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

Monday, October 24, 2011

Breast Cancer Awareness Blog Post Roundup

As we come into the last week of Breast Cancer Awareness Month I want to show you three great posts. The first is about making self breast exams easy, the second asks if we're actually making a difference anymore and the last is a gratuitous look at hot guys talking breast cancer awareness!

Maggie at SwimwearandLingerie has put together a fantastic blog post about breast self-exams along with a really helpful video. Worth checking out if you're not sure how to get to grips with your girls! Click here to read.

Some of you will be very familiar with Elisabeth Dale, breast expert and writer. She wrote for us earlier this year on the joys and mishaps of breastfeeding with big boobs! Elisabeth wrote a very brave and interesting piece asking whether Breast Cancer Awareness Month is still relevant or making progress. I think she raises some important questions about asks us not to be fooled by the pink ribbon. Worth a read.

It's well known that laughter is the best medicine. When laughter is delivered by some rather delicious young men, it's twice as effective. Check out this brilliant Breast Cancer Awareness Video from Rethink Breast Cancer. xx


Friday, October 21, 2011

Holly Jackson Review: The Boudoir Starlet Bra from Alegro

I'm really excited about today's blog because it's the first in a series from Holly Jackson, a phenomenal lingerie writer for underwear goddesses like The Lingerie Addict and The Lingerie Journal! Holly has reviewed the Boudoir Starlet in Pink from Alegro and boy has she put that lacy bra through its paces.
"I think there’s a perception that many lingerie reviewers sit around in their underwear and write about it, but I tend to put my bras through the ringer in the name of getting a good review. I always hand wash and dry them at least once, and the Alegro Boudoir Starlet bra that Claire sent me was also tested at multiple business meetings, during an all day house cleaning session (surprise international visitors), and on the rides at the county fair.

But first, I’ll start from the beginning. The Alegro Boudoir Starlet bra came beautifully packaged with a lovely Elvis card from Claire. I get a lot of lingerie in the mail, and so much of it is just stuffed into plastic envelopes and shoved into a box. The wrapping and beautiful stickers on this package made it a joy to open. I was originally really attracted to the color (I love a great hot pink) but in person it had more purple in it. It was equally gorgeous, but a little unexpected. 

The bra itself is made of incredibly soft lace, and is really supportive. I got a 34G, which fit beautifully. I suspect this means the cups are very generous since I frequently need an H or above in some brands.  Most of my bras are padded, so I was surprised to find that an unpadded bra could be so comfortable and support me so well. The straps were very adjustable, and I haven’t had to readjust them after a week. 

I realized that after having this bra for a few days, I was reaching for it in preference to many of my other favorite bras. It fits so well that it really feels like I’m not wearing a bra, and it worked under lots of different outfits.  I tried it out first at some very long business meetings under a sleeveless top with a Second Base demi cami over it, and it worked out perfectly. The straps didn’t slip and show, and I looked taller and slimmer with it on. I also wore it out to dinner with some shapewear under a clingy jersey dress and it worked well in that context too. 
Around the middle of last week, we found out some Australian friends would be stopping by for a few days, so I went into a massive housecleaning frenzy.  The bra survived the experience well, my apartment was sparkling clean, and my back didn’t hurt by the end of the evening.

Finally, I wore it to the county fair. I’d never been to one before, and it was surprisingly cold that night. I had meant to change into a sports bra, but got busy and didn’t have time.  We spent about two hours riding some pretty intense thrill rides, and I felt great by the end of the night. One of the people I was with even asked if I was wearing my sports bra!

I’d never worn Alegro before this, but I will definitely be back for more.  If they all fit like this, I may have found a new favorite every day bra brand. My only regret is not getting the matching Boudoir Starlet panties, but I intend to remedy that this week." 

Have you tried Alegro yet? What's your take on the brand? I think their full cup bras are generous and their balconettes are true to size. What about you?

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Why are we called Butterfly Collection?

I'm often asked why we are called Butterfly Collection so I decided to share with you all the journey behind our name. When we were thinking of names for our big bra company there were lots of suggestions from friends like "Boob Bonanza" and "Cup Runneth Over" but I wanted our name to describe the feeling of loving your curves not the size of them.

The Butterfly Part
Our job is to bring women on a journey where they gain confidence and love for their unique breasts and shape. Our slogan says "Bras for the most beautiful you" because when you're in the right underwear and you view yourself with love you realize how beautiful you are inside and out. The knock on effect of loving your shape is changes to your self-esteem and confidence.

This transformation from being disengaged from your body to loving and nurturing your shape is why I see women as Butterflies. I see the growing changes and development of confidence as women unfurling their wings to reveal their magnificent beauty.

The Collection Part
A lot of our customers have never had a choice in large cup bras, they have simply had to make do in uncomfortable and ugly bras. This doesn't make you feel special and it certainly doesn't make you love your shape. Giving busty women a range of bras that are designed just for them gives them choice. This choice is why we have Collection in our name. You don't have to exist with one tired beige bra anymore you can have a selection of bras that fit you and suit your mood.

I love that we get to make women realize how beautiful they are and that there is nothing wrong with their bodies, they simply hadn't found the bras for them, until now! xx

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why are Women Afraid to Break the D-Cup Barrier?

Ask a big busted woman wearing a comfortable, correctly fitting bra if she cares about her cup size and she'll probably laugh. When you have a bust that needs daily support being in the right size bra is essential. So why are so many women afraid to feel the joy of a correctly fitting bra simply because that bra has a cup size over a D?

The fear of being a D+ cup size stems from a lack of education around bras. We've been brought up to believe that A-D are the regulation bust sizes - anything above that is excessive, unnecessary and probably pornographic. This dogma is so ingrained in society that it's almost impossible to find D+ bras on the high street (Victoria's Secret, La Senza etc all stop at a DD). What does that say to you when you're a busty teenager trying to shop for your 30G boobs? "You're a freak, you don't fit in, you need to conform."

In an effort to keep the status quo but accommodate some of these unforeseen big busted gals, bra manufacturers began making DD then DDD bras. Now I don't know who thought having a bra size called triple D was easier than saying F cup but that guy was smoking something funky. Why was it such a problem to use the rest of the alphabet? The introduction of DD and DDD sizes came in the 1950s when boobs were still something to keep under lock and key. I can only assume that to call these oversized bazoomas E and F would have caused men to spontaneously combust so it was just safer to stay in the D-zone. Women have been brain-washed into thinking that big boobs are for wanton women and that stigma stays with us today.

I'm afraid some women are not helping in quashing this man-made stereotype either (the letter system was introduced by a man). The number of times women have commented how fake my boobs are to her husband in not so hushed tonesnever fails to amaze me. I was particularly saddened the other day when I read on a forum a 19 year old asking for help finding bras in a G cup. The comments ranged from catty to down right offensive and I can only assume that those women lack a great deal of self-confidence so have to bring others down.

It's time for us to reclaim the rest of the alphabet and recognize that cup letters are proportional to our body size. I think the photo below from Brittany at Thin and Curvy, shows that your band size has everything to do with proportionality.

Being proud of your body and knowing how to dress it well starts with wearing the right bra size. It is quite literally the foundation of your style and confidence. If you know you are languishing in a giant-banded D cup bra simply because you have D+ fear I invite you to call us and let us help you find your real size 1-888-225-0474 or use our Bra Size Calculator to find your best starting point. Living your life in the right bra is a liberating experience. xx

Friday, October 7, 2011

My Amazing Survivors

This week I've looked at why Breast Cancer Awareness Month should inspire us and how really getting to grips with your boobs can be a life saver. Today I'd like to share with you the stories of breast cancer in my family to explain why communication is a vital tool in the fight against breast cancer. 

Breast cancer has a long history in my family and I remember my Mum explaining the disease to me when I was a child. In my world at the time the worst things that could happen were Chicken Pox and breaking a limb. I remember being confused that my Auntie was sick with something that her doctor couldn't cure with a cherry flavoured medicine or at worst an injection that was followed by a lemon lollipop.

As I got older my understanding grew because my family were very open about what was involved in the treatments and how they had all felt during the times when breast cancer turned up uninvited. My Nana (my Mum's Mum) has watched her Mum and daughter fight breast cancer. She explained to me that cancer was a taboo subject during the 1940s when my Great Grandmother (GG) was first diagnosed. "No one talked about cancer. My Mum was just very ill, that's all we were told at first. I lost my father to cancer when I was 11 and didn't know what had killed him until my late teens."

Nana explained to me how the silence around cancer was the most terrifying thing. "I remember thinking that if I didn't step on the cracks in the street then the ambulance wouldn't come to our house." The turning point came because my GG was very pragmatic and elected to have a radical treatment that involved radiotherapy and a mastectomy, treatments that many people feared did more harm than good. Nana started asking questions about the treatment and learned more about her Mum's illness. In the oncology ward there were five women with breast cancer, GG was the only one who elected to have the new treatment and she was the only one who survived.

GG went on to survive a second bout of breast cancer where she had to have a partial breast removal and cancer of the womb survived with a hysterectomy. I was 20 when GG passed away from heart failure aged 89 having shared stories and giggles with me (as well as being unforgiving in any game involving cards and betting!)

When my Aunt was diagnosed in the late 1980s, Nana was not shy in asking questions. She and my Papa armed my Aunt with a mobile phone (revolutionary technology at the time) so that they could be in touch with her as she caught the train to London every few days for her chemotherapy. "Knowing that she could get in touch with us so that she wasn't by herself was very important. It also meant that when her tumour was measured on a Friday she could call us straight away to tell us if we were winning." Nana said that on Friday mornings she and my Papa rarely spoke after breakfast "That's when we were silent, during the waiting but talking with your Aunt was how we could support her, through being there to share her life."

I remember my Aunt being thin beyond anything I had seen before. I didn't associate it with the disease but knew that something was very wrong. I couldn't have fully comprehended the fear felt by my family during this time, I was too young, but I know that the love and support they shared amongst each other was communicated even to us kids. My Aunt has been in remission for over a decade and kept both her breasts, I call that a victory.
My Aunt, Me, Nana, Mum and My Sister - Pretty Formidable Bunch!
The battles of the women in my family have taught me to be very grateful for and protective of my health. I know that I am very fortunate to be the descendent of survivors, not everyone gets that ending. When I read the inspiring Georgina at Fuller Figure Fuller Bust talk about losing her Mum I was reminded that I am very lucky. Georgina talks about how she learned to keep the spirit of her Mum alive in her life and never to forget the importance of breast exams.

If you are the daughter or son of survivors, battlers or angels you know that what it all boils down to is love. Donating to breast cancer research is a donation to the love of mothers for their daughters, aunts to their nieces, husbands to their wives and every other woman and man affected by breast cancer. xx

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Easy Guide to Self Breast Exams

Continuing our tips on keeping your breasts healthy all year round we look at self breast exams. This simple, free, at-home technique has saved thousands of lives. Over 90% of women who detect their breast cancer early, survive so it's worth adding this 10 minute routine to your life. Teaching our daughters the importance of this exam will instill a healthy and potentially life-saving habit in them. If you need convincing watch this video.

You may have heard conflicting views on self exams and that stems from concerns that women don't know what they're feeling for so the first lump they feel frightens them and they get too scared to visit the doctor. This is why it's so important to KNOW YOUR BOOBS! By really exploring your breast tissue and asking your doctor for advice on what to look for you can learn which parts of your breasts are just bumpy and which bits need investigation.

The top 3 things to remember when doing a self breast exam are:
  1. Do it at the same time every 2-3 months so your breasts are at the same point in your cycle. 1 week after your period ends is best because any water retention and swelling will have gone.
  2. Lie down so that you're not working against gravity and you can work around the whole breast easily.
  3. Know that boobs are bumpy! Becoming familiar with the architecture of your boobs will tell you that they're made up of lots of bumps. Knowing which bumps are you and which are new is what saves lives.
I think this video simplifies the process and explains what to do Click Here to View. Lisa Masterson from The Doctors also talks about her personal breast cancer story on The Talk:

Self breast exams are a great tool for early detection but there are other signs you can keep a look out for:
* Swelling, warmth, or redness in the breast
* Changes in size and shape of the breasts
* Puckering or retraction of the skin or nipple/new nipple inverstion
* Nipple discharge, especially bloody
* Itchy, scaly rash on the nipple
* Skin dimpling (like an orange peel)
* A lump under the arm/lymph node
* Pain associated with one spot, which doesn’t go away
* Sore, swollen, inflamed breast (a sign of rare inflammatory breast cancer)

Doing self breast exams should be a natural part of being a girl like needing rather than simply wanting shoes and buying chocolate in times of disaster. xx

Monday, October 3, 2011

5 Things You Can Do to Fight Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Awareness Month has grown year after year to become an international event raising millions of dollars and awareness. While this is a huge success there is a problem with the recurrence of BCAM - it raises the question "why haven't we found a cure yet?" Some women still believe that no matter what you do if you're diagnosed with cancer, that's the end. While it's important to look forward and raise money it's also vital to establish how far we've come in the fight against breast cancer so we recognize how important it is to continue the fight.
So why isn't there a Cure?
Renowned Canadian scientist Dr. Tak Mak explains that because there are so many different genetic and cell combinations that cause breast cancer there is no one treatment cures all therapy. "It's like a computer where there are, say, 20,000 pieces. In any one patient you can have 50 different pieces go wrong out of the 20,000 but it's a different piece every time." Mapping which parts go wrong is a huge part of finding cures. Breast Cancer used to be one big generic term, today doctors know how to identify types of cancer and which course of treatment is best for that particular strain. 

How do we know we're making progress?
1) Since 1999, the incidence of breast cancer in Canada has stabilized.
2) Female breast cancer mortality rate decreased from 21.8 per 100,000 in 2009 to 21.4 per 100,000 in 2010.
3) In 1986, the Canadian breast cancer mortality rate was 32 per 100,000. This rate has fallen by more than 30% and is currently the lowest it has been since 1950.
4) At present, the five-year relative survival rate for female breast cancer in Canada is 87% (84% for men) which means women diagnosed with breast cancer have an 87% likelihood of being alive 5 years after their diagnosis.

Source: Canadian Cancer Society /National Cancer Institute of Canada. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2010, Toronto, Canada, 2010

What are the reasons for higher survival rates?
1) Screening - One of the biggest advances in the fight against breast cancer is screening for early detection. Catching breast cancer early is the greatest weapon. If you are a healthy woman over 40 with no history of breast cancer in your family it is a great idea to have a mammogram every 1-2 years. You can visit (Canadian Association of Radiologists) Mammography Accreditation Program; to find a CAR-accredited site.

2) Research and Treatments - To develop effective treatments doctors have to be able to establish the cause and this is the time consuming part of developing a cure. It's not too long ago that all breast cancers were diagnosed and treated in the same way. Today there are distinct types of breast cancer with recognized sub-sects that can be identified and treated accordingly. Dr. Tak Mak, molecular biologist and director of The Campbell family for Breast Cancer Research at Toronto's Princess Margaret Hospital, says "In the last 20 years we are developing drugs that are more targeted and that can kill fewer normal cells and more cancer cells." More targeted treatments have fewer unnecessary side-effects.

3) Education - Before the treatments and knowledge that we have now, being diagnosed with breast cancer was a foregone conclusion. People didn't talk about it and just faced the inevitable. Today we know that having the education to understand your body and live a healthy lifestyle are your greatest defenses against breast cancer. Here are 5 things you can do in the fight against this disease:
  • Learn how to perform a self breast exam (I will be posting about this on Wednesday)
  • Know your family history - find out about the breast history of your family members
  • Eat well and exercise - include berries and dark green vegetables in your diet (I will be posting about cancer fighting alkaline foods next week)
  • Get to know your doctor - a great doctor will help you understand your body, what changes to look out for, what changes you could make in other areas (blood pressure for example) that will improve your overall health and if and when you should be making a mammogram appointment
  • Donate to Breast Cancer Research. Every dollar really does bring us a step closer to keeping our Moms, daughters, aunts, nieces and grandmothers safe.
I hope you feel inspired and optimistic that even though we don't have all the cures yet, the journey is saving lives every day. With love from two generations of survivors xx