Saturday, August 20, 2016

Review: Curvy Kate Ritzy




This is one of Curvy Kate's padded range of cakes-on-a-plate styles, and is a very different fit from their unpadded 3-part cup balconettes.

 

Comfort

Band.  Very snug and made of my least favorite material: mesh.

 
Wires.  Higher than the unpadded styles, which is never comfy for me. 

I do not care for this much side coverage or wires this close to my armpits.

At least they are not especially wide.




Cups.  Shallow, especially at the bottom (for the push up effect) and at the inner cup near the gore. The seam is vertical, as you will find in a 1/2 cup shape, though they are more balconette in coverage.

Tack.  Not much, I'm afraid. 


I get a very firm tack from non-padded CK's, but here, the gore is actually pretty unstable on me. There is just nowhere for my inner fullness to go. 

I'm also not getting as much lift as the bra intends, since the bottom of the cup is so shallow, it's forcing the bra to sit lower on my ribs, as my boobs try to align themselves with available cup space.



Beauty

Ritzy has an understated loveliness.The crimson stripes are muted in tone and the lace detailing is not as ornate as other styles in this range.


 
This makes the style a good candidate for a T-shirt bra, which is normally when I would wear her.










The shape is quite good: lifted and very rounded.

Not minimized per se, but a more compact arrangement than a Polish cut would give. 








When Do I Wear It?

Very rarely, and only with a thin knit, with a low neckline. The comfort factor is just not that high, far less than my non-padded CK's, which is already a fairly minimal level of comfort. Besides the height of the wires, the shape is just not a match for a full on top, projected, high set shape.
Size 38GG



Sunday, August 14, 2016

Review: Panache Jasmine

Jasmine is a very popular bra that most are probably familiar with. While it is one of Panache's best offerings, for me, that isn't saying much. Here is a look at Jasmine's comfort potential.

Beauty

Let's just acknowledge that she comes in many pretty patterns and is an objectively attractive bra.

 




Comfort & Fit

Band.  Narrow, and with only 2 hooks, even in a G-cup. I do not find it comfy or supportive. It's basically a Cleo band, only it runs very true to size; this is a true 38, whereas a Cleo 38 fits like a snug 36. 

Cups.  A 3-part cup with thin, very stretchy lace upper cup. This is wonderful and makes all the different for a full-on-top shape. The cups run large for Panache, and quite deep; my G fits more like a GG. 

The lace is a thin single layer, and flexible enough that the cup is unlikely to gape on a FOB shape, and definitely not on a balanced shape. 



Straps. The same style as Idina's, which is to say, on the thin side width-wise, but thicker in depth because they are lined with a felt-like material. They are not cushioned, but rather, 'softened' a bit. I would simply prefer a wider strap. Also, they are oddly short; I have them extended almost all the way, which is unusual, because although I am tall, I am also high set and short-waisted.


 Shape.  Very nice. Boosted, but quite rounded, while still having a definite apex. 

A little less orb-like and jacked-up than Cleo. 

It's what I would consider a 3/4 cup style, with a higher gore, like a 1/2 cup would have, but a 3-part balconette cup.
 





Wires.   Complete and utter dealbreaker for me, as with all Panache styles. Although narrower - and lower - than the usual sky-high Panache wires (which, frankly, isn't saying much), they are still taller than I want or need. 

And they are still incredibly rigid and harsh. They wing back like most UK brands do, which I find irritates the sensitive skin beneath my arms and on my sides.

And there is just too much fabric in the side/underarm area that cuts in if I am even moderately active and moving around. 

The Jasmine really demonstrates the differences between UK and Polish/Euro design approaches.


When Do I Wear It?
Not at all anymore. I credit the Jasmine with causing my bra-piphany. After listening to so many extol the virtues and 'comfort' of this bra, I tried to convince myself that I just needed to get used to the feel of 'proper fit', and that maybe this was just as good as it gets. 

Then the light bulb went off: WTF am I thinking?! This is not comfortable, and that is not acceptable. To me. The whole point of the bravolution is to stop trying to force your body to fit what is available. Or, when it fits perfectly, to stop trying to force yourself to pretend that you're comfortable. 

Jasmine taught me a few things about what I need to be comfy and get great fit: 
  • Softer and lower wires
  • Broader straps
  • Stretch lace upper cup
  • Deeper cups
  • Narrow gore
  • Stable, non-mesh 3-hook band 
And about what I don't need or want:
  • High or rigid wires
  • Shallow or wide cups
  • Rigid non-stretch fabric
  • Mesh or 2-hook bands
  • Fabric anywhere near my armpits
  • Wires with the Nike swoop shape
Size: 38G

Monday, August 8, 2016

Review: Breast Nest, a bra alternative...kind of

Nutshell review: I really thought I'd like this more than I actually did. 

This is the original version, and I actually purchased the bra-only version from their etsy shop. They are also on amazon (cami style only), and their own website as well.
 
Beauty and Fit are pretty much irrelevant here. Especially beauty. Because...OK, look, it's hideous. With really ugly shaped seams that will make your boobs look like a pair of deflated footballs that Charlie Brown got stuck with.

But that's fine, I suppose, because the purpose of this garment is comfort. With a capital 'C'. It is not intended to give any lift whatsoever, and it really succeeds at that goal. What it is intended to do is keep your boobs off your chest wall so that you are comfy rather than sticky/floppy, i.e., a braless feel. And it does that very well, too. For a while.

So, let's just break it down into what's Wonderful and what's Not So Much.

Wonderful 

Fabric.  Deliciously soft modal. It is the gold standard for sensitive skin. Very buttery soft texture.

Cups.  Lots of capacity. The sizing states it accommodates up to a US H cup, but I'm an I and there was plenty of room. So it really could happily suit a UK H cup, perhaps even an HH. 

Comfort. No compression. Your boobs are encased, but not molded or shaped at all. It did feel like I was letting the girls go free range. For a few hours. More on that below.


Straps.  Not really straps so much as wide panels, much like a sleeveless blouse. Under a shirt it just looks like you're wearing a tank top.

Quality.  Very high. The seams are flat and smooth, and it is clearly very well made. It is worth the $60. 

Aesthetic.  It's really not too awful from the front. Dips down fairly low.

Sleep.  This would be perhaps your only wireless option for actual separation and complete elimination of boob sweat while you sleep. This keeps the boobs almost completely separated.

Customer Service.  The owner/creator is very pleasant and responds almost instantly to questions. She created the product as a solution for herself and so does get the big boob issues.

Not So Much

Elastic.  Unfortunately, this is not the smooth, flat stretch of a seamless knit-in band. After 3 hours I became more and more aware of the elastic and seams. The under-band is around 1/2" elastic, covered in the soft modal. But you're still aware of the feeling of an elastic band encircling your ribs. 

A bigger problem for me is the elastic edging of the armholes. It's very tiny elastic, and covered in fabric, but it just does not have enough stretch to make it really comfy. I was always aware of it and constantly found myself wishing it had just a bit more stretch and give. 

Seams.  Although they are flat and well done, I could feel them. Particularly the seams on the sides, and the area where they joined to the elastic underband. It was a real contrast to the feeling of a smooth knit-fabric band such as a Bali Devotion. I grew more and more aware of the seams and after 3 hours I found myself constantly pulling the sides away and trying to arrange the seams in a way that was less irritating. There is also a sewn-in tag that lays in the back of the neck that cannot be removed.

Coverage.  Unfortunately, the perfect low V-neck shape in the front is not repeated in the back. I kid you not, it goes right up to your neck. Literally. It shows above every normal neckline knit shirt I have. It's basically a mock-turtleneck in the back. I'm not sure of the purpose of this, since the product info states it is not supposed to provide lift. So having a nice scoop back really wouldn't add any pressure to the shoulders. I did not enjoy having that much fabric spread across my back and up to the base of my neck. 

Breathability.  Modal isn't the most breathable of fabrics. For me, its incredible softness makes up for that lack, and also, I live in a climate that rarely breaks 60F.

Ugh Factor.  The above pics don't really look too bad. And I do recommend that if the deflated football seam shape is a look you want to minimize: go with the black. It hides that from most angles. 

               Except this one:
Yikes. That is actually worse than the natural unsupported shape of my boobs.

The seams are unusually shaped: they are below the boob, almost at the bottom, just above the band. They dip in steeply so the fabric is completely under the boob, giving you that boob-in-a-bag shape.

I do think the comfort part could have been done while keeping a rounder supported shape that would reduce bounce further and add to the support without sacrificing any comfort.


When Do I Wear It?

Not as much as I'd hoped. The elastic issues and the ultra high back neck coverage, together with the side seams (the boob seams are non-irritating) all reduce the comfort below what it could be. I find myself reaching for my Bali's instead. Even with their less comfy straps, they are more comfy. And as a bonus, I can leave the house in them. I haven't yet tried turning the Breast Nest inside out, which will probably alleviate the tag issue and perhaps, to a lesser degree, the side seams, but won't do anything for the tightish elastic in the armholes. 

I do think those with less sensitive skin, and perhaps shorter stature (armholes), may find this a wonderful sleep and lounge option.

SizeLarge. This fit well and is meant for a 34-38" underband measurement and up to a US H cup. The company is really responsive and very helpful with sizing

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Review: Gorsenia Sheilla, a padded 1/2 cup style

After my surprising success with my first attempt at Gorsenia, the very comfy Solange  a non-padded 3-part balconette, I wanted to try a padded style. 



Beauty

Opulent. From the satin luster to the swirling embroidery to the subtly detailed straps. Sheilla is stunning.








Comfort & Fit

Band.  Based on my experience with the fit of the Solange, I went down a band size, and kept the same cup. Unfortunately, the description did not specify that this bra has a power mesh band. I have always found them to run tighter than other fabrics, and this one does as well. So the 38 fits like a snug 38 in a UK brand like Curvy Kate or Panache. I don't care for mesh bands (or bras, really),  'power' mesh in particular, which is just a rougher fabric that I don't enjoy on my body. This mesh isn't worse than any other power mesh though, so it's not a deal-breaker, just not as comfy as the satin microfiber of its sister, Solange.

Cups.   I can't really compare it to the fit of the non-padded balconette, as the shape is completely different: a shallow 1/2 cup with two vertical seams, but without the wide wires often found to accompany that style. The fit felt most like a cross between a Freya 1/2 cup and a Comexim plunge.

Lined with comfy soft fabric. No irritation.

 
 The padding was only slightly thicker than Freya's and Comexim's and the wires much lower than Freya's, but a little taller than Comexim's.

Wires.  Narrow, which is rare in a 1/2 cup. Soft/medium gauge. Medium-low; a perfect height for me. 

I get a very soft tack, less than I get with Comexim; far more than I get with Freya 1/2 cups.






Shape.  Very boosted and round. 
Very projected. 

Very similar to Comexim's. But I find it more comfy. In part, due to....

Straps.  Slightly wide, not too stretchy; they are doing their share of the work, but no more. I would choose this above Comexim or Parfait Casey for longer of hours of comfort. 

Compromises

  • Power mesh band
  • Shallowish cups
  • Non-versatile shape won't work under some clothes
  • Comfy-ish, but not truly full-out comfortable like the non-padded balconette style

When Do I Wear It?

When I would normally wear a T-shirt bra or a 1/2 cup, or I just want to wrap my boobs in opulent Baroque gorgeousness, just because. For say, 4 - 6 hours. The embroidery doesn't show under clothing, at least not to a degree that concerns me. 

Size:  38H  This fit me like a 38 G/GG in UK sizing. This style runs true in band size and one cup size large, in Euro sizing. So, while I would normally wear a Euro 38I, I was able to drop a cup size in this style. That's consistent with the cup size of the non-padded 3-section style, however that style also runs large in band.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Review: Curvy Couture Cotton Luxe Unlined Wire Free Bra

Nutshell:  a potentially wonderful wirefree option, ruined by a single serious design flaw.





Note: these pics are more terrible than usual since they were taken during a 3 week period during which there was no sun, just endless rain and gray skies. Which makes me oddly perky. This climate is not for the faint of heart.

 Beauty 

It is actually quite pretty. The deep lace embellishment helps to break up the visual space, so it doesn't read as frumpy as it otherwise might. It also comes in a warm cream-beige, and a pale rose, which is difficult to find.

Comfort & Fit

Fabric.  Fabulous. A silky smooth cotton blend that feels like your favorite high thread count T-shirt sheets.

Band.  Runs snug, which is standard for the brand. I went up a band size and got a good fit. The band is covered in very soft satiny fabric, so the underbust area is non-irritating, which I really enjoyed. The uplift and shape are decent.


Cups.   I find Curvy Couture does not run particularly generous in the cup. They are shallow, whereas I need some depth, especially in the center. For an underwire, I would have gone up a cup, but in this wirefree style I had sufficient room. Still, even for a wirefree, the gore is really standing away from my chest.


Fatal Flaw

Straps.  Absolutely terrible. I can't imagine how this design ever seemed like a good idea - to anyone. I only wore the bra for 5 minutes - of deep discomfort - at the end of which I had deep, red grooves that took awhile to fade.

The straps are the type that have a ring connector. In this case, that ring is designed to sit right smack on top of the shoulder - you know, the place where ALL weight will be concentrated. But wait, that's not all. The fabric is doubled over, right next to the ring, forming a hideously uncomfortable wadded up, seamed knot of fabric. This wadded up knot and the metal ring beside it, are where all the pressure is concentrated. Digging into the top of your shoulders. 

I wish I was dexterous enough to get a pic from directly overhead, but this gives some idea.

When Do I Wear It?

Yeahhhhh. About a quarter past never. I returned this the same day. Which was a real disappointment as the fabric is wonderful and the underband so nicely designed. I just can't imagine how the idiotic strap (mis)design snuck in there.

Size:  42G  (I sister-sized from my usual US size of 38I. The 42 band fit like a regular 38 or a loose 40, so quite small. The cup runs 1/2 to a full cup size small.)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Review: Gorsenia Solange

Gorsenia is a Polish brand with an aesthetic that is closer to Kris Line than Comexim. Solange is a non-padded balconette and they have 'semi-soft' (padded lower cup, mesh upper) and padded (1/2 cup shapes) as well.

Beauty


Deeply gorgeous. A lustrous misty-cloud grey satin with silvery embroidery that catches the light. 

Solange wowed the BF while drying on the line. (I always, always wash a bra before the first wear to remove any fabric starch and processing chemicals.)

 


 Comfort & Fit

BandStretchy & runs loose. This is sized nothing like ultra-tight Comexim, very tight Ewa Michalak, or snug US bands. It is a comfy non-mesh band with 3 hooks. It is arched under the gore, which makes it more comfy to sit in and doesn't put pressure on your diaphragm if that's something that bothers you.

Cups.  Very generous and very deep. Again, runs much larger than Comexim. I tried my usual Euro size of 40H and the cup was actually 1/2 to a full cup size large on me. The fabric is high quality and feels soft.

This is visible in the gapping on my smaller left side; though there is still slightly gapping on the larger side, it is not as visible. 

There is plenty of room for top and center fullness.

The mesh upper portion is a double layer, with a bit of give, but not stretch. The satin lower cup is very silky - not rough & 'laminated'. Yay!

Wires.  A little higher under the arm than I prefer, but this may be due to the cup size being a little too large for me. The wires are a softer gauge, like other Polish & Euro brands I've tried (exept Ewa) and they are narrow-medium width; just a smidge narrower than Natori, but not as narrow as Comexim


 
Tacking.   Unexpectedly, I am getting a perfect tack here: full, complete contact - including the top of the gore - that falls at a natural place between my boobs. It's more than a soft tack, but nothing like the harsh hard tack of a Panache or Tutti Rouge. It is perfect. And comfy. And oh so rare.

Something I get from very, very few brands. 




This means the gore is narrow, the wires are medium-narrow, and the cup is very deep. 


  
Shape.  Great!


Rounded, but not overly projected. 

Solange does not suffer from the pointy shape issues that can plague deep, seamed cup shapes.

The shape is like most Polish brands: centered, with boobs on the front of your chest. No arms bumping into the sides of your boobs a'la Panache.

The profile is lifted, but not overly boosted.  

Natural, not overly orb-like.
 
(The tag is on because I hadn't decided whether to return it for a cup size smaller. I opted to keep it for the one week of the month I experience a 1/2 cup size worth of swelling.)



Compromises

Stays.  There are the hated side stays, and they are not flexible & flat, but the rounded, thick type. But they were very easy to remove, i.e., not sewn into the band a'la Freya. 

EdgingThe edging beneath the wires is not the softest and tends to roll under a bit. Hopefully, it will soften a bit with each wash and even so, it is far softer than the La Isla bra, which has become quite wearable.

Straps.  The straps themselves are great: a smidge wider than average, and something between regular and restricted stretch. They are comfy and not taking on too much weight the way Comexim can. However, they are a bit too widely spaced - and I have broad shoulders, so... But I am reserving judgement until I try a band size down to see if it scales well and eliminates this issue.

When Do I Wear It?

Under pretty much anything. The shape is moderate and very versatile. Gorsenia is basically what Curvy Kate should be. Not just a great aesthetic, but a great shape. And at the far better price point of $30 on amazon. The brand is very promising for balanced or full-on-top boobs that like narrow wires and lots of projection.

Size:  40H  Which was basically a cup and a band size too large. I am trying a 38H next. The sizing is different from other Polish brands, and runs more generous in both cup and band. A good place to start is with your Euro size: go with the tighter band size you normally wear, and also go down a cup size. 

For instance, my usual Euro size is 38I (& I usually have to sister-size to the more commonly available 40H). So for Gorsenia, I would try a 38H. If you're trying to convert from your usual UK size, then either keep your normal band, or drop down one, & go up one cup. E.g. 38GG to a 38H

Update! 

After a second laundering, the underband scalloped edging is a non-issue. I have since worn Solange for an 11-hour day - longer than the usual 9 hours I wear an underwire, and she was extremely comfortable right up to the time I took her off. 

She provided very comfy support during PMS swelling, when my skin is at its most sensitive. I experienced no irritation from the materials during a mix of a long day at my desk followed by a mile of walking. 

This puts Gorsenia Solange into my top three bras: for comfort, she is #3, behind Natori Satin Fleur and the unbeatable Anita Twin. In price, Solange reigns supreme at $30 (the regular, non-sale price). In shape, she is #1, with the Anita a distant 3rd.  

Here is how she looks under clothing. For comparison, I'm wearing the Comexim under the same shirt, here: Comexim T under floaty top

  



 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Review: Leading Lady cami bralette

Houseguests in summer = I need some comfy bralettes. That I can easily put on before I stagger out for coffee in my usual semi-conscious morning condition. And that means I need hooks. Nothing would be more ill-advised than me trying to balance on one foot to step into an Ahh Bra style, or even worse, trying to pull one over my head. I'd end up with an elbow to the eye, or another knee injury.

I wanted something lighter weight than the Comfort Revolutions that provide heavier support (with less comfy straps). But more substantial than the ultra-minimal Bali sleep bra. Because cleavage. I needed something light & soft that I wouldn't mind wearing early in the morning, and again for hours of late evening socializing until bedtime. 

Leading Lady is a brand I'd never tried, but their bralette looked promising. I first opted to try the bralette in a 3x (in blue), the size that corresponded to my bust measurement. I then tried a size down (in grey), to compare the support:
 

Comfort

Fabric.  Wonderful! Very soft cotton. I really did not expect that at this price point ($15); I was braced for cardboardy cheap cotton along the lines of Hanes sports bras. But this fabric has a very soft hand and moderate stretch. 

Straps.  Regular, adjustable bra straps. They are center-pull. More comfy than the rolled & doubled straps of my Bali Comfort Revolution. 

Band.  More snug than I expected, which is a nice surprise, since I ordered by my boob size, expecting I'd have to put up with a very loose band. But nope. It's a bit too loose for me, but not unwearable. It is not, however, the usual deep knit-fabric band found on bralettes like these. It is actually just an band of covered elastic. So you don't get that wide, anchored effect, but you also don't get any annoying roll up or dig in. 


Cups. Well, there actually aren't any. But there is shirring at the bottom and of course, stretch, so no uniboober look. The cup capacity was much bigger than I'd expected, and without the usual intense flattening of these styles.


Neckline.  The lace is completely non-irritating, and the high neckline was perfect with my deep V-neck pj tops. Complete cleavage coverage, and the narrow band of lace looks like a pretty cami peaking above. It does come up quite high.

Compromises

Support.  Um, well, yeahhhh. There isn't much of that, especially in the larger size




I did find that it was enough for gentle containment under loose pj's; definitely better than nothing. The lack of compression or uplift meant no crazy cleavage. 

 


The support was significantly better in the size down, because I got a bit more compression-effect, and the band was basically a normal 38 in the 2x size. 

However, I also got less comfort. In this size, I was more aware of the edging around the arm/sides and band, and just the general - though mild - compressed feeling.


Band.  Also, some may prefer the more secure anchoring of a knit-in deep band. It was not uncomfy, but doesn't add much support. It does have 4 hooks,  so I think they missed an opportunity by using such a thin elastic band. Just a 2-inch band of elastic would have really increased the anchoring and support.


When Do I Wear It?

When I don't want to go totally braless (as I normally would, say, like now, when I am just sitting on my sofa in jammies drinking coffee), but I want to be absolutely comfortable, and will not be leaving the house, I choose the 3X. So, for early a.m./late p.m. when I have houseguests, or PMS time. Also for reading in the garden in my bathrobe. (Something about that combination of activities virtually ensures that the Fed Ex guy will show up and I'll have to sign for a package over the garden gate.)  If I want more support and to be able to mayyyybe even leave the house for a quick errand, I'll opt for the 2X

Size: 2X or 3X  (cups run large)
The cup capacity and stretchy material mean the larger size is more than I need, but very comfy.