[Note: I purchased the KMD Cupless Vargas Dress from Bluestockings Boutique with my own money under my real name. Neither Kiss Me Deadly nor Bluestockings Boutique is affiliated with this review. Fiore generously provided the Valentis stockings for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Y’all know I love Kiss Me Deadly. Their badass imagery, modern takes on retro styles, cheeky social media presence, fierce body-positivity, fantastically honest blog, and general awesomeness make them a brand I want to support and praise for ever and ever. Because my personal lingerie-buying habits tend to prioritize bras, then matching knickers, then other pieces like shapewear and stockings, I haven’t bought nearly as much KMD as I’d like (although I wore their fabulous violet stockings in the Nutcracker editorial, and I picked up a little something special for this year’s holiday editorial that you’ll have to wait to see). KMD is an indie brand, which means there’s no way on earth they can produce 100+ bra sizes, and my bra size happens to be one that’s really difficult for indies to manufacture. This means that one of their original, and super-popular pieces, the Vargas Girdle Dress, a full-body girdle dress with built-in bra and suspenders, was a piece that I used to admire from afar. Then those lingerie geniuses had the bright idea to take the bra part out so you could wear it with a bra of your choosing, and, well…it had to be mine. When Bluestockings Boutique launched with the Cupless Vargas Dress in their inventory, I snapped up the black version almost instantly.
The black Cupless Vargas Girdle Dress made of black powermesh with a double layer over the tummy for extra control and shaping. The bust is entirely open, so you can wear a bra of your choice (or go without, you do you), and there are six metal garter tabs to hold up your stockings. The powermesh continues up the front to form the straps, which are partially adjustable in the back. The dress fastens with eight hooks and eyes in the back.
In the past I’ve found KMD’s shapewear to be slightly more forgiving than the size chart indicates (on me personally, obviously, YMMV). I gambled this time and sized down to a size Large, and I’m pretty happy with the fit, at least as far as my waist dimension is concerned. The dress fastens comfortably without squeezing or compressing too much, and while I rarely get dramatic results from stretch shapewear (as opposed to a corset), I do get a slightly smoother line under clothes. I don’t fill out the hips or rear as much as those with more balanced hourglass figures might (it fits a little loosely in the seat and bags a little bit), but it still feels very slinky and va-va-voom. I love that I can wear my own bra! It took me a while to figure out the best position for the straps, which are fairly long, and I have to choose my stockings carefully, as the suspenders aren’t adjustable, so it’s crucial that your stocking length and the girdle dress work well together to avoid baggy stockings.
I don’t wear a lot of shapewear on a regular basis (I don’t even like wearing tights), so I was worried that I’d feel uncomfortably squished wearing this piece for a work day. Still, I decided to try it, and paired it with my personalized nylon stockings from Stockingirl. I was so surprised by how comfy it was! I wore this on a day that was a little warmer than I’d usually choose to wear full-body underwear, but I was neither uncomfortably warm nor uncomfortably squished. I will note that I think next time I’m going to pair it with stretch stockings, rather than nylons. My nylons were a little too long, so they kept bagging and bunching, and there was too much slack in the suspenders, so occasionally the back ones would unfasten themselves, which obviously isn’t ideal. So next time I wear this I’m going to go for a pair of (slightly shorter) stretch stockings, which should help both stockings and girdle dress fit better.
ABOUT THOSE STOCKINGS:
In the same way I’m a cheerleader for the come-back of classic slips, I love the revival of classic hosiery. For a long, long time I didn’t think there were many options available outside of tights (besides from more costume-y pieces like red fishnet thigh-highs), and I loathe tights: they’re never long enough for me, or they fall down, or the waistband digs in unattractively, or (real talk) all that compression makes me feel a little sick to my stomach. So when I discovered that you could buy hold-ups (with sticky bands, no garter belt required) or stockings (require a garter belt) in any style you could imagine, from nylon to stretch to sheer to opaque to seamed to patterned, I dove in headfirst. Fiore is produces a huge range of hosiery in Poland and Central Europe, and they kindly contacted me over the summer to offer some pieces for review.
I received the Valentis stockings, pictured here, in size 4 and the Parisia tights in size 5. I was disappointed with the tights, honestly, but not because of the design: when asked, I’d told my Fiore contact that I strongly preferred hold-ups or stockings, and that I rarely wore tights, but I think perhaps there was a miscommunication. Furthermore, the pair I received are in a light brown so-called “natural” shade that looks fairly ghastly on my pale skin; if I’d chosen these for myself, I’d have picked the black shade instead. The delicate chain-link seam pattern running up the back of the leg is beautiful and elegant, and the fit is excellent, but unfortunately the tights just aren’t going to get a lot of wear. If you DO like to wear tights (called pantyhose on the Fiore website), then I’d highly recommend this style!
The Valentis stockings also fit well, but again, this style is not one I would ever have selected for myself. Many Fiore styles feature classically femme details like backseams, lace tops, elaborate scrolls at the ankle, and more that are right up my alley. Valentis, on the other hand, reminds me a little of cheesy Halloween hosiery. Don’t get me wrong– cheesy is fine! what’s cheesy to me might not be cheesy to you! it’s fun to wear cheesy things! I think part of the issue here is I don’t find the corset-lace-up design particularly well-executed: the contrast of sheer and opaque deniers, combined with the fact that the lace-up detail widens as it travels up the leg, gives the impression that my legs are so wide they’re actively straining the hosiery and causing it to split and run. This is…not a look I appreciate. Furthermore, I work in fairly traditional corporate environment: I would not feel comfortable wearing these stockings on a day-to-day basis, nor would they be my first pick for going out. The quality is outstanding, and I think they’re very reasonably priced, but if I ever purchase for myself I’m going to select a style that’s a little more in my wheelhouse, like this one or this one or ooohh, this one!
While I usually reach for a basic bra and panty set for my day-to-day lingerie needs, there are days when I’m in the mood to spice things up. The Kiss Me Deadly Vargas Dress makes me feel like a total femme fatale. It’s beautifully constructed, and it’s as practical as it is sassy. I’m so pleased to have this in my lingerie drawer for those extra-special occasions. If the basic black isn’t speaking to you, maybe this fiery red colorway is more your speed?
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Stockings: Valentis by Fiore
Photos: Studio Rezin