Bra Fitting

What Katie Did(n’t) – (What Katie Did Cabaret Torsolette Review)

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.

image from If You Please

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…

BUT, before I go on a tear-all about how much loathing I harbor for this item, let me get the positives out of the way:

Image from What Katie Did

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.

16 thoughts on “What Katie Did(n’t) – (What Katie Did Cabaret Torsolette Review)”

  1. I have not tried WKD, but I have been in a similar situation. It’s frightening to be “stuck”. I must size up in bra sized swimsuits to get them over my hips. It’s a mess.

  2. I’m sorry you didn’t get on with our Torsolette. However, and this is a mega ‘however’, you need to take into account your dress size when ordering shapewear. As it says on our site:

    ‘Our Merry Widow, Corselettes and Torsolettes are sized using bra sizes. As the garments cover the body, the body size also needs to be taken into account. The band sizes of these garments roughly fit:

    Band size 32 = dress size US6, 34 = dress size US8, 36 = dress size 10 and 38 = dress size 12 (of course, these are What Katie Did dress sizes which might be a size smaller than what you’re used to, see our fitting room page for the measurements of our dress sizes)

    If you wear, for example, a 32D bra but are a dress size 10 you will need to adjust your corslette/Merry Widow size so it fits correctly on the body by selecting a 36B (if you go up a band size you need to go down a cup size: see our bra sizing page for more info)’

    So basically, the torsolette in a 34E is designed to fit a woman with waist 27″, hip 37″ which explains why you got stuck – it’s simply far to small in the body for you.

    We do have full fitting information on our site, both by each and every product, and in a separate sizing section. I would strongly advise reading this information, and/or conversing with us via livechat, before ordering to ensure we can ensure the item is right for you.

    What Katie Did

    1. Hey Katie, thanks for your comment!

      For what it’s worth, the torsolette was absolutely gorgeous, and if I see one on Ebay in a 38D (I suppose now that I’m a 32G/34FF, the closest to my size would be a 38D, which would still be about 2 cup sizes too small at this point. I might just have to accept that I am sized out of your bras altogether!), I wouldn’t hesitate to snap it up and give it a go, despite the fact that +4 makes me crazy, and I’m not sure how supportive it would be in a band size that large. Especially with the unmoulded, cut-and-sew type cups. Have you had any customer feedback regarding this? I would love to hear about it!

      As I stated in my review, the bra-part of the torsolette fit wonderfully. The waist stretched to accommodate nicely. The cursed ample hips/bum were my issue. Perhaps this was a product just not meant for me!
      Your stockings, though. Be still my heart. šŸ™‚

  3. The 38D would definitely be too small in the cup for you. +4 is the traditional way of sizing bras, it’s only in the last decade that a few ‘smaller band, bigger cup’ brands have emerged to turn everything upside down. I don’t know how they’re managing to brainwash people into thinking that their way of fitting is the correct way, but it’s making it very difficult for customers to shop. This is why we include full sizing instructions on our site.

    1. Perhaps with vintage sized lingerie, +4 doesn’t work, or makes things difficult. I can see how that would happen.
      However, I have to defend this “smaller band, bigger cup” method that you seem to hold to such disdain. Traditional bra fitting methods don’t work for most women because bras are no longer made in the traditional way. I can assure you that it is not “brainwashing”, and there are a large group of full-bust lingerie bloggers, not to mention a multitude of women who can back up our claims.

    2. How is it brainwashing to wear the bandsize that you actually measure? Do you add inches to your waist? Or feet? Or any other body part?

      In + 4 I’m left in severe pain, and I’m still a 32G + 4 a size that no one makes. So how exactly would that help me? Why is my 26J ‘wrong’ when it fits perfectly and is so terribly comfortable?

      1. Because there are 2 different pattern cutting methods being used. The traditional one (which What Katie Did uses, alongside other companies including Agent Provocateur and most high end brands) and the new one. The traditional method uses a ‘band size’. This is not the underbust measurement but a ‘band size’. Our band size 32 bras actually measure 28″ – so you need to add 4″ to get to a size 32″ back.
        This method was founded in the 1940s. I admit it makes no sense, but this is the way it has been for over 60 years. I have thought of changing the labels to say band 32, chest 28″ but really feel this would confuse the issue more.

      2. The traditional method was founded 60 odd years ago, and was put into place because of the materials used to make bra bands. Stiff. Cotton. No stretch.
        A lot has changed in 60 years, but there’s nothing wrong with WKD using the fitting method that suits their products. However, as I stated in my review, the 34E bra-part of the torsolette was actually a comfortable fit at the time-supportive, firm (but not too firm), and a surprisingly good fit in the cups, despite my sizing discrepancy. I’m not sure how a 38 band (which I would need, as per your sizing suggestions) would offer the same support, but won’t pass any judgement without experiencing it myself.
        To call the +0 neutrality method “brainwashing” is not only incorrect, it is utterly offensive. Women are not hoards of sheep, incapable of controlling their own thoughts. They ARE, however, capable of assessing the problems that they have with fit, and going on to educate themselves on how to fix them. Because for a lot of women, in a lot of brands, it has been proven that +4 does not work. Nobody is dismissing WKD’s rights to use what works for them; of course a vintage repro company is going to use vintage-type patterns/cutting methods/fit methods. By that same right, dismissing anything other then what you do as “brainwashing” is inappropriate, full stop.

      3. If you use the traditional pattern cutting methods, that’s fine, I have no problem with that. It’s just your claim that they brainwashed us into thinking our correct sizes were correct is a bit offensive, especially to those of us who have physical damage from badly fitted bras in the conventional way. I have permanent shoulder dents and scars on my torso from my boobs crushing bras into my chest when the bands were unsupportive. I accept this may not be an issue if you’re smaller busted, but particularly for anyone of a sizeable bust, the best way to get support is a firm band.

  4. I’m quite offended by the use of the term brainwashing too, I am a 30HH and when you use +4 sizing that has me wearing a 34GG a size which WKD don’t even make, if I size up yet again into a 36 band I could wear a 36F still a cup size too small and a whopping according to the confusing sizing used by the brand two ” bigger than my actual measurements. so it will be both too small and too loose. boo hoo. other retro lingerie brands sadly do the same thing and it means that those of us who don’t fall within a very small size range simply can not wear the styles we love. Which means I can never buy a matching set of retro lingerie from them or the other various brands out there who stick with an outdated and inefficient and confusing system. There is nothing wrong with utilising modern sizing in order to produce a retro range that actually fits and supports the wearer.

  5. I am currently wearing a very well fitting and supportive 32K. I use the brainwashed method to get to this size. My boobs look magnificent as they are properly supported. Nothing wrong with the +0 method.

  6. As someone who was horribly sized using the +4 method and had terrible, awful, horrible back pain because of it, and now has a PROPERLY fitting bra that doesn’t hurt and sully supports using the “brainwashing” method of +0, I am greatly offended by your comments. Perhaps you are right that using the “traditional” pattern of yester-year may see a descent fit with a +4, but I would argue that bras have changed since the “good-old” days where we women were not supposed to leave the house, were to stay in the kitchen, and not have a damn thought in our head. In fact, I would say that a lot has changed including style, fabric, shape and ideas of what a good fit is and just because it was “tradition” to have a +4 to your band, doesn’t mean that it is right.

    What I do know is your offensive comments have made me decide that I want nothing ever to do with your products, ever. Call it brainwashing or spending money wisely, either way …

  7. Just purchased this – the 34DD (that is my bra size and that also equates with WKD says is a size 8 dress size, which is what I am – should be in the clear, right? NOPE) and I could barely fit one leg into the opening. Tried every which way to get it up over my hips and couldn’t. Impossible to get it over my head. Tried, and then heard the terrible sound of fabric or seams starting to tear. It’s going back. So disappointed. Second time I’ve ordered from them following their sizing recommendations and the items didn’t even come close to fitting.

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