I love Christmas. I love to bring light and cosiness into my home, I love to cook and eat, I love to pick and wrap gifts, I love to listen to soulful Elvis songs and timeless kitsch Wham on loop, I love freezing Christmas markets and sparkling lights hung through the city. I love being part of a bicultural family and having two Christmases (Christmas eve and Christmas day!). I love the loud, bright, colourful parts and the quiet, still, reflective parts.
The blog has had a long, unplanned hiatus (whoops), but how could I not return to post my own Christmas lingerie wishlist?
Oh, and just in case Santa is reading this, I’ve included what size I’d take for each piece 😉
(all photos are from the linked product pages – links open in a new tab – none are sponsored)
LOOK AT THIS. Look at it! It’s furry! This top + wool stockings for Christmas morning lounging and breakfast and presents and smooching (hey, gotta make the most of these kid-free Christmases, amirite?!), then throw over a poofy skirt to go to the in-laws for lunch. (large)
This short dressing gown looks so comfy (theme?) and I L O V E the angel wings. I have a Kriss Soonik winged top and it’s so soft and comfortable. This also comes with free monogramming on the sleeve, making it an extra special Christmas gift. (one size)
How about some boxers for Boxing Day?! TomboyX briefs have been on my wishlist forever. The tartan print is seasonally cute and this length is great to prevent chafing (yeah, hands up if you also have year-round thigh sweat! sunglasses emoji!). (XL)
What is on your wishlist? I haven’t been keeping up with the lingerie world lately – is there anything else that *should* be on my wishlist?
It’s still only April, but I’ve already started thinking about Pride, which here in Vienna takes the form of the “Rainbow Parade” in June. I don’t often go, because mobility issues + crowd + noise, and it can sometimes be a bit cis-white-men-appeasing-the-hets, but nevertheless my mind is starting to think about what awesome lingerie-based outfit I could wear. Any excuse, tbh. Here are a couple of ideas, based around some pieces I already own (reviews to come…!):
OUTFIT NUMERO 1 – FISHNET
OUTFIT NUMERO 2 – PEACH ASTERIA
OUTFIT NUMERO 3 – BLACK ASTERIA
So, as you can see, I basically want to raid Bluestocking Boutiques “new arrivals” section! A quick note about the last brand mentioned here – FOCX. They are an explicitly queer-serving, queer-owned indie label who make boyshorts and boxers in the UK. They have a huge variety of different patterns and a decent size range, from 2XS/UK4 to 5X/UK24 (though as each style is very limited, many of the sizes sell out). I’m looking forward to finally trying them out some time soon!
Are you looking forward to Pride, readers? Do any of you have an awesome lingerie-based outfit to share? Drop it in the comments or hit me up over on twitter @theholybrail!
I’m having a bit of a spring clear out and my lingerie drawer’s loss could be your gain! Most new, some worn but good condition. Bras, bodysuits, corsets, bralets; some the victims of impulse sale purchases, others my ever changing body shape.
Prices are in EURO, I accept payment by PayPal (preferred) or bank transfer (Austria or UK). No swaps! Private sale, no refunds/returns.
Post within Austria/EU/planet earth – cost will vary depending on what you want, but postage costs from Austria are generally ~fairly~ reasonable (€5-10 within EU). Lmk what you’d like & where you are & I’ll get my scales & tape measure out & let you know the total.
If you want to buy or have questions about any item, please leave a comment, email me theholybrail at gmail dot com or tweet/DM me on Twitter @theholybrail
Cleo Panache Pixie 30E NWT €20
Playful Promises red satin waspie €20 & overbust corset €25, both size L, NWT
Content notice: this post will talk about poor mental health & self harm
I am mentally ill. I take meds, I’ve spent time in psychiatric hospitals, I’ve self-harmed in a myriad of ways, I have had years of suicide ideation, I dissociate, I have blacked out weeks at a time.
Like many people, one coping behavior I have when I’m struggling with my own mind is retail therapy. I’m mostly pretty frugal (I don’t currently work, and when I did I earned very little), but a few times a year I’ll have spending sprees. I’ll cross the line, blur my limits. Shopping becomes a compulsion. I never make any single huge purchases, but rather many smaller purchases which, while totally reasonable in isolation, quickly add up. I don’t buy a new laptop or an iPhone or a designer handbag; I buy a couple of books from my wishlist and little bits and pieces for my home and a nice jigsaw puzzle and much-needed new shoes and nail varnish and a dress and art supplies slightly spendy lipstick and, well, underwear. Obviously underwear. Underwear is especially tied up to my mental wellbeing, to self expression and body confidence and acceptance of my sick, painful, broken body.
Buying all these things does make me feel better, and does help to make my life nicer. But honestly, I can’t afford it. I shouldn’t spend so much. I don’t have the money. But I deserve a treat, don’t I? YOLO. My life is difficult right now and if something cheers me up, it’s worth it. And that really is ok, I think. There is so much societal moral value tied up to spending money – especially on “frivolous”, feminine-coded products – and I want to move away from that kind of thinking. Spending money is ok. You’re allowed. You’re even allowed to buy an expensive lipstick, if you want! It’s even ok if you love communism and would ideally live in a moneyless society! You are not a bad person for spending money. But when spending becomes a compulsion, when I lose control, when I’ve reached my credit limit, then it’s a problem for me.
I’ve recently realised that the compulsion driving this when it gets particularly bad is the same feeling as when I self harm, and there is the same cycle of compulsion > action > relief > guilt > compulsion. Harming my body makes me feel bad about myself, which I then relieve by harming my body; overspending makes me feel bad about myself, which I then relieve by overspending. It’s the same kind of spiral.
Toward the end of last year, I felt this spiral coming on. I overspent in the sales. At the same time, my benefits stopped, finances got even tighter. I implemented my January spending ban. I managed it, and was proud. Then came February and my birthday and I wanted to treat myself. But it quickly spiraled out of control. I lost perspective and rationality. I kept on spending. As I said above, not just lingerie, but lots of it. Compulsion, compulsion, compulsion.
Yesterday I reached my credit limit. It’s a relatively low limit – in the hundreds rather than the thousands – and one that I will be able to pay off quickly by keeping my purse closed for a few months. In a way, it’s a relief. An externally imposed limit. I can stop now. I have to stop now. It’s literally impossible to make any more purchases.
Still, it’s hard. There are constantly sales. Constantly beautiful new pieces from my favourite designers. Sample sales from designers I’ve only just discovered & could never afford otherwise. The lingerie community on twitter and instagram, constantly posting pictures of dreamy underwear. It’s hard to see fellow bloggers – and other fashion/lifestyle bloggers – posting their newest acquisition, their shopping hauls, while holding myself to much stricter limits than they seem to have. But I have to remind myself that social media presents a distorted image of the reality, like looking at the lives of others through a water-filled glass. I don’t know their circumstances, but most are surely not the same as mine. Maybe they work full time, maybe they have a rich partner or parents, maybe most of what they review is free PR samples, maybe they are just ordering things to post before returning, maybe they don’t actually buy that much and saved and budgeted, maybe they are deep in debt.
I don’t want to drop off social media to avoid temptation. I want to get back to my normal, to being able to see nice things and just add them to my wishlist, be content with just sharing them and saying wow, isn’t this nice, look it this! without having to buy anything, apart from once in a while, when I can afford it. I know I’ll find support from my fellow bloggers. And I’m working on it.
Sorry Nic*, you heard right: bees. This post is all about them. Sit back, relax, stick your paw in a jar of honey and read on.
From Bronze Age Crete to industrial era Manchester, bees have long had a place in myth, idiom and art. Symbolising diligence, community, female leadership and sweet rewards, these insects are now the focus of Karolina Laskowka’s latest collection, Miód. Featuring honeycomb-like hexagonal black cotton bobbinet tulle and cute bee charms, the collection comprises harness pants, a bralette, a harness and choker. I have a feeling the relatively wallet-friendly choker will prove particularly popular! It’s available to pre-order at the links below, while the rest of the collection is coming soon. What I especially love about these designs (other than the cute lil fluffy earth-aliens & an excuse to roll out some classic gifs) is the otherwise simple, unfussy, minimalist style of the black tulle and straps. These pieces can easily be femmed-up or… whatever the opposite is, to fit with your own look. Each is definitely a statement piece on its own, but if you want to go all out matchy-matchy buzzy-buzzy, I’ve teamed them up here with a few more bee-themed accessories that have caught my eye lately (though personally, as an archaeologist, I’ve got my eye on a replica of the gold Minoan pendant pictured above).
*As a “brief” aside, if you haven’t seen The Wicker Man 2006 remake, you really should. As well as all the BEES!, Nicolas Cage punches people while dressed as a bear. The whole thing is inexplicable and glorious. And I would pay good money to see the follow-up Cage once mentioned: ‘When asked what roles from his career he would most like to revisit, Cage responded, “I would like to hook up with one of the great Japanese filmmakers, like the master that made Ringu, and I would like to take The Wicker Man to Japan, except this time he’s a ghost.”‘ (from wikipedia) I mean, I can’t even imagine.
I guess most people reading this will have already heard of Kiss Me Deadly, a small, independent, retro-inspired lingerie brand from the UK. This is how they describe themselves:
Once upon a time, a woman went on a long search for a good suspender belt set… and ended up with a vintage inspired, retro lingerie brand designed for femme fatales; glamorous, sensual and intelligent women with just a hint of danger.
I don’t remember how or where I first came across them – sometime earlier this year (my lingerie obsession only started this year!) – but I already own several pieces from them, including their Van Doren bralet, cupless Vargas dress and some swimwear. I love their style, the awesome array of weapons in their product photos, and feel solidarity towards the owner, Catherine, as she is running this whole business with one of the same disabilities as me (she has written some excellent posts about being a disabled woman in the lingerie industry on the KMD blog as well as for The Lingerie Addict). I’m not particularly a huge retro fashion fan, but their designs absolutely fit seamlessly in to a modern femme wardrobe. You can take a look at everything they have produced in their collection archive.
They are currently trying out a different way of getting a new collection into production: Kickstarter! As well as a cute (sorry) murder mystery video series showcasing the collection, the campaign features a total of 11 new pieces – two bra sets with girdle/girdle skirt, two gown & robe sets and a demi-corset. These are available in various combinations depending on your pledge level, which represent quite a large saving on the RRP. If you want to support the campaign but can’t afford or don’t want the lingerie, there are lower tier rewards offering thank yous, exclusive images (for the Morgana fans) and, somewhat inexplicably (am I missing the joke?), a chap-hop track. (For those lucky enough to not know what chap-hop is, it’s posh, vintage-styled white men rapping “ironically”. Hopefully this track is KMD ladies rapping about how they want to kill these men…?)
Honestly, I really like everything in this collection. Black and red are definitely go-to colours for me (and most people, I suppose) and the styles are safe but elegant and luxurious. However, I don’t have £500 to spend on the whole lot, and right now I’m wavering between my two picks.
Firstly, the Grace nightgown pictured at the top of the post. I’m a sucker for glamourous nightwear – I spend a lot of time at home/in bed and sometimes like to wear something that’s light and comfortable and fairly modest (not living alone) but more stylish than Finding Nemo pyjamas. I adore the sheer side panels, and the bias cut would hopefully mean that it would be able accommodate my large bottom. I’m a little wary of polyester, but I find price/quality makes a huge different in how tolerable polyester satin is against my skin.
My second pick is the Angelou set. I’m totally into the black and gold combo at the moment and that gold foil lace is to die (to kill?) for. I’ve also never had a girdle and would love to try it out. Just look at it! It is so very Phyrne Fisher (of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, featuring lots of vintage lingerie). I would probably snip off all those bows at the bottom, though.
The designs have clearly also been popular with a lot of other people, as they launched the campaign two weeks ago and have already reached their £10,000 funding goal, which is an incredible achievement! This means that production will go ahead and anyone who pledges for something will definitely get it, and they have said that the further they get past the 10k goal, the more likely it is that they will be able to manufacture more than just the kickstarter orders, meaning extras for size exchange.
I’ve seen some comments around asking about a few things that aren’t super clear with regards to making pledges, so if you are new to kickstarter or looking for certain workarounds, here are my top 3 tips:
You don’t choose which item or size you want from your chosen reward level until after the campaign has finished. You can pledge now and still have a couple of weeks to debate with yourself which set you prefer.
Kickstarter lets you change your pledge amount and reward level. You can pledge for a lower level now and if you decide before the campaign ends that you want more, you can easily change it (up as well as down) by logging into your account and clicking “manage pledge”. The money isn’t taken until the campaign is over.
Want a combination of items not offered? Create a second account. Kickstarter won’t let you pledge multiple times on the same campaign, but you can create a second account using a different email address to pledge again, enabling you to mix and match. Prefer to pair the Leonie robe with the Grace gown? Make two £70-level pledges from different accounts and you can. You then have to pay shipping twice, but if you’ve really got your heart set on a certain combination then this makes it possible.
With 16 days still to go you have plenty of time to get your pledge in – let me know what you choose!
So often I hear people say that the first thing they do when they get home at the end of the day is to take their bra off. For me, it’s my pants. Tight elastic, seams and rough scalloped edging that cut in and rub my skin raw, wedgies, bunching up, a poor, suffocated vulva. As soon as I walk in the door I throw them off in a rage and bask in glorious commando relief.
WMYP? is a small workers’ co-operative based in Southampton, UK, whose goal is to employ refugee women by manufacturing pants from reclaimed fabrics. Talk about ethical! They also have a big focus on training their staff, not just to do the task at hand but also general employment skills.
Or rather, they were. I wrote the first draft of this post about a month ago. A few days later, Who Made Your Pants? shared the deeply unfortunate news that they were having to close down. This is a real shame, because they made pants that I did not hate, and did so with an admirable ethos.
I only heard about them a few months before they closed, but in that time I replaced a large section of my knicker drawer with WMYP pants. They were expensive compared to the supermarket budget multi-pack pants I’ve always had, but cheaper than most of the matching knickers from mid-price lingerie brands like Panache or Playful Promises, and you know they were manufactured in safe and fair conditions for a decent wage. Plus there were often offers on, and they were available in sets for a little less. My favourites are these high waist stretch lace pairs – no side seams, no digging in, soft and colourful. They do get “eaten”, but I think they are meant to? In any case, they are comfy, I like how they look on me and they cope well with my waist:hip ratio.
Admittedly, I do still prefer to go without when I’m at home, but these make wearing knickers much more bearable, even enjoyable. I hope they’ll last.
Zuhra & friends, thanks for all the pants. You will be missed.
In July I adopted a cat from the local animal shelter. It had been a long, long time coming, but finally the moment had arrived. I was a month into my long-term (still ongoing) sick leave, so had plenty of time to devote to a pet, as well as very much needing the occupation and therapeutic benefits of living with a cat. The animal shelter is just a short drive from where we live, and is huge, with all kinds of rescued animals – it even has a chimpanzee enclosure (the inhabitants of which are not up for adoption). My partner and I were shown around rooms full of tiny kittens who clambered all over us, introduced to many little balls of fluff waiting to be taken home. But a pair of babies in our small flat and with my poor health would have been too much of a handful. “Well, there is this one cat who could do well with you – she needs to be homed alone because she behaves a little… strangely… with other cats.” We were lead to another room, where we were greeted warmly by a black and white wisp of a cat, who then walked up to her sleeping room-mate and, entirely unprovoked, hissed and gave him a good whack to the head, before sauntering back to us and curling up in my lap with a heavy purr.
She came home with us that day, and she is the feline love of my life.
Suffice it to say, I am a Cat Lady, and as such am quite partial to cat-themed fashion. Sadly my glorious cat-print dresses are all too small for me now, but I still have cat leggings, cat socks, cat jumpers, cat jewellery etc. One part of my wardrobe, however, is suspiciously devoid of cats: my underwear drawer. Which brings me to today’s wishlist!
Just look at it. LOOK. Cats! If you click on the image you can zoom in and take a good look at the detail. In this white lace it does kind of have a tiny-baby-dress aesthetic (it wouldn’t look out of place on a christening dress, or perhaps a delicate crib curtain), but still – who can resist underwear with CAT LACE? And if I recall the season preview correctly, there should be a black version coming, too, which is a little less newborn-ish. Like most Mimi Holliday collections, there are several different bra and knicker styles available, as well as matching suspenders and an eye mask. (NB. I like the URL for this product!)
How cute is this handmade loungewear/nightwear set from UK indie designer Knickerocker?! So totally adorable, 100% my style and US-based LGBTQIA+ online lingerie store Bluestockings Boutique have it in stock and ready to ship (no waiting times!) – use ***THIS LINK*** to get 20% off!
It is September. It is TIGHTS SEASON. This pair from ASOS is on its way to me right now, in fact, as when I looked them up to get the link I saw that they were (still are!) on sale, and you know how these things go. They will be a super cute way to cat-up an outfit this Autumn, perhaps peeking out of the top of my knee-high Dr Martens.
I’ll be honest, I only came across this one while writing this post (all the other items I have long been coveting) and googling “cat bra”. From UK supermarket ASDA, this is such a darling pattern and only costs £4.50, if it’s still available in your size (I am impressed by their huge size range!). There are equally cheap matching pants, too.
Last one! I’m not entirely sure if sleep masks count as underwear but lets just say yes, because this is a beauty. Handmade in France by Naomilingerie on Etsy, this mask is also available without the bow, in various fabrics and colours, and optionally stuffed with lavender for the ultimate relaxing catnap.
That’s all for now. I hope my fellow cat-ladies (and cat-people-of-non-binary-genders) enjoyed this selection and as always, if you have any similar recommendations to share then please do drop it in the comments or hit me up on twitter @theholybrail!
This is a bra that has been on my wishlist for a long time. Bright blue sheer mesh with black elastic edging & strap detail, and not a bow in sight!
(click images for links)
Bluebella is a low-mid budget British brand that was founded in 2005, and is now seemingly a subsidiary of or otherwise related to big online sex toy retailer Lovehoney. Most of their lingerie is boudoir-focussed, including an official 50 Shades range of bondage-inspired pieces. I hadn’t heard of them until I saw them featured as a guest brand with this particular set on Playful Promises. I fell in love with the design immediately – bold colours, no polkadots or florals or frou frou! However, I hesitated for a long time because it wasn’t available in my normal size (32E), and I was wary of the risk of once again having to pay international return shipping when things didn’t fit. But last month it was reduced in Bluebella’s summer sale, so I decided to take a chance on it, ordering 32DD and 34DD. Success! Shipping to Austria was free (=built-in to the cost) and fast, and the 32DD fit like a dream.
The band is firm, which I like, and nice and broad with 3 rows of hooks – for once there is minimal armpit overhang! The side boning and fairly tall, wide wires help keep everything in place. The gore is too wide for me, encroaching on the breast tissue, but it sits flat, isn’t uncomfortable and doesn’t cause other fit problems, so it’s ok by me. The sheer mesh cups are stretchy and mould nicely to the body; with the single vertical seam they are gently supportive, just rounding off and flattening the “peaks” of my naturally pointy boobs. Unlike in the product photos, the black vertical seam is not central, but to the side, but I think that is just a boob-shape thing. The elastic straps across the top of the cups are soft and stretchy and don’t dig in, although the ones on the outer edges just get eaten by my armpits. The design is modern and to me feels like what a bra in ~FUTURE YEAR 2015~ should look like! Honestly, it is so comfy and stylish and just me, I want to wear it always. It is a perfect everyday bra and I think I’m going to have to get creative to find an outfit that will show it off!
The Caterina bra is also available in black and a pretty new creamy pink, sizes 30-36B-DD, 38B-D, and as as you can see above there is a matching brief and suspender belt too.
I also picked up Bluebella’s Skylar Ruffle bra in the sale. Frillier than I would usually go for but it was just a couple of pounds and looked cosy! And indeed the soft polyester chiffon triangle cups make this bra very comfy, great for lounging or sleeping. It is sized by band only and the 32 fit me fine in the cups (with plenty of side boob) but the band was extremely loose! The elastic is VERY stretchy and it offered no support at all; there was barely any use in even fastening it. Even as a lounge piece it was too loose. I didn’t measure it before returning it but I reckon the 32 would be a better fit for someone who usually wears a 36 band.
Have you tried anything from Bluebella? Can you recommend me another bra or brand with this bold, bright, unfussy, modern aesthetic?
As I spend my Saturday evening packing up all this week’s tragically ill-fitting bras for return, I am already planning and dreaming of my next lingerie purchases.
Something a little different from the typical underwired, padded,. heavy.duty polkadot offerings can be found in these hand-made soft bralettes from USA-based independent designer Sophie Hines.
(Photo credit Sophie Hines. Click photos for links!)
These bras look so comfy and I love the style, with the sleek, thick elastic, harness designs and soft, plain jersey fabric and sheer meshes. It makes a change from highly structured wired bras and I while I do also like bright colours and lacy feminine touches, I find the no-frills, geometric designs much sexier and more appealing than the floral prints and polkadots prevalent in mainstream brands, without being boring either.
These pieces may cost more than your basic bralette from H&M but considering they are of much better quality and Sophie makes them by hand in her own home in Nebraska, the prices are pretty reasonable. She offers worldwide postage, too. The bras are available in sizes XS-L, which correspond to small bust & small back sizes, up to a 37″ bust, though sizing is more flexible than with wired bras. I’m around a 30F-32E without too much projection, and think a medium or large could work for me.
These bras would look great layered under loose and low-cut dresses and tank tops. I am already dreaming of lounging around all summer in them, pairing them with cotton bike shorts and throwing over a tank top to go out… Once my refunds have come through I might have to place an order!
What do you think of Sophie Hines lingerie? Have you ordered from her? Do you know of similar designers I should take a look at?