Heart to Heart: The mother-daughter team of Helena and Kaya Stuart keep the Only Hearts brand a successful labor of love.

Kaya and Helena Stuart

Kaya and Helena Stuart

I love Only Hearts. As a New York-based retailer, I deeply admire what founder Helena Stuart has accomplished with the innovative shop she founded more than 30 years ago, growing the Only Hearts brand into a unique lifestyle statement. That’s why I just added a range of wonderful pieces from the 2013 collection to the brand assortment available at ThePinkSlip.com. Only Hearts, which Helena describes as inner-outerwear™, is a full range of classifications including intimates, sleepwear, dresses and more, all proudly made in New York City’s garment district. The line is fabulously girly with clean lines, soft colors and cozy fabrics figuring prominently throughout. The girly energy doubled 11 years ago when Helena’s talented daughter Kaya joined the firm and the company officially became a family affair. I recently chatted with Helena about her inspirations, the evolution of the intimates market and the joys of working with family.

Margo Andros: Helena, what inspires your approach to designs?

Helena Stuart: I think most designers would agree to having an inner drive to see the world in their own way. This is the core of what motivates me; I just start from the inside out.

Margo: How have you seen the intimates market change over the years since you founded Only Hearts?

Helena: When I trademarked inner-outerwear in 1980 there was no contemporary lingerie market. A camisole was strictly an underpinning, not to be worn on its own as a top. So things have changed a lot! It’s been wonderful to be a part of this evolution, to see a full circle acceptance and appreciation of showing a little bit of what’s underneath.

Margo: How has the Only Hearts brand evolved over time?

Helena: It’s hard to summarize, briefly, almost 34 years in business, especially manufacturing in New York City’s Garment District! When I started, I was using only black and white, mostly cotton. Currently we use a rainbow’s range of colors, textures, and fabrics from all over the world. Also, the original Only Hearts customer was in her twenties, my age when I founded the business. Over the years we’ve grown together, and her daughter is now another core part of our customer base.

Margo: What key trends is Only Hearts offering for 2013?

Helena: Only Hearts is not really a ‘trendy’ brand. We’re doing a lot of color blocking and patchwork ideas, which haven’t looked fresh to me in a while. Also, a big interest in burlesque / erotica inspired lingerie.

Margo: What’s it like to collaborate with your daughter Kaya?

Helena: It’s a gift!  I consider myself to be very lucky not only to see her most days, but to get to know her as a creative thinker and problem solver outside the roles within our (large, traditional, ITALIAN) family.

Margo: You’re indeed very lucky to have her. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with my followers, Helena.

Helena: You’re welcome. It was a pleasure!

Now that we know the inspiration, here’s a look at some of my faves from the Only Hearts assortment at ThePinkSlip.com.

Delicious Chemise

This chemise, in delicious microfiber, fits closely to your body while feeling incredibly soft next to your skin. Delicate lace accentuates the neckline and hem of the chemise, creating sleepwear that looks as good as it feels.

Delicious Chemise by Only Hearts

Delicious Chemise by Only Hearts

 

Organic Cotton Skinny Tank

Only Hearts’ signature skinny tank in 100% organic Supima cotton has an easy fit and a wonderful feel. The straps are wide enough to conceal your bra straps, which is perfect for everyday wear. Great for sleeping, playing, wearing out, anyway you wear it it. It’s the perfect closet essential.

Organic cotton Skinny Tank by Only Hearts

Organic cotton Skinny Tank by Only Hearts

Silk Mini Slip

Our favorite Only Hearts mini-slip combines the lusciousness of silk accentuated with beautiful lace detailing for ultimate sexiness. It’s a beautiful layering piece, in an easy-to-wear, under-it-all slip.

Silk Mini Slip by Only Hearts

Silk Mini Slip by Only Hearts

Second Skin Strapless Convertible Bra

This strapless bra gives you full coverage with just the right amount of lift and support. Part of Only Hearts’ Second Skin collection, this underwire bra truly feels as soft and as natural as your own skin! It comes complete with a convertible strap, from strapless to one-shoulder to halter-style.

Strapless Convertible Bra by Only Hearts

Strapless Convertible Bra by Only Hearts

I hope you enjoyed our special peek at the new offerings from Only Hearts. It’s literally a brand with a lot of heart!

XOXO,

Margo

Shoulder to Shoulder: How a great strapless bra can support and flatter your holiday party look.

Strapless Bras from Pink Slip

Strapless Bras from Pink Slip

As fashion has evolved, so has the bra. One of the most crucial styles to have, especially for women who like to experiment with fashion, is the strapless. Women planning to flaunt their beautiful shoulders in strapless or one-shouldered gowns this holiday season need to have a good strapless bra in their wardrobe. Actually, they need at least two: one in black and one in nude. When it comes to finding the best strapless for you, it’s important to have an open mind, experiment with brands and understand that brands have different sizing systems. You may be a 34C in a basic bra from brand ABC, but one in size 36B by brand XYZ may fit you just as well. What I always suggested to customers at my store was to gather eight bras and try them on with clothing worn over the bra. Remember, you’re not only going to check the fit but the effect the bra gives you under clothes. Finding the right strapless for you requires trial and error. By its nature, the strapless bra needs to fit more snugly than your basic everyday bra. The key to determining whether a bra is appropriately snug versus too tight is to conduct the mirror test. I know, we hate the mirror test. Who wants to stare at our own backside under fluorescent lights? Well, I hope that you’re standing under soft lighting when you do this because no woman deserves the jarring effect of harsh lighting. Nevertheless, it’s the only way to avoid unnecessary pain or the embarrassment of an ill-timed wardrobe malfunction when you’re getting down on the dance floor. If it’s loose on you, you’ll be doing “the tug” all night long.
Imagine that you’re doing the mirror test:
• Examine how your breasts sit in the cups.
• The bra needs to lift and not flatten.
• Look for a flattering swell in your bust without spilling out of the cups.
• When you turn around and look in the mirror you should not see rolls of back fat protruding from the wings. If you do, it’s time to say “Next!”
If you’re happy with the way your bust looks in the cups, feel like you can move without spilling out and don’t see traces of back fat, put on a body-conforming top – or the dress you plan to wear to your special occasion – and complete your strapless test drive.
Strapless bras come in two categories: basic and deep plunge. Convertible bras offer the option to go strapless as well. At Pink Slip, we carry three styles that offer different effects: a strapless push-up, a lacy fashion bra, and a plunge bra for full-busted women. All of them are designed to fit properly and have detachable straps to double as convertible bras.

The Booster:
For extra oomph, OnGossamer’s superfine mesh overlays a push-up strapless pad to create a seamless look. Lightweight silicone edging on the bra’s back avoids slipping. Convertible adjustable straps give you the option of wearing it under gowns with a range of necklines. This bra is a real worker bee, ladies.

OnGossamer Strapless Bra

OnGossamer Strapless Bra

For the Curvy Girl:
Panache’s No. 1 selling bra, the Porcelain Molded Strapless Bra, has lightly padded, contour underwire cups for support and shape. It’s seamless for modesty and has an even, rounded appearance. This bra has detachable straps, so in addition to being a strapless, it can be worn as a halter, one-shoulder, crisscross or regular style. The deep plunge center front makes it perfect for wearing under low-cut strapless outfits. It features silicone gripper along the wings for a secure fit. If you’re a lush, curvy girl, this bra is for you.

Molded strapless bra by Panache

Molded strapless bra by Panache

The Romantic Look:
The Celeste Strapless Plunge by Simone Perele is a beautiful contour underwire bra featuring seamless cups and elegant French Chantilly lace trim, with light padding for modesty and a smooth, rounded shape. Removable thin straps are double elastic in the front and single in the back, and can be worn in traditional, racerback or strapless styles. A deep plunge center front makes it perfect for low-cut strapless outfits. The sides and back have sewn-on elastic with silicone grippers strips at top and bottom. This is the one you want to go with it if you’re looking to make a sexy statement when your party dress comes off!

Celeste strapless bra by Simone Perele

Celeste strapless bra by Simone Perele

No matter what your personal style or body type is, invest the time needed to experiment with a few brands and I guarantee you’ll find the right strapless bra for you. Then hit the dance floor and throw caution to the wind!
XOXO,
Margo

Expert Advice: Tips for finding the perfect bra for the small-breasted woman from Emily Lau, founder of The Little Bra Company

Emily Lau, founder of The Little Bra Company

I recently wrote a post about fashion bras for small-breasted women and wanted to explore the topic more deeply so I turned to an expert whom I really admire: Emily Lau, the founder of The Little Bra Company. Emily is a self-described late bloomer who wore ill-fitting bras for years until she worked with design experts to create the perfect-fitting bra for her petite body. She tested the design on some of her friends and got amazing feedback. In 2007, she launched The Little Bra Company and now it’s a go-to brand for women with small breasts who want bras that not only support them but make them feel feminine and sexy. Emily shared some valuable tips with me for MARGO’S MUST HAVES.

Margo Andros: Emily, tell me what distinguishes your bras for petite women?

Emily Lau: “The Little Bra” refers to both the fit and bust size. We specialize in hard-to-find smaller band and cup sizes including 28-38A, 28-34B, and 28-34C cups, The Little Bra Company’s bras are designed and cut on a petite scale to fit the smaller figure better. Although there are other push-up bras on the market, TLBC bras are designed to fit a smaller body type, giving her a better-fitting and more natural-looking curve. 

Margo: Who is your target customer?

Emily: She’s the woman who may be “little” up top, but still wants a bra that gives her lift and makes her feel feminine. When I get to personally fit my customers, it’s always so exciting to see their reactions. I get hugs and high-fives from women who thought they could never have cleavage. They tell me that they have never had a bra that fit the way a TLBC bra fits and they love them because it makes them feel pretty!

Margo: Can a woman with an A-cup get cleavage with your bras?

Emily:  I find that smaller-breasted women often resign themselves to wearing camisole bras or nothing at all.  They don’t even try wearing a padded bra. They just assume that they have nothing to push up, so why try. Since my bras are fitted for their specific body type, the padding does its job properly, giving them a comfortable fit and a bit of cleavage too.

Margo: Do you serve women with a AA cup?

Emily: Since our bras are designed and cut smaller in the cup and band already, we currently do not have AA cups in our collection. However, we do have a lot of AA customers who fit into our A-cups, especially in style E005-Angela and E004C-Lucia.

Margo: What are the important steps small-breasted women should take when shopping for bras?

Emily: I always give women five tips…

  1. Do the Scoop. Petite women often feel that because of their slighter frame this step is not necessary, which is not true. Doing the scoop is essential no matter your size. It allows you to find the perfect placement in the cup and gives you the best shape possible.
  2. Find out whether you have a wide-set or close-set chest. This is important because some cups are set close together and others farther apart. The shape of your frame will help you find your perfect style and size.
  3. Make sure your straps are adjusted and your band is parallel with the ground across your back, on the first hook. The first hook is very important because a band can stretch up to two inches with wear so you want to give yourself some sizing flexibility from the get-go.
  4. Look for contour padding, which allows for a natural shape and lift. It will complement a petite figure and allow for the perfect comfort, support and style.
  5. Find your favorite style. Half the battle in shopping for bras is feeling comfortable and confident in them. Finding a style that you feel good in, as well as flatters your form, is the key to enjoying bra shopping and wearing. Whether it’s a deep-plunge, demi-cup, wireless or one of the many other options, find what suits you and enjoy!

Margo: Thanks for sharing your expertise with us, Emily.

Emily: My pleasure. Thanks for having me, Margo. Congratulations on the blog!

So there you have it, straight from the woman who revolutionized the market with her personal mission to serve the small-chested woman. The Pink Slip is a big fan of The Little Bra Company and we carry a range of styles that satisfy your various fashion and fit needs.  Here are some of my favorites.

Mercedes push-up bra

Mercedes Push-Up

The Mercedes bra is a sophisticated petite demi push-up with medium padded contoured smooth cups for subtle lift and support, and hints of feminine lace detail. It has more side coverage to offer an attractive, rounded lift.  Perfect for scoop neck and lower cut tops. Although you still get the cleavage and push-up The Little Bra Company is known for, the cups are slightly roomier with more elastic in the band.

Isis convertible bra

Isis Convertible Bra 

Isis is an elegant and smooth push-up bra, with heavily padded demi-contoured cups to offer petite figures a boosted bustline. It also features a pretty tear-drop center detail in the front and has a flattering ballet back for ultimate comfort and support. The convertible straps allow you to wear the bra in multiple ways including racerback or halter.

Yvonne t-shirt bra

Yvonne T-Shirt Bra

Named Best T-Shirt Bra for Petites by Real Simple Magazine, Yvonne is sure to please with its amazing seamless look and feminine touch of lace detail along the back and straps. This gorgeous smooth-cup bra has contoured push-up padding for a natural-looking curve for a petite figure. Yvonne has versatile convertible straps and was designed for the petite customer who has slightly wider-set breasts.

Remember Emily’s great tips and find the bras that are perfect for you.

XOXO,

Margo