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

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Review: Comfort Choice Perfect Coverage Cotton Wireless Bra

Nutshell: a cotton bra flop - literally.

I've mentioned my Princess & the Pea skin before. It's a huge factor for me in bra comfort - and clothing comfort in general. Occasionally, I experience a flare-up of eczema which is an obnoxious form of dermatitis: patches of dry, flaky, irritated skin form. Did I mention they itch intensely? For me, I only get one spot at a time, and they rarely get larger than a quarter; they hang around a few weeks, then leave as mysteriously as they appeared. 

Assuming I do nothing to irritate them, which can be rather difficult, depending on where they are. This time, it was on my side, right at the spot an underwire would end; I tried a lower wire....but then the elastic along the upper sides of the band rubbed the spot. It was almost the same spot where my old pal eczema visited me a year ago, where the (highly padded) crutches rubbed after my knee surgery.

So I knew what that meant: a wire-free bra, either super-soft microfiber or cotton. I knew I could rely on my  Bali Women's Comfort Revolution Wirefree Bra   (the name seems to change slightly as they keep adding new styles) but I also knew that if I didn't switch between styles every couple of days, I would just exacerbate the irritation somewhere else.

So I decided to try the Comfort Choice Perfect Coverage:
Yeahhhh, you're probably getting an inkling that it didn't go well...

I've actually worn the original version of this bra, the Everyday Full Coverage Bra, and while comfy and actually supportive, that version takes up an incredible amount of chest real estate. I mean, the top of the cups is literally only an inch below my collar bone; it's more like a seamed crop top. So I thought that the lower cut version would be less supportive, but very similar.

Yeah, no.


The cotton fabric is soft and substantial, which was my main goal. The seams lie fairly flat, so wouldn't prove an irritant for most. The straps are just regular old bra straps, not even restricted stretch, which is a silly choice for a wire-free construction where the straps are naturally going to take more weight. 

Fit & Sizing

Although the size range is technically not that large (38B-48DDD, I think), in reality, I know that like many US brands, the band runs quite small, and the cups very large. So the size range is really more like 34D-44H. I tried this in a 42DDD, which should be the sister size of a US 38H, or a UK 38G. 

In reality, it fit me like a US 38J, (UK 38HH). Good grief, the cups run huge.

It fit especially badly on my right - larger - side, where the cup was inexplicably looser and downright baggy. That is completely empty space all along where the seam is. 

Even a smaller size would not have worked. The boob shape the cups are expecting would be very unusual indeed: very high-set and full-on-top (but only the lower 1/3 of the top, after which it would have to sharply curve inward and become totally flat), with nipples located right below the collarbone.

The band is actually fairly snug on me, but the cotton material is oddly thin - not the substantial thickness of the cups - and bags strangely along the sides. It provides almost zero support.

When Do I Wear It?

Not at all, unfortunately. The construction was so awful, the fit was so poor, and the support so lacking, it actually would cause discomfort by allowing the boobs to shift all over the place. More than an hour or so of that, and abrasion and friction would have created the very eczema issue I was seeking to alleviate. 

I ended up relying on my workhorse Bali's, the Anita Twin, and the occasional assist from my old Natori Luxe, for the two weeks it took for my skin to heal. 

If I were to try again with this style, I would opt for the old breastplate style, with its built-up straps and structure, in a 42DD...maybe even a 42D; the band runs very snug, and the cup increases are huge.
Size: 42DDD

Any eczema sufferers out there, with any success stories in bras or products that helped? I get no relief from cortisone cream, which is all that's usually offered, and have tried omegas and many naturopathic creams (aloe, comfrey, meluca honey, coconut oil) to no effect.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Review: Fantasie Rebecca Nouveau Spacer bra

Nutshell: virtually the same bra as the Fantasie Rebecca, but less plain and with less irritating trim. (The Nouveau style was apparently discontinued last month so will be around a bit longer on discount sites.)


Very plain, save for the Art Nouveau swirled tracery embroidery along the underband and sides....which you can barely see as it's tucked under the shadow of my boobs. Little tuxedo bows and embroidery on each strap. This color is cream, too pale to serve as a neutral, but I hate it less than my dreaded beige. The Nouveau was supposed to have a lower cut than the regular Rebecca, but I can tell no difference in the height of the gore.

Comfort & Fit

Cups  Fabulous spacer foam: by definition, this fabric is thin and breathable. Kind of remarkable, really; like a loose-weave foam. When I walk around I can actually feel the air flowing to my boobs, similar to a mesh bra but a lot more comfy a fabric. As you can see, you will not get full Tshirt bra style nippy coverage from spacer foam. It's enough camouflage for me personally, but although I'm not typically prone to headlight issues, you can clearly see some outline.

 The cups run large, by around 1-1/2 cups. I'm wearing an FF from 4 years ago here, i.e., 2 cup sizes smaller than my usual GG. I could go up a cup today - due to the double-bubble happening on my right side - but it still fits quite well. They are not cut tall, which I appreciate.

The shape is very round, with even fullness in the cup, which is shallow at the gore, but otherwise quite deep. 

Band   It's a standard Fantasie band: snug, and with only 2 hooks. It's surprisingly comfy considering that, but it does have that unfortunate UK construction where the band angles upward in the back. That can make it appear the band is riding up, which is not the case at all. It simply isn't angled downward slightly - as so many European bands are - which has the great feature of counter-balancing the weight of the boobs and fitting securely and without the need for tightness. A far better design approach than simply insisting upon tight bands, which balance the weight through sheer constriction. I digress.

Straps  Nicely placed. They are not center pull, so can still be worn with wide(ish) necklines, but are placed a little further in than the usual balconette, while also angling in at the back. They are on the thin side of average, which is fine, because due to the design they are not carrying too much weight.

Shape  Very rounded and a little wide.  

It accommodates quite a bit of upper fullness and the spacer foam fabric is flexible enough to actually let my boob retain its natural shape on top.

I'd say full-on-bottom shapes will experience some empty space at the top of the cup, but balanced and full-on-tops will enjoy the fabric respecting their natural upper boob sovereignty.

The shape is not minimized exactly but the projection is softened which makes flowy tops or boxy shapes hang much better. No boob tent issues here.

When Do I Wear It?

When I want a very round shape, with more coverage and smoothness than a seamed bra can provide, but don't want a full-on molded foam Tshirt bra. Especially during warm weather and clingy fabrics.
Size:  38FF