Wheeling a suitcase full of underwear, heels and makeup through Manchester, I imagined the first time I would be doing this would be for a Burlesque performance. Instead, I was about to spend a weekend modelling and networking at ‘The Erotic Event of the Year’ – Sexhibition 2016. This convention combines fetish, boudoir, kink and performance to celebrate one of the most natural urges humanity has – sex. Having become fascinated with Sexhibition 2015’s social media efforts, I was thrilled when a call for plus-size models appeared on their Facebook. It’s one thing attending an event like this, but it’s another actually being part of #teamsexhibiton.
I spent the weekend staying with my good friend Mags. We’ve known each other since we were 13, and over the weekend we reminisced over old times, especially our annual visits to Band Camp (yes, this really happened, as part of the Fife Youth Orchestra!). She would be modelling for the fantastic latex designer Zhyon (who I really feel needs to update his website, it doesn’t reflect the incredible designs he had on offer!) and the incredibly talented Yummy Gummy Latex, both on the Sunday. Mags was also hosting Raven and her partner Dave for the weekend, who are my new favourite couple and made me feel like one of the gang straight away! I also got to spend a lot of time with Mags’ friends Jess and Phil, who were so open and wonderful I think they pretty much heard my entire life story within 48 hours!
Saturday morning journey to the venue with Raven and Mags
(and my eyebrow is so on fleek I can’t not comment on it)
The whirlwind of the event was incredible to be part of, but it was also lovely to go back to Mags’ living room, get into our comfies, and have a drink and a chat with these wonderful people.
Image of the Sexhibition stage from The Pinup Academy website
Saturday’s theme was the decadent side of Sexhibition. Glamour, burlesque, femininity and lingerie were on the cards, and this was the day I had been chosen to walk the catwalk for Oh La La‘s ‘plus size collection’. Upon arrival in the backstage dressing area, I was presented with a flimsy, purple brocade, plastic boned corset. Affordable? Yes. Well designed? No. That being said, it was my job to sell this item to the plus size women in the audience, so careful styling was essential. Being rather tall, I also have a long torso. After trying on the garment, it became clear that even at an erotic event, the indecent exposure going on around my breasticals was not going to sell the item or myself. And don’t get me started on the awkward, baggy, nappy-like matching thong. I offered to add a bra to the mix, creating more of an underbust look with the corset and all over a better silhouette. The business owner was happy with this option, and I was secretly thrilled as this gave me the chance to show off my new lingerie!
You see, leading up the event I had been spreading the word far and wide about my participation, and utilising my contacts in the industry. I messaged several brands, politely suggesting that by sponsoring a plus-size model at an event where 90% of the models were toned, petite and clad in latex, they would have a level of exposure that was unparalleled. I was thrilled with the response, and many of the brands seemed to share the same opinion as I.
The Big Bloomers/Tights Company have been in my peripheral vision for a few years now. They regularly feature at plus-size events, and their website is easy to navigate. They also use the ever-gorgeous George as their model, and I feel her honest reviews of the products are half the reason so many of my fellow bloggers and friends love the brand. What I love about The Big Bloomers/Tights Company is that they instantly recognise that extending items to plus-sizes is not always the right way to get a perfect fit. They actually do alternative lengths in their hold ups and their anti chafing shorts, perfect for plus-size glamazons over 5’8. I must admit, even when shopping at plus-size specialist stores, I tend to oversize when it comes to knickers/tights/trousers, as I’m always scared of unnecessary bulges being created by tight elastic, or the lengths being wrong. I spoke to April, who asked me to measure the widest part of my thigh in cm, so that she could recommend if I needed the size 20-26, or the 28-32. April explained the fit was very important to the company as they want to ensure the hold-ups stay up all day with no adjusting. I’m 5’11 and my thighs currently measure at 31 inches, or 78cm. April generously offered to send me their assorted set of Extra Tall Hold Ups in black, white and nude. She sent them in a size 28-32, and they were exactly what I needed for a weekend of assorted lingerie!
Even thought they were only 20 denier, my lack of experience with false nails did not create any tears or ladders. The lace bands were lovely and deep, similar to my Bandalettes (mentioned later in this post). They prevented my thighs from chafing, as well as smoothing over any weird thigh-muffin-tops you can get with ill-fitting hold-ups. The length was perfect, no strained material over my heels/toes like you feel when you’re yanking up a small pair of tights to avoid what I call ‘gangsta crotch’! I whole-heartedly love these hold-ups and can’t wait to try more of what The Big Bloomers/Tights Company has to offer. I do love suspender belts with stockings, but when they add bulk under a smooth silhouette, I will opt for hold-ups. I’ll definitely treat myself to the seamed version for my next vintage/burlesque event.
You can treat yourself too, by using the code BT300 to receive a 10% discount on your basket thanks to April!
Another like-minded company was Curvy Kate, a lingerie and swimwear brand I’m sure a lot of your will have heard of. They launched their fearlessly sexy range of lingerie, Scantilly, around Autumn 2015 to a great response. The range caters for DD up to HH cups, with a *slightly* limited back size of 30 up to 38. Here’s how they describe their collection:
“Lingerie that indulges, sanctifies and worships; lingerie that needs no apology. It’s not a want but a need – enrich your drawer with the unforgettable, seduce your skin with the sensual and arrest yourself with Scantilly”
Phew! I need a cold shower after that steamy introduction! I spoke to the wonderful Hannah, head of PR and Marketing for Curvy Kate, who agreed that Scantilly would be the perfect choice for an event like Sexhibition. She kindly asked me to choose a set from their website that I could wear while I networked at the event, and my heart was instantly set on the Peek-A-Boo black balcony bra:
“A sultry, satin ensemble combining unapologetic cut-outs with sophisticated styling. The divine Peek-a-boo bra is designed for vivid imaginations. Mesh cups and the Scantilly rose gold ‘S’ charm your senses.”
This bra is no stranger to the limelight: with pin-up models, burlesque acts and bloggers alike all falling for its seductive charms (My favourite review is by 2 Cakes on a Plate wearing the red version, she’s perfection!). I’m currently a comfortable 40G/GG bust, but some brands I can easily fit a 38 back. I’ve always found Curvy Kate’s back sizes to be a little on the small side, and I have some of their older style bras in a 38G (a little overspillage from all angles!).
Here’s the bra in all it’s glory from a little impromptu photoshoot with my girl Denver (enjoy the nipples):
The corset issue was the perfect excuse to get this baby on the catwalk. As I mentioned, Scantilly currently stops at a 38 back, so I had to play around with sizing a little, settling on a 38HH. Should I have had the chance to try this bra on in a shop, I realistically would have ordered the 38H. The mesh did not sit flush to my skin, ruining the beautiful shape of the balcony style. When I pushed the gore flat against my sternum, the cups fit beautifully, so I believe the ill fit was purely due to the back size being too small. Do bear in mind though, that this bra is not technically designed to be an all-day-support bra. It was predictably tight, but I was still able to fasten it alone (with a little discomfort throughout the day). My Mitchell brothers are quite close together naturally, so I often opt for plunge styles. This is a very definite balcony bra, with the gore designed to be closely in line with the bra straps, more of a horizontal line than a sweetheart. I felt it did separate my twins a little too much, but this is just my personal preference of fit getting in the way. Overall, the bra still looked incredibly sexy, and I had absolutely no shame about my nipples showing. I’m a strong supporter of the ideals of the #freethenipple campaign, and mine weren’t the only pair showing that day. I also felt comfortable and free due to the atmosphere of the event, which was both empowering and reassuring.
The one thing I wasn’t quite comfortable with wearing on the day were the matching bumless briefs that Hannah graciously sent with the bra. It wasn’t actually the ‘bumless’ part that I had a problem with, it was the fact these were low-rise briefs! They created muffin tops that I didn’t know I had, and literally framed my belly. If these had been high-waisted with the same bumless feature and mesh detailing, I feel the risqué, vintage theme of the set would have been amplified. I personally could only feel comfortable in them by either wearing a chemise over the set (as above), or wearing my high waist vintage girdle over the top (in the below second pic):
I had been asked to bring a nude bra, nude thong and nude stockings in preparation for modelling, depending on what was assigned to us by the brands. As hungry-bum syndrome is already a hazard with having a curvy posterior, I don’t normally do thongs. I found some gorgeous light control brazilian briefs in the M&S, which showed just enough bum but also felt comfortable and flattering as they were high-waisted (yes! high-waisted!) . I bought a couple of these in nude and black, perfect for any underwear panic over the weekend. I teamed the Peek-A-Boo bra with the black brazilians, yet with the purple and black brocade corset I feared things were looking a little gothic. I counteracted this with nude hold-ups. After cooling down my fellow models backstage with my trusty handbag fan, I ended up walking on stage with it too! I performed my walk buzzing off the adrenaline, teasing the audience and utilising my prop (and I’m not going to lie, the bra got a lot more attention than the corset!). I was lucky enough to walk in the same show as Oriana Criscuolo and Didi Curv’e, both gorgeous body-positive burlesque performers. A lot of burlesque networking happens online, so it was lovely to share a minute with these ladies in the flesh (even though we felt like we were in a sauna of stress!). After the catwalk show, I styled the bra with a shapewear mesh bodysuit by Magisculpt, originally from Simply Be but sadly no longer available. I ran up to the VIP section for a quick photo before I teamed this combo with my red full circle scuba skirt from Closet (and stepped outside for some well needed fresh air!):
I felt this look teamed ‘fetish’ with ‘housewife’, and suited me perfectly. Flat shoes were a must for walking around for the rest of the day, as a morning of modelling in very high heels left me crippled. The event took place in the stunning Victoria Warehouse, and the hard concrete floors left no support for people tottering around in all forms of ridiculous shoes. I chucked on my faithful New Look flats and spent the rest of the day in comfort, enjoying the sights and sounds of Sexhibition 2016 Saturday.
Finally, as the building was becoming humid and unbearable, I removed my stockings and opted for my trusty Bandelettes (the more glamorous choice in anti-chafing wear). They resemble the wide lace band you can get on hold-ups, with double the amount of elastic gum that secures them to your thighs. These little bad boys sit exactly where you need them to, they don’t move unless you want them to, and they look kinda sexy! I have them in black and nude, but they also come in red and white:
I usually wear some form of comfort shorts, but that would have added another layer I could not cope with!
Would you dare to bare the nipple?
How difficult has your experience been finding tights/stockings that truly fit?
And how have your experiences been with Curvy Kate?
Look out for my Sexhibition Sunday review, featuring Playful Promises!