2010 Update: Bratique Helene is now named Carissa Rose.
A few weeks ago, the lovely Carissa Brown of Bratique Helene contacted me. Turns out, she reads Corporette too, and had seen a post there on how to dress professionally if you are busty. Both Carissa and I had left comments on the post and that’s how she found me. Carissa, you see, has a *fabulous* business in Dallas, TX, that she is growing and nurturing – it’s called Bratique Helene, and it’s named in honor of her mother, Helene, who passed in 2007 (that’s Carissa and Helene on the picture above)
Carissa and her mom shared what several women also have – passing D cup territory early in their lives, and always having trouble finding fitted shirts that fit well. Carissa writes on her website:
Helene, a fashion design major in college, made Carissa sketch clothing designs that she then would make for her daughter. Carissa’s mom taught her the importance of darting and seaming to accommodate the bust. Helene was herself a D+ but never wanted to admit her bust-line was so big, thus she squeezed herself into both bras & shirts that didn’t fit, which is why Carissa became a bra aficionado and values a women’s endowment as a blessing, not a curse.
I could relate to both Helene and Carissa, having passed D cup territory when I was in college. Over the years, I have found really well-fitting bras but shirts have always been an issue. That’s why, when Carissa emailed me about her shirts that fit a full cup (defined as a narrow rib cage (28-40 back size) with a DD+ cup size, otherwise a misses sized body, but with a bust-line that doesn’t fit button-up shirts), I was immediately interested, especially when I read more on her website. Each size has two sub-sizes – Well Endowed and Really Endowed.
Carissa very kindly gifted me a with a white long-sleeved shirt (right, below) and a blue wrap shirt (left) for me to tell you all about. She is a master at sizing – I am between sizes, and based on my measurements, she suggested I get the white shirt in a smaller size than the blue wrap shirt and both fit perfectly.
First – the design. If you have ever found yourself wishing for shirts with more material across the bust, you have to order one of these shirts (or, if you are lucky enough to live near Carissa in Dallas, you should make an appointment with her, more on that below). The extra material is there, but is darted in such a way as to give the extra space AND be very flattering and fitted. The important part is that the extra material is only where it needs to be, across the bustline, which, combined with the design, works perfectly. I can’t tell you how many compliments I got when I wore both shirts.
Second – the shirts – the blue color is gorgeous, and the three quarters sleeves make it a versatile, year-round shirt – I have worn it to work, to an afternoon weekend event, out to dinner – it’s just beautiful, and the material is wonderful quality. The same goes for the white shirt. They are versatile and can be worn to work or for fun. Carissa’s favorite shirt is the white shirt, and I can see why – it really is a go-anywhere shirt.
Third – cleaning and rewearing them – these shirts really held up well. The blue one came back from the drycleaners in perfect shape and did not shrink or discolor in any way, and I washed and ironed the white one myself with great results. I have since worn them again, and they hold up just as well as new – they are truly tailored shirts that way.
And finally – Carissa herself. She’s wonderful and so excited about her products – it just jumps out of her emails and her website and her blog and, if you click here, you can watch a video of her discussing her philosophy and her products. She has great advice on her blog and in her video on bras and camisoles and fit and, of course, information on her shirts.
Obviously you can order via the Bratique Helene website, and Carissa is super responsive over email, but if you are in Dallas, you could shop in person, as Bratique Helene offers in-person sales. Carissa runs Bratique Helene out of her home, but also has trunk shows and will sometimes meet clients at alternate locations, like their offices.
The website went live in November 2008, which was the same month as their first trunk show. I asked Carissa whether she would ever expand and/or offer her line through department stores. I have to say I love her very personal approach to the products and her story, and her answer really reflects that:
We’ve been approached by lingerie boutiques to wholesale our product, but honestly we can offer the consumer a greater value by selling direct. And as you know, its my passion so we like to tell the story behind the line and we have a better chance of doing that by selling directly to the consumer…My longterm vision for BH is a chain of concept stores for the full bust woman: D/DD+ cup lingerie, swim and our clothing line.
I love how Carissa’s focus is on providing better value to the consumer but also being able to share her story. If you have any interest in her products, or know someone who might, I encourage you to check out her website. One last thing – because I know I have international readers – Bratique Helene ships to Canada and Carissa said for other international orders it’s always best to email first. When she gets inquiries from Europe, she refers them to Bravissimo, as they are located in the UK and are world-wide shippers with a similar product line. All pictures and graphics from Carissa Brown and Bratique Helene.
General Disclosures & Disclaimers