Thursday, December 15, 2011

We have our own artwork!

Some amazing things have happened to us since starting Butterfly Collection. We receive incredible emails and cards from women across North America who take the time to tell us what their new bras mean to them. I am always moved and grateful for this thoughtfulness. I was particularly blow away when last week we received a custom piece of artwork created to celebrate the work that we do for busty women!!

Huge thanks to Italian artist Aurè for this incredible piece. All of Aurè's work is designed to celebrate the curves of a woman. His style encompasses humour, love and passion, all my favourite things about being a busty woman! I simply had to share with you all this fabulous piece. Thanks again Aurè! xx

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pre-Holiday Survival Guide - 5 things to do FOR YOU!

I learned how to maximize my festive time after the year I was laid up after back surgery and I had to get super creative and organized. I had to ensure that I rested and stayed positive (so it was great having friends pop by with cookies and wine - not to be taken with back medication I should point out!) I've never forgotten how much I enjoyed that Christmas because I made a lot of time for me and kept the holidays manageable. Here are my top 5 tips for making sure you actually have time and energy to enjoy what should be a magical time of year.

1. Gratitude Journal - Keep a little notebook by your bed and write down one thing you're grateful for at the end of each day. You'll be amazed how this final act of the day will help you sleep better and make for a happier mood each morning.

2. Say NO! This is the key to a happy holidays. You can't attend every single event and party so you have to learn that it's OK to say no. This fab article shows you how to make NO part of your vocabulary. 

3. Bubble Bath - It's such a simple pleasure but we don't do it enough. Don't worry about shampooing your hair and shaving your legs, this is a bubble bath for your body and soul. Take a glass of wine with you and light a couple of candles - heaven. (For a fizzy bath try this amazing treatment from Rocky Mountain Soap Company)

4. Deep Breaths - I am not someone who can successfully meditate (during the relaxation part at the end of yoga I always think about what I'm going to eat for dinner) but I make time every day to close my eyes, relax my shoulders and take 10 very deep and deliberate breaths. It does good stuff, trust me!

5. Tea Cups - If you're a tea fan then you'll know that there is a peace in the process of making a perfect cup of tea. Treat yourself to a china teacup (you can find them for a bargain price at thrift stores) and enjoy 10 minutes of tea perfection! It calms you down, it's great for your heart and makes you feel like Audrey Hepburn!

I hope you can all find some time in the next couple of weeks to recharge your mind, body and soul. You all deserve a happy and peaceful holiday season. xx

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holly Jackson Review: Porcelain Viva from Panache

The lovely Holly from The Full Figure Chest faced one of her lingerie demons and decided to try a nude bra. I was confident that the pretty nude Porcelain Viva was a good choice to break the anti-nude cycle. Here's how Holly got on...

When only nude will do
I’ve always had a difficult relationship with nude bras. This is evident when you look at my lingerie drawer. It’s overflowing with jewel tones, blues, greens, and loud patterned lingerie. However, one can’t go without a nude bra forever. After realizing that two of my recent dress purchases turned out to be more sheer than I had initially expected, I felt like it was time to revisit my feelings about nude colored lingerie. 
I’d read nothing but rave reviews about the Panache Porcelain line of bras, so I was eager to try them for myself. I got a 34G, which is usually my standard size. It’s a seamless bra, but the cups have just enough decoration to make it feel a little bit special. I love how the stripes on the cups mimic a wide pinstripe pattern!

The Particulars
The straps on this bra are of the thin variety, so if you have strong preferences about straps that may influence your feelings about the Porcelain Viva. They are supportive and strong, and didn’t dig in. The back was perfect on me, and the cups came up high and felt supportive. The bra fit well, but the cups weren’t as generous as the Allegro from my previous review. I’m right on the edge of needing a GG in this one, but I find lots of brands run that way on me.
What is a nude bra good for?
I love how this bra just disappears under clothing. It works under t-shirts as well as my sheer tank tops that I live in. It also works under my white dress from ASOS that just about anything shows through. If you plan to use this bra under light colored clothing, I’d recommend grabbing the matching Panache panties while you’re at it. I have a nude colored pair that is a slightly different shade that did show through the same dress, so Panache is clearly doing something superior with their nude shades. This bra also works well with my nude colored shapewear, which makes it easy to mix and match shapewear sets when you need to.

I think this bra would be ideal if you were putting together an underwear as outerwear style outfit. I usually wear a sheer tank top and a color coordinating bra if I wear a bodysuit as a shirt, but with this bra I could get great coverage without worrying about matching a third layer of color.

For all of my griping about nude bras, I’ve really learned to love this one. It’s an amazingly functional bra that works under lots of outfits, and it feels supportive even after you’ve been wearing it all day.

Holly Jackson is a professional lingerie copywriter and columnist.  She blogs and works at The Full Figured Chest

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Come on Hennes I expect more from you!

When I wrote the recent blog post "It's not popular but I like Real Women" I knew some people would counter with "all women are beautiful". I totally agree, but my argument still stands that we don't actually see Real Women in vast swathes of media and advertising and the 'female' images we're exposed to are actually largely unattainable and in some cases totally faked.

I could not ask for a more blatant example of what I'm talking about than H&M's gargantuanly stupid move of using real women's heads on computer generated bodies.  In case you missed it, here's the side by side gallery of 'one body fits all'.

I'm upset with H&M because I don't want to be treated like an idiot by the brands I shop with. If you're going to use a computer generated body at least try and change it up a bit - but no, they just whacked the same body and pose on every woman.

Having worked in the media I know that you really can't believe all you read and that's why I'm so passionate about being a critical consumer. Don't let yourself be told what to wear and how to look - make informed decisions for yourself. This is why I like the term 'real women' in relation to the media because we are exposed to so many fake, over air-brushed, over photoshopped, overly NOT HUMAN images!

Women are under enough pressure to physically conform. Let's not make matters even worse by comparing ourselves to computer generated versions of woman. We are so beautiful and diverse and I want the brands I shop with to recognize and celebrate that fact - not erase it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Help Someone Else's Boobs This Month

December 5th is International Volunteer Day a time to raise awareness of the importance and the power of volunteering both at home and abroad. I have volunteered at different points in my life and have always got so much out of it. This year I would like to ask you to do something great for your heart that would make a big difference for other women.

There are women's shelters across Canada (this website has links to shelters in each province) providing a safe place, guidance, support and supplies for women in dangerous circumstances. These shelters are always in need of help and supplies. This International Volunteer Day I would ask you to do one of two things:

1) Find a local shelter and volunteer even just one day of your time to make a difference to a woman in need in your community.
2) Donate one or more of your lightly used bras to a shelter.

Only women can understand what the right bra means
Having the right bra is important to every woman, but even more so for vulnerable women. When your financial circumstances don't allow for buying bras and your main priority is staying alive or protecting your children from abuse, investing in your own bra health falls by the wayside. Giving women's shelters good quality bras means they can pass on a fundamental physical and emotional support to women in need. 

We will be donating bras to the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre and volunteering our time for another Christmas with Haro Park in Vancouver. Thank you for considering doing something wonderful this IVD... donating your time or bras will lift your spirits and boost someone else's confidence. xx

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Face to Face with Panache

Yesterday was a fab day, Mr Butterfly and I got to tour the Panache headquarters. Panache was not only willing to meet with us but really enthusiastic, which was such a great surprise. So many of the big brands are disinterested in us because we're independent and Canadian, but Panache were really interested to find out what's going on with busty Canadian women.

We were met by Panache Product Manager, Claire Heathcote who is obviously as passionate and obsessed with bra health as we are. She gave us a tour of the headquarters where we met the fabulous designers (all women!) of every Panache bra. We then met the sample designers who constantly create mockups (by hand) of the new designs; man are they talented and fast! Panache uses real women as opposed to just mannequins or CGI models to test new styles. They have a test group of 100 women (all different sizes and shapes) to ensure that they put every bra through their paces. Every single person we met was so keen to talk about their products and customer needs.

One of the most exciting things was getting a sneak peak of the 2012 Fall/Winter Collection - all I can say is you won't be disappointed!

We have been asking you to tell us what questions you have for Panache and we were able to ask them all so check out what Panache had to say:

Will Panache start doing 26 bands?
"The next collection we are designing is Spring 2013 and this will be the first trial of 26 bands in select styles in Cleo and maybe Superbra. We know that there is a huge need for 26 bands and we want to get the support absolutely right."
Tango is still Panache's best-selling bra
Can you make narrower set straps for petite women?
"We have several new strap designs, widths and materials coming out in the Autumn 2012 and Spring 2013. These have been coupled with shorter wires so that the bras are shallower under the armpit for petite women. Tango, Ariza and Andora will all have the shorter wires in GG+ sizes."

Why don't the underwear across the brands (Cleo, Superbra and Masquerade) all fit the same?
"The underwear for all brands is being standardized so that you know if you're a large in a Superbra thong, you're also that size in a Cleo thong. This standardization will be complete in the next year."

I really love that Panache is listening to their customers and I personally felt that my questions about the specific needs of Canadians were really taken to heart. My next stop is speaking to the North American Panache team about getting more competitions and deals for Canadian women, I'll keep you posted! I am really excited about expanding our Panache collection and working with such a thoughtful and passionate company. xx

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Year in Big Bras

On November 26th of last year we officially opened the ‘online doors’ of our lingerie boutique. I have dreamed about having my own business since I was about 9 so launching Butterfly Collection was a dream come true. I set myself one goal to achieve in the first year of business – Make just one busty woman feel better about her body by getting her into the right bra. I am thrilled to say that my mission has come true time and time again this year and that is my greatest success!

I wanted to share with you some of the amazing things that peoplehave said about their experience with Butterfly Collection in the past year:

“I want you to know that although you are so far away, I have felt that you care so much about other women and their needs.  I have tried on the two bras that I have gotten and words can't express how I feel right now.  I have NEVER found a bra that has given me the support I needed like these

That was the best bra-fitting experience I have EVER had! EVER! I really felt like I was being fitted FOR a bra, rather than fit INTO one -- a very refreshing and educational experience for me!” (Skype fitting client) 

“Claire is warm, funny, and puts you right at ease. She’s extremely passionate and knowledgeable about helping full-busted ladies get great-fitting bras and feel good about themselves and we had several laughs about what it’s like to have bigger boobs over the course of our fitting.” 

These comments mean so much to me because it says that we’re on the right track to being a caring company with great bras, knowledge and a sense of humour.  I am so honoured that I get to help women feel great in their bras, especially women who felt they didn’t have options because of having bigger breasts.
Lucy in Yellow - one of the bras you'll see in 2012
There is a lot we plan to achieve in this coming year, 28 and maybe even 26 backs in D+ bras, on location Butterfly fitters in other Canadian cities and more choice through our D-K basics and fashion ranges. We will continue to listen to our customers and to give amazing customer service. 
It has taken a team of people to help Butterfly Collection take flight and I am grateful to each and every one of them. I am so fortunate to have Mr Butterfly who lives and breathes bras with me, photographs our gorgeous models with sensitivity and always makes me feel amazing about what we achieve. Thank you to everyone who has read our blog, signed up for our newsletter and to every customer who has allowed us to help them find their perfect bras this year. The biggest reward is knowing that we made some busty ladies out there very happy! I’m off to drink a glass of champagne and celebrate being one! xx

Friday, November 18, 2011

12 Must-Read Boobilicious Blogs

Over the past year something wonderful has begun to grow on the Internet. Busty women all over the world have started to share their experiences about life with big boobs and shopping for bras. I think this is such a great thing for us big busted girls. Not only can you pick up great tips and reviews, these blogs also create a community where you can talk with other women experiencing all the ups and downs of being a D+ cup size. You don't have to feel like you're the only one struggling with gaping tops, boob spillage and riding bands. Here are my Top 12 Big Bra Bloggers: 
Invest In Your Chest blogger Cheryl puts bras through their paces and specializes in 28 backs and sports bra reviews. She models her bras fantastically and was kind enough to interview me back in October so I have extra love for her!
Fuller Figure Fuller Bust is run by the inimitable Georgina who was a runner up in the 2011 Curvy Kate Star in a Bra competition. Her no-nonsense attitude to curves, bras and generally being awesome makes for a compelling read. The Gorgeous Georgina also models her own bras and seriously rocks them!!

Sophia Jenner write fabulously indepth product reviews. She specializes in small backs, large cups, is a tireless Breast Cancer Research supporter and an absolutely gorgeous model of her lingerie loves!
Thin and Curvy is a US blog specializing in the trials and triumphs of being, well, thin and curvy! Brittney reviews bras, clothes and styles for slender women with great boobs!
Cups and Measures is a Canadian blog reviewing bras of all sizes but specializing in bigger sizes. It's so great having another Canadian bra blogger (at this point I have to give a special shout-out to Swimwear and Lingerie blogger Maggie, a fellow Cannuck, who blogs tirelessly about the Lingerie Industry).
Braless in Brasil is simply a joy to read. Blogger June is an American living in Brasil and searching for the perfect bra as she continues to improve her fitness. Her product reviews and fearless honesty are compelling!
The Full Figured Chest is written by the wonderful Holly Jackson (who also writes for Butterfly Collection once a month!) Holly is a full busted lady who reviews bras, brands, designers and boutiques. She is funny, warm and passionate - a great read!
StackDD is a US blog written by the gorgeous Sarah who is on the search for fabulous D+ bras. She has amazing product reviews and style tips. Sarah did a phenomenal review of our Skype fittings this week too!

Bra-none is a big busted dream because the lovely Sia reviews where you can find the best big bras online and what to buy once you're there! 
This is a pretty new blog to me but from the few reviews I've read I love the style! Focused on bra reviews this is a brutally honest but fair commentary on big bras. Definitely worth checking out.

Curveissa is a new blog that has already got my attention big time! Tina writes about finding bras and clothes that are great for a professional woman. This is a particularly important subject because finding tailored clothing for big boobs is tough.

Undercover Lingerista is the home of wonderful bra reviews from the genuinely lovely Kitty. She is a champion of 28 backs and reviewer of busty sleepwear and fashion.

I feel so fortunate to be part of this Big Bust Brigade, a fabulous bunch of ladies working to make life, fashion and bras better for women everywhere! xx

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Guide for Men Buying Lingerie for Busty Ladies

This blog post should have a dotted line around it so that it can be cut out and stuck on the back of the loo door, left casually by the remote control or subtly tacked to the fridge with a big arrow saying “DO THIS!” This is our holiday buying guide for the gentlemen who are lucky enough to be in love with a beautiful busty lady and would like to buy her lingerie, but don’t know where to start.

Buying lingerie is your chance to show the woman you love how much you adore her, your relationship and her body. A busty woman needs to feel beautiful and supported in all her lingerie (we can't just throw on a frilly piece of lacy and feel sexy, it needs to have structure otherwise we get escaped boob!) There are some tricks to getting this gift right so that you get lots of festive kisses instead of cold turkey! You can visit our Men's Club for more information too.

Things to Avoid 
  • Buy for her not for you. If you buy a bra with barely there cups and a teeny tiny thong thinking that's what you'd like to see her in but your lady feels sexiest in full lace cups and a bikini then neither of you will get what you want! You need to buy what she feels good in and trust us you'll feel good in return!
  • If you have never bought her lingerie before don’t start out with anything too risqué (unless that is what she has asked for). Classically beautiful/sexy lingerie is a great place to start. Think lace or silky fabrics, romantic and sexy colours like pinks, reds and blacks.
  • Try to avoid buying the wrong size. This can’t always be helped but at least be in the right ballpark (don't buy from anywhere that doesn't have a returns policy, you need the freedom to exchange or return). Buying something much too big or small will send the wrong messages.
How to get it right
  • We don’t usually advocate rummaging through her lingerie drawer but this is the best place to find out her size (you can also sneak a look in the laundry basket or at the bras drying in the bathroom!) You’re looking for a little label inside the bra and it will have a number between 26 and 60 followed by a letter, for example, 36G. Also take time to check her underwear size.
  • Make a note of the styles of bras and knickers she wears. Does she have a lot of lace bras, silky bras, molded cups (these are the ones that keep their shape by themselves). What colours does she have? In her knicker drawer does she have thongs, or briefs, do they look a bit like shorts? Make a note.
  • When in doubt buy a gift certificate for lingerie. Make a point of writing something meaningful on the card and offer to choose the lingerie with her to make it a personal experience.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  • If you don’t feel comfortable rifling through her lingerie, ask a sister, Mom or female friend if they can help you. Girls share lots so chances are they’ll know something about her bras!
  • We are used to speaking to men about buying lingerie; we get calls from wonderful guys every week who are looking for lingerie gifts. You can call or email our support staff if you need help choosing a style or working out her size 1-888-225-0474
So this holiday season you can save your feet, avoid the line-ups and get her a gift that will get you lots of kisses and months of enjoyment all at the click of a button! xx

Friday, November 11, 2011

Guest Post: Mind the Gap! Coverage that Works for Busts.

Founder Jill Homiak wearing her bust covering design
I like finding bust friendly clothing designers for you because once you've got on the right bra you need a gorgeous bust friendly wardrobe to go with it. Today we have a post from Presenza founder, Jill Homiak about what drove her to create her own wrap top that actually kept her boobs covered without compromising her style.

"My first job was an entry-level sales position at a downtown firm in DC. I wanted to look my best, especially since I was just staring out. However, finding professional clothing that fitted me was a real challenge and one that I’d pretty much given up on. I’d tried button-downs and they always had major “poppage” across the bust’s apex. I tried wrap dresses and tops, but they typically fell so low, I’d have to wear a camisole with it. Once I put the camisole underneath, I felt the look wasn’t as polished or sophisticated as I wanted it.

All the tops I had were blousy so they would fit over my chest, but I never felt as professional as I would wearing a collared button-down.

About 5 months into my job, I received an email from my staff manager at the end of the day. She had written that my outfit was ‘inappropriate’. I was in grey dress pants, a burgundy silky deep v-neck and a cream colored tank, all from Banana Republic. What was inappropriate about that? I happened to be in flip-flops walking from the subway to my desk when she had seen me, so I wasn’t sure if she meant my shoes or not. I responded and asked her to specify. She said my top was “too revealing”. I was angry and embarrassed to say the least. This woman knew nothing of my struggles to find appropriate clothing to cover my bust, she was a tall stick figure! The tank I was wearing had a built in bra which I had to pull at throughout the day to stop it falling down and revealing cleavage. I guess she saw me in between modesty pull ups! Even wearing a camisole under the v-neck had failed me!

I knew there had to be solution to my problem – not just a quick-fix or “cover up”. Why was it that the wrap style and v-neck, two of the most flattering fits for the full-chest woman, never actually fit? Once I realized I wasn’t the only one with the problem, I set out to launch Presenza – a line of patent-pending wrap tops made with the chest in mind. I solved the coverage problem around the bust using the patent-pending feature which allows the shirt’s top half to expand by unbuttoning the area under the arm for more "cleavage coverage." Now I can pass on the confidence to other women of knowing you’ll never “show off” unless you choose to!"

~ Jill Homiak is the Founder and Designer at Presenza 

What do you think of Jill's designs? Do you usually have to wear a camisole under your shirts as a security in case of poppage or gaping? xx

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Would you sell your ethics for a $1.50 bra?

While I was browsing my lingerie news last week I came across an article in a British newspaper that made me mad on many levels! The headline proudly announced that a bra to fit any budget was now available in the UK and used the painful play on words 'Bra-gain'. The bra in question is being sold in a UK Dollar Store equivalent for 99p, that's about $1.50

I continued reading expecting the punchline to kick-in; surely it was going to be made of chocolate or rice paper. But no, this is an actual bra asking to be taken seriously for under $2. My rush of emotions and opinions came so quickly I had to pour myself a cup of tea (it was too early for gin) re-read the article and calm down.

If it looks too good to be true it probably is!
My biggest outrage is that nowhere in the article did it question the morality of a 99 pence bra. While the journalist was picking over the cheap bra press release he never thought to ask himself "does this add up, does the world really need a 99p bra, what are the consequences of such a cheap bra?" OK, so it was written by a bloke who may have not have a lot of lingerie knowledge, but basic economics tell you something doesn't add up.

The article then went on to give the model's reaction to the bra. She unwittingly hit the nail on the head. When asked if she would wear this bra in the bedroom she replied that she would because "I doubt my boyfriend would care about how much it cost!" Well that makes you, your boyfriend and the journalist at least who don't care about the ethical cost of this bra.

The difference between value and cost
Cheap bras won't last as long as quality ones and the construction may not be as beneficial to your health. I'm used to explaining to women why spending your money on a good quality bra is in your emotional and physical best interests. Budgets are tight and when a pair of jeans costs $40 it makes you balk at paying $70 and up for a bra. But bras is a case of you get what you pay for. When I spoke to the CBC's Shiral Tobin I explained to her that the popular "3 bras for $30" offers at places like La Senza and Victoria's Secret are not designed for women with big boobs. It's like comparing beach hammocks to suspension bridges - would you drive over a string bridge just to save a few bucks!?

You have to ask yourself the ethical question
The engineering in a bra is really very complex because you are working with multiple different materials that have to be constructed perfectly, the margin for error is tiny. This work and mix of materials has to be shipped and marketed so going on the idea that at least 20% goes on labour, who is making this bra for 30 cents? The most likely scenario is that a woman in Bangladesh is making this bra and being paid about $30 per month with no medical, no vacation and no health and safety at her workplace. The amazing bra comes at a very human cost.

I know that budgets are tight for lots of us but if you stop and think about it does saving money on a bra really make you feel good when you know you're compromising your ethics? There are so many amazing lingerie companies out there doing the right thing. One that has blown me away is Chicago based Naughty for Nice whose business constantly gives back to charities and manufactures ethically. There are good ones out there if you shop with your ethics as well as your budget! xx

Monday, November 7, 2011

Holly Jackson: The Difference a Busty Heroine Makes

Today our fabulous guest blogger Holly, from The Full Figure Chest, tells us about the first time she met a Busty Heroine who made her realize she wasn't alone. At Butterfly Collection we know that you can only feel great in your bras when you accept and love your figure and that's why we share stories like this with you in our blog and newsletter.

Chicken Salad vs Cleavage
"My first job was in a coffee shop as a trainee barista. I mostly made chicken salad sandwiches for socialite ladies and watched the other baristas make cups of coffee. The only virtue of the job was that I liked my boss a lot. She was a cute redhead in her mid-20's named Mary, and she was the first women I'd known who had breasts as big as mine. One day while looking for something to open the chicken salad jar with, she taught me a major life lesson.

"You've got the tools right here!", she exclaimed as she shoved the giant jar of chicken salad down into her cleavage and twisted the lid off. At that moment, she became my first female hero.

Believing in Ourselves
I grew up in a house where curves weren't encouraged. I don't think my mother meant it to be that way, but like many sets of parents, mine tended to equate having breasts with being fat. My mother is curvy herself, but spends most of her time draping herself in voluminous clothes to disguise that fact. I spent most of my teenage years being forced into minimizer bras, which just made me angry and uncomfortable. When I got older and moved far away, my mother began to offer to buy me entire new fancy wardrobes if I could just weigh in under 130 pounds on her scale. It never happened.

You have to love you no matter what anyone else says
So often when we're younger (or even when we're older), full-busted women are taught that their breasts are a handicap they have to bear in life. We worry about showing a tiny bit of cleavage at the office, or whether a tank top looks sexy or obscene on us. We see these as our problems, as things that make us less than other women, when really we just haven't seen examples of full-busted women who are at home in their own bodies. 
Our gorgeous model Vyna does a lot to promote self esteem in native communities
A Sense of Humour Helps
I've heard lots of different versions of my teenage years from other full-busted and plus size women, so I know my experience isn't unique. That's part of why I'm so passionate about great full-busted lingerie: a great bra makes you see yourself in a whole new light. Hopefully, that shift in perception can carry over to other areas of your life as well. Shifting your perception doesn't mean you have to love being full-busted all the time. I'm still embarrassed that I can't zip up my favorite high-waisted skirt because I can't see my waist in a profile view, or that I frequently knock things over because my breasts aren't where I expect them to be. But it doesn't mean I hate my breasts, or my body.

Because hey, I can open a jar better than any other woman I know."

Do you remember the first woman you met who made you realize that being a busty woman was pretty great!? xx

Holly Jackson is a professional lingerie copywriter and columnist.  She blogs and works at The Full Figured Chest

Friday, November 4, 2011

Saving Our Own Lives

Gorgeous Flowers from Mr Butterfly after a tough few days
I've ummed and ahhhed this week as to whether I should share this story with you or not. I then realized I have made a commitment to you to be honest and a commitment to contribute to your health and happiness.

Back in April I realized that I was behind on getting my PAP test. The usual stuff of a busy life (not least getting Butterfly Collection up and running) meant that I was late getting tested. I've been going for PAP tests (or smear tests as they're known in the UK) for over a decade and even though it's not the most fun you can have in an afternoon I've never dreaded it. I simply forgot that this isn't a test you don't want to miss.

My results came back showing signs of pre-cancerous cells, a very common diagnosis, one which a few of my girlfriends had experienced and explained that the treatment was very straightforward. I was chastising myself for not going earlier but concentrated my mind on getting the biopsy done. The biopsy results came back and showed that there were pre-cancerous and unfortunately cancerous cells too. This came to light on Monday and my stomach did a very big flip.

I've just spent the last month writing about breast cancer and here I was hearing my health discussed in relation to cervical cancer, that's the wrong end - I don't know anything about that end! I was able to speak to the gynecologist and find out that there were very few cancerous cells and the doctor is confident he got them all out. This made me feel a million times better, this isn't cervical cancer, this is a bloody big warning! They are giving me follow up treatment to make sure I'm spotless which is great. By this end of the week I feel very relieved and very fortunate. Thank goodness I finally made time to have the PAP test done especially knowing that leaving it much longer could have been very bad news for me.

I am sharing this story with you because being an independent, happy and healthy woman starts on the inside; in this case, literally! I am asking each of you to mark down when your next test should be, and if you're behind on getting one done, book it today, it could save your life. xx

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

It's not popular but I Like 'Real Women'

You’ve probably seen the term ‘Real Women’ cropping up in the media usually in relation to images of curvy women. There has been a lot of backlash to the implication that only curvy women are real which is of course a ridiculous notion. The wonderful thing about the human body is that it comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, each one worth celebrating. Thin women are just as real and valuable as curvy or plus sized women. But I'm not sure that the term 'Real Women' is about one kind of woman being more real than another.

Photo from Dove's campaign for Real Beauty
What I read into 'Real Women'
We don't see enough variety of women in the media. The number of images we see of extremely thin women is disproportionate to the variety of female shapes that exist in reality. The waif has dominated the advertising and acting world for almost two decades. The ubiquitous ‘skinny’ look has been hailed as the ‘most desirable’ figure for so long that ‘Real Women’ has come to mean ‘Figures outside of tall and thin’. We know that in reality very tall and naturally very thin figures are quite rare. The amount of exposure to waif-like images is massively disproportionate to the shape of the general public. 

PhotoShop is Not Reality
The most important reason we need the word Real is because the vast majority of images we see of women have been airbrushed and altered to remove any trace of imperfection. The amount of airbrushing that goes on to make already slender women look impossibly thin means we see very ‘Unreal Woman’ being postered on countless billboards and magazine covers for very real women to look at and feel inadequate over. From this perspective I don’t think the term ‘Real Women’ is entirely unreasonable and has a place in our vocabulary if we want to encourage body diversity in the media. 

A responsibility to body diversity
We are starting to see a shift in the body-types used in mainstream media with publications like Vogue Italia using 'plus size models' on their covers. However, the world doesn't break down into thin and plus size - the majority of women fall somewhere in between. I don't identify as a plus size woman but I'm certainly not waif-like, where is the model who looks like me? Is my body type not beautiful?

Personally I made a conscious effort to ensure that the models we use for Butterfly Collection are reflective of our customers, women with boobs sized D-K with a naturally curvy body. I don't want our customers to see images of B cup women wearing our bras and thinking that's what they should or could look like. I want women to be proud of their busty figures and not be ashamed of having great boobs. 

Considering that eating disorders in children (both male and female) is at an all time high I think we need contrasting images and vocabulary to stir up the media status-quo and establish body diversity - far beyond thin and plus size. 'Real Women' may not be the perfect phrase but at least it's a start. 

How do you feel about the term Real Women? Does it make you feel empowered? Enraged? Just another marketing term? I'd love to know your opinion xx

Friday, October 28, 2011

Guest Post: Big Boobs, Meet White Shirt

Butterfly Collection customers know that when they're in the right bra their clothes look 10 times better. However, there are still some fashion frustrations for the big busted woman, namely the button down shirt. In my personal search for the classic and supremely versatile white shirt I found Darlene at Campbell and Kate and asked her to share with us her vision and solution to make big boobs and the white shirt friends again. Not only is she writing her story for us, she's also offering you all 15% off her timeless white shirt design with the code WHITESHIRTBUTTERFLY (offer ends Nov 15th 2011). Thank you Darlene!!

The Lure of the White Shirt
Does this scenario sound familiar? You’re browsing the racks of a cute little boutique and find a gorgeous white shirt that would fill a giant hole in your closet. You imagine all the looks you could create with it; tucked into a pencil skirt, over jeans, under a cute jacket - heaven! 
Before you know it you’re in the dressing room sliding it on. It fits over your shoulders perfectly, you start buttoning up and find it fits your waist perfectly too, not too tight, not too loose. Your hopes climb. Then you reach the button at your chest and it fastens but just barely. Instead of filling a gap in your closet, the shirt literally creates one.  

The Busty Girl's Makeshift Solutions
Traditionally you had three options when the inevitable button gaping happened:

1) Return it to the rack and focus on knits and bottoms instead
2) Resort to using yet another safety pin

3) Ask the sales assistant for a larger size

Until recently, these were the only options available to us but as more stores like Butterfly Collection focus on fit for full-busted women our options are increasing. My company, Campbell & Kate, creates clothing to wear over great fitting full bust bras and specializes in the classic white shirt.  

The Answer to Boobs meet Buttons
I began this venture because I was the woman browsing the boutique racks a few too many futile times. The Campbell & Kate Signature Shirt includes everything I wanted: 
  • No straining at the bust
  • A waistline visible from the front and back
  • Shoulder seams within a half inch of the shoulders and not halfway down the arms
  • Buttons all the way up to the collar stay
  • High quality fabric
  • Menswear-level tailoring

It took a long time to develop the Signature Shirt, and there were times I wondered if I should leave the job to custom shirt-makers. Thanks to the Kate in “Campbell & Kate” I kept going and when I finally tried on my own Signature Shirt in size 14L I felt everything I’d wanted to feel in those boutique dressing rooms!

I’ve been wearing my Signature Shirt for a year now, and I still smile when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. It’s crisp and smart, and it fills a giant gap in my wardrobe. 

About the Author
Darlene is a founder of Campbell & Kate, a New York-based clothing company that ships iconic white shirts across the globe to women who wear a bra cup size D-H and dress size 4-14 (soon to be 2-16). The classic white shirt is the first of the line to launch with other colors to follow.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

5 Things You May Not Know About Bras & Boobs

1. Have at least 3 everyday bras
My Mum’s tried and tested phrase is “one to wear, one to wash and one to air” and it turns out she’s right. The elastic in your bra is what keeps your girls comfortable and perky (check out fellow Canadian, Maggie's article about the story of elastic at Swimwear Lingerie). The elastic heats up as you wear your bra and the heat stretches out the elastic. It takes over 24 hours for the elastic in your bra to return to its shortest form (and therefore most supportive). The elastic will eventually stretch to the point where it can’t bounce back which is why bras don’t live forever. 
Make-Shift Lingerie Detergent
You probably know that hand washing your lingerie will make it last longer (this is because you avoid the heat of your washer and dryer which eats the elastic). If you run out of lingerie detergent a great alternative is baby shampoo – strange but true! Try Johnsons & Johnsons Baby Shampoo for under $6!

Raise your Endorphins with Something Special
When you like the way you look or feel it raises your endorphin levels (the happy chemicals released by the brain). You should have at least one lingerie set that makes you feel totally gorgeous. Try wearing it on an average day and see if you feel the extra thrill that comes from a layer of luxury!

Take Off Your Bra!
This is a case of use it or lose it! The ligaments in your boobs can get lazy if they are constantly supported by your bra. At the other end of the spectrum if you don’t support them they stretch out prematurely. NOT wearing a bra for at least 7 hours a day gives these ligaments a bit of a workout so they don’t become dormant meaning your boobs stay away from your knees for longer! For the best boob health, try not wearing a bra for a couple of hours before you go to bed. 

Stretch it out and Build it up
One of the few things you can do to retain the shape of your bust is to keep the muscles in your chest supple and strong. This doesn’t mean you have to become a gym-junkie overnight. Stretching is one of the best and easiest ways to keep your upper body strong. Stretch your arms over your head, behind your back and in-front of you every day holding each pose for 60 seconds and this will help to you’re your chest muscles active. 

I hope a few of these tips help you get the most out of your lingerie. If you have a great tip for making your bras live longer or keeping the girls happy then tell us about it in the comments! xx