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.

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

 

PSA: Bratabase giveaway

Human who wear bras (not just ladies and gentlemen),

I bought a 34FF Curvy Kate Starlet a while back and decided I just could not deal with the fabric fold at the bottom, so I’m giving it away. This bra works better for those who have less lower fullness or projection on the underside of the breasts.

starlet_front starlet_back starlet_side starlet_side2

If you have a bratabase profile and can tell me a little about what bras work for you, you can look at the listing and message me until 26 April.

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!

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.

Zovo Lingerie visit

Hello, readers! I’m in Istanbul, Turkey, visiting family. It’s a bra wasteland here as far as I can tell because the local brands go 34-38 A-C as far as I can tell. There’s one exception- the English giant Marks and Spencer is all around and I believe they carry my size. I’ll be curious to try on their own brand although their sizing is a bit odd in that they skip the FF cup size so I’d be a GG. Hope the malls carry my size!

A little over a week ago I stopped by Zovo Lingerie at the University Village (shopping plaza near the University of Washington) in Seattle. They bill as having extended sizes, and that was true! My one dampening note about the boutique is that the prices are their own- things aren’t MSRP and the original tags aren’t attached to garments. I understand that it’s a nice atmosphere and the attendant was great and the rent may be high but…I feel it’s one thing to comparison shop online vs. store, and another to take off the tag on the bra when I know how much it costs at the local Nordstrom and that there’s a recommended ‘retail’ price. This is also true at Bellefleur. The boutiques do offer some bras I can’t find at Nordstrom but it does leave me with a bad taste in my mouth that the original tag (not just the price) is gone.

I came into Zovo with no intention of buying a bra but just checking things out, and I told the saleslady this a bit apologetically. She was understanding and asked what size I usually took so I could try things on anyway. I saw the Fauve Delphine but they didn’t have it in my size. Zovo carries Prima Donna, but I don’t really like the look of the Prima Donna/Marie Jo bras that come in my size. Instead they had a heap of bras for me to try on- the Deco and its Flamingo and Charm versions, the Fantasie Jana, Freya’s Hello Dolly, the Porcelain Viva, and Curvy Kate Emily.

First up, Fantasie Jana molded version. I love the black and purple, I love molded cups, but I’ve had trouble with Fantasie’s cups because they’re fuller than I am and don’t contour to my profile (except Rebecca, which is made of spacer foam), and unfortunately Jana follows this trend. Lots of extra room in the cup, and sizing down made it cut in. Oh well! I enjoyed chatting with the fitter about the differences between brands and we agreed that I’m generally a Panache girl.

I used to wear the Deco a ton in 30GG until I got tired of the fabric buckling and the overspill. However, I’ve gained some muscle mass around the rib cage (hello back resistance training) so I tried it in a 32G. Results were actually great in the plain version- the Deco Charm felt a little small. I’m so glad I get to wear it again, since the fabric doesn’t buckle in the 32 band (less lateral stress on the cups?). The fitter was quite impressed, she said it’s less common for the Deco to work in G-GG cup sizes. I guess I’m shallow but not enough to have trouble with the top of the cups, and still not too soft that I spill overmuch. I got a wonderful side profile, no seams or visible embroidery on my shirt. Full marks!

Curvy Kate Emily, midnight version, in 30GG. Fitter said it ran loose, and I knew that was true with my prior Emily. However, the bra cut in the center seam and the upper panel looked enormous. We agreed that it wasn’t the bra for me but the black and gold/tan are beautiful.

Unfortunately but predictably, Freya’s Hello Dolly wasn’t comfortable and gave me a pointy torpedo shape. I have this problem with most of their balconettes, so no real surprises. Finally, I tried to Porcelain Viva in 32G and it was a tiny bit small and I experienced fabric buckling at the bottom. This and age are why I threw out my old Porcelains. Perhaps going up a cup size would work, but the range only goes to G. I was impressed enough with the selection and the help that I bought a bottle of Forever New, which I’d been meaning to try.

Flatteringly, the lady told me she was sure they would take me as a part-time worker if I wanted because I seemed to know so much. I’ll be back to try and buy other things since I really want to be able to try things on in a store and will pay to keep them around. They also carry LELO products which add to the semi-luxe feel of the store. Very tasteful. I also saw some Elomi bras on display as well as Mimi Holliday.

Randomly, I’ll have to miss Sinners and Saints, which bills itself as Seattle’s Premier Lingerie Event, because I’ll still be in Turkey. Now that I know about it, I’ll want to go next year!

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?

Curvy Kate Spring/Summer 2013 Collection

Curvy Kate is a relatively new company, and I remember when they didn’t have any continuity bras, just fun colors. Some of the styles have translated well to continuity colors (Emily), and some I just see as ‘meh’ (Lottie). I have a rocky relationship with Curvy Kate bras: I’ve returned a Tease Me and a Thrill Me, keep an Emily on low rotation, and own a Tempt Me that I rarely wear because it’s slightly too small but remain attached nonetheless. Sizing’s tricky for their bras, and the cups are wide and shallow. However, the color combinations are often amazing (teal and gold!), and the padded bras look fantastic for a boudoir shoot or lounging about.

Every half-year I take a sneak peek at their new brochure, and I’ve found some surprises/items of interest.

Princess in Orchid: far too girly for me in terms of detailing, but the color makes me want to go and eat cupcakes right now.

Gia:  The ‘strengthening laminated lower cup’ is apparently a hit in the GG+ range. I think they used a similar material in the Lottie. Does anyone know what the section is laminated with or how? It’s not a bra for me because I usually dislike sheerish upper panels and the wide wires don’t fit me well in non-padded cups. However, the geometry is fun! Cheryl of Invest in Your Chest finds the fit problematic for shallow profiles.

Desire: CK’s multiway bra! It actually has a curlicue print that I can’t really see on the light colors. I’d be curious to try it but am afraid the cut would be the same as the Tempt Me/Wild/Elegance (too shallow at the bottom of the cup for bottom-heavy breasts).

Enchant: I think this is CK’s first plunge bra? Normally I’d say this is too girly and sheer but the detailing and color are exquisite geometrically- I’m thinking chain among the clouds. Yes, I do love purple. If I get a new job I’ll want to try it out…my reservations are once again wire width and that CK tends to make the sheer part of the cup really big and sometimes unflattering in larger cup sizes.

Smoothie: This bra’s been on my wishlist since it came out. I am not really a pink person, and the blush version is a little light for my skin, but I love myself black t-shirt bras for my black tank tops. The leopardish print is thankfully not garish. Someday someday someday! I do need to figure out sizing- Erica of A Sophisticated PairBras I Hate and Love, and Cheryl of Invest in Your Chest have  reviewed this.

Tease Me: The purple is so bright and fun! I have sent Showgirl bras back in the past as they tend to show up under my clothes and I don’t like frills. It’s photos like this that make me regret that. I believe this is the last Tease Me we will see for a while (I peeked at the A/W 2013 catalog). I really enjoyed the black color combinations which are no longer available. For this bra, size down in the band and at least up one in the cup.

Fashion colors: Orchid, purple, and seafoam. A bit of raspberry, too! The seafoam color is unique and somehow warm-feeling, and I adore purples.

Wait, they don’t make those anymore?!: The Angel and Elegance seem to be gone, with the Elegance leaving more recently (surprising me because of the continuity colors). Perhaps the Desire has the same cut and is its replacement? The Angel had a cool criss-cross overlay, but the ribbon on top could cause fit problems so I never tried it.

Where do bras come from?

I became curious as to where my money goes if I buy a bra new. A share goes to the retailer, but some also goes to the brand. Most bras I own say ‘Made in China’ on them, so I assume some also goes to the the Chinese factories to the (presumably) Chinese laborers. My impression is that most clothing companies do their manufacturing in Asia (American Apparel is the only American zaibatsu, or vertically integrated company I can think of).  To make things more confusing, many brands have names that are not suggestive of their origin. I thought I’d do some research to find out where bra companies are headquartered.

Here’s what my investigation turned up so far-

  • Wacoal may sound like an English (British or American) word, but it’s interestingly enough a Japanese company! I assumed that they were American due to their market penetration (the brand is the only D-FF brand I see in most US department stores, but do they carry the plus sizes? ).
  • Freya, Fantasie, Fauve, Elomi, Goddess, and Huit form the Eveden group, which I thought were British companies (except for Huit, who were recently acquired from France). Wacoal acquired them last year. My Freya Decos say ‘Made in Sri Lanka,’ so some money is going to Sri Lanka, some to England, and I assume some to Japan.
  • Ewa Michalak is based in Lodz, Poland. They are a small business and ship from Poland. Where is the sewing done? The tags say ‘Product of Poland’. Ewa Michalak is the designer herself, so yes, the money I pay goes to Ewa and her employees who probably live in Poland.
  • All of the Panache/Masquerade bras I own say Made in China, but the company is headquartered in England. Panache is a loanword from the French, as is Masquerade. I guess it evokes French haute couture?
  • Curvy Kate are English, English, English! I’m reminded of Kate Winslet’s quote, were they founded for this?
  • Triumph International are a German company, but their East Asian branch is the one I’m familiar with. When I went to go visit my mother’s family in Taiwan almost all of the bras were Triumph ones. I didn’t see a single non-padded one while I was there. I believe the average bustline in East Asia is smaller. This could be influencing Triumph’s investment in making pretty padded bras that don’t come in plus sizes.
  • When I was growing up, I always assumed Victoria’s Secret was an English brand because of Queen Victoria! Nope, they’re American and headquartered in Ohio. The manufacturing is done overseas.
  • I will mention Fredericks of Hollywood because they have the most transparent name! They were founded by Frederick, and were headquartered in Hollywood! In 2006 they moved to New York City. Their clothing is usually imported. I love their corset designs, shame none of them fit me.

Please let me know if I made any mistakes! I’m curious as to the names behind the brand names, too- what is an ‘elomi’?

Customer Experience: Asos

ASOS is originally an English online marketplace, I believe, but it’s selling in the US now. Their boast is that there’s free shipping both ways, and I will attest that they do honor that. Past orders have included a Panache Porcelain Plunge bra and a Freya Deco Strapless.

The selection seems to mostly be fashion collections with various random continuity stuff, so what you’ll get varies wildly. I’ve seen the Eveden and Panache collections, Miss Mandalay, Curvy Kate, Gossard, Lepel, and Wonderbra. The clearance section is a great place to snap up a find, and the regular inventory is cheaper than most places online. Something that burned me is that the bras are in US cup sizes: D, DD, F, G, H, I, J. I haven’t seen anything beyond M US. The British version of the site uses British sizing, but if you’re in the US the way to get the free shipping and returns is to use the US site. They might have different stock in the US versus UK.

Delivery takes about a week to Boston and comes in a reusable bag with a printed shipping label for returns, which is utterly and fantastically convenient. Since I don’t go with the majority of things I try on, that’s very valuable. However, you cannot do an exchange- only a return because of the way they seem to stock things. I’ve had to cancel an order before and it wasn’t difficult. However, I could not change just one item and had to cancel the whole order. My coupon code was apparently one-use and I found that I couldn’t use it on the new item.

All said, this is the most risk-free method of online shopping I’ve seen. The sizing can be confusing, and you may not find something you like, but if you do, give it a shot.