Saturday, December 3, 2016

Review: Elomi Imogen Half Cup

Elomi is a brand that doesn't really work for me. Although technically I fit into the 'plus size' metric they are aimed at, the gores and wires are generally too wide - & just too heavy gauge - for me, and the cups too shallow. Not to mention the matronly seam structure of their balconettes: the almost horizontal seaming gives me a frumpy look and is visible under most clothing for me. 

However. The half-cups are different. And worth a look for full-on-top shapes.

The only Elomi that has worked for me, thus far, is the Lara half-cup:
Image result for elomi lara 
With that in mind, I decided to try a newer version of the style, the Imogen, and see if it worked as well for me now that I am cup size larger. I was also curious to find if there were any improvements or tweaks to the design.

Beauty


I don't find the Imogen to be as lovely as the Lara, but then I prefer ornate details and lush styling. Imogen is far more subtle. Like Lara, she has a sheer black mesh over a satiny base; in this case, the base is honey-amber, which doesn't show in the pics at all. Again, this is a very subtle pattern. Still, I find it preferable to plain black.

 Comfort

Wires.  Less wide than Elomi's other styles. These are almost just medium in width. Also, they are less tall under the arm, which is a solid plus for me.

Band.  Meh. Like all Elomi styles it is non-soft power mesh. I don't like mesh, and I don't care for 'power' in my band. I'm not interested in intense scaffolding, just gentle support. 

Straps. Elomi does these right: wide, soft, restricted stretch.

Fit

Cups.  The thinly padded dual vertical seam shape of the 1/2 cup gives a nice rounded profile: uplifted, but not overly projected. 

The cup is slightly open on top, so no cutting in or mashing down of my natural full-on-top shape. Full-on-bottoms would likely do fine as well.


Gore.  Wider than I need. It results in the gore floating a good 3/4". 

There is enough depth in the cup, but the inner cup is a bit shallow and I'd actually prefer a lower gore. 










When Do I Wear It?

I generally wear lightly padded 1/2-cups instead of a Tshirt bra. So with thinner or clingy knits. And especially with deep scoop or portrait style necklines. The gore is too high to make the style useful for plunging necklines.
Size: 40G

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Review: Natori Plus Seduction bra

Nutshell: an unfortunate outlier among the new Natori styles. 
Full-on-tops: forget it.


 Comfort:  

Mehhh. This is an all-mesh style. And the mesh fabric is not especially soft. It's softer than a Cleo mesh bra, but that's saying very little.

Fit

Here is where it alllll falls apart
 
Band.  Incredibly tight. Fits a full size smaller than any of the other new Natori styles. 

Cups.  Unlike any other style I've tried in this brand, i.e., most of them - new & old, the cups have zero stretch. That means zero ability to accommodate or conform to the natural shape of your boobs in any way. 


Unless you are - utterly and completely - full-on-bottom in shape, this will be a dreadful fit. Even then, you may get weird gapping along the top.

Balanced? You'll likely get an odd, squared-off triangle shape a'la Curvy Kate.

Full-on-top? Forget it. You'll get this strapped-down, flattened into submission look I'm getting here.




 Gore.  Very wide. 
Strangely so, for the brand. 

It results in a gore that floats more 
than the usual 1/2" I get in Natori. 










Profile.  Very minimized....more mashed down, really.

Into this ski slope shape.










When Do I Wear It?

Nope. I consider the Seduction, along with the Decadence, to be the big Fails of Natori's new line of styles. Not because they are completely unwearable for most full-on-top shapes (which I realize is the less common boob shape), but because they are unwearable for most shapes. 

The Seduction's design flaws - lack of stretch, wide gores, running small in band, anti-universal cup shape, rough fabric - just don't make it a good bet for most.
Size: 38H

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Review: Comfort Choice Perfect Coverage Cotton Wireless Bra

Nutshell: a cotton bra flop - literally.

I've mentioned my Princess & the Pea skin before. It's a huge factor for me in bra comfort - and clothing comfort in general. Occasionally, I experience a flare-up of eczema which is an obnoxious form of dermatitis: patches of dry, flaky, irritated skin form. Did I mention they itch intensely? For me, I only get one spot at a time, and they rarely get larger than a quarter; they hang around a few weeks, then leave as mysteriously as they appeared. 

Assuming I do nothing to irritate them, which can be rather difficult, depending on where they are. This time, it was on my side, right at the spot an underwire would end; I tried a lower wire....but then the elastic along the upper sides of the band rubbed the spot. It was almost the same spot where my old pal eczema visited me a year ago, where the (highly padded) crutches rubbed after my knee surgery.

So I knew what that meant: a wire-free bra, either super-soft microfiber or cotton. I knew I could rely on my  Bali Women's Comfort Revolution Wirefree Bra   (the name seems to change slightly as they keep adding new styles) but I also knew that if I didn't switch between styles every couple of days, I would just exacerbate the irritation somewhere else.

So I decided to try the Comfort Choice Perfect Coverage:
Yeahhhh, you're probably getting an inkling that it didn't go well...

I've actually worn the original version of this bra, the Everyday Full Coverage Bra, and while comfy and actually supportive, that version takes up an incredible amount of chest real estate. I mean, the top of the cups is literally only an inch below my collar bone; it's more like a seamed crop top. So I thought that the lower cut version would be less supportive, but very similar.

Yeah, no.

Comfort

The cotton fabric is soft and substantial, which was my main goal. The seams lie fairly flat, so wouldn't prove an irritant for most. The straps are just regular old bra straps, not even restricted stretch, which is a silly choice for a wire-free construction where the straps are naturally going to take more weight. 

Fit & Sizing

Although the size range is technically not that large (38B-48DDD, I think), in reality, I know that like many US brands, the band runs quite small, and the cups very large. So the size range is really more like 34D-44H. I tried this in a 42DDD, which should be the sister size of a US 38H, or a UK 38G. 

In reality, it fit me like a US 38J, (UK 38HH). Good grief, the cups run huge.


It fit especially badly on my right - larger - side, where the cup was inexplicably looser and downright baggy. That is completely empty space all along where the seam is. 

Even a smaller size would not have worked. The boob shape the cups are expecting would be very unusual indeed: very high-set and full-on-top (but only the lower 1/3 of the top, after which it would have to sharply curve inward and become totally flat), with nipples located right below the collarbone.

The band is actually fairly snug on me, but the cotton material is oddly thin - not the substantial thickness of the cups - and bags strangely along the sides. It provides almost zero support.


When Do I Wear It?

Not at all, unfortunately. The construction was so awful, the fit was so poor, and the support so lacking, it actually would cause discomfort by allowing the boobs to shift all over the place. More than an hour or so of that, and abrasion and friction would have created the very eczema issue I was seeking to alleviate. 

I ended up relying on my workhorse Bali's, the Anita Twin, and the occasional assist from my old Natori Luxe, for the two weeks it took for my skin to heal. 

If I were to try again with this style, I would opt for the old breastplate style, with its built-up straps and structure, in a 42DD...maybe even a 42D; the band runs very snug, and the cup increases are huge.
Size: 42DDD

Any eczema sufferers out there, with any success stories in bras or products that helped? I get no relief from cortisone cream, which is all that's usually offered, and have tried omegas and many naturopathic creams (aloe, comfrey, meluca honey, coconut oil) to no effect.

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.)

Beauty


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.

Beauty

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.


Comfort

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 bras....to 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.

Beauty



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.

Comfort

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.

Fit

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