Cleo by Panache Kali (quick thoughts)

Although I’ve started to wear more cut-and-sew bras, they are still in the minority on my drawer. I ordered the Kali in Burnt Orange in 36FF, and the results were something I’ve seen on several bras with me: a narrow gore and not-projected bottom of the cup leaves gaps in the bottom and center of the bra.

kali_back kali_front

Kali’s design is very girly: cute hearts on the mesh. The neon color drew my eye, though, so I tried it on. It’s a three-part balcony bra with the seam across the apexes of the cups joining the straps. The band is not continuous, so it may feel less stable but be more compatible with short torsos. Two hooks in the leotard back.

kali_side2kali_side

I found the straps wide-set, and that could be problematic for longer wear. A size down would be too small. My main complaint was the pronounced orange-in-a-glass effect I got (I also had this issue with the Freya Vixen and several other bras). No amount of swooping and scooping or repositioning the band seemed to help: the bra would migrate after half an hour to the way it looks in the photos, and felt unsupportive like that.

The top of the cups lay flat, so that was compatible with my shape. I was unhappy about the empty spaces, so I returned it. Kali comes in a new fashion color every few months. If it does work for you (not very projected at the bottom of the cup), you can build a rather extensive collection. It’s available 28-38 D-J. I can’t argue with that size range!

Freya Vixen review (quick thoughts)

Heading full thing for SEO purposes. Ahem.

I adore houndstooth and metallics and rainbows. So when Freya made a bra that combines all three of these features, I jumped to try it. I returned it, so I can’t say how it wears over time, but here are some initial impressions and pictures.

Construction

Freya calls this a plunge balcony, which I consider to be word salad. I think it’s supposed to mean low gore plus the seams meet the shoulder straps. Three part cup, sheer all over D-G, GG+ cups are sheer on the top part of the cup. Leotard back with two hooks D-G, three for GG+ sizes. Straps are fully adjustable.

vixen_front_censoredvixen_back

Fit

Oh dear. I swooped and scooped, rejiggered the band up and down, and the bra just has too narrow a gore for me with its sheer cups. This happens for me in plenty of cut-sew bras, but in a sheer cup, this degree of empty space and foldover towards the center of the bra wasn’t to my liking (it’s not as obvious with my Curvy Kate Dita). A 36F was the correct size (I usually wear between 36F/36FF), the band was the proper tightness, I didn’t get any overspill, and yet I couldn’t get over the fabric folds in the sheer cup.

vixen_sidevixen_side2

Looks

The shape I get here is a little bit elf shoe: the bra lifts my roots but not in a way that looks very natural or appealing to me from the side. Additionally, the obvious empty spaces and creases made me send this bra back.

In terms of design, though, I think this is a winner. Metallic houndstooth shimmers in a vaguely animal-print design, and who doesn’t like a sheer black cup? The straps and bows are also done in houndstooth, which may be awesome or a little busy. I’m not decided on that point. The embellishment on the bottom of the band had a tendency to fold up on me.

Final thoughts

Well, it was worth a try! If the mesh weren’t sheer I might have agonized longer, but as it was Vixen didn’t work for my full-on-the outsides shape.

Fantasie Allegra vertical seam bra review

When I first saw the design for Allegra more than a year ago, I thought that it was an old Fauve design they were integrating into Fantasie, reminiscent of both Chloe and Delphine. Sheer cups, intricate embroidery, and jewel colors. The art nouveau design charmed me, and I bought a black one from Nordstrom a while back.

Construction

Three-part cut-sew bra: one seam goes right up the middle of the cup, and the other is for the side support panels! Fantasie loves its side support panels. Full band with a bit of an arch for higher tummies. Three rows of two hooks in the back. Fully-adjustable straps with little details so the straps don’t slip. Those details also make it a pain to adjust their length.

allegra_frontIMG_5544

Fit

The band may be a bit generous, or stretches out rather quickly. After a few months I’m on the tightest hooks in a 36F, but I sometimes wear a 34. Even when the band felt tight at the beginning of the wear, it would ride up pretty quickly at the back. It may just be angled that way, because I couldn’t fit more than two fingers in.

The cups are also a little generous, since I wear between a 36F and FF these days. The top seam is elastic and cuts back into the chest, making this a suboptimal solution for tall or full-on-top breasts if they’re not firm. You can also see that the cups are more close-set than I am, so if you have splayed breasts you will see some of the breast crease.

The side support was a good idea on their part because it brings tissue in to fill the projection in front, so somewhat shallow shapes can still fill the bra out. If you have very shallow breasts this may not work for you. I have some trouble filling out the bottom of the cup.

IMG_5541IMG_5543

Looks

I like the design. The vertical seam may be a bit over-emphasized aesthetically, but I guess that’s how they get the support. The shape is rounded but not hoisted. The design looks sophisticated and can appeal to a wide age range. I assume that’s what makes it sell well, as Nordstrom carries it in black and used to in rouge (Nordstrom is probably the biggest purveyor of F+ bras in the US).

The size range on this Allegra is limited to 30-36 D-G and 38 D-FF, but it’s wider than Eveden’s other vertical-seam bra, the Freya Starlet. The four-part cup construction is more classical Fantasie and has a larger size range, sacrificing the all-over sheerness, but if you want the Swiss embroidery in swirls, that’s where you go. It’ll be out in blue this fall.

I haven’t tried any of the bottoms, I match this with my array of black underpants. The Fantasie Allegra Vertical Seam was a good everyday bra for me, lightweight but not the most supportive. It’s currently a bit loose on me, so I’m giving it a rest until/if my back muscles get bigger and buffer.

Claudette Dessous review- two takes

Claudette Encore buys are not returnable, so I took a chance on ordering the Dessous in two colorways: Cyber Yellow with Navy and Navy with Limeade. The Dessous aesthetic is very simple and two-tone, so I’ve always been intrigued, but I had heard that the sizing is all over the place, even from color to color. I ordered down a band size and up a cup size.

Construction

Three-part full coverage cut-sew bra. The bottom part of the cup joins the shoulder strap, making it a balcony. The cups have a big upper section, covering a lot in the middle. All of the cup seems to be made of the same material. Three hooks in the leotard back with fully adjustable straps.

claudette_yellow_front claudette_yellow_back

claudette_yellow_side2 claudette_yellow_side

Fit

A 34G is probably the best fit I can get. The band is still quite stretchy so I started on the middle row of hooks in the navy cup bra. Definitely go down at least one band size in this generation! The cups may run a bit small, especially if you have more projection or upper fullness. The cut of the cups make this bra work best for average separation between the breasts. The front of the band has a tendency to flip up on me, as you can see in the photos.

 claudette_blue_front claudette_blue_back claudette_blue_side claudette_blue_side2

Looks

The cups are separated less than I am, so you can see the creases in the photos. The shape is pretty natural and relaxed. The cups are, as mentioned, very full coverage. Yellow does not stand out on my skin tone, but you know what? I like it anyway, because it reminds me of the eighties and rebelliousness in leg warmers. It’s also one of my few bras I can wear under lighter-colored shirts.

I kept one of them and donated the other because the blue’s band was a bit stretchier. It doesn’t flatter me the best in terms of the cut, but it’s so comfortable and I wear it more often than I thought I would.  If I see the orange and purple color on zulily again I’ll go for it. The sizing may be different, though.

Curvy Kate Dita review

For many years, all-over sheer bras stopped at a G. I remember the Arabella, Lyla, and Ooh La La styles by Freya added lining to the bottom of the cup in GG+ sizes. What’s the point, I heard, of buying a sheer bra only to have it not actually be sheer all over? Freya believes that making the bottom portion of the cup double lined adds structural integrity. Its current Siren and upcoming Vixen have this issue as well.

Enter Curvy Kate, who said said eff that noise we can be all-over sheer at any size. Over Christmas the Dita and Bardot lines debuted, and they’re set to continue into fall. Next spring Bardot gets a non-black color and Dita has redesigned embroidery to become Cabaret. I’d never wanted an all-over sheer bra before, but the lines looked so smart! The metallic embroidery on Dita was too much a lure for me, and I bought it because I thought it would run large (I don’t recall why I thought that, but it was true).

Construction

Three-part cut-sew plunge bra. The fabric is a sheer black mesh but for the seams and some embroidery on the top part of the cup. In 34FF there are three hooks in the closure (yaaaaay). Fully adjustable straps.

dita_frontdita_back

Fit

Once upon a time the complaint about lots of CK bras was that the cups were always wide as soup tureens and the shape too shallow. CK has redone the fit on several old items and used different dimensions on new ones. My prior unpadded Curvy Kate bra was Emily, which had wraparound wires and a shallow profile. With Dita this is not the case: the wires feel on the medium to narrow side in 34FF. If anything, the cups are a little too deep for me, giving some wrinkling and pulling on the fabric in various places. The cups seem on the generous side in this size.

dita_side dita_side2

Looks

These photos were taken from slightly below, so the angle is a bit awkward. The band is stressed because I’m wearing an extender, and the photo is also blurry. The side view also shows a little of my other breast. I thought I’d rather get you suboptimal photos than wait any longer for another photo session.The wrinkles I get in the cup show more prominently in the mirror than in these photos except when I’m lifting my arms.

The shape I get from this bra is slightly lifted and vertically compressed, which I’m cool with. The sheer black works well for me, but the top panel of the bra may dominate the look with its embroidery (I never thought I would say that I could do with less shiny!) depending on how full you are on the bottom. The shiny embroidery is not just silver, it’s a lovely iridescent.

The plunge cut is great if you’re just looking for something under a low-cut top without emphasizing cleavage. This keeps the breasts pretty separate and doesn’t push them up. Tall or full-on-top breasts may have issues with the fit or need to go up a size, and I don’t think I’d recommend this bra if you’re very shallow or close set, since there’s lots of space at the gore. So this bra seems best for projected separate medium-width breasts.

Well that’s all and good, you say, but this cup size is not GG+. How does this bra work in larger cup sizes? Unfortunately I can’t find any reviews on Dita in GG+ (there are pictures for someone in 30GG), but Becky Magson has reviewed the Bardot in 30H, which is their all-over sheer balcony bra.

It’s quite comfortable, lightweight, and I find it aesthetically appealing. It’s also more supportive than I would have guessed, jumping up and down produces surprisingly little bounce. Top marks to Curvy Kate for making an all-over sheer in GG+, I just wish I knew if it worked in larger cups so I could tell you more!

Coffee and Chocolate Pairing

In honor of the name Dita’s German origins, let’s go with a Ritter Sport.

These are very sweet, and I always run the risk of eating the whole bar at a time. Hasselnuss!

Did you know Melitta is a German company? Their founder invented the drip brew paper filter that I and many others use daily. I used to have a coffee maker by them which I left in NJ, and I often use the paper filters they make. I can’t speak to their coffee products, but they now make coffee suitable for Keurig machines.

If any German readers have a coffee brand they prefer, please let me know! I love to try new coffees.

Panache Rhapsody, Fern, and Clara fit checks

I’ve tried on a few Panache bras recently that didn’t quite work for me. I shall try to explain why and who they could work for.

Rhapsody

rhapsody_frontrhapsody_back rhapsody_side rhapsody_side2

I believe the Rhapsody is the same cut as the Tango, with an upside-down U for the bottom half of the cup. This may create lift for some, but since I’m full on the bottom and the fabric is rigid it fights my shape, resulting in in a diagonal line instead of curve at the bottom of the cup. The top of the cup has support but not lift, so it gets pulled down by the bottom of the cup, and it looks like my breasts are pointed at the floor in front of me. It runs pretty true to size, so it’s just a bit too small for me in a 34FF. I do love the rainbow embroidery though, it shimmers! If you like the tango or have some projection and breasts that are not top or bottom-heavy, this could be for you.

 

Fern

fern_front - Copyfern_back fern_side fern_side2

I tried this in a band size up since I was gaining weight at the time (36ff). The bottom of the cup isn’t projected enough for me and the apex is too projected, so I get another fabric fold, wrinkles in the cup, and the top of the cup cuts in. I would not recommend this to the shallow-breasted, but some of the designs have been so pretty! The fabric is very supportive.

 

Clara

clara_front clara_side1a clara_side`1b clara_side2

I mentioned this before, but now I have pictorial evidence! The bottom of the cup is not projected enough, and I have to go up a cup size to get a fit, with a bit of fabric fold on the bottom. Like Jasmine, there’s a bit more projection at the seam than my breasts normally have, so my breasts look shorter. As a result, the top of my breasts are mostly covered in the stretch lace instead of the cool pattern. I didn’t go with this because of aesthetic reasons- I can barely see the lovely print, which is what I bought it for! It does feel more supportive on top than Jasmine/Envy, but the bottom of the cup not having enough room is a bummer. Again, I think this bra would work better for women with more even fullness in their breasts and moderate projection.

Have you tried any of these Panache staples? Fern has been offered forever, Rhapsody has been out for several seasons, and Clara has caught fire and become a basic. Did you have similar issues with the fit, or did you have better luck than I did?

Bravissimo Tropic Exotic and Panache Jasmine fit checks

I purchased the Can Can from Bravissimo for Christmas, but I also bought some items from their holiday sale.

Bravissimo Tropic Exotic Half-cup

tropical_front tropical_side tropical_side2

Bravissimo Customer Service recommended me this in a 34G since I fit the Can Can in a 34FF. I initially thought this was too big when I got it, but then scooped and swept or whatever you want to call the process of getting all the tissue into the cups. Go up a cup size if you fall between them, or just go up a size. I loved the way it fit, but I didn’t keep it because I didn’t like the way the shade of pink looked on my skin. Unfortunately it’s difficult to tell these things from a catalog! The prominent embroidery on the edge of the cups will show up under knits.

Panache Jasmine, Bravissimo-exclusive color

jasmine_front jasmine_side2 jasmine_side jasmine_back

I love the paisley! It fits excellently, true to size. But…the lace is pinker than I wanted with the pictures coming out dark because I’m no lighting whiz, and more dusky instead of maroon. It seems I had a Pink Problem with this Bravissimo order! Oh well. I go back and forth on how I feel about Jasmine’s support, since I feel like the tops of my soft breasts tend to wobble in the projected cup and stretch lace more than I would like. I also feel like there’s an angle in on the underside of the cup instead of a curve.

I returned them both, and was promptly refunded. Good customer service from Bravissimo.

Bravissimo Can Can review

I’ve been experimenting more with cut-sew bras, because they are easier to take along when traveling, and dry faster after a washing. While I’m not going to give up my padded or molded bras just yet, I like finding new options that can work for me, and ideally give you all looking for bras some help. For Christmas I ordered the Bravissimo Can Can. Why is it called the Can Can? Your guess is probably better than mine.

Construction

Three-part balconette cut-sew bra. The bottom part of the cups is a stiff fabric overlaid with a thin black mesh. The upper part of the cups is made of sheer black mesh. There is additional lining in GG-K cups, which may be a major bummer for you. Two hooks in the back, three for GG-K cups. Straps are fully adjustable with a bit of detailing on the edges so they don’t slip.

cancan_frontcancan_side

Fit

The band is a pretty generous 34, but I don’t think I’d say size down. The cups felt a bit generous, too. A 34FF, which is the smaller of the sizes I take, felt comfortable through the day.

The gore is very narrow, so may work for persons who have breasts very close together, or at least not splayed like mine (I can easily put two fingers between my breasts, and they point outwards to boot). See the empty space in the cup and the line of the breasts? I can’t fill the cup near the gore, but the gore does lie flat. Near the gore the bottom of the cups do not have enough projection for me, so my breasts are lifted and there’s a trapped fold in the center. This is not true out towards my shoulder, though.

cancan_side2cancan_back

Looks

The green is a dark forest or hunter green, a little darker than I thought from the online store. The leaf embroidery on the top of the cups There’s a little charm at the gore which I usually don’t notice but the camera caught the flare of. I get a lifted shape close to my own, even if I’m fighting the cups towards the center.

I bought the bikini to coordinate, which has more of the green and black detailing on the sides and sheer black mesh on the back. The bikini ran a little large, especially in the back for me since I have no butt.

I don’t like how the unfilled space at the gore looks (and some others have reported the same thing on the Bravissimo website), but the bra’s comfort of all things had me keeping it. This is my first Bravissimo brand bra, and I’m impressed. Bravissimo are one of the champions of actually having GG+ bras in the 28-34 band range, even if they add extra lining. 28 F-J, 30-38 DD-K. 34 GBP ($50.50) plus eight dollars shipping. My two experiences with Bravissimo say that they ship quickly to America and handle returns promptly as well.

Have you tried Bravissimo? What are your favorites?

Pairing

Chocolate: Divine Mint Dark Chocolate. Has a crunchy mint crisp. Retails around $4 for a 3oz bar in grocery stores. Somewhat Christmasy, but good anytime.

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.