Last August, I was lucky enough to be chosen as a winner in Undercover Lingerista’s 1-Year Bloggiversary contest. After much squealing and delight, my four prizes were picked, and little by little, three of them showed up at my house. After a few months of waiting (…sometimes post from the UK to the US is slow. I was being optimistic.), my biggest lust item, the What Katie Did Cabaret Torsolette and Back-Seamed Stockings had not arrived. And so, I set to investigating.
Let me just say, the vendor that supplied my prize was an absolute dream to communicate with. If You Please is an online lingerie retailer based out of the UK that specializes in supplying lingerie from independent British brands. When I posted my dilemma on their wall (“Halp! My lust item got lost in the world!”), their lovely PR person, Amber, responded immediately. She apologized and offered to re-send my prize immediately. Our communications were wonderful, and my item arrived quickly after that. As far as retailers go, If You Please is definitely a company that I would do business with again!
When my package arrived on Friday, I tore it open gleefully. It was beautifully wrapped in tissue paper and ribbon. (Pretty packaging makes customers happy, other retailers take note.) Once I tore off that tissue paper (because again, no patience or virtues when it comes to pretty lingerie), my heart sank. You see, I ordered my Torsolette in a size 34E, as it is sold by bra-size and is not made in my “usual” size of 34F. I expected the cups to be a little small, but as it is a strapless item, I figured that I could make them work accordingly. What I did not expect was the body opening of the torsolette to be the size of a can of soup…
The Cabaret Torsolette by What Katie Did is available in two colors: peach and black. It boasts underwired cups, spiral steel boning throughout the bodice, powermesh to gently hold you in, and six garter clips to hold up your stockings.
Now, I am a slave to What Katie Did’s back-seamed stockings. They are all that is right with the world, in that they do not pinch my ample thighs, are strong but still beautifully sheer, and sexy as all. If I could purchase stock in the company for their stockings alone, I would do so. With this knowledge of their quality in mind, I was particularly excited about my torsolette (which I had salivated over for months before winning my prize), and even though this story does not have a happy ending, I was impressed with the construction of the garment. I would personally classify this garment as a piece of shapewear first and foremost, and unlike most shapewear, it is beautifully constructed and pretty. The peach color was soft and delicate, and would have been perfect under a very sheer pink dress that I own. (The Natalie dress by Pinup Couture, if inquiring minds inquire.)
This is where our love story ends.
When I tore open the packaging on my torsolette, my heart sank as I held it up in the light. No zippers. Not one single, solitary zipper in sight. I was apparently supposed to squeeze my 45″ hips into this soup-can sized opening. Um, no. Alas I was determined. I managed to get the thing over my head, bust and shoulders, and once on, I found it to be quite flattering in the bodice. The one-cup-too-small bra parts were actually a good fit, and I fit smoothly into it even after ample swooping and scooping. The back fastened smoothly, and I found the 34 band to be firm and supportive. Because, you know, I wear a 34 band.
My issue came in garment removal. And by removal, I mean that fucker got stuck. There is nothing more terrifying, mortifying, and heartbreaking then having a garment get stuck on your body. I will be completely honest here. After much struggle I had to CUT the torsolette off of my body.
And after that? I cried. I sobbed into my pillow. I called my girlfriend in hysterics. I started using words that I haven’t spoken in years to describe my body. Fat. Disgusting. Horrifying. Pathetic. Words that I would never, ever utter to another human being, I was saying to myself. That’s sad, ladies and germs, because it is my strong opinion that the clothes we wear are supposed to uplift us and help us feel beautiful. And instead, I was a blubbering, teary mess because some poorly-thought out product broke my heart.
I say poorly-thought out, because I am a curvy girl, and I can not see that product working on anyone with a body like mine. My current measurements are 41-30-45. That’s a fifteen inch difference between my hips and waist. So, by WKD’s design-logic, in order to even have this bra-sized product have a remote chance of fitting over my bum, I’d need to order, in sister sizes: 34E=36DD=38D. A 38D. I would have to add four inches (NO. NO. NO.) to my band size to get this sucker up over my hips, and then I’d be left with what? A strapless basque with no padding, no straps (hence, strapless), two band sizes too big, and absolutely no support for my bust.
Now, I don’t claim to be an expert on lingerie. I am an expert buyer, that’s for damn sure, but I understand that the construction of certain pieces of lingerie can be quite complicated. However, I am currently in the process of stitching back together the tattered messes of my beautiful peach torsolette, AND ADDING A ZIPPER. (Seriously. It cost me 4$ at WalMart.) From my experience thus far, adding a zipper for easier dressing and undressing of this particular item of lingerie is not that complicated. And as of right now, I do not see it messing with the fit or integrity of the design.
You see, Rago Shapewear, a company that specializes in American-made vintage reproduction shapewear and lingerie, is held in high regard by the vintage fashion community. I own and adore the Rago 1294 Extra-Firm Open Bottom Girdle (which I picked up from the folks at Orchard Corset.
(Oh, Orchard Corset, be still my heart. I love them. More on that in the future.)
image from Orchard Corset
The body briefer comes in the basics: black and white, and retails for a very affordable $58.00 shipped. Orchard Corset also offers a dye option for an additional $10, so that ladies with an eye for color have more than basic options. It features strong, smoothing powermesh, a high waist, open bottom for comfort, six garter clips to hold up your stockings and a zipper for ease and comfort of wear. THAT’S RIGHT FOLKS. A ZIPPER. This is an item of shapewear that is also sexy, functional, and gasp doesn’t make me cry whilst getting into-and-out of it! Who would have thought it possible?!
Putting on your clothes shouldn’t be humiliating, and it shouldn’t be a struggle. Wearing lingerie isn’t supposed to make you feel worse about your body. After the WKD Torsolette fiasco, I set off to the Interwebs and read some reviews of the product. Every one that I read mentioned the product being a struggle to get on and off. Every. Single. One. And that doesn’t tip anyone off? People are in agreement that it’s a pain in their (ample or otherwise) bums to wriggle into and out of this particular garment. I am not alone.
I don’t mean to turn this into a “bash What Katie Did” party. I love What Katie Did for their gorgeous stockings, and their famous Morticia Corset is well-known and adored by many throughout the blogosphere. They strive to provide glamorous, well made vintage reproduction lingerie and are successful in their feat. Even with all my hate, the Torsolette I received was beautifully constructed, and fit me well in the body once I managed to wriggle it on. If not for all the upset that occurred after, this review would have taken a completely different route. But alas, one tiny design flaw ruined it for me, and broke my little heart.
In all, I would not recommend this product to anyone, especially anyone with my body type. There is too much hoopla surrounding “finding the right fit”, and no woman should have to jump through hoops and play a guessing game to find the right fit on a bra-sized product. I will continue to buy my What Katie Did Back-Seamed Stockings in bulk, and I will sing their praises to anyone who will listen. I will still covet that gorgeous Morticia corset, and scrimp my pennies together for an investment well-worth it. I’ll remain a WKD customer, despite my bruised heart. But for my lingerie? I’ll definitely look elsewhere.