Underneath Your Clothes

Author: Charlotte O'Shea

I love lingerie. Really. More than handbags or shoes or kitkats (I was going to put make-up in this list but I’d say it’s a close call between the two).

Many of my recently-become-a-Mama friends can’t wait to “get back into their favourite jeans” but for me it was definitely my beautiful collection of smalls. I yearned for frivolous pretty next to my skin rather than the rather dull and style-less maternity garments I have become accustomed to.

I don’t covet overtly sexy pieces as such, preferring more brightly coloured, feminine and floral numbers rather than skimpy lace or anything too see-through. Brand wise I am quite loyal to The Gap or H&M (the latter generally fitting me like a glove bra wise and being so reasonably priced I can fuel my habit without any major guilt factor) although I do have a couple of fancy sets from Calvin Klein, La Perla and Agent Provocateur.

Regarding the aforementioned “sets” I don’t necessarily always opt for matchy matchy, some clothing calls for smooth lines and no VPL, in which case I favour a nude T-shirt bra with whatever lovely bikini style panties appeal on any given day. I also don’t see the harm in flashing a bit of strap with say an off-the-shoulder jumper, if you love something so much why keep it completely under wraps?

The majority of my daily life is chaotic, especially of late, but my undergarments are neatly stored and folded in a giant perspex box awaiting a well-deserved airing. I even slipped into a delicate peach ensemble the other day, I felt more like the usual “me” and it was liberating.

With regards my obvious obsession with intimates that is exactly it, although it would be ridiculous to imply my husband doesn’t appreciate my dedication to what’s underneath and that I in turn don’t take pleasure in said appreciation, ultimately I buy and wear what I like to suit myself. Having read Miranda’s “Dear Teenage Self” post from this morning and all of your comments on the unnecessary image hang-ups we had in our youth (when let’s face it, we probably all had pretty great bodies in the grand scheme of things) plus my own new found body respect post pregnancy, I plan on making the most of things in the here and now. One day I’ll wake up and everything will undoubtedly be distinctly south. I don’t want to regret not having had the confidence or made the effort to wear the most fabulous lingerie possible whilst I still can.

In fact, I am planning on a little treat trip in the not too distant future, are there any underwear brands you like in particular or any items you have seen/purchased recently?

With regards T-shirt bras, are there any you can recommend? I used to like the ones from La Senza but they appear to have been discontinued/changed. HATE it when that happens.


Photography | Anna Clarke

Purveyor of short shorts. Make-up junkie. Hopes to grow old disgracefully.
Follow Charlotte on instagram @charlotte.oshea
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42 thoughts on “Underneath Your Clothes

  1. God I’m boring! M&S for me, I’m an odd size (32dd) which most places don’t do and so I stick with the trust lingerie dept at Marks. My poor husband! Also, they inevitably go grey with my washing so I daren’t be too spendy… though perhaps I should invest & be more careful.

  2. Victoria M&S do some lovely underwear! have you seen the Rosie HW collection?! gorgeous. I’m very tempted.

  3. Yes and its beautiful, I do have a couple of bits of that. But mainly no VPL attractive beige….!!!

  4. Charlotte, this is the best bra in the world ever: http://www.marksandspencer.com/padded-underwired-spacer-a-dd-bra/p/p22235456

    Well, it is for my boobs anyway…

    They have changed the formula slightly from a few years ago, hence some of the moany reviews, but seriously, I still think it’s better than anything else out there for day to day wear…

    What I really, really, really HATE is when you were a tight top and you can see the bra at the back pinching skin – awful….just awful….

    1. Thanks for the tip Pamela! I do love a well fitting T-shirt bra. I have also been singing the Shakira song all day which has then transpired into that one she did about mountains.

  5. Also, I am now going to be singing that Shakira, ‘Underneath your clothes’ song all afternoon, you know, the one where she sounds like a goat…

  6. I wish I could have some really pretty bra’s but being a 30F it tends to be tricky, finding the actual size alone is a mission never mind something that’s cute and colorful!! At the moment I am sporting Debenhams own nude and black t-shirt bra’s – exciting!!

    1. Jenna. Fellow f here! Agent provocateur actually do bigger sizes in some styles that don’t look like two mixing bowls strung together. They fit dead well x

      1. another f-er here (waves)

        If you can, go to selfridges lingerie dept in London, they have 80 million different brands for us (ahem) well endowed ladies (plus the fitting room ladies are super nice)

  7. I cannot rave enough about Victoria’s Secret. My wonderful sister took me to New York for my 30th last October and I went to VS on Lexington one lovely afternoon – and I loved the experience! A very efficient woman came straight over to me, brandished her tape measure and measured various places all around my boobs before brandishing me a 34D and a medium in bottoms. And that was it – my size in all of their bras and pants.

    Literally, no matter what style the bra or pant those are my measurements. For me, this is a liberation. Particularly when it comes to bottoms because there have been countless times when I have purchased bottoms in a 12 and for some reason the eslastic is extremely tight on them which means the bottoms dig in to me in the most unflattering way – not good when you’ve bought said underwear to do a wooing! And other times a 12 gapes in an very unattractive saggy way.

    I digress.. VS is brilliant for matching underwear and also undergarments that ‘coordinate’. They do some awesome demi bras in a variety of lovely bright shades and heaps of knickers in all shapes and sizes that are either the same block colour as these bras or that are patterened in the same shade with other complimentary shades thrown in – which I love. You can also go for a full on contrast which I also heart.

    I was lucky enough to go to California for three weeks for my honeymoon last month as well and needless to say I stocked up once more at Victoria’s Secret. It’s obviously cheaper if you can go in the States but they do have a shop in London which isn’t too badly priced.. Also, their PJs and sleepwear are great if, like me, your PJ collection mostly consists of the Disney variety your mother still buys..

    1. Jennifer I am in London on Monday and I am yet to visit the VS store! I will try and make time to pay a visit πŸ™‚

      I did have the most beautiful aqua satin set from the San Fran store about 8 or 9 years ago, I wore it to death! Sizing is a big thing for me too, hence the love for H&M bras, I know I can buy my size and it will fit perfectly! x

  8. Unfortunately my boobs are on the rather large size. I put on a bit of weight last year and they ballooned to a 32H. But luckily as I’ve lost a bit of weight they are gradually shrinking back to a G cup.
    I tend to wear lots of Freya although Bravissimo’s own brand is getting better and better. I don’t really buy underwear from anywhere else these days as I know I’ll always find something in Bravissimo. I would love to have loads of underwear to choose from but when a bra on it’s own is over Β£30 it kind of limits your options in terms of how many you can buy. I’ve found as well that the fit in large cup sizes from most high street retailers (I’m glaring at you M&S) is frankly awful, so you have no choice but to stick with the same few brands.
    My sister is in an even worse position as a 28G. There are very very few places that stock her size (she even had a comment from a sales advisor in La Senza asking if she had thought about a boob reduction!)
    I can’t complain about my boobs though, I wouldn’t change them. I just wish the range of styles was better (and cheaper !).

    1. This is true Alex, my sister gets very frustrated with the lack of brands that cater for certain sizes, the same goes for swimwear. A boob reduction?! How bloody rude! probably just jealous πŸ™‚

  9. For years I was wearing the wrong bra size – 34B. I kept measuring myself and the size chart always told me the same even though nothing fitted properly. In the end I went to Debenhams where the assistant/bra lady extraordinaire looked at me and told me I was a 30E…

    It was a revelation – no more side boob, a better shape all over, but crikey it’s hard to find a nice bra in this size. Firstly, it seems quite a popular size and secondly, no matter where I go I can never find anything that I think ‘that’s me’. I’ve tried La Senza, Debenhams, M&S, asos and although I have got a few, it’s not an extensive range or anything particularly pretty or sexy.

    My pet hate is how chunky the straps are! They are not elegant in any sense of the word, and considering the straps shouldn’t be the part holding everything up, I don’t see why they’re so big! I’m quite slim so the chunky straps just feel massive on my shoulders and always peak out under thin strappy tops.

    Also the price! Not my choice I have big boobs so why am do I get penalised for it?! Grr!

    1. God yes the straps! They’re like the thickest webbing manufacturers can find and so gross (generally!)

    2. I wore the wrong size for years too Jo, the same as you – a 34b! I am actually a 32D which isn’t as big as it might sound (I have no idea what size they were whilst pregnant/for a few weeks afterwards but quite a bit bigger!)

      What I can’t understand is if 30E is such a popular size why they don’t make more of them? I may love H&M but they are restrictive on sizing. Maybe we should sign a petition. x

  10. I can only shop at Debenhams because I’m an awkwardly small size. No H&M for me πŸ™
    I bought a liquid filled number a few months ago and admittedly the filling made it unusually heavy. The shop assistant was so shocked by the weight that she nearly dropped it off the cash desk as she commented how filled it was. Needless to say, I was mortified.

    1. It is Emma, I had a real CK fad a few years back, they do excellent sales of it in department stores too, look out for House Of Fraser in particular, I had 3 sets a few January’s ago for less than half price x

  11. http://www.figleaves.co.uk is fantastic for its variety of sizes. It used to be you couldn’t really get much other than 34b on the high street. Now there’s so much more. It’s a shame D+ tends to be limited to more expensive brands, but for me the comfort pay off is more than worth it. I tend spend more for things like bras, coats, shoes and handbags – stuff that has to actually work as well as look good!

    1. Hi Kate, I always forget to check Figleaves, I think sometimes there is so much variety I don’t know where to start!!!!

  12. I love VS for nice special underwear and also their pj’s are lovely too! That said I am a 32DD too and agree that it seems a difficult size to find! I did used to be a 40FF so not complaining! Bit of a sag now so until I get my lift I rely on good old bra support! I like that they do a nice selection of saucy gear that is underwired cos I’m useless without wire!
    Otherwise I can’t fault M&S for everyday stuff! I am defgonna check out GAP cos I love the clothes but didn’t realise their undies were good too! I never bothered caring much about undies when I was bigger but now I’m starting to get into it! Xx

    1. I love the Gap’s low hipster bikini style, they are so comfortable but they come in such pretty (and expensive feeling) fabrics and patterns. Also they seem to fit properly – i.e. your bum cheeks don’t hang out of the side πŸ™‚

      I also prefer wire, if I try a bra without I always feel odd – like I’ not wearing one at all x

  13. I love a bit of Elle McPherson. They have to be a treat purchase, but she does have outlet stores and really who is going to be judging if I am in last seasons smalls!! There is a whole range of sizes as well for larger up top ladies πŸ˜‰ xx

    1. Some of Elle’s designs are so gorgeous, I tried to get a beautiful pale green and white set a few summers ago but couldn’t get my size anywhere. Selfridges in Birmingham have a good selection of hers, I must remember to take a look x

  14. This post is making me feel a little bit wistful. My poor pregnancy boobs are currently strapped into the most hideous granny-esque monstrosity! I hate it with a passion but I will save this post for when I’m back to some sort of normality and treat myself to something pretty and girly! Xxx

    1. Towards the end of my 9 months I just wore black very boring lightly padded ones on the least tight rung (my back has now gone down to my previous size) but they didn’t fit properly. I have actually thrown them in the bin now – good riddance!

      Not long now peach, you’ll be in your frillies in no time πŸ™‚ x

  15. *Sigh*. I love lingerie, but my weird sizing (30DD) means that I struggle to find bras and bikinis. I have now given up and only buy Calvin Klein T-shirt bras as these are the only ones I can find to fit well. Very jealous of anyone that can just go in to a shop and choose whatever they want!Tempted to start my own line!

    1. Well based on these comments Ali that seems like it might be a good idea……you could be a millionaire!

  16. Honestly ladies, figleaves! I’m a 30DD sometimes, they have lots! They also do Elle McPherson, and you can search by size. Free returns and delivery. (I don’t work for them, honest – I just recently rediscovered how great they are).

    1. I concur, I ordered c57 bras from them to find one to go under a dress and their service and range is amazing πŸ™‚

  17. I love love love underwear – I have each of my sets in a ziplock pouch from Muji and love flicking through them!

    I’m a huge Elle McPherson fan – the bras in particular fit me perfectly. My staple is black EM bra and the brazilian cut pants from M&S which seem to give good coverage without VPL.

    Definitely on the look for a) a good t-shirt bra (my collection has quite a few bows and lace trims which don’t work quite so well!) and b) a great va-va-voom bra. I never wore anything low cut, but as I approach my mid-30s I figure it’s now-or-never cleavange time, before my skin becomes too crepe-y!

    1. Anna! These zipock pouches you speak of?! I need them!!! Also thanks for the brazilian M&S tip, I will take a look x

  18. All my bras are Elle macpherson she does a good nursing bra range also that still look pretty but practical for the use!
    I struggle to fit la senza but never thought of h&m so defiantly heading there at the weekend!

    1. Go Jill go! And actually, if you like the way it fits, on-line always has lots of sizes, better than the store I find. Plus it’s free returns (you just need to call your local courier and they provide you with details) x

    1. They have one of these in The Bullring Lucy and I am still yet to go, am also on the lookout for some nice nightwear so will definitely make the effort to go in next time I’m in Birmingham x

  19. I’m another I the big boobed camp 34DD. My biggest bugbear is that nowhere seems to do a nice fitting, nice looking white bra that’s NOT padded. ‘Enhance your assets’ ‘boost’ ‘maximise’ no lovies I want to support what I’ve got not bring even more attention to these bloody things that are bigger than my head!! Ahem. So I resorted to a tip from a close friend who found THE best t-shirt bras in Sainsburys! Yep, you read it right, I succumbed in desperation and now have about 10 white bras, plain and Lacey, all from Mr J. And they’re a bargain, about Β£6….it’s my dirty secret.

    1. Michelle that is not a dirty secret! What an excellent find. For post pregnancy plain black pants the best place I found was also Sainsburys, I had some posher more expensive ones but they were the most comfortable x

  20. Before my wedding I treated myself to a trip to Rigby & Peller. It was soooo worth it. I discovered I’d been wearing the wrong size for years, even though I’d got myself measured fairly regularly. Now I know what a well fitting bra is like I will not ever go back. I treated myself to an expensive Simone Perele set there and then hunted eBay to find the same styles at much, much cheaper prices.

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