Monday, March 13, 2017

Review: Wacoal Supporting Role

Nutshell: This is like a slightly prettier, more supportive, far less comfy version of my much-loved Natori Satin Fleur.


I find this quite pretty by Wacoal standards. Which means the lace and graceful swooping curves at the gore do a great deal to mitigate the Wacoal beigeness of it all. 
(Wow, even worse than my usual photo quality. Hahaha. Sorry, there's just not much I can do to mitigate the Alaska winter light in my 1930s bathroom on the dark north side of the house.)


Fabric.  Really nice. The cups are smooth, thick, non-stretch. Lots of support and zero bounce. Lace is non-irritating.

Straps.  Substantial and on the wide side. Not padded, but reasonably soft.

Band.  Wacoal-ultra-tight, with the +4 built in. I.e. 2 band sizes smaller than most brands. You really do need to add 4" to your actual measurement. I'm currently 37" and this 42 band fits like a snug 38 band.

Shape.  Nice & round, with decent upper cup room for my full on top shape. The cup is meant for a balanced shape, so I don't have quite enough room, but more than usual in this bra type. I'm getting a decent tack, with some usual floating at the top, but far less than my Natoris or Empreintes. 


 Well, there's really only one, but it's a big one
Wires.  Narrow, which is a plus for me. However. In every other way, they are...Panache-y. Which says it all for me. Sky high. Heavy gauge. Rigid AF. 

These are not the heavenly foam-wrapped, lower-height wires of the deeply comfy Wacoal Dual Control.

Just ugh. This is pretty much a dealbreaker for me.

When Do I Wear It?

Yeah, not often. With a knit top. For times I'll be standing and walking, rather than sitting - which mitigates those armpit-stabbers somewhat - and for no more than 4 hours. So, Saturday grocery shopping, pretty much it.

Size: 42DDD

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Review: Natori + Envious Plunge

Now here is the bra I really thought I'd be wearing with the velvet plunge dress in Vegas. I expected Natori would be my best shot at a lightweight, non-padded, comfy plunge style. And I was pleased they finally added a plunge style at all in larger cup sizes. 


Envious is really pretty in a non-fussy way. Baroque embroidery in matte gold. A sleek and minimal frame. True, the gore seemed a bit wide which gave me slight pause...and...

Yeah. Waaaaay too small. In every way. Bummer.

Fit & Shape

Cups. Seriously lacking in capacity. They run a good cup size smaller than other styles in the brand - maybe 2. And the lace fabric of the upper cup is surprisingly low on stretch. A feature that would have really improved the fit and made up for the frankly underwhelming cup capacity. 

I'm surprised the bra looks as good as it does in this pic. What it doesn't show is just how compressed it felt on my body and the sensation of cutting in is a dealbreaker for me. If not for that, I would have tried to make this work.

Gore.  It does run wide. If the band wasn't so small, this would be a prime candidate for taking in the gore 1/2", to tip the cups and make them slightly more open on top. 

Band.  Incredibly tight. Runs a full size small. It fit like a tight 36. The fabric was nice however and very stable.

Wires.  The usual Natori wires: medium-narrow, not too high; on the flexible side, but very stable. Pretty ideal for me.

Shape.  Rounded and compact.
The look and shape of the bra remind me a great deal of Chantelle C Chic Plunge, which gives a great shape, though it is non-stretch and has the folded-ruffle effect straps which look great, but cut in uncomfortably. (That bra also runs incredibly small.) I was hoping for that same shape and minimal 'not a lotta bra' feel in the Natori Envious.

When Do I Wear It?

Well, if I could crowbar my way to a decent fit, this would be an everyday go-to. Beautiful enough for occasions, but very practical for me. I love the lightweight fabric, the compact rounded shape, the low gore, and the whole 'less bra' feel of the frame. There would be compromises - mainly the too-wide gore and the upper cup fabric having less stretch than is ideal for me - but overall, this is the style of bra I keep searching for. And failing to find.

I am becoming rather exasperated with Natori's inconsistent sizing issues. The first 4 styles I tried were very consistent, the last 3...not so much. There are enough wins for me to keep the brand as a favorite, but they really have some work to do on quality control for sizing.

Size:  38H
Note: I am very tempted to try again, especially as there is a sale on the style. My guess is that just bumping up to a 40 may not be enough to offset how small this style runs, since it's undersized in both cup and band. I may try bumping up 2 band sizes, which seems extreme, but I just hate to give up on this style.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Sometimes there is a need for butt-crack cleavage

I am normally not going for more cleavage. My boobs are fairly close-set and also high-set, with tissue beginning 2" below my collar bone. Cleavage is something I'm often looking to minimize. And when I do go for that look, I prefer cakes-on-a-plate, Marie Antoinette style cleavage. Or what my BF-now-husband refers to as "wench boobs".

However. Eloped to Vegas. I think there's some kind of city ordinance that requires butt-crack cleavage. And the Kiyonna dress I found (gloriously on sale at 1/2 price) was a wrap style with a deep V-neckline. Luckily it was also in stretch velvet, a very forgiving fabric. But there was no way around it. I needed a plunge bra with a very low gore - & a shape that embraced deep cleavage.

In the end, after failing to find a less-padded alternative, I fell back on my Parfait Affinitas Casey. The front view was more important than the less perfect side shape, which I discuss here:   

It worked out pretty well, although the padding of Casey did stretch the stretch velvet to its limits, so I had the seamstress add a tiny snap to the wrap neckline. To avoid any, uh, wardrobe malfunctions.


It was actually fairly comfy through sitting at dinner afterward. And I had an awful cold, which makes my sensitive skin even more so, and the soft fabric of the Casey did not irritate me. 

To round out the evening, Elvis was wearing red and matched my flowers.
He also appeared to really approve of my neckline.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Review: Elomi Carmen Plunge bra

Nutshell:  Yikes.

I've tried several Elomi styles over the years, and each one was disappointing, if not downright awful, on me. The Abbi was probably the best of them: standard balcony shape, smooth fabric; but it had the same frumpy seam structure as all their balconettes, with an almost horizontal seam that gives a flattish shape and shows through most fabrics. The Betty - their iconic mesh plunge with the lovely retro rose embroidery - was the absolute worst; it's made of the harshest, scratchiest mesh I've yet encountered. The padded 1/2 cup is the only moderately successful shape I have found in the brand. 

All other styles suffer from almost ridiculously wide wires, but more than that, they have a construction I find obnoxious: a thick, rounded tubular construction that sounds like it'd be comfy - but isn't. The rounded shape actually causes the wires to dig into your body more than a flat wire would. Elomi also shows a complete preference for a full-on-bottom, wide-set shape. I know some ladies really like Elomi, and need this shape. I've not encountered any of them personally, however; the women I know who really need this size range are not fans of the brand. There is nothing universal about the Elomi shape, & they really only cater to one.

So why did I bother trying anything again but the 1/2 cup? Because it features stretch lace upper cups, which seemed very hopeful. And because I really need a plunge bra for the red velvet dress I'm wearing to my Elvis wedding in Vegas next month. This is not that bra. 


It looks a lot prettier in their promo shots with a model of a much smaller cup size and FOB shape. On me, the whole frame reads as awkward. It's strangely narrow on top and splayed out at the bottom, giving a weird pyramid shape. And the lace pattern is not particularly appealing. Color me mehhh.


Gore.  This is the cause of 80% of the disastrousness of the fit. It is wiiide.  

Grand Canyon wide. It forces my boobs outward into a splayed, bizarrely pointing away from each other position - kinda the opposite of what a plunge bra should do. 

I may try taking in the bottom of the gore a full inch, but I'm not optimistic due to the fit issue that is responsible for the other 20% of fit suckage:

Cups.  The wonder and full-on-top friendliness that is stretch lace is completely negated by the fact that there is a thin, non-stretchy strip of plastic sewn into the top of the cup, about 1/2" in. Causing the cup to pull downward on my boobs, further pushing them into that dreadful splayed outward position:
Wires.  Awful, as described in the opening paragraphs. If anything, they're a tad wider than the balconettes, a good 2" wider than I need. I usually cannot tolerate too-wide wires because they irritate the sensitive skin on my sides and poke into my armpits because I am high-set, but some ladies are able to compromise and put up with extra-wide wires and so they can generally make UK brands work for them. Unfortunately, I can't. The only positive here is the profile shape:

When  Do I  Would Someone Else Wear It?  

If you happen to have the very specific shape this bra is designed for: ultra wide-set - with literally, a good 4 fingers of space between your boobs - and most of your tissue is on the bottom and far out to your sides, your boobs are naturally splayed and point outward, and you have narrow shoulders and want very inset straps, this could be a perfect - and hard to find - fit for your shape. 

Half my purpose in doing these reviews isn't just to find what fits me, but to give enough info so that ladies with shapes very different from mine can find what fits them. I always find it helpful to read reviews by full-on-bottoms, since I know if they love won't work for me. ~=o)

Size:  40G

If anyone has a favorite seamed-to-lightly-padded plunge that is FOT friendly, please comment!

I meant to try Bravissimo Satine, but I'm out of time; I've nixed Tutti Rouge Jessica because of the rigid wires; & my 38G Freya Deco is too thickly padded - & just too much cleavage - under the stretch-velvet wrap dress I'm wearing to my wedding. Right now, I'm leaning toward Parfait Casey (great cleavage, but the shape on me isn't great, and it's not the most comfy), or, Natori Pure Allure (comfy, more subtle cleavage, but higher gore)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Review: Wacoal Dual Control Underwire Bra

My first (accidentally) properly fitting bra was a Wacoal BodySuede 15 years ago. It was in a 38DD, and I was an actual 34F at the time. I now know that it fit perfectly; however, back then, I only knew that it was very, very comfy due to its foam-wrapped wires and high-spandex cup fabric. I didn't care for it's higher sides and gore, but otherwise loved the way it felt on the body.

Fast forward and I've rarely worn Wacoal in the intervening years. Partly because their aesthetic is well, utilitarian, but mainly because I'd thought I was sized out. The BodySuede stops at a DD. I did not yet know the magic of sister-sizing, or the fact that Wacoal uses an older system where the band sizes run much smaller so there's a lot of room to size up. Anyhoo, I decided to give the brand another try.


Hahahaha!  Yeah, I had to give up on that one immediately. 
It's beige. 
And plainer than plain.


Here is where I was glad I stuck it out. Because this ugly beast is COMFY.

WiresAhhhhh. They are everything I remembered and have hoped for ever since. They are indeed wrapped in foam. Let's all just pause a moment and imagine that: a soft cloud of actual foam is encircling those wires. Those foam-wrapped wires are then sandwiched between the layers of microfiber cup fabric. The inside of the bra looks just like the outside: no harsh, scratchy underwire casing ever touches your skin. They are medium in width.

Cups.  Composed of two (quite thick) seamless layers of stretchy microfiber. This makes for a fair amount of opaque coverage and a very secure, no-bounce fit. 

Band.  Quite tall and deep. While the outer layer is the same fabric as the cups, the inner layer is a very soft mesh. It does not irritate my skin and means the band will remain stable and not stretch out quickly.

Straps.  Very center-pull. Zero chance of shoulder slip or dig if you are narrow-shouldered. Soft, medium width, and restricted stretch.

Shape.  Round, and a bit minimized. A lot like the Fantasie Esme, actually. 

It doesn't flatten, but rather doesn't have a lot of depth in the inner cups so it holds the boobs quite close to the chest and arranges things in a compact way. The wires are not wide at all, but actually medium-to-narrow in width.  


The cups are not particularly full-on-top friendly in shape and don't have as much depth as I need near the gore which is floating about 1/2" at the top.

The sides are higher than I prefer. Toward the very end of a long day, I will get some slight irritation there. However, the wires stop 1/2" from the top, so the wire height causes no issues for me.

The appearance of loose wrinkling is due to the wires being sandwiched between the two layers of cup fabric. There is no empty space. Likewise with the area beneath wire. That's just caused by the hidden channel beneath.

And, as mentioned before, the Dual Control - like its name - will never be accused of being pretty. 

Ummm, ever.

When Do I Wear It?

When Comfort is queen. And I'm not wearing a wide or deep neckline; the straps will show on even a slightly open neckline. Totally workable as a T-shirt bra; the double-layer fabric gives more coverage than you'd expect. (Keep in mind I'm taking pics in a 64F house in Alaska). I would definitely wear this for travel: on a long plane trip, digging wires make me miserable, as does the sticky lack of separation of a soft-cup. The Dual Control solves both problems, and in comparison with my other top comfort choices, gives a much better shape than the Anita Twin, and better coverage than the Natori Satin Fleur.

Size: 42DDD 
Wacoal very much uses the old +4 sizing system. They are in no way kidding when they tell you to add 4" to your measured band size. The 42 fits like a 38 - just like the 38 I wore 15 years ago fit like a 34. The 42DDD fits me like a UK 38GG or a US 38I, and I'm wearing the band on the loosest hook. E.g. a UK 32G would fit quite well into a 36DD in this brand.


I forgot to include pics of how this bra looks under clothing. So here it is under a mid-weight cotton sweater: the shape is round - but not orb-like - with softened projection; your boobs aren't so much minimized as just not emphasized. I really like this shape for work, and any time I just want my boobs to less of an focal point.


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Review: Elomi Imogen Half Cup

Elomi is a brand that doesn't really work for me. Although technically I fit into the 'plus size' metric they are aimed at, the gores and wires are generally too wide - & just too heavy gauge - for me, and the cups too shallow. Not to mention the matronly seam structure of their balconettes: the almost horizontal seaming gives me a frumpy look and is visible under most clothing for me. 

However. The half-cups are different. And worth a look for full-on-top shapes.

The only Elomi that has worked for me, thus far, is the Lara half-cup:
Image result for elomi lara 
With that in mind, I decided to try a newer version of the style, the Imogen, and see if it worked as well for me now that I am cup size larger. I was also curious to find if there were any improvements or tweaks to the design.


I don't find the Imogen to be as lovely as the Lara, but then I prefer ornate details and lush styling. Imogen is far more subtle. Like Lara, she has a sheer black mesh over a satiny base; in this case, the base is honey-amber, which doesn't show in the pics at all. Again, this is a very subtle pattern. Still, I find it preferable to plain black.


Wires.  Less wide than Elomi's other styles. These are almost just medium in width. Also, they are less tall under the arm, which is a solid plus for me.

Band.  Meh. Like all Elomi styles it is non-soft power mesh. I don't like mesh, and I don't care for 'power' in my band. I'm not interested in intense scaffolding, just gentle support. 

Straps. Elomi does these right: wide, soft, restricted stretch.


Cups.  The thinly padded dual vertical seam shape of the 1/2 cup gives a nice rounded profile: uplifted, but not overly projected. 

The cup is slightly open on top, so no cutting in or mashing down of my natural full-on-top shape. Full-on-bottoms would likely do fine as well.

Gore.  Wider than I need. It results in the gore floating a good 3/4". 

There is enough depth in the cup, but the inner cup is a bit shallow and I'd actually prefer a lower gore. 

When Do I Wear It?

I generally wear lightly padded 1/2-cups instead of a Tshirt bra. So with thinner or clingy knits. And especially with deep scoop or portrait style necklines. The gore is too high to make the style useful for plunging necklines.
Size: 40G

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Review: Natori Plus Seduction bra

Nutshell: an unfortunate outlier among the new Natori styles. 
Full-on-tops: forget it.


Mehhh. This is an all-mesh style. And the mesh fabric is not especially soft. It's softer than a Cleo mesh bra, but that's saying very little.


Here is where it alllll falls apart
Band.  Incredibly tight. Fits a full size smaller than any of the other new Natori styles. 

Cups.  Unlike any other style I've tried in this brand, i.e., most of them - new & old, the cups have zero stretch. That means zero ability to accommodate or conform to the natural shape of your boobs in any way. 

Unless you are - utterly and completely - full-on-bottom in shape, this will be a dreadful fit. Even then, you may get weird gapping along the top.

Balanced? You'll likely get an odd, squared-off triangle shape a'la Curvy Kate.

Full-on-top? Forget it. You'll get this strapped-down, flattened into submission look I'm getting here.

 Gore.  Very wide. 
Strangely so, for the brand. 

It results in a gore that floats more 
than the usual 1/2" I get in Natori. 

Profile.  Very minimized....more mashed down, really.

Into this ski slope shape.

When Do I Wear It?

Nope. I consider the Seduction, along with the Decadence, to be the big Fails of Natori's new line of styles. Not because they are completely unwearable for most full-on-top shapes (which I realize is the less common boob shape), but because they are unwearable for most shapes. 

The Seduction's design flaws - lack of stretch, wide gores, running small in band, anti-universal cup shape, rough fabric - just don't make it a good bet for most.
Size: 38H