it's really just as simple as wearing stockings rather than tights because I find tights uncomfortable. That's it. No "sexy" sub-context.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Fish Are Friends

This blog post is on a very different subject to my previous ones, but it is about the thing that is most important to me above everything else; animal conservation. With documentaries such as Blackfish and The Cove becoming viral sensations, awareness of the dire need for marine conservation is growing. And it's about time.

Of all groups of animals in need of  conservation, marine animals get the least press, and receive the least funding. This is due to many reasons. Creatures such as fish and turtles are much harder to identify with than terrestrial mammals, which we can relate with as they are genetically much closer to ourselves and our favourite pets. They're often thought of as "cold and emotionless", and it's a widely believed myth that fish cannot feel pain. We don't think of them as intelligent creatures, in the same way we do as elephants or gorillas, even though there is a growing amount of scientific evidence to prove that they in fact lead very complex lives. We often forget completely that coral even is an animal.

Only a couple of years ago I remember memorising the fact that over 73 million sharks were being killed each year. The number is now up to over 100 million. That's roughly equivalent to one third of the population of the United States being wiped out each year. And why are we doing this to them? There are two main factors; the first being shark finning.

Picture via

Shark finning is where sharks are caught out at sea, have their fins removed and are tossed back again, alive. The sharks, which are then unable to swim, slowly sink into the ocean depths where they are then eaten alive by other fish. Shark meat has a low market value and fishermen don't see it as being worthwhile to transport back to the shore, however shark fins can be sold for a high price due to their being the key ingredient in shark fin soup; which according to Chinese traditional medicine holds "the essence of power, virility and wealth", as well as supposedly having cancer-fighting properties. The facts? As shark fins are primarily made up of cartilage, they have very little nutritional value and are mostly devoid of vitamins. The claim that they can combat cancer is based on a belief that sharks cannot get cancer, which is untrue. In a clinical study on the use of shark cartilage as treatment for human cancer, it was proven to be ineffective. In fact, shark fins are very high in poisonous mercury. Mercury is commonly found in fish products as it is a result of ocean pollution, and as sharks are generally at the top of the food chain, their levels are much higher. A 2001 study  by Wild Aid found that the levels of mercury in shark fins from Hong Kong were 42 times higher than the safe limit for humans. Mercury poisoning causes hearing loss, loss of eyesight, memory loss,  and the children of pregnant women who are affected are often born with severe deformities and disabilities.

Picture via

The second reason that humans kill sharks is fear. Despite the fact that there are on average less than five fatalities worldwide as a result of shark attacks each year (humans kill roughly 11400 sharks per hour), there are organised culls all over the world in an attempt to keep them away from beaches and therefore reduce the number of attacks. There have only actually been 2569 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks worldwide since 1580, of which a mere 484 were fatal. 484 deaths in 434 years works out to barely more than one per year. To put this into perspective a bit it helps to know that over a million people die each year from diseases contracted from mosquitoes, more than 100 people choke to death on ballpoint pens each year, and you're more likely to be attacked by a cow than you are by a shark . It seems like we're forgetting that Jaws was fiction.

Turtles are under threat from poaching; for their meat, shells and eggs, and all forms of marine life are suffering as a result of pollution. Our consumer culture is resulting in a growing amount of pollution from plastics in the oceans. This includes everything from plastic bags and the rings from tops of multipacks of cans, to tiny plastic beads used in cosmetics designed to exfoliate the skin. Many animals die either from becoming entangled in the debris, or accidentally mistaking it for food, and the tiny pieces can often be even more dangerous as they can be swallowed without the animal even noticing.

 Picture via

 But the full extent of the damage that plastic in our oceans can cause isn't as obvious as all that. Plastic is made from oil and natural gas, and the production process releases petroleum hydrocarbons into the atmosphere, which are toxic to all forms of life. These toxins are also absorbed by the body in the case of ingestion, and can cause damage to all of the organ systems in the body; the immune system, nervous system, respiratory system, circulatory system, reproductive system, endocrine system and the sensory system. In total there are nearly 20 billion tons of plastic waste floating in the oceans, which also releases harmful PCB and DDT. And in case it doesn't worry you enough that the world's fish are being poisoned by all these things, just remember that the ones that survive are still a part of the food chain; if eaten by humans, any pollutants in their bodies are simply passed on up the chain.

Picture via

The state of the oceans may seem like something that's easy to forget about as they're not where the vast majority spend much of our time, but they are the largest habitat on the planet and if we think we can go without feeling the impact when they're suffering, we're kidding ourselves. This is why I want to do something about it. I hope to devote my future to fighting for this cause; I'm currently studying zoology and hope to go on to study marine biology in the future, and next year I will be travelling to Central America as a volunteer, to help hands-on with restoring the natural balance of these delicate ocean eco-systems. During my time there I will be collecting important data about the coral reefs, fish and turtles that live in the coastal waters, as well as helping to conserve the breeding turtle populations, and do my bit to combat local pollution. I'm aiming to spend a total of six months working on these projects, which should then help me enter into the world of conservation as a full time vocation.

I have been working towards funding this trip for the last two years, but in order to achieve my planned departure date of May 2015, I'm going to need a little help. I have set up a fundraising webpage in order to help me reach my goal, and if any of this blog post has inspired you to want to make a change then I hope you will check it out and possibly make a donation. The webpage details the work that the ongoing volunteer projects are trying to achieve, as well as how any money being raised will be spent. In return for donations there are many perks on offer, ranging from personalised thank you cards to turtle adoption packs, prints of the photos I take while volunteering, and even some designer lingerie! If you know anyone else who cares about the conservation of our ocean species then please share my appeal (which can be found here), as awareness is half the battle. These animals need our help, and the time to act is now.