Saturday, 28 February 2009

Shopper's Bush

This is for my London girlies, on the whole.

Today I went to the Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd's Bush. It's absolutely massive, to the point where they've surely rebuilt much of the infrastructure around S'sB, including the tube station. Very pleasant - I went in through House of Fraser which meant that I accessed the rest of the centre through a rarefied enclave of 'high end' designer shops - Dior, Miu Miu, Mulberry... splendid stuff in the manner of a quick stroll through an art gallery. I did step into Jo Malone - a store of sumptuous scents. A small bottle of cologne is around £30, which isn't too unattainable, but then you start thinking that it would be nice to blend a combination of them, in the recommended manner, to create your signature scent... a game which could become very expensive very quickly. I beat a hasty retreat - although if anyone has too much money and really wants to spend it on a grateful blogger, I thought I'd start with red roses; wild fig and cassis; and nectarine blossom and honey.

My next port of call was the MAC store. I looked in vain for MAC concessions in House of Fraser and Debenhams, until I discovered this standalone shop. It's pretty small and was absolutely rammed with shoppers. There was a security guard standing arms outstetched at the front operating a 'one out: one in' policy, which is a new one on me. MAC is all about the pro-longwear lipcolour (bombproof lipstick), and I'm taking a chance on 'Fully Charged' - a bubblegum pink which is paler in tone than I would normally wear. I hope I don't get too attached to it, because a quick rummage on the internet finding the picture above, tells me that it's been discontinued.

Despite the congestion at MAC, the rest of the centre wasn't oppressively busy - which for a Saturday, is surely amazing. I popped into Rigby and Peller to book a fitting, and got an appointment for only half an hour later. I thought I'd go to the world renowned bra experts out of curiosity really - I'm 95% sure that my 34JJ is the right size, but sometimes there's a little overspill. My fitter was lovely, but initially brought me a 36HH to try, which I didn't come close to fitting into. She conceded this, but seemed to think one cupsize would do the trick. You'll have to take my word for it - but I was busting out all over this bra! It was academic anyway - she thought I was a 36J, and Rigby and Peller don't go up to a J cup in underwired bras, although she could offer me a maternity bra or their made-to-measure service. I'm unimpressed. Back to Bravissimo for me, and I'm not sure I recommend Rigby and Peller at all.

Monsoon was as uninspiring as I expected from my season preview, except for this fabulous sixties-style frock. The photos don't really do it justice, so I'll try to explain. The bodice is a heavy cream fabric with sparkly pale gold thread running though it. Cut far too high for anyone boobalicious, the neckline is pure 1965. Then the skirt is this fantastically synthetic tangerine fabric - I used to own a vintage babydoll nightie in this fabric - it's so of its time. Then there are darling little bows at the top and bottom of the zip, also in the tangerine. So gorgeously retro - I see a couple of my mates in this frock (step forward, Alisa and Lesley). £60.

Lastly, I fell in love with the above mac in Marks and Sparks. It's £59 - which is perhaps a little steep for a raincoat, but the design is delightful for hourglass girls. Deep V neck, single breasted - both good things for flattering big boobs, then a full circle skirt to balance you out. It's cinched with a belt - which adds to the effect. A note on belted coats: the thicker the fabric, the less 'waist' you should try to define. Sadly this design stops at a size 18. I got it on, but I clearly needed a size larger, so it stayed in the shop. You can't win them all.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Vintage Wedding Challenge - The Shoes

Ok - remember Cerian of the Peach Wedding Undies? Oh, come on - it was only a few days ago! Anyway, part two of her quest was the perfect pair of shoes. Let's have a reminder of her dilemma:

...I've got my wedding dress - a gorgeous 1930's art deco gown. Ankle length, halter necked and backless, it's peach silk and cotton with black deco detailing on the bust. ...I'd ... like some shoes that would fit the period and are elegant and pretty but have a not-too-high heel as I will be walking on grass for most of the day!

Well, the good news is that thirties-style heels should be chunky, and for the most part they were what would now be termed mid-height; they will be suitable for walking on grass. I've had a look at some vintage shoes (top), but they don't age terribly well, compared to vintage frocks and the like. Also, choice is limited one size at a time, and shoes were available in a comparatively narrow colour palette except for the very wealthy. The pair on the left are circa 1930, and the other around 1940 - not much changes across the decade, and apart from the heel we're looking at some form of strap, and some deco-influenced structuring over the front of the foot.

Both of the shoes above were wedding shoes - everyday shoes in the 1930s were a deal more substantial, and it is this slightly heavy look, echoing tap shoes, which seems to be in fashion at the moment. Of this type, I did find two contenders, which I feel have enough elegance to suit the occasion.

The colour of these shoes is apparently 'coral', but surely they only call it that to make life harder for shopping bloggers - for anyone can see these are peach. It's a striking combination with the black - and the jet button on the front is a gorgeous period-inspired touch, which must echo the black Deco detailing on the dress. They are heavier than one might imagine a July bride to wear, but they recall the right era, and are smart and slender shoes. I also think Cerian would get a lot of wear from them after the wedding. They're £35 from Faith.

These dolly shoes are more 1920s, to be honest, but they wouldn't look out of place, and the very delicate peach will suit Cerian's palest of pale skin. They're brand new - but I found them on ebay, as they're past season. £32.99.

More along the lines of the vintage wedding shoes at the top are these Velvet Bee stack-heel sandal: £20 from £75. They're not peach, and perhaps the gold is a little glitzy, but shape-wise they're pretty good, and the pale gold is flattering to the skin. However - I've found some shoes that excited me so much, that I've already emailed Cerian, for fear that she'll miss out.

Oh my! look at those suede straps - they have a vintage look and are absolutely right for the era and instead of making a horizontal across the ankle, they encase the heel in long sweeping undulations. Very flattering. They are lightweight and open for a summer wedding, but with a wide enough heel to walk on grass. And they have sequins, godammit. (OK - this might be my thing, but come on - shoes with sequins versus shoes without?). But - and this is killing me here, they only have one pair left. And it's Cerian's size (if I remember rightly). And it's an absolute bargain. Cerian can't get online until tomorrow morning, and I'm so stressed about them being sold that I'm not even going to post the link, or the price - in case you track them down and snaffle them up before her! In fact, even my boyfriend has just been encouraging me to buy them for her 'just in case', which should give you a sense of my agitation. But I can't do it. It would be a bit pushy - and she might not think them as perfect as I do (it'll be those sequins - or the silver heel...), and she might feel obliged. Alternatively, the website might be lying, and they might have two pairs, either of those scenarios and I'll have a pair of shoes which are too big for me. Or I might have remembered her shoe size wrong. Hmm. On balance, I shall wait and see what happens. Que sera, sera - as dear old Dozza Day used to sing.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

I'd like to spanx the Academy

Am I a day late? Well maybe - but this blog isn't about pointing out the good and the bad, but looking at why some of the dresses were so unflattering. Readers - you may not be planning a foray down the red carpet, but we can all learn from these mistakes.

Melissa Leo's Ginger Bridesmaid Dress.

A lot of attention has been directed towards the colour of this dress, and that it matches her hair. Not a brilliant idea, true enough - this kind of pale red hair would be set of beautifully with a lavender, or an eau de nil. But it's the dress itself - the design and the cut of the bodice, and the way it doesn't quite fit her, which is to blame. Scroll down until you can only see the dress from the thigh down. It's absolutely beautiful fabric, and it drapes flatteringly (although I have just noticed those shoes. Heaven's sake!). But the bodice... all those horizontal pintucks are widening, and that's exacerbated by the fact that she doesn't really go in at the waist. She can't help that, of course - but if the bodice were slightly shorter, then the hip flare would start at the waistline. This would give the impression of a waist. Alternatively avoid the waist issue by choosing a Grecian inspired column dress, free floating but straight from beneath a bandeau-style top. The bit over the boobs looks completely flat. Now if you google image search Melissa Leo you'll see some lovely tasteful topless shots, and she does have boobs, albeit modest. Therefore, she needs a bodice which supports them. Alternatively, she may choose not to display her boobs - in which case she needs to avoid this kind of neckline; it's too much of a frame to have nothing displayed in it.

Rachel Weisz is Dominatrix Barbie

One of the most beautiful women on the planet, who appears not to have got the memo that this was a bit of a 'do', and has come halfway through changing between a day at the beach and a night at a fetish club. But let us ignore the dubious styling, and stick to the unflattering nature of this look. Firstly, you might be tall and slim - but every woman has less pretty parts, and Rachel Weisz has knobbly knees. Knobbly knees are not a terrible body flaw, but the length of this beacon-bright skirt effectively points to them. Bare legs are fine - even if you have pale skin - in fact, I applaud Rachel for not worshipping at the shrine of St Tropez, but they do nothing to disguise the knobbliness, where stockings would give a more even tone. The clumpy shoes make her slim legs look spindly - again drawing attention to those knees. Because her legs are long and slim, she could just about get away with the short-and-fat effect created by this type of sandal (see also shoeboots, gladiator sandals etc), and they belong to the same outfit as the top, but that coordination just makes us notice the skirt more. If the shoes weren't quite so in tune with the top, we wouldn't be staring at this terrible item. This skirt is proof, if it were needed, that tulip skirts flatter no one. It doesn't make her look fat, granted - but on someone slim it just hangs very oddly, and again makes her legs look all the more frail below.

Beyonce's Curvy Curtains

There's a reason why patterns on clothes aren't usually that big. The scale needs to be on a bigger canvas - like a sofa. Beyonce has an amazing, body - world class curves - and this dress accentuates them, it's true. The vertical panelling is usually a good idea for elongating the look, but sadly here it has a negative effect. The front and back panels, sewn together, look like they would make a whole dress for an A-list starlet elsewhere on the red carpet. Because the side panels are a different fabric it has the unfortunate effect of looking like they were added to 'let out' the dress for someone who'd had a few too many puddings. This is particularly noticeable in the rear view. The back panel needs to be wider to make the side panels look less substantial. Then there's the matter of the fishtail. Lots of those about right now, and not entirely a bad thing - they repeat the pattern of the hourglass curves, and the overall impression is very sexy, as Beyonce herself often demonstrates:

But the difference here is the weight of the fabric. In the Oscars frock there's too much bulk to flow gracefully from the gathers and it looks boxy and stiff. This heavy flounce gives an impression of weight and connection to the floor - poor Beyonce looks stumpy.

Alicia Keyes's Purple Pleats.

Most of the problem here is the bodice. There's no structure to differentiate the boobs from the rest of the torso, and while the one starburst of pintucks emanating from the right boob is potentially quite dramatic, there's then a horrible mess of pintucks going every which direction. It's a mess, and it makes her look all square and boxy above the hip, and even slightly bulbous over the tummy. I'm not sure about the colour either - it could do with being lighter or darker - the tone here makes her look a little washed out.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Vintage wedding challenge

The blushing bride.

Hi Charlotte,

Right, I've got my wedding dress - a gorgeous 1930's art deco gown. Ankle length, halter necked and backless, it's peach silk and cotton with black deco detailing on the bust. The thing is, like a lot of 1930's gowns it's a bit on the see-through side so I need a peach silk half slip to go under it. I'd also like some silk cami knickers in vintage style and some shoes that would fit the period and are elegant and pretty but have a not-too-high heel as I will be walking on grass for most of the day! For all these things I am open to either vintage or new as long as the style is right.
There's no hurry though - I've got until July to find these things! And just for you, you should check out for dresses that I know you will love. I have one in red and white spots with a circle skirt and I think I'm going to get another with a pencil skirt.
Cerian xxx

Cerian is a friend of mine from acting school - a stunning blonde who is completely lovely and down-to-earth, as well as incredibly stylish. Silk underwear will really make the outfit feel special - and I'd guess that's pretty important for a bride. But what at first seemed to me a relatively interesting task that would throw up lots of options has proved tricky. Peach isn't so popular at the moment, and then of course most underwear is in poly-satin, rather than silk.

'High end' silk undies tend to come in seasonal collections - drawing on the designer's feelings for colour and style in the contemporary fashion. I saw some lovely french knickers in chocolate silk with pistachio trims, but not the classic elegance Cerian wants. Prices are somewhat eyewatering too - One of my closest finds was this Roseanna Ansaloni peach cami and french knickers set - is £85 - reduced from £120 - and is absolutely at the cheap end of 'designer'. It's only available in a size 12 (not sure what size Cerian is) and anyway she doesn't need the camisole - pretty as it is. Back to the drawing board.

There are, of course some cheaper options - Charlotte and co have these french knickers for a cheap 7.50 but they're rather boyish and a very pinky peach (I'm cheating anyway - they call that colour 'petal'). The option above right is by Lepel (£18), and while the colour is better, they're super-modern.

So if we want somthing older, howabout vintage? Both these pairs are unworn but original garments. The one on the left is from the twenties, and the other the forties, but things haven't changed terribly much in between. By the way, when my grandmother was a teenager they used to call this style of knickers 'easy feelers', which is rather fabulous, I think. The down side of vintage is threefold. Firstly, the biggest dealers in vintage undies are based in America, so shipping will be extra (although... how much can they weigh?) Secondly, these are rare items and priced accordingly. The older pair are $70, the other $45, and the exchange rate isn't what it was. Lastly, vintage clothes are individual items. The choice of size is the size they happen to be. Measure carefully before you buy: dress sizes have changed hugely over the years, and remember these have no elastic.

So if we're considering a transatlantic import, can I find the perfect items stateside? Not really. I like these, I really do - they're probably the loveliest modern french knickers (or 'tap pants' as they're known across the pond) I've seen in my quest, but the fact remains, they aren't peach: they're frappe, and we all know that means coffee.

No, I haven't really solved this one. I like the vintage ones, but getting a matching slip would be hard. Indeed, believe it or not I found only one long peach silk half slip on the entire net. And I'm not going to post a photo, because it's just horrible. They can make it in peach silk but the photo shows encrusting with nasty scratchy cheap lace. Have a link if you must: custom slip £50. I've discounted a couple of knickers for that reason too.

But I will not be beaten, so this is my suugestion: make your own.

My research has taught me that french knickers are pretty simple to sew, and a half slip must be easier than that. I really like the idea of sewing part of your trousseau, in an old fashioned kind of way - but if not, it's the sort of job an accommodating relation or local seamstress would be able to take on with no problem. Choose a beautiful silk - the perfect colour, weight, finish - and sew it to a vintage pattern. There are specialist websites like the one linked to, selling absolutely authentic patterns - but I rather think this more modern pattern is just the thing, combining as it does the slip and knickers in one coherant design. The patterns instruct a flattering and authenticly thirties bias cut, and Cerian can embellish it with some gorgeous old lace if she wants - or leave it plain for the smoothest line under her dress. If the size isn't right, there are some straightforward instructions on scaling patterns up and down on the internet.

I'm still working on the shoes. Watch this space...

Marks and Sparks and the capsule wardrobe.

You know all those promotional emails from internet retailers? I read them. One such came today from Marks and Sparks, announcing a capsule wardrobe collection called 'Dress for Less'. It's okay, I suppose: the dress would be nice unless you have no boobs / tummy issues, but I'm not inspired. The whole concept of a capsule wardrobe strikes me as odd. Buy five (or thereabouts) pieces and rotate them through all permutations to fulfill every sartorial eventuality in any given season.

Where's the fun in that?

M&S have chosen from a fairly limited price range for their pieces:
  • Dress £29.50
  • Jumper £18.00
  • Jeans £19.50
  • Skirt £19.50
  • Blouse £7.50Align Centre
Which comes to a total of £94. And yet, I don't think it's terribly versatile at all - two of the outfits are almost identical and four of them are pretty much exclusively smart /workwear. I don't think that scoop neck jumper works with the blouse, and there's no arm coverage if you're wearing the frock. It's also horribly grey. I think I can do better.

My first choice is a versatile frock - don't worry it comes in black, but this clovery pink is absolutely gorgeous and will suit just about every skintone except the very rosy of cheek or flame of hair. The less fitted cut is more forgiving below the waist, the sleeves provide coverage and the asymmetrical draping at the bust and waist (but not over the hips) provides flattering diagonal eye lines. It would be fun as it is for a birthday party or meal out, and with the next item, is completely respectable and smart for work. £25.

Item two: you can never have too many vests. Vests take up hardly any drawer space (fold in half lengthwise, then roll), are cheap and last forever. My choice is this Lace panel empire line vest £9.50. Not lacy as in see-through, but detailed and feminine on the part that's going to be visible under your dress. If you preferred the black dress, then you have the choice of keeping the vest black too, or going for the cream version, which may be a less draining colour to have near the face. And when else can you wear it? Around the house or visiting friends at the weekend - you'll need something warm on top, though.

This cardigan (£39.50) might not look terribly impressive, but it has great potential. First, imagine it undone with the belt tied loosely behind the back - it has clean lines, good drape and will serve as a soft jacket for the dress. Now imagine it over the vest top - it has cashmere in the mix so it'll feel soft next to your skin. Personally, at home I'd leave the buttons undone but do up the belt - in the manner of a dressing gown. Then, when I'm out with friends the buttons are done up, covering all my wobbly abdomen bits. Err on the side of generosity for size if you do have wobbly bits - you don't want the buttons to strain. Oh, and keep your hands out of your pockets - silly model!

So - vest on top: on the bottom? These Bootcut Linen trousers are as smart as you want to make them, and a bargain at £15. Press the seams if you need to be work-smart, or wear like pyjama pants when the pressure is off. I love black linen - the creases show less in black, I find, and you can wear these trousers with smart shoes, trainers, and even flip flops into the summer. You could even wear them underneath the dress, if you like that hippy kind of look, especially if you made the dress a little less formal by breaking up the clean neckline with a long scarf or beads.

And lastly? A proper top to wear with those trousers. I'm not a big fan of blouses, because they don't flatter my boobs - but this short-sleeved gingham blouse (£12) is too cute not to love (check the link - gingham doesn't show clearly in small photos). It comes in red or black, and will work with or without the cardigan in a workplace environment. If you have bigger boobs, wear it with the vest top and unbutton it to relieve strain on the buttons and give a flattering V neck, and then everyone can unbutton it all the way for a more casual look - or, if you want a country-flavoured party look, knot the unbuttoned shirt below your boobs - leave the vest off if you have fabulous abs to flaunt.

So that's my version. Mine comes to £101 - so it's a tad more than the original collection - but I gave you a cashmere mix cardi. Replace that with the more standard polycotton version (pretty much identical except for the lack of belt), which is only £25 and my total is a snip at £85.50.

More importantly, these are wearable, practical, yet gorgeous clothes which can be worn to flatter most ages and shapes - and adapted for a true variety of occasions. For me, the exercise has been theoretical: even if you were into the capsule wardrobe as a concept, you've no reason to restrict yourself to one shop. But there's no reason for wearable, versatile clothes to be dull - no matter how many of them you buy.

Hair do (bee-doo-bee-doo).

before and after

Hello, my name's Charlotte and it had been 18 months since my last haircut. Partly down to laziness, partly shame. It had been a similar length of time since I last hennaed my hair, and my roots were ear-length. I'm a great believer that in the fraught world of 'getting your hairdresser to give you what you ask for', it's very important to go in looking stylish and groomed.

But I recently did henna my hair, and with it being half term (a week of school, for my international readers), and with the first of this year's weddings happening this Saturday, I thought it timely to get chopped. I'd heard a lot about It's Something Hells in Kingly Court - off Carnaby Street. It's a small concern: only one female stylist: Miss Betty - a gorgeous flame-haired frenchwoman. She was very sweetly horrified by the length of my hair, but I assured her I was more than happy to have it drastically reduced, and she set about doing so (with that customary hairdresser's knack of cutting it to a level significantly higher than the one you both agreed on...).

After cutting, she styled it with tongs and pins, setting it in great fat barrel rolls which she then unpinned, brushed through, and magically coaxed into perfect, sexy waves. I floated out of the shop on a cloud of gorgeousness, and sadly into a mist of fine drizzle - so that by the time I got home to take these photos, the full effect was somewhat diminished. My own fault. Should have taken and umbrella, or a headscarf, or both.

The haircut is, of course completely wearable without the retro setting: I'm not a full-time rockabilly gal - not even in the holidays. It is shorter than I've worn my hair for about ten years (since my traumatic televised haircut for BBC2's now defunct 'Looking Good') but that isn't really troubling me at the moment. Maybe I'm ready for a shade more sophistication?

It cost £50 for a cut and full style, which considering the time it took (1hr 15mins) and the 'specialness' of the treatment - I think compares favourably with my regular hairdresser's price of £35. Absolutely no use to readers outside London, and of somewhat niche interest to the rest, I still thought I'd share. The dress is the one in the black and white photo on the left. It was from Evans about a year ago, so no shopping recommendations either. Normal service will be resumed soon.

I reckon I'll be due another cut at the end of April, just before my sister's wedding. Can't wait.

the salon

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Feet and Balance

Lovely reader Ceej has just bought the dress above in black. It's only £17.13, but she's a habitual jeans wearer, and is a little stumped by her stumps.

Question - shoes. I've high round-toed black courts, or same with 3 mary-jane straps but both make my calves look huge and feet look teeny - big calves make even size 7's look little! Any ideas for trampy shoes that don't make me look like an upside-down triangle? Boots look weird. The thick calves don't really lend themselves to ankle straps, and as it's a posh-ish do, I want to wear stockings. Thinking dark black legs, and heels but the shoes I have make my size 7 feet look small and by legs look big (whereas they're both big, in truth!). I could wear lighter shoes, but then I'd have to wear lighter legs.

Ahh, I do sympathise, having even bigger, shorter calves and considerably smaller feet myself, I am aware of my silhouette below the waist looking like this: W. It's not an easy one to solve. Not least, you have the basic problems to contend with relating to heel height. The higher your heel, the smaller your feet look, and so are less able to balance out the size of your calf. However it's just as true that the higher your heel, the thinner your calf looks... Lose:lose. In some circumstances you can add balance to the feet by choosing quite a chunky high heel, but that isn't appropriate here. One option is to go for a platform shoe, such as these patent shoes from Faith (£49). Taste may vary regarding these: they're quite Minnie Mouse, but I love their curvy-chunky shape. The high gloss finish will also help to make the feet look wider, and the heel is chunky while still being feminine. It's a really good idea that larger-built women choose slightly thicker heels to balance out their rear view.

Ceej is right about mary janes and ankle straps. Any horizontal line will shorten and widen the leg, visually - moreso the higher up the foot it comes. A mary jane strap (or three) - that is a strap across the foot, dolly-style - will also widen and shorten the foot. Now widening isn't a problem, but we don't want shortening. Consequently any detailing on the shoe needs to be as close to the toe as possible, in order that it doesn't interfere with the uninterrupted clean, black leg-line. Detail, though, can add to the visual impact of the feet, and help with that desirable visual balancing. The first pair are £22 from New Look. Again with a concealed platform, the bow adds interest, although the cork effect heel might be a little casual. Not casual at all is the other pair. They're from Schuh and cost £43.87. The knot detailing over the toe adds focus, as does the peep toe (sheer tights with peeptoes? I say 'yes') but most glorious is the subtle shimmer effect. These shoes are less obviously bulky, and so perhaps an 'easier' choice - but their 'balancing out' qualities will be more subtle, too.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Cheap and Cheaper

Simply Be. Internet and mail order company stocking lines for sizes 14-32. Win points for having a generally bolder sense of design than High Street competitors Evans - lose points for being of massively variable quality, and having large amounts of just really ugly clothes. I always feel like Simply Be should be cheaper than it is, to compensate for the last two points. When they have significant reductions, however, it becomes much more interesting to me.

Party season may be over, but this little black dress is a great wardrobe standby. I know most of you will love the sleeves - designed to flatter even the largest arms. The sash is interchangeable with a black one, apparently - but if you have a significant tummy you might want to leave the bow off altogether. It comes in two lengths: the shorter is now only £22.50 - reduced from £75 (it's from the Caryn Franklin range and therefore attracted a bigger price tag). The longer version is better for more formal events, but costs £40 (reduced from £80). Terrible choice of shoes with bare legs, by the way: they make her ankles look thick.

Also by Caryn Franklin is this rather splendid red blouse - great for brunettes, and wearable for all shapes because of the flattering V neck. Bigger boobed reader should probably err on the larger side to avoid button strain. It's £10 - reduced from £40. The cropped jeans come in black or indigo, and the split at the calf helps them to flare, and hence visually balance out your thighs - very curvy. It also means that the line between your leg and your hem is less defined, which is also very flattering. £10.50.

These leather boots are available in a massive variety of calf widths, and cost £26. The link takes you to the page for the largest width, drop me an email if you can't find the page for the size you want. I love the plum colour, but the tan has a real retro, 'Cagney and Lacey' feel to it, if you know what I mean.

Lastly, some bras. The size range is limited beyond my use, but most of you should be able to take advantage of these offers. The first is by Freya at Fantasie, and comes in blush (shown) and black - £17. It's a truly fab bra - great shape and uplift. I own it in 6 different colours (it's stocked in more sizes elsewhere). Available up to an F cup. Long term SSS readers will recognise the next bra. It's by Panache who are a great brand. It's a steal at £14, available up to a G cup, and doesn't the size 14 underwear model look refreshingly curvy? The last of this trio is by a brand I've never heard of and only available up to an E cup - but I've included it because it's fabulous fun, and would look amazing on show beneath a deep V neck or wrap dress / top. £12. Follow the links on the pages top the matching knickers etc.