Freya Vixen review (quick thoughts)

Heading full thing for SEO purposes. Ahem.

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

Construction

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

vixen_front_censoredvixen_back

Fit

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

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Looks

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

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

Final thoughts

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

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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.

 

Fantasie Allegra vertical seam bra review

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

Construction

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

allegra_frontIMG_5544

Fit

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

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

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

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Looks

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

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

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

Freya Rapture review

For years I’ve heard that Freya’s half-cups are good for full-on-bottom or shallow profile breasts. The designs, though, didn’t inspire me. Floral, polka dot, funky prints…there were some cool longlines like Pansy, but they didn’t come in the simple half-cup version. In the fall Freya debuted the Rapture, which came in a padded half-cup and a side support plunge. This review is about the half-cup. rapture_front rapture_back

Usually I wait until I’ve worn a bra for a while, but since this is a current style that will only last another six months, I’ll do this sooner rather than later. I kept the bra in storage to rotate in, but right now it’s too small for me to wear consistently.

Construction

Vertical seamed (two of those seams) padded bra. Two hooks in the back. Fully adjustable straps leotard-style with nubbly bits on the side so the adjustor doesn’t slip.

Fit

Band is pretty stretchy for a 34 (dig my ribcage flare!). It’s open on top, which is pretty forgiving. I’ve gained weight since I purchased this bra, so it’s too small in the cups, which makes it probably true to size. The bottom of the cup is not especially projected, so I don’t quite fill it. The fabric doesn’t buckle because it’s not quite shallow enough for that. In my case, it spreads my breasts across rather than projecting, so there’s less of an insecure feel than a very projected bra. I would not recommend this bra if you have very projected breasts or very firm breast tissue. I would recommend trying it for average to shallow breasts which are average-width to wider.

rapture_side2 rapture_side

Looks

Geometric lace in diamond patterns. This color is ‘neon’. Yes it is. Bright highlighter orange-pink that makes my skin look darker. I love the color so much I don’t care if it’s flattering or not. The seams offer a slight contrast, and the black on the ribbons sets the rest of the grapefruityness off well. Rapture gives me some lift and makes my breasts look shorter. This makes it more convenient for some shirts, less so for others. The seams show up under close-fitting knits but not looser t-shirts. I am sad I cannot wear it now. Maybe in the future? Maybe I give it away?

Pairing

Murchie’s Harlequin Rooibos. No caffeine, but peppery, chocolatey, with a bit of cinnamon and cardamom. A standard base with a kick, just like the color of this bra on a well-known frame. The cornflower sets it off a bit just like the black highlighting on the ribbons.

Rapture is out this spring in a terrifying bubblegum color. The side support plunge is a new frame by Freya. I like that they’re trying new styles and not just prints. Have you tried tried Rapture? What did you think?

Quick notes on some Nordstrom offerings

I tried on the following at Nordstrom. I curse myself for not taking pictures. You now get the rapid-fire brusque lowdown!

Panache Clara in black-gold

I need to size up in the cup because the bottom doesn’t have much projection. This makes the lace dominate the cup, which is not the look I want. If you are full on the bottom, you may get the fabric fold or have to size up to get something that fits.

Freya Icon

I tried this bra on in my regular Deco size and it ran large in the cup and the lace felt pretty flimsy. Since it’s stretch lace I didn’t feel supported. The bra comes up really high on the sides.

Fantasie Allegra Vertical Seam

It seems true to size in the red and black. I got more coverage than I expected, and I actually filled the cup well unlike some Fantasie bras. The cups felt pretty wide, The print is pretty, but seems oddly interrupted by the advertised vertical seam.

My Christmas Lingerie

I don’t celebrate Christmas myself, but my partner’s family does. As a result, I get a bit of the holiday spirit! I’ll be traveling as per usual for the winter. Here are some things in my drawer I’m considering bringing:

Bravissimo Can Can

I got this in the mail yesterday, no time to photograph. It’s beautiful. I love the little embroidery touches (tildes!), they feel very Art Nouveau. It doesn’t work quite as well for me as it does for the model since it’s a bit fuller on the top than I am and the gore is pretty narrow, so I’ll get a second opinion before I decide whether to keep it.

Parfait Natalia

The colors on this are very candy cane (darker red than the picture)- the stripes are pink instead of white. I got the babydoll and padded bra to see how they fit. The padded bra is actually molded and feels a bit too much lace overlay (though I love the keyhole-in-gore detail). The babydoll is fun, though, I haven’t had one before.

Freya Deco Honey in Jade

Classic, slight frills, the Deco shape most everyone knows. I adore the color, it’s darker than my experience with most jade…more of a malachite perhaps? This bra works under anything. It’s a bit less Christmas-pine green than the Can Can, but it’ll do!

Parfait Charlotte in Red

It slices, it dices, it…wait, it’s a bra, not a kitchen tool. That said, I can’t think of an occasion this bra doesn’t work for. The red is quite festive! I review it often, it seems.

I don’t have time for a photo shoot (or ‘here’s my torso with too much or too little flash’ before I head off, so these are professional models and photos. Do you like the idea of ‘Christmas’ lingerie? Or just like red or green? What’s your favorite?

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 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!

Freya Active Underwire Performance Sports Top Review

I ordered this top from Large Cup Lingerie on account of my previous Freya Sport biting the dust after doing a great deal of hard work over a year, and my size change. I was curious as to how it worked and it was discounted.

Construction

Moisture-wicking close-fitting fabric tank over the traditional seamed two-part cup Freya Sport bra. Interestingly, the shoulders are adjustable length in that they have rows of hooks like a back band. Three rows of three hooks in the back.

Fit

Band’s true to size. Cups are true to size, slightly wrinkly at the apex for me as per usual with Freya bras. The cups are wider than most Freya cups (consistent with the Freya Sport bra).

Looks

Well, I didn’t buy this to look sleek. The tank is not very flattering to my ribcage flare or my stomach fluff rolls. I also get the hilaribad unnatural-for-me almost-torpedo shape I’ve gotten from Freya Sport bras before. I look in the mirror and am a bit skeptical that those are my breasts. Those who have a more projected shape or are naturally fuller at the apices may not get the same issue since the tissue won’t be fighting the fabric. It definitely gets the job done at the gym, holding everything in place and the breathable fabric means I don’t need a Shamwow if I overdo it. It’s a bit hazardous to wash because of the eleventy billion hooks and eyes on the straps and band (it’s supposedly machine washable). I could wash it by hand, but I have to squeeze it for ten minutes to get enough water out if I want to use it the next day. If you like the Freya Sport Underwire seamed bra, this seems like a logical extension.

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!