Friday, 27 June 2014

I'm-a Just Mad About Saffron

Putting it lightly; and much to Donovan's dismay, yellow has never been a colour I've been particularly fond of. However when I first discovered luxury brand Bordelle I couldn't help but fall in love with their Lady Citron bodice bra, which was available in two colourways; black, finished with a yellow centre bow; or full on lemon yellow with black detailing. I lusted after this bra for a long time as I couldn't quite justify the approximately £200 that it would have set me back to own it; and I often went back to the website to visit it, until it was discontinued and no longer available. In this time the citrus shade must have grown on my subconscious, as now whenever I see lemon-toned lingerie during my browsing I always fondly remember the Lady Citron and feel slightly drawn towards her colour palette.

The Lady Citron bodice bra from Bordelle in black.

The Lady Citron in yellow.

Here is a pick of some of my favourite yellow toned pieced currently available from various retailers.

Mimi Holliday £40.60 at Dolci Follie

Mimi Holliday £28 at Dolci Follie

Mimi Holliday £28.50 at Dolci Follie

Mimi Holliday £22.50 at Dolci Follie

Claudette $58 at Fair Frou Frou

Claudette $20 at Fair Frou Frou

Nichole De Carle £252.50 at Dolci Follie

Nichole De Carle £67.50 at Dolci Follie

Nichole De Carle £46.50 at Dolci Follie

eLai Bra £56 & Brief £56 at eLai London

Fleur of England £55.30 at Dolci Follie

Fleur of England £41.30 at Dolci Follie

Fleur Of England £34.30 at Dolci Follie

Made By Niki £118.30 at Dolci Follie

Made By Niki £62.30 at Dolci Follie

Bordelle £185

Bordelle Bra £185

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Kiss Me Deadly Catwalk And Cabaret Extravaganza!

At the beginning of May I attended my first ever "lingerie event" with my good friend Becca Pointeau. Followers of my blog will be aware of my love for the vintage inspired Kiss Me Deadly, and staying true to the brand; their take on a catwalk show was something a little out of the ordinary.

As opposed to being a serious fashion event with the intention of reeling in new retailers and wholesale opportunities, the focus of the Kiss Me Deadly show was more along the lines of celebrating their loyal fans and followers. KMD also have a long history of being unusually diverse in their choices of models; having used models in the past with body types rarely seen in the lingerie industry, with disabilities, and of under-represented ethnicities. In-keeping with this tradition, they chose their models for the catwalk from their real life fans, which allowed much more diversity than the usual sample sizes and retailer expectations allow for. The eventual line up consisted of a variety of body shapes, heights, ages and even different genders.

Some of the Deadly models

The event was held at The Tabernacle theatre in Notting Hill, and upon arriving I instantly spotted KMD founder and main woman Catherine Clavering by the front door, accompanied by one of the faces of the brand; Jessica-Louise Abidde (who was later on nice enough to negotiate me a free glass of wine). I of course proceeded to corner Catherine and gush about how much I love all things KMD. I asked what had become of her past plans to open a second boutique in her home of Sheffield, to which she admitted that despite her efforts, Yorkshire still wasn't quite ready for the likes of their special brand of tongue-in-cheek, weapon-toting, film noir-esque lingerie eccentricity.

Tempest Rose with two of the House Of Burlesque dancers

The show began with an introduction from Catherine; looking stunning with enormous hair and a bespoke Philmore Clague dress; then the catwalk kicked off. The models strutted up and down the stage one by one; each in customised lingerie, though there was one lady who made the show for myself and Becca as soon as she stepped into the stage.

She exuded confidence and stood out from the rest as she was constantly dancing, blowing kisses and striking poses for the audience, looking every bit the natural performer. She was instantly our favourite. I have since been in contact with her on Facebook and Twitter and she is every bit as lovely to talk to as she appeared on stage.

Our favourite, Sonia Sparkles

Following the Deadly models were a number of acts from House Of Burlesque, compared by the charismatic Tempest Rose. This was to be my first experience of burlesque; something I'd been waiting for in anticipation since KMD first made the announcement that it was to be a part of the show. The first to perform was an artist named Trixi Tassels, whose tongue in cheek strip tease was topped off at the climax by spinning her namesake tassels on her nipple pasties in every combination of directions imaginable. Her performance; along with all the others', was absolutely hilarious and we became fans of burlesque on the spot.

Trixi Tassels

The whole evening was a complete success (from our point of view at least), with every performance having its own charm and comedy value. I found that there was a feeling of community amongst all those who had travelled to be a part of the audience too; I recognised a few familiar faces both from the lingerie blogosphere and the vocal KMD Facebook fandom and everyone felt comfortable to approach each other to compliment the spectacular array of dresses, corsets and shoes being worn. I hope that it's possible for this to become a yearly tradition as I would happily make it a regular pilgrimage to attend.

Emily, another of the Deadly models
Jean-Louis, who travelled from Sweden to be a part of the show
A bit of audience participation

A burlesque tribute to Nigella Lawson
Dolly Rose from the House of Burlesque

All photos taken by myself. Stay up to date with the blog by liking the Stockings And Stingrays Facebook page and following me on Twitter!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Lingerie Review: Gossard Retrolution Underwire Bra

Gossard is one of the names when it comes to lingerie brands, particularly in the UK. The brand was founded way back in 1901 when the founder was inspired after seeing how a specially made corset was able to transform the figure of Sarah Bernhardt on stage in Paris. Since then the brand has accomplished a lot of notable achievements in the world of undergarments; being amongst the first to use nylon as a clothing material, and being the original inventor of the infamous Wonderbra.

The Retrolution bra has been my first experience of the brand. It is available in sizes 30 D-F, 32-36 B-G and 38 D-G, and retails for £36 at ASOS. I opted for the 30E and the fit was perfect.

Images Via ASOS

Recently I've found that my tastes in lingerie have been changing a lot. Whereas my top drawer used to be full of black, black and more black, there has been a shift and the colours, pastels and nudes now seem to be dominating. This has been a gradual and natural change so I'm happy to just go with the flow; however I felt that a bold and well fitting black bra was a staple that I had come to lack; and this had to change.

This piece is true to the Gossard brand aesthetic in its vintage styling; and this was the reason that I fell in love with it. I don't often make impulse lingerie purchases and this was no exception, as I had had my eye on this for several months before I took the plunge; and I'm glad I did. The cups are half padded; the lower half finished in black satin, and the top half is black lace with a peach mesh underneath; which at least for fair skin tones gives the illusion of it being sheer, but with greater coverage. Also adding to the vintage feel are the wide satin finish straps and the gate style back; a design element that I love. The metal components are gold toned and emblazoned with the Gossard logo, and there are ribbon flags embellishing the tops of both cups. This kind of attention to detail gives the impression of real luxury. The straps are fully adjustable which is good news for ladies with short torsos like myself.

I'm not usually a fan of padded bras as I prefer the more natural shape that soft bras give. The Retrolution does give a slightly pointed shape, reminiscent of (though not quite as dramatic as) a bullet bra. I feel that this is excusable though, since it goes with the whole vintage feel of the bra, and it probably wouldn't look quite right if it had a more modern, rounded shape.

Overall I think this is a stunning bra, and it could well be one to make it into my everyday rotation, whilst still being lavish enough for a special occasion. I'm keen to try more from Gossard in the future, both due to their stunning designs and the interesting history of the brand. When it comes to finding a classic and elegant black bra I think this one ticks all the boxes; and seems to have the potential to become a modern classic.

To keep up to date with the blog you can follow me on Twitter or like the Stockings And Stingrays Facebook page. Don't forget to check out my eBay lingerie sale and my Etsy shop for handmade lingerie accessories.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Lingerie Review: Kiss Me Deadly Vargas Dress

Kiss Me Deadly is one of my all time favourite lingerie brands, and when it comes to vintage style lingerie, I'm yet to discover another brand that does it so well. I was lucky enough to stumble upon the brand right when I first started to become interested in lingerie (at age 17), through one of their stockists; Fairy Gothmother. Their classic vintage styling intrigued me far more than the standard offerings that I'd seen previously on the high street and I became hooked right away. My first Kiss Me Deadly purchase was the Vargas dress; and it was a first in many aspects. It was the first piece of quality lingerie I'd ever owned, and my first introduction to suspenders.

Images Via Kiss Me Deadly

Given that I bought this several years ago the sizing isn't perfect for me; I own this in a 34C. The control mesh is a comfortable fit and does the job of smoothing out all my lumps and bumps, but the cups of the bra are slightly too big on me. I'm not sure this is entirely down to it not being the correct size though, as even with minimal wear and tender care, the elastic seems to have all snapped in the bra cups. As far as I remember this started to happen not long after I first got it; visible black elastic threads began to appear sticking out from the lace fabric all over the bra part of the dress. I resorted to trimming these off to improve the appearance, but there wasn't much I could do to restore the elasticity of the fabric. Since I bought mine however, Kiss Me Deadly have updated the style of the dress which as far as I'm aware fixed this issue.

Image Via Kiss Me Deadly

The top part of the dress closes with a standard bra hook and eye closure, and the rest is a pull on design, though the larger sizes have a concealed zip. With a little bit of wiggling this is easy enough to get in and out of despite the body shaping nature of the control mesh. The bottom of the dress has six sturdy suspender straps, each featuring black ribbon detailing; everything about this piece screams elegance and luxury. The cups of the bra are a balconette style and are finished off in semi-sheer black lace. The straps are wide set and end with a sort of sling that encases the outer side of the cups. I don't personally find the cups particularly supportive, but this is mostly down to the fact that balconette styles don't really suit my breast shape, the size not being perfect, and the issue with the elastic. In the updated version of this dress which is currently available the construction of the cups has been altered to provide greater support, so I'm sure that if I were to purchase a new one, all the problems would be solved.

When it comes to looks however; the Vargas dress is hard to beat. It's a modern classic, and despite much searching I haven't found a suspender dress or corselette from any other brand that is anywhere near as beautiful as this and the multiway version. It is a very much loved item in my lingerie collection and I'm very thankful that this was my first experience of real lingerie. Discovering Kiss Me Deadly so early on in my "lingerie journey" helped a great deal in teaching me to be able to tell the good quality from the bad, and also led to me finding several other independent UK brands that my underwear drawer has benefited from greatly. This is also most likely the culprit of my love affair with stockings (which I now favour over tights on any occasion). Later on this year I will be attending a catwalk and cabaret show that will be using fans of Kiss Me Deadly as the models and I'm genuinely so excited. The relationship that the brand has with it's customers is one more thing that makes Kiss Me Deadly so special.

Stockings and Stingrays now has a Facebook page! Give it a like to stay up to date with blog posts and news. If Twitter is more your thing then you can follow me @CorinneAvellana, and I still have a couple of things available in my eBay lingerie sale.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Fear And Loathing In Bra Fit And Body Image

When I was born I weighed barely over 5lbs and fitted into the palm of my big sister's hand. A couple of years later a health visitor told my mother that I'd never be any more than 5 feet tall. In school I was always one of the smallest by far, and it wasn't until about age 15 that I finally caught up. Now, at age 20, I am a quite comfortable 5'5", UK dress size 8-10, and at a healthy weight. For most of my childhood however, although being perfectly healthy, I was slightly underweight and very very slim.

My weight was to be expected really. I've always had a small frame (likely due to being born so tiny), and I ate healthily throughout my childhood. I loved swimming and would go at least once a week as I started doing junior lifesaving at my local pool. When I first started to wear wired bras at around age 11, my mother took me to get measured at M&S. I measured up as only being an AA or A cup, which wasn't surprising as I hadn't really started to develop yet, but despite still being too skinny to even fit into a woman's size 6, the shop assistant put me straight into a 30 band. Even now, although I find a 30 band to be a comfortable fit, it's still one band size up from my recommended ideal fit of a 28; and I was much smaller back then.

Me (Far Left) With Friends, Age 13

My mother was a strong believer in getting professionally measured on a regular basis, as she understood my body was going through a lot of changes. By age 14 I was told I needed a 34B and by 17 a 34C. By this point I had begun to get severely frustrated by my bras. I could see that they didn't look the same on me as the girls on the websites and in the adverts, but I'd been fitted by a professional so I felt that it was my body that was the problem; not the bras. At age 18 I started to experience bad pain in my back and breasts that I eventually realised was down to my bras not fitting properly. I used Google to find a bra size calculator, which told me I should be wearing a 32D, but when I tried one on in New Look; even to my bra-fit ignorant self, it was obviously too tight. I settled for a 34D, which although still didn't fit well, did cause an end to my chest pain.

For a while after that I stuck with buying bras in a 34D. It bothered me that I didn't quite fill out the cups, resulting in gaping at the top; but a 34C had been painful, so I thought it was just something I'd have to live with. On a couple of occasions I even resorted to sewing the cups a little tighter to stop the gaping, thinking this was just an inconvenient fact of being "between cup sizes" or having breasts the "wrong shape". I always blamed my body rather than the bras and actually started to dislike and resent my boobs.

Since becoming a teenager I'd understandably put on some weight, and despite the fact that I'd never been more than a size 8-10 I still found this hard to come to terms with. As a pre-teen I'd had a perfectly flat stomach and slender, toned limbs; but had longed to grow up and have "womanly" curves. Now I had these painful breasts and ill-fitting bras that looked nothing like I'd imagined; it seemed like a poor trade off for a washboard stomach and thighs that didn't wobble. I missed my figure of the past and started to develop body dysmorphia. I began to buy clothes that were too big; buying for the body that I thought I had, rather than the one of reality. It took me a few years to snap out of this habit, though my body issues are something I still haven't fully come to terms with. Posting pictures to this blog is going some way to help me with this; taking me a little out of my comfort zone and teaching me to accept my body how it is. Before now I could probably count on one hand the number of people who had seen my bare stomach in my adult life.

Body Dysmorphia Image Via

As I mentioned in my review of the Claudette scoop neck bra, last time I got professionally measured I was told I was a 32B; which I didn't believe for a minute, but since then I had stuck with 32 bands rather than 34s. With the Claudette bra I found through trial and error than the 32DD was the size best suited to me, at least as far as 32 bands go. It's only very recently that I've had my Epic Bra Fit Revelation, as I've been reading more and more blog posts on the subject. Suddenly everything made sense to me.  Most high street fitters still use the +4/5" measuring system, which is now outdated since modern bra bands are much more stretchy and sizes directly correspond with the underbust measurement. I'd always found myself automatically using the tightest set of hooks to close my bras from the word go, which I shouldn't have needed to do if the bands were the correct fit on me. However even when a fitting room assistant saw that I had done this and informed me that I should be using the loosest hooks, it didn't occur to her that I might be better off in a smaller band.

My underbust measurement where the bra band should sit comes up as 28.5", meaning that my "idea fit" is a 28 band rather than the 34s that I was told I needed for many years. Given that this is two band sizes smaller than the 32DD that I was comfortable in cup-wise, I'd need to go up two cup sizes, resulting in a 28F. This puts me firmly in the "full bust" bracket, and quite frankly makes high street fitting services seem laughable. Using the exact underbust measurement to choose the band size needed isn't foolproof though, as all bodies are different. For those with particularly muscular or bony ribcages (I fit into this category), going up a band size may be more comfortable as their bodies have less "squish" to them. For me this means that I am actually more comfortable in a 30E; a sister size to a 28F. Curvier women may find that the opposite is true; they may be better suited to a band that's a size or two smaller than their natural measurements in order to get a snug fit as their bodies are more malleable. In the end you have to trust what feels most comfortable; if your bra band is bothering you then it's not the right fit, regardless of what any measuring system or chart might say.

All  this raises a question though. If the way the bra sizing works has changed, then why are supposedly professional fitters using outdated methods and recommending the wrong sizes? I haven't been able to find a concrete answer to this but it seems likely that there are many contributing factors. I imagine that a lot of adult women would be too stubborn to accept that they might be a different size to the one that they know they've "always been". Creating a standard between all the different boutiques and department stores that offer fitting services also seems like it could pose an issue. It's no good one shop updating their methods and telling someone she's a 32F if she's just going to go and shop elsewhere and be told that she actually needs a 36DD. The main factor however seems to be the range of sizes that retailers stock. If they can group as many women together as being an "average" size such as a 34C as possible, then they can increase the number of sales whilst only stocking a limited size range. This is backed up by the fact that when using the +4 measuring system, inches are added to those with an underbust measurement of below 34", but not to those measuring 36" or above; a clear indication that fitters are trying to squeeze a large range of women into a small range of sizes.

It seems that sadly the main focus of most retailers is still making the maximum number of sales possible as opposed to genuinely offering a helpful service to their customers. A lot of shops that offer a fitting service have posters on their walls warning you of the negative side effects that wearing the wrong bra size can cause; yet they don't practice what they preach. I can't help thinking that when I was last measured (and told I was a 32B), that if the fitting room assistant had told me I was best suited to a 28F it would have been a negative result for the store as it is a difficult size to find and it's likely that they didn't have any in stock. It seems to be in the best interests of the stores to sell a woman a poorly fitting bra rather than identify her as a size that they can't provide. And of course, it is cheaper for the store to stock a smaller range of sizes.

Unfortunately for me, since my Epic Bra Fit Revelation there are a lot less options available to me, as being an E or F cup puts me in the full bust bracket which often means relying on specialist retailers; however not all of the full bust brands always cater for the smaller back sizes. 28 and 30 bands are not easy to come by. I'm always discovering new brands though, and luckily for the people in my predicament, there are plenty of gorgeous bras out there in every size range if you know where to look. Finding everything you're looking for on a small budget might not always be easy either, but I'm quickly becoming a strong believer that a good quality and well fitting bra is the most important aspect of any outfit, and an essential part of everyday life. Personally, I have no issue spending more on a really good bra than I would on a nice dress; I know which one I'll get more wear out of.

So although I still have trouble finding clothes that fit my awkward short-torso/long legged/between-sizes figure; after many years of stress and self-loathing I now feel that I have bras pretty much down, and am confident enough to know what fits me and what doesn't, regardless of what it may say on the label. Now just comes the fun part of expanding my collection!

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.