Posts Tagged ‘Harvard Square’
On April 30th 2011 Adam and I were lucky enough to take a flight over Boston in a helicopter from Hanscom airfield in Bedford MA. We had a Groupon with East Coast Aero Club. It was a beautiful day and we really enjoyed the trip – in fact we’re thinking of taking my parents up as a Christmas present when they come over in November. You got to see everything from the air in detail, much better than squashing yourself up at a plane’s porthole window. In truth I was surprised by how amazed I was. Compared with being in a Cessna 172 a helicopter is an altogether smoother and some might say more sophisticated ride . Enjoy the photos anyway!
Where do you get your underwear? Gotta get your Calvins? DKNY? Something from France or Italy, Huit or Simone Perele? Or just plain cheap n’ cheerful? As a model I have stacks of lacey underwear, most of which I only use for shoots – plain t-shirt and strapless bras being more suited to my personal wardrobe. I used to buy a lot from ebay but got sick of the clothing not being up to the quality advertised. Also, a most embarrassing moment with a photographer put me off shopping for bras without first trying them on – ‘So when are you going to put on a bra that actually fits you?’ He said. All of which leads me to the point that if you’re a gal who cares about the underwear she wears, find yourself a good lingerie boutique and stick with them. My local store in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA, is Forty Winks.
I discovered Forty Winks serendipitously. I had an appointment in Harvard Square one afternoon early last year. I had a shoot the following day and needed a couple of new sets of lingerie. I was exhausted after a grueling week and couldn’t face trekking over to the department stores in Boston, so I had been looking around the boutiques in Harvard Square. There was nothing in them that I could honestly say could feature in the shoot. In a complete funk I was walking up Mount Auburn Street when I noticed a bra and panties set on a mannequin in the window of a shop that had previously been a clothing store. I ran over and there, newly opened, was Forty Winks. Within half an hour they had sorted me out with two perfect sets of lingerie.
The owners, of Forty Winks, Meredith and Rachel, are passionate about providing their clientèle with both sexy and practical underwear and lounge-wear along with expert bra-fitting advice. As I was waiting for them they were helping a young teenage girl and her older friend select a bra that fitted correctly, was stylish, helped minimise and lift a heavy chest, and most important of all, made her feel great.
Rachel and Meredith were being helpful, friendly and informative in a non-pushy way. The girl being fitted came out of the changing rooms in tears at how happy she was with what they had helped her pick out. She had previously had her chest measured in a department store, and, shown the bras that were ‘for her’, had left the store in tears of a sadder kind. Forty Winks helped her to a bra that made her feel great. She was so happy. Her friend was so happy. I was impressed.
That’s not all that impressed me. Whilst I waited I was struck by how bright and airy the store was, and how beautifully laid out. Natural light streamed through the large windows. I felt that I was in my own lingerie closet – so far away from the hot, windowless experience of the department store with its beige and artificial lights. They helped me select my lingerie and then, as there was no one else in the store, we sat down for a chat. I had known both girls when they worked at Mint Julep, a great little boutique on Church Street in Harvard Square and I was curious about their new start. We sat on the gorgeous yellow sofa to discuss what trends we were going to see in our lingerie over the coming season.
The girls were buzzing with excitement about the new lingerie lines they had seen at the fashion shows in NYC, a favorite being Brulée. The number of new lines is also great news for the industry. In terms of material, there were lots of silks on display in a great variety of forms. They saw lots of tap shorts and camis, beautiful rompers and teddies. And colours? They were all romantic – blacks, pinks and creams, mint green and gold. There was an emphasis on the balconette style bras and demi-cups – even for the larger busted lady – the business having got so much better in recent years in making these styles suit. Meredith and Rachel pointed out that this year we’re going to see lower backs on chemises and a general theme of real elegance throughout.
They also gave me the lowdown on some bra-buying basics. First of all, you pay for quality – the more expensive the bra, generally speaking (the exception being ‘bridal’ wear – see below), the better the materials, the better it’s made (it won’t pill, the elastic will last longer), the better it will fit you and the longer it will last. You’re also usually paying for a garment that’s made in Italy or France and is not mass-produced in China, which in and of itself tends to ensure a better quality garment and a more attractive and more comfortable design.
They both said that the advice they give to prospective brides, regarding their daytime wedding-day underwear, is to wear what is comfortable and makes them and their gown look the best possible. They really encourage prospective brides not to worry about how great you look underneath your dress because if you’re bothered by it you can always change into something else before you go to bed… . ‘It’s hard to wear something that looks great on you as underwear under your dress if you are in the ‘solutions’ market.’ Rachel says. ‘There are not really many ‘solutions’ that are sexy. The answer for those who are bothered is to change into something else on your wedding night.’
The girls went on to say that in their experience most brides recalled that they crashed out on their wedding nights and were too tired and perhaps a little too worse for wear (or their grooms were ) to make any kind of a romantic show. They also said that the brides who do make something of their wedding night tend to take a shower after all their work on the dance floor and then change into whatever sexy lingerie they have purchased for the occasion. But these brides tend to be in the minority, the majority being of the ‘crashing after the party’ variety .
Which brings me to the $64,000 question (quite literally) – is bridal lingerie marked up in price? ‘Oh, definitely’ they both nod. ‘This is another reason we encourage brides to think perhaps of buying lingerie for the honeymoon, rather than blowing their entire budget on their wedding night wear. Of course if a bride wants to do that, then great! We can help! But for those on perhaps a more modest budget, or for those just wanting value for money, we like to think we can offer great advice and lingerie for their honeymoon days (and nights!) too.’
And what about those looking for something for a bridal shower or a Bachelorette Party? Meredith and Rachel laughed, ‘We’re all about moving away from the blue and the white. Of course we have the blue and the white… but we’re all about trying to do things a little differently… . Why not go for a piece in a different colour such as the beautiful pinks or creams that are in season just now? There are so many great styles and shapes and colours it’s a shame to stick with blue and white just because, well, just because. Perhaps a different colour might suit your bride more? And besides, different colours are so much more fun!’
Finally, I asked the girls what made them choose to sell underwear – was it something they were always passionate about? They admit they were not, but that they are now! They both got very excited as they told me about sizing and about how they want to provide a different experience for the customer. They explained how in their store they didn’t want people to be overwhelmed by choice but rather have a great selection laid out ready for them. They feel there’s been a movement away from Victoria’s Secret in recent years, where people can feel rushed into buying and where the quality, for the price, can be poor, but that people lack anywhere else to go – other than, perhaps, Calvin Klein. There’s also been a move away from the ‘enhancement’ bras that seemed to swamp the market and I could see from what was in stock that Forty Winks definitely stocks across the board (uhum, chest) – lots of different options from non-padded to Lycra sport to Nubra (the girls say they sell out of Nubras once a week) to the sew-in do-it-yourself cups that they’ve just started to carry.
They finish up by explaining to me some of my own bra fitting issues and how I could be four different sizes, all depending on the nature of my bra – whether it’s padded, non-padded or whether it’s lace (which is stretchier) or cotton or a blend. Different styles and different brands mean I may need to wear a different size. The most important thing they say is to make sure the band fits – so, get your 32″, 34″, 36″ right and then go up or down by cup to get a perfect fit, bearing in mind that if a 34A is too small but a 34B is too big, then this is not the bra for you. They also explain how someone can be a 34A or a 32B in a padded bra or a 34B or a 32C if it’s non-padded, depending on the bra.
As I am leaving the store, the older friend of the girl whom Meredith and Rachel helped before comes back in to gush an effusive thank you. ‘If I were a member I’d leave you an excellent review on Yelp,’ she said. ‘Thank you so, so much, she’s really so happy. You’ve made her day.’ That’s what I mean about finding a great boutique, and sticking with them