Post-op bra paucity?

I’ve noticed that the blogs I read tend to be by women in their twenties. Thus we have bridal lingerie and bras good for nursing and pregnancy as blog topics, but there’s a kind of bra I haven’t mentioned before because I can find very little literature for it, and can’t find my size.

Breast surgery is serious business. Whether you’re getting augmentation, lift, reduction, or modification, post-op one needs different bras to support and not irritate the healing tissue. I’ve heard of/seen bras by Amoena, Trulife, Jodee, Anita Care, and Carefix for post-op, but it seems they only come in the 34-40 A-D spectrum! Not really my size at all, and probably don’t really fit most women. Ideally one only needs post-op bras temporarily, but it’s not always an elective surgery.

The surgery I’m most familiar with is, sadly, the mastectomy. The NIH (of the US)  estimates one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime. My grandmother had breast cancer ten years ago and had a single mastectomy. She’s still alive today (in her late eighties), and…puts newspaper in her bra. I asked her if that was comfortable, and she just shrugged and smiled benignly. Since Chinese is her third language and also mine (she doesn’t speak English), we had trouble communicating beyond that. Sometimes only part of one breast is removed (partial mastectomy or lumpectomy), sometimes both are.

The standard options today seem to be reconstructive surgery or wearing a prosthesis. Reconstructive surgery is usually done with saline implants or with tissues from other parts of the body (called flap reconstruction). My former roommate worked in an implant factory once and noted most of the orders they got were for singles. After recovery, nipple reconstruction may be performed. Unfortunately, getting the new breast to match its partner is difficult, and may require a lift, augmentation, or reduction of the other breast- further surgery to recover from. I don’t know what I’d opt for as a patient. It seems a tough decision. Options may be different by the time I’m at higher risk.

Wearing a prosthesis doesn’t require extensive surgery, and after radiation or chemo, the body may just not be ready for the knife for a while. Additionally, reconstruction is expensive and may not be covered under health insurance in the United States.  A breast form or equalizer will make one look more symmetric under clothing without surgery, but may have different density within the bra and change how a bra fits. Some bras are termed ‘mastectomy bras’ and have heavy-duty construction and pockets for prostheses. Nordstrom will make pockets on bras for you free of charge, or you can sew your own. However, I’m not sure what kinds of bras work for this- I assume fabric and lace bras would be difficult to do, and at larger cup sizes breast forms may strain wires and fabric differently.

What have you found about prostheses and post-op bras? What are good options in the DD+ range for post-op, and what bras work best with a prosthesis?

 

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Panache Spring/Summer 2013

Some liked the Curvy Kate roundup for this season, so I’ll do another one for the Panache brands. I think Panache is really my go-to brand: I own a Sport, Confetti, Porcelain Plunge, adore the regular Porcelains, and have two Masquerade bras. I’ve also heard great things about Cleo but I’ve never found one that I’ve fit/loved. Panache haven’t put their Spring/Summer collection on their site yet, so I’m going from some other sources to detail what’s new.

Here’s what I found of interest:

Cleo

Generally fun, more ‘youthful’ designs, tend to give a round and in front shape.

Marcie– Marcie’s been a hit with some and a disaster with others. I tried the Natasha which apparently has the same cut in my size and there was so much wrinkling at the top of the cup it was ridiculous. The shape it gives is apparently wonderfully round, so it’s returning for another season in a jolting color! I wonder if sizing down would help, or if it’s just not meant for bottom-heavy breasts. That shade of blue is nice and aggressive- electric with the contrast pink bow! I am happy that it goes up to J.

Maddie– I rather liked the Cleo Karen, but it was too small for me and was unavailable beyond a G. Apparently they’re offering up to an H cup now? I’m not too hot on the print, which I think is overly busy, nor the pink contrast, but I’d love to try the cut in another size- it apparently works well for bottom-heavy breasts. If it works I’ll keep an eye out for future designs.

Nina- I remember trying the Arianna and being unable to fill out the top, or the bra running big. This is an in-your-face pink with purple detailing, evocative of sharp angles- Motorola RAZR pink, but more matte? I like the geometry, but I’m not confident I’d fit in it well.

Panache Superbra

The base collection as I think of it, Panache offers great basics including the beloved Tango, Andorra, and Porcelain.

Fern– I adore purple paisley. I would be all over this if it weren’t for the blasted pink lace on it! It may go well with the gentle purple, but I really dislike any non hot-pink color on my skin. If it were the pink in the Nina, I’d consider it. That said, paisley trend = yes please. I wonder how much of the pink lace is structural- would I be able to remove it? That might ruin the line at the top of the cup.

Andorra Plunge– This model only comes in fashion colors, this time Carribean blue. I am curious as to how the stretch lace works in a plunge bra and if it accomplishes the same forward projection the Andorra and Jasmine are famous for.

Porcelain Viva– I don’t see many white and navy bras out there, and with the stripes, it’s very smart and nautical. There’s also a pink variant. If we changed the darker blue details into white pinstripes I think it would make an excellent swimsuit.

Idina balcony/plunge- These supposedly have similar stretch lace to the Andorra/Jasmine. Are they a new continuity line? They are starting with basic colors- latte and black. I’ll be curious to hear about the shape they give.

I don’t see the Sienna available, but it seems those mainly come out in the fall?

Sculptresse

Panache’s new line starts at a 3t band. Lots of full coverage bras with lots of lace. They’re not to my taste, but very pinup. Here’s my favorite:

Belisse: Fun floral print! The yellow and red really pop!

 

Masquerade

My favorite brand for any day I want to feel a little special.

Amor in dark pink or berry or whatnot. I missed the sapphire version because I was afraid it would fit like the Capella. Maybe I should try sizing down in the cup? Sleek design, not a geometry I’ve seen before.

Arquette Navy/Vanilla. Based on the Delphi shape, apparently, though I will miss the Delphi. The blue overlay seems a bit heavy somehow.

Antoinette is back! Masquerade discontinued this line before I knew of Panache, and they’re reintroducing it in this color. Interesting bandeau design (usually works better for full profiles), dark pink lace overlay. I guess this is also ‘berry’. The vertical seams remind me of corsetry.

Fashion notes/roundup:

Great googly moogly, the pink. It’s spring, I get it, time for gentler colors, but augh. This much pink hurts my retinas. Great for those who like it, but I keep thinking about bags of conversation hearts. You know, those things what taste like Necco wafers with drippy commands on them with a texture somewhere between cheese puffs and styrofoam but you eat a bunch of anyway every year for some compelling yet unknown reason? Whoops, I’m projecting. (And now I want some!) Anyway, my pink must be done in limited doses. For those of you who like it, it’s a bonanza this season!

Panache is not shy with its lace, but I don’t think it ever was. I’ll be curious to try the Amor and figure out the fit of several of these. What attracts you in the Spring/Summer lines? Anything you’re putting on your wish lists or want to figure out the fit of?

Shapewear ramblings

I love myself the Freya Deco, and am delighted that it’s spawned spinoffs like the soft cup and half cup (which runs small and goes only up to F!). In April they are launching a longline, a convertible bra, a verrry high-waisted control brief, and a strapless slip. Shapewear is a giant industry and has been since there were corsets and stays. The options are pretty crazy to me- control pantyhose, control briefs, girdles, waist cinchers, the big torso thing (body?). Of these, I will only wear a corset (nothing heavy duty), and only if it’s on the outside and of a cool design.

Why?

Most shapewear works via compression, or squeezing me. Now, I like to be hugged, and I like close-fitting clothing, but shapewear just feels restrictive most of the time. It’s worn to ‘normalize’ one’s fat and curves to a socially acceptable standard or to fit into a dress, without getting to show off a fun color, cut, design, or print. I’m not including basques, though- they are made to be seen, even if only by a few! I don’t think I’d wear a basque under my clothing for housecleaning, work, or baking several dozen red velvet cookies.

I have pretty narrow hips, very muscular legs thanks to biking a lot, and my behind is quite flat. This leads to awkward constant shifting in most chairs because I lack the padding to keep me comfortable. Whoever designed me put it all on my torso instead, in my stomach, on my ribs, on my breasts. I do have lumps and bumps in tight fitting clothing, though! Once upon a time I wore tummy-control swimsuits, but I’ve decided that my stomach is just a stomach- it’s there in three different fat rolls when I hunch over at all and it’s got some interesting stretch marks from just growing. It works, it’s part of me, and I accept that it won’t look like in the fashion magazines in most dresses. Fashion models and some entertainers spend their entire time and career trying to look a certain way, their livelihood depends on it. I just get up and get dressed and then write code, and people pay me for that. I’d rather spend time with friends than spend it and money trying to make my stomach look different (with the caveat of fitness, that’s a health matter, not an appearance matter!).

I wear a bra because my breasts like support, but why do I care about the shape those give? Why care about the shape of my bust but not my stomach or thighs or butt? My reasoning is that since it’s really optimal for me to wear a supportive bra anyway, I might as well go for something that I like aesthetically without sacrificing comfort- I don’t wear any compression bras, and most of the bras that give the shape I like are also comfortable to me. So it seem that I like approving of how I look in the mirror, but won’t squish myself unless it’s really pretty on the outside.

The Freya Deco shapewear range looks quite beautiful. Normally I will want almost anything Deco that fits, but I’ll pass these up. The floral pattern may appeal to others, though, and I could be tempted by the convertible were it not for me owning six Decos including a strapless already…

Do you wear shapewear? Daily or for special occasions? Do you like it or consider it a ‘necessary’ evil?

Spring and Summer collections = winter confusion!

Warning: this post came about when trying to do a roundup of Panache’s Spring/Summer 2013 collections…

Once upon a time, I believed bra manufacturers had two discrete times when ‘new’ designs would come out- some nebulous date in September, and another in March. Nothing’s actually that simple in the fashion world, I guess! It seems, despite the terms Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter, companies introduce new bras each month for a period of three to four months in the amorphous Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter seasons. What’s more, different companies have different times they start releasing their bras.

Curvy Kate, for example, released their Romance in Charcoal/Seafoam and new Entice in white/gold in December 2012. These are labeled Spring/Summer bras. It seems a bit…early? I guess the idea is that they will get the most wear then? The last major release I see for Curvy Kate is in March, and includes the Enchant. I guess the second half of March is technically spring?

Freya seem to have a similar schedule, but their website doesn’t clearly label bras as S/S or A/W, which is less misleading. It just has a Coming Soon section with the next few bras due for release and when. The other Eveden brands seem to have a similar approach, with Fantasie releasing bras into May. The Wacoal site (since Wacoal bought Eveden) didn’t have a Coming Soon section that I could find. An aside: Wacoal has a terrible fitting guide, by the way…I put in two measurements and it put me in a 36D. That’s a ways away from a 32G/US 32I any way you slice it.

Panache (and Cleo and Masquerade) are confusing in that I can’t find their Spring/Summer collection online. Their official website still has all their Autumn/Winter (labeled as such) collections and brochures. I know some of their bras are already out, so I’m surprised they’re not hyping them. I’m no marketer, but I do know that up-to-date information on products should help them sell.

Anyway, in the end it seems rather confusing to me, and since I’m not exactly sure what’s in the new Masquerade collection, I’m not going to do a Panache brand roundup yet. Erica of a Sophisticated Pair has the details from Cleo, Superbra, and the new Sculptresse line. Any other insight you ladies can offer? Has anyone else been as confused as I?

Ewa Michalak PL Karmelki

I received the PL Karmelki about a two months ago, and have worn it a handful of times since then.

Construction:

Three-part plunge cup with removable pads to correct breast asymmetry. Fully adjustable straps, yay! However, the straps are really difficult to adjust if you have the bra on because their friction coefficient is so high you have to exert plenty of force on the strap adjuster before it will move. Well, at least no strap slippage!

Fit:

Band was quite tight the first few wears, but then stretched out. I’d say cups run small or true to size, and I’m on the large size of the 32G. The cups seem to fit perfectly when I first put the bra on (without the pads in). However! I have soft tissue, and it leaks down to the center of the gore and creates quad-boob after two hours or so. The conventional wisdom from the blogosphere is to go up a cup size with the PL if you have soft tissue. I thought this bra ran large in the cup for some reason, maybe Bratabase measurements? Anyway, if you have soft breasts, go up a size and keep your regular band size- the fabric will stretch.

Looks:

I like the darker color ‘nude’. There are two decorative buttons at the gore, which I prefer to bows or flowers. The fabric is covered in a crisscross embroidery overlay which reminds me of the Curvy Kate Angel. The straps are extensively detailed (the friction reduces slippage) with  a decorative button where they join the cups. The overlay and lace edging of the cup are a more cream color. Maybe it is a bit too small, or maybe my breasts are soft, but oh my goodness, the shape! It lifts me and lets me wear a low neckline if I want. If the seams were covered or unobtrusive under tank tops, I’d wear this construction with most anything and own four PL EM bras (I, er, currently own five Decos).

I am debating listing this bra because of the spillage, even though it is amazing. I’m definitely adding Ewa Michalak bras to my watch list for an upcoming order. Next time I order a PL, I’ll go up a cup size. I am also looking at the EM S shape, which seems to be a plunge bra with a higher gore for ladies with softer tissue. It seems to give a slightly less round shape, though, so it’s not on my MUST BUY NAO list.

Fairy bramothering!

I’ll admit here that while I don’t draw anywhere near as lucrative a salary as pretty much any other software engineer I know (is it rude to tell/not tell your salary on the internet if you have some anonymity?), I am rather fortunate and make plenty enough to eat, retire on time, play video games, travel, and buy two bras a month (this is because I don’t plan to have children). Thus I consider it my duty to give away semi-used bras because I read a lot about young students or others who could get some months’ use out of a bra I’ve worn some and have grown out of/never really fit into. Maybe it’s presumptuous, but I would have taken someone up on that offer when I was a student, especially when I was still trying to find my size! Thanks to Bratabase, I sent five bras to new homes today in the US, Canada, Malaysia, and the Czech Republic. I’ve one more free bra in 32G- Panache Porcelain in nude.

Additionally, there are some really nice ones I own that I’ve been a bad bramother about and worn and machine washed a few times. What would you put the valuation of such a bra (original value 50-60 USD) at? I’m going to try to sell them for $15.  I’m excited that others can make better use of my engineering equipment that’s in storage for me. There’s no ‘just in case’ I lose or gain weight. I will buy those when I need them, because storage space is more valuable to me since I seem to change houses every year.

The Bratabase market has become flooded with all sorts of bras in several kinds of condition. You can search by size or style. I’m pretty excited by what the community has to offer us- the site admin has been great about reimbursing me for giveaway shipping.