Cleo Rihanna giveaway for second blog birthday!

Hi, ladies! This blog is now two years and seventy-five plus posts of age! I don’t currently partner with any retailers or companies, but I thought I’d do a very particular giveaway/contest anyway (the downside I guess is that I only have one size). The prize is a new without tags Cleo by Panache Rihanna bra size 32G and the matching brief in size M. The bra’s too small in the cup for me, and the wires are a bit short so I get tissue escaping out the side. I’d give it a similar review as I did to Juna, though I’ve grown since then.

To enter: Tell me what you’d like to see more of on this blog via the comments section! I’ll roll some dice to determine the winner on 15 October 2013 and contact the winner via email. Starts now.

Panache Jasmine review

I have heard the raves about the Panache Jasmine for almost a year now. It’s forgiving and pretty, the wires don’t come up too high or low, the cup construction is well-done, et cetera. Why didn’t I have one until now? One, I generally don’t like the shape that cut-sew bras give me because my own flesh is shallow and I get the ‘elf shoe’ shape easily. Two, I’m not a lace person. Really not a lace person. I’ve had problems with feeling unsupported on the top with some cut-sew bras I tried on in stores.

Recently I’ve had to clean out my drawer (bye-bye EM and Decos, hello a few pounds). I was poking around Nordstrom Rack to find to my delight that they had the Jasmine in my lower size! I’d tried it on once before thanks to my local store Bellefleur but I wasn’t too fond of Bellefleur’s markup price on it. This bra is something of a generous 32G I think.

Construction

4-part construction. Mesh on two panels on the bottom, a side mesh panel to avoid the east-west look, and stretch lace panel on the top of the cups. This makes the tops of the cups extremely forgiving but they don’t feel as supported. I definitely feel it if I run for the bus or stoplight.

Two hooks in the back, three in GG+. Partially adjustable straps- apparently they’re padded in GG+ sizes.

Fit

The back feels on the tight size. If you’re between band sizes, definitely go up. The top panel is great for size/hormone fluctuations, no need to rotate this in/out of your drawer. I am slightly shallow for it, so if you have wide, shallow breasts I don’t think it would work as well. The sides seem to be a medium height, keeping everything contained. A good fit for me in 32G.

Looks

The shape given is pretty ‘natural’. Not as pointy as I get with Freya cut-sew bras, but not especially rounded like I get with Confetti.  The version I have (bird print) is an excellent vivid print but the lace doesn’t feel like it matches. The cups feel a bit deeper than I may need, and I feel like my breasts are pushed all the way to the front but not lifted much.

This bra is comfortable and great for travel. I haven’t had much luck with mesh bras, so this is only the third I’ve kept. I find the shape acceptable if not ideal, and the price was pretty nice. I do see what the fuss is about: this bra will work for lots of women, and the size range is up to K. I now have two, because I got one for about sixteen dollars on eBay. Random luck there!

Jasmine has met with a great deal of success in sales, and Panache have even debuted a new continuity line that looks like it. This fall’s colorway is pink lace on pink base, which is several kinds of Faustine-repellant. However, I wouldn’t be averse to trying the Envy once I need another cut-sew bra.

Fit and Active September?

I’m joining the fun some other bloggers are having with Fit and Active September.

I go to the gym about three times a week and generally walk a bunch (Seattle is pretty hilly). I’ve had short breaks since I moved here of not adhering to the practice, but I’ve increased my military press by ten pounds, and some of the other exercises have definitely gotten easier (planks, push and pull ups on a bar, squats). I assume I’ve built some muscle to do this.

Bra bands feel tighter. The exercises do build back muscles, so there’s less squish. I can’t really wear a 30 band anymore except on older stretched out bras. Some 32s need extenders now (Masquerade’s bands don’t stretch much). At first I thought I was gaining fat around my rib cage. That may be the case, but muscle could also be the cause. I’m making an appointment with a trainer to check my body fat/weight. That should give me an idea of how my body has changed.

My sports bras are the most excellent Panache Sport (which my partner tried to fasten the other morning when I was tired and cranky, and he was amazed by the strength it requires) and the Freya Active Underwired. The latter does run quite tight and gives me a hilarious torpedo shape complete with prominent horizontal seams, but it’s sturdy and lightweight. The Panache Sport is a wonderfully comfortable bra and sometimes I wear it just for the day, workout or none.

Have you found that you needed different bras with a different exercise regimens? What’s your favorite sports bra?

Simulator 2014

I like to know how things work. Back in grad school I worked with Maya a bunch to simulate particle physics and to learn how it interacted with 3D modeling and animation. More recently, I’ve used the physics engine in Unity to make game demos for fun. The other day I began to envision a program/tool that would let us design our own bras and see how they worked. Start with a model of a torso. The breasts should be variable in shape, size, composition. There would be many variables like the measurements/squishiness of the underbust as well as the overbust. Then add an assortment of bra models using a cloth mesh. Ideally the user would be able to vary the cloth composition and seams, etc.

Roadblocks:

  • The physics involved. I know how gravity works, but I don’t remember the formulas for opposing seams/cloth/flesh/muscles, nor the force and forgiveness of various fabrics.
  • Anatomy. I don’t know what force all the different tissues exert on each other and on fabric. Also, what causes pain/marks and what wouldn’t.
  • The sheer amount of variables for the body and the bra. Good grief.

The more I think about it, the more I wonder what the job of a bra engineer is like! Also, this would be an undertaking I’d need a lot of physics and anatomy help for. Do any of you know of any tools like that? Do you think it sounds as fun as I do?

Anyway, that’s today’s pipe dream. Perhaps one day with proper consultation I can make it, or at least a decent contribution…

Fantasie Rebecca Review

I’ve loved spacer foam since I tried on some Simone Pereles several years ago, and Fantasie’s Rebecca was the first bra to come in my size that made use of the technology. Historically, Fantasie hasn’t worked for me since, like Freya, they seem to leave a bit extra in the apices of the cups so that they wrinkle in the middle when I wear them. They seem to work best if one doesn’t have shallow breasts. In any case, I’ve tried on the Rebecca and liked the comfort but wasn’t immediately wowed by the look.

However, recently I’ve had to purge my collection due to sizing and wearing out, so I thought I’d give Rebecca a try (there was one on eBay for about $20). I was pleasantly surprised!

Construction:

Spacer foam molded cup. What’s spacer foam? Think corrugated cardboard fabric. It means there’s more thread and more time to construct and calibrate the knit (which is probably why these bras are more expensive). It’s pretty lightweight. Two hooks in the back, partially adjustable straps, continuous band.

Fit:

The general wisdom of the internet has imparted upon me the need to go down a cup size for this bra, and I went down a cup size and a half to 32FF. This was the right thing to do, and the fit is as advertised- intensely comfy and forgiving. There’s little bounce when I hop or skip around. At the end of the day I sometimes feel that the wires are a bit narrow, but this is not consistent.

Looks:

I give the geometric embroidery a solid meh on this bra. It’s thank goodness not lace, and it’s not too fussy, but I can’t get excited about it in the beige color. It looks better in navy and red and such- they’ve generally picked beautiful jewel-tone colors for each season. Additionally, if they got rid of the embroidery on the straps they could be fully adjustable. The wing mesh is slightly peek-a-boo with the embroidery design, which is neat but something I didn’t notice at first.

The shape is a bit more natural than many t-shirt bras, since it doesn’t do heavy lifting. It holds the breasts up some, but not a great deal, and keeps them there. It is a pretty rounded one, and a few months I thought it looked a bit droopy, but under clothes (and down a size) it looked just fine. The cups come up pretty high, so I shouldn’t wear it under anything low cut.

Additional Thoughts:

Based on the new colors coming out all the time, I’d say the bra’s been quite a success for Fantasie, and that makes me happy. I’m curious as to how it compares to Elomi’s Hermione in larger band sizes (supposedly the inspiration for Rebecca). The Rebecca Nouveau is coming out this winter, and I’m intrigued by its supposedly less-coverage cups. If you live in the US, Nordstrom carries them in store for trying on.

Something I’ve appreciated this summer is the way the fabric ‘breathes’- the airflow is a good deal better in it than in heavily padded or laminated cups. Less sternum sweat = more comfort. On the other hand, the foam doesn’t hide headlights too well in cold rooms/weather, if that’s a concern.

Customer Service: Simply Be

I ordered a Panache Jasmine from Simply Be because it was on super sale, and I wanted to give them a try. They don’t give UK cup sizes, but instead give a US-to-UK size conversion chart.

Unfortunately, the size I ordered (32J) corresponded to a 32FF in the mail instead of the 32G that was listed on the website. Customer Service told me that there was some variance between manufacturers, but the size conversions listed were for Panache specifically. I returned the bra and got a refund for the return shipping, but not the original. Ouch. After several exchanges with Customer Service, they refunded me the return shipping again, which was less than the original shipping by two dollars, but said that the original shipping fee was non-refundable.

The takeaway here is that unfortunately the US size conversion doesn’t seem accurate or consistent on Simply Be’s website. Additionally, shipping is nine dollars. So I’m not sure if there’s a way to guarantee sizing of your bra before you order it.