elomi Caitlyn underwire side support bra review

Caitlyn by elomi is the company’s best-selling bra, according to HerRoom. So why are there so few blog reviews out there? I am guessing it’s a demographics issue: elomi’s models look older than Cleo’s or Freya’s. Many bloggers are not in the 36+ band group, or 36+ age group, and most elomi bras start at a 36 band. Additionally, elomi had a reputation for being matronly-looking. They have made some amazing designs in recent years, but this is a review of a classic that has a new colorway every season.

caitlyn_front

Construction

Four-part fabric cup with side support panel (no sling, just reinforced satin like the bottom of the cup). Continuous band with a medium-high gore. Two hooks in some sizes, three hooks in 44DD-48DD, 42E-46E, 40G-44G, 38H-42H, 36I-46I, 34GG-44GG, 34H-42H, 34HH-40HH. Tall wings on the side, leotard back, and fully adjustable straps.

caitlyn_side

Fit

The cups run large, and I sized down to 34F, which worked rather smashingly (yes I know that’s not a real word). I don’t always quite fill the apex of the cup, but it’s a better fit than many Eveden cut-sew bras are on me. The band seems a slightly loose 34. I didn’t have an issue with strap width. There’s enough projection at the bottom of the cup that I don’t get an upside-down seven or torpedo shape from my body fighting the bra. So comfortable.

caitlyn_side2

Looks

I like shiny, and I love jewel tones. The Ink color is both. Lots of other colors are simply shiny enough to require SPF 30, like this season’s Camellia Pink, but I think sheen spices up a basic bra nicely. Swiss embroidery on the top semi-sheer panel. I think Swiss embroidery is Eveden’s ‘whoops we are out of ideas/aren’t sure what to do designwise’ default. I like it on this one, though.

The shape given is lifted and contained. The seams don’t show through most of my t-shirts and tanks, and I can wear medium to low necklines if I feel like it.

caitlyn_back

Additional Comments

Caitlyn is the most comfortable and supportive cut-sew bra I’ve tried. I had surgery yesterday and this bra and Panache Sport are the only ones I can tolerate. I’m a convert. Size range is 34-36 E-K, 38-42 DD-K, 44-46 DD-H. Maybe that’s why it sells so well and is so hard to find on sale! It’s $55, reasonable compared to other DD+ bras. There’s also a wireless version sizes 36DD-44G which has side boning. That seems to miss the point in my mind, but I guess sternum issues aren’t the same as side issues?

If you are looking for a less expensive alternative, Goddess’ Keira has a similar frame for $44. It’s the Swiss embroidery that cost $11, you know! Keira has a less inclusive size range, starting at higher cup sizes, and may fit you differently. Still worth a shot for the savings, though.

Caitlyn will be discontinued this fall and replaced by Cate, so there’s a limited time to stock up.

Pairings (comestibles compatible with this bra)

Trader Joe’s Pound Plus 72% bar and Twinings Earl Grey. My favorite value for money and classics I always keep stocked.

Quick notes on some Nordstrom offerings

I tried on the following at Nordstrom. I curse myself for not taking pictures. You now get the rapid-fire brusque lowdown!

Panache Clara in black-gold

I need to size up in the cup because the bottom doesn’t have much projection. This makes the lace dominate the cup, which is not the look I want. If you are full on the bottom, you may get the fabric fold or have to size up to get something that fits.

Freya Icon

I tried this bra on in my regular Deco size and it ran large in the cup and the lace felt pretty flimsy. Since it’s stretch lace I didn’t feel supported. The bra comes up really high on the sides.

Fantasie Allegra Vertical Seam

It seems true to size in the red and black. I got more coverage than I expected, and I actually filled the cup well unlike some Fantasie bras. The cups felt pretty wide, The print is pretty, but seems oddly interrupted by the advertised vertical seam.

Rebranding

As Wilson Phillips once sang, “Seasons change, people change.” This blog is over three years old, so I thought I’d give it a bit of a new look to cooperate with mobile browsers and big monitors alike. There will be more changes ahead.

One change you may have noticed is that I am attempting to take pictures of myself. In the past I avoided this due to being insecure about my workplace finding out and also because it can be a pain to do. However, I realize that it really is helpful to see a bra on as many different shapes and sizes as possible for a prospective shopper.

Another is that I’m occasionally going to post about comestibles- chocolate, tea, coffee. I find that those are everyday luxuries that make me feel decadent along with lovely lingerie. I am working on being kinder to myself, so I’ll try to appreciate some nice things without feeling vaguely guilty about it (There are people starving in Sri Lanka! Why aren’t you helping them right now?!, says my brain) Maybe I will also post about my other hobbies in the context of lingerie, or loosen my restrictions on what I post about, and see what flows out. “What I wear when I rock out to Trivium”, “Lingerie for being a space alien”…

I’m probably going to change the name of the blog and my user name. “Faustine’s Foundations” is a mouthful, as is the name Faustine, which I took from Ten Kids, No Pets. I’ll be going with “Lee” as my new blogger name, but don’t know what to do with the title. “Lee Loves Lingerie”? Too cutesy? Have a better idea? I’m all ears.

I am set for surgery in March to remove a congenital pilonidal cyst at my tailbone. I won’t be able to walk or sit down for a bit, and may need to invest in some Dear Kates. There will probably be fewer photos then, but plenty of words. Note to self: take as many photos as possible before the surgery.

On Valentine’s day, I’ll wear chocolate!

One of the things I’m regrettably good at is getting melted chocolate or coffee on things, which is always a pain to wash out. Valentine’s Day meant chocolate for a long time, and still does. For many, it means red clothes and lingerie and sometimes gift guides. There’s more red lingerie out there than I can physically lift, but I’ll touch on a few favorites.

The most important advice about Valentine’s Day lingerie (or anything you’re wearing for a special occasion) I can give: Don’t wear anything you haven’t before. Trying something new or surprising someone else can be fun, but getting a fit or comfort issue when you have fun or festive undergarments is not a surprise I’d enjoy. If there are people who want to buy lingerie for others here, I say buy it early and let the recipient break it in before Valentine’s Day.

Here’s a gift guide that’s a little different for a lingerie blog. It should fit anybody!

TCHO Joyeux “Gear Love” Valentine Gift Box

TCHO is based in Berkeley, California. They source their own beans, and most of their products are organic and fair trade. This gift set has all their signature styles: four different dark chocolate varieties and two milk. The little squares are a wonderful serving size. Plus, the mechanical heart is pretty awesome. They’re mail order or in San Francisco at the Westlake Center.

Theo Valentine’s Day 2 bar bundle

Theo is a Seattle company, bean to bar (they control every aspect of the chocolate making), completely organic and fair trade. They also have a factory close enough to my apartment to make the air smell delicious when the wind’s blowing right! I’m not a huge fan of these seasonal flavors: one is Holy Lego Man is that enough cinnamon bomb and the other is more sweet than I like it, but they are definitely different and fun to try. The bars are available in Seattle in grocery stores, I’ve also seen them in Boston grocery stores. My guess would be that they’re available all over America, but you can mail order them. $8, or $4/bar.

Taza Mi Corazon Bar Bundle

Stone ground chocolate has a different texture than the way chocolate is usually made in the US. Taza gives us chocolate where it originally came from, Mexican-style: ground with granite mill stones. The result is intense: granules of chocolate flavor in the best way. The factory is in Somerville, Massachusetts, but their distribution seems to be nationwide in grocery stores. You can also buy online. $15.

All of this a bit rich for your blood or taste? Here’s the best taste-for-money product I’ve ever found in chocolate:

Trader Joe’s Pound Plus 72% dark chocolate

Over a pound of high-quality balanced-taste Belgian chocolate with a bit of a bite. Goes with anything, works great for baking. And the packaging is red, so why not make it for Valentine’s? $5/pound plus bar (or $2 for a three-pack of 1.67oz mini bars) at Trader Joe’s if you have one. If you do not, you can probably find it on Amazon, but it may not be as sweet a deal.

…yes I am in fact eating it right now.

Do you enjoy chocolate? Are the occasional posts on chocolate or baking something you could tolerate/want to see more of? Sound off with a comment!

An Afternoon at Journelle with Sweets

For the new year, I did my budget, and I can buy all the bras I really want. Not that I kinda-sorta want, and not bras over $100, but the ones I look at repeatedly and wistfully and think ‘well I don’t really NEED another bra but that looks so cool and I don’t want to miss it before it’s out of stock’. So I have more than I need, and count myself very fortunate, and thought that checking new styles out never hurts.

With that in mind, I thought I’d do some window shopping while on the East Coast for the holidays. I knew I’d be in Manhattan for some of it and…I met Sweets of Sweet Nothings! Fortunately (if I cared about dignity) I stopped myself from fangirl-squeeing and distracting the child sitting near me and just talked with this extremely classy dame while wandering around Journelle at Union Square. They only had one bra around my size to try, though: Miss Mandalay’s Amelie.

Miss Mandalay Amelie Bra in black
you can see it on Sweets herself or Miss Underpinnings

Miss Mandalay’s a brand I’ve heard good things about but never tried. The Amelie features stretch lace on the top part of the cup, and I think stores could promote this as an alternative to the Panache stretch lace bras because it accommodates many shapes. I felt supported because of the rest of the structure. Sadly, the bra seemed too small. The gore floated and the cups may have cut in a bit. There was some straining/wrinkling of the fabric near the strap, which seemed possibly problematic. I remember Sweets might have thought the black color ran smaller than the fashion ones. However, the store did not have a 34G in stock, they recommended we go to the SoHo location to try that and look at the All Undone Mai.

All Undone Mai bra, white and pink

After some subway backup, Sweets led me through the falling snow to the SoHo Journelle, just as pretty as the Union Square one. We were able to find the Mai in 34G and Amelie, as well! Amelie almost fit. Almost. I could live with the gore slightly not tacking if I’d been a fan of the design otherwise. It’s gorgeous, ladylike, feminine, grown-up, but I didn’t feel like it was for me. The Mai was definitely not my color, white and cream on my skin feels a little sad somehow. I think if the pink had been gold I would have been sold, so to speak. Anyway, I had another floating gore issue! I was rather surprised to find this with two bras in a row, it’s not a problem I have often since I don’t have much projection. Sweets noted that the cups of the Mai are shallow near the gore so that my breasts were pushing it out. That was a little sad, and I hope that All Undone tweaks the fit or makes a style where fewer people have insecure gores.

Journelle is beautiful in a Gallic sort of way. It’s light-colored and airy. The displays are arranged smartly. There’s a good array of bras at different price points for ‘core sizes’ that are all elegant. Also, their own-brand pajamas are gorgeous and pure silk. My one lament is that there’s so little in my size. The dressing rooms are inviting with water and chocolate, and the salesladies were helpful and accommodating without hovering. It all felt tasteful and sophisticated while remaining an inviting place.

Sweets knows so much about the full-bust lingerie market, and she’s generous with that knowledge. (She also has that warmth and put-together-ness, the kind that projects competence and confidence.) She told me that what she wants to do is help people find a good match in a bra without judgment. I found a lovely interview on Bluestockings Boutique with incisive commentary on diversity and subversive body image standards.

So, fedora hats off to Sweets and Journelle! I’m so glad I made it into the city.

My Christmas Lingerie

I don’t celebrate Christmas myself, but my partner’s family does. As a result, I get a bit of the holiday spirit! I’ll be traveling as per usual for the winter. Here are some things in my drawer I’m considering bringing:

Bravissimo Can Can

I got this in the mail yesterday, no time to photograph. It’s beautiful. I love the little embroidery touches (tildes!), they feel very Art Nouveau. It doesn’t work quite as well for me as it does for the model since it’s a bit fuller on the top than I am and the gore is pretty narrow, so I’ll get a second opinion before I decide whether to keep it.

Parfait Natalia

The colors on this are very candy cane (darker red than the picture)- the stripes are pink instead of white. I got the babydoll and padded bra to see how they fit. The padded bra is actually molded and feels a bit too much lace overlay (though I love the keyhole-in-gore detail). The babydoll is fun, though, I haven’t had one before.

Freya Deco Honey in Jade

Classic, slight frills, the Deco shape most everyone knows. I adore the color, it’s darker than my experience with most jade…more of a malachite perhaps? This bra works under anything. It’s a bit less Christmas-pine green than the Can Can, but it’ll do!

Parfait Charlotte in Red

It slices, it dices, it…wait, it’s a bra, not a kitchen tool. That said, I can’t think of an occasion this bra doesn’t work for. The red is quite festive! I review it often, it seems.

I don’t have time for a photo shoot (or ‘here’s my torso with too much or too little flash’ before I head off, so these are professional models and photos. Do you like the idea of ‘Christmas’ lingerie? Or just like red or green? What’s your favorite?

Customer experience: Pencil Test

A friend of mine raved to me about the Pencil Test in Portland Oregon, so I made a point to get out there while I was in town in mid-October for a work conference. I was impressed enough that I’ll have to stop back in every time I’m at all in the area.

The store is laid out in a welcoming fashion. Some colored fashion pieces hang on racks, with more in drawers. The basics have their own section of hangers, organized by size. The sports bras are on yet another rack. Light comes in from the front glass doors. The changing rooms are spacious and feel light and sunny.

The store’s real accomplishment, though, is the selection. I have never seen such a wide and fun collection of DD+ bras in any store. Freya Pansy longline, Curvy Kate Ritzy, Cleo Maddie Pop, Parfait Fiona longline, Curvy Kate Roxie, Parfait Charlotte, Panache Porcelain Viva, Curvy Kate Dare, and Cleo Jolie to start. There were more that slipped my mind. On the sale rack: Cleo Neve Floral, Cleo Marcie in yellow, Cleo Maddie in orange, Panache sport tank tops, Parfait Celine cami, and more choices. The basics presented me with Parfait Jeanie, Parfait Sophia padded, Panache Tango II, and Freya Deco, among others. There were also lovely elomi and Goddess options, though they didn’t have them in my size.

So wow. I tried on the Parfait Fiona longline, the CK Ritzy, and the beige basic Parfait bra. The saleslady was considerate and checked in with me every so often without being intrusive. She also understood a lot of my issues with shape and shallowness. The Fiona was a little too full in the cup in a 36G, as was the CK Ritzy in a 34FF. I wanted to try the Fiona one size down, but unfortunately they were out of stock. The Ritzy was just too open on top for me. The Parfait bra fit, but there was more lace on the bottom than I needed, and I wasn’t totally wowed by the color. Prices were all MSRP, which is not the practice in Seattle.

Anyway, I was bowled over by the choices I had and the knowledgeable staff, although I didn’t end up buying any bras. I bought some sale underpants, and look forward to my next visit!

Parfait Celine Wire Bra review

Parfait Celine debuted as an Autumn/Winter 2013 model in both black and purple, in a padded and unlined version for each. I ordered one from A Sophisticated Pair since I liked the Panache Jasmine but didn’t feel it was quite supportive enough. Since Parfait are an American brand, the bra was an affordable $46. I’ve had the bra past break-in time now, and it works quite well for me!

Construction:

Underwired cut-sew bra with stretch lace upper cup, cut almost like a balconette. Two hooks in the back. Fully adjustable straps. Side stays on the wings. Side support panel.

celine_side_down

Fit:

The band runs on the tight side. Go up a band size, especially if you’re between sizes, and reduce the cup size by one. I have a 36F when I usually wear a 34FF. I fill the cup with my somewhat full-on-bottom breasts, as there’s enough projection on the bottom of the fabric cup. Speaking of which, the fabric part of the bra comes up further than halfway (e.g. Panache Jasmine, Envy, Clara), which gives great support. The stretch lace fits my shallow profile, although there is a clear strip sewn in at the top that can cut in if when I raise my arms. Likewise, the side seam support can cut in when I lift my arms. This is an aesthetic and not comfort issue. I feel quite secure and supported in this bra.

celine_front

Looks:

I am not usually one for polka dots and little bows, but this managed to look fun and cute. I didn’t feel like I was wearing a bra patterned for a teenager. Since there’s less stretch lace than other stretch lace bras I’ve tried, it doesn’t feel intrusive or over-embellished. The profile is not lifted, but it is pretty round. Black and white are easy to match with underpants, so I usually pair this with any black brief I have around.

celine_side_raised

The cloth part of the fabric is the softest, smoothest, fabric I have felt on a bra that comes in my size. I can find it by feel in my drawer, and it always gives me a little burst of happiness.

celine_back

Due to the little strip at the top of the lace and the seam between the fabric and lace almost indenting my tissue, I wouldn’t recommend this bra for those with super soft breasts. The underwires and wings are decently tall, so if you ever have problems with wires poking you on the sides, this could irritate you. Other than that, I think this bra fits a decent spread of shapes.

Parfait is discontinuing this style, so I’d suggest obtaining it while you can if it sounds like it would work for you. The Parfait Casey is due to come out in a cut that looks similar to this, but I don’t know if it will have stretch lace.

Parfait Charlotte purple wine notes

I’ve long loved the Parfait Charlotte padded bra (I like the look of the balconette/bandeau version but unfortunately it doesn’t get along with my shallow shape- the top cuts in and I can’t fill the cups). The price point in the US, the stable band and support, the side support, the smart piping. So do many others, and I’d guess it’s one of Parfait’s bestsellers. It comes out in a new color every six months and that stays current for a year. Right now the fashion colors are ‘wild pink’ and ‘purple wine’.

For my birthday I treated myself to some Parfait goodness from A Sophisticated Pair, and the results were rather pleasing. The purple is prettier than I thought it’d be. I guess more saturated/deeper than I thought it was from pictures? Anyway, a darker purple would tick all of my boxes but this color is rather nice.

IMG_20140906_174733

On previous Parfait Charlottes in red I’d gone up two cup sizes, keeping my bigger band size for the side stays. I was advised to go with my usual size in the purple model (36F), and it actually fit great. As before, this bra seems to have narrow to medium width cups that are on the shallow side. If you’re fuller on top, go up a cup size, or the bra may just not be for you. The band may be a bit looser than the red version, but not much. This is good news in general because the bra going to a K may mean more women can wear it now. The one downside of the bra being more true to size is that I’m down to two hooks on the back. At FF they go up to three hooks, and at GG to four.

This spring Charlotte will come out in a powdery/icy blue, which I’ll be getting in line for. I am not sure if they are discontinuing the peach colorway since I see it on zulily, anybody know? I bought one just in case…

Panache Loretta balconette review

My cut-sew bras were all worn with extenders, so I wanted an option when I just don’t feel like dealing with an extender. I tend to get on with many of the Panache frames. When I saw Loretta, I decided to finally give it a spin, since it gives me mad Spirograph nostalgia.

Construction

Three-part balconette. There’s also a plunge version, which I have not tried. Medium to full coverage on this one. The bottom of the cups, which are the part reinforced through GG cups, are upside down Us and joined on both sides to the middle of the cups. The rest of the cup is a plain mesh with some detail. In larger cup sizes, the cup is a heavier mesh on the upper cup, too. The straps are scalloped on the sides and fully adjustable. Two hooks in the back at my size, three in GG-K sizes.

Fit

True to size. I had no wrinkling at 34FF and I could fit two fingers under the band when it was new. There’s a point/line/seam in the cup through the geometric swirls where it cuts in if I shrug or raise my shoulders, and on some days it just cuts in in general. The wires are quite wide on me, and the top of the cup shallow. If you’re full on top or have front projection I wouldn’t recommend this bra.

Looks

Not too fussy. I do like the geometrics on the top on the cup and along the bottom front of the band. Half of the cup is sheer on me, and I’m ambivalent about that. I loved it with Dahlia, but Loretta leaves a lot more plain mesh around somehow. The shape is a bit east-west because it doesn’t have a side support (which has become popular in the last few years). The black and caramel are basics, but the cobalt blue version is a beautiful shade.

 Further Thoughts

I’ve had this bra several months and worn it a handful of times. Sometimes the gore pushes against my sternum too much, or the wires are uncomfortable because my rib cage is flared and the wires somehow feel like they are pointing into my sides and putting pressure there. Would an extender help while it stretches out? Perhaps the plunge version would have been a better idea than the balconette? I’m considering donating it since I’ve recently binged on bra buying and this doesn’t tick all my boxes. Loretta is often for sale on zulily and other discount websites, so you can probably get it for less than $20 in the US.