Browsing Tag


Retro / Vintage, Swimwear

Super swimwear for 2012 – my latest bikini and swimsuit picks for all sizes

It’s SUMMER, guys! And you know what that means. Holidays, hot weather, and the possibilty of having to strip off the layers and flash a bit of flesh. Despite not being a willowy size 8, I’ve never really had a huge problem with stripping down to swimwear in the Summer. To be honest, I’m less bothered about the amount of flesh on show and more worried about the inevitable “you’re so PALE!” comments. Perhaps being such an English rose (ha!) helps to detract from the cellulite…but it also helps to have a killer swimsuit or bikini to draw the eye in. I tend to favour very feminine, vintage-inspired designs and anything with frills or spots. My favourites this year are a mix of frilled swimsuits, cool modern styles and bikinis that make the most of a voluptuous figure. Here are just some of my favourites…

Red or Dead ‘maps’ two piece bikini £36.50 at Amazon – I’m so sad this is yellow (one of the colours that just looks terrible on me) because not only do I love the frilled skirt for hiding that diggy-in hip thing anyone with a bit of flesh will always get with a bikini, but also because I absolutely adore the London map print. So cute, and so apt for a Londoner on tour! Red or Dead make some of the best retro-inspired swimwear on the market right now, and this is my fave for 2012.

Skirted swimsuit with piping detail £38 ASOS
– I have the plan black version of this swimsuit from last year, but I’m really excited to see they’ve bought the shape back this year with added white piping. It is without a doubt the most striking swimsuit I’ve tried – I truly believe it looks better on a curvier figure than on a slim one, so I’m sad ASOS only make it up to a size 16. Hopefully a Curve version is coming soon, because this deserves to be worn!

Curvy Kate Caribbean bikini top £32 and briefs £17 at Simply Yours – Let’s talk about how excited I am that Curvy Kate have branched out into swimwear! I’m a huge fan of their lingerie; it’s comfy, stylish, affordable and available in a good range of sizes, so getting all that in swimwear too is a big deal. At Simply Be you can get the bottoms up to a size 20 and the top up to a K cup in some band sizes. There’s also a tankini if you prefer a bit more coverage.

Kansas bikini top £34 and frilled brief £28 Freya – I was blown away by the quality of the swimwear at the Freya press day. So often when you get DD+ swimwear, style and trends have been sacrificed in the name of fit. But Freya manage to combine both, and I love their retro-inspired ranges. A lot of pieces have frilled bottoms, high waists or skirted bottoms. For 2012, Kansas is the new kid on the block. The pale blue gingham is a nice change from polka dots, but still has that vintage touch. It hits stores / online in July, so get your reminders set now!

Blue floral frill swimsuit £38 Floozie by Frost French at Debenhams – I know a lot of you will probably turn your nose up at an adults swimsuit that looks just like the ones worn by 5 year olds in the 80s (go on, you know you had some frilled florals). But I love my swimwear cutesy, and this is about as cutesy as you’re going to get. Just add cats eye sunglasses and chunky wedge sandals to complete the look.

Marilyn swimsuits in royal blue $102 Pinup Girl Clothing – If it’s good enough for Dita Von Teese, it’s good enough for me. I’ve spoken a lot about Esther Williams swimsuits on here before (and I own one of the bikinis) but if you fancy a proper 50s inspired swimsuit from elsewhere, Pinup Girl Clothing is the place to go. This royal blue is my absolute favourite, but the Marilyn comes in plenty of other colours too.

Black parrot print Pacha beaded bikini £26 River Island – Though I’m not exactly the Ibiza-dwelling target market, I really love the River Island / Pacha collaboration, mostly because of the immense amount of co-ordinating pieces you can get to go with all the swimwear. Want a strappy beach maxi, or a one-shoulder scarf dress? No probs! And the bikins themselves are pretty cool too. This frilled parrot print one is my personal fave, I love all the beaded frills.

Blue rio print one-piece swimsuit £34 Topshop – This swimsuit is the complete antithesis of my usual style, but for some reason I just love it. So much so I’ve used it in outfit picks before, and I’m sorely tempted to treat myself before they sell out. I love that it could easily be worn as a top in the evening on a beach holiday, tucked into a pair of shorts. The only thing that would make it better is if the print were Las Vegas, not Rio!

Fifties swimsuit £49 Boden – I don’t own a thing from Boden, but I do think their swimwear is really pretty and very good if you want something with a little more coverage than most younger stores give. The fifties swimsuit comes in various prints and has ruching down the sides to streamline and make the most of a good waist. There’s also a lovely polka dot bikini / tankini set that you can mix and match depending on how confident you’re feeling!

Espana ruffle one-shoulder swimsuit $148 Monif C – If you’re plus sized and tired of all swimsuits being ridiculous skirted floral numbers and ugly, frumpy designs, Monif C is the designer for you. The one thing her designs are not is boring! I love the one-shouldered Espana, which has boning and powermesh for a great fit, and ties to adjust for the right fit on the leg. This design also comes in red.

Green floral padded bikini top £16 and frilled bottoms £12 Next – Green is a really great colour both tanned and pale skin, making it a great choice if you’re off to sun yourself, and I love this shape which really makes the most of those ‘assets’. A padded bikini top works for any cup size; it pushes up smaller boobs for a bit of a lift, and it shapes and holds larger ones for a great shape. Next swimwear also has the benefit of being really good quality – this will see you through more than one Summer if you take care of it.

Brown and white leaf-print bikini top £8 and bottoms £4 George at Asda – This is my favourite bargain bikini of the season. Teaming a bit of cool neon with a classic print, it’s a great one for showing off a tan and the shape is very classic and works on a variety of body shapes. I also applaud George for going up to an E/F cup too.

Tummy control scoop neck wrap swimsuit £29.50 Marks & Spencer – Ignoring the ‘tummy control’ element of this, I just love the unusual wrap design and clever colourblocking that make it a bit different to a classic plan swimsuit. I also really like that it comes in a longer length, making it a perfect choice for tall women who want something a bit unusual.

Shapewear, Special Ranges, Tried & Tested, Uncategorized

Tried & Tested: Gok Wan ‘Curve Controller’

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of shapewear. I love the 1950s nipped-waist silhouette and wear a lot of wiggle dresses that benefit from a good foundation (and no VPL). That said, I see shapewear as a smoothing, shaping garment, not a miracle fix. I don’t really subscribe to the whole ‘magic pants will make you thin’ idea – this is about creating a shape with the curves you have, not making them disappear completely!

In the past I’ve tried – and been impressed with – pieces from the previous Gok Wan collection for Simply Yours. I was recently offered the chance to try something from the new range, and I jumped at the chance to see what they’d done to improve it.

After trying the corset and the slip last time, this time around I decided to go for the bodysuit, called the ‘Curve Controller‘. I went for the black, which has a nude trim and animal print detail, but it also comes in nude and turquoise.

My first impressions were that, once again, the product was high quality (to match the fairly high price tag). A lot of thought has been put into the construction to make sure it works for larger sizes, and the detailing gives it a bit of edge. Though you’re never going to want to slip it on for a hot date, the body looks less matronly and a bit more alluring than some shapewear, and the nude trim is a nice touch. The back has a long hook-and-eye fastening which is tricky to put on, but works well once it’s fastened to keep everything in place. There’s also ruching down the bum to hug curves – great under trousers or very fitted dresses.

The powermesh inside is the bit that does all the hard work, helping to create a smoother line under clothing. Luckily, it does this without feeling too tight and sweaty. It’s constrictive, yes, but it’s not like wearing a corset – you can still slouch a bit and because it’s a bodysuit, you don’t get the irritating roll-down (or fleshy overhang) you might get with big knickers.

For the redesign, the powermesh (which was hot pink in my older pieces) comes in animal print. I guess this is a bit of a marmite design detail. I love a bit of OTT glam so it gets my vote, but others might think it’s a bit much, and I’m not so sure it works on the turquoise version. But the main thing to consider is that it doesn’t show once the garment’s being worn, so it’s just a little bit of fun!

I was glad to see one of my least favourite elements of the previous range – the jingly bell on the centre of the bust – had been ditched in favour of a little ‘G’ charm. It’s meant to stand for ‘Gok’ of course, but since we share the same initial, nobody need know that!

The other good news, for me at least, is that the style of the bra on these pieces has also been changed. It’s gone from a plunge to a balconette, which I find a much more comfortable shape. However, I did find the cups on this body to be a bit big and quite…pointy! Once I was in it was fine, because the cups are smooth, have small half-cup pads and maintain their shape, but I think I could have easily gone down a cup size, maybe even two.

A close-up of the cup and internal powermesh

The body itself runs fairy true-to-size, bearing in mind it’s shapewear so it’s meant to be tight-fitting. That said, it comes in cup / back sizes rather than dress sizes, and if you’ve been measured for a bra somewhere like Bravissimo where they fit very close to the body with small back sizes, you may wish to go a band size up or fastening up the hook and eye closure will be a nightmare. I went up one band size and the fit was perfect (though that may go some way to explaining why the cups were a little big).

The final consideration with this body, of course, is the gusset. It fastens with a hook and eye mechanism too, which I have to say is the biggest problem for me. It’s a complete nightmare when you’re in a public toilet trying to contort yourself to fasten it! I would have much preferred good quality poppers or press-studs, though I understand why the hook and eye has been chosen. As shapewear is so fitted, there’s a lot of pressure on the seams and joins – poppers may well have just popped open all the time, and the hooks do hold it securely. It just takes some getting used to. And I definitely wouldn’t recommend it if you know you’re going to be out drinking!

I’ve worn this body a few times now, mostly under close-fitting dresses to give a bit of a smoother outline down my torso. It’s comfortable, it does the job it’s supposed to and it never budges. On the downside, it’s quite hot (rest assured it will not be worn to any Summer weddings if the weather continues to be as beautiful as it has been) and the hook and eye gusset takes a lot of fiddling to get used to.

However, overall, I think the pros outweigh the cons by a huge margin and if you need something to wear under a dress with a close-fitting waist, it’s really good for creating a bit of an hourglass look. It comes in big cup and back sizes and is really well made to suit a more voluptuous figure.

Disclosure: Simply Yours sent this product free of charge for me to review. However, the review is honest and I was not paid to publish it.


Why I love Christina Hendricks

Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks is a babe. With that gravity-defying bosom and handspan waist, she definitely embodies the kind of curvy girl many of us would love to be. A dress worn by the star to the SAG awards was recently auctioned off. Back then, her measurements were 40-28-40. Those are some curves! With her Marilyn-esque proportions, she’s a poster girl for the curvaceous woman. Let’s face it, nobody pulls off a wiggle dress like Joan Holloway!

To channel Joan’s look in real life, your best bet is obviously vintage. Pieces were cut much smaller in the waist back then – perfect for hourglass women like Ms Hendricks. The US is the best place to go if you have a bigger waist measurement. There’s much more floating around in larger sizes than you’ll find in Europe. Try eBay, of course (don’t underestimate those ‘bulk’ vintage lots, loads crop up on Australian eBay for some reason) and make sure you know your bust, waist and hip measurements. There’s nothing worse than buying something you love only to find it doesn’t fit (you can take stuff in, but you can’t let it out).

If you’d rather not hunt down second hand pieces, there are some great brands making modern reproduction pieces too. Try Bettie Page clothing, a Vegas-based boutique and online store full of wiggle dresses and retro pieces. They go up to a sze 3X, which has a waist somewhere between 34 and 38 inches.

Stop Staring is also a popular brand, worn by Paris Hilton, on Gossip Girl and modelled by Ashley Greene from Twilight. The figure-hugging Mae dress is very Joan, and again sizes go up to a 3X.

Don’t underestimate the power of decent underwear, too. In the 50s and 60s women sculpted and shaped their silhouettes with girdles, we can do the same with a a lot less pain with modern shapewear (though most of it is nowhere near as pretty as the stuff the cast of Mad Men get to wear). See the Big Girls Browse lingerie section for some ideas on what’s out there.

For more tips on buying retro reproduction, check out . As this look is so flattering on the fuller figure, a lot of the brands featured make their dresses in larger sizes.

[images courtesy of AMC]

Featured, Lingerie, Shapewear

Big Girl tries Gok Wan shapewear


He makes a living out of making women look and feel gorgeous, so it’s no surprise that Gok Wan has branched out into Big Girl’s secret weapon, shapewear.

The right slip, corset, bra or big knickers can really make a difference to an outfit. You can slim your silhouette, enhance those curves and keep everything in check.

Gok’s range offers a bit of everything from Bridget Jones esque knickers to the sexier slip and satin corsets. My tip is the Sassy Slip for £55. Don’t let the naff name put you off, this baby hoists your boobs, sucks in your tummy and has suspender clips for those looking to make their shapewear sexy. This is the closest to a proper old-fashioned girdle you’ll find without buying vintage. With a padded plunge bra, adjustable & convertible straps and a super-strong hook and eye fastening that extends all the way down to the hips it gives plenty of support up top. Further down there’s loads of seriously strong powermesh to keep your lumps and bumps at bay, and a hook-and-eye fastened internal gusset (not so much sexy as practical).

If you want something more practical, the same style is available in a bodysuit – the Curve Controller (£55). This is great under trousers, or if you hate the restrictive feeling of an old-fashioned girdle style.

Also worth a look is the Sex Kitten Corset (£45), which is made to go under your clothes, but is nice enough to be worn as a top if you’ve got the boobs to fill it out (just swap the bright pink ‘Gok’ emblazoned ribbons for the plain black). With clever design additions like a slightly stretchy section on the sides and beautifully curved sweetheart cups that flatter (and support) a bigger bust, this is the one to go for if you want something that’ll look just as good to others as it will to you. There’s a mini waspie version if you’d rather wear a bra, too.

View and shop the whole range here in sizes 34A – 42G or 8 – 32.