[Disclosure: Large Cup Lingerie, a UK-based online boutique, generously provided this set for review. I was not compensated for this post, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Sooooo…we gotta talk about something before we dive in to the review proper, and that something is the name of this set and my reaction to it. From the moment I first saw this collection at the trade shows, I wanted it with a fierceness, but the more I read about in trade journals, social media posts, and branding materials, the more the name began to bother me. The name is “Voodoo”, and something about it just…wasn’t…sitting…right. Voodoo isn’t a made-up word; it’s the name of a Haitian religion. I don’t know much about Haitian religions or their related practices in the US, but I’m prettyyyy sure they don’t have anything to do with black strappy UK-manufactured lingerie. Further context: I personally don’t love religious iconography or references on lingerie, particularly boudoir lingerie: if someone holds sincere beliefs, I feel like it’s more respectful to keep out it of my underwear. I had this same hangup about Playful Promises’ wildly popular Magdalene Virgin print collection: as much as I usually love the brand’s irreverent and rule-breaking aesthetic, this one rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t think it’s bad or evil or anything; Christianity is the dominant religion in many parts of the world, including mine, so a little transgression by a brilliant lingerie brand isn’t going to do it any harm. But I personally wouldn’t wear it, and neither would I wear a Star of David bra, or a star and crescent print thong.
I feel like the name of the Scantilly collection is further problematic because practitioners of Voodoo, at least in the United States, have historically been people of color who were at best immigrants and at worst kidnapped and enslaved. They have been oppressed in part because of their religion, and have even been forced to abandon their faith to avoid persecution. “But Sweets, you are taking this all too seriously, it’s just underwear!” Maybe. But if I wouldn’t wear a bra with the Virgin Mary on it, I can’t help but feel hypocritical that I’m wearing lingerie that’s named after a religion that happens not to be my own. Scantilly and Curvy Kate are UK-based lingerie brands, and ultimately I can’t ignore our shared white history of colonialism and oppression towards people of color. And if it’s “just underwear”, it should be pretty easy to name it something else. There’s nothing about this set that particularly screams “Voodoo” (again, an actual, real-life religion that people practice) to me, so there’s no real reason to call it that, except that someone thought the name sounded “sexy” or “witchy” or “exotic”, which is, frankly, kinda racist, y’all. It’s black strappy lingerie, and you could call it Feline or Midnight or Seductress or something else and move on, and you’d lose nothing about what makes this set special. There’s no reason I can think of that this name should have been approved or that it should stick around.
So I’m not calling this set by its name in this review from this point forward, and that’s why.
Um, drool. This set takes the current craze for straps and layering, pulls it into full-bust sizes, and then kicks it into hyperdrive. The set is pure black with rose gold accents and hardware. The base of the bra is a three-part non-padded plunge bra crafted of a single layer of completely sheer black tulle with a continuous band that fastens with three rows and columns of hooks and eyes. There’s a reinforced vertical seam under the arms, covered with black stretch satin, but no side stays (which I appreciate, as they can really dig in on me). An outer cup consisting of a double layer of black stretch satin shaped with seams and darts wraps around each breast, with a teardrop-shaped cutout at the top of the cup. Two thin stretch straps reach out from each cutout: two cross at the throat before continuing over the shoulders, and two arch out to the sides to meet the main shoulder straps. The layered strappy effect continues on the briefs, with two satin panels crossing over at the waist and tying in back.
The set is beautifully constructed. Rose gold hardware isn’t as common as yellow gold or silver, and presumably has to be specially ordered just for these styles. All of the straps are fully adjustable, so there’s no worry about straps that dig in or flop loosely on different bodies. The seams on the satin are bagged out for an incredibly smooth effect, including at the cutouts. This is a more time-consuming and expensive finish for an extra polished look. The crisscrossing straps and contrasting layers of transparent and opaque fabrics make this a striking, eye-catching set that’s also easy to wear.
After speaking with Scantilly’s designer at the New York trade shows, I requested sizes that are a little different from I usually wear: 32GG (I’ve mostly been wearing 32Hs lately) and Medium (whaaat I’m almost always wearing Large or XL). While Scantilly’s half-cup shapes can come up true-to-wise, or even a little shallow, I’d heard reports that the three-part plunge cups were a touch on the generous side. In addition, Scantilly’s knicker sizes are a little different from Curvy Kate’s; they’re dual-sized, meaning that there are fewer sizes listed, but they’re designed to fit Curvy Kate’s full size range. Instead of XS-XXL, there’s S-XL, and the size breakdown is as follows: Small = UK 8-10, Medium = UK 12-14, Large = UK 16-18, and XL = UK 20-22. I normally wear a Large/14 in brands like Freya or Curvy Kate, but I took a chance and tried the medium, and it’s a great fit. Skimpy, because hello, it’s boudoir lingerie, but it doesn’t dig in to my squishy bits, and the ties at the waist fasten comfortably.
The bra I have mixed feelings about, fit-wise. I LOVE the fit of the base layer: there’s no rippling or digging, the center gore sits flush against my sternum, the band fastens comfortably on the loosest hooks, and I get a fairly centered shape: all around a pretty excellent non-padded plunge bra. It’s the outer layer that trips me up: on Scantilly’s model this looks like a super silky smooth fit, whereas on me the outer layer puckers, and the darts wrinkle noticeably at the nipples. I’m unable to tighten the straps firmly enough to stretch out the cups and make them lie flat, since there’s too much stretch in the fabric. I think the issue comes down to one of three things: (1) I may just have a slightly defective bra that isn’t shaped properly, (2) my breast shape is too round for the shape of the outer cups, and as such I can’t fill out the “points” of the cups, or (3) I need to try one cup size up, to see if a more generous outer cup will fit better around my breasts and allow the fabric to lie flat. I’m still pretty happy with the size I have, and as it’s not exactly a subtle bra to begin with I don’t mind the nipple-y effect, but it’s something to bear in mind.
In my experience as a slightly squishy person, strappy or layered lingerie looks aren’t always super comfortable to wear. I have soft, fluffy bits, and when they move, anything that isn’t super structured is going to move around too. Furthermore, sometimes strappy pieces just look like too much work to put on, like it would be too much bother to sort out what piece goes where, or like you’d need an assistant just to get everything fastened and adjusted.
This set is not like that! I think it’s so smart the way the strapping elements are concentrated across the chest and shoulders, so that they’re less likely to shift. Furthermore, to put on the bra you just…put on the bra they way you would any other one, really. From the front it’s all dramatic crossed lines, but from the back it looks like a regular bra, albeit one with three straps over each shoulder. And as long as you’re able to reach behind your back with both arms, you’ll be able to wear the matching briefs. Again, I usually prefer a little more coverage and an elasticated legline, but let’s be real, I’m not going hiking in these things. That said, if I still took pole dancing classes, I’d wear this set to class in a heartbeat. Dramatic yet still comfortable? Strappy yet still supportive? Yes please!
This is one of Scantilly’s pricier sets, but it really demonstrates why this brand is positioned as the special-occasion, boudoir side of Curvy Kate. An unbelievably striking, sexy design meets soft materials, thoughtful details, and time-consuming construction techniques like cutouts, bagged out seams, and multiple points of adjustment to make this set special indeed. I’d love to see this level of thoughtfulness and care applied to the naming of the sets as well, because it’s a shame that one easily changed element mars an otherwise remarkable and fun-to-wear set. I wasn’t surprised that this set became a bestseller; it’s one of the most impressive pieces of full-bust boudoir lingerie I’ve ever worn.
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Bra and Brief: Scantilly Lingerie (£49/£26), c/o Large Cup Lingerie. Available in sizes 30-38 DD-HH, and S-XL. Scantilly is a UK brand and uses UK cup sizing, so the cup size progression goes DD, E, F, FF, G, GG, H, HH.
Photos: Michi Rezin