So now I am going to discuss and review some pieces from the Gok Wan underwear line – hooray! Some of these pieces were kindly donated from Simply Yours, and some have been bought independently by me. Here’s a little bit of background info on my brassiere plight:
As I have mentioned in the past, my fatness has never managed to reach my bosoms. It’s my last remaining obstacle to accepting myself how I am, although I am slowly getting there. But as well as that, it is a complete nightmare trying to find bras! I’ve got the luxury of having the option to go without as I don’t neccessarily need the support. But I choose to because as a hetero, cis-gendered woman, I want be womanly. I suppose, in its own way, wearing a bra is like shapewear to me. (More on my opinions on shapewear further down.)
The last time I measured my bra size I came out as a 52AA. This was using the old method of adding 4 inches to your under-bust measurement to get your back size, then choosing the cup size from your bust measurement, assuming your boobs are at least one inch bigger than that number. Well – my breasts weren’t! I dutifully ordered some bras in that size… and they practically fell off me. Back to the drawing board.
Since then, I’ve gone through various bras of all kinds of sizes and cups as a case of trial and error, adhering to the Bravissimo guide. For the past few years I made do with wearing M&S bras in a 38A, using back extenders. These little corkers are a godsend to the less endowed fat woman – you can hook as many as you like onto the back of the bra to find your perfect fit. The only problem with this was the side bands being far, far too narrow, to the point where they would curl up and dig into my sides.
Earlier this year I purchased a bra from Gok Wan’s range in a 40A, and to be pretty honest the fit was the most comfortable and supportive I’ve had. Which led to me getting more, and when I was asked if I wanted to do a review I jumped at the chance!
1. Gok Wan Balconette Banger Booster and matching Slicker Knicker
The Balconette Banger Booster and matching Slicker Knickers (such lovely names, but if you’ve ever watched one of Gok’s programs it comes as no surprise!) is a more recent edition to his roster of lingerie and shapewear.
The first thing that jumped out at me was the vintage inspired design and how well constructed the pieces are. It feels ultra luxurious and glamourous, owing to the gorgeous, re-inforced fabrics, well-placed boning and delicately sexy detailing. The ruched behind is a lovely little touch!
The bra itself fits very well around my back and doesn’t slip after a day’s wear, which is great. That said, like the M&S bras before it I would prefer wider side bands as it can pucker underneath my side fat. The boning at the side is a great idea, but it doesn’t seem to be quite enough, sadly. While the bra comes under the Banger Booster label, it gives a more natural and understated boost than the original (more on that later) so if you want to be less in your face but just as glamourous then I’d recommend this. One thing I am confused about though, is that according to the website this bra comes with an “internal sling” – I’ve looked, but I can’t seem to find anything? It’s a mystery.
I’m definitely one for the granny pants – I live in Sloggis that come up past my belly button – so this Slicker Knicker is like home from home to me. There is boning to the front and the material is a thick, swimwear material reinforced with leopard print mesh. It looks beautiful on and wearing both together I do feel rather sexy(!). Obviously any sort of shapewear is never going to make anyone look thin, but if you’re interested in its flattening potential under clothes, I did notice a slight difference in the belly area. But to be honest that’s not particularly important to me – as an underwear set, it looks really nice. The only downside to the knickers are that due to the fabric it does have a tendency to roll down at the waist. I think a sillicone grip around the waist would help it to stay in place.
2. Gok Wan’s Longerline Mesh Bra
This was my first Gok purchase earlier this year. There are matching knickers but I’ve not bought those yet.
I was initially disappointed with this bra as even though the side bands are long line, it includes a normal sized side band inside which can take some getting used to. But it is definitely a lovely feeling to have your back covered securely, well to me anyway. I find it quite comforting! I also love the colour and leopard print, which is my absolute favourite. This bra is not a booster bra, so if you’re looking for a push up then this is not the one for you, although all of Gok’s bras include flaps in which to hide booster aides.
I did find with this bra that it gave me a much better posture, but actually the cup was still slightly too big and puckered a little. Another slight fault was that despite the sillicone strip at the bottom the front of the bra had a tendency to ride up, which was a shame as otherwise I really like this bra!
3. Gok Wan original Banger Booster in black.
This is hands down my favourite Gok bra. I bought it shortly after the mesh bra. The first time I tried it on, I looked down and cried, “JESUS CHRIST, I HAVE BOOBS!”. This one really isn’t for the faint hearted – it is basically a Wonderbra in a much larger size range, complete with “Gok Cookies” to give you an extra boost. I absolutely love it, and am steadily buying one in every colour! I only have two slight hang ups with this bra – one is, again, the narrowness of the side bands. (wider bra sides = love and kittens!) The other is a slightly more embarrassing one, but perhaps I’ve just been unlucky – the fabric does tend to make some noise when you move. It’s not too bad… But there have been occasions where I’ve apologised and explained I’m not, despite the sounds, a balloon artist. It does seem to fade away after some washes, though!
Gok Wan Divine Outline
Ok, shapewear. I feel I have to discuss this first. (I originally wrote a long, eloquent essay on this subject then accidentally deleted it, wah!)
I’ve always been fairly ambiguous about shapewear such as slips, girdles, corsets etc. I know politically they are discouraged by the FA community and understandably so, because they are designed to alter your body into something smaller, smoother, more socially acceptable. Gok Wan’s whole persona is about helping women to love their bodies without resorting to plastic surgery – but then encourages them into shapewear, which does seem very hypocritical.
Having said that, I think there are definite similarities between this argument and the feminist argument against wearing make up or frivolous clothes because doing so buys into the system of women being judged on their looks instead of character, and being second class citizens. (This being a very, very base take on the subject! But you can find tons of great discussions about this and shapewear in the feminist blogosphere.) While I agree completely, I still choose to wear make up and feminine clothes, despite having educated myself otherwise – perhaps even because of that education, because I know that I am dressing/making up for no one else but myself and my own confidence.
Although I understand the marketing messages and ideals surrounding shapewear, I do think, in some circumstances, that they can be a positive tool for someone on the path to self-acceptance. For me it’s all about CONFIDENCE, and I will never discount anything that can help a person feel confident. If – IF – a person feels a hundred times more confident because they feel their belly is a little flatter, or their overall shape is a bit smoother, then I can’t knock what shapewear does for them.
Personally? I genuinely do like this slip. Not because of any slimming properties – I think what I like about underwear, and tight underwear, is that I feel properly covered. You know? I like knowing if my dress falls down or my skirt blows up in the wind, I’m pretty well covered and secure. That might sound silly, but there you go!
The Divine Outline was generously sent to me by Simply Yours. It’s a multiway slip with detachable straps, and it comes down under your bust so you can wear bras with it. I’ve worn it in it’s basic design and as a halterneck. The straps are actually padded which is helpful as I did find they digged in a little after a few hours! It is made out of a thin but very springy material, with a reinforced leopard print mesh panel at the front. I put this on under my Curve wire riffle dress and while nothing can make me look un-fat, there was definitely a smoother silhouette, so if that’s what you’re going for I would recommend it.
The only slight issue I had was that because the fabric was slippery, the skirt tended to ride up somewhat after a while. But apart from that I do think it’s a nice treat if you feel shapewear will turn your confidence notch up to 11!
Phew! Hope that was a bit of an education for you all. Any other IBTC gals out there?