Friday, 15 August 2014

Figleaves 'Lulu Tout' blogger dinner & SS14 lingerie & swimwear lookbooks


   As regular Undercover Lingerista readers might have guessed, I am a huge fan of Figleaves and I have been a loyal customer ever since discovering their expansive range of fuller bust lingerie and swimwear delights. Not so long ago, I was incredibly lucky to receive an (edible!) invitation to a very special Figleaves blogger dinner to showcase their new Spring/Summer 2014 lingerie and swimwear collections. 

   The event was held at the luxurious South Place Hotel, where we enjoyed pre-dinner cocktails in the exclusive 'Secret Garden' bar, followed by a decadent three course meal at the 'Chef's View' in the Michelin-starred Angler restaurant, situated on the top floor of the hotel. 

   The chef's table boasted amazing views; floor-to-ceiling glass windows which overlooked a skyline of iconic London landmarks (including the Gherkin and Tower 42), as well as a window into the bustling kitchen, where we could see our food being prepared!

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   The food was absolutely impeccable and given the restaurant's seafood specialism, I opted for ceviche scallops to start, followed by confit duck... 


   Whilst we dined, Figleaves' head buyer gave us food for thought with an insight into the making of the SS14 lingerie and swimwear campaigns, in addition to talking us through some of the stunning new products and ranges. Figleaves' exclusive new line, 'Lulu Tout', rendered every blogger dreamy-eyed.. and quite rightly so! The collection adopts the quintessential elegance of classic French lingerie, with stylish and sophisticated separates that deliver the luxurious aesthetics associated with designer underwear..without the accompanying price tag! 

   The 'Lulu Tout' collection offers an impressive sizing range (back sizes 30-38 and cup sizes A-H), alongside affordable price points (£24 for a bra and £15-£16 for a matching coordinate). The range features 3 debut designs; the 'Amelie', 'Coco Lace' and 'Fleur Rose', which come in different colourways.

   Interestingly, Figleaves have tailored the design and construction of the bras to different bust sizes; a balcony bra for A-DD cups and a fuller coverage bra for DD-H cups. Fortunately, Figleaves understand that lingerie should be supportive and pretty in every size and it is refreshing to see that Lulu Tout's DD+ bras retain the sensuality and elegance of their A-DD cup counterparts:


   If you were fond of Figleaves' first own brand, 'Midnight Grace', you will love the stylish and whimsical French-style designs of Lulu Tout. The feminine cuts, beautiful fabrics, attention to detail and value for money are ideal for fashion-conscious women who love luxurious lingerie on a budget..


   'Amelie' epitomises sophistication in classic black or electric blue. The bra features a plunging neckline and sheer mesh base, giving this bra undeniable sex-appeal. The cups boast a beautiful scalloped overlay, embroidered with an intricate, beaded spot pattern that evokes something of the Art-Deco movement. The black version exudes a timeless wearability, whilst the electric blue scores serious style points with its almost mermaid-like sensuality.


   The Lulu Tout 'Coco Lace' is the ideal bra for those in search of a bra that merges practicality and elegance. 'Coco Lace' boasts a feminine cut with a supportive sling design, helping to bring the bust inwards and upwards for a stunning silhouette. The sheer mesh cups are scalloped and finished with an exquisite pinstripe embroidery. The charcoal colourway provides a perfect alternative to black, whilst the deep emerald delivers a touch of luxury.


   The 'Fleur Rose' embodies the perfect synergy of classic, feminine styling with modern day 'edge'. Taking inspiration from the 'tattoo effect' lingerie trend, Figleaves have embroidered a sketched-style rose pattern on to the mesh cups - a particularly eye-catching combination in the nude/ black colourway! The bra's glamorous appeal is enhanced by the scalloped edging, central bow motif and pleated straps. Definitely a bra to make you go ooh-la-la!



   This brings me to talk about the final collection that was presented to us at the blogger dinner - the Figleaves SS14 Swimwear range! Figleaves is a real 'one-stop-shop' when it comes to swimwear, stocking a fabulous selection of over 40 swimwear brands. Amongst these brands, are Figleaves' own-labels (Figleaves Swimwear, Figleaves Active, Midnight Grace, Just Peachy and Sophina), which really appear to be coming into their own in the style stakes. True to form, Figleaves' own brands offer up trend-led, affordable swimwear designs in sizes 8-20, back sizes 30-38 and cup sizes up to a GG

   Figleaves presents key Spring/Summer 2014 trends across its collections, with an abundance of nautical spots and stripes, tropical, aztec and floral prints, retro-inspired swimsuits, high-waisted bikini briefs and longlines in eye-catching summer hues and maritime colour palettes. Here are some of my top picks:


   Ahoy sailor! Channel the nautical trend with this unique longline anchor bikini from Midnight Grace. A fun twist on classic nautical stripes, this navy blue longline boasts a quirky anchor pattern, set off by flashes of bright red, for a contemporary finish.


   Sizzle under the sun in the eye-catching 'Congo' bikini! Featuring a vivid coral and black leafy palm print with glamorous gold bead motifs, this cleavage-flattering plunge bikini is sure to command attention on the beach!


   Be bold this Summer in graphic florals with the Midnight Grace 'Daisy' swimsuit. Feminine, flirty and just a bit retro, this padded halterneck swimsuit features tummy control and cup sizes up to a G, to support and flatter your curves to perfection!


   Bring out your inner pin-up girl in the gorgeous Midnight Grace 'Pin Up Dotty' bikini. The all-over polka dot and stripe print is given a punchy, modern update with its vivid green hue, whilst the bandeau bikini top and flattering high-waisted bikini bottoms deliver a classic and beautifully feminine silhouette.


  Turn up the heat with the colourful 'Santana' halterneck bikini from Midnight Grace. This flattering halterneck bikini features a feminine floral print with a contrasting 'aztec' frill, which adds a quirky edge. The popping colour palette will ensure that you make waves whether you're at a festival, pool party or relaxing on the beach!


   For the ultimate in pool-side glamour, the Sophina 'Icon Mesh' bikini will have you looking and feeling as fabulous as a Bond girl. This chic, black, sweetheart bikini is complemented by a seductive spot mesh overlay, which adorns the bikini neck ties and sexy cut-out briefs. This bikini certainly has a licence to thrill!


   Figleaves has some very exciting lingerie and swimwear designs for Spring/ Summer 2014 and I continue to be impressed with the diverse selection of designs on offer to a wide range of sizes. I was delighted by the Figleaves blogger event as a whole; an edible invitation, cocktails, fine dining and gorgeous lingerie could only ever be recipe for success! Most importantly, the event was a wonderful opportunity to share my passion for lingerie with other like-minded individuals and it was fantastic to be able to speak directly to a company that I have championed for such a long time.

   Although it doesn't take much for me to wax lyrical about Figleaves and the amazing range of lingerie and swimwear brands on their site, their own-brands are definitely something to watch out for. Take a peek at the Figleaves website to see all of their latest products and keep an eye on my blog, as I will be reviewing a gorgeous set from Figleaves' own brand very soon...

What do you think of Figleaves' own brands? Have you tried them yet?


Monday, 7 July 2014

Clothes for curves: Made in Preston dress review

"Style must be adapted to the woman and not vice versa. The same can be said of clothes." Sophia Loren


   Clothes shopping can be a hugely enjoyable and exhilarating experience; I, for one, love nothing more than to stomp up and down Oxford Street, peruse the rails at my local shopping centre, rummage for treasures in vintage markets and bargain-hunt online. That said, for many women, 'retail therapy' is a far-fetched concept, especially after shopping for hours to come back with nothing other than blistered feet and a sartorial headache!

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   According to a survey, 41% of women find it hard to find clothes that are both 'fashionable and flatter their body shape'. Clothing must therefore deliver on multiple levels - it must suit the individual's body type, appeal to their personal tastes and fit with their lifestyle and budget.

   Shopping on the highstreet can be a particular frustration due to discrepancies in sizing between stores - I even picked up a size 8 and a size 16 in the same store once! Standardised clothing sizes can also only go so far in catering to the wide variety of different body shapes that exist and it comes as no surprise that women are tired of a 'one size fits all' approach..

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   Having a larger bust can also pose its difficulties when clothes shopping; shirts with gaping buttons, dresses that fit at the chest and not at the waist, tops that hang from the bust and swamp one's shape..the list goes on! With an estimated 'third of UK women say[ing] that they have to buy a bigger dress size just to accommodate their breasts', it seems apt that clothing manufacturers should respond to the demand.

   Although there are already some great specialist clothing retailers that cater to the larger bust, such as Pepperberry by Bravissimo, DD Atelier and Saint Bustier, the market has been crying out for younger, trend-led, curve-friendly fashion at affordable price points.    

   If you struggle to find fashionable clothes to fit your curves, Made in Preston may just answer your prayers! Throw out those shapeless smock dresses and gaping shirts and take a look at what MiP has to offer...

    Made In Preston is a clothing, lingerie and swimwear company, created by entrepreneurial young mum, Nikki Hesford, who spotted a gap in the market for a trendy, fuller-bust-friendly fashion brand that picks up where the highstreet leaves off. With a focus on 'creating well-fitting, beautifully made, affordable fashion', the whole Made in Preston range is ethically UK-designed and manufactured in their Preston-based factory.

   Made in Preston immediately struck a chord with me in that they offer a varied sizing range and their lingerie and swimwear collections begin at a (hard-to-find but much needed) 26 back and go up to a 38 back, DD-J cups. Even more excitingly, perhaps, is that Made in Preston have responded to the need for tailored clothing that accomodates for a larger bust. Their clothing range comes in UK sizes 6-16..but that is not where it stops! MiP take into account an additional bust measurement ('Fit', 'Foxy' or 'Fab'), in order to deliver a perfect fit all-over:

   When Nikki reached out to me and asked whether I would like to a review a piece from the collection, I did not have to think twice before accepting excitedly. After consulting the Made in Preston sizing guide, my measurements suggested that an '8 Fit' would work best for me. I double-checked my size with Nikki (as I currently wear between an 8-10 on the highstreet) and a few days later, my Made in Preston parcel arrived on my doorstep!

   The parcel was beautifully packaged in branded tissue paper, sealed with two heart stickers - a lovely touch that really makes the customer feel special! 

   The piece that I opted for was the Made in Preston green leather bodycon dress (£45), a sophisticated, forest green midi dress with faux-leather side panels and a bust-flattering sweetheart neckline..

    After unpackaging my dress, I was immediately impressed with the look and feel of the fabrics. The green bengaline material is stretchy, meaning that the dress is easy to pull on and very comfortable and lightweight to wear.

   I absolutely adore the design of this pencil dress - it is form-flattering and elegant, with just the right amount of modern edge, thanks to the faux-leather details. The 'trompe l'oeil' side panels are a particularly ingenious design feature as they really flatter curves; not only do they emphasise an hourglass shape, but they also give the illusion of an even smaller waist - what's not to like!?

   What I love most about this dress is that it feels as if it has been tailor-made to my measurements and the bust accomodates for (and flatters) my 28FF bust. The sweetheart neckline has always been one of my favourite necklines and the sweetheart cut on this dress is really flattering, delivering just the right amount of cleavage!

   Made in Preston seem to have carefully considered the construction of the bust section of this dress, using diagonal seams and stretch fabric to allow for extra chest room, with a double-lined interior for reinforcement.    

   Although the chest area fits me beautifully, my only gripe is that the stitching is slightly bumpy/ uneven (see picture below), but it luckily does not detract from the look and feel of the dress when worn. 

   Despite the shape calculator stating that a 'Fit' bust measurement is the 'same fit as you'd buy on the highstreet', I do often need to go up a size to accomodate for my bust, so I really appreciated the chest room in this MiP number.

   Other clever design features of this dress are the concealed zip at the back and the adjustable shoulder straps. The zip closure makes this dress very easy to slip on and off (say goodbye to uncomfortable wiggling and shimmying!), whilst the 'bra style' straps of this dress are ideal for delivering an even more tailored-to-you fit!

   As for the overall sizing of this dress, the '8 Fit' really was my perfect match and the dress hugs my body in all the right places, without feeling too restrictive. As a tall girl (5ft10), the midi length of this dress was an added bonus, as the dress finishes conveniently just above my knee! 

   I have now worn this dress out twice - once to a dinner date and once to an evening work event. The dress picked up compliments on both occasions and I can attest to the fact that this dress is comfortable to wear all night long (although the faux leather panels can get quite hot in this Summer heatwave). If you need more proof as to how awesome this dress is, it even survived a moderately competitive game of table tennis!

   This dress is an incredibly versatile piece that suits so many occasions and it is so easy to 'jazz up' with accessories. For my blog pictures, I have kept things simple by adding my black, faux-leather cuff heels from Sfera, a vintage St Michael's gold chain belt and a pair of gold and black metallic earrings that I bought a few years ago (from Miss Selfridge, I think). 

   The little flashes of gold add glamour to the overall look and I didn't even need to add my usual statement necklace, as the sweetheart neckline speaks for itself. The finishing touch was a bold, red lip - perfect for taking this look from day to evening!

   Overall, I am very impressed with my first taster of Made in Preston clothing and this bodycon midi dress was a total triumph for me. The dress really feels as if it has been constructed with curves in mind; from the seams at the chest and waist, to the bust-flattering sweetheart neckline, adjustable shoulder straps and optical illusion panelling. The dress comes in at £45 and is available in both green and 'winter berry' purple.

  It is fantastic to see a new curve-friendly, trend-led brand on the scene that marries fashionable design with a 'combined-size' fit. I cannot wait to see what Made in Preston has in store for fashion-loving, curvy girls next and I am definitely looking forward to trying more from MiP in the future!

   If you're looking to try Made in Preston for yourself, head to - you can get 20% off your first order with the code: "FIRST20" and don't forget that MiP have a Summer sale on at the moment - the ideal time to grab yourself a busty bargain!


Saturday, 17 May 2014

Cleo by Panache 'Maddie': Bra review

  Panache is a huge name in the fuller bust lingerie sphere and quite rightly so. It has been Panache's mission for over 30 years to provide women the world-over, with quality lingerie that marries form, fashion, function and affordability. The company prides itself on its desire to innovate; at product level, Panache seeks to provide lingerie for different bodies and fit needs, and on a wider scale, Panache strive to lead in a competitive market through campaigns that hinge upon promoting good bra fit and healthy body image.  

   I have been very fond of Panache for years and its sub-brands (Panache Sport and Swimwear, Masquerade, Cleo and (most recently) Cleo Swimwear and Sculptresse). Each sub-brand boasts a distinct identity, with collections that continuously deliver well-fitting and fashionable lingerie to a variety of tastes. 

   Of all of Panache's sub-brands, I predominantly wax lyrical about Masquerade (I am a sucker for luxurious and elegant lingerie like the 'Capella' bra, 'Anise' and 'Amor') but Cleo is definitely an unsung hero of the Panache family on my blog (aside from my review of the Cleo 'Lucy'!)

   What I particularly enjoy about Cleo lingerie is the trendy and fresh vibe that permeates the collections. The designs are fashion-led, with popping colours, quirky prints and pretty detailing; all of which serve as a reminder that fuller bust lingerie can be fun, young and playful!

   When Panache got in touch with me and asked whether I would like to review some of their lingerie, I jumped at the chance. I was incredibly excited to receive a parcel with not one, but two gorgeous Cleo sets inside! One of the sets that I received was the Cleo 'Maddie' bra and matching briefs in aqua..

   The Cleo 'Maddie' comes in sizes 28-38, D-H and is available in various colourways: continuity shades include black and 'nude', fashion variations consist of animal print and aqua, with 'strawberry' and 'floral' as exclusives to Bravissimo. 

   The set that I received was the 'Aqua' colourway; a zingy electric blue/ turquoise shade with a contrasting pink button detail at the centre gore. The bra is a moulded balconette, featuring subtly textured, striped, seamless cups, which are edged by a picot trim. As a regular wearer of moulded plunge bras (such as the Freya Deco), I was especially interested to try a balconette style moulded bra. 

   Neon brights are big news for Spring/ Summer 14 and the electric blue of the 'Maddie' is even more vibrant in the flesh. I instantly fell in love with the highly-saturated aqua shade and the subtle sheen of the fabric, which makes the set look rather luxurious. The pink button detail adds a pop of clashing colour, lending to the set's playful aesthetic.

   Panache have taken the humble seamless bra and have updated it with a stylish stripe pattern, giving the bra subtle textural and visual interest, without compromising on practicality. Generally, the 'Maddie' gives a smooth look under clothing, however, I do find that the lace trim edging shows through slightly under tighter tops and dresses.

   I originally asked for a 30FF in the 'Maddie', but due to recent weight loss, I found myself needing a 28FF instead. Compared to other Cleo styles that I have tried (e.g. 'Lucy', 'Eleanor' and 'Marcie'), I would say that the 'Maddie' comes up looser in the band and more 'true to size'.

   The band does feel quite stretchy and after a few wears, I have already found the need to move on to a tighter hook. (The back band is also quite thin compared to that of some of my other bras - an feature that may not be to everyone's taste.)

   I am pleased to report that the straps are fully adjustable, allowing for increased longevity of wear and a tailored fit (which is ideal for women of different heights and builds). The straps are also quite thin, at just 1.3cm thick, making them well-suited to a Summer wardrobe. It is worth mentioning that the straps are quite widely spaced and this design feature is equally reflected by the wider underwires.

   This brings me to talk about the fit of the 'Maddie', which seems slightly better suited to wider-set breasts. The 28FF is my best fit, although the wider wires and wide strap placement are not the best match for me. As a result, I experience a little bit of 'gapping' at the top of the cups near the armpit, with the straps cutting in slightly at the armpit also (a result of the design being too wide for me). I also find that the 28 back does not completely tack to my sternum, which suggests that this bra is more compatible with shallow breasts.

   Aside from a few fit issues (which are predominantly due to shape incompatibility), the 'Maddie' does feel comfortable to wear. The fabric is soft against the skin and the bra gives a lovely rounded and uplifted shape, resulting in a natural-looking 'Marie Antoinette' cleavage that is ideal for everyday! I also really like the balconette cut, which lends itself well to square necklines.

   I received the matching 'Maddie' briefs in a size 12 (my usual Panache brief size) and they fit perfectly. The shorts feature an all-over seamless stripe pattern, complemented by two diagonal stripes of picot trim and a central pink button detail. The briefs are made of a polyamide, elastane and cotton blend and the material feels buttery soft and smooth against the skin.

   The cut is also very flattering and the briefs have a good amount of stretch, meaning that there is no uncomfortable digging in. My only criticism is that the button prevents the briefs from being 100% seamless, but on the whole, these briefs really deliver on practicality, flattering fit and fashionable design! (Plus, hooray that they are machine washable!)

   The Cleo 'Maddie' set is a great 'fashion staple' and an excellent option for fuller busted ladies who are in search of an eye-catching and trendy moulded balconette bra that serves up comfort, support and style in equal abundance! This set would definitely have appealed to my teenage self too and I am glad that Cleo by Panache is catering fun and practical lingerie solutions to a younger market. The 'Maddie' looks set to remain a continuity style in the Cleo range for seasons to come, with a scrumptious raspberry version coming out this A/W14. 

Cleo 'Maddie' in Raspberry (Coming this A/W14)

   Cleo lingerie is very reasonably priced and the 'Maddie' set comes in at £25 for the bra and £12 for the briefs, available at a range of retailers, such as FigleavesBravissimo and Brastop.

   Keep your eyes peeled for another Cleo by Panache review coming soon and in the meantime, check out the rest of Cleo's gorgeous new Lingerie and Swimwear collections.

What are your favourite pieces from Cleo's latest range?