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


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Review: Rosme Annija Half-Padded bra

Rosme is an eastern European brand; from what I can tell, it is based in Latvia. Apparently there is some connection to Miss Mary of Sweden as well, a company that has been around for donkey's years - the 1950s I'd guess, from their aesthetic, which is...traditional. (Read: lots of horizontal seams, pointy cups, and wirefrees - and always, always in white.) But they offered larger cup sizes, so they were often the only option. 

Rosme is a good deal less frumpy in their aesthetic. I've tried a non-padded balconette in the past and it was quite comfy, if much pointier than I prefer. So I thought I'd try the half-padded version and see if I got a rounder shape.


Stylized rose lace pattern is unique. 
Unfortunately, Annija only comes in beige or black.
The beige is a cool tone, non-yellowy, so a decent match for my skin.


Straps.  Quite comfy. The front is wide and flat, but the back is fairly narrow regular elastic. 

Wires.  On the narrow side: less narrow than Gorsenia or Comexim; similar to Natori. Medium-soft gauge.

Band.  Very true to size. Mesh, but on the softer side.

Cups.   The foam lining the bottom half of the cup is thin, so it gives support and structure, but is lightweight. Unfortunately, the lace upper cup - which I assumed to be stretch lace - isn't. Which makes this bra completely unsuitable for a full on top shape, and results in this rather unfortunate shape. 

Oh dear:

The top of my boob is forced downward into the cup, where most of the space is - except that bottom bit, where it is not cut full enough for the foam to accommodate much boob. 

I am getting a downward ski slope shape worse than Curvy Kate's.

This shape is 100% meant for a  full on bottom boob shape. I don't think even a balanced shape could make this style work.

When Do I Wear It?

There is no way to make this shape work for me. Which is unfortunate, since the quality is decent, the price point is great, and the brand is easily available on amazon and eBay. If you are full on bottom, this is definitely a budget brand worth trying.
Size: 38H

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Review: Freya Pansy

Eight years ago, when I finally gave up trying to fit into 38DD's, Freya was the first full-bust brand I tried. It was (& is) easily available on eBay and brastop. BrasIHate had not yet written her (bra)life changing post explaining full-on-top vs. full-on-bottom, with the now iconic turquoise boob silhouettes. So I was still trying - & being hugely disappointed by - all of the bras so beloved at that time: Freya Pollyanna & Jolie; Panache Lucy; Curvy Kate Princess. 

I had found my correct size (36G at that time) but nothing fit just right and I never was happy with the comfort or shape I got in any of those correctly fitting bras. Still, at a 36G, I was able to wear the 'normal' Freyas - I had no idea of the suckage that would ensue when I crept over that cup line in the sand and needed a 36GG. I went from being semi-satisfied with Freya's attractive, moderate coverage, and minimally comfortable being completely appalled at the ox-in-a-harness look (and feel) that afflicted anything above a G-cup. Then I read the post  Why I Hate Freya. And realized that the brand would never work for me. All of the balconette shapes are the same; there are no styles that suit full-on-top shapes, save the 1/2 cups. And those stop at a G-cup. Because naturally. 

I moved on to try many brands that are less, well, stodgy. For all their wacky patterns, Freya is incredibly conservative, sticking with their same old clunky 3-part balconette shape regardless of all the innovation being shown by new brands like Tutti Rouge, which offer many different cup shapes to suit many different boob shapes. Freya? Nope. They're still clinging to their frumpy shape and bizarre belief that some kind of mysterious, cataclysmic change occurs from G-to-GG necessitating epic harness-style scaffolding and 1" straps.

Fast forward 6 years and I decide to give Freya another try. Why? Because I was suckered by the hyper-realistic floral pattern trend (the proper name for that, I cannot recall right now). And Pansy was on sale. I regret my moment of optimistic weakness.


Hmmmm. The print is actually very pretty - what you can see of it - even continuing onto those honkin-huge straps. But that awkwardly large expanse of double-lined, non-stretch lace breaks up the pattern in a clunky way and makes the bra read - and feel - very large and blocky on the body. Curvy Kate suffers from this same compulsion to expand the upper cup to ridiculous proportions as the sizes increase.


Yeah, there really isn't much.

Band. Awful, frankly. And the bane of all Freyas. A crappy, rough mesh, with a very narrow edging of elastic - top & bottom - which is tighter than the mesh band itself and therefore cuts into the skin. Yeah, thanks for that, Freya.

Straps. These are surprising comfy. And they ought to be, as they are enormous. Wider than any other Freya straps I've encountered. The patterned material extends about 1/2 the length, and has a unusual feature: it isn't stitched down, which is usual and would render the front of the strap non-stretch; instead, the fabric floats like a soft, stretchy tube, allowing the strap to conform perfectly to the shoulder. This is only great design element I've ever seen from Freya. Though the width is really overkill - and I say this as a lover of wide straps.


Cups.  The lace lacks any stretch, rendering this the usual terrible for full-on-tops shape. Pollyanna (discontinued, naturally) had a nice stretch lace top that made if workable for FOTs as well as FOBs. Pansy doesn't. The cups are quite full coverage; I don't consider this a balconette, but a full cup.

Wires.  Above G-cup, the wires change to a wider, taller shape. Not helpful. They are also a heavier gauge, so less comfy.

Tack.  Because they also make the gore ridiculously tall and wide in the GG, I do not get the nice tack I did with a G. 

Shape.  It really doesn't appear too bad from the side:

But under clothing, the effect is just...awkward, especially from the front: pointy and splayed:

When Do I Wear It?

Yeahhhh, I no longer put up with discomfort, or the ox-in-a-harness look/feel. Or brands that simply ignore customer feedback and years of requests for a rounder shape, and better bands. It would take a serious change in their design philosophy for me to try Freya again. And the brand is nothing if not resistant to change.
Size: 38GG

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Brand Overview: Shapely Figures

Shapely Figures is a UK brand with a large size range. You'll find them in online/catalog stores like SimplyBe. They have a wide selection of styles: balconettes, Tshirt, plunge, and quite a few wireless options. I've tried several styles in different sizes over the last few years, enough to get a good sense of the brand, and some factors have held true across the board for me. I wanted to give an overview for anyone who has wondered whether the extra trouble of ordering from the UK is worth it.

Some examples of the styles you'll find:

Wireless - 

the one on the right is what I'm wearing below:
Image result for shapely figures brasImage result for shapely figures bras

Standard  balconettes & full cups:

Image result for shapely figures brand 2 packImage result for shapely figures brand balconetteImage result for shapely figures brand balconette

The Fit

I have found this to be true across all the styles: the cups run large and the bands run small. They do not do double letters, so for instance, a G-cup fits me more like a large GG. The cups also tend to run tall in the wired styles, and the wires are closer to Panache height than Curvy Kate. The bands run a full size small. 

The Good

  • Large size range
  • Huge array of colors and patterns 
  • Different seam structures that will suit different shapes
  • Lots of wirefree options that give decent support
  • 2-packs (when on sale) are a decent value

The Bad

  • Cheap, scratchy materials: lace not especially soft
  • Wirefree styles I have tried give a pointy shape
  • Wired styles have tall cups/high wires, which negates having different seam shape options, since the cups will still only suit a particular shape
  • Finishing quality is not great: elastic edges in band aren't covered well; straps are roughly joined so edges are bulky.
  • The price does not reflect the lower quality of the materials. If not on sale, it's not a bargain

 When Do I Wear Them?

Unfortunately, none of the styles I've tried have been comfy enough to be in rotation. If you suit their cup shape, and don't have sensitive skin, then you will find a huge array of options and colors and much to like in the brand - when it is on sale.

My size in the brand: 40F

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Review: Gorsenia Lilli-Rose

After my great success with Gorsenia Solange I wanted to try another style in a slightly smaller size. So I opted for the Lilli-Rose. Though the brand is Polish, the amazon seller, Other Eden, is located in the UK and the shipping was quite fast on all three bras I've purchased so far. 
 Image result for gorsenia lilli


I needed a lighter neutral colorway, and since I hate beige, I don't buy it unless there is no other alternative. The Lilli-Rose has a pale pink base, with a light grey print. The effect is subtle and doesn't show through light colored tops, so it works very well as a neutral for me. 

The details and quality are very high. The fine mesh upper cup is a double layer and the seams are well-sewn and very flat. The embroidery is slightly raised and would show under a very clingy fabric, but doesn't under a medium-weight knit.

Comfort & Fit

I went with a 38H this time, since in the 40H Solange the cups were slightly large on me. But I don't think that accounts for the lesser comfort of this bra. There are subtle differences between this style and the Solange that, taken together, have a negative impact on comfort. 

Cups.  This is a good fit for me. I could perhaps use just a smidge more room in my larger side, but overall, the cup size is right. The shape however, is slightly less round than Solange. I am still getting a perfect tack.

Wires.  I definitely notice the change here, from dropping down a band size. These are narrow wires, almost on par with Comexim. They also dropped 1/2" in height, which is a plus for me.This angle makes the wires appear fairly tall, but they are not. I did bend them slightly outward at the outer ends, to make them follow the line of my muscley/fluffy bits better.

Side seams.  Here is one of the subtle differences. You can see how raised that seam is (this is after the side stay was removed). It is just bigger and sturdier than the Solange's. And so I am aware of the feeling of the seam. 

Straps.  These are different too. They are incredible short. I have them fully extended - & even then, they are barely long enough. The straps are also a good deal wider than Solange, and more restricted stretch. This would normally be good, but because of the shortness factor, it does not add to comfort.

Band.  The band is significantly smaller and less comfy than Solange. It is, unfortunately, mesh. Not a rough 'power' mesh, but it's mesh. However, it has the same pattern as the cups, which gives a much nicer look than plain mesh. But as I often find with mesh bands, not only do they fit more snugly, but the elastic lining the top and bottom is often tighter than the band and so you get that feeling of slight digging in, even when it is not too tight. 

Shape.  It is not as round as Solange. There is a subtle difference in the seam placement, and the lower seam is slightly less vertical, and a bit more slanted to the diagonal, as you see in UK seams - though much less so. I'm still getting a far better, rounder shape than I do in Curvy Kate.

When Do I Wear It?

In the same way as I wear Solange, but less often. Lilli-Rose is a versatile shape and a reasonably comfy bra, but just not as comfy as Solange. Some Gorsenia styles seem to have 'plus' size, or large cup size 'features' such as wider (but shorter!) straps; mesh bands; and heftier seam structure. Unfortunately, you really can't tell from the descriptions which styles contain these 'features' - which I personally do not want. 

For my next purchase, I will avoid the wider straps and mesh bands (the seller does respond well to questions) in my quest to find another style similar to the deeply wonderful Solange. The Lilli-Rose is a good bra, just not a great bra, for me. But if you are under 5'6", and need narrow wires and the firm support of a mesh band, this would be a great bra for you, and at 1/2 the pricepoint of Comexim. 
Size:  38H

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.



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.


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.


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