Friday, February 26, 2016

Review: Natori Plus True Decadence (in which I refuse to give up)

So, even after really disappointing - and bizarrely shaped - first encounters with 3 different styles of Natori's new Plus line, the replacement for N by Natori, I tried again. Because this brand has been my go-to for comfort, even though not a perfect match for my shape, I didn't want to give up on the new version without a fight. Let's see how that worked out for me. 

I wore the now-discontinued Luxe to work today, and the True Decadence arrived from amazon when I got home. So I was able to compare them side by side, or boob by boob, as it were. Both bras are in a 40H (US/Euro), and my standard sister-size in N by Natori.

I reviewed the beloved Luxe, in the burgundy & silver colorway. And here is the one I wore today, a soft shell pink that functions as a neutral. Note the subtle lace on the front straps, and the fact that you cannot even see the padded support crescent lining the bottom of each cup:



And here is the new Natori Plus True Decadence, which theoretically, should be quite similar: mesh/lace cup, same support crescent and single vertical seam, but looks like this:





Actually, it doesn't look that good. The pic above was taken in front of a window, in natural 2 p.m. Alaska light. 

This next one is taken with a light turned on, and this one shows the actual color of the bra pretty accurately. Unfortunately.




Beauty:  Hard to know where to begin, but let's start here.

The color is really reminiscent of, well, Pepto Bismol. It's actually brighter than this in person. The straps and the outer portions of the underband, as well as the main band, are much darker than the cups and embroidery - almost in a fluorescent hi-lighter effect. 

But the worst (lack of) design element is the bright white support sling that, no longer a crescent, now continues up the entire outside of the cup. In blaring, glaring white cotton. that looks pretty much like this, and is visible under a light-colored shirt. Why on earth would Natori not dye it to match the cup, the way they did in the N by Natori styles?! It looks even worse in full-on side views, much like you are wearing a huge Ace bandage around half your boobs. Or a gym sock lodged in there. Which doesn't say 'decadence' to me, personally:




Fit: That pic segues nicely into.....

Support Sling.  The huge support sling has almost no curve built into the bottom, and while this does provide more uplift, it does so by giving the boob literally nowhere to go in the bottom of the cup. It looks like 'orange-in-a-glass' but it's not as....

Wires.  Are a pretty perfect width for me, and are following the natural edge of my boob pretty closely. Unfortunately, they are taller than previously, which is not helpful on my higher set boobs; even if I snipped out the huge white slings, which would let me settle into the bottom of the cup, the wires would then be borderline too tall for me.

Cup.  The same 'elf shoe' shape is still present, though less noticeable in one band size down. I can fill it, because I'm naturally full on top, but because the cups are so shallow, especially near the gore, and the bottom cup has no depth, I can't really imagine the type of shape that would be happy in this cup. It won't tack at all, but floats a good inch. There is just no place for inner fullness to go.


Sizing.   I own the Luxe in both 38H and 40H. There's not a huge difference between the two. The band is just slightly larger, and I gain a cup size - a UK cup size, say from an FF to a G. However, in the Decadence, the scaling is much more dramatic and just....clunky. The change from a 40H to a 42H (the first size I tried) was just enormous. The height of the cups increased dramatically = though not the depth - and the cup size bumped up a lot more, say, a Euro cup size as opposed to the smaller steps with the UK double letter sizes. 

Comfort. Along with the nosedive in beauty, this is my biggest disappointment. The Decadence is a lot less comfortable than my older N by Natoris. Why? 

   Fabric. It is decidedly less soft; a tougher mesh, both in band and cups.

   Straps. Thinner and scratchier. No attention to comfort or detail at all.

   Sling.  By it's very design, it's going to crumple up and fold under the weight and shape of boobs bigger than a C-cup. The older crescent version did this too. But it blended into the cup and it wasn't visible from the outside. And it only ran along the bottom of the cup, and shaped itself to the boob. The new version is so vast and climbs clear up to the top of the cup, that while it does give a lot of lift, it doesn't shape to the boobs at all, but forces the wires down the ribs, making them sit too low.

When Do I Wear It? Remains to be seen whether I'll opt to return it to amazon (at $26 on sale, and a $6 return fee, it could go either way), or do some Franken-bra hacks and try removing the slings.
Size:  40H

Friday, February 19, 2016

Review: Claudette Paramour

This is the 2nd Claudette I've tried. The first, an all-cotton balconette with one vertical seam, did not go well: hugely loose band, very high wires, and a baggy, unsupportive cup. 

Well, the Paramour is a different beastie entirely. I was intrigued enough by the mention that it ran large in the cup, to give the brand another go. This is the review I'm talking about, by this rather fabulous blogger who happens to share my coloring, which is super helpful when figuring out if a color will work for me. Spoiler: it's about the jewel tones. Always.  Paramour review by SweetNothings

Note: anyone who has read this blog already knows not to expect anything like those truly divine photos. Nope. You will instead find truly awful pics like these, taken here in my c.1930s cocoon of comfort bathroom, amid 6 hours of daylight in the rainforest islands of the Alaskan wilderness.





Beauty & Fit
  • Fabric:  That lower cup is a whole lotta satiny-stretchy goodness. The upper cup is fine mesh which is fairly soft and very stretchy. 
  • Sizing:  The cup runs really large: a full cup size worth. Perhaps 2. This is an extremely full-on-top friendly style, unlike the now-iconic Dessous. Ditto the Fishnet, where the sharp V-shaped cup cuts into even the model's upper fullness. But the Paramour can accommodate the FOT ladies, I'm here to tell you. I could actually go down to an FF in this - and I can't even remember when I last said that.
  • Band:  The band is firm and runs quite snug. It is nothing at all like the cotton style. This is as snug as I, personally, would want to wear my band. It's a 38 and stretches to 37-1/2"; I measure 36".
  • Wires:  Narrow and low. Which is really great for me, personally.  I'm not into side containment, and I do not want wires anywhere near my armpits. However, the gore is fairly wide, which gives a broader look to the boobs from the front, though the profile is natural/rounded. The gore does tack well.
  • Style: It's lovely; elegant in an unfussy, clean-lined way. The play of satin against matte gives a subtle tuxedo effect. The deep garnet red is far lovelier imho, but wasn't available in my size.
Comfort
I am an unabashed fan of stretchy cups, both the entire cup, or just the top 1/2 of the cup, where for a FOT shape, some stretch is the most vital. However, if there's too much stretch, that results in more bounce and sometimes less comfort. The Paramour is definitely a 'soft control' bra. This would never be a go-to for a 'locked & loaded' fit. But for average wear, and a more natural shape, I found the level of support to be just fine. 

Compromises
Band.   Because it runs snug, I did get some of that elastic edging dig-in, and because the band is average mesh, it's not the most comfy fabric to begin with. 

Gore.  It's a bit wide for me; I prefer my boobs to be allowed to sit closer together. A narrower gore also solves the issue of the outside of my boobs brushing against my arms, something this bra does cause. It's unusual for me to experience this with narrow wires, but because the cup fabric is so stretchy, the wider gore pushes my boobs outward a bit. But the gore does not hard tack, so doesn't dig in the way Panache does, and this is more a shape preference than anything else.

Fabric.  I found myself wishing the whole bra was made of the same soft stretch satin used for the lower cup. But alas, the other 70% of the bra is mesh. 

When Do I Wear It?   This is a 4-6 hour bra for me. So, on weekends, with soft knit cardigans and jeans.
Size:  38G (UK) Runs one cup size large
 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Review: Empreinte Rose

So, I'm not certain what I ended up with here. I was curious about the brand because I need deeper cups and medium-to-narrow wires. And I wanted to see what kind of comfort features the brand employs. So I took an inexpensive gamble and bought this on eBay for $40. At that price, I assumed that one of two things was likely: either it is a knock-off & not an authentic Empreinte, or, it is their cheaper sister sub-brand, like, say, Flirtelle is Curvy Kate's. However, the bra did ship directly from France, and the tags appear to be authentic.... But I really have no idea. I'm hoping someone with some experience with the brand will come along and enlighten me.

This appears to be a fuller cup style, so, not one of the brand's 'low neck' cuts, which, from what I can glean, just means a balconette.






Comfort: Overall, I found it as about comfy as an average Curvy Kate, say, Portia. And equivalent in quality, as well.

Wires:  I was surprised that they have no special features. No cushioning, no 3D flex; just very standard fabric casing. The lower height under the arm is great, however.  The width is on the narrow side of normal, similar to Natori, which is just right for me.

Band:  Pretty standard mesh; medium soft. Better than Freya, not as soft as Natori. I was able to wear it comfortably for a full work day.

Fabric:  Fairly comfy for mesh. The bottom of the cup is double-lined, while the top is sheer and has a small amount of give. 

Beauty
Ohhh, it's pretty - assuming that, like me, you are a sucker for that Victorian bordello vibe. The big, lush satin rosette at the gore is ornate 19th century perfection. The embroidery is different from the ethereal Eva M style. Less detailed and delicate; more splashy and baroque. The very sheer panel makes up for this being a full cup, with a high-ish gore.





Fit
Cups:  This is actually a cup size too small, so it's impressive that it still gives a nice shape and good support. I wasn't certain whether the brand ran larger in the cups, as Prima Donna does, but I had read that the cups ran deep, and they do not do double letters, so it's a bigger jump between cups. I decided to try a much smaller cup than I normally would. And...it is too small - but not as much as expected. It's wearable.Though the cups are not deep at all, they do run large compared to UK sizes. This is a 40F - that's a European F. Considering that I normally wear a 38 or 40H in Euro sized brands, that's pretty amazing. I would probably get a very good fit in a 40G, meaning that, basically, it fits in the sister size of my standard UK 38GG, although it is not in UK sizing. If that isn't completely confusing.

It gives a rounded, slightly minimized silhouette. Though the design makes it look like it might give a wide shape, that's a visual illusion from the style; it actually doesn't. Under clothing it gives a centered, contained look. There is a side panel that prevents a wide, splayed shape. This is a great shape for button downs.

Straps:  They run on the short side. I am wearing them fully extended. They are set in a bit, though not what I would call center-pull. They are in very nice, moderate position, and a definite improvement if you have trouble with the usually ver wide-set UK balconette straps.

Band: Average, bordering on a little loose. I would be able to wear a 38 in this, but the band is very stable and did not shift at all.

Gore:  it is quite high; higher than I would normally choose. But although in the pics it looks like 'a lotta bra', it actually doesn't feel that way on the body. 

When Do I Wear It?  To work, mainly. It gives a nice subtle shape that works well with fitted clothing, and a very secure fit. I am very curious to try other styles, particularly to see if the well known styles that run triple the price have triple the comfort. Seriously, for over $100, I expect some foam-wrapped wires encased in soft fabric. Though this bra seems well made, it doesn't feel any higher any quality than a Curvy Kate, and is about what I expect at $40.
Size: 40F, European (1 cup size small on me)

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Review: Just My Size Satin Wirefree Bra deserves a little more love

I mentioned this one in a post on the few wire-free options that have worked well for me, along with a single side pic in  3 Comfy Wire-free Bras

I wear this bra about once per week. After wearing it to work yesterday, and again being struck by the deep cup capacity, and the unusually great shape it provides, I felt it deserved a bit more attention. Along with photos showing the bra from more than one angle, to give a better idea of the overall fit.

Yes, I seriously did not even bother to take off my top. I was on my way out the door for work, and this is the most light I would see that day. So I seized the moment:




We already went over the comfort profile in the first post, so this is more about the structure and fit. 

Seam structure
The cup has one diagonal seam, which I've found is a great design for full-on-top boobs. If - & these factors are important - that seam has a quite vertical slant and is placed a little higher on the cup. If it is lower and more horizontal, it will give a dreadful downward drooping shape (think Royce styles); or, if placed mid-level, as in the Amourette, it will give a perky-but-pointy shape. But when placed higher, it will give a very round shape, allowing the natural top fullness of the boob to shape itself. As with allowing my curly hair to determine its preferred shape, I find it best to allow my full-on-top boobs to do the same. 

Fabric:
Stretch satin. The cups have a lot of stretch, which I find fabulous. Because it allows for different shapes without compromising support. This is because the seams and the frame provide structure, and the stretch is diagonal, not vertical, so it allows expansion rather than droop.

Straps:
There will be a lot more weight on the straps because this is a wire-free bra. Luckily, the straps are well-designed: flat, smooth, and wide, though not padded. They are also center-pull so the weight is distributed comfortably across shoulders and back. I do not get any groove or mark from them.They also adjust at the front, something you rarely see anymore. I wear them almost fully extended, because I am tall. But a more petite woman would be able to shorten them a great deal.

Silhouette
That is the serious strength of this bra. It gives a stellar profile shape, which is where most wire-free (& many wired) bras fall down. Literally. 


Sizing:
I still find it hard to believe this is a 40DDD. The pics above show that there is still a little room at the bottom of the cup. And these pics are taken at my PMS-largest, when I am a very full 38GG. So this really fits like a UK 38H on me. The band runs snug, and after a year, has not stretched out at all. I wear the 40 on the loosest hooks and it's a perfect fit. I like my band to fit at a +2. My underbust measures 36", so a 38 band is my default in most UK brands. But I find most mainstream US brands (Bali, Playtex, JMS) to run tighter and so usually opt for a 40 with them. 

Pricing:
At around $15 - $18 (US), this is a well-made bargain. Especially as it comes in several colors (though all but the red are pretty sedate) and different subtle embossed patterns.
 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Review: Panache Idina Plunge

Yeahhhh. This is not a plunge in my size; it's a balconette. It's also the only Panache I've found to be at all comfortable. And by that, I mean I can tolerate it for a full day's wear. Just. To be frank, I find Panache as a brand to be hideously uncomfy overall. The ultra-rigid wires are harsh, not cushioned at all. And they are reach-for-the-sky, armpit-stabbingly high - and I'm 5'9", so that's saying something. They do often give a great shape, however. But, as the name of this blog probably gives away, I am in no way, shape or form (see what I did there?) willing to sacrifice comfort, even for a lovely shape. Life is just too short to wear uncomfortable bras.


Comfort, because: first things first.
  • Fabric.  A very flat, smooth stretch lace; not fragile at all. My sensitive skin is quite happy with this.
  • Straps.  They have that felt/flocking lining that Jasmine has. They are not wide, but they do not dig.
  • Wires.  Welllll. They are not actually armpit-stabbers, as this is considered one of Panache's lower-wired options. (Yes, I am making giant "air quotes" right now...how did you guess that?) This brand's idea of 'lower wires' is still much, much higher than almost any other brand I can think of. 
Beauty

It is a nice non-fussy, understated style. The lace lays flat, but the seams unfortunately do not. So that pretty much negates the point of having flat, unobtrusive lace fabric. The copper-toned hardware is a unique touch, and it gives a clean-lined feel. 

I do like the shape it gives: rounded and lifted, but not overly boosted. More subtle than Cleo. 


Compromises & Fit (because these two categories are really linked here)



Wires.  They are simply too rigid for this bra to be as comfortable as it otherwise could be. I bend them slightly outward at the outer tips, as I do 80% of my bras, and no other brand is harshly unyielding as Panache. I mean, literally, I have to brace it on the edge of a table and apply serious steady force. That is just not a plus for me. I want fabrics and wiring that conform gently to my body - rather than trying to mold my boobs and rib cage with brute force. But that's just me.

Gore. Very wide. I don't think of my boobs as being especially close-set, but more moderately set - they certainly are not wide-set. And definitely not ultra-wide-set. The pic shows that the gore is actually forcing my boobs apart, and digging in at the top. The Idina would be a perfect candidate for Bras I Hate & Love's taking in the gore bra hack if it weren't for this next issue:

Band.  The Idina's band runs incredibly - almost unbelievably - small. The 38 fits like an extremely tight 36, or even a loose 34. This is one of the very few bras I have to wear with an extender - & the only 38 band I've ever had to use an extender on. It also has only 2-hooks, so that's another big drawback for me. 

Cup.  On top of the band running 1 - 2 sizes small, the cups run a size small as well. So when I was a 36GG, I wore the Idina plunge in a 38H and used an extender. The shape is not really full-on-top friendly; it is only the stretch fabric that allows me to wear the style. But even in the H, I will get some slight pillowing on top as the day wears on.

Sizing.  The fit alters hugely from the 38GG to the 38H. The cup becomes more full-coverage, and the wires are taller. It no longer resembles a plunge in any way. 

When Do I Wear It?
Not often these days. The rigid wires make it equally less comfy for both active days and sitting-at-a-desk days. I might wear Idina on a weekend: out to brunch or to a casual dinner party, when I want a nice shape - sans cleavage - under a V-neck knit.
Size: 38GG or 38H (both with extender)


I'd love to hear from anyone who has tried some of the newer Panache styles, and if you've had any success with comfort.