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!

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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!

Cleo Maddie Animal review

I was terrified that Panache would cancel this Maddie like it has been canceling so many styles I found intriguing. So terrified that I snapped one up immediately after the lady at Nordstrom fitted me. To my surprise, it’s at many online outlets (Bare Necessities, Breakout Bras, Nordstrom online, Amazon). They’re starting to put it on sale since it’s a fashion style.

Construction

Molded cup (thinner than Deco) with lace edging at the top. Inside of cups is also orange. Two hooks at back. The cups are somewhat wide, and the gore high and arched (good for rib or abdominal bones and fluff on bottom, but not so great for protruding sternums). Fully adjustable straps placed a bit on the wide side.

Fit

I found this bra to run quite small, and went up a band and two cup sizes to 36G, where I wear a 34FF in most Panache bras. For reference, I still wear a 34FF Deco Honey/Charm. It’s reasonably supportive, meaning I can run around some in it, but I wouldn’t play soccer (I’ve had World Cup Fever since 1994).

Looks

Now that’s orange. Orange with a darker orange shiny leopard print on it. I’m not normally one for prints, but if it’s in shiny orange, I’ll take it. The print doesn’t contrast. The lace makes it look a little more girly which clashes for me, but I will take it. I get a roundish shape with just a bit of cleavage- it’s more ‘relaxed’ than Deco or Neve. There’s also a fuschia bow on it.

This is currently the most cheerful bra I own. I am told the Maddie in solid colors does not work as well for full-on-bottom or shallow shapes (I vaguely remember trying it on, and the fit being similar to Maddie Animal, but I suggest you try for yourself if you can, as that’s a popular bra). More T-shirt bras in small band-larger cup sizes are welcome. This bra, along with Neve, is available in a 28 band. If you normally wear a 26 band, the 28 might work. I’m not completely sure, though, because sometimes band stretch differs across sizes.

I will also join the chorus asking for Cleo bras with three-hook closures. If you have either Maddie printed or non, how does it fit you?

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.

Spring/Summer with Panache

I think I will be buying Panache bras until they no longer come in my size, they go out of business, or I die. They often have at least a few bras that fit my shape well: full on bottom, soft, shallow, splayed, wider root. However, their deliveries often seem to be late to stores (compared to anticipated day out), and I’m not a huge fan of their fashion orders having such a narrow window so far ahead of delivery date. When your size changes before you get the new bra, well, that doesn’t encourage preordering. I haven’t found any other brand that compares in fit for me, though.

Panache Superbra

I’ve had more luck with their basics than anywhere else except Freya’s Deco. There’s enough variety here to fit most people, but here are the standouts for me in style and personal taste:

Jasmine

Ivory floral looks intriguing, it’s the first Jasmine print I’ve liked in a while. What’s more, it’s coordinated with a purple lace. If Freya did this it would be called ‘quirky’. I find it unusual and attractive. Jasmine is a bit too projected for my shape to feel supported properly on top, but the bra is popular with many because it’s so forgiving on top and supportive on the bottom.

Clara

Turkish Delight? Turkish delight (or lokum) is traditionally more of a pastel color on the outside and the inside can be colored, but I haven’t seen this color before. Regardless, it’s some awesome purples with an attractive cut involving the forgiving stretch lace.

Dahlia

Dahlia

A continuity style which I love and should buy in my new size goshdarnit.

Porcelain Plunge

A great basic in a better size range than the regular Porcelain. I know it’s due to be redesigned, so it’s worth grabbing more if it currently works for you.

 

Cleo

Normally Cleo is too projected for me, with full cups I can’t fill. Then there’s terrifying-to-me lace in places I didn’t know you could stick it. Lace ruffles? Great googly moogly. However, I have found that their molded cups do work for me.

Neve

Pink is my meh, but that big bold floral is fun without necessarily being teenage. I’ve recently found that Neve fits me, and it’s my competitor to Deco for ‘plunge that fits’ with occasional colors I like. I need to go up a band and cup size for it, though (36FF, when I wear a 34FF in many bras). Also, no lace edging at all! No bows! Just a button!

Maddie

I adore orange. Don’t adore animal print, but for sheer orangeness in my size, this can’t be beat. I know I have to go up at least a cup size with regular Maddie, we’ll see how this fits. I haven’t seen it for sale anywhere, though. Waiting waiting.

Marcie

I also love yellow. This is a wonderful cheery color the Lucy came in last year or the year before, can’t remember. I can’t fit in the Marcie myself and it’s not my style, but if you want to have some brights under your clothes, Marcie has deeper cups and wires that aren’t very long.

Masquerade

The past few seasons I have been unimpressed by most of Masquerade, feeling it rehashed and a bit too Old Europe for my tastes. However, they deliver wonderful shapes in tasty fabric at a price point below Fauve (and in more extended sizes). So I’ll keep watching and waiting, while commenting on what I like this season.

Rhea

Oh, I wish they made Rhea in fashion colors again. You can’t go wrong with black, but it feels too safe. Also, please expand your size range I know many women would love it. If we keep on saying it it could happen?

Utopia

Finally, a strapless bra that isn’t neutral. Topaz tone and vertical seams. If I ever wore strapless, this would be a definite buy.

Swim

I need an excuse to buy this new bikini. However, Seattle is not a constant-beach place. Maybe if I’m stubborn enough?

Talullah

Wow. You can get it in tankini. You can get a high waisted brief. And all with those lovely colors. Where can I order this in the US?

 

That’s my current-season Panache roundup, excepting Sculptresse, which I don’t follow because I’m still sized out. What have you liked this season so far?

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!

Mini-review-palooza

I received a Bare Necessities order on the same day I stopped in at Bellefleur. Of the bras I tried on and received, I bought/kept only one, but I would have bought another if it came in a bigger band size.

Bellefleur had a lot of new stock in so I tried on what I could. They have a good selection right now in DD-G for a brick-and-mortar store (I will take what I can get). I tried the Masquerade Orla, Masquerade Ardour, Cleo Lori, and Panache Dahlia on.

The Masquerade Ardour fit in a 32G, although the band was tight and I may want to wear it with an extender for a full day, or just go up to a 34FF since the band is not stretchy. This is basically the Amor in black, so it has the same forgiving fit in the cups. I could have done without all the extra lace detailing, though.

I tried the Cleo Lori in a 34FF since they didn’t have a 32G, and the bottom of the cup was beautifully rounded. The top of the cup was not filled out, so this bra seems best for average to full profiles. Down a size would probably cut in. Also, the band is pretty stretchy.

I tried the Masquerade Orla in a 32G and the bra wouldn’t fasten. Whoops. It was quite pretty though, a nice non-padded half cup that seemed to fit in the cups. I’d love to try it in a 34FF but Bellefleur didn’t have it.

The winner was Panache’s new Dahlia in 32G. Think the Jasmine construction with no lace on top, just sheer mesh with an awesome pattern. It’s probably a bad fit if you’re full on top since the top of the cup is pretty full, but if you’re average profiled or shallow like me, the panel being made of less stretchy material will feel more supportive. The price was slightly marked up (three dollars, which I’m willing to pay for the chance to try everything on). The cups run somewhat generous, and the band feels somewhere between true to size and generous. I was so happy to find this in store! It doesn’t replace the lovely shape Confetti gave me, but them’s the breaks.

My Bare Necessities order contained the Claudette Sophia and the Curvy Kate Gia in purple. The Sophia didn’t really work in that the cups were very small for me in a 34G and the gore wouldn’t tack at all. It felt quite shallow. It’s a pretty bra, but doesn’t seem to come in my size.

I tried the Gia in a 32GG and it was just too big in the cups (I overflow a 32G in most CK bras). The shape seemed somewhat relaxed, though not as much as Emily’s. The shiny purple was excellent though, and I was more enamored of the design than I thought I would be. I didn’t feel like the cups were quite as wide as other CK bras I’ve tried.

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.

Fit/sizing for Bella, Charlotte, and Rebecca

I don’t feel comfortable giving an entire review with bras I’ve tried on/had less than a week, but I think the following information might be timely for some.

Cleo Bella: I think I’m getting too old for Cleo, but I try them on anyway. This design is quite generous in the cup and I had trouble filling out the top of a 32G. I didn’t feel secure and tended to jiggle around walking about the fitting room, especially out the sides near my armpits.

Parfait by Affinitas Charlotte: Runs at least one cup size small (in the redesign size range). I was quad-boobing near the center gore. The four hooks on the back of a 32GG made me sing with delight, though!

Fantasie Rebecca: Pleasantly surprised this time around! The band runs a little loose. The spacer fabric means no empty space on the bottom! I went down one and a half cup sizes (32FF) and it fits wonderfully so far. However, I did have a headlight incident (nipple show-through), so if that’s a big deal for you you may need more padding.