Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Review: Cup Cakes Lingerie


Holy Moly, my inner goddess is doing pirouettes!
I spent the most wonderful morning in Cup Cakes Lingerie (www.cupcakeslingerie.ie) in Ranelagh, Dublin 6, with Sinead and Mary. I have never been a "boutique" shopper; show me a shop with two assistants and just me, and I'll show you the door. I like browsing in peace, not being watched or "helped", it just makes me too self-conscious, and I always feel like I'm under pressure to buy if I'm the only one in the shop, it feels rude to leave empty-handed or something. Well this is one boutique I felt so comfortable in, and it's changed my opinion of smaller shops completely. I actually feel like I made some friends today, so friendly, fun and welcome was the atmosphere!

Ranelagh is a bustling village just outside Dublin city centre, with some beautiful cafes and restaurants, not to mention clothes shops and delis. Cup Cakes Lingerie is smack bang in the middle, at the triangle, and parking is easy in the side street right beside the shop, the Luas Green Line runs right beside it, and Superquinn have a big car park too. Stepping into the elegant pink and grey decor, I was welcomed with a warm smile and a lovely friendly chat with Sinead, which immediately put me at my ease.

I desperately needed nursing bras; I've been breastfeeding for 4.5 years, and I think the last bra I bought was 3.5 years ago! I've definitely noticed a droop starting (cringe!), and I'd given up wearing bras completely, as I have no comfortable ones. I was shown into the fitting room, and relieved to hear that I didn't have to get naked, though I probably would have if Sinead had asked, so charming was she!

The fitting room was beautiful - an ornate silver and pink chair and a vintage Parisian print on the wall set the tone. Another lovely touch was the electric heater which I was invited to turn on - bliss after my mad dash from the car through wind and rain. Sinead said she'd check my size - me being all-knowing thought I'd save her the trouble, and informed her I've been wearing a 36A for the last 10 years. She very nicely told me I am in fact a 32E(!) and went off calmly to find me a bra in that size.
32 E?! No way in hell! I thought, but we had a good thing going, so I took the black bra and tried it on.
It fit like a glove.
AAAAGH! 32E! The last time I wore a bra size 32 I was about 14 I think! But this was comfortable, and made my boobs look like something from a Betty Paige pin-up shot!
This is a model. You're not getting a shot of my actual bras here, or I'll be plagued by the weirdo who wanted me to do a breastfeeding video! "Licorice Twist" nursing bra by Cake Lingerie 55e
What really impressed me was that there was no measuring tape used! She literally stood behind me, touched me lightly on the back with her hands, looked at me from the front and sides, and she knew my size. Unreal! What a skill! (and probably one that every male in the land wishes he had as a party piece!) Sinead explained that a measuring tape can be misleading, as manufacturers don't have standardised sizes. (We all know we can be a 12 in one shop and a 16 in another, so of course it makes sense for bras too!) Also when you go down in chest size you go up in cup size.

I love the bit of bling, and the red is sexy! "Light up the Stage" nursing bra by Hot Milk 51e

She went and got me every bra they had in my size; beautiful lacy concoctions in black lace with velvet straps, scarlet Christmassy red with diamante heart, creamy vanilla with colourful accents, a beautiful nude one lined in pink floral material - all nursing / maternity bras, all blew my mind. I've been used to high street rails of white cotton / black cotton... and that's about it. So to have a choice of styles, colours and labels to choose from was like being a kid in a candy store. The labels they stock are Hot Milk and Cake Lingerie, and I'm talking one full wall of the shop dedicated to nursing / maternity bras. Wow. All had matching knickers too.

For anyone wondering, a nursing bra has the clips that open at the top of each cup, allowing you to flap it down for breastfeeding. Maternity bras have extra hooks in the back - about 6 sets instead of the usual 3 to allow for expanding ribs and back (trust me, you expand ALL over!). You don't need a specific maternity bra for pregnancy and then a nursing bra, one good nursing bra can do it all, if it has the extra hooks. Another feature they have is slightly wider straps and back, which help to contain your curves and mould you into a more streamlined shape. (That's my fancy way of saying it holds in the flab better!)

Even without baby bump this looked great on, I'd wear this out, so I would! "Show-stopping" nursing nightie from Hot Milk 60e. Entertain the in-laws in this post-birth and watch their jaws drop!

There were also some gorgeous nursing / maternity silky nightdresses, one of which I'd wear over leggings and under a cardigan out in daytime, it was so nice. Sinead explained that they like to check the fit of every single bra, because even in the one label, the fit can change from one style to another.

Another thing I'd been wondering about was the underwire issue. I've read that you should avoid them at all costs as they can cause blocked ducts, and every nursing mother knows they are a pain in the ass (and boob), and can lead to mastitis. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that the underwire in nursing/maternity bras is made of flexi wire, and is much more flexible than in normal bras. Some nursing/maternity bras have no wire at all, and still give great support. Cake Lingerie have won awards in Australia for their underwire technology. This wire WHEN FITTED CORRECTLY is kept well away from the breast tissue. I'm wearing a Hot Milk bra at the moment, and I have a clear inch all around my breast before the underwire starts. That apparently is the secret. These bras are all fitting like a second skin, comfortable, and give me a great shape. And I suddenly feel sexy, like the "old me" (pre-babies) again.

Upstairs I have 2 drawers full of beautiful lingerie I collected throughout my 20s - bras, knickers, suspender belts, stockings, corsets etc. All beautiful (all the wrong size!) and some ridiculously expensive (Agent Provocateur, anyone?!) All defunct now I'm a mama with babies sucking on me every five minutes. I used to enjoy dressing up in lingerie and prancing around in high heels in public, now I'm more usually in leggings and a hoodie on the floor playing with kids. How things have changed. But for today I got to recapture the magic of those tiny bits of silky lacy stuff that transforms you into a sex goddess the second it's on. And I can wear these pieces everyday, because they fit me, and they allow me to breastfeed too. It's such a buzz!
Ok, here's a photo of me having a cup of tea. I got this lovely "Shortbread" bra too, by Cake Lingerie

Shopping in Cup Cakes Lingerie is retail therapy at its best. We discussed how the body changes through pregnancy and breastfeeding, and Sinead told me she's had to give a few hugs and cuppas in her time to emotional women. Imagine it, you get pregnant, you're delighted, and a few months later you've no comfortable clothes, your body's changing outside of your control, your hormones are all over the place, and all you want is to look and feel like "you" again. Here the bras will be fitted so you can wear them through the pregnancy and afterwards, saving you money and time.

What really comes across is the enthusiasm the staff have to ensure you get the perfect bra for your body. Boobs and bras seem to be the hot topic here, the staff have even been known to text each other during tv programmes in the evening to discuss what actor needs a different cup size! They stock everything from a 28A to a 40J, and won't sell you anything if it's not perfect, they'll order in your size if it's not there. There is nothing they haven't seen, so leave your inhibitions at the door. I even mentioned I'd previously had to buy a dress I tried on because I leaked milk into it in the dressing room, and Sinead told me they keep a stock of breast pads there to avoid that very situation, you only have to ask! They also stock Emma Jane, a lovely range of maternity and postmaternity tights and leggings, and vests, all designed to support your tummy in it's varying stages of motherhood, but no beige spandex in sight (that was around the corner!). They also had lovely sleep bras (which I could have done with on many an engorged uncomfortable night when I had Charlie) which all open for nursing and have soft but supportive material. Sports bras for joggers, nightwear and lounge wear, and some amazing corsets and shapewear that will give you the best line under your special occasion dress (bring the dress with you for the best result, they say) and a line in men's briefs which are apparently self-cleaning (just need to be left on the floor for a couple of days, then they're ready to be worn again!)

Children are also very welcome, which I was delighted to hear, as I usually leave mine at home when shopping (with a responsible adult, of course!) They are so welcome, in fact, that there is a stack of toys in the back, the staff are all mothers themselves, and one will watch the kids while the other fits you for your bra! A shop like this, which is a speciality shop, but is thriving and taking on new staff after two years in business really needs to be commended. It speaks volumes that they have regular customers, who may come in for a fitting for a bridal lingerie set, and return a year later for a nursing bra! Some customers just pop in as they're passing to say hi!

I adore this. I want to marry it, no seriously.  Coquette bra by Simone Perelle 85e

Now to the numbers, as we're all watching the pennies these days. These are not high-street bras. They are not plain cotton. Have a look at the website. These are high-end bras, beautiful quality and design. You don't need one for every day of the week. One on you, one in the drawer and one in the wash is the rule of thumb. Think of what you'd spend on shoes in a year. No, bras are not shoes, but your boobs are important, and especially if they're feeding your young you want to look after them. I am on a very strict budget myself this year (and next year, and the year after...) and I still think these are fair prices. If you want a bra for 15e you can get one with your weekly shopping. But if you want to be fitted for a quality bra that makes you feel sexy, that fits your curves perfectly, that makes your clothes hang better, and makes your body look slimmer (I look like I've lost half a stone), you will consider this money well spent.

They do gift vouchers too, which can be bought online and would make the perfect Christmas gift.
For readers not in / around Dublin, Cup Cakes Lingerie have a beautiful online shop at http://www.cupcakeslingerie.ie/ with all the latest arrivals where you can browse and buy at your leisure in many currencies. Shipping within Ireland with next-day delivery is only 5e. There is free delivery on orders over 150e. Shipping times are great for international orders, so you can definitely still  order in time for Christmas! Be sure to check out the online"fitting room" for normal and maternity bra-fitting guidelines, there are some important points there that will ensure you get the best fit, and best value out of your bra.

A few tips I picked up today are:
When you put on your bra, do the "bend and scoop" (bend forward from the hips, scoop all the flesh from each breast into the cup, before you straighten up) This ensures your breasts are sitting comfortably in the cups, and will ensure you avoid blocked milk ducts if breastfeeding. Don't just put your bra on and hope your boobs settle into it.
All these bras need handwashing. That's not gonna happen in my house, as I told Sinead. I have trouble getting time to wash myself most days, let alone having a chance to handwash some smalls. No fear, she had a way around it. You can use a laundry bag / pillowcase to protect your bras; close their hooks, put them in the bag and wash on a delicate cycle with no spin, and they should be fine.
All bras stretch over time. Be aware of this and don't get into the habit of assuming it still needs closing on the 2nd hook, or whatever. Adjust your shoulder straps too EVERY TIME you put the bra on, as they may loosen during the day.

So here I am, wearing a bra again for the first time in months, and feeling like I could conquer the world! It's amazing what a little pampering can do for a gal, and I'm saving for a beautiful navy and black bra that I spied on my way out of the shop today. (Oh, by the way, they take deposits, so if you can't trust yourself to save up at home, you're welcome to pay it off little by little in the shop itself!) Now, that's customer service!

Join the team at Cup Cakes Lingerie tomorrow (Wednesday, December 12th) from 10am-8pm when they will celebrate their second birthday with festive goodies, exclusive pre-Christmas discounts to say thank you to their loyal customers of 2012 and to welcome new ones for 2013!

Buxom Blonde bids you adieu!
x

http://www.cupcakeslingerie.ie/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cup-Cakes-Lingerie/
This is a sponsored post, however all opinions expressed are my own.

3 comments:

  1. Big thumbs up from me here too! I love Cup Cakes. They really made me feel great when I was getting ready to go back to work and still nursing. My lingerie never looked so good :)

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  2. Niamh! Thanks so much for this post :) I am just home from a shopping trip to Ranelagh and called into cupcakes and treated myself to that fab red nightie you have the pic of above!! Not sure I would wear it out, not as brave as you clearly - or as skinny!!!- but going to a Christmas party with my DH on Friday and think I will keep it as a surprise for later that night!! Am 5 mths pregnant and have a toddler already and been feeling really sick and miserable so this was just the pick me up I needed! The girls in the shop are lovely, minded by DD while I tried on all the nighties and I told them it was your blog had sent me there - which Sinead was happy to hear!

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  3. this is fab! top of my list of jobs for today was to suss out somewhere to get my bridal lingerie :) will be making a trip to Ranelagh in the near future, thanks Niamh!

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