Sunday, November 29, 2015

Review: Biustonosz SM Summer Time, Ewa Michalak

Like most boobalicious folk with some projection and a need for lower, narrower wires than UK bras cater to, I have wanted to try the Polish brands, particularly Ewa M, with their moderate wire width. And when I saw this on eBay for $30, it was a great chance to try the brand at minimal $$ risk. 

Like everyone else, I have read extensively to try to crack their sizing system to avoid the exasperating process of long distance returns. Because my shape and size are similar to Georgina's of FullerFigureFullerBust (though she is a cup or so larger, and enamored of much, much tighter bands than I myself prefer) I pored over her Ewa M reviews. Her conclusion: go for one band larger, and stick with your UK cup size. This turned out to be excellent advice, and very accurate for my shape and size. Ewa's calculator would have put me in a 40F. The bra I tried was a 40G. Since I am now at the upper end of a 38GG, I was concerned that the cup size might not be adequate, but thought I might get close. And, indeed, if I found the style more comfy, I would opt for a cup bigger next time.

Note: The oddball angle that makes my boobs appear a little, er, imbalanced is due to my contorting my arm and shoulder to try to get the stunning embroidery in the pix. There is actually no gaping in the top, and my boobs do align at a normal level in the cups. :-)

Beauty:  Wow, is this thing ever gorgeous. Just...really, deeply lovely in person. Delicate, ethereal embroidery floating over gossamer appearing fine mesh. If beauty were all that mattered, I would only ever wear this confection and its ilk.

Fit:  Hmmmm. Wellll....Also, there are no comfort features to speak of, so I am conflating the categories:
  • Wires.  Higher than I expected or prefer. Also, there is a distinctly odd sharp angle that reminds me of an airline seat in the reclined position. Coincidentally, it provides about that degree of comfort.
  • Cups.  A nice depth, especially in the upper cup, where so often I do not get enough room. However, the bottom of the cups do not have quite enough space for me to settle in comfortably. Tutti Rouge often gives me the same issue. The lack of any kind of stretch or give also makes this a tricky fit. I would likely need a cup larger for my best fit.
  • Band.  Average comfort and quality. And it does indeed run snug. The 40 fits like a 36 (which is my snug band measurement). They are not kidding about the +4 being built into their sizing system. Ignore this and insist upon your UK band size at your peril. In future purchases, I will go with a 42G in the SM style. Most reviews have singled this style out for especiall tight bands, so I may opt for a 40 in PL or S styles.
When Do I Wear It?  Not often, frankly. When I want to look and feel alluring, and don't expect to have it on more than an hour or two. Ahem. It just doesn't have the features I need for true comfort, such as shorter wires - preferably with some cushioning; soft material for the band and straps; some stretch in at least the top 1/2 of the cup (which makes me curious to try the BM style, though it is not as gorgeous).
Size:  40G (a cup too small)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Review: Natori Plus Elegant Effect (i.e., the new Luxe)

*Note: When I first posted this, I specified that it was one of the new styles under Natori Plus, as that is how it was marked when I purchased it. However, it turns it is actually one of the later styles in N by Natori, and it's correctly marked as such on amazon. This explains why it fits so well in my usual Natori sister-size of 40H. I found the newer range runs a good deal larger. However, there were still fit changes from the earlier N by Natori, and these are noted below.

* This will be a short and sweet review because most of the comfort and beauty factors from the now discontinued Luxe (when the line was called 'N by Natori') also hold true for the Elegant Effect. There are some comfort factors that are different, however.

First, here is a photo that may explain why my photo quality is so crap. This is the natural light at 9am in my part of the world, as observed by my unimpressed Sheltie. And, since the sun sets at 3pm, and I am too cheap thrifty to purchase a new phone just for a better camera, there ya go.

For comparison, here is the Luxe:

What's different:  Fit *

Slightly deeper cups. A big plus for me, since the slightly increased depth is in the upper cup and near the gore. 

Sides.  The side is slightly higher. In this case, that's a good thing (something I rarely say), as the Luxe could occasionally dig into the fluffy bits during size fluctuations.

What's different:  Comfort

Straps.  The (very lightly) padded, wider straps are gone. Along with the pretty lace edging that gave a cami effect. They have been replaced with regular, normal width straps. While comfortable enough, this is not an improvement

What's different:  Beauty

Colorways.  Sadly, there are fewer of them. Just the cafe au lait shade I have, and coral and pink. That appears to be it thus far. 

Lace. The pattern is more subtle, and is lace, rather than embroidery.


Still a fantastic bra, with great quality. That wonderfully comfortable, stable band remains the same, and the improvement to the cup pretty much balances out the non-improvement of the straps. 
Size:  40H, Euro sizing. 
(I would ideally need an I cup, or a 42 band, but the excellent construction and comfort features overcome the not ideal fit for me.)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Review: Bali Comfort Revolution: Feel the Unapologetic Joy

This is the one. The one I turn to when I need to be 100% comfortable and I give zero f*cks about fit. Because, I just cannot. Just.Can.Not. I found this bralette when I underwent emergency surgery and was facing a 3 week recovery, most of which was spent in bed, or sitting on my sofa in a fleece bathrobe. Even after that period I still had tender scar tissue, inconveniently located right at my waist, to contend with. It was for this reason that I embraced the low-rise jeans era, as high waists hit right on the scar. OK, I really mean the mid-rise, because the depths to which the low-rise sunk got, well, crazy. 

Anyhoo, ultimate comfort was imperative during this time, and although I was lean & buff then, I was still a 36FF. Luckily, I had just bought the Bali Comfort on an impulse while shopping for towels one day. A very serendipitous impulse, it turned out. And in the years following I whip this one out when I want ultra-soft, comforting support that I can sleep in if required. Note: there is virtually nothing I can sleep in without tweaking. E.g., I must turn my already soft sleep T's inside out or the seams will leave welts by morning.

My salvation: 

And, the very first version I bought, still going strong after 4 years, that I bought in white & dyed lilac with food coloring. I accidentally left it drying outside in the garden on what turned into a rare sunny day, & the result was a tie-dyed effect:

Honestly, the shape is really not bad. This is basically my natural shape, but better, i.e., a bit more lifted, centered, and supported. My boyfriend actually mentioned that he preferred it to the jacked-up shape of my Cleo Ellis. I know, right? A surprise to me, too.


  • Fabric:  This bra is allllll about comfort. Soft, soft, soft. Stretchy, stretchy, stretchy. Softer, thicker, and far more substantial than say, the Rhonda Shear Ahhh Bra. Ahhhhh. It wraps you in a cloud of comfort that conforms gently to your body and feels soothing if you have boob swelling or skin irritation. It does not provide compression, but hold.
  • Band:  3 hooks, with a padded clasp. I almost fainted from the sheer joy of the pillowy padding protecting my skin from the hooks, while I was laying in bed for weeks. Sheer. Joy. WTF don't more brands do this simple thing that adds so much comfort?
  • Cup capacity:  Surprisingly decent. I am a 38GG and I think this size could reasonably accommodate between a 36FF - 40GG.
  • Support:  Better than expected, due to the fabric and the more substantial band than other pull-over types of  'leisure bra'. I actually wore this to work, out of necessity, when I was healing, and I felt comfortable. The lift was acceptable, and the shape softer and pretty natural. It was especially good under button-downs and sweaters. I'm not sure I would wear this to work under a fitted knit top, but I certainly do at home on weekends. 
  • OK, it might be a stretch applying this category, but this bra has been so uber-successful for Bali that it comes in a plethora of colors and subtle textures. I have no need to buy white and dye it anymore.  I have it in the steel gray above, and will purchase a bright navy next.


 Straps.  This is a fairly minor quibble, but the edged banding on the straps is not my favorite construction. They don't dig, but I would have preferred a softer, flatter design. Still, they are wide and pretty comfortable, so this may just be a 'me' thing, and my own dislike of non-flat seams.

Note: there is a wired version, and it sucks. At least for full-on-top or projected shapes.  It has a steeply angled neckline and more triangular cup shape that cuts into upper tissue, greatly reducing the cup capacity. I removed the wires, and it still fits 2 cup sizes smaller than the wire-free. Can't recommend it for above a DD cup.

When Do I Wear It?  

After I whip off my wired bra at home following a tiring day at work. To bed, when I have PMS swelling. On a plane trip that's longer than 4 hours. On weekends when I'm just wallowing in chocolate & Netflix. When I have house guests and want to feel comfortable, not awkward, during that morning bumbling around for coffee in the kitchen part of the day.
Size:  XXL

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Review: Freya Jolie, an old faithful

Along with the Pollyanna, the Freya Jolie was my first truly well-fitting bra, and these are the only Freya's that have worked for me since I passed the G barrier, when the styling changes to become almost unrecognizable as the same style in G-and-under. 

The Jolie is deeply surprising in its ability to accommodate serious size fluctuation. Despite an increase of one full cup size and around 1/2 a band size in the last year, I am still comfortably wearing the same 36GG Jolie I bought 4 years ago! (They also hold up very well.) More surprising still is that it contains no stretch fabric in the upper cup, and yet is one of the few full-on-top friendly styles from Freya (the other is the Marvel, which was short-lived, and a very wide 1/2-cup).

Jolie once came in fashion colors like a cheery bubblegum pink that was flattering on many skin tones, a deep purple, and more. Now, however, she is sadly only available in the continuity colors of black and white, having been replaced by Gemm, which Freya considers their Jolie successor (sorry, she is anything but; very full-on-top unfriendly, with a non-tacking gore and an edging along the band that is sharp and irritating). So, I bought a white one and dyed it bubblegum pink with food coloring and lime juice. After 3 years, it has faded to a pale pink which is still waaaay preferable to white for me. I also managed to buy one in red, the last colorway that was available. (An aside: I've just noticed the preponderance of red bras I have reviewed. What we can conclude from this is that when a style otherwise only available in neutrals decides to finally offer a single color option, it's usually red. Corporate imagination run wild, people.)

Here she is:

Comfort Profile:

  • Straps.  I love them. I know some folks find them too wide - I've even seen them called 'industrial' - but I find them heavenly. They are wide, spreading the pressure so perfectly, my shoulders never even feel it; with diamond stitching and the barest soft embroidered edging; they do not move, but stay exactly where you want them. And they are pretty, with tiny rosebuds and looped ribbon at the base. I care not at all when they peek out.
  • Cup depth. More than any other Freya I've tried, the Jolie accommodates projection and size fluctuation. Lots of room near the gore for immediate projection, which is fairly difficult to find. This is great for a balanced or full-on-top shape, but can cause gaping on a full-on-bottom shape. 
  • Fabric.  Light, semi-sheer, but sturdy. The inner side is flat and soft, while the outer has an embossed, quirky, subtle lacy pattern of stylized flowers; very slightly raised, but doesn't show through clothing. Extremely breathable and great for summer. Not that I have much call for that here. But when I visited California wine country in the 95F summer, I packed both my Jolies. They hand-washed and dried very easily and quickly. 


Shape.  I find all Freya balconettes a bit pointy. Jolie is less so than many other styles, but still, I prefer a rounder shape. Some call it a 'natural' shape, and for some, certainly it is. But, though moderately projected, my own natural shape is quite rounded. Not eerily orb-like, a'la Cleo, but a still a rounded shape with a softer peak. Naturally, that is what I'm seeking when I want a natural shape. It's not horrible under clothing, but is noticeable in photos where I am wearing a loose, thicker T-shirt: a rather projected, slightly pointy, matronly shape. 

Band.  Annnnnd here we are. We've arrived at the bane of all Freya's: their dreadful bands. Harsh mesh, which, while endurable after many washings, is not the problem that cannot be solved. That would be the oddly narrow - read: 'biting, cutting' - tiny, edge of elastic that runs all along the top & bottom of the band - and is tighter than the otherwise normally proportioned 3-hook band. Why, Freya? For the love of all that is holy, why? It runs very loose. I prefer a 38 virtually always, and have no problem sister-sizing to a 40, especially in snugger-running US brands. But the Jolie really does run a size big. All other Freya's I've tried run much tighter.

Wires.  They are actually quite comfortable and fall at a nice height under the arm for me. Rather it's that winging back Nike swoop shape that many UK brands embrace. The wires are not particularly wide, but this shape makes them wider than I need on the side. I do bend them very slightly away from my body at the sides, which makes them fit much better and they do not dig in once I've done this.

Side Stays.  I despise these. Their sole purpose seems to be digging into your flesh from both ends, above and below, as soon as you attempt to it down. This is not the kind of 'support' I need from any garment. I remove them immediately from any Freya, using a seam-ripper to dig out these harsh, plastic, vampire-stake shaped little nightmares. And they are sown in really well; it's a battle I have to be determined to win.

When Do I Wear It?  When I need a 'locked & loaded', contained but not minimized type of support, with perfect separation. And I need a very lightweight fabric & construction when it's hot and I need to travel light. 
Size:  36GG 


Friday, November 13, 2015

Review: Curvy Kate Gia

This is the best shape I've found with Curvy Kate. 2nd best is Portia. I've worn this brand quite a bit over the last year, although now that I have bumped up 1/2 cup size, they no longer work so well. Mainly due to the total lack of stretch in the cup fabric; Curvy Kate is all about the rigid, though fairly soft, fabric. Unfortunately, as the fabric has no ability to flex and bounce back, it distorts over the day resulting in the now infamous 'upside down 7' ski slope shape that is especially a problem for full-on-top shapes. 


  • Wires are medium-low in height, which I really enjoy. Medium width. CK is never 'a lotta bra'.
  • Cup fabric is a comfy satin simplex on the lower part, and a softish mesh on top.
  • Straps are in a nice position, not too far to the edge.
  • Gore is fairly low, not too wide and tacks well.

  • Rich jewel toned color. The satin lower cup has a subtle luster. The geometric mesh has tiny random cut-outs. It's not my favorite; I'm more of a lace fan.
  • True balconette shape, with a little less coverage than some otheir other styles.
  • Shape is lifted and round-ish, for Curvy Kate.
  • Band. Not the softest. And it has a little of that thin elastic along the edges that is tighter than the rest of the band. It's not as bad as Freya, but noticeable. 
  • Like all their styles, as the cup size increases, so does the upper panel of the cup. I just don't care for the way it throws off the balance of the design by expanding to 1/2 the overall cup, rather than the 1/3 it comprises in the smaller sizes.
  • Virtually no ability to accommodate size fluctuations. The wires will quickly begin to dig, and the already iffy shape develops odd angles that resemble a squared-odd triangle.
  • Band runs quite snug and stops at a 38.
When Do I Wear It?
Mainly as a compromise choice while I'm searching for better options in a seamed, lightweight, minimal-to-moderate coverage balconette. comfy enough for a work day and breathable in summer.
Size: 38GG