Designer Interview: Curve Friendly Stockings From Erica M Legwear!

I’ve started a stockings collection in the past few months, but some of my favorite pairs come from the creative and sexy Erica M. Legwear. Their designs are innovative and their stockings are incredibly high quality. I’m a huge fan, so I was thrilled when Erica herself agreed to an interview here. On a personal note, their stockings are great for curvier women and they make a very wide size range. I highly recommend picking up a pair when you want a truly sexy stockings option.

Holly: What sets Erica M stockings apart from the rest of the luxury hosiery market? What hole in the market do you see yourself filling?

Erica: I wanted each style from the Autumn Winter 2012 collection to express a sense of versatility with the ability to be worn in various ways according to the desires of the wearer. I foundthat many luxury brands confine the designs to the upper thigh and below. By bringing the design all the way up to the top of each pair, there is always something hidden underneath the wearer’s clothing. You can choose to hide the sexy design details underneath a demure day outfit or reveal the design when paired with a shorter flirty evening look. However, by the end of the night, there are still provocative design details that you can choose to reveal when fully disrobing. I wanted to intensify the coquettish nature of hosiery to the tenth degree by creating hidden details. By doing this, I hope that women will feel sexually empowered when wearing Erica M. hosiery, since they are in control of who they will reveal their sexy secret details to.
I feel like the void in the hosiery market place is that there aren’t many patterned tights that are easy to wear with a plethora of outfits. By having the option of revealing the pattern or not with Erica M. hosiery, I feel you can wear each style with a variety of outfits. For example, the Nadia style can essentially be a opaque tight if you wear a knee length or longer dress or you can expose the pattern if you pair them with shorts or a shorter skirt. Essentially you get more uses out of one pair of Erica M. hosiery, than if you buy a crazy patterned pair that you can only seldomly wear. Versatility is very important to me.

Holly: I love how you’re producing tights and thigh high versions of all of your designs. What made you decide to service both types of consumers?

Erica: Each style directly relates to what you wear them with so I really kept the current clothing trends in mind when designing my Autumn Winter 2012 collection. There are so many unique silhouettes in clothing right now as well as certain trends that directly relate to your undergarments, I feel like women need more legwear options more than ever. For example, sheer clothing is really big right now I thought it would be cute to wear my thigh highs with a pair of hotpants underneath a sheer skirt. Also, I have so many distressed jeans that are strategically or unstrategically ripped, during the colder months I put my thigh highs underneath them. I ideally want to come up with a collection of hosiery where each have unique attributes while still being practical enough that you can wear them with many different outfits.

Holly: What’s next for Erica M? What are your goals for this year and beyond?

Erica: I want to continue exploring different legwear styles that further strengthen my brand message of revealing sexy details at the wearer’s discretion but also start offering different items that fit within the bodywear category. All new styles will continue to be easy to wear but include intricate and sexy details.

Erica M stockings can be found at select retailers (listed on their website), but they also are adding an online store to their site soon!

Fatkinis and Frustrations

I’ll admit that I personally dread walking past the magazine stands in the grocery store as summer approaches. I don’t think of myself as a fat girl, but I’m pretty sure my breasts alone will keep me from ever looking like those women on the covers of magazines. I hate that this time of year seems to bring out the really judgmental side of people, so I was really thrilled to see this feature on xoJane getting so much press. 31 women sent in pictures of themselves wearing bikinis to prove that a beach body is any body that you currently have. I love the concept, but like many of these campaigns I’ve found the various reactions a little frustrating.

Lots of the women who submitted photos have been criticized for being “not fat”. I’ve heard plus size models complain about this as well. They’re too big for regular modeling, but too small for plus size campaigns. Other women are larger and working it, which seems to take people by surprise as well. The article has gotten so much press that it will be on the Today Show (at least according to a tweet from the lovely Tess Munster) which is simultaneously very cool and very depressing. I love that these photos are getting so much positive attention, but I also really wish that we lived in a world where women of various sizes wearing bikinis on the internet wasn’t such a cultural shock. Despite everyone’s efforts, we’re clearly a long way from being okay with a wide range of body types as a society.

It’s hard not to feel like people are still sorting these women into categories. The ones that conform to more conventional beauty standards “aren’t really fat” and the ones that don’t are left in the fat category. While I admire the women who sent in these photos tremendously, it’s hard not to feel like fat is still a socially appropriate way of saying “unattractive” for many people. All of these women are gorgeous and confident, but if 31 size zero through six women put something like this together I don’t think you’d have people putting them into groups in the same way.

Until we can separate weight, shape, size, and skin tone from societal standards of attractiveness we have a long way to go. Until then though, we’ve got brave women like this leading the way!

Sizing Me Up

I get lots of questions about how one gets started buying lingerie and my answer is pretty much always the same thing: find a good boutique and go get measured. If you don’t live near a boutique, The Sophisticated Pair has an amazingly accurate bra calculator and is a good place to start. Our newest contributor, Kelsey, went to a boutique and tried the process out for herself.

One of the most important aspects of shopping for lingerie or just an every day bra is knowing which size to get.  A year or so ago I sloppily threw a measuring tape around myself and came up with the size 34B.  I never questioned it.  That is until I decided to take my first adventure to a lingerie store other than Victoria’s Secret.  Bare Essentials, in Wilmington, Delaware is a local boutique which specializes in professional bra fitting.  I always have considered myself to have a small chest, so trying anything above a B cup was simply out of the question.  I was a little scared of what my actual size was, in addition to some recent weight loss I knew that I had to be smaller. Upon entering the boutique, I spoke to the owner, Liz who took me right to a fitting room to get all sized up.

And now, the moment of truth….28D??

No…

Before I could come to terms with that, Liz was already rushing off to retrieve a number of different bras for me to try.  Padded, push-ups, lightly lined, sheer, corsets…Bare Essentials made me feel like a kid in a candy shop.  Even better, after I tried on the first bra, I realized I had been doing it all wrong before–if there was a bra equivalent of Cinderella’s glass slipper, this was it.  I’ll share with you two of my favorites, and one more that I walked out being the proud owner of.

First, to give you an idea of what I was dealing with before, this is me in my 34B nude, plain, ugly bra (which I now hate).

Not exactly a perfect fit...

Not exactly a perfect fit...

The first bra Liz brought me was from Harlequin by Panache, a lightly padded white silk, plunge bra with some bow detailing (fun fact: if there’s one thing I love more than lace, it’s bows).

Already, from the fit I could tell that this bra loved me just as much as I loved it.  There was no weird spillage out the sides, the band wasn’t too loose around my torso, everything was tucked in nice and neatly, and the adorable look didn’t hurt either.

Another one I loved was a push up from Pizzo Leavers with lace and bows and rhinestone details.  Too good to be true.

Finally, I tried on a lace bustier in red from b.tempt’d.  After help from Liz fastening all the hooks in the back (no, you cannot put it on over your head like a t-shirt), it was love at first sight.

It fit like a glove and besides supporting my chest, it accomplished the second most important task of lingerie, it gave me confidence, which was all I needed to tell me that this was a purchase I needed to make.

If I were a superhero, this would be my uniform, wearing it under my clothes everyday, prepared to bare all when I need to rescue another helpless woman from wearing the wrong bra size. Okay, maybe I’m getting a little carried away here, but my point is that something as simple as knowing your size can do wonders for your figure and your confidence.

Being somebody who had only browsed online, and read the blogs of high end lingerie fashion, I look back on my first in-person endeavor and measurement as something that should have happened much earlier.  But better late than never right?


While you’re here, why don’t you sign up to win some gorgeous made to measure lingerie?

The Made to Measure Giveaway Is Here!

Since we’ve been talking about the wonders of made to measure lingerie all week, we thought that we’d end things by giving some away! This week has been sponsored by five amazing designers and they’ve all been sweet enough to give out some prizes. If you’ve never tried made to measure lingerie (or even if you’re a fan), this is one giveaway you shouldn’t miss.

We have five prizes to give out and they will be distributed to five individual winners:

One Pair of Choquette Ruffled Panties by Toad Lillie

These panties will be handmade for the winner by the lovely Toad Lillie. They’re flirty, ruffled and silky smooth.

One Pair of Bespoke Panties by Amuse-Bouche Lingerie

These panties will be designed specially for the winner and handmade by Amuse-Bouche!

One $25 Gift Certificate by Knickerocker

Knickerocker specializes in fun and flirty everyday panties. Pick your favorite pair from her shop with this gift certificate!

One Pair of Boyana Briefs from Rebecca Ansah

These high waisted panties are sexy, flattering and comfy. They will be handmade to your measurements by Rebecca!

One Custom Eyemask by Ayten Gasson

This winner will be able to pick from the fabrics and vintage trims that Ayten has on hand to create their own custom eye mask! I’ve recently discovered how wonderful silk eyemasks really are and Ayten’s are some of the best on the market.

How To Win:

To enter, you must leave a comment on the blog and enter your email into the Rafflecopter widget below. For extra chances, you can tweet about the giveaway once a day until the end.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck everyone!

Ten Made To Measure Designers You Shouldn’t Miss

We’ve been talking about made to measure all week and tomorrow we’ll be launching the giveaway! I thought today we’d bridge the gap by covering some of the best made to measure pieces of the past year or so. If you want a great place to start, these designers all come highly recommended.


Sonata Lingerie:
Sonata is known for their intricate lacework, but their line contains so much more than just gorgeous lace pieces. I’m a particular fan of their linen collection, but they make swimwear as well. All of their pieces can be made to measure, and all are extremely figure flattering. Their bodysuits also work well as sheer blouses!


Knickerocker:
Amuse-Bouche Lingerie:
Amuse-Bouche Lingerie is a great source for bridal lingerie with vintage flair. All of her pieces are made to measure, and many are completely custom. She’s wonderful to work with, and her knickers are beautiful enough to frame.


Louise Ferdinand Lingerie:
This is the only made to measure bra company that I know of out there, and they make beautiful and interesting bras in a huge range of sizes. They currently make D-K cups in 28 to 38 band sizes. Their basics line is stellar, but they’re now branching out into trendier items as well.


Ayten Gasson Lingerie:
Ayten Gasson Lingerie is all about the details. Ayten produces all of her lingerie with fabrics sourced in the UK right down to her Nottingham lace. She’s equally passionate about lingerie and local production and has been at the forefront of the movement in the UK to produce more lingerie locally. I own several of her bed jackets and wear them often but I also love her boxed gift sets. They contain silk undies, a silk sleepmask and luxurious soaps.


LouLou Loves You:
LouLou Loves You makes girly lingerie inspired by Disney movies and grown up fashion trends. Her pieces are adorable and easy to wear, with a nice retro feel. This nightdress is one of my all time favorites of hers.


Rebecca Ansah
Rebecca Ansah lingerie goes beyond style and a strong viewpoint; her mesh and jersey pieces are some of the most comfortable things I’ve ever worn. Her first collection focused on black mesh/jersey and blue silk combinations and immediately started showing up on major television shows in the UK. If you’re looking for something fresh, make sure to pick up a piece by this designer with an incredibly bright future ahead of her.


Lilly Wiggler Lingerie:
Lilly Wiggler is producing some of the most interesting bras on the market and has recently branched into some incredible full body pieces. She’s recently scaled back her size range in bras, but I’m hoping that she’ll expand it again in the future. If she does, this Mina bra is first on my list.


Toad Lillie Lingerie:
Toad Lillie is all about the tease and reveal. Her new bridal collection takes this to a whole new level with sheers, silks and flirty ruffles. If you’re looking for a truly special treat or to make an impression, this is the line to check out.


La Lilouche Lingerie:
La Lilouche makes incredibly wearable pieces that still feel like something out of the Arabian Nights. Her latest collection is no exception. Her Greek influences and delicate beading make each piece something extra special. This Goldie Gown is part of her newest collection and will be available for purchase in late June.


Knickerocker:
Knickerocker is an incredibly popular designer, which means her stuff generally sells fast. Her focus is on affordable everyday underwear that oozes personality. She happily makes her items to measure as well, and will sometimes even offer variations on an item if you ask nicely.

A Quick Guide To Buying Made To Measure Lingerie

Made to measure lingerie is awesome, but it’s a big world out there and jumping into it can seem a little intimidating. Now that we’ve covered the basics of why made to measure is a great option for everyone, I thought we’d spend the next few days talking about some good starting places when you get ready to try some out.

1. Start with loungewear. 

If the idea of buying made to measure bras scares you (and it scares many people) a good place to start is loungewear. Lots of made to measure designers offer a huge size range in loungewear, even if they offer more limited sizing in more structured pieces. Lots of loungewear pieces can double as outerwear as well, which can make your made to measure piece into an even better investment. Some good pieces to start with are robes, bodysuits, or camisoles.

2. Pick a friendly and responsive designer.

Many made to measure brands are managed by the designers themselves. The best designers are very willing to work with you to make sure the sizing is perfect or to customize an item for you. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the designer of the piece you want and ask them if it would be a good fit for you, or if changes could be made to it to make it perfect. Many designers offer nearly unlimited size ranges or customization options, but don’t remember to advertise it front and center on their site. Some really great boutiques (Bella Bella Boutique comes to mind here) will even work with the designer on your behalf to manage the process.

3. Don’t be scared to try something new. 

Cutouts, bright colors and sheer fabrics are all part of a made to measure designer’s arsenal, and their pieces can look very different from your every day basics. Part of the fun of made to measure is treating yourself to something that makes you feel like a goddess when you put it on, so go for your heart’s desire and make it count.

Designer Interview and Exclusive Preview: La Lilouche

Liya says there will be a "Brunettes Rock" version of this as well!

I’m so thrilled to be able to show you the newest La Lilouche line today! La Lilouche was nice enough to give us first dibs on the pictures and everything is just as gorgeous as expected. She also made time in her busy schedule to answer some questions about her line, her inspirations and what she does when she’s not making beautiful lingerie. The newest collection is called “Bedroom Hymns” and will be out in late June. I already have several pieces of my must purchase list, so it may feel like a very long wait!

Photo credits for all images are as follows:

Photography: Roy Peri

Model: Beata

Hair & Make up: Msik Sudio

Holly:  What’s the philosophy behind La Lilouche? When you create your pieces, what kind of woman do you picture wearing them?

Liya: To be honest, my label philosophy is something that defines itself and evolves by the day. Traveling around the world has inspired me to be more experimental. But when I think about La Lilouche and how I imagined it when I started this label is that La Lilouche is all about creating fun and something theatrical! I focus on fashion forward lingerie that is priced appropriately given the work put into it.

I also focus on keeping the design spirit always fresh and different from collection to collection and pushing boundaries to explore different design directions, taking women’s undergarments to a different place and mostly keeping my customers on their  toes!

The woman who wears La Lilouche is a modern woman who is passionate about fashion, feels comfortable about her body and is confident enough to express herself. She expresses her individuality by wearing beautiful garments and appreciates handcrafts.

Holly:  What inspired you going into the new season, and what can we expect to see from the Bedroom Hymns?

Liya: I get a lot of inspirations from different eras such as 20’s, 70’s, historical eras, ancient Rome and Greece costumes. I’m mostly looking for an inspiration that will  demonstrate and bring ethereal beauty in style.

For ‘Bedroom Hymns’ I have been pretty much obsessed with celebrities as Florence Welch, the Cockettes Cabaret, Virginia Woolf and the combination of these strong woman and the ancient Rome era, of beautiful draping gowns, sheer fabrics, glitter, gold shades and handmade embroideries.

This upcoming line will feature a main collection and bridal range with a new key piece of loungewear that can be worn in  the bedroom or as outerwear too, as the Virginia sheer black maxi skirts, Elcee white chiffon frill camisoles and Flo camisole can be.

There will be more 1920’s inspired jewel-studded lingerie pieces with pearls, diamante and equines for Glamour!

Holly:  One of my favorite things about La Lilouche is the sense of playfulness that your pieces have. How do you recreate that each season, and what inspires you to be playful?

Liya: I think that there is something very beautiful about any woman who wears her  beautiful  lingerie or nightwear for intimate moments that make her feel more empowered, confident and free about herself to express her natural sexiness and inner beauty.

So that’s what has always inspired me to bring a sense of playfulness to my designs as I believe we all have different personalities and sides and sometimes it’s nice to bring more fun and show into your private moments. This is the reason why I create most of my lingerie so that my customers can find something that will be sexy, fun, elegant and bring a smile on their face !

Holly: What do you do when you’re not designing or sewing?

Liya: That’s a good question! This past 2 years running a one woman show has taken a toll on my life with hardly any free time to do the things I loved to do, like spend time with my husband or family. I found myself disappearing into my other passion which is lingerie, designing, sewing and day dreaming.

But I realized that I had lost a bit of myself and needed a balance. I am now managing my life with more free time, and when I finish my work hours I just  go to exercise, practice yoga which I love so much,  slurp chai tea while reading at book shops and in between  learn cooking!

Made To Measure Myths Debunked: Variety

One of the comments I hear the most when I talk about made to measure lingerie is that “it’s all soft cup bras and panties”.  These kinds of comments always make me sad, because the made to measure and independent lingerie world is pretty huge these days. Independent designers are catering to a wide range of tastes and sizes now, and many are branching out or adding new spins to traditional pieces.

There are literally thousands of options to choose from, especially once you start looking online. If you’re into causes, there is locally made or eco-friendly lingerie. If you’re into traditional lace, linen, bondage style lingerie, latex, silk, satin, chiffon, beaded, or fringed lingerie it’s all out there. I obviously can’t cover everything today, so here are a few of my favorites.

Dottie’s Delights is literally making the old new again. Her new Garden Party Girdle Skirt repurposes vintage deadstock satin and splices it into an entirely new piece. It’s retro with a whole new look.

If vintage isn’t your thing, there’s always lace. Sonata is taking the lace lingerie tradition in a whole new direction with their sheer and colorful bodysuits. They’re marketed as bedroom pieces, but my favorite way to wear mine is with a matching tank under it and a pencil skirt. These bodysuits can be made to order to anyone’s measurements, and look great on everyone.

 Ayten Gasson is one of the few lingerie businesses making everything in the UK, and her stuff is absolutely gorgeous. Her bras don’t work for me (although I’ve heard rave reviews of them from lots of people), but I’m a huge fan of her bed jackets and panties. I throw them over tons of shirts and skirts, and I always get compliments on them.

I’ve only touched on a few designers today, but there’s a treasure trove of incredibly creative and gorgeous lingerie out there in all categories. You can find everything from latex lingerie to traditional bridal sets now and have them all made to order in your size.

Like what you see from Ayten Gasson? Check back on Friday for our giveaway!

Made To Measure Myths Debunked: Sizing

There’s lots of debate about sizing in the lingerie world. Everyone has an opinion about what company should make what size range, and how companies should expand their size range to include a wider range of people.

Made to measure lingerie has one size range: yours. 

Everyone has had the experience where they have to pass on a perfect piece of lingerie because one measurement doesn’t fit them. By buying made to measure lingerie you can ensure that pieces are tailored to your measurements, even if they’re non-standard. If your butt is bigger or flatter than usual or your hips are narrower, you don’t need to pass on a made to measure piece that you love.

Even better, the range of what made to measure designers are doing is rapidly expanding. You can currently find made to measure loungewear, locally produced lingerie, eco-friendly lingerie, large cup and small back bras, corsets, latex lingerie, and a whole other host of lingerie items. As independent designers grow in popularity, the made to measure market will expand even further.

One of the big reasons that I’m such an advocate of made to measure lingerie is that it fits your body, rather than forcing you into something that is less than perfect. I know so many women who spend hours almost fitting into lingerie and then returning it for two more bras that don’t quite fit right due to yet another sizing issue. It’s easy to feel like your body just doesn’t fit into anything. 

While I’m a fan of lots of larger lingerie companies, made to measure lingerie offers an option that takes the guesswork out of the equation. Lots of designers will work with you in detail locally or even via email to make sure that their lingerie works for your body. Made to measure lingerie designers also tend to be incredibly supportive of all shapes and sizes and know what works for a diverse range of people. Some even have backgrounds in non-standard sizing and use that to their advantage in their pieces.

Want to experience the wonders of made to measure lingerie for yourself? Check back on Friday for our giveaway! Rebecca Ansah (who made the amazing bodysuit pictured above) will be giving away a gorgeous made to measure piece as part of the fun. 

Made To Measure Myths Debunked: Price

Each day this week, we’ll be talking about the wonders of made to measure lingerie. It’s one of the most inclusive categories on lingerie on the market, but it’s sadly one of the least discussed categories as well. Check back each day for a new post, and then our grand prize giveaway on Friday! We’ll be giving away fantastic made to measure pieces from five popular lingerie designers. 

I’ll start out by being honest: I buy lots of made to measure lingerie. If I’m not buying bras, I’m pretty much a made to measure customer 95% of the time. This is one of the reasons that I’m always amazed that people seem to equate made to measure lingerie with expensive luxury lingerie. Made to measure encompasses lots of price ranges, and there is definitely something out there for everyone. I’m a writer, and while I’m comfortable, I don’t exactly have a trust fund’s worth of disposable income kicking around to spend on my lingerie collection.

More designers are stepping up to the plate in the every day made to measure category, but one of my favorites is Knickerocker. Her panties run from $9.00 to $50.00, and are made for your measurements out of high quality cotton that will last forever. For every day underwear, I’ve pretty much stopped shopping anywhere else.

Take, for instance, these outspoken uterus design panties. They’re $8.95, which is approximately what you’d spend at Target on a pair of panties. They’re also unique, made for you, and will last a whole lot longer than the theoretical pair of Target panties will.

Many made to measure designers also will take customization requests, sometimes at no extra charge. I loved these typewriter panties for obvious reasons, but low rise panties and I have never been good friends. Nic happily made these in a high waisted version for me at no extra charge.

Even when you get into the luxury lingerie market, made to measure and other independent designers often create pieces that are superior to the stuff that major brands are putting out. You’ll generally find higher quality fabric, workmanship, and attention to detail when you buy from an independent or a made to measure designer. Having lingerie made to your measurements also means that you are guaranteed to have a piece that fits all parts of your body, rather than just some parts. When I bought this kimono robe from La Lilouche, it was the most expensive piece of lingerie that I’d ever bought. I wanted to invest in a good silk basic piece that would last for years, but I also wanted it to fit perfectly. La Lilouche was able to make this to my measurements, which means that no matter how much weight I lose I’ll always have a high quality robe that fits me (and my chest!). When I lose weight, I can just tie it tighter or wrap the tie around more than once. I’ve worn it almost every day for several months, and it still looks brand new.

If you like the look of these Knickerocker pieces, make sure to check back on Friday for the giveaway! Knickerocker has been sweet enough to offer a prize for it.

Do you think of made to measure lingerie as a luxury? What do you look for in a luxury lingerie purchase to make it worthwhile? Let me know by leaving a comment or by using the #iammadetomeasure hashtag on Twitter!