Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Recent developments... And spam

A warm hello to everyone. I know it's been an awfully long time since I last posted an article. Some of you might have felt disillusioned, which is understandable. Truth is, this is a completely amateur blog; this means that I'm in no way affiliated with any company. I just like to wear microkinis, I buy them myself, wear them and write about it. I also write, whenever I feel like it, about vacation destinations I've visited.

Problem is, I haven't really felt like posting much lately. There have been many things going on in my real life that kept me preoccupied, so I had no time to blog (not to mention that I had almost lost my interest in blogging). No, I'm not going to tell you about my real life. It's no one's business anyway.

However, there have been some things I've noticed: a few swimwear companies went the way of the dodo; also, some companies chose to use comment spam software to advertise their websites. This is a disgusting practice. They know who they are. If they do it again, I'll reveal the companies' identities. And we all know that only frauds use spam for their marketing...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Alphamoda "Kythnos" and "Santorini" microkini bottoms

I know it's been a terribly long time since I last posted anything, but I don't buy tons of new swimwear everyday. Anyway, today I'll write a review of two new microkinis I bought. They are the Alphamoda "Kythnos" and "Santorini" bikini bottoms. Usually, I buy a complete set consisting of a top and at least one matching bottom. However, this time I decided to challenge myself a bit and go for bottoms only, so that I'd be topless during my entire stay on the beach, without having the option to wear a top.

Alphamoda, which makes swimwear both for men and women, does not make bikini sets in which you get a package top and bottom deal, but, instead, lets you mix and match. Of course, this means that:

  • You can buy either just the top or just the bottom or both.
  • You can mix and match the top and bottom as you see fit.
They have organized their women's range in four distinct lines:
  • "Classic" - this is a collection of tops and bottoms that are generally skimpier than most of the suits you'll find in most lingerie/swimwear stores. Basically, they are sexier renditions of well-known and loved styles.
  • "Hot" - skimpier than the "Classic" ones, some are well-established designs (such as the "Kythnos" I'm reviewing in this post, which, aided by the seam down the middle of its front, gives a camel toe effect that many people, including me, find very sexy) and includes what is Alphamoda's most original and unique design so far (and one of my personal favorites), the "Antiparos".
  • "Extreme" - Now these are seriously skimpy. For those who only know Wicked Weasel, most of these suits are seriously in the same league as the famed "Microminimus": very, very narrow, covering only the barest of the bare essentials. The most well-known design of this range is the "Halki", which I intend to purchase this summer.
  • "OUTline" - This is Alphamoda's response to the trend for "fabric-less" or "single-string" ladies' swimsuits that started a few years ago by Double Take MicroWear, a trend that was also followed at around the same time by a few other well-known companies. These swimsuits are just straps and rings, nothing else; they provide no cover whatsoever and, in my eyes at least, wearing them seems pointless, except for those very special moments on a deserted beach with your significant other. The various "exposure" swimsuits for men made by a few companies such as Koala and Dubio Bikinis can be seen as the male counterparts; Alphamoda, however, seems to have decided not to mirror this collection in its men's swimwear section.
As you can see by browsing on the website, Alphamoda uses names of Greek islands to name its swimsuits. Now, I mentioned earlier that you get to mix and match your bikini bottom and bikini top to suit your taste. The choices don't end here, though: for bikini bottoms, you get to choose whether the straps will be tie-side or fixed, the color of the straps and the backstyle. Alphamoda offers 8 different backstyles, although which of these are available for each design depends on the line in which it belongs and its own nature. It would be, of course, illogical to specify a "Symi" with a "Rio" back! Choices common in both tops and bottoms are the size (thankfully, because I never liked the "one size fits all" policy adopted even by some of the most well-known purveyors out there), the ring type (you can choose between metal and plastic rings, which is the only option for which you will be charged extra: 0.80 euro), the color of the fabric and the color of the straps. And if you so wish, you can even email them to request unlisted options as well, such as straps taken from a different size than the rest of the suit or threads of a different color to the fabric, to add some contrast. Spoilt for choice, aren't we? Please note that all the swimsuits are unlined, as this generally provides somewhat better fit. This, however, means that some colors (most notably, white) can get very sheer when wet. Perhaps some people would like to have lining in their suits.

The microkini bottoms I bought are:
  • A "Kythnos" in shiny black, with matching tie-side straps, a "triangle" back and metal rings
  • A "Santorini" in shiny red, with shiny black tie-side straps, black stitching, a "triangle" back and metal rings
Once again, the different stitching color is a no-cost option, while the total price for the two microkinis was (without shipping costs) €24.20 ($34.02 at the time of writing). Shipping costs with Alphamoda range (for international orders) from €4.90 ($6.90) for regular air mail to €7.60 ($10.68 - always at the time of writing). I used XE.com for the currency conversions. I am posting a few photos of these microkinis, so that you can see what they're like. Unfortunately, I'll need to invest in a proper digital camera, since the iPhone's built-in camera is, well, seriously below par and the colors are somewhat off.

Anyway, here they are (you can click on them to see the full-size versions):

"Kythnos" - all of it


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"Kythnos" back close-up


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"Kythnos" front top close-up


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"Kythnos" strap and ring close-up


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"Kythnos" inner stitchwork close-up (central seam and front/back joint)


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"Kythnos" inner stitchwork close-up (side and central seam)



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"Kythnos" inner stitchwork close-up - back


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"Santorini" - all of it


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"Santorini" front close-up


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"Santorini" back close-up"



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"Santorini" side and ring close-up




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"Santorini" inner stitchwork close-up (back/front joint)


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"Santorini" inner stitchwork close-up - back


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It's a real pity that the iPhone's camera sucks so hard when photographing close-ups. The stitchwork on Alphamoda's suits is generally quite uniform, with (usually) equal spacing and very solid and sturdy. Unlike some manufacturers I've bought from (and which shall remain nameless), Alphamoda uses thread of the same material as its fabrics, to ensure that the stitching will have the necessary elasticity and will not get ripped when you stretch it. So as my previous experience with Alphamoda has proven, I can expect these suits to withstand regular use on the beach and in the seawater. Also I've noticed that the shiny colors (especially the notoriously problematic red) are less prone to fading than the "normal" ones. Not that you'd have reasons to expect serious issues with fading; Alphamoda uses better-quality fabrics than most other manufacturers around (Italian instead of Chinese), so they know what they're doing. Of course, this means that their profit margin is smaller, but the product we get is better. The fit of the suits is excellent and they stay put, no matter what, and feel great on my body - as has been the case with all the swimwear I've bought so far from Alphamoda. Also, as is always the case with Alphamoda's microkinis, these ones are unlined (as I'm sure you can see in the photos). Quality-wise, they're every bit as good as anything I've bought for five, six, or even ten times the same price from high street shops. They're just far skimpier and custom-made.

Then, why haven't Alphamoda made more of an impact on the market, with a greater variety of designs, colors, fabrics and more sales? Well, let's face it: Alphamoda is a one-person outfit, run exclusively by one woman, with a little help from her husband. Its profit margin is about 30-40%, as opposed to the 90% some other makers achieve with outsourcing to China or other such countries and using dirt-cheap Chinese materials. Also, all the suits are exclusively handmade and this is time-consuming. Furthermore, Alphamoda doesn't have the resources to promote its products as heavily as some other, more prominent manufacturers; and it most certainly doesn't have an ex-rock star as its owner (and we all understand how beneficial stardom can be, when it comes to having contacts in the Press and promoting your brand). It's just a small outfit, making a nice product for a rather small clientele.

Verdict: Once again, Alphamoda delivers the goods with great quality and fast, reliable and friendly service.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Thonging V Social Hypocrisy... Once again

On this blog, I have oftentimes written in defense of thonging for both men and women and have been quite outspoken in saying that yes, I do like to see a confident, good-looking man in a thong. I have also said (and, at the very least, tried to back up my words) that I don't think thonging can be justifiably associated with promiscuity or homosexuality.

Here in Greece, I have a friend nicknamed "The Heretic". He's the one who told me, years ago, that I should actually gather the nerve to wear a thong on the beach. He's actually the one who got me my first thong; it was a white Alphamoda "Sifnos" with black tie-side straps and a "triangle" back, accompanied by a matching Alphamoda "Naxos" top. I still have that set, nearly 7 years later, and am planning to take it out on the beach once again this summer. So yes, I owe my thonging to him and I'm glad I have a friend intelligent, mature and secure enough to encourage me to wear thongs and help me find the confidence I needed to get others to accept and respect my choice.

I did notice that, this April, he had also written an article on thonging and human hypocrisy and insecurity. For those of you who can read and understand Greek (and, even better, are familiar with modern Greek history and Greek pop culture references), here it is. He made a few very valid points and there are many similarities in our views. Then, I decided to take the stand and talk about the hypocritical "thongs are gay" and "thongs are for sluts" attitude. I'm going to revisit this one; this time, though, I'm going to talk about how things are here in Greece. In various internet forums and online communities, Greece is presented as a thonger's paradise. Indeed, we don't have any specific legislation against thonging. There is, sadly, an outdated law that prohibits girls older than 9 years of age to go topless, but no one bothers to enforce it, because Greece lives from tourism and common sense prevails when it comes to such matters. Actually, the only beach where toplessness is explicitly prohibited is the one of the village Loutro in the Cretan south.

So, is Greece the place for someone to go topless or in a thong or in a microkini? Yes and no. First of all, if you're a foreigner visiting Greece, no one will tell you a thing here, regardless of what you wear on the beach, although I'm not sure wearing a "straps only" microkini like "The String" from Double Take or the similar designs from Dubio Bikinis, Wicked Temptations, Alphamoda, The-Bikini and others. Likewise, for the men, I highly doubt anyone will appreciate an overt display of someone's erection in some of the most extreme suits from Dubio, Tendenze or Koala. But ordinary thongs and g-strings usually don't even cause any eyebrows to be raised, unless the wearer is VERY good-looking or VERY ugly.

This, however, begs the question:

Since Greece is, obviously, a thonger's paradise, why is it that Greeks don't thong on the beach?

The answer is twofold and it has much to do with my previous article:

  • There's an awful lot of hypocrisy, prejudice and gossip going on in Greece ("thonging is gay"/"thonging is the sign of the slut")
  • People are scared to death of others' gossip
Sure enough, a few days after I posted my previous article, I received two comments from a Greek user for moderation. This Greek user is part of the writing team of a ridiculous blog that only posts spiteful comments full of expletives. That moron went as far as to call me a fascist. Unfortunately, the Greek society is terribly immature and full of petty gossip-mongers who won't hesitate to start talking trash behind your back if you don't fit what they want you to fit. It has everything to do with the "morals" taught to us ever since we were kids. We've been taught all those ridiculous notions of "morality" about how showing our body is a sin, how our body IS sinful, dirty, horrible, disgusting etc. These things have been ingrained in people's minds - men's minds and women's minds.

I know many women who look fantastic, yet they don't show any "pink", because they are ashamed. They are not ashamed of their appearance, but their very feminine nature - and, when talking to them, the conclusion we all reached was that a bashful upbringing (combined with the poison named religion) played an incredibly large part in all this.

And even worse, we have the gossip-mongers. Gossip here, gossip there, gossip left, right and center. "Oh, did you see Mary? What a slut! She wore a thong on the beach yesterday! The whore's trying to steal our men!". And as for men... The poor chaps don't stand a chance. The very moment they'll show up on the beach in a thong, they'll be labeled as "fruitcakes", "pansies", "doorknob-polishers", "fags" etc.

So, even if there's no law here that prohibits thonging, there's all this pressure from a crowd plagued with the diseases of ignorance, hate, jealousy and hypocrisy - Does this sound enough to deter most people from going to the beach in a thong? So, you won't easily see Greeks wearing thongs to their nearby beaches, with the following two exceptions:
  • Those living in Athens or Thessaloniki. These cities are large enough to ensure that you won't easily run into someone you know on a nearby beach.
  • When someone goes on vacation on an island away from his usual social circle.
To show just how powerful this complex of gossip and hypocrisy is, I'll have to tell you that almost none of my friends go topless on the beach. They're too scared of what other people will say - their neighbors, their neighbors' neighbors, their neighbors' neighbors' friends, etc. Add to this some ridiculous comments I've read in fashion magazines about how thongs are "slutty" and a "must avoid" kind of swimwear...

Then again, maybe some companies actually exploit the negative connotations and promote them in order to appeal to a niche clientele? I've looked at Koala Swimwear's website (for example) in the past and the way it conducts its marketing does absolutely nothing to dissolve the anti-thong myths; what's really appalling is the fact that, although everyone knows it, no one seems to be willing to step up to the plate and say that this kind of marketing (i.e. promoting a range of swimwear strictly as clothing for homosexual play) doesn't help make thongs more socially acceptable. And I've been told by "oldtimers" in the related forums that there was a time when you couldn't even voice such a concern without risking being flamed even by forum moderators and administrators.

It seems to me that we have our work cut out for us, if we're going to try and make thongs appeal to a wider audience... At least, the owner of the Thong Wearers Message Board does his best. Some others... Not.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

"Thongs are gay" and "thongs are for sluts" - Says who?

One of the most ignorant and idiotic remarks that keep popping up all over the internet is the claim that thongs are only suitable for gay men or for slutty women. In fact, it's practically become an almost dogma in almost all societies - no one will ever bother to give you any reason why it is so; they just say "oh come on, they just are". I'm not going to leave this bullshit uncontested, now that I've started writing again, after a really long hiatus.

Let me tackle the "thongs are for sluts" bit first. I usually hear it from the following two categories of people:

  1. Hypocritical men
  2. Uptight and ultra-conservative women
Why am I talking about "hypocritical men"? Well, all those men who go out and say that "thongs are for sluts" contradict themselves in that they don't mind their women wearing thongs as underwear. Furthermore, while these "macho" (see closet gay) idiots would rather kill their wife/girlfriend/sister/cousin/daughter if she dared wear a thong on the beach, they enjoy seeing other people's wives/girlfriends/sisters/cousins/daughters wearing thongs on the beach. The exact same applies to toplessness/topfreedom (personally, I almost always go topfree on the beach).

They only hate thong swimwear on their women, because swimwear is shown in public and, because it is shown in public, they feel threatened: they feel that their prized possession will be looked at, admired and their ownership of said woman - be it their wife, girlfriend, sister, daughter or cousin, will be contested. They act a lot like the Gollum in "Lord Of The Rings". I could very easily write an essay about how this stems from the misogynism and fear of women that monotheist religions and patriarchal societies have instilled in men, but it'd make this post impossibly long and I'm not really into fending off religious nuts and other hatemongering idiots with the IQ of a doorknob.

Now, let's see what's wrong with the uptight women. We live in patriarchal societies and religion teaches us that our bodies are sinful, dirty and disgusting. Religion (at least the monotheist ones) teach us that Evil comes from women, that women are the scum of the earth etc - at least, that's what the Old Testament says, that's what the Muslim religion says, that's what the Fathers of the Christian churches agree to. When all this misogynist propaganda (which is so extreme that one could easily infer that its creators are actually flaming homosexuals). It's really twisted and perverse, but women, who are, of course, brought up on all this bullshit, become - as future and present mothers - the Keepers of the Social Status Quo: thus, they perpetuate these ideas and raise their sons and daughters according to them. And what's worse, they live their lives hating themselves, hating their own feminine nature, their bodies, their sexuality, their desires, their very existence. Also, add to this the woman's fear of competition from other women in the love scene. Schizophrenic, no?

Obviously, a woman who decides to go against this ridiculous grain and don a thong on the beach - and even go topless - has to gather an awful lot of nerve and needs mountains of self-esteem. One of my friends would say she'd need to have an ego the size of the Eiffel Tower to ignore all these stupid prejudices.

But I think men are in far greater trouble in this department than women. I've already written that I love seeing nicely-shaped men in thongs, g-strings, microkinis, even exposure suits like the extreme swimsuits made by Dubio Bikinis. In that previous post, I had already gone some way to rebuking the whole "thongs are for fags" myth.

Now, let's face it, thongs are an evolution of the primitive loincloth and, well, thong swimwear for men has been around for pretty much as long as its female equivalent. Yet, pretty much like the "thongs are for sluts", there's this "thongs are for fags" myth that keeps on being reproduced all over the place, not unlike the "Hellenic Quest" hoax propagated by nationalists and idiots in Greece who take it at face value, although it's utter nonsense. Thongs are considered "gay-only" swimwear; even Speedos are considered gay by many and I've even heard that short, tight shorts-style swimsuits on men are the sign of "metrosexual" people.

So, if you want to be seen as a real heterosexual male, you have to wear dork shorts. I hate those. First of all, when I see a good-looking guy, I want to see as much of him as possible. Does that make me a slut? I don't care. Second, dork shorts are downright dangerous to swim in. The water gathering inside them makes them act as brake-chutes and impede swimming. They might be OK if you need something with pockets, but they're not swimwear. Who on earth decided that these britches should become "swimwear" is beyond me. Whoever it is, though, he'd better commit seppuku. Dork shorts look like crap on good-looking men and don't do much to flatter ugly ones.

But how did skimpier swimsuits for men end up being considered "gay"? Well, in the '60s, '70s and even the '80s, swimwear just plain got skimpier - both men's and women's. Those who could strut their stuff in those new skimpy suits did; they were confident, attractive men and women, with really good physique - and many of them were highly successful with the opposite sex. But it wasn't long until really ugly men started wearing those skimpy suits, thinking - the poor fools - that all they had to do was reveal as much of their bodies as possible. They never thought that what turned women on about the men originally wearing the skimpier suits was that they were fit and good-looking and that the skimpy swimwear was just an accessory to an already nice package.

As more and more ugly men started wearing skimpy swimwear hoping to score, many women eventually started finding skimpy swimwear on men less and less attractive; those unfit, hairy, fat slobs managed - in their desperation - to ruin Speedos and thongs for everyone. Nowadays, when most women think of guys wearing thongs, they're not going to think of a good-looking and well-groomed piece of beefcake in a thong; instead, they'll think of either a guy who's into guys (and I'll talk about that a bit further on down this post) or a big, fat, hairy slob with a rather dubious idea of personal hygiene.

But how did the gay thing get into the equation?

Let's face it, gay men happen to be generally more careful about their appearance than straight ones. Many of them are very fit and very well-groomed; why do you think you see teenage girls going "squeeee" over clearly gay pop stars? They look good. And so, since many gay guys look good, it's only natural that these guys will look good in thongs, g-strings and microkinis. They're not your typical fat, hair-shirted, hairy-backed relics of the Homo habilis era, wearing a swimsuit that doesn't fit at all and drooling all over the place as they ogle at everything that looks like a female primate. Hence, skimpier swimwear became acceptable for the - generally elegant - gay men, but a complete "no-no" for the straight...

So, are thongs indeed gay?

Don't be silly! I know quite a good deal of gay men and they wear just about any kind of swimwear you can imagine: dork shorts, short shorts, Speedos... In fact, they don't really go for the skimpier styles as much as you'd think - and when they do, they'll more likely be Speedos than thongs. I've seen, of course, fit and attractive gay men wear thongs and microkinis and have no problem with it. They look good in them and, since they have the confidence to wear them, I'm glad they do.

And I know some straight men who actually do wear thongs. My boyfriend does. He's fit, handsome and very confident about his body, his sexuality and his relationship with me - we go micro or nude together and, just as most guys find that an attractive woman's "WOW factor" increases exponentially when she struts her stuff in a thong, a g-string or a microkini, I find my boyfriend becomes infinitely hotter in a microkini - and I do think good-looking men look even better in microkinis.

I also happen to know a few straight male thongers. Those from Greece are usually "closet thongers" who only thong on beaches where seeing someone they know is unlikely (for fear of all that stupid, prejudiced gossip), while those from abroad thong openly and laugh at those ludicrous clichés. Are they "closet homosexuals"? No way. No Barbra Streisand fans here. They have no desire whatsoever to do anything sexual with another guy. They have no problem with gay men, they are usually liberal when it comes to their political stance, they laugh at stupid stereotypes and petty orderers-about of the Mary Whitehouse type and don't let ridiculous notions such as "our bodies are dirty and sinful" poison their thinking. Are they male sluts, though? Some are married. Some are in long-term relationships. Others are players. There's no way you can pigeonhole them.

As societies, we really, really need to open our minds and look at reality, instead of labeling people based on myths we have grown up with.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Winter trip to Bansko, Bulgaria. What a disaster!

OK, this one has nothing to do with microkinis at all - it's strictly about travel and it's all about the hugely overrated ski resort of Bansko in Bulgaria. Me and my boyfriend went there for a few days after New Year's, since it's been touted as a fantastic resort, with serious investments from austrian tourist businesses and endorsements from ski champions for its ski courses. Also, it's cheaper than our own ski resorts.

Well, one thing's for sure: I'm NEVER going back there. Period.

Why?

Let me count the reasons:

  1. The roads in the resort are a mess. And to think I always complain about the roads here in Greece. Really, my boyfriend's RAV4 felt like it would fall apart.
  2. Finding our hotel was almost impossible, because there were no signs on its outside to tell us which one it was.
  3. The hotel's outside was a bloody mess, with garbage cans overflowing with their content and litter everywhere - not only outside the hotel, but absolutely everywhere.
  4. The hotel's staff tried to charge us for amenities we NEVER used. Fucking fraudsters.
  5. When we tried to take some snapshots for ourselves, armed goons (so-called "security") immediately showed up and tried to pull shit on us. Like we need this stupid bravado...
Well, after all this shit, I certainly DON'T recommend Bulgaria as a holiday destination to anyone - especially knowing that other people I know have had similar experiences with the tourist "business" in Bansko. No matter how good the ski courses are, a resort that treats the tourist this way doesn't deserve to be on the world tourist map. Avoid Bansko at all costs.