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

Beauty

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.

 

Comfort

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

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

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

At least they are not especially wide.




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

Tack.  Not much, I'm afraid. 


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

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



Beauty

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


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










The shape is quite good: lifted and very rounded.

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








When Do I Wear It?

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



Sunday, August 14, 2016

Review: Panache Jasmine

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

Beauty

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

 




Comfort & Fit

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

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

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



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


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

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

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





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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Monday, August 8, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Wonderful 

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Not So Much

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


When Do I Wear It?

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

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

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

Saturday, July 30, 2016

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

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



Beauty

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








Comfort & Fit

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

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

Lined with comfy soft fabric. No irritation.

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

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

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






Shape.  Very boosted and round. 
Very projected. 

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

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

Compromises

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

When Do I Wear It?

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

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

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Review: Curvy Couture Cotton Luxe Unlined Wire Free Bra

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





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

 Beauty 

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

Comfort & Fit

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

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


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


Fatal Flaw

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

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

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

When Do I Wear It?

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

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