Sunday, January 6, 2019

Reviews: 3 Options from Leading Lady

Based on how useful and comfy I have found my Leading Lady cami-bralettes - which, naturally, now appear to be discontinued - I tried three more styles: a T-shirt bra, a long(ish)line bralette, and a sleep bralette. Let's see how they worked out for me:

Brigitte Molded Padded Seamless Underwire

Beauty.  Lots of pretty colors and patterns. I opted for Classic Cranberry, a juicy jewel tone with a subtle pattern. 

Fit & Comfort. What in the actual...?! Just no.....oh dear, no, no, no. I was not expecting this bizarre shape. It is both shallow AND pointy. I can't imagine how they accomplished this. Or...why they even tried to. The majority of the depth is way over at the outside of the cups, practically halfway around your back, with virtually none at the center of bottom. The gore is around 4" from my chest. A larger cup would not help since it would be up to my eyebrows, and still wouldn't have any depth. I can't assess comfort because the shape mismatch is so extreme.


I don't think this is a full-on-top issue, since most full-on-bottom shapes will not have the extremely shallow and side-weighted shape the cups demand. Perhaps the bra scales better in smaller sizes, who knows. But with the ultra-pointy silhouette, i.e. boob tent creator, I'd give this one a hard pass. 

Greta Wirefree Bralette

Greta had real potential, ruined by what, for me, is a fatal flaw - but may not be for you. 

Beauty. I find this sleek and pretty in the color way Modern Violet.

Comfort. Wonderful soft modal fabric, which is the gold standard for sensitive skin. The deep band is also soft and stretchy; in smaller cup sizes it gives more of a longline effect. The darted seams are actually non-irritating.

Fit. The cups have a lot of depth and capacity. The size range is impressively large, from S-5X. This is a 3X which equates to 38F-40H (US). Lots of stretch to accommodate different shapes.

Love the low sides! They taper away almost to the band in back, while still giving coverage where you actually need it. There is a very decent amount of lift and a nice rounded shape with some separation, too.


So, why oh why didn't this work for me? The straps. For some reason they decided to try to get fancy and make them an X-shape. 


Yeahhh, a really bad design move, especially for non-adjustable straps. It was the main complaint mentioned in reviews. Though I did not find them too tight, I found the place just endlessly uncomfortable. And awkward. I was constantly aware of them and hated the feel of them creeping ever more toward my neck. There is just no way to fix this, short of cutting the straps and reattaching them in a more sane configuration. Which is a real shame, as Greta is a stellar bralette in every other way. Bummer.

Bamboo Crossover Sleep Bra

This one was almost a keeper.

Comfort.  Bamboo is right up there with modal for sensitive skin nirvana. Once I had turned it inside-out so the seams and elastic would not annoy my sensitive skin, of course. This is something I have to do routinely, and was expecting. It's definitely comfy enough to sleep in.

Fit.  You can probably already see the issue coming.....Yeah, even though there is nice cup capacity on the sides:


There simply wasn't enough cup capacity in the front and center. Sadly, this style tops out at a 2X, and I really needed a size up. I thought about keeping it anyway, but I knew that the cutting in, especially on my larger side, would drive me nuts over time. Not to mention the annoyance that boobs tumbling out would cause if I actually tried to sleep in it. 


I actually liked the style and have no real complaints about the design. The drawback of reduced size capacity that always accompanies a crossover style are balanced by it being super easy to step into, as there are no hooks. Because Leading Lady bands run on the snug side, I think this size could work for you if you're between, say, a 36E-40F (US) especially if you're full-on-bottom.

Who Will These Work For?

I'd honestly just give all their wired styles a miss. It's just not worth the trial and error to -possibly- find that one style that doesn't have that truly bizarre shallow yet pointy cup shape. 

But the bralettes are actually worth a look. If you're petite, or actually like racerback or X-back styles, then Greta would be a great, very comfy option for you. And one of the few available in a truly large cup, smaller band size range - and at a decent price point. The Bamboo Crossover is a nice sleep bra option in you're in the size range. It's unfortunate they discontinued the highly practical and comfy cotton cami-bra style, but I will keep an eye out for new styles from the brand, in case they come out with something similar.

Price: All styles were around $30.


Saturday, December 22, 2018

Review: Delimira Women's Comfort No Padding Wire Free Seamless Bra (Bali Comfort Revolution bralette)

Yes, I am still happily on my Delimira kick. That's because I've been pleased with every bra I've tried from the brand. The consistency in sizing, the crazy low price point - which does not correlation to the fairly high quality - and the unexpected fact that their generic versions of famous bras are often better made and more comfy than the original? Well, color me impressed. 

When I saw that Delimira makes a version of the epic level comfy Bali Comfort Revolution? The bralette that I have bought many times, that remains the most comfy, supportive -enough to wear out of the house, even- bralette I've found in my long searching. Yeah, I had to try that. 

And I was not disappointed.

Beauty

 Plain and sleek neutrals.
Black & gray or black & beige; those are your choices.

Everyone reading knows my thoughts on beige, so here's the gray:

 Comfort & Fit

Fabric: Thick, ultra soft, comfy, stretchy nylon/spandex.

Cups.   As with the original Bali, they expand a good deal and the XL can handle a G-cup and even an H, though you'll have more cleavage. I think they are slightly more supportive than the original as they are slightly less stretchy - in a good way - resulting in your boobs being held closer to your chest. The effect is a slightly minimized, very rounded shape with impressive bounce reduction. The cups do not encourage a uniboob and there's some slight separation, which is a big plus. I'd wear this out of the house in a heartbeat.



Band.  Stretchy, snug and stable, with 3 hooks. I find those pull-over styles frustrating to contort myself into, so I love that this has regular hooks. And the padded clasp of the Bali remains! In fact, they've gone one better and padded it with memory foam, which is a more dense and deliciously pillowy foam. Win! (The actual Balis I've bought on Amazon are sometimes inexplicably missing the padded foam in the clasp, which makes them likely 'imperfect' 2nd's.) One more reason to opt for this high quality generic over the original.

Straps.  As with the Bali, this is my sole quibble with this otherwise divinely comfy bralette. They are wide-ish and overall comfy, but have the rolled elastic edging which I don't care for, but again, it's a small quibble.

Price.  The Bali Comfort Revolution goes for $35 full price. 
Brace yourself: a 2-pack of the Delimira version? $19


When Do I Wear It?

All day every weekend. To work when I'm feeling under the weather or experiencing PMS swelling which causes sensitivity to wires. I actually do wear this bralette under formfitting Tshirts; the thick, substantial fabric gives more nippie coverage than you'd expect and a natural, rounded shape. Also, the very rounded shape avoids boob-tenting under looser draping tops. The one time I wouldn't choose this one is with something that requires a high bustline, such as an empire waist dress, since you need some lift for that to fit properly. While I prefer to sleep free range, you could definitely sleep in this if you're so inclined; the padded clasp ensures no hooks will dig in and the 2nd skin stretch will allow it move with you.

Size: XL. Like all Delimira (save the Wacoal Awareness version that runs small) this runs large. The XL fits me just like the XXL in Bali's original version. 

Rough guide:  the XL should work fine for 38F-42GG, the L for 34E-36G, etc.
There's quite a bit of leeway in sizing.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Review: Delimira Seamless Soft Wirefree No Padding bra (Wacoal Awareness)

And my Delimira kick continues. Btw, I only noticed that 2nd 'i' a few months ago; before then, my brain had missed the first 'i' and my earlier reviews note 'Delmira'. Anyhoo. This is another bra with a hilariously literal name. 

But I recognized the style immediately: it is a very beloved bra by Wacoal called Awareness which comes in neutral colors and also a pretty jacquard print. Allow me to demonstrate my Generation X trivia brain: about 15 years ago, Whoopi Goldberg called it the most comfy bra ever. No, I cannot explain why that stuck in my brain. 

Beauty


Delimira's version of Awareness comes only in basics -white, beige & black- in the plain fabric version. Wacoal's version is $60 and Delimira's is $15 and I find them almost equivalent in quality. So there's that. This is a very plain style that disappears under pretty much any fabric. There is a very narrow mesh strip down the center that is meant to provide some ventilation and breaks up the look of what otherwise resembles a crop top style.


Comfort

Very, very high. This is the most comfy wire-free bra I've tried in a long time. And it is a bra, rather than a bralette, though there is some overlap in those categories. 

BandWonderful. They solved the problem I often have with wire-free bras which is that the underband is either rough or constrictive. Not so here. The underband beneath the cups is quite narrow and it has stretch, so is not at all constrictive. But the best thing? It is lined with a soft fabric. No rough elastic edging or rigid fabric. This simple thing equates to a huge comfort upgrade. 


Oh, but that's not all. The band is also low, so no cutting in when sitting and no chafing during range of motion. And even better: it is not made of crappy mesh. Nope. It's kind of a unique fabric, a textured, slightly open-weave microfiber that is soft and breathable. 

Cups.  They are double-layer and provide support without a lot of bounce. Just as the Wacoal does, these do run small and shallow. They are not designed for a lot of projection. If you are full-on-bottom, this likely won't present any problems and I doubt you would experience any gaping as the fabric has good stretch and will conform to your shape. I could actually use a cup up, but that will also result in less lift. 

Straps.  Wider in the front, and no ring connectors. Very comfy and supportive.

Compromises

Shape.  You are not going to get any separation, which is just how wire-free bras roll. If you hate the feeling of your boobs being pressed against each other, my fave hack is to take one of those tiny, soft microfiber squares that are used to clean glasses, and tuck it right between your boobs. Feels soothing and eliminates that sticky, smooshed feel.

I do get a soft, natural shape that is slightly minimized, and with minimal lift.

Here it is under a thin, drapey knit.

And for comparison, here is Delimira 'Ethel', the cotton bralette with projection, which gives a better shape, but I find to be a lot less comfy.

When Do I Wear It?

All the damn time. To work and on weekends. Whenever I want to go wire-free, and when comfort matters to me more than shape, the not-Awareness is what I reach for. Particularly when I want slightly firmer support than a bralette gives.  The one time I would hesitate is under a snug, clingy T-shirt where shape will be in the spotlight. But then, that is the specific situation that T-shirt bras were made for.

Sizing.  After I sized up with Ethel-the-bralette, and it turned out there was no need, I stuck with my usual Delimira size of 40F. Hah - Psych! This turned out to the one time I actually do need to go up a cup, since this bra is so faithful to the Wacoal original, which only goes up to a DDD and definitely runs almost 2 cup sizes small. The good news is that while I am totally sized out of the Wacoal, that is not so with Delimira's version. 

In summary, if you are full-on-bottom, you will be fine with your usual size (for the brand). If you are balanced in shape, you may need to go up a cup, particularly in the black. If you are full-on-top, definitely go up a cup.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Brand Breakdown: What Does Delimira offer?

Where is Delimira made? Good question. No one seems to know; they're pretty mysterious. My best guess is India. 

 Where Does the Brand Excel?

Price point.  Below $20. That's in Hanes at Walmart territory, but with a far higher level of quality, not to mention size range. This is the brand I suggest you start with if you are on a tight budget, or have no idea what style you will like, or, alternatively, you do know what brands & style you want, but you want a cheaper version, or have been sized out. 

Sizing.  While the brand doesn't use either UK or Euro sizing, it's incredibly consistent. Once you know your size, it works all across the brand.

Choice!  They have a wide variety of styles, meant for a variety of shapes. Each one is a generic version of a popular bra from a US or UK brand - but in a bigger size range. So if there was a bra you wore & liked when you were still trying to cram yourself into the DD zone, you may find a version of it here, in higher cup sizes. Half the fun with Delimira is trying to identify which famous bra it is. There are a few I don't recognize, so it's like a fun puzzle.

Examples:   The 'Floral Lace Underwire' is based on the Lepel Fiore 
                  This one is also my favorite of the many Delimiras I've tried.

 

             
                 The 'Floral Sheer Unlined' is a version of the Panache Envy 
                                     It's more comfy than the brand name, too.
 
 And, the Bali Passion, here:



What Is the Brand Not So Good At?


Naming their bras. Heh. Like the name of this bralette  

They could at least give you a clue, like naming their version of the Envy 'Jealousy' or somesuch, to help you figure out what you're getting. But again, the puzzle is part of the fun.

Sizing.  This is both a plus and a minus: Delimira goes their own way and does not use either US or UK cup sizing. The good news: they are extremely consistent - far more so than the name brands; once you know your size, that's your size. Which is a huge advantage when buying online.

I give sizing advice in each of the reviews, but the general rule of thumb for finding your size in Delimira is this: bands are fairly true to size -keep in mind that I do not believe in the theory of tight bands; a properly fitting band for me is +2 inches added to my actual measurement. That said, the bands definitely don't run tight. Cups are generous and there are no double letters. Do not be put off by the smaller letter sizes.

If you are converting from your UK size: keep your band size and drop a full cup. E.g. 40G to 40F, or, 34H to 34G. For double letters, I would err on the smaller cup side, as they run so generous. 

If converting from your Euro size:  keep your band and drop 2 cup sizes, E.g. in my case, that means from a 40H to a 40F.

Who/What/Where Will Delimira Work For?

  •  Anyone on a limited budget. You can build a core bra-drobe: seamed, seamless, bralette, minimizer, very inexpensively. The bras are quite decent quality and hold up well. All of mine are still going strong 2+ years onward.
  • If you experience a lot of fluctuation in your size, due to weight or cycle changes, the extremely low price point makes it very practical to buy a bra you like in multiple sizes.
  • There is a style you like, in a brand you can't normally wear. I would never be able to tolerate the harsh, sky-high wires of Panache, but I love the subtle checkerboard and lace pattern of the Envy. Yahtzee! Delimira's version has lower, softer wires and is 1/4 the price.
  • If you hate dealing with the hassle of returns. Honestly, at this price, if you get lazy and forget to return it within the window....ehhh.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Review: Delimira Lace Soft Wirefree Non Padded Full Coverage Cotton Bralette

First off, I think we can all agree that naming their bras is not Delimira's best thing. Heh. I mean, they really need to consider using women's names, like, say, Gorsenia does. In fact, I'm going to do it for them and call this bra Ethel. Because she's no-nonsense and does not care what you think of her beige-ness.

Beauty

Ethel is a practical cotton bralette; beauty isn't really her bag, baby. That said, she does have a single strip of lace trim around the band and a dipping V-neckline.



Comfort & Fit 


Fabric.  Cotton knit of medium weight with a little spandex. Softness is just okay; could be better, but could be worse.

Band.  Higher at the sides than I prefer and the elastic is a little rough. Ethel's band means business: it closes with 4 hooks and has 6 rows, making it very preggers or size fluctuation friendly.

Cups.   These are kind of interesting: they are heat-molded and provide quite a bit of depth - a welcome design, but one I wasn't expecting, which plays into sizing. In fact, they are actually a bit too large on me, which is more visible in the pic above. So the capacity is quite good.

They also have this feature, which was almost genius, had it been better executed: A little vertical strip of fabric between the boobs that is about 1/2" wide. It doesn't provide shape separation, of course, since it's just a flimsy strip of cotton, but it does provide a tiny physical barrier against boob sweat. Had they made it 1" wide, it could have been a brilliant sleep bra, especially for side sleepers like myself. I actually tuck my sleep shirt between my boobs when I'm sleeping free-range, which is always. Oh, the glamour of the big boob life.


Shape.  The cups are deep enough to allow for a full-on-top shape -though I'd say they're intended for a balanced one- and they allow for a fair amount of projection. The lift I get is more than I'd expect from a bralette.

Here's how Ethel looks under a thin, drapey knit shirt: Not bad, really.
 

 Compromises

  •  Fabric is just semi-soft
  •  Band elastic tends toward the scratchy side
  •  Deep V-neckline allows boobs to migrate toward the center 

 

 When Do I Wear It?

Well, in the pic above, I actually wore it to work on a day when I felt puffy and PMS-y and just Could. Not. Even. But I have to say, I did not find it comfy enough for a full day of active wear, mainly due to the higher sides and not soft enough (for me) elastic band. I also found the tendency toward central uniboob migration annoying. For work especially, I would choose the Leading Lady Bralette, which is similar, the same pricepoint, but has much softer fabric and a higher neckline that works to keep the boobs surprisingly separate, but not splayed looking, while hiding any cleavage; it looks way better under clothing than it does alone. I wear Ethel mainly on weekends when I'm working in the garden or writing, want something breathable, and don't care about showing cleavage. 

Sizing.  Yeah, despite my experience of Delimira running very consistent with their sizing, and knowing that my size with them is always a 40F (which fits like a UK 40G or Euro 40H) I was worried there wouldn't be enough cup capacity because the pics of this bra online look like it has no formed cups. So I ignored my own advice went with a 42F. Result: It's about a cup size too large, fitting me more like 42G UK, 42H Euro.

Because it's cotton, I then did what I would never advise you to do: baked it in the dryer on high. And it barely shrank a 1/4 cup. Which means the cotton is pre-shrunk, and the quality higher than I expected, though I wish that was reflected in softness. Anyway, don't be like ComfyCurvy; actually take ComfyCurvy's advice. 

Price point: $16  
 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Review: Rosa Faia by Anita: Aurelia

Beauty

Aurelia is very similar in design to the Twin, but done completely in lace, and seamless inside & out. Although I am a lover of lace, I can't say the particular pattern of the lace is my favorite, but it's pretty enough. Aurelia reminds me a bit of both Empreinte Grace and Prima Donna Divine, but I find it far superior to both in every category but shape.

The color is a dark cream with a hint of blush, which is not exactly 'skin tone' but works well as a neutral for me under lighter colored clothing.

Comfort & Fit

Fabric.  Though sturdy, the lace is very soft and lays completely flat. It has a bit of stretch -but is not overly stretchy & therefore very supportive- and is very comfy against the skin and undetectable under clothing. If you find lace scratchy and uncomfortable, the Aurelia would likely be the exception you can wear. It is unlined and does snag against my fingernails a bit when I swoop & scoop, but this lace is not flimsy and won't tear. Still, I do the lean & jiggle instead, just to be safe.

Cups.  Like all Anita/Rosa Faia, they are meant for a balanced or full-on-bottom shape; though they do have quite a bit of room at the top, they don't have much space near the center to accommodate a lot of projection or inner fullness. So I was surprised when I got a nice soft tack. They do run 1/2 cup large, so if you're between sizes or very FOB, I suggest dropping down a cup. 

Band.  The usual Anita silky, stable, 3-hook hand. No power mesh; very comfy.

Wires.  These were surprising. They are on the narrow side! Anita wires generally run wide. They also run an inch taller than I prefer, but are still the usual more flexible wires in a complete 'U' shape, so they stay very close to the boob and do not poke the armpit or move around. They are designed to be supportive without resorting to a harsh rigid Panache-y or Elomi-esque style wire. I did opt to sister-size to mitigate what I suspected would be higher wires, & I'm glad I did.

Straps.  The usual wide, flat, very comfy and supportive straps you'll find in this brand. Anita straps are nice and long; I never have to extend them all the way, but they still work for petites. The straps are graded by size and are slimmer in the smaller cups; in mine, the lace cup tapers up into the strap, adding lots of support without cutting too close to the armpit and chafing UK-style. I did not get a good pic of that, but you can see it here:

Image result for rosa aurelia bra
 
Shape.  Rounded, slightly minimized, but not wide, due to the narrow wires. 
You can see how it compares to the near-perfect shape of the 1,000 times less comfy Prima Donna Divine. 
Aurelia on a rare sunny day


Divine

You can also see how Divine sits nicely below what I call my 'line of demarcation fluff in the sand'. I like wires to sit below that horizontal line of muscle 'n fluff to avoid the digging & discomfort it virtually always causes me when wires sit there. But Aurelia is an exception.

When Do I Wear It?

Aurelia is a great bra. My single quibble is the wire height, but I still find her very comfy for a full day's wear. She is a perfect choice for work: both flexible and securely non-bouncy. And a fine summertime bra, giving a rounded, non-projected T-shirt shape that is not too wide, and in a light and cool open lace fabric. The lace is very sensitive-skin friendly, but substantial enough to lend some helpful nip-camouflage. She is also very useful with empire waists and button-downs, as a not-really-minimizer, but more a 'projection softener'. And the more narrow wires actually make it more balanced and full-on-top friendly than the Twin. And, of course, this is a very comfy choice for PMS size fluctuation and tenderness. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a pic of how it looks under a blouse. 

Sizing:  42G. This fits me like a UK40G or a roomy Euro 40(90)H. I opted not to go for my usual 40H because the bands run snug and I suspected the wires would run high, so I dropped down a cup & went up a band in order to drop the wire height. Good plan. Because the cup runs a little large, I may even drop to a 42F next time. If you are full-on-bottom, you're going to need to drop a cup.

Price point: Full price runs $65, which is more than reasonable for this level of quality, which is much higher than, say, Panache or Wacoal, and obviously, much, much higher than budget brands like Delimira or Rosme. Still, I  buy a lot of bras. Clearly. =o)  And I do not have the benefit of personalized service in a local boutique (where I would happily pay full price); I have to do the research and order online. So if you do the same, I'd advise putting it in your Amazon cart and letting it sit there until it drops to $50 or so due to their super-annoying 'dynamic pricing'.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Brand Breakdown: What does Anita offer?

Anita is a German brand, a family-owned company founded in 1886. And if comfort is your top priority, they are worth a look, particularly their Rosa Faia line. 

Where the Brand Excels:

  • High quality materials and construction. You are not going to find rough seams or crappy elastic in an Anita.
  • Very popular with pregnant women; many styles are also available in nursing versions.
  • Seamless styles with silky microfiber and high spandex that fit like a second skin.
  • Wide wires that are on the soft and on the flexible side, yet supportive. These are the only wide wires I have ever found to be non-irritating on me.
  • Well-designed bands that are soft, stable, and have 3 widely-spaced hooks; their support does not rely on a tight, constrictive fit as many UK brands do.

Their flagship style is the beloved Anita Twin, one of the first bras I profiled here as the most comfy I'd found. It still holds up well years later. It is an outwardly seamless bra, with a single very flat seam on the inside of the cup.

The Twin is the only style I have found to be super-comfy - and it is really comfy. 
Anita Twin   Anita.com 

It comes in other versions, including a wireless, the Twin Firm (less spandex) and the Twin Art, which is just a pattern, always on the tasteful side, that changes every few years.  
001
Anita Twin Art       Anita.com
The regular Twin and Twin Art are the comfort queens; the other styles have different fit and fabric. I do find the wireless version to be less comfy, simply because I don't like the pressure a non-stretch underband causes for me when sitting, but that's just a personal preference. If you like wireless, this is a wonderful choice due to the very generous cups (their F fit me like a G, not the case with the wired versions) and flat, wide straps.

Twin Wireless      Anita.com

 Annnnd What the Brand Does Not-so-Well

Lift and Shape.  You are not going to get a boosted, lifted shape from Anita. That is just not how they roll.

Beautiful colors or flashy patterns. They are proudly focused on basic neutrals and the occasional quietly elegant pattern.  

Seamed and balconette styles. These are pretty much all dreadful, with horizontal seams and a high frumpitude factor, especially in the larger cup sizes. See Exhibit A.  

All styles are meant for a balanced or full-on-bottom shape. The Twin can accommodate some upper fullness, but none are built for inner fullness. But if you have lots of side-boob, you're in luck; the cups are very friendly for that. 

Who/What/Where Will Anita Work For?

For me, the comfort far outweighs the shape mismatch for projected full-on-tops, but the brand will be a great fit for:
  • Wider boobs that are on the shallow side
  • Lots of size fluctuation  
  • Sensitive skin
  • Pregnancy & PMS
  • Long hours of travel or work
  • A more natural, slightly minimized shape

 Sizing & Pricing

European sizing. Bands run slightly snug. When I measured 36" and wore a 38 band in most brands, I was able to wear a 40 in Anita quite easily, on the loosest hook. Now that I'm 37-1/2", I can still wear it due to the high spandex. Cups run true to size and are forgiving due to the high stretch, supportive fabric.

The Twin has the widest size range, from 32C - 40H, and bands up to 46 going only to an F cup. The Wireless stops at an F, but runs about a cup size large, and sister-sizing works well here. The Art likewise stops at around a G.

Full price is between $70-80. They are well worth that. The high-stretch fabric is buttery soft and still lasts for years. The bands do not stretch out at all and the cups keep their shape. You will frequently find them on sale for around $50, on anita.com and amazon or eBay, but I have rarely seen them go any lower than that.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Review: Delmira Smooth Seamless Minimizer





Yeah, so, I don't like minimizer styles. I'm just not a fan of the smooshed-down, wide, flattened look/feel they generally give. Except when I am. 

Minimizers are way more popular in the U.S. than elsewhere; I'm not sure why. Best guess: mass market clothing options are designed to fit a C-cup or so and the purpose of minimizers is to reduce bust projection, generally around 1-3". That can make the crucial difference for crowbarring yourself into, for example, a traditional button-down shirt, or a non-stretch fabric. The other time this style is useful? PMS tenderness and swelling.

Beauty

We're skipping this category because minimizers are utilitarian, and the way they are designed to fit doesn't really lend itself to beauty of shape or form. The best you can hope for is some color.
Image result for delimira minimizer bra
Delmira Smooth Seamless Minimizer  


This is a version of the Bali Passion Minimizer, an extremely popular bra. (I know - it is hilariously misnamed.)  It also reminds me a great deal of the prettier Lilyette Keyhole Plunge Minimizer, a bra I loved 10 years ago, when I was a 36F and a 38DDD was a good fit. (However, they changed to a cheaper, scratchy fabric some years ago.) Luckily, Delmira sizing runs well beyond that.
Image result for lilyette keyhole plunge

Lilyette Plunge Into Comfort Keyhole Minimizer

Comfort

Fabric.  This is where the majority of the comfort comes from: silky nylon with a high spandex content that gives lots of stretch. Because the fabric is substantial, there is no bounce. Together, these are very comforting if you have swelling and tenderness.

Wires.  Flexible, foam-wrapped and sandwiched between the fabric layers. This style always gives a ridiculous level of comfort - & is ridiculously rare. I find it incredibly annoying that cushioned wires are not standard on bras. Especially large cup sizes.  These wires are so soothing at PMS time as they can flex and adjust to size fluctuation without any digging.

Cups.   Yep, this is really how the style is supposed to fit. You can see it on the model above, too. That space at the bottom of the cup is part of the minimizing fit.
The wires are wider than necessary, combined with a flat section just above the wire, and an elongated cup shape. All together, this acts to redistribute boob  tissue vertically while also holding the boob close to the chest. Result: reduced projection; in my case, by about 2".

Shape.  Because the wires are medium-width, not hugely wide as some minimizer styles can be, you don't get a wide, flattened shape from the front, which is a nice plus.

Gore.  I've never heard of a gore that tacks in a minimizer style. That would defeat the purpose of reducing and softening projection. It is going to float, in my case, quite a lot, and it's supposed to.

When Do I Wear It?

Specifically, under this top. That is the entire reason I bought it.

This top has an empire waist and there is a seam right below the (neither stretchy, nor especially generous) bustline. Without a minimizer bra, that seam would creep up and be sitting right across my boobs, rather than beneath them, rendering the top completely unwearable. With one, however, the top fits as it is meant to. 

Size:  40F  (this is my size in all Delmira I've tried, so they are very consistent). Fits like a UK 40G or Euro 40H. 

Price point: under $20
 

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Review: Cacique Intuition Uplift Plunge bra (another holy grail!)

So I am going to have to re-think my bias regarding foam-dome T-shirt bras. Because this thing is THAT comfortable. 

I actually forgot I was wearing a bra for part of the afternoon. There is no higher bra praise than that.

You'll recall that our recent heatwave exposed a big hole in my bra-drobe and illustrated that there are times when nothing will do but a skin-toned T-shirt bra. Thankfully, today we're back to 65F and cloudy, but during the long muggy hot spell I ordered several options, with varying success: Cacique True Embrace, Natori Hypnotic Contour, and last week's Prima Donna Divine

Nutshell: simply amazing in every way. Including the price.

Update: this review is accurate for the beige colorway only.  
See notes under Sizing and new pics below.

Beauty

Minimalist styling that truly disappears under anything. The fabric has a shimmery golden quality that is quite pretty, and so much more flattering than the sickly yellowy beige that is often called 'skin tone'. There is a tiny teardrop keyhole at the gore. It does come in other colors & prints.





Comfort

I'll admit that my expectations were set to low, especially after the comfort of the Natori Hypnotic. It's hard to beat Natori for comfort (hence why I've reviewed so many of them here) but they are often not the best for shape.

Cups.   They are memory foam. I have a memory foam mattress, and shoes with that feature - and I love both. But it had not occurred to me to apply that 'fabric' to my boobs. And when I first held the Intuition, my first thought was Wow - this bra is heavy. Like a mattress for boobs. My 2nd thought was: This weighty contraption is going to make my boobs look gargantuan & blocky

Then I put it on. 


And reassessed every opinion I'd previously held on foam domes. Because the comfort was blissful. I do not often tumble into hyperbole when it comes to comfort - because I just don't encounter it that often. Perhaps once every year or two I will talk about angels singing in relation to a bra. But I cannot overstate how comfy the Intuition is. My boobs felt cradled and secure. The gore is low, but not too low and I did not shift toward the center; it's medium width and actually tacks on me due to the low height.

Cups are geared toward a balanced shape; the tops lie quite flat and are unlikely to gape on full-on-bottoms (who may want to drop a cup size), while the memory foam molds itself to accommodate my full-on-top shape.

Band.  And the news just keeps getting better. This is the most comfy band I've ever felt on my body. It is two layers of thick buttery-soft microfiber. Every bit of the elastic is covered. It fits like a second skin, remaining anchored and smooth; it moves with you and does not chafe. It is not too tall, either, so that was another welcome bonus. It is a bandless style; along with the weight of the foam, I expected this bra to be a fail on me. But, amazingly, no. The weight of the foam actually supports the boob weight from below, while also cushioning the bottom edge of the wire, so although it is sitting right against your chest, it does not dig in. 


I had actually gone up a band size, since the True Embrace band was lined in power-mesh and ran surprisingly tight. As there is no dreadful power-mesh in sight, turns out I really didn't need to do that, so I wear this on the middle hooks. Still, I might have gone up a size anyway due to this next feature.

Wires.  They are low. This fills me with So. Much. Joy. I do not want side chub, back fat, or any part of my armpit involved in my bra cup. Instead, I insist that wires accommodate my own shape and not interfere with muscle or fluffy bits. These do that beautifully. 

Straps.  Padded, but not too wide or thick, they add another layer of comfort. They stay in place and move with you.

Shape. Here was the biggest surprise for me. The Intuition gives a great shape under clothing. It is actually the opposite of big and blocky. This is strange, wonderful magic.




Compromises

Heat.  The only one I can see is that you may not want to choose this bra if you live in a very hot, humid climate, say the American South. That's also the main drawback of a memory foam mattress: they can feel hot. I was very comfy in a normal air-conditioned building, but when I went to pull a few weeds on an 80F day with 80% humidity, I very quickly felt too warm. But those are not the usual conditions in which you'd be wearing this bra. 


When Do I Wear It?

Under super thin and clingy fabric, like modal or silk. You will get complete nippie camouflage, if that's important to you - personally, it's only important to me in a professional setting. More important to me: I get a very smooth line, with no double-bubble. It is actually more comfy than the Natori Hypnotic Contour which is already holy grail status for me, and gives a better shape, too. I would choose the Natori in very hot weather, if I was going to be outside, but when I want a perfect, rounder shape, and ultimate comfort, this is my go to.

Size:  42DDD/F. This is US sizing, so you just need to go with it. It fits me like a looser UK 40G or a Euro 40H. Cacique bands run tight; you do need to add +4 inches to your own measurement. Cups run generous and wires medium width. 

Update:   I bought this bra in another colorway, a pretty blue floral-on-white, and it has a completely different fit. 
This is the exact same size as the beige version, but I am basically almost tumbling out of the cups here. I would say they run a full cup size small in this colorway. The band is also about 1/2 size smaller.


I can hardly believe this is the same bra. It is definitely not as comfortable as the beige. I would expect this kind of sizing difference if it were a black bra, as the dye is known to make clothing in that color run smaller. But this...no. 

Based on the sizing differences I experienced with the True Embrace, I have to consider that Cacique sizing is very inconsistent. This is always annoying, but can make a brand impractical if you have to purchase exclusively online and cannot try each colorway, in each different style, in person.

Price Point: Full retail: $50. I paid $20 on eBay. 
And here is the perfect example of price having no correlation to comfort.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Review: Prima Donna Divine

My sister has zero bra issues. She is a 36F, wears Prima Donna exclusively, and when she needs another bra she just picks one up like a pair of socks. Yeah. I can't imagine that either. She's also full-on-bottom and does not have sensitive skin. While we're at it, she has wavy, rather than curly, hair that is frizz-proof. And by any objective measure, I'm a nicer person, with a sense of humor about myself, so there's that. =o) Kidding not kidding. 

Anyhoo, I've long meant to give Prima Donna a try. They are, however, what I consider spendy i.e. they run $90 and up. I wish I had the option of just investing in 3 or 4 very expensive bras and calling it a day. The first problem with that plan is that I experience a lot of size fluctuation - even more as I tiptoe through the onset of perimenopause - making that a pretty poor investment. Also, I simply have not found expensive brands to be more comfortable. There is definitely an increase in fabric and construction quality at the mid-point price of around $50 compared to bras under $30. But the value quickly drops off after that. 

Full price for the Divine runs between $125 - 150. I found one on eBay (new with tags) for $50. I do not think the full price is justified.

Beauty

PrimaDonna DIVINE Underwired bra

Prima Donna Divine



A pretty pattern in molded lace with a 'heart-shaped' neckline. It comes in several colors and because I was still trying to fill that T-shirt bra shaped hole in my bra-drobe I opted for Venus, which is a lovely pale blush. On my skin, it functions as a neutral and is a better match as a skin-tone bra than a yellowy beige. 

The Divine reminds me a great deal of the Empreinte Grace, which I like very much. 

Comfort

Spoiler: the waters are about to get rough

Fabric.   Shockingly harsh, rough 'lace'. I wouldn't even consider this to be lace, actually. The closest comparison is the starched lace doily that adorned my grandmother's coffee table. I'm pretty sure that thing could've supported a small bowling ball, and not just peppermint candies. I suppose that's the idea here: rugged support. Yeah. It is not comfy. At all. 

The Divine is not lined and, unlike the Grace, the inner side is not smooth; the cup fabric is much, much rougher. When I took the bra off at the end of the day I could actually see -and definitely feel- the entire pattern imprinted on my boobs. My husband found this highly amusing. Direct quote "It's like reading Braille on your boobs."

Band.  Surprisingly, it has only two hooks. Since the band is fairly tall at the sides, I'm not sure of the purpose of having it taper in the back to only two hooks, but it is not a plus for comfort. The fabric of the band is soft-ish on the outside, but a rougher mesh on the inside. Again, why? If it's for strength and fabric retention, then reversing that so the softness is on the inside would be a no-brainer. The picot trim edging the entire band, top & bottom, does no favors to the cause of comfort. Additionally, the band runs very tight. I actually added an extender, which increased the comfort enough to make it wearable.

Straps.  Wide and great fabric. A slightly spongey texture that is soft. However, they are very wide-set. As I have very broad shoulders, it is incredibly rare to have the experience of a strap sliding off my shoulder, but these did. Since the band is tight on me, going up a band would actually make the straps sit even wider, which would be unwearable for me.

Fit & Shape

Cups.  That wrinkling toward the bottom you can see above is actually a dart. This gives the cups a great shape and adds depth to accommodate some projection. On my larger side, the darts do not lay as flat. The molded cup shape is meant for a balanced shape. Those darts would have done me a lot more good had they been an inch higher, since my fullness is on the top. However, I can't blame brands for designing for the majority. And full-on-bottoms are, by far, the majority shape, with balanced coming in second, and full-on-tops....well, we're clearly a distant 3rd. 

The only brand I have found that is designed for full-on-tops is Gorsenia. And unfortunately, they have changed their designs, removing most of the features that made the now-discontinued Solange so comfortable. 

Gore.  Very narrow, which I love. Also much lower than the Grace, which I really love. The lower the gore, the better a bra will fit my full-on-top shape. I don't get even a soft tack, but an acceptable 1/2" float.

Shape.  Really beautiful; round and slightly less boosted than Grace, the Divine gives a perfect T-shirt shape. 

There is no denying that the Divine looks great under clothing. I wore it under a T-shirt:
 

And, here, with a very fitted modal top. You can see that rugged lace right through the fabric, which is fine with me, as it's quite pretty.





That's basically how my boobs looked when I took it off. They retained a faint imprint of this pattern.









When Do I Wear It?

When I want a round T-shirt friendly shape, without overly boosted projection, and I don't want any foam involved. For me, that means the very specific situation of a hot muggy day and thin fabric. The shape is pretty much perfection, but the comfort leaves much to be desired. I mean, a lot. If the fabric was actually comfy and the band and strap issues were not present, then yes, I would happily pay $125 for this bra. But as it is, even the $50 I paid is a stretch. Actually, any stretch in the cups would have have been welcome. I have no doubt the Divine will wear like iron (& feel like it) but I just don't care that the bra will last into the next generation if I don't want it on my boobs.

Size.  40G
I did a lot of research on the sizing of Prima Donna and in the end I went with my Empreinte size. The bands run a full size smaller than Empreinte, which I find true to size. And the cups run around 1/2 cup large, also true for Empreinte. So the 40G is a cup size smaller than my usual Euro size, and more similar to my US size.

This size is, technically, the right fit for me, and if you like snug bands, you'd be fine keeping your usual band size. I like a more moderate +2 fit (2" larger than my actual band measurement) and if you do, too, then you'll want to go up a band size. I have no idea how the strap placement scales in smaller sizes, so keep that possible issue in mind in you are narrow-shouldered.