Due to a move with getting out of shape, an enforced period of inactivity after surgery, medication changes, and vacation in several places, I’ve replaced muscle with fat. This means over half my bras don’t fit. Too tight or too small in the cup. I’ve been putting bras in storage (some which I was waiting on wearing until others stretched out) and had to buy a few new ones. Some of them I will give away, and some I might try reselling. It’s been a while since I measured myself anyway. The older bras will be on standby if I get into a different shape. I changed gyms since the move and now go to the Y for weights and stationary cycle at home while reading.

I made myself a new rule: anything that doesn’t fit right now goes in a suitcase. Looking at it in the drawer is just depressing. I do this monthly. The new arrivals I’m rocking include Curvy Kate’s Dita and the Masquerade Antoinette. The new arrivals that did not rock with me were two Claudette Dessous. I will review them all for you as life slows down a bit.

I received my order from Pillowbook and am floored by the lovely silks. Before I get pictures of the treasures on I recommend you check out their site for Far East lingerie with geometric flair. Their showcase garment is the dudou, an evolution of a tied top dating back to the Ming dynasty. Also, check out the Mondrian capsule collection (thanks Caro!). I never thought I’d enthuse over the use of corners in lingerie, but life has taken me stranger places.

Over vacation I went to the Taza chocolate factory and I must say I ate the chocolate covered cashews too fast. Worth it, though. They’re out of stock in the online store right now:

promo photo from tazachocolate.com

 

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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?

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.

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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…

Cleo Neve review

Cleo’s basic t-shirt option was called the Jude, and seemed a bra that fit differently than anything else I knew. It cut in at the top for me, and there would be extra space in the apex of the molded cup. It had a very wide gore with this, so when it did work for people, it was one of the few that fit right.

I was not in that category, and I don’t historically fit in Cleo bras- I tend to spill out of the sides and be unable to fill the tops of the cups. However, I like their older sister brand Panache enough that I am always happy to give a new design a try. Neve seemed a bit shallower than Jude and doesn’t have lace layered on the cup that can show through shirts, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Construction

Molded plunge bra. This is generally my favorite type of style. Fully adjustable straps and two hooks in the back. High sides of the cup and the wires feel medium length, not as short as many Cleo bras, so I don’t fall out.  The band is quite arched and discontinuous, so it may be more forgiving of a high tummy or front ribcage flare. The gore felt medium width, seemingly (from measurements on Bratabase) closer set than Jude.

Fit

This is an overall shallow bra with medium-to wide cup, but does have enough room at the bottom of the cup to prevent the fabric buckling on me. I don’t recommend this if one is full on top or needs deep cups, since I filled out the cup thoroughly. The top of the cups were folding over outwards when I first got the bra, but after several washes there’s no issue.

Also, this bra runs small all over. I had to go up a cup and a band size, to 36FF. The band was quite tight on the first few wears. Not sure if that’s especially for the black version

I am really not sure how I am not falling out of the center of this bra. I have soft tissue and this is a deep plunge, so I would guess the situation could be precarious. There’s enough support somehow, somewhere that everything stays reasonably in place for the day.

Looks

I got this in black. Everything goes with black, right? There’s a decorative edging on the top of the cups that reminds me of the Josie Hippi briefs (which are much less expensive), so I wear those together sometimes. Another ornamental touch is a teardrop charm in the center. The straps have this cool slightly shiny checkered pattern that’s pretty subtle. Other than that it’s a basic. It gives a pretty round and separated shape. I got some cleavage towards the middle, not quite Deco level because the gore is wider.

Further notes

The specific bra I bought has an odd problem- the elastic sometimes squeaks! Not the wires or their casings, but the elastic in the back if I change posture or move my arms around a lot. I thought washing would take care of that, but it hasn’t eliminated the problem. It doesn’t interfere with anything else, though. I advise when you first try Neve on to roll your shoulders about to test that.

The price point is $55, the cheapest English t-shirt bra, but I can’t say how long it will last compared to other molded t-shirt bras. Size range is a little bigger than Deco: 28-38 D-H, but if it runs small in the cup in all bands, it only goes to GG. Yay for 28 bands! I don’t know if it also runs small at the smaller band sizes, but if so, it seems like an option for 26 backs.

This bra reminds me of my late great Panache Porcelain Plunge, although it doesn’t have the same structure at the bottom of the cup. It’s an excellent T-shirt bra and feels a bit different from Deco. Since they both work decently for me, I now have twice the fashion colors to choose from, although I find the current pink a little alarming. This season there’s a bright flower print and for fall we have the Neve Excite (which is horrific and I am probably getting despite some lace on the wings because it is so blinding), and a cobalt blue,  if this season’s cobalt Freya didn’t quite work for you. I’m really excited that I can wear some Cleo bras now!

Quick notes on some bra/swim fits

I bought and returned the Masquerade Angie. The band is not as tight as other Masquerade bands, but I’d need to go up a cup size (from 34FF). It was quite pretty with a lovely shape, but a bit lacy for me. Did not order an exchange because of that.

I also bought and returned the Panache Talullah bikini. The fit was amazingly accurate in 34FF and the shape flattering, but the color was much duller and purple dominated (instead of rainbows) than I had anticipated. Ergo, since I don’t truly need a swimsuit I’m sending it back.

I got fit for the orange Maddie at a San Francisco Nordstrom. Go up a band and a cup for this one, I think…36FF was the closest fit for me and there might be a teensy bit of overspill. Took it home with me. Still testing it!

I also found that Fantasie’s Susanna fits me surprisingly well in 34FF. It doesn’t feel as deep a cup as most Fantasie bras. I didn’t purchase it due to being uninspired by the pattern.

Balancing purchases, or things I’ve bought

Amazon’s another source of bras for me now- with free shipping and returns for several bras, the only barrier to me trying more stuff is my annoyance at sending stuff back (repackaging and going to the PO which is a bit of a walk from work). I also feel far less weird about sending a bra back to Amazon than to a smaller retailer who needs to restock and evaluate with slimmer margin for error. My policy these days is to look for a smaller retailer if they have stuff I know I love or that I can try on in store, and look to the big distributors for purchases I am not sure will work.

Anyway, since I outgrew my Charlotte I ordered another one but had to futz with the size somewhat. Tried the balcony style but it didn’t fit my shape (was more projected), and am now happy in the 36G padded style. The cups are ever-so-slightly too tall, but it fits well on my shallow shape. No empty space at bottom or sides. I am happy that an American brand works for me, and will see about other colors once I break this one in. What if my back measurement grows more? I doubt it…

I also nabbed a Deco Honey in jade as it was being phased out. When I find a color I like in a shape I like, I take it. That’s my new philosophy. Also I finally found my proper Neve size since it runs tight and small, so there’s another awesome under-tank top option in lots of colors. I’m looking at amazing posts from Sweets and Miss Underpinnings and The Lingerie Lesbian for upcoming Autumn excitement. Time to update my Pinterest!

Extenders extension

I’ve taken to wearing extenders for most all of my bras, especially the pretty ones. My band measurement keeps getting bigger, enough that some bras don’t fit me even with an extender (my Masquerade 32s are so sad cry cry cry lovely and not replaceable models). It’s a good thing I can do this for some, though, as my actual breast volume hasn’t changed. I’ve gained fluffiness and musculature and I feel so stupid for wanting to lose some of that so I could fit into old clothes. I’ve returned a bunch of bras, mailed some out as listed, and I’m tired of mailing out packages at the post office. But those are not extreme concerns in my life, and I’ll move on to what I’ve learned.

Extenders come in different sizes! I’ve ordered them in two-hook and four-hook, and they seem to come in three and five hooks as well. However, one ‘size’ doesn’t fit all: different bras have different amount of spacing between the hooks. I now have extenders in 3/8″, 1/2″, and 3/4″ and use them all. They don’t all fit perfectly, as I think some bras have 5/8″ between hooks. I’ve used Dritz, Maidenform, and Brah! extenders, and they do the job. They come in packs of black/white/beige, which seems boring for most of my lingerie. The Kloud, Bundle Monster, and Boolevard extenders come in more colors, but I’ve only seen options for ordering variety packs of twelve or so at a time, and they may not have the space between hooks that you need. These are the US options, anyway.

Extenders will have different tension than the rest of your bra band. Sometimes I find myself needing to adjust the band during the day. Additionally, since we have more hooks, they can dig in or feel funny across the back. I’m using them to extend the life or wearability of some of my bras as I slowly get bigger ones that fit. I’m reluctant to replace my entire wardrobe at once, it seems sad somehow…

Freya Marvel and Fantasie Martina notes

I ordered these to try on. Neither worked for me, but here’s what I noticed!

Freya Marvel

Construction: Cut-sew bra with a vertical seam and a bit of side support (there’s a vertical seam near the side of the cup).

This gives a pretty minimized profile, I don’t have much projection myself so it works for that. However, I may have too little even for this. The 34FF came up a teensy bit small when I first put it on, so I assumed that after a few hours I’d be overflowing. The 34G is a little open at the top, but I experienced wrinkling at the apex of the cup. Both sizes hugged the top of the chest unevenly, so instead of a straight seam it appeared a bit oddly curved (this is true on many models I’ve seen wearing the bra). I do like what they’ve done with this bra, but I think it’s a bit incompatible with my bottom-heavy shallow breasts.

Fantasie Martina

Construction: 3 part-cut-sew bra. Vertical seam near strap for side support.

To my surprise, this didn’t fit me that badly. There’s some room in the middle or top of the cups which means it’s better suited for even fullness breasts. The reason I didn’t keep it was because the upper panel looked yucky on me and dominated the look. Since I’m fuller on the bottom, one doesn’t get to see as much of the bottom of the cup, which is a fun metallic bronze.

I’ve tried a few more things that didn’t fit as my back continues to gain muscle and fluff. Parfait and Cleo up next.

The Uncertainty of Size

I’ve hit the point where most of my 32 bands need extenders (my ribcage is now 33.5″ and not squishy), so I’d bought the Deco Honeys and a Panache unpadded Dahlia to ‘tide me over’ until I figured out a consistent size. This has caused me a large amount of brainhurt for some reason I couldn’t fathom for a while until I figured out that I was upset about needing extenders with glamorous bra sets in styles that don’t exist anymore. For example, the Masquerade Delphi in sepia, and the Rhea in mulberry. They just don’t feel ‘replaceable’, have plenty of life left in the elastic, but wearing an extender just feels a bit of a mood-bummer. I actually went and ordered a larger Fauve Bronte in spice while I still could.

Tighter bras can interfere with singing- I took a few singing lessons with a bra I knew was too tight and I could definitely tell the difference. None of my sports bras fit anymore, either. I actually don’t have the correct extenders for them (regular fabric extenders feel like an odd choice), so I’ve been doing my weightlifting and biking in regular bras. While this is nowhere near high-impact, it’s suboptimal. There’s the typical ‘what if my size changes more’ fear that is stopping me from replacing them yet. It’s more fear of having too many bras- I don’t want to turn into some kind of bra hoarder. Now you know more about my neuroses! To purge that thought I sold off some older bras and will list a few more (Masquerade Amor berry, Freya Deco Wireless). We will see what people actually want. It’s worth it to not need an extender for any bra I can replace.

Experiences with Eveden

I was thinking of what I look for when I shop, and what I’ve discovered about various brands. I’m starting a series on Experiences With _____, which will give a general idea of what I’ve found and can hopefully be a starting point for anyone getting acquainted with the world of DD+ bras.

I’m not young at heart, and I also don’t have a ‘youthful’ profile. My tissue is not firm and will spill towards the center or out the sides if given a chance. It’s kinda wide and bottom heavy and there’s a lot of space between my breasts, so if I want cleavage I need to bring out the big guns. I also don’t have a lot of forward projection.

In any case, let’s go through what I’ve experienced with the Eveden Group of bras:

Eveden is Goddess, Elomi, Freya, Fauve, and Fantasie. Goddess and Elomi are out of my size range, so I don’t feel much qualified to comment except that I adore the shiny fabric on many Elomi bras. Fauve is Eveden’s luxury brand, with a pretty limited size range (up to GG in unpadded bras, up to G in padded, 30-38?). I’ve only tried the Bronte longline, which I’m told doesn’t fit like others.

Fantasie generally markets to women from twenty-five to forty, I think. The designs are utilitarian (lots of basic/function bras) to feminine, with lace and darker or pastel colors. The cups tend to run very full in almost all the bras I’ve tried (Ava, Jana, t-shirt unmolded, t-shirt molded, Susanna), and that doesn’t work well with shallow profiles. Many of us get shallower as we get older, so I’m not sure how much of the older market they work for. None of the basics or molded cup bras work for me, and the fabric-and-lace bras aren’t really my style but fit a bit better. The wires are about average in the bras I’ve tried, and the bands tend to run true to size.

The exception here is Rebecca, an amazingly forgiving bra that may be full but will mold to your shape instead of the other way around. I can see myself happily buying this bra or its descendants when I am seventy.

Freya is a brand targeted for younger customers. The models look younger, and there are more bright colors and whimsical prints.

The Freya bras I’ve tried (Deco, unpadded balconettes, unpadded plunges, and padded half-cups) feel like they have loose bands or are very stretchy. Freya consistently stocks those four shapes in different colors and prints, and sometimes there’s something else (this season’s Marvel looks like an actual new cut). I have trouble filling out the apices of the cups for the unpadded bras, so the cups are too deep for me.

Deco is Freya’s cash machine, and it comes out in eleventy billion colors and prints. Not all of them are alike, though! Some of them have detailing on the top of the cup that makes the cups ever so slightly smaller (Deco Flamingo, Spotlight, Taylor, Ashlee, the new fashion colors). It doesn’t work well for very shallow shapes or very soft tissue, and I’m surprised it actually does work well for me.

Freya also has a Sport line, of which I’ve only tried the underwired unpadded bra. It definitely does the heavy lifting, but it gives me a very pointed and projected shape, due to the cup construction and flat horizontal seam. Again, the cups are deeper towards the apex, so I can get some cutting in at the top and have wrinkling in the center of the cup.

My basic understanding of the brands is currently that Freya bands run loose, and most Fantasie and Freya bras have deeper cups than fit me flatteringly. However, the Rebecca and Deco seem to be an exception and will always be in my drawer.