I think it’s safe to say that a bra by Miss Mandalay changed my life. This is what made my jaw drop when I first discovered Bravissimo:
It was a revelation: bright and girly colors, sheer mesh, lace, ruffles, and bows. I’d been wearing beige Wacoal bras with the elastic all shot to hell (because I put them in the dryer. If you put your pretty things in the dryer you will be sad) and random discount bin briefs for years, so the fact that this bra existed, and existed expressly for women like me — I couldn’t believe it. To go from “You can’t have this” to “You can have ALL THE THINGS!” was startling and wonderful.
Miss Mandalay designs have a simultaneously chic and retro feel. I want to start the brand introductions with them, because they’re an independent brand, and very often it’s the independent brands rather than the heavy hitters (which I will cover, because they’re increasingly available and y’all should know about them) who are best at innovation and listening to their customers’ requests and feedback. For example, when Miss Mandalay launched they carried up to I believe F-cups; as a result of customer demand they’ve expanded their size ranges enormously since then. I would also LOVE to see Miss Mandalay lingerie more readily available in the US, or at least on Figleaves’ US site. I’ve heard rumors that Linda the Bra Lady in NYC might start carrying the line, and if that is true, it would be delightful.
Some quick facts: Miss Mandalay was launched in 2005 by busty women who had had it with the struggle to find fashion-forward lingerie and swimwear. The designs generally run 28-38 C-HH (UK cup sizes), and knickers and accessories are sizes XS-XL.
Paige and Paris are two longstanding styles, and it’s easy to see why: they’re fun, pretty, sexy, and supportive. I have the Paige set in two different colors, and my hot pink (“Azalea“) Paris set recently gave up the ghost after about 3 1/2 years of loyal service (I’ll mention this here: Miss Mandalay is a bit pricier than some other full-bust lines, but the quality is consistently outstanding). Both styles are made of supportive mesh that doesn’t stretch out too quickly. Paris is trimmed in sleek satin ribbon, Paige in lace and ruffles– the matching thong is totally useless for VPL-prevention purposes but is hella cute. I have found that all Miss Mandalay bras have firm bands; they don’t necessarily run small, but they don’t stretch as much or as quickly as some others do (particularly the more recent Freya styles, boo). I’ll note that with these two styles in particular some women do prefer to try one cup size larger than they would usually take, as the trim along the cups doesn’t stretch at all and can dig into full-on-top breasts a bit.
Padded styles, like this sassy Vava set, are newer for Miss Mandalay. I have trouble with the fit of padded bras anyway, and I’ve had more trouble than usual with this particular style, hindered of course by the fact that I’m only willing to exchange things to the UK so many times. Online reviewers seem to concur that the cups run a size or two small, and some found the band to run small. I’d love to see this pretty style in shops stateside so I can try on, like, five different sizes at once and finally figure out the best fit.
There are also a few lacy styles that manage to be feminine and elegant without being dowdy or dated. I would LOVE to see this style available again (as Miss Mandalay has hinted it might be on their Facebook page), especially with the suspender belt (love those things). The Mia range is also quite lovely, and it feels very French to me.
Miss Mandalay really, really shines once we get into the swimwear. I think these are some of the most stylish, fashion-forward, elegant suits on the market for the full-bust customer. Again, I once ordered a set and had some fit issues and had to return it, but as the styles are featured more and more in the major fashion magazines, I hope to see them more readily available in stores to try on. Here are some of the greats:
Can you see why I’m a fan?
Prices (I’m quoting from the Miss Mandalay website; these may vary if you visit a different e-retailer):
Bikini briefs: $30-45
Where to purchase:
Bravissimo (Miss Mandalay often creates exclusive styles or colors just for Bravissimo, and all of the “Paige” colorways are currently on sale)
ASOS (free shipping and returns)
Large Cup Lingerie (free worldwide shipping)
So that’s the first brand overview, with many more to follow. Do you have a favorite lingerie brand that really rings your bells that you’d like me to feature? Just let me know!