I don’t remember when I first found out about vintage-inspired lingerie brand Mal Amora but it was definitely on Instagram, as I pretty much live there these days, and it was most likely when Karolina Laskowska shared a photo of a custom set back in January. I was excited to discover that, not only does the brand’s lingerie have a gorgeous retro aesthetic, which I love, but they’re also LGBTQ+ friendly with a whole page on their website devoted to explaining what this means. So when Mal Amora ran a Valentine’s giveaway I entered straight away (but wasn’t hopeful as I rarely win anything), and enjoyed sharing the beautiful vintage styled prettiness in my stories. Then, I got a notification that I’d been tagged in a post… I had won a full set of beautiful Valentina lingerie!
I messaged the designer, Mollie, to claim my prize and she confirmed what I’d won – a Valentina Bonbon Bandeau, XOXO 8-strap suspender, and a Valentina thong. She asked for my usual bra and dress size, plus a few measurements and anything else that might help with the fit, before getting to work cutting and sewing my set. All garments in the Mal Amora online boutique are made to order, and it was nice to see updates on the progress of my set on Instagram. However, I have to admit to being a little unsure of how it would look on me. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of non-wired bras because I do like a lot of uplift, and I haven’t worn a thong in years. I needn’t have worried though, as Mollie really knows what she’s doing!
When the set arrived I had so much fun unwrapping it. Everything was beautifully packaged in branded tissue paper, and the ribbon wrapped box also contained a couple of pretty postcards and a handwritten note. Seems like such a small detail, but it really brings it home that your lingerie has been designed and made by the person who posted it to you. The red, pink and burgundy colours mix perfectly to create a beautifully romantic aesthetic and I was completely enthralled by this set even before trying it on.
I usually wear a 32F bra, and had begun to believe that an underwire was an essential part of providing support and uplift for a full bust, because any non-wired bra I’ve tried recently has left me looking a little saggier than I’d like. It turns out, this is all down to the choice of fabrics and the construction methods. Of course, I knew this in theory as bra makers in the 1940s and 50s were used to creating uplift without wires (I didn’t get nicknamed Master of Bras for nothing!), but have never been able to try it out for myself as most vintage bras are just too small in the cups for me. Thankfully, Mollie is also a fan of vintage construction as well as styling.
The Mal Amora Valentina bandeau bra gives a wonderful vintage silhouette using light foam and clever construction. Short lightweight boning in the centre front and sides help the bra to keep its shape when worn, and the cup seams are covered in velvet which is an authentic vintage detail that my boobs very much appreciated! The fit was spot on for me and I was very impressed with how comfortable the bra is. The lightweight fabrics are cut perfectly for a snug fit that seems somehow effortless. I’m so used to pretty bras being all about the look that I was quite blown away by the feel of this one. And the shape! How many non-wired bras can give pure vintage pin-up glamour to anything above a D cup?
Another detail I like is the straps are fully adjustable. Many pretty styles have shoulder straps that are only adjustable via a short section at the back, with the front of the strap being made from or covered in a decorative non-stretch fabric. The straps on this bra have a huge amount of adjustment, meaning that the style would work on shortwaisted folks like me, and also those who are much longer in the body. Despite its pretty pin-up aesthetic, I’d be tempted to try this bra out as an everyday style, to see how it looks under clothing and how it feels after a whole day of wear. I was sent a custom size, so it’s definitely worth dropping Mollie a message if you’re not sure of which size to order and want to ensure a perfect fit.
I needn’t have worried about the set coming with a thong either. The high waisted front gives the sort of coverage that I like, and the cute ruffles on the hips add an adorable little bit of softness to the silhouette. The centre back has an adjustable fastening which means that not only are they easy to put on, but you can ensure that the waist has a good fit (designers for Curvy Kate’s brand Scantilly really need to take note of this!). I was sent a size M in both the thong and the suspender belt and have to admit that I was worried, as I was pulling it up, that the thong wouldn’t fit. I think that’s probably because I’m used to wearing very stretchy briefs though, as the thong was fine once I’d carefully pulled it past the widest part of my hips.
My waist is 11 inches smaller than my hips so the adjustable fastening was very useful to ensure that everything looked smooth under the suspender belt. The straps on this are made from narrow elastic, like the bra straps, which I am usually a little wary of as they never seem like they’ll be secure enough. However, Mollie has managed to ensure that you will be able to keep your seams straight by adding eight of these straps, which also rather delightfully echoes the strap detailing on the bra. This elastic is all hand dyed, so care must be taken when washing as there will be a bit of colour leakage, but who wouldn’t be very carefully hand-washing this stunning set anyway? It’s definitely a set to treasure.