I adore talking with the founders of small fashion businesses; no one knows more than they do about the construction and design of their clothing! So when Kristen Allen, founder of Exclusively Kristen, reached out to me last week, I asked her for an interview.
Exclusively Kristen is a small, made-in-America company that specializes in bust-friendly button-ups and tank tops, mostly made of natural fabrics. (They also offer some dresses.) Their sizes range from 6 to 20. I wasn’t able to try anything personally yet, but I’ve got some useful information for you about fit, sizing, and what changes are coming in the future.
Please excuse the photos today, it’s pouring outside and my photo-color-adjusting PC is out of commission. Whee, getting back into the swing of posting!
I’m generally skeptical of MM. LaFleur’s ‘bust-friendly’ filter. Multiple shirts under that filter fit me anywhere from ‘terrible sack’ (yes, Didion, I’m talking about you) to it-would-be-perfect-if-they-added-just-a-tiny-bit-more-fabric-across-the-bust (Bourgeois Blouse). I impulse-bought the Rankin 2.0 top anyway because of MM.LaFleur’s recurrent combination of impeccable style and convincing branding (a shirt that makes it look like I tried really hard when I actually just threw a thing on? Yesplz.)
It arrived in the mail today, and I’m actually kind of surprised by how it turned out, so I thought I’d show you.
I’ve been a little reluctant to post this, because I don’t like saying bad things about companies that serve an underserved market. But I can’t recommend that people buy from Pepperberry. I’ve personally experienced clothing quality and fit issues, though Hourglassy says specific items I review in this post have gotten better over the years. I might be willing to give them a try again if it weren’t for their policies towards plus-sized women.
Despite catering to a curvier market, they really don’t like plus-sized women. They adjusted their sizing in 2011 and larger women who previously fit into their clothes complained; their campaign for ‘real women’ to serve as models somehow only found skinny women; people complain that their less-skinny models have disappeared; and most tellingly, their affiliate program policies repeatedly state that they are not to be associated with sites for plus-sized women and literally treat sites for plus-sized women the same way they treat porn. Pepperberry did not return my May 18 request for comment on this policy.
Longer version of this story and pictures are below.
DD Atelier is a Russia-based company that makes way more interesting and structured clothing than most bust-friendly retailers do. I don’t always agree with their choice of fabrics, but that’s a matter of personal preference: everything they make looks youthful and fun even if I’m not personally a fan of gingham. Also, their clothing fits me really well, once I figured out what my size was. (This shirt is an 80F, and I originally thought I was an 85D). For the price, it’s ridiculously well-constructed, and the fabrics and fit are both way nicer than the Pepperberry shirt I bought 8 years ago. Also, my friends implied that I looked like Neo from The Matrix, which I consider a compliment.
A few weeks ago I rounded up the best silk blouses I could find through research– and now I’ve actually tried one of them!
Full disclaimer: I got this blouse as a gift from the lovely owner of Front Room, Melanie Love. She did not give this to me for review, although she was aware of the existence of this blog at the time that she gave it to me, and it being a gift from her does not affect the honesty of this review.
This bust-friendly shirt review comes first because apparently, Front Room is closing their web storefront for the summer starting mid-June! They started a semi-annual sale for their mailing list subscribers on 5/15, and they’ll be extending it to the general public on 5/17.
Front Room, as far as I know, is unique among specifically bust-friendly clothing companies. Everything they make is not just office-appropriate, but appropriate for a very formal office. Melanie Love comes from a finance background, so she’s got experience standing uncomfortably next to men in $10,000 suits while “praying the double-sided tape on [her] shirt-front [was] going to hold until the end of the presentation.” Her clothing is designed for that environment.
US-based busty women: DD Atelier, one of the better full-busted clothing options, is closing their US warehouse. So far as I know, you’ll still be able to order from them, but clothing will be shipped to you from Russia instead off from New Jersey. On the bright side, this means they have a lot of stuff on sale right now through 4/1, like this dress:
Now’s a pretty good time to give them a try.