Monday, October 31, 2011

Byebye Frankenbra!

I don't think you guys realize how bad my bra situation was until recently.  I've talked before about how I've never had a bra that actually fits.  And I've also alluded to how I've altered some of my bras so they were, umm... somewhat wearable. 

Well, now it's time to say good bye to all of my altered bras (sometimes they've had multiple operations...) and I just have to show you the worst of the series.

Meet Frankenbra!
Franken bra in all its glory.  It used to be a 38F from Catherine's now it's something like a 30H?

Yeah... the cups started separating because there was still too small for me.
If you can see in this picture I had to sew the straps on to the tightest position

So I altered it once by cutting off the excess and then when that got too big I just folded it over and sewed.  Don't you just love the black thread on a white bra? :D

So, good bye Frankenbra! I can't say I'll miss you.  I hope you like the inside of the trash can.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ewa Michalak Review- Part 2 (Taking the Bond Girl Swimming)

For those of you who don't know.  I'm getting towards the end of losing a significant chunk of weight.  I exercise frequently (heavy lifting about 2x/week and swimming or speed walking for about an hour 3x/week).  When I go swimming I'm doing laps and some water aerobics so it's not like I'm just lounging around the pool by any means.  Today I took out the Bond Girl on a test run to see how it'd hold up...

First let me show you my whole bikini outfit.
Sorry the bra has a funny shape, but it's still wet from this morning's swim

I picked up the bottoms at Old Navy for about $2.  I actually accidentally ordered two identical ones, which turns out it is a good thing but I'll get to that in a second.  First let's talk about the Bond Girl top.

It looks amazing outside of the pool.  I used to think of the walk from where I dropped off my towels/clothes to where I entered the pool as my walk of shame due to my seriously ill-fitting (34E!) Por Moi bikini.  Not anymore!  I could walk with my head held high.

That being said... once I got into the water it was another story.  Remember how I was wondering if I should take this to a seamstress to get the top of the cup taken in?  Yeah, that's definitely going to happen!  Once I hit the water that extra space in the top made a huge difference.  While I, thankfully, didn't have any accidents it was also because I held back quite a bit during my swim today and did strokes that didn't require a lot of bust movement.  If you're thinking of ordering a plunge from Ewa Michalak, I'd definitely suggest going for a smaller cup size just to be on the safe side.  The band itself was supportive and stayed put, though.

So now I have a new adventure.  I've been trying to think of the best way to get the cup altered.  I figure they could either fold up a bit at the top (possibly even cutting a v shape out) and sew it or possibly sew some sort of elastic band underneath the while part of the cup.  I'm going to go around to a few seamstresses this weekend and see if they have any ideas for me. 

However, I'll also need to get some help with the bottoms too.  I tried to make sure to buy the highest waisted bottoms I could find at Old Navy to cover up the lovely loose skin on my lower belly.  While my bikini bottom looked fabulous from the front, the back really was lower than I liked (thanks to my big butt if fit right at the top of my butt and I was pretty worried that much movement at all would cause it to slip down!).  I'm quite lucky that I bought two of the bottoms because then I can take the second one to a seamstress and have her hack away at it to add some sort of ruched top to the bikini.  I think I could actually do this myself but I figure it's going to look a lot better from a professional and it'll be a pain to do without a sewing machine (I seriously need to get a sewing machine!).

We're going to try and see a seamstress tomorrow and hopefully I'll have some results to show you soon. :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Panache Review (Fuchsia Tango II 30JJ and Black & Pink Sienna 30J)

I know I originally planned on doing the AJ Rumina review first but I want to talk about the bra that I'm wearing underneath if beforehand so I can give the clothes the best review possible.

So without further ado, let's talk about the two Panache bras I ordered from zulily. Long story short the Tango II is huge on me but the Sienna seems to be the right side.  That being said, I think the Ewa Michalak are a much better fit.  However, I'm still keeping the Sienna as an in between bra.

Now about the individual bras...

Black and Pink Sienna 30J


As of today I think this is probably the only bra that I have in the "correct size".  It's not perfect by a long shot but I have a feeling this is going to be my day-to-day bra now until my new Ewa Michalak bras show up (spoiler alert- I'll be returning the Fantasie T-shirt bra because it's too big).  However, I think I can say the 30J is probably my size in Panache.

I've always heard that Panache has wide cups and I really think that's my problem here.  As you can see from the measurements the cup width is 8" here vs. the 7" on the Bond Girl bikini.  That extra inch makes a pretty big difference because I just don't have an extra inch of boob underneath my armpit!   Also the wire length is 15" here vs 12".  I find that the Sienna sort of tries to spread out my breast more, almost like a minimizing bra but my breasts don't seem to like that much!  Instead it leaves some empty space at the bottom of the cup/under the arm and gives me a subtle quadraboob effect if I don't readjust myself every now and then. 

The bra itself is rather... itchy.  I don't think I'm much of a lace girl (now I know!) and really prefer the smooth look of the other bras that I've purchased.  Also you can see in the pictures above that there's a thin piece of lace that runs across the top of the cup. NOT A FAN.  I think how loose is is there contributes to the quadraboob effect and it itches.

There are some good parts, though.  The straps themselves are wide, which I like.  On the other hand, they are spaced too far apart and they dig into my arm somewhat.  The band is a good fit, though.  It was a bit tricky getting it on at first but once it was on it definitely felt stable.  The 30 band is really what fits the best.  The bra itself does look very pretty! I do have to give them credit for that.  I don't find that the lace shows up under clothes (I'll be wearing this one when I take the pics for AJ Rumina) and it does separate my breasts nicely (without any spillage towards the middle, definitely looks like plunges are not in my future!).

I've been wearing it most of the day today and I do need to adjust it every now and then, which I really attribute to me needing narrower, deeper cups. 

Tango II 30JJ


I've heard good things about the Tango II.  Unfortunately, it was simply way too big for me.  The band felt slightly tighter than on the Sienna but I'm not sure if that's just a strange side effects from the cups being way too big.  Also, the wires poked into my chest quite a bit.  There was a lot of wrinkling when I put it on.

I have to say that of the two I was hoping this would fit.  I think it would be a better everyday bra because it doesn't have the lace and it covers more of the breast.  That being said, I'm not a fan of the material once again.  It didn't seem as itchy as the Sienna but I can imagine the Tango II would bug me after long term wear too. The general look of it is OK but not stunning.

I have to wonder, though, if either the cups on the Sienna run small or if the Tango II runs big?  there seems to be a bigger difference between the Sienna and the Tango II than just one cup size.

I'll end up selling this one with the matching thong (size M). 

General Remarks

Like I said above, it might not have been the best idea to try on the Panache bras a day after trying the Ewa Michalak bras.  There's just a significant difference in terms of quality and the idea behind how a larger bust bra should be created. You can see in the pictures above that both bras have he "triangle effect" when fastened due to having such wide cups but a smaller back.  While that might work well for some I really prefer the narrower, deeper cups from Ewa Michalak.    

I think I'm discovering my tastes in bras too.  I'm not a lace type of gal.  I'd much rather have a smooth bra (or ones with stitches) then the Panache type.  I was looking at the fabric and the Panache bras are heavy on nylon.  Possibly that's something that I want to avoid in the future.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ewa Michalak Review- Part 1 (Bond Girl 75H and PL Fuksja 75HH)

My bras finally came!  I have to admit I was getting rather anxious due to the post office going on strike the last couple of weeks.  It ended up taking a business day longer than predicted on their website (the expected delivery day was Friday and they arrived today- Monday), which is really not too bad considering that the post office has to be pretty backed up. 

Ok, now to the important part.  Here's the big spoiler the Bond Girl 75H bikini top seems to fit although it's slightly loose at the top of the cup and the PL Fuksja 75HH is too big in both the band and the cup, so I'll be sending that one back.  I emailed them to ask about the sizing but I'm guessing I'll end up exchanging it for a 70H or 70HH (my gut says the 70H but I want to hear back from them first with my pictures before I say one way or another).  In both cases my breasts seem to sort of spill towards the middle but don't fill out the top of the cups so I also asked if there was possibly a different style that would work better with my breast shape. 

Now, on to the bras themselves....

Bond Girl 75H


In case you're wondering that matryoshka doll is about 6.5" tall and 4" wide. 

So I have to say that I'm a big fan of the Bond Girl Bikini top!  As you can see from the pictures the coloration is actually somewhat darker than what's show here. I really love that there are multiple hooks in the back so I can tighten it up as needed.  There's also a tie there so you can cover them up. :) 

Everything seems amazingly sturdy and the quality is great.  I've been wearing it around the house for the last few hours and I feel well-supportive, no back pain, and it's quite comfortable.  I think it's the bra that I've noticed the least while wearing in my lifetime. 

All that being said, I think the size is slightly off for me.  I can fit my whole fist underneath the band and is does ride up slightly on the loosest hook.  Also, I don't quite fill out the top of the cups either.  It's strange because my breasts spill towards the middle of it so I wonder if that means I have closely spaced breasts?   I also wonder if that means that the half cup might be a better fit for me? 

The cups themselves are made out of some sort of foam like padding.  It appears thick enough so that there's not going to be any nipple exposure but it's not so thick to be bothersome. 

PL Fuksja 75HH


This one's definitely too big on me.  I had to try it on, on the tightest hook and I could still pull it out a ways in the back.  The cups also have a lot of space on top and again there's the spilling towards the middle effect.  I'm planning on sending it back and am just waiting to hear what size they recommend. 

That being said that I love the bra itself.  Again, it's quite a bit darker than the picture. I actually prefer the darker color anyways, so no complaints here. :)  Another thing that I like is that it has 4 rows of hooks.  Once I get my new size that will help a lot both in terms of using it longer as it stretches out and as I loose weight!

As with the bond girl bikini top, the foam used to make the cups sees thick enough to avoid any embarrassing moments but not too thick to have any affect on your shirt size at all.

General Remarks

I have to say that one thing that I find surprising when it came to finally trying on bras *close* to my size is that I look so much bigger than I ever thought I was!  Wow, especially from the side! 

I'm debating whether I should take the Bond Girl top to a seamstress here to see if she can do anything to bring in the top of the cups.  Is that even possible? 

I'm happy that my size turns out to be smaller than I originally thought. I actually would love to order a soft cup bra for sleeping/lounging around the house and they have some of those in a 70H so that might be worth trying. Has anybody tried the soft cup bras from Ewa Michalak?  At the moment I'm eying this one:

Oh, and one of the best things??? No custom fees!!! I'm just shocked because I was really expecting them.  But I think it's because they don't use a courier service.  That just saved me a ton of money and definitely means I'll be ordering from them again. :D

Saturday, October 22, 2011

New curve friendly clothes!

I just heard of two new brands that are making curve friendly clothes.  The first is Maximila, which is located in Germany.  It looks like they also sell a few Biubiu shirts there too but they have their own line and I'm really drooling over this dress
It doesn't look like they have an actual store front, which is too bad because I'd love to try it on in person when we go to Germany this winter.  However, I think I'll have to order myself one.

The other one (from what I can tell) hasn't opened yet but they have a blog and if they clothes on the blog represent what's going to be available eventually, I'm very excited!  Here's the blog (it's in Polish but the pictures speak for themselves):

It was impossible for me to stick to just one but I think the two t-shirts are my favorite.  So Moje szycie please come out soon and have international shipping (with a website in English!) because I'm already hoping to order from you. :)

EDIT: Wow, wow, WOW.  I've been looking more at the Moje szycie website and can I just say she need to put out her line ASAP!  Add to that I think she's working on some pregnancy clothes.   Why don't I speak Polish so I can understand what she's saying?????

EDIT2: Ok, this has GOT to be a joke, this would make me too happy! She's also made nursing wear and blazers

Friday, October 21, 2011

Believe it or not women are not just sex objects

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These videos are from a recent campain ad from Hope here in Brazil.  In case you don't recognize her, yes, that's Gisele and basically they are showing the right and wrong ways to break bad news to your guy.  In the first one she over spent the limit on her credit card and on the second she got into a car accident... again. The idea being that it's better to tell your partner bad news while in lingerie rather than in real clothes.

I know many of my readers might not be very current on Brazilian politics but right now we have our first female president: Dilma Rousseff and she's less than thrilled about these ads.  I can't really blame her...

Rousseff's secretariat petitioned Conar (the national council for advertising self-regulation)  to open an investigation into whether the campaign was sexist, and Conar accepted the request. 

It's certainly a relevant issue here in Brazil:

While women are a majority in Brazil, they remain less educated and are paid less than men (the latter problem still persists in developed nations like the U.S.). One in every five Brazilian females has suffered some kind of violence at the hands of a male aggressor, according to a recent government-funded study, and authorities have yet to adequately assist them: in a nation of 192 million people, there are only 72 shelters for battered women.
I'll have to write more later about feminism in Brazil but right now let's just say that the country has a ways to go.  

However, back to the petition at Conar.  I have pretty mixed feelings about it.  While I certainly cringed at the ads, I'm not sure what this petition is expected to do?  It seems like a very small bandaid when in reality Brazil has much, much bigger problems to solve.  

It actually is a fairly common song and dance here (like in the US  for that matter) where politicians tend to focus on a small insignificant part of the problem instead of fixing the bigger issue, which can be admittedly quite overwhelming.  Instead of increasing the number of domestic violence shelters, instead of improving the education here (and it needs MAJOR improvement to the point where I do not know a single family that sends their kids to public schools and it's certainly not because I only know rich families by any means), instead of providing better public hospitals (recently there was a scandal due to a large number of doctors overbilling hours at the public hospital and never showing up- it was to the point that some doctors had billed more hours than exist in a week), and instead of providing better public transportation so women can get back and forth to work they focus on the little things like these ads or put up signs declaring that everyone should take public transport for a day when the buses are already so full that they can't shut the doors.

So while these ads certainly rub me the wrong way, I'd much rather see more infrastructure in place.  Because, really, getting rid of these ads is just going to lower my annoyance factor, building a new domestic violence shelter could save lives.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Flat out stupidity

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I have flat feet.  I've known this since I was a kid and had to wear arch supports.  Back in my long distance running days I always wore special made arch supports that prevented me from having foot pain while running.

Well, once college started and I didn't have money to continue buying these arch supports I stopped wearing them and didn't think much about them.  Stupid mistake!

In the last few months I've been experiencing a lot of knee pain.  It thought it was due to running and lifting but I've stopped doing that (well, I swim and do upper body lifting while sitting at the moment) and the pain hasn't subsided.  Add to that that my lower back has been starting to hurt more too.

I just couldn't figure it out.  Then I started wondering if my flat footedness could be causing it.  Turns out that it's VERY common to have knee and lower back pain when you're flat footed.  Add to that that high heels agravate that significantly and guess who's been wearing high heels a lot in her attempt to dress up more? Yeah, you guessed it. Me.

So, starting tomorrow I'm cutting back on the heels and next week I'm looking into getting arch supports.  Maybe if I'm lucky I can even start running again.  :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Reviews coming soon

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Alright, my husband gets back from his trip to the states in exactly a week and he'll come carrying lots of curvy gifts.  :-)

If you want to bookmark this page I'll include links to all the reviews as I write them.  I think I'll try to do the AJ Rumina review first. It looks like I might actually have gotten some extra shirts from them! I have to check the order to make sure but I think I ordered 3 and it looks like I got 6 (or maybe my husband had the different shirts confused on skype :D, we'll find out soon!). 

AJ Rumina T-shirts (Mediums) and Button Down Shirts (Large) - Order Post, Review- Part 1, Part 2
Levi's Supreme Curve Straight Jeans Size 29- Order Post, Review
Panache Tango II (30JJ) and Sienna (30J)- Order Post, Review
Fantasie T-Shirt bra (32H)- Review
Ewa Michalak PL Fuksja (75HH) and Bond Girl Bikini Top (75H)- Order Post, Review- Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

I also bought some odds and ends from Old Navy, I might as well review them too after all the interesting things are done. :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Finally lost the baby weight!

After almost 3 years now, I've FINALLY lost the baby weight. Today I weighed-in at 175lbs, which really is a huge milestone for me.  With my daughter I ended up gaining 65lbs and, trust me, those 2 years of breastfeeding were great for her but they didn't do a lick of good when it came to weight loss.

However, after really changing all my eating habits, dealing with a lot of my own emotional issues that were tied up with food, and establishing regular exericse I'm happy to say that I've finally lose the baby weight!

Here's my latest progress pictures today.

And you can compare it to my old ones

I think the biggest difference in the last 10lbs is that my stomach has flattened out quite a bit in the side view.  I'll definitely take it!

I have to say, I'm always fascinated with women whose bodies manage to snap back into place immediately after pregnancy.  It definitely wasn't my destiny but I learned a lot along the way and it was well, well, worth it to have my wild and crazy daughter  (even if she did decide this morning that climbing the closet would be a good idea!).

I still have somewhere between 20-35lbs to go but I have to say I'm a whole lot happier with my body now than I was before.

Current measurements:

Underbust: 31"
Waist: 32"
Belly Button: 35"
Lower Belly: 37.5"
Hips: 41"
Thigh: 25"
Calf: 15"
Upper Arm: 14"

And here's my weight chart:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Biggest Loser s12 e4

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I've been really dragging my feet when it comes to writing this review.  I guess, I'm just pretty disappointed with blue team having to send another member how and it's really bummed me out.  I hated saying goodbye to Coach Mike this week.

It's not because he was my favorite player but more what he symbolized.  He was there, working hard, trying his absolute best but he had to go.  Why?  Well, because the older you get the slower you lose.  It's really time to change up the teams a bit.  They did it all the time last season, it's about time they do it this season too!

I also have to give some major kudos to Ramon this past week.  He's really stepped it up and even though I was hoping that the Blue team wouldn't have to send another member home, I was pretty impressed by how he showed his leadership not only on the mountain but also on the scale.  Is he trying to beat out Jennifer for my current favorite contestant? Hmm...

I enjoyed seeing the former contestants come back.  They all looked great!  Hannah... I keep wondering if they have something else planned for her in terms of the show?  They have her pictures plastered everywhere and they really seem to love her over there.  Any thoughts?  You'd think she won last season in terms of how much you hear about her....

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Feeling like a Faker

When you lose a lot of weight it can be really hard for your mind to catch up.  Sometimes I have that weird feeling that when I'm out and about doing "skinny things" that someone's going to call me out on it and tell me that I'm just pretending to be normal-sized and that I need to leave, crazy, right? 

For instance, at the gym.  When I'm there lifting weights or swimming the other gym members just see me, the slightly chubby me.  They don't know that I used to be almost morbidly obese.  However, sometimes I feel like they're going to see it or call me out and say that I need to stop pretending to be my current weight because I'm really fat deep down. 

It's the same way when I go shopping.  I also feel like someone is going to laugh at me when I grab a medium or size 8/10 and take it to the dressing and tell me I should stop kidding myself and start taking 16's in there instead. 

It's not something I'm proud of.  I do feel like it's getting better but it still happens.  I went to the mall yesterday to try and find some capris (no luck but I did find some t-shirts!) and I had to actually go back and get some smaller sizes than I originally grabbed and I even tried on a size small dress (that fit! but I didn't like the style).  I think I'm still in some major denial about my current size.  Funny, because I recently found this picture from when I was probably about 210

and I can guarantee you that I was in some major denial about my size then too (although obviously in the other direction).  I wonder if I'll ever get an accurate body image in my size?  How long after losing weight will it happen? 

Oh, and just to add the icing on the cake, this morning I stepped on the scale and it told me 175.9lbs (a huge, major milestone for me because it's both my lowest adult weight AND my prepregnancy weight).  Then I measured again some minutes later and it consistently showed me 176.8lbs instead.  Sigh, I guess I'll have to wait a bit to consider myself back at my prepregnancy weight. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

D's just aren't that big!

You don't have to look far into many sitcoms to find jokes about how large D cups are.  It's pretty silly actually, considering that the average size that most women think they are is something between a 36C-D (see here and here).  However, considering that MOST women are wearing the wrong bra size due to the stupid add 4-5" to your ribcage rule then we'd actually have to recalculate what women should be wearing!

Let's go on the conservative side and say that the average women is a 36C.  However, since she's probably following the add 4" rule to her underbust then she's actually a 32 band size.  That means she'd also need to go up two cup sizes (because she has to go down two band sizes) so that would actually make the average bra size 32DD!  However, if a woman is wearing a band size that's two sizes too big then it's hard to see if the cups actually fit correctly so that means her cup size might actually be even bigger!

Does this make sense?  Well, according this the average measurements according to race are:
  • White: 41-34-43
  • Black: 43-37-46
  • Hispanic: 42.5-36-44
  • Asian: 41-35-43
If we assume that the waist=underbust measurement (a fairly safe assumption within an inch or two)  then we can find the average Freya size (from for US women according to ethnicity
which gives the average bras sizes of:

  • White: 34F
  • Black: 36F or 38DD
  • Hispanic: 36E/F
  • Asian:  34F or 36DD
 So umm... regardless of race EVERYONE is on average a DD cup or higher. Clearly there are a whole lot more D+ cups out there then people assume.

Now, let's investigate this further.  As I've discussed before all  D cups are not created equal so a woman with a 28DD cup and a 36DD are going to look quite different.  To see this just check out this blog and the picture there from Balkonetka

Actually, G cups don't even look massively huge if you ask me..

What I suspect is happening is that all these women wearing 36C and 36D cups are in such poorly fitting bras that they really don't know how well their breasts can look in well-fitting bras. 

Now, another problem is clothing manufacturers.  Clothes are typically made to fit a B cup, well, that just makes no sense at all!  Here's an interesting discussion on the way clothing fits.  Here you seem some reasons why fit is so poor now-a-days and here you can see why manufacturers are not adding more plus-size (even though the average US women is a size 14, so right on the cusp of plus-sized). 

So why is the fit of clothing such a big deal?  Well, I'll have to put up some more outfit posts once my new bras arrive but basically it boils down to this.  If you're wearing an ill-fitting bra+clothes that are built for a B cup even though you're a lot larger then your boobs are going to sag, you'll probably end up buying a shirt with a waist that is too large and it's really hard to SEE that you have a large chest.  Instead you just look more overweight.  A well-fitting bra + well-fitting clothes allows others to actually see your figure and it's more obvious that you have large breast.  So many of these "36C" women are actually making their busts look smaller and their waists look bigger with their current choices in clothes/bras, probably the opposite of what they want!

EDIT: I wanted to add a link to this blog that discusses the US denialism of larger cup sizes. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Customs/Shipping Rules Worldwide

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If you're a reader here you know how annoyed I get at the ridiculously high custom fees here. However, I've been wondering how customs work when you're shipping to the US and Europe because we travel often and I really would like to be able to order from both the UK and Poland.

So, I put on my detective hat (er... opened a google browser) and here's what I found.

Shipping from Europe to the USA

Info found here.

If the textiles value does not exceed $200, CBP will not assess duty. If the value exceeds $200, you may be required to pay duty, which could range between 3-25%, depending on the items' classification number. To obtain duty rates for textiles, please reference Section 11 in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS), chapters 50 through 63.  Please be aware that determining the correct classification number and duty rate for textile items is very difficult, requiring very specific knowledge of the fibers used in the garment, as well as its country of origin, method of manufacture, etc.  It is recommended that you contact an Import Specialist to assist you with determining classification numbers.  To locate an Import Specialist, click here and then select the state and city you wish to import through. 
So the short answer is if you keep your order under $200 then you're not going to pay any custom duties.  If it's over $200 you'd pay somewhere between 3-25% on your order and apparently it's not worth it to try and figure it out yourself so contact someone from there instead if you want to know the exact percentage. 

Shipping from Abroad to Brazil

Info from here

Import of goods using Mail, International Express Mail, including goods purchased using the Internet – Simplified Taxation Regime/ RTS (Regime de Tributação Simplificada)
I - This Regime applies to:
    • Goods imported by mail, Air Carrier or Courier Companies, including goods purchased using the internet.
    • This Customs Regime also applies to gifts received from abroad.
    • This Customs Regime does not apply to imported goods such as alcoholic beverages (liquor), tobacco and tobacco related products.
II - Maximum value of the goods to be imported:
Maximum amount of the good to be imported through this regime is US$ 3.000,00 (three thousand US dollars)
III - Taxation Rate:
The taxation rate is 60% (sixty per cent) over the price stated on the commercial invoice added of the transport and insurance costs if they were not included on the merchandise total price. In the case of the goods imported using the services of international express companies (Courier), it will be added a 18% State VAT (ICMS);
Notice: In the case of gifts, the taxable price will be the one declared by the sender as long as compatible with similar goods available on the market;
Alright so the translation of that is if you use regular mail you'll pay 60% customs duty on the price of the items (so that excludes what you paid for shipping) BUT if you use a courier service (DHL, Fedex, etc) then you're going to have to pay an additional 18%!!! That's exactly what happened to me, ugh.  Good to know for the future, I'll have to ask businesses if they can use the regular mail instead. 

Also, you can't send anything worth over $3000 (so not a problem here!)

Now, it looks like if my parents were to send me something as a personal gift worth under $50 then I wouldn't have to pay any customs on it.

V - Exemptions
  • Goods with total value of up to US$ 50,00 (Fifty US Dollar) are not taxed, considering that both participants on the transaction, sender and beneficiary are individuals;
  • Prescription drugs sent to individuals. During Customs clearance procedures the Ministry of Health will enforce the presentation of a valid prescription.
  • Books and newspapers are not taxable (art. 150, VI, "d", of the Federal Constitution).

Shipping within Europe

I haven't found a really good website for this but everything I found said it's pretty easy and you don't have the same customs duties.  When I used to live in Germany I did ship from the UK to Germany fairly often (although it was normally books/DVDs/video games) and never paid customs.  I imagine there has to be some limit underneath which you pay no customs but, unfortunately, I can't find that info.  If somebody knows where I can find it please let me know! 

Shipping costs by shop

Brastop - to Europe £5.95 ($9.31), to US/Canada £6.95 ($10.87), rest of the World £14.95 ($23.39)

Ewa Michalak - to Europe 27 PLN ($8.47), to World 31 PLN ($9.73)

BiuBiu & AJ Rumina - depends on order size/country

Vivien of Holloway - £3 ($4.69) for a small item (such as flower/belt) £5 ($7.82) for a dress to £12 ($18.77) for 4 or more dresses or items weighing over 2kg, same worldwide

Bravissimo/Pepperberry- to Europe £5.95 ($9.31), to World £7.95 ($23.39)

Figleaves - to World  £5.50 ($8.60)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Accepting Imperfection

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If you've ever been on a sports team you'll know the push to be perfect.  A win is not acceptable if you didn't give it your all, a goal/point doesn't really count if it wasn't a bicycle kick, a slam dunk, or a home run.  Teams are not remembered for just winning their respective championship, they're remembered if they did it perfectly

Thankfully, life is not at all like sports.  We're allowed to make mistakes and it's how we deal with those mistakes that effects the rest of our lives.  Part of being human is evolving, changing, learning.  We don't stay in our current state all our lives but instead we end up a very different person on our deathbed compared to who we were when we were 6.

However, I hear so often people beating up on themselves because they don't reach their own standard of perfection.  Men and women can lose extraordinary amounts of weight but still not love their post-weight loss bodies.  They'll focus on tiny imperfections instead of looking at the big picture of health, hard work, more energy, and cheaper/better fitting clothes.  They then throw up their hands, declare it's not worth it and eat their way back into oblivion.

It's not about weight loss either. I've seen students do the same.  Maybe they don't have perfect grades so instead of following their dreams they chose a new, easier major where they can ace their classes rather than pushing themselves in something they are passionate about.

Or what about fashion? I've seen women (myself included here!).  Throw up their hands because they don't have the perfect body or enough fashion sense or enough money to dress well.  Instead they slip into yoga pants, a t-shirt and a sports bra and call it a day.  Why spend the effort if you're not going to look like Chloe Sevigny, Sophia Vergara, Amy Adams etc.?

Honestly, the list go on and on.  I know moms who gave up breastfeeding completely because they had to supplement and they felt it wasn't worth the effort.  I know kids who gave up sports that they enjoyed because they knew they'd never be a professional player or what about musicians who gave up their instrument because they'd never make it into Julliard?

Does perfectionism really serve us any good?  Sure, we should always try are best but, honestly, our best doesn't translate to the best in the world. And, seriously, it shouldn't.  We have 6 billion people on the planet we all have different roles to serve so no one person can be the best at everything and even if there was one person who was perfect you only have a 1 in 6 billion shot at being that person.

Think how much better our world would be if we were taught to take small steps and focus on our successes, not our defeats.  A smoker could take heart in going from 2 packs a day to 1, someone losing weight would celebrate every pound loss rather than looking at the long road ahead of them, young girls would stop comparing their bodies to airbrushed celebrities and instead cherish their beautiful smiles, fun personalities, and learn to emphasis what they love about their figures rather than focusing on what they hate.

How many times has one person's perfectionism hurt a friend or family member?  If someone who is slim by society's standard rips apart their own bodies in front of an overweight friend, how do you think that makes her friend feel about her body? If a straight A student complains about her one B in front of a friend who struggles to get a C, how does that friend feel? I'm not saying we shouldn't be able to share our fears, stresses, and disappoints with those close to us.  However, maybe we should learn that while we can worry about these things we need to look at the bigger picture of our life.  Not to focus on our mistakes and imperfections but focus on what we do have going for us.  I have a feeling we'd all be a lot more successful in our lives if we could just remember our strengths more often. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Biggest Loser s12 e3

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Wow, what an episode! Biggest Loser certainly knows how to make you tear up.  Alright, let's skip right to the end because that's really what I want to talk about.  I've been kind of iffy about Bonnie.  I'm not sure if it was just Anna's inexperience or Bonnie not pushing herself as hard as she could have but tonight she lost 7lbs and I have to say she earned it!
I loved seeing her look like she was about to pass out on the stair stepper during the Last Chance Workout.  It seems like Anna has finally hit her groove and has found a way to motivate her team, good for her!  Oh, and Mike winning the Super Bowl tickets?  That was just icing on the cake. 

I wanted to add.. I wonder if having all those other athletes around kicked up Anna's competitive drive? Sometimes it's hard to imagine her as a professional athlete because she appears to be so cute and sweet on the show.   However, she's got to be a pretty competitive person to get where she did with tennis, so maybe some of the excitement from the NFL players wore off on her?

I was sad, of course, to see someone from the red team go. They really are working hard and have seem to have bonded well as a team.  It looks like it was a horrible decision to make.  That being said Patrick appears like he's doing wonderful at home, good for him! 

Bizarro Bob in action!

Now, I have to say, I really wonder what this is going to do to Bob next week.  Bob is the definition of a perfectionist.  Even though him and Jillian clearly "beat" the other trainers last seasons, it seems like it's just given him MORE drive to never lose.  The man's turning into a monster! Those numbers that his team was pulling this week were just phenomenal.  Seriously, he really has perfected the art of major weight loss.  Oh, and don't even get me started on Bizarro Bob in the early morning training sessions.  ;)  I have a feeling that the Blue Team's success this week is just going to make him even more insanely driven to win, watch out!

Jennifer deserves a paragraph just for herself.  I have knee problems too (although not as bad as what she has) so I can really relate to trying to adapt your workout to things you can do.  She could've easily given up but she didn't.  It was just amazing to see her push herself to her absolute limit and she really was rewarded on the scale.  I think she's someone to watch out for towards the end! I'm not sure what her height is but her starting weight is 330lbs so she really could be in this until the end.


I also wanted to mention Antone this season.  It's really interesting to compare him with Rulon last season.  Both are former successful athletes but the attitude differences are HUGE.  Where Rulon was never able to shut off his competitive nature, Antone has almost lost his.  Rulon also was very stand-offish and had a hard time opening up whereas Antone really seemed to be able to get to the root of some of his problems with Bob.  I also find it interesting the difference in how the other plays relate to Antone vs. how they did to last season Rulon.  Antone seems 100% one of them where as Rulon was always a separate entity.  My guess would be that this will really play to Antone's advantage.  He comes off as much more sympathetic and willing to change than Rulon, so here's hoping he proves me right.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Body Shape and Weight loss

Many women are concerned about losing their curves during weight loss.  It is true that your breast size probably will go down (although, unfortunately, I've seen the least amount of weight loss there!) but what they don't realize is that weight loss can actually accentuate your curves (assuming you're talking about going from obese/overweight to healthy, I'm not talking about weight loss where you're already at a healthy weight being that I don't have experience with that). 

I'll use my own body as a case in point.  I have a rough idea of my measurements when I was about 225lbs.  Now, my measurements could have actually been higher because these are estimates based on my faulty memory. :)

Bust: 48
Underbust: 38
Natural Waist: 40
Hips: 46

If you just do the math I have the following ratios:
Bra Size (UK)=38GG

Let's compare that to where I am at now (177lbs, so 48lbs down)

Bust: 44
Underbust: 31
Waist: 32
Hips: 41

Which gives us the ratios:

Bra Size (UK)=30J/JJ-32HH/J

If you want to see it in pictures here are my progress pictures (once I hit 175lbs I'll add another but in the meantime you'll have to be happy with my lowest being 185lbs).  

Now, if you ask me that's quite a bit curvier than before! Obviously, this is not going to happen to every woman.  I naturally had large breasts/butt even at my lowest weight (140lbs).  If you're naturally a pear* you'll probably keep your butt and lose your breasts whereas an apple* might keep the breasts and lose the butt and a banana* shaped woman would lose both.

What that means, though, is that with the exception of a banana shaped woman (and even then it would depend how banana shaped she is) is that the curves you do have will probably be easier to accentuate and more dramatic at a lower weight.

BTW, this is NOT meant as a stab at plus-sized women because there certainly are plus-sized women who are curvy but there are also many who are not (I can put myself in that category).  However, it does make it extremely difficult for plus-sized manufacturers to make well-fitting clothes.  Lane Bryant really was a genius in that aspect because when she first started her business she never matched measurements to sizes, rather she asked all customers to send in their measurements and they would find the appropriate size for them.  BTW, really check out that link, the history of Lane Bryant is fascinating!  However, what she succeeded in doing was 1. making sure the customer was happy by finding the right size for them and 2. she could see exactly what measurements her customers had and could tailor her clothes to her customers.

My main point is that curvy does not equal plus-sized.  It's actually a hurtful misconception. Why? Well, on one hand, you're telling women who are already at healthy weight (or close to it) that they are fat because they have curves.  On the other hand, if someone is overweight but still doesn't have a larger bust or butt they may feel like their not living up to society's expectations.  On both ends of the spectrum it makes finding clothes very difficult, which can also lead to a number of insecurities.  It's ironic actually, because when I was at my highest weight I had a significantly easier time finding clothes because designers assumed larger women had larger busts/butts.  Now that I've lost weight designers have apparently decided for my size I should be a lot smaller in the bust/butt!

*I'm not the biggest fan of these categories when it comes to body types but I'll leave that discussion for another day...

If you want to read up more on this topic I've enjoyed these so far (and I'm sure there's a lot more out there so feel free to post any in the comments!):

Curvy does not mean plus sized

Discussion on "Curvy" from Thin and Curvy

Actually, many of the blogs that I follow discuss similar issues so check them out too. :D

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Suit Alterations

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I got back my suit yesterday with the alterations! Sorry this took longer than promised but I got home from work too late Friday evening to pick it up.

So just a quick background on the suit.  It's a size 14 from H&M and it fit me pretty well at around 200lbs.  Here's a picture of me in the skirt back then:

However, I've shrunk out of it and it's pretty big on me now as you can see here:

I thought it would be worth it to take it in for alterations because 1. I have a backup suit that does fit in case something happens and 2. I really would prefer this suit because I like the material in it better than the back-up suit and 3. I don't have any jackets except for a sporty Adidas jacket that doesn't look remotely professional.

I took in the suit on Weds. and the whole process was quick and painless.  It turns out that our dry cleaner down the street as does alterations for amazingly reasonable prices (about R$15 per item or 8 USD), way cheaper than buying a new suit! I was measured and in and out of there in no time.

The only craziness came out when she asked about my weight loss.  She was commenting how huge the jacket and skirt were on me and asked how much I had lost.  I told her and then she asked if I had had surgery.  I wasn't offended, she didn't come off as being judgmental at all but it just surprises me sometimes how much more blunt people can be here at times.

So here are the results of her work and I have to say I'm quite pleased. My jacket and skirt accentuate my waist a lot more now and hopefully I'll get my money's worth of wear in them yet.

I think the real winner is the skirt, though.  I don't know if I've had a skirt fit that well in a long time.  The jacket is still slightly baggy at the waist in front (I think it's especially obvious from the side view above) but not enough to truly bother me.  

I'm definitely planning on going back.  I have a lot of old maternity clothes that I only wore briefly due to my miscarriage.  I'm hoping that I can take them in and use them for a subsequent pregnancy.  Considering that one shirt or pair of pants typically runs at R$150-R$200 ($81-$108), the R$15 for alterations will be well worth it!  I also have some dresses and skirts that I'd like to get some more wear out of and this seems like a pretty good way to do it (especially since summer is coming and I do need more warm weather clothes).  Now my only issue is finding tops that actually fit me!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cup sizes are NOT created equally

A common confusion when it comes to bra sizing is what exactly the cup size means.  Essentially, they match up the difference between the bust and underbust measurement and match it up with a letter (don't ask me why!).  For UK sizes you can see from the chart below that if you have, say, a difference of 6" between your bust and underbust measurement, then you should be wearing an E cup.

Now, something that confuses many is that the volume of each cup depends on what band you're talking about.  A 32B is much smaller in terms of volume compared to a 38B.  Why is that?  Well, let's turn our boobs into squares and rectangles to see...

Let's also use completely unrealistic sizes because the numbers are easier. ;)  In the images below (I suggest clicking on them to see them in a separate window because blogspot seems to have problems with the sizing) I picked two women, Woman A with the bra size 8E and Woman B with the bra size 10E.  The breasts are shown in yellow whereas the ribcage is blue. 

Woman A, Size 8E, Breast Area=4.5
Woman B, Size 10E, Breast Area=6

 In the images above I show how you can calculate the area of each breast and it does turn out that the larger band size has a larger area. If you want to talk about volume, then just pretend that the above breasts have a height of 1" so then you'd have breasts with the volume of 4 in³ for an 8E cup and 6 in³ for a 10E cup.

The moral of the story is that the volume of cups vary according to the band. SO if you need to get a smaller band, then you also need to go up a cup size! If you need to go up in your band, then go down a cup size.

Now, you may be asking... why do I go up one cup size for each band size that I go down?  It doesn't make sense because the band has a 2" difference and the difference between bust and underbust is a 1" difference for each cup size.  The reason is that the only difference between your bust and underbust is the x value (in the case of Woman A).  However, you end up multiply x by 2 because you have two breasts,  hence, the discrepancy. 

Alterations.... I should be posting the result of my suit alterations tonight or tomorrow. Stay tuned.