Much love for the pretty bras

As you may know, I am not always a fan of mastectomy fashion. When I think mastectomy bras, I think of words like: practical, suitable, supportive. But, what I’d rather be thinking is: sexy, beautiful, fun. So, today, I’m going to share with you three people’s online projects – all created with the wonderful intention to support breast cancer survivors (and have a little fun at the same time), and all playing on the idea (what a realization!) that women like to feel pretty.

In today’s post, it’s all about feeling sexy; sexy is self-confidence. And looking beautiful, as you well know , instantly helps in feeling better.  Check out what these online ladies are up to.

Hot shop:

About a Girl – aka At Forty One – has been nominated for “New UK lingerie design 2011” (vote here, if you’d like to help them win). This is a fresh company on the scene and looking for support. I’ll tell you what – their silk bras are gorgeous. I mean, many mastectomy bras offer support and comfort, but these pieces offer style too. From cherry reds, lilac purples and champagne accents, my jaw dropped when I saw Amy’s (the creator) pieces of pretty. “Finally!” I said to myself,  or to the computer screen, depending on how you want to consider the scenario, “something other than beige!”

What also makes About a Girl so wonderfully exciting is that Amy (who has had a mastectomy herself, which was what kick-started her interest in finding better lingerie) actually designs her own bras and – AND – recruits hot bathing suit designers who agree to turn their designer bikinis and full pieces into mastectomy-ready wear (speaking of which, About a Girl has offered a kind 10% off any swimwear purchase made over the next week, so if you want to look pretty (and double breasted) by the pool, stop by and check out her shop. Discount code: BB080611OAS  ).

Being on the internet, About a Girl can ship worldwide – which is why *call out to any 34 AA women near Brighton in the UK* I’ll still keep waiting for their silk bras to be tailored for my small chest, even once arriving in Canada.  If you’re near their shop, At Forty One, and want to lend a hand, they’re looking for a model in that particular size to fit the bra.

Hot cause:

Bras for the Cause – Middle East.

One Wig Stand (who, by the way, oozes with creative bursts of awesome) has teamed up with Fustany to launch this bra design competition in the Middle East. It’s all about awareness, and (hopefully) will have pockets for your falsie of choice.

Good news: the competition is still on if you want to get involved, with voting to take place later this month. It’s a collaboration of designers, fashionistas, and simply anyone with a great idea. How could beautiful bras not result from this competition? (I’m freaking excited to see what get produced from this engaging initiative. What do you get when mixing creative minds with a good cause and a bra template? I don’t know, we’ll see.)

Better news: The bras should be available for international shipping, meaning everyone can look pretty.

I love these sort of things. They build awareness, and improve my wardrobe.  Click here to check this out for yourself.

Hot alternative:

Because sometimes one breast is all you need. Cathie in France has developed a new kind of bra for the beautiful Amazonian women, Souti1. She’s been working hard to make this possible, and the result is a lovely, lacy number that will support your remaining breast (if you had the other one removed). It’s a single cup sensation.  Now, at the moment, her bras are all handmade – so you know the quality is high (which also corresponds to the price). Check it out and see what you think. And keep watching this space, because you never know what may develop in the land of single sided bras.

Cathie was one of the first women I met through the internet. She left a lovely comment on a guest post I’d written, and I was so happy to have her support over the months of recovery and treatment. Even though she’s all the way in Paris – that never hindered her ability to drop a kind word. See, that’s the internet used well.

*

How’s that for a slice of international pie? England, France and the Middle East. And it reflects a worldwide shift in after-surgery lingerie. Mastectomy (bi lateral, lumpectomay, etc) no longer translates into ‘boring, practical, and beige’ (am I harping on the beige too much? Well probably, it is very practical. I just think  if you’re going to offer me a variation between black and white, give me blue, or purple or yellow or – goodness me – pink!). And so, we can feel pretty in our under things as we pose and twirl before our mirrors.

If you know of any more great shops/products/causes that help women feel beautiful within themselves (e.g. look good feel better workshops) please don’t hesitate to let me know.  Here’s a quick list of today’s mentioned sites. Why not treat yourself to some virtual browsing (and maybe some creative thinking for Bras for a Cause)? Can’t hurt, can it?

http://www.aboutthegirl.co.uk/

http://www.fustany.com/brasforacause/index.html

http://www.souti1.com/

Mastectomy shopping

Beauty is good for you, don’t you think? Yesterday I sat in a cathedral and listened as a touring choir rehearsed for the evening’s concert. It was absolutely fulfilling. There’s something so awe inspiring about high vaulted ceilings and light shinging through stain glass windows;  Somehow a place that large inspires peacefulness. Throw in a round of fifty harmonized voices and wow – that’s something powerful.

But – Zsolt and I didn’t travel along the A3 to Chichester just to visit pretty places. We were shopping for boobs.

The last mastectomy store I walked into (in Southampton) was not impressive. The sales lady stood behind her counter the entire time, the selection was minimal, and my bra size turned out to be way tiny on the UK sizing charts. FACT: in England they have a AA cup, which is essentially the same size as a North American A cup. Ugh. Therefore, I can kiss any hopes of ever reaching B again my life good bye. Good bye, you curvy mounds of womanhood.

But whatever. I’m a double A, and thankful to at least have one remaining breast. She’s small, but she’s mine. And according to the last ultrasound, she’s healthy too.

Right – so, shopping for boobs.

Since radiotherapy it’s been uncomfortable to wear bras. The burning and strain made the entire idea impossible. However, it’s now been one month since radio finished, and while the tan remains – the burn has faded. Wearing a bra is less uncomfortable.

Therefore, I decided it was time to try another mastectomy shop. This one, Nicola Jane, has an online presence and several shops across the country – one being in Chichester.

Unlike a proper retail shop, this place doesn’t have a displays in the window. In fact, it doesn’t have a window. Instead the store is located amongst offices, and you (me, we the clients) need to enter a small hall, then push through the door marked, “Come in.”

So Zsolt and I went in. And  you know, at first I was a little disappointed. It looked almost exactly like the previous shop – samples on the racks, but otherwise you didn’t get that ‘pretty lingerie shop’ feeling.  You know those shops? Carpet flooring, pink everywhere, long gilded mirrors, lace, candles, potpourri . . . well it didn’t have any of that.

But it did have two shop assistants who were eager to help.

(Maybe a little too eager? At one point I was between bras when the sales lady waved her hand, “Hi ya, can I come in?” and before I could utter the ‘neh’ to ‘no’ – in she came. Chalk up yet another person who has now seen me topless.)

It was a true group effort. I’d try on the bra, then pull back the curtain to show everyone – Zsolt and the two sales ladies received a mini fashion show, and I was helped in identifying which bra size works best. That’s a win-win-win situation.

Fifty pounds later and I have two mastectomy bras that fit far better than my original one. And while I whinge about being a double A, they’re some pretty good looking double As. Today I took my spare breast out for tea and it looked totally normal. Actually, better than normal – perky!

Really, going without a bra is no big deal, and having a small chest means that it’s okay to not always strap on that particular bit of underwear. But once in a while I really love to have some nice, perky BOOBS.

So there you go. A good purchase, which had better last  me at least two or three years – because my goodness, this stuff is expensive!