elomi Bijou review

elomi’s Bijou (a bijou is a little piece of jewelry) is their plunge t-shirt bra with a racerback converter. That screams versatility, and the style comes out in a new fashion color every half-year. There’s also a fancier version for those who like a bit of embroidery on top, the Bijou Soiree.

Construction

Molded bra with a continuous, arched band. At HerRoom the tip is that this is a great bra for an “apple-shaped” woman. Leaving aside the confusing-to-me classification of people as fruit, I think that means the arch leaves some room for high tummies. Since it’s a plunge, there’s a very low gore. Leotard back with J-hook to convert to racerback.  2-3 hook closure, depending on the bra size.

Fit

A 36F was my best fit in this color, although when I tried it on in a store a while ago a 36FF worked better for me in black. Perhaps the black runs smaller. True-to-size in the band, and your cup size will vary depending on where your fullness is. I get an uneven orange-in-a-glass effect because I have more immediate projection in some parts on the bottom of the cup than the bra is pre-shaped for. Even when I pull down the back of the band, there’s a bit of looseness at the top of the back. I didn’t notice it until I looked at the photos.

If you’re fuller on top or the center, you may want to go up a size. I found the sides were quite high (not the wires, the wings). When I clip the hook in back, tissue spills out towards my armpits. I left this in the photos without rescooping. This does partially mitigate the fabric buckling at the bottom, but means there’s more looseness and rippling in the back where the wings end. Maybe I’m hooking it at the wrong point of the straps? If you’ve advice there I’d love a comment.

Looks

Very smooth and uncomplicated. The colors Bijou comes in are usually very saturated, and I liked the jewel tone of this “Pansy” colorway. There’s some contrast zig-zag stitching on the sides of the cup that goes from the back of the band to little bows where the straps meet the cups. There’s also a bow at the gore of the same color as the stitching. The shape isn’t too far from my natural one, a lifted bottom-heavy teardrop. I’m not sure if this would work for somebody who is very round, projected, or full on top.

Final Thoughts

A comparison to Freya’s Deco is inevitable since they’re both Wacoal Eveden t-shirt bras that sometimes use the same contrast seams. Bijou does not have the upper edging on the cups and plunges more deeply. The coverage and shape are different: Bijou does more of a containment job and doesn’t push my very separate breasts together, the cups are teardrop-shaped and separate. Deco creates more cleavage and pushes in from the sides more. Bijou has thinner padding.

After several months, I can vouch for this bra’s comfort factor in my size: it’s the plunge/t-shirt option that I can put on and forget I’m wearing a bra for the longest time. It’s pricey and the fabric fold and band ripple means it won’t be the most durable of my bras, but it’s a useful staple to have in my wardrobe. Bijou is one of the few molded plunges in higher band sizes, and now I understand why it’s a bestseller.

 

Budgeting for space and money

Last year I bought too much lingerie.

The past half year has been more Hanky Panky camis and underpants than I really needed, with some of it in storage. Ah well. It’s not like black stretch thongs go bad if I don’t wear them, and they’re more forgiving of size changes than, say, bras. The never-worn still-tagged ones can be resold or donated if I don’t find myself reaching for them.

hanky panky batik cami and short
but seriously that batik print is so unusual

I also went a bit crazy buying tap pants, pajamas, and chemises. Mary Green was going out of business, so I bought whatever I could in winter 2015. I also bought two Julianne of London knickers and a pajama set for…reasons. The pajama set is so cool, though! Then I visited Christine’s shop in Vancouver and couldn’t resist another chemise and a robe since they were so pretty in person and inexpensive in-store.

julianne
wicked smaht, right? also on sale

There was my luscious Pillowbook purchase. That was just worth it. More about later, I keep promising, once I figure out how to get the demonic yellow eyes out of the photos. That’s not what I think of as doing justice to the pieces.

Bra-wise, I’ve been buying more of the same. Replacing my slightly un-sized Dahlia, Dessous, Decos. Taking some bras out of storage and putting others in because I go back and forth with size! More sports bras, because some are a little small. At the end of the year I purchased some discontinued styles: another elomi Caitlyn because the previous is a bit small and an elomi Rita for its convertibility. Should I review Rita, since it’s being discontinued? Eep.

It’s been a year of discovering more unpadded bras for me. I go back and forth on what I want. I like the lines I get with some padded bras, and unpadded ones are just better for traveling, which I do a bunch (they pack smaller and dry faster when I don’t have drying rack access).

I want to be conscious of what I buy because I don’t have all the space in the world, and I want to stick to a clothing budget. Last year I went over, which I could, but I now know that I don’t need that many clothes/underwear. Cora Harrington of The Lingerie Addict made a resolution to buy 16 pieces of lingerie for herself. I don’t know if I can do that, but I think I may start by keeping count of what I acquire and keep. I’ve already bought three pieces to try on for this month, four if you count pajamas. Do pajamas count? I will try not to buy any more camis or chemises or tap pants for the time being…until something falls apart, anyway. Or swimsuits.

At the end of last year, I also purchased an elomi Bijou and Kris Line Marilou. Reviews for those should come. I’ve also got some PlayOut, PACT and Dear Kate underpants. Anything you want to read about first?

If you’re curious as why there’s been less blogging the past half year, it’s because I’ve put more of my spare time into science fiction romance: writing, reviewing, and blogging about that. As long as I have anything useful to contribute, though, I’ll continue.

 

 

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.

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.

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!

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.

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: Brastop

I buy almost all of my bras online (briefs are a separate story with separate engineering), because I can’t find the ones that I like in stores- my best resource is Nordstrom, but there are so many other lovely things out there! Thought I’d write up my experiences with the retailers I’ve tried.

Brastop was actually the first online retailer I’ve tried, and I don’t remember how I found them two years ago. I’d just lost a bunch of weight, dropping from a 38 to 34 band. They’re either owned by or own Curvy Kate (anybody know how that works?) and Flirtelle. I think Flirtelle is only available on Brastop and Lovebras (another site affiliated with Brastop? owned by Brastop?). They’re based in the UK, and the return address is in Harrow, which is part of London. Ergo, the shipping to the us is about 6 pounds, which is around $9.5 currently. They’ll waive the shipping fee if you spend 75 pounds, so I generally do a big order.

I’ve actually made only two orders, and they both took several weeks to arrive from the UK. I invariably returned most of the order because sizing and shape is difficult when done online. Returning the package was about 10 USD to ship back, so that’s the opportunity cost. I asked for an exchange, and it eventually arrived in the mail, although two weeks later than their 20 business day guarantee. Brastop honored that guarantee and refunded me the money when I first reported the package missing (sadly the exchange didn’t fit either, oh well!).

Selection-wise, they have a great deal of last-season’s models. There’s a ton of Freya and Curvy Kate (unsurprisingly), and a good selection of Panache, Fantasie, Fauve, and Elomi. I doff my hat, however, for their carrying Kris Line and Rosme. Rosme are a Latvian brand with some interesting designs I haven’t seen elsewhere, but their size selection is very limited in the D+ world. Kris Line are very high quality, but their larger bras are all a mesh upper panel, so they’re not a brand I’m into. Regardless, it’s hard to get those bras anywhere else with a decent return policy.

I recommend Brastop mostly for things you know fit- they have an amazing selection of fashion colors, and the prices are pretty sweet on those. It’s a great deal if you live in the UK for those. The better deal for us in the States are actually continuity things we know fit- 26 pounds for Panache Porcelain (42 USD versus 56 retail in shops here) or 30 (49 USD) for Freya Deco, which are popular ranges you can try at Nordstrom in the US. The Panache Tango is also 25 pounds for the standard shades, and sports bras are a good deal if you know your size. If you aren’t in a hurry, it’s a great option- sometimes they have sales of ‘take X amount off your order’.

I haven’t ordered for a while since I buy most of my basics on eBay, but I do always keep an eye on anything interesting popping up there!