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 Now, however, she is sadly only available in the continuity colors of black and white, having been replaced by Gemm, which Freya considers their Jolie successor (sorry, she is anything but; very full-on-top unfriendly, with a non-tacking gore and an edging along the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 


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