Thursday, January 28, 2016

Review: La Isla Bra

The full name of this one is: Full Coverage Underwire Non Padded Lace Sheer Minimizer Bra. I was curious enough to try this, in the hope of finding an inexpensive, practical full cup, with more centered straps, and some stretch lace in the upper cup - with a less pointy profile than the similar Rosme style I have.

Spoiler: it is not minimizing at all, and has good cup depth, which is why I tried it in the first place.

Overall, the bra was promising, and may be a good bargain option for someone without my Princess & the Pea sensitive skin. In fact, I'm really bummed that I don't think I'll be able to make this one work for me - especially at this price (under $20). * (See Update at bottom for some good news)

Comfort & Fit:

·      Cups.  These are more of a teardrop shape. They run large, which is a great thing, as the H cup (Euro size) actually fit me exactly like a GG (UK size), which is my actual size. There was no need at all to size up in the band to get more cup capacity, which I virtually always have to do because a GG equates to an I in most Euro/US sizing systems. (caveat: some Polish brands skip the I & go straight to J). This is also a big plus, due to:

·      Band.  This runs a size large. I would not have been able to go up to a 40. I definitely needed the 38, which was an average-to-slightly-looser 38.

·      Wires.  A nice lower height. No armpit-stabbing. Also no padding at all. But the casing is not overly harsh, such as Cleo's, so it is doable, if not ideal.

·      Fabric.  Average. Not scratchy, but not super-soft, either. The lace actually doesn't have a huge amount of stretch. It is what I classify as having give, or a little flex. Something between the zero-give of Curvy Kate Portia and the ultra-stretch of Panache Jasmine, being closer to the CK side of the spectrum.

·      Tacking. I was surprised by this. It tacks perfectly for me: a soft tack. The gore is at nice medium height and width.

·      Shape.  Good. Really good. Rounded, moderately lifted. I liked how it looked under knits.


FYI: that shadow you're seeing below is not armpit hair (not that there would be anything wrong with that) but rather, a patch of eczema caused by several weeks of crutches (with plush fleece padding) rubbing against ultra-soft fabric (already turned inside-out for the seams) against my skin. I point this out as an excellent illustration of just how intense my skin sensitivity issues are. And that something that causes me issues may well be perfectly fine for anyone with average, or only slightly sensitive skin.

The style is surprisingly pretty in a muted, understated way. The color is a deep jewel toned violet-purple, not overly bright. The style comes in lots of other colors as well.

There is a subtle keyhole detail, which is kind of lost in the deep shadow of my boobs in these angled pics. The lace in the upper cup is a very pretty pattern: open, with sheer background showing through; non-fussy. It does show through knits slightly, but that's more the seam where the lace joins the satin.

Best of all, I have deep love for the way that the upper cup is well-balanced to the lower cup in this size. The upper cup does not grow to take up 1/2 the entire cup and bisect the boobs in an unattractive way (yes, that drives me nuts about Curvy Kate).


Elastic  This is only problem I had with this bra. But it's a big one. Big enough to pretty much ruin it for me. The elastic that lines the band, both upper and lower, has a sharp, stiff edge to it. It's not tiny and narrow, causing it to bite in a'la Freya, but it's the actual thin edge of the elastic itself: it's actually a sharp, razor-thin edge that I can feel against my skin. I wasn't able to wear the bra more than 2 hours. Which is a real shame because it was a great fit - & a great price - in almost every other way. I do think that, if you don't have super-sensitive skin like I do, where this kind of thin results in rashes, eczema, abrasions, all of that joy, then you may really have success with this bra. 

When Do I Wear It?
Unfortunately, probably never. But if it weren't for that single, probably insurmountable discomfort issue, this bra would be in heavy rotation for work days for the moderate, round shaping, and the great cup capacity. If only La Isla was as comfy as the Rosme, which can't hold a candle to it in terms of cup depth, shape, or tacking. (But is far more comfy.)
Size: 38H
Update I'm glad I didn't give up on this bra too soon. I washed (with my usual double-rinse) before wearing the first time. But still wasn't optimistic the elastic edging would ever be soft enough to allow me to wear the bra without skin irritation. I washed it a 2nd time, still...meh. Finally, I washed it one more time, this time using fabric softener (non-waxy organic) something I don't normally use on my bras. And it made a marked difference. I'm now able to wear it comfortably for a work day. Theoretically, softener might shorten the life of the bra, but at this price, that isn't much of a consideration. 

This is a great bargain option for folks with a tight bra budget, who don't want to settle for beige anything, want a lower gore, and need up to a UK H cup. You can't really sister-size because the bands run looser, but the cups run a size big, so a UK H may well be able to fit this Euro H.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Review: Curvy Kate Portia

Portia is probably my best shape in Curvy Kate, i.e., the style that is roundest, & with the least 'upside down 7' potential. I also think the cup is slightly deeper than styles like Princess or Emily. It isn't however, the comfiest. That would be Wonderland, followed by Gia.

Comfort Profile
This falls into the category of most of my UK bras, which is 'Comfy Enough'.  This means I can wear it for a whole work day, but at least twice during the day I will ponder the minor discomfort caused by strap or band, or not-soft-enough issues. Bras in this cateory are definitely whipped off minutes after I walk in the door; there is no forgetting to take it off until after dinner. Which, of course, is not the same at all as truly comfy, as in I'm not especially aware of the bra at all times, would happily wear it all day at work, then out to dinner, too. That kind of comfy is, frankly, a very short list. 
  • Fabric.  Very light mesh. The mesh itself is fairly soft, but this is negated by the very pretty eyelet and ribbon embroidery and the overall design of diagonal panes. It definitely doesn't feel smooth against the skin, though isn't actually scratch, just...incredibly textured. However, it is highly breathable, so welcome in summertime.
  • Straps.  For CK, these are comfy straps. No harsh edging, not stiff, they lay fairly smoothly. They are not as wide as Freya, but are restricted stretch. 
  • Cups.  Portia's cups are a bit deeper than other styles in CK, and slightly more full-on-top friendly. And the gore tacks perfectly. Which is surprising, as, with virtually all CK styles, the cups have no stretch at all. 

I do like the design aesthetic of Portia. The eyelet lace with threaded ribbon reminds me of a Victorian choker. All that's needed is a cameo at the gore, rather than a bow. I also love the look of the textured diamond windowpane pattern of the cups, though I don't enjoy how it feels. The texture is strong enough to show through very light fabrics. This coral colorway is one of my favorites. It glows against the skin, giving it the illusion of a dash of healthy color (which will not be apparent in my trademark pics of dismal quality - thanks again, dark Alaska winter days).


Fabric.  Besides not being the softest, the utter lack of any stretch makes the cups really unforgiving of size fluctuation. 

Wires.  The cup itself doesn't cut in, but the  outer wire tip on my larger boob will dig in. I do bend the outer wire tips away from my body in all my CK's, which renders them far comfier and helps them follow the lines of my body better. 

When Do I Wear It?

When I want an ultra lightweight balconette, in a true 3/4 cup style, with a Fairly rounded shape, very open neckline, and pretty straps that may peek out. And I'm only going to be wearing it 8 hours. This is a very useful bra for boatneck tops and deep scoop T's. The pattern is sometimes visible under very sheer tops, and I don't mind if the lace edging shows through a medium fabric. 
Size:  38GG

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Review: Curvy Kate Wonderland

This is the most full-on-top friendly of the many Curvy Kates I own. It also has perhaps the greatest number of negative reviews for shape. Those two things are related, as we shall see.


The Wonderland is based on the Lottie, identifiable by its large, sheer top panel. The style was designed by a student, I believe, and originally came in a gorgeous, unique colorway of navy and deep wine that, combined with the unusual thick embroidered edging, was evocative of a Victorian evening gown neckline. This colorway is a lot wackier and, frankly, reminds me of The Partridge Family bus. Though I do still love that baroque embroidered edge. Also, the design does carry over onto the front of the straps, which is a nice, and rare, touch.

Comfort & Fit

  • Yes, it does have a bit of both these. The large mesh panel is quite soft and the cup is slightly deeper than other CK's.  While I don't care for the look in my cup size, the fine mesh panel provides a lot more stretch in the upper cup than a CK bra usually does. I am quite full-on-top and this style accommodates that quite well.

  • The band is the usual CK: softish mesh, but with thinner elastic edging. You will never mistake them for the comfort and secure anchoring of a Natori or Anita. 

  • It tacks very well and the gore is on the low side, and medium-width, which may not come through in the pics. 

  • Wires are medium, definitely not wide, and good fit for me. They are also lower on the sides than Portia or Romance, which is always a win for me.


Shape.  This is not the best shape from CK (and CK isn't the best shape for me even in the best case scenario). Some definite slope there, although it doesn't cut in, and accommodates my upper fullness, it definitely doesn't flatter a full-on- boob shape.

Huge upper mesh cup.  I just really do not care for this look.

Straps.  Because the pattern continues onto the front of them, they are rendered non-stretch in the front. But that isn't the problem. While they do not cut in, the discomfort comes from the stiffened texture of the strap, which causes the edges to feel abrasive against the skin.

When Do I Wear It?
When I need moderate lift and a ¾ balconette style for a wide neckline and the fabric is either dark or non-formfitting enough that the less than ideal shape won’t be apparent.

Size:  38GG