Saturday, May 20, 2017

In Which My Quest for Wire-free Bras Continues...

Yep, I'm still trying to find a reliable option that is work-friendly for those - increasingly more frequent - days when wired bras just bug me. Mostly this is due to swelling, which causes fluctuation in my cup size, which in turn causes even usually comfy underwires to dig in on the sides, or create new pressure spots. 

Bras with lots of stretch in the cup fabric definitely help (Natori Satin FleurAnita Twin, and to a lesser degree Wacoal Dual Control) but still, when I experience hormonally-induced swelling, the wires themselves eventually just irritate me. The fit of the bra is subtly changed in multiple ways and the wires, by their very nature, cannot adapt enough to the changes. Result: I quickly become uncomfortable. This is where you would think it would be a good idea to try a maternity style bra, which are theoretically designed to adapt to such changes. 

However. The vast majority of styles available are not actual maternity styles, but rather nursing styles featuring horrid hard plastic clips, the edges of which rub the skin raw. Seriously. What genius thought of that. The first bra of this type I tried (because it could be converted by removing the hard plastic) was an utter failure: Bravado Essential Embrace. Like a scuba suit with the all the softness of canvas. So while it's tempting to try brands like Hot Milk or Cake, with their unique plastic 'flexi-wires', the unfortunate fact is that the hard clips would ruin all other comfort features for me. Royce is known for offering both maternity & nursing styles - but they also are known for some of worst shapes ever seen in wire-free designs. Horizontal seam frumpitude extraordinaire. Like kryptonite for full-on-tops. 

So that leaves me randomly trying wire-free options that have designs that seem promising. It's a lonely road, people. The latest two attempts:

Curvy Studio Cotton Wireless Bra

If this seems familiar, that's because it is the cheaper line of Curvy Couture, made for Target. I reviewed the regular version here: Curvy Couture Cotton Luxe Wirefree


How does the down-market version compare? Favorably...in some ways.

Straps.  The Target version loses the awful straps of the spendy version: no ring connectors at all, and no wadded up lump of sewn fabric either. That's a pretty big improvement. That alone makes the Comfy Studio version wearable for me. They are still quite pretty with the lace edging on the inner strap. Very fine and soft, it causes zero irritation and looks great peeking out from a wide-necked top.

Shape.  A bit droopy on its own. Which the Couture version is not. This one has more projection but less lift. However, it looks reasonably good under clothing. Better than expected. Also the gore is lower on the Studio version.



Fabric. Ah, here's where they slashed their costs, resulting in a pricepoint of under $30. This is not the silky rayon/cotton blend of Curvy Couture that felt almost like bamboo. Uhhhh, no, it is not that fabric. It is a polyester heavy cotton blend. Soft-ish, but not soft. And that satiny underband? Gone. Ribbed fabric that is not soft covers it instead. Also gone is the lavish lace, replaced with much smaller token lace strips.

Band.  This is the least comfy part of the bra, and really noticeable when sitting down for any length of time. First, it runs very tight, just like Curvy Couture does. A good 2 sizes worth. Beyond that, it is extremely tall, around 6". I dislike overly tall bands, so that's not a plus for me at all. When sitting, it tends to roll & dig. At least there are no side stays. This is the usual issue that often makes underwire seem more comfy to me overall: I hate the restrictive, tall band of many wire-frees and the way they just seem to concentrate the weight of my boobs onto a narrow band of space across my chest.

When Do I Wear It?  I'm less likely to wear this for lounging around on weekends. The band just isn't comfy enough for that. But I would wear it to work, when sitting upright at a desk, rather than reclining with feet propped, renders the band reasonably comfy - well, 'neutral' is more like it. But I like it best for a more active weekend with standing/walking involved.

Size: 42G.  Because of the extremely Wacoal-tight bands, you're unlikely to be sized out. For me, this size fits like my actual size, a 38I. (I often have to sister-size to a 40H in both US & Euro styles because they usually stop at H.) The size range of the brand is great - especially for a store like Target. It starts at a 34F (which fits like a 30 in this brand) & goes up to a 44H (really a 40J)

Just My Size Super Sleek Front-Close Wire-Free Bra

This was a total fail. 

The ridiculously poorly designed ring-connector strap strikes again:



All of that seamed, wadded up fabric, plus the ring connector and strap slide clumped together in one perfect storm of 'Ow!'



Here's a view of the top of my shoulder.

All of that weight concentrated on 1/2" of skin as a single pressure point. 

Just.....Why?

I felt immediate discomfort. After less than 5 minutes - literally just long enough to take these pic - I couldn't wait to remove this bra from my body. Angry red marks had already formed where the strap sat. 


Fabric.  This was nice. Silky nylon with lots of stretch. And the front hooks provide an option for those with arthritis or shoulder injuries. 

Though I can't imagine the hook closure lying flat beneath a blouse.

Also: cleavage. You won't avoid it.


Shape. Quite decent, really. For that alone, it's a shame the bad strap design makes it totally unwearable for me. 



It might, however, be wearable for you if: you are very petite and very high-set, which would enable you to have the straps fully shortened (moving the slider away from the top of your shoulder) and causing the ring to fall further down toward your back. Also, it would help if you are full on bottom, to avoid the over-the-top wench boobs the style creates on me.

Size: 42DD (fits like a 38G)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Deodorants for sensitive skin: underarms & underboobs - reviews & a recipe

I believe I've mentioned my sensitive skin, prone to rashes, eczema & now, rosacea. So my latest Princess & the Pea adventure started like this: 5 months ago I became inexplicably unable to tolerate the fairly gentle Dove deodorant I've used for the last decade. It has the same active ingredient as 90% of anti-perspirants do, but a good 20% less of it than almost any other brand. Did I mention I learned this after purchasing a 5-pack of said Dove from Costco? Because, of course. 
 
So began my quest to find a deodorant/anti-perspirant without Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Gly. 

Let me just say here that, although I am fairly crunchy - I've been a vegetarian for 20 years & hate plastic bags - some stuff just has to work. Among those things for me are toilet paper (I won't be giving up Charmin anytime soon), laundry detergent (no thanks, 7th Generation, even though I love your cardboard bottle), and deodorant. I've tried several natural brands over the years, from Tom's of Maine (perpetually sticky) to Aubrey (kind of sting-y) to the liquid Crystal roll-on (literally hours to dry). 

And they all had one thing in common: they simply did not work. Not for me. Not for longer than about 4 hours. Mayyyybe. That is just not acceptable. Not in a professional setting - hell, not even sitting alone on my sofa.

I should stop here & explain what I mean by 'unable to tolerate' normal deodorants anymore. I mean I developed a reaction well beyond a rash: large red sections of irritated skin across my armpits that developed into actual scabs. (Apologies for that TMI, but you'll understand my desperation when I realized I could no longer use the gentlest effective product I've found - & all known alternatives sucked.)

I did lots of research and quickly determined that I did not want to risk a product with baking soda, as most negative experiences were related to that ingredient, complete with some painful looking review pics on amazon similar to what I described. Unfortunately, the vast majority of crunchy products contain baking soda. 

I ordered one from etsy that did not, and actually came in a stick form. It was not a success. It had the texture of candle wax and the 'Jamaican Vanilla Bean' smelled like car air freshener on me; it felt tacky and coated on the skin. Fail.

Then I realized that I could just try making my own. I do make my own hair & skin cream from coconut oil - a mainstay of most recipes - and I had come to the conclusion that I really prefer a cream product rather than a wet roll-on or a sticky gel. And surprisingly....it worked! Very well indeed. And it is cheap as dirt. I have not had a reaction in the 4 months I've used it. 

I also found two other alternatives that work incredibly well. Here they are:


I'll start with the one in the center. This is my every day go-to now. The other two are for when I want something a little stronger.

What I love about the homemade recipe:
  • I scoop out a pea-sized daub of cream, hold it against my skin for 2 seconds, whereupon it instantly melts and can be rubbed in thoroughly and easily. 
  • It dries to a velvety soft finish very quickly.
  • There is zero caking. I can top it with body powder - still no caking. Ever. 
  • No need to wash your hands! Stay with me here. The only difference between this deodorant and a body cream recipe is the greater amount of corn starch. Nothing icky that needs to be washed off. I just really like that.
  • It can be used under the boobs to protect delicate skin from friction and keep things cool & dry.
  • Coconut has natural properties that are pretty great: it is inherently mildly both anti-bacterial & anti-fungal. 
  • The protection usually lasts me all day. It can be easily reapplied if you wish. (See no-caking, ever, above)

Here's the basic recipe. It can be customized in many ways:
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup corn starch
20 drops essential oil (or extract) of your choice. 
      (I usually use neroli (bitter orange flower). It has an earthy green edge that cuts the sweetness of regular orange blossom. It also has properties that mend tiny capillaries, a big part of sensitive skin issues and redness.)

Melt the coconut oil until very soft, but not totally liquid (it doesn't matter if you do, but it's easier to work with if you don't). Mix in the corn starch. Use a fork or spoon until blended. Add in the oil or extract. Stir until smooth.

That's it. You're done. Or, you can customize it to your exact liking.

To tweak the texture:
  • If you want to use an electric beater after the fork (don't do it at the beginning because the light-as-air corn starch will fly into the air) it will make the final product lighter and more whipped in texture, and it will also increase it in size since you're whipping air into it, so you'll need a bigger container.
  •  I live in a cold climate, so the coconut never ever liquifies. I mean, ever. Because it never goes above 72F here and the stuff liquifies at 75F. So I add 1 T of grapeseed or avocado oil to keep the mixture softer, otherwise it would form a solid balm (which is how most of the products for sale are) which you have to scrape out with the back of your fingernail. I prefer not. So a tablespoon of oil makes it a soft, thick cream.
  • Add a little more cornstarch. It gives a more velvety texture and a nice dry finish.
To increase the strength:
  • Add a capsule of powdered probiotics. Basically, the idea here is to outweigh bad bacteria with good.
  • Add a pinch of baking soda. Start small. See if it agrees with you. 
  • Substitute a portion of the corn starch with arrowroot or clay.
  • Use stronger antiseptic essential oils that are commonly found in these recipes, but that I personally dislike the scent of (in my skin care): lavender, tea tree, rosemary, frankincense, peppermint, cedar.
To customize the scent: do anything you want!
  •  I like the tangy floral of neroli, so that is my usual default scent. But this month, along with the neroli I added 5 drops of sandalwood and 1/4 tsp of almond extract (alcohol-based extracts also help with preservative, though you don't really need that since the recipe lasts one month).
  • Coconut will be a part of any scent you create, but it fades into the background and becomes more of a base note.
  • Use regular kitchen extracts if you don't like essential oils, don't want to spend the $$, or just love foodie scents: vanilla & almond work really well here. The one thing I would add is that I would be cautious with extracts that are not alcohol-based. E.g. I tried a buttercream extract in a body cream recipe....and came back to find the glycerin base had caused the coconut oil cream to  implode into a bubbling soup texture.
  • For sensitive skin, some good essential oil options include: rose, orange blossom, sandalwood, neroli, chamomile, frankincense, lavender.

 

Next up: Tussy

This brand has been around since 1925. That's right. You, too, can feel like a flapper. A 21st century flapper with sensitive skin. 

I remember when I lived in England in the early-90s my elderly neighbor - who had lived through the London Blitz - swore by Tussy. With my American devotion to Secret, I took no notice. Until years later, and the Great Deodorant Crisis of 2017, I came across this on amazon during my research. And remembered fondly.

Tussy contains Aluminum Chlorohydrate, which is a much gentler version of the ingredient used in more modern products. So it is actually an anti-perspirant as well. As such, it will give stronger protection than the homemade recipe above. This is what I used for my wedding in Las Vegas. I was wearing a velvet dress and just wanted to jack up my coverage.

Things to note:
  • Tussy has my favorite texture of the 3 products I use. It is a light, whipped cream and a very small amount blends in easily. 
  • No caking. Powder away!
  • It has the most unique scent for a woman's deodorant I've ever encountered: Cloves! Not sweet, not floral, not powdery, not 'fresh'-  but the gentle, warm, spicy scent of clove.
  • You definitely need to wash this off your hands. And this is the only one of the 3 that is not appropriate for under-boob use. 
  • Very economical. Around $5.00. Some stores still carry it, and of course, amazon.

 

Next up: Yodora

This one comes from the 1940s. And it works. Well. Really well. Better than any modern actual anti-perspirant I've tried. It is the most effective of the 3 products here and works even into the next day. With zero aluminum. It's a weird kind of magic. Especially when you consider that.....

This stuff is basically Desitin diaper cream. Not. Even. Kidding. It's pretty much a combo of Vaseline (moisture barrier), zinc oxide (the old white-nose sunscreen stuff), and boric acid (gentle enough to be used in eye drops).
  • It works shockingly well, while being very gentle.
  • The scent is not my favorite: very sweet & powdery, and well, a little 'old lady'. But it doesn't linger & isn't strong.
  • The texture also isn't my favorite. It's...well, just like baby butt cream: greasy and thick and opaque. But you only need a very small amount. Still, it's got a very ointment-type feel to it, and it has a tacky, heavy feel that takes a long while to really absorb. It's very dry and smooth by the end of the day, though. And it is still working, well into the next day.
  • The zinc oxide has strong antiseptic (as well as sunscreen) properties. There's good reason it features heavily in diaper creams. Along with the Vaseline, it provides a strong barrier against irritation - & sweat. 
  • Highly appropriate under the boobs, though does not have the silky feel and velvety finish of the coconut oil recipe.
  • A bargain at $7.
This gives an idea of the different textures of the 3 creams: 

Tussy: light whipped cream
Coconut oil: cream-paste
Yodora: thick cream-ointment
 




I am thrilled with each of these products. My own recipe meets my needs 80% of the time. I love that I can make a 2 oz jar, customized to my exact tastes, in 10 minutes, that will last me at least one month. And cost me around 50 cents in high quality ingredients.

But the other 2 products have earned a place in my bathroom cabinet as well.

I enjoy the light texture and scent of Tussy, and it is very travel friendly. No need to worry about temperature changes that will affect the recipe cream. 

And if I need serious protection that lasts 24+ hours, I will absolutely reach for Yodora. It works better than Dove or any other commercial modern product I've tried. This would also be very effective for chub-rub in a beach situation. I mean, it even has sunscreen & antiseptic built in. 

What has been really amazing to me is just how well the products of my grandmother's era have held up. I mean, they just plain work! With no ill effects or fancy packaging. In the end, the product that is almost one century old, is what I wore for my own wedding in 2017. And the product from WWII is still more effective, and less toxic, than the 21st century options. And my favorite is made from a tropical product used for many more generations in the island nations of the Pacific.
 
So there you have it: options. Hopefully this helps someone else & spares them some frustration and exhaustive research.
 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Review: Natori Glance Soft Cup Bra

There is definitely a place for a good soft-cup bra. Most of us will need a wire-free option at some point. Be it joint pain or skin sensitivity issues, PMS or pregnancy, or long hours spent sitting on planes and trains, there will be times when the pressure of an underwire causes discomfort that is just not tolerable.

I have found a couple of decent soft cup options over the last few years: JMS Satin Wirefree (the only soft cup that rivals the shape an underwire bra gives, but has a not-quite-comfy underband) and Bali Comfort Revolution Smart Size (great soft stretchy fabric with lift, but less shaping & separation). But they are not perfect. 

So I keep searching for a style I could comfortably wear - for a full day at work - when underwire is just not comfy for me. Something that strikes the balance between shape & comfort. Because the more structured the style, the more support, but almost invariably - less comfort. 

Beauty

Oh, dear. Another ugly beige beast. 


Surprisingly so, coming from Natori, which usually delivers casual elegance even in their plain basics. But this....wellll...Yeah, it's just plain unattractive - dare I say, hideous - even in the smaller sizes. 
I'm guessing they named it 'Glance' because that is exactly what I would advise you to do: look quickly - then look away. But stay with me, because...

Comfort

Here is where Glance shows some qualities that are unique. You can glimpse them at the edges and the gore.

FabricNylon and spandex - 38% of it. That means it stretches and hugs like a second skin. And it is incredibly lightweight. For comparison, the average UK bra like Freya or Curvy Kate will have only 10-15% spandex - often with zero of that found in the cup. Brands like Natori, Chantelle, and Anita all use high spandex fabric - in both cup and band - which accounts for a great deal of their comfort and fit. UK brands rely instead upon non-stretch cups, or 'laminated' fabric, and more hefty seam structure. 

Cups. They are described as having 'retro seaming', i.e. there is a significant frump factor. They have decent capacity and are soft. 

Straps. Soft, comfy, not at all wide. And convertible. An odd feature for a soft-cup, but there you have it. Should you want to wear it cross-back, you can.
 
Mesh panels There are panels of fine, soft mesh: a narrow one at the gore, and quite large ones at the sides, forming part of the side cup and band.

These are amazing. Very soft and comfy, and they make the bra feel light on the body. Usually wire-free styles feel hefty as they cover more real estate, not less, and are trying to make up for the lack of wires with extra structure. The Glance is very different. It feels like far less bra, and those panels provide a serious amount of ventilation and cooling. The bra as a whole feels very lightweight on the body. I actually forgot I was wearing in at one point in the afternoon - which is a rare thing for me.

Shape

As unpromising as it looks from the front, the profile shape is actually not bad. It allows for my natural full-on-top shape to do its thing, basically undisturbed. Surprisingly, the seam placement aligns at nip-level - something that's also unusual for me. But, clearly, those 'retro seams' do not deliver in terms of shaping. The shape Glance gives is never going to rival an underwire, or even a soft-cup like the JMS Satin, which has more diagonal seams, and so more lift and roundness.But it is an acceptable, natural shape.

When Do I Wear It?

Any time swelling or sensitive skin issues make an underwire uncomfy, and a great shape is not a priority. Definitely for travel. To work, with a more structured blouse or chunky sweater. I doubt I'd choose this bra for thinner knits, and it would be decidedly frumpalicious under clingy modal or rayon. But under a button-down shirt, or a more substantial sweater, this thing is a comfy workhorse. 

Size: 40G
I actually went up a band size & dropped down a cup size in this style. Why? Because very often I find that I can go down a cup size in wire-free styles. Perhaps due to my full-on-top boobs not having to fight with an underwire meant for full-on-bottom shapes, and the cup shaping itself to my body instead of vice-versa, I need less actual cup. And the band seems to run slightly snugger than the wired styles, so going up a size worked well for me here.

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.

Beauty

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.)

Comfort

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. 

Compromise(s)

 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, basically....is 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. 

Beauty 


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. Just...no.

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. 

Beauty


 
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.

Fit

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 it....it 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)