Meet Monica Upton. Mon worked with us at MECCA waaaaay back when. She’s one of the brightest, most ambitious women we know, so it’s no wonder she’s been pretty busy since the days when we all worked in beauty together.
Since those days, she’s launched Australian handbag brand, VESTIRSI – a range of luxe Italian leather handbags, without the luxe price tag - and become a new mum to baby Kingston.
She’s also the owner of a pretty large set of boobs.
When you have big boobs, it seems, finding the prefect bra is a lot like finding the perfect handbag.
So it’s a good thing Mon’s here to help with both…
Pic: Vestirsi founder, Monica Tarca
First things first. When you say your boobs are huge… how huge are we talking?
12E… plus much more when pregnant and breastfeeding! Ahh the joys (insert sarcasm here)… it’s really hard to explain to smaller busted ladies how incredibly difficult this makes dressing (and life) but my fellow large busty ladies will know my pain.
Have you always had a fuller bust? What was puberty like navigating such a, well, big change?
Yes, since about 14. Like any insecure teenager it’s hard having something that is really different about you, having this big obvious thing that no one else had.
My best friends had an “IBTC” (Itty Bitty Titty Committee) which obviously I wasn’t part of, so I was quite outnumbered in the big boob department.
I wish I could go back and tell myself to embrace my body for the beautiful, curvy thing that it was – but I absolutely hated it at the time.
Do you think having a bigger bust has shaped the way you think about your body?
100%. I am also really tall, so as a teenager and young adult, this combination of height and big boobs always made me feel “big”. Mum used to say “statuesque”, I used to say “fat” – either way my height and big boobs made me feel big, bulky, and masculine and just not great about myself – which is ironic because obviously big breasts are nothing if not womanly and feminine.
When it comes to bras, what’s been the biggest challenge finding the right fit?
The selection, the price and it’s just always been a really unpleasant shopping experience.
Anyone with a fuller bust knows how hard it is to find good bras for big boobs - this is a huge pain point for me (along with bathers - shout out to Marvell Lane who is conquering this issue with one busty bather top at a time)!
Once Bonds “crop tops” wouldn’t cut it anymore, Mum and I would go to department stores. My experience there was being fitted by an older lady, who was out of touch with what I needed or wanted from a bra, but to be honest, was probably doing the best she could with the limited range she had available for me.
The selection in the sizes I needed was always very limited. The nice fits my friends were wearing would stop at a C or D cup, so there was just not much for me to choose from. And what was available in an E cup, was not very youthful - thick straps, plain beige colours, ugly dated appliqué or lace. Nothing cute or fun, and nothing that would celebrate my body or make me feel empowered.
What was available in my size also was not very affordable. We are talking over $100 for one bra, which seems crazy for a 15 year old (especially compared to my friends who were wearing $10 Bonds crop tops). As a teenager, Mum was buying these for me and to be honest I felt bad that she had to spend hundreds of dollars to buy me a selection of different bras that were suitable for school, sport and weekend.
It was just an awkward, unenjoyable shopping experience, which always gave a huge hit to my self-esteem. I didn’t leave that change room feeling excited about my new lingerie, rather feeling “fat”, big, deflated. Not confident, empowered, and feminine - as lingerie should make you feel.
I remember being in London about 10 years ago and going to a store called Bravissimo where you received this amazing high touch, boutique experience where lovely, knowledgeable staff would sit you down, talk about your needs and help fit you with bras for big boobs, from a selection of all these wonderful brands catering for fuller busts. It was such a pleasant experience and I remember being so disappointed we had nothing like that back in Oz… so thank God for BITS now!
No longer will I be crying in a DJs stall or wishing I was back in the UK where I could find a proper bigger bust selection.
What are your favourite BITS bras for a fuller bust?
I’ve been wearing the Triumph Maternity Bra everyday recently and I am obsessed. It looks and feels like a normal bra and sits really nicely under all my t-shirts (and let’s be honest, more often than not, pyjamas). It’s super comfortable yet still supportive and has the pull-down design I need for breastfeeding, with great magnetic clip-in tabs.
The straps aren’t too thick which is great – I find a lot of maternity bras have really chunky thick straps which I hate. It’s nice to feel like I’m wearing a “normal” bra.
You’ve recently had a gorgeous little bub, Kingston. What has the transition to motherhood been like?
Everyone tells you having a newborn is “a lot” – but it’s truly impossible to comprehend how much it really is until you’ve got this gorgeous little koala clinging to you, crying, looking up at you, and truly dependant on you.
It’s magical and draining all at the same time.
There’s no space to be selfish anymore, or to dictate how you wish to spend your time. Little koala is deciding that for you.
Then on top of all that, you’re more tired than you ever thought possible, your body is sore and your boobs are leaking and have grown to a size you’ve never encountered. You’re bruised and battered from just having a watermelon pulled out of your body, and there’s no time to get some proper sleep to recover. So yes, emotionally, and physically, it’s a lot.
But, it’s also the best adventure I’ve ever been on.
What has this meant for your boobs, and how have you found breastfeeding? Have you got any tips for other new mums or mums-to-be?
It’s meant they grew to a size I’d never seen before, which was confronting, and at times uncomfortable. It certainly hurt at the start as Kingtson and I were both adapting, but that only lasted for the first few weeks. It is amazing to be able to provide the sustenance that your baby needs and is a pretty magical experience to share with your new baby. I was lucky to have a good supply and to have a baby who feeds well. Not all women have the luxury of being able to breastfeed, so I was grateful this side of the journey went smoothly.
My advice for any mums-to-be is to speak to women that have had a baby recently and have them on hand to text when you have questions or need help. The women in my circle that had just had babies often had the best advice. With tips on everything from how to prevent and treat mastitis (those tips came from my cousin who had a baby at the same time as me and had had mastitis 1 week before me!), to making sure you’ve got chilled breast gel-pads in the fridge to soothe you up the top, and frozen maternity pads in the freezer to soothe you down below, to bulk filling your freezer before bub comes with masses of dinners, to the fact that a warm bath will re-set a crying bub when nothing else works.
You’ve obviously moved from your everyday bras into maternity bras. Do you have any tips on picking out Maternity Bras?
The tricky thing about buying your mat bras is you’re not sure what size you’re going to be, so you can’t really pre-buy them. So, you’ll have everything ready before the baby comes, except this one thing…
This is where BITS is truly amazingly helpful. My tip would be DO NOT torture yourself by trying to get to a store to buy your mat bras with a new baby - the concept of going to the shops to buy mat bras is going to seem impossible when you’re recovering at home with a newborn – because it literally will be impossible. Even getting out the door to get milk is a mission!
Having your maternity bras delivered straight to your door, means it is just one little thing you don’t have to worry about.
Pic: Mon, with baby Kingston, wearing Triumph Gorgeous Maternity Bra
You’re affectionately known by friends as ‘The Bag Lady’. Tell us how you went from working in PR to launching your own Italian leather handbag brand, Vestirsi?
It all began with a personal frustration. Not being able to find a nice leather bag for Uni that could carry my laptop and heavy law books, for under $250.
I needed something that was quality and durable but also that was versatile enough to go from Uni classes to events on the weekends (but not a backpack or a laptop case). I could only afford one bag so it needed to work hard for me. This eventually became the Jillian.
It was a similar thing when it came to my first full time job, at MECCA, too. I needed a bag that was fashionable but without the designer price tag, that could fit everything I needed (which was a lot working in PR and events). This is what inspired the Louisa and many of the other bags in the range.
My grandparents are Italian and I knew the best leather in the word, and the most skilled leather artisans are from Italy, so off to Italy I went.
It was a bit of a gamble, but I guess I just had a feeling that if I wanted these bags (that were made from beautiful Italian leather, without the designer price tag), then other women might want them too.
What’s the one Vestirsi bag everyone needs in their wardrobe and why?
It’s like picking a favourite child, but probably the Jillian, just because of its versatility.
The Jillian is the bag I wish I had when I was at uni. Big enough to fit laptops and books with minimal branding, and nothing OTT. Just a chic, quality Italian leather tote, that is reasonably priced.
Versatile enough to take you from work to weekends, and made to last. Reliable and always there for you; the Jillian tote was named after my sister.
Pic: Us, loving our Jillian Bags.
How have you juggled running your own business and life as a new mum?
It’s really hard to get caught up in how hard every day is – because it’s so bloody different to your previous life. It’s a huge adjustment. Each day gets easier as you get to know them and what they need better. And I try to stop each day and just be present with Kingston.
In terms of the juggle, I have no idea what the perfect solution is. Newborns sleep all day, so it’s easy to get work done while they sleep. But as they grow up and sleep less, that’s tricky. I haven’t worked it out yet.
But I never arrange anything between 9-11am. If Kingston will give me a 2 hour nap, that time is as precious as gold. I need to fit a days’ work into this window. So, I guess the answer is a combination of delegation (to your partner or employees), relying on family or paid care, and fiercely guarding your time. It’s so precious, so don’t waste it on anything or anyone that doesn’t serve you or your goals.
Have you got any tips for others looking to start their own business?
Ensure your idea solves a problem…. and then just start.
For more Vestirsi and for your chance to WIN a $500 BITS and VESTIRSI prize pack head here. Competition closes 5 August 2021, midnight AEST.