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. 

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.

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. 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)


  1. It's hard to tell from your photos but the cup seaming looks authentic and the bra does have a big pink flower bow. I also think it gives you great shape. Empreinte runs a cup size large for size because it's very deep Euro sizing. IMO this fits you better than any other bra you've profiled. I'm surprised you're not finding it super comfortable though. I find the quality and comfort of Empreinte to be much better than CK - and I wear both brands!

  2. I like the fit, too - though the gore doesn't tack; it's floating a good inch. I suspect this style has a more shallow cup than others in the brand. I'd like to try some of the 'low neck' styles. It really is a great profile for work wear.

    The price did make me suspicious because, well, it's almost too good to be true, even if it is discontinued. And yet, I couldn't help myself. I think it feels similar to CK because of the mesh fabric. I'm not a fan of mesh, particularly, because it just can't approach the soft hand of microfiber or modal. And the casing around the underwire is not very soft. But it's not Cleo harsh (I actually got a welt from the 2 hours I was able to stand the Lucy on my body. Yeah, I do acknowledge that my skin is far more sensitive than average. I really envy folks who wouldn't even notice the fabric on underwire casing. ~=o}

  3. i'm with k-line -- I think this looks awesome on you and am surprised you don't find it more comfy/ higher quality, but certainly don't doubt your experience. I've both worked with empreinte as a fitter and also gotten a cheapie like this off ebay from france. the one I got was def authentic, just kind of a crappier model and I don't love it, maybe it's the same with this?

    imo it looks like a good fit, though you can't always tell from pictures. empreinte sizing is not really possible to translate exactly because of the huge jump between cup sizes, but basically their cups run just huuuge like 2-3 cups bigger than uk brands so it's no surprise this is close. The gore is so high, and their wires are not meant to be very firm, that if you are close set it might never tack. I actually would be surprised if a 40g fit as the bands are not usually very firm and that cup will go up a lot.

    yeah, "low neck" means balconette, shame no one ever told them that's a gross way of phrasing it in English.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience and insight. I think my perception of quality is due to the softness level of the fabric (the band is less soft than Natori)and the embroidery, which, had I been able to get a better close-up, is definitely not on par with Ewa M's; it's less detailed and has much less dimension. I also consider the finishing of the seams, when I form an opinion on quality: are they soft and flat, or can I feel a rough transition where the strap is doubled and sewn around the connector ring.

      I do agree with your sizing assessment: I find this to run on par to UK cup sizes, which means - huge. The other main Euro brand I wear is Anita; I put up with the fit mismatch because the softness of their fabric has no equal (that I have yet found) and the finishing of the seams is virtually a non-issue in terms of irritation. And in Anita, I need every bit of the cup space a 40H provides. I have to sister-size in the band to get it. But with Empreinte, I do believe you're right, and I may get my best fit in almost the equivalent UK size. I wish I'd been able to capture just how much the gore is floating, but then, I do not care for a hard tack, and that is not a dealbreaker for me. But I could use a little more depth in the cup.

  4. What is the name of the ebay vendor you used? Empreinte bras are still expensive in France, but much less than when exported elsewhere in the world. It is not uncommon to find clearanced past-season style Empreinte bras (genuine) on discounters' websites and on ebay in the $40 range. The bands run very loose in larger band sizes so I would recommend you try a 38H, which in Empreinte's quirky conversion system would be a French size 95H. This brand's unlined cups are designed to allow for a crazy amount of center fullness so if you can't get a tack, it is a sizing issue, definitely. The wires do tend to be tall so if you have a vertically short breast root or roots that are wider than they are tall, it can feel like too much wire.
    You are not going to find a high end, old school French lingerie brand that does cushioned wire casings or all that sort of thing btw, that is not how they roll... sorry! Some of the "younger" brands might offer those types of feature, worth investigating if it is a must for you.

    1. Interesting! I believe the vendor was...Zazie...? They were great, and I don't want to imply otherwise. I thought it more likely that this is a cheaper 'younger sister' sub-brand to Empreinte, especially as it seems more colorful than their long-running styles, and is cheaper. I found the wires to be nice and low at the sides (much lower than Chantelle's), so the higher gore was not a negative per se.

      I do agree that the brand's sizing does not convert in a straightforward way to UK, or even to other Euro brands' sizing. I think that your 38H is a very good one, and I will try this size next. As to the cushioned wires, that is disappointing at that price point, but I'm not surprised. The only brand I have tried that really nailed this is Wacoal - and infuriatingly, they only offer it up to a DDD, where it is least needed. The lack of comfort features to the wires is the most common reason I have heard from women who refuse to give up their ill-fitting Victoria's Secret bras. It's a really valid point.

    2. OK yes I have bought many times from Zazie78 (I assume that is the one) and they are legit.
      Empreinte does not have different sub-brands. They do have a range of different levels of "luxuriousness" (if that makes any sense?) between their designs, in the sense that some of them are designed to be everyday bras and some are meant to be very elegant sophisticated designs. The "everyday" ones have less fancy materials, a less elaborate appearance and are indeed cheaper. However, I have never found the workmanship to be sub par on any of them. Some of the brand's longest-running styles such as the Mary, Sofia or Capucine are part of this "everyday bra" category and in France they retail for around 80-90 Euros, which is actually on par with a mid-range Chantelle bra so clearly not super deluxe, just a good solid upper-middle-class bra if you see what I mean ;-) Only a few of the long-running Empreinte styles fall in the couture-level category--this includes the notorious Thalia for example.

      In terms of the softness of fabric, that is again more of an American preference--French high-end lingerie can be distinguished from cheaper brands by other characteristics, such as more detailed embroidery, more recherche designs or better quality meshes and elastics, etc. which may not be softer to the touch at all but are more robust and durable with better elasticity.

      Fun fact, Empreinte DOES have an outlet/factory store located in Brittany in a city called Brest (yes you read that correctly!) I know that is where unsold stock ends up and discounters probably get some of their inventory from there.

      If you want to chat more about where to shop for Empreinte and different cuts or shapes you can find me on Bratabase under this same username :-)

    3. Thanks for all of this great info on the brand! Especially saving me the $$$ experiment of trying the higher-end styles if the fabrics won't be softer and wires remain uncushioned. In terms of embroidery, seams, and just overall materials, this reminds me a great deal of the 3 Chantelles I have. Though the fit and shape is much better for me, with the lower side wires. The robust fabric isn't as important for me - I've rarely worn out a bra; laundry is the only household chore at which I excel.

      It sounds as though I will need to break down and try Harlow & Fox at some point and see if their silk lined cups are worth the splurge. But, honestly, the highly neutral aesthetic doesn't appeal. I may pick your boob-brains further on bratabase. I'm not very active there any more as the measuring got tedious, and I noticed such discrepancies in them, it's just a lot of work. But I love the idea of it.

    4. Boob-brains! I love it! Haha... Yes, please do ask anytime you like.
      The main virtue of the robust fabrics is not that you can keep the bra for 20 years (though I guess you could, if you really wanted to, with gentle care). The reason this is desirable is that better-quality textiles can be used to provide better support and shaping and can be selected for technical attributes that lend themselves to specific fit-enhancing features, such as bra bands being able to anchor to the body without being very snug, or the 3D molded lace cups on the Empreinte Melody.

  5. I agree with Kristin (K.Line) and Unknown that this bra looks great on you. wendybien is an expert on shopping for Empreinte, and, from what I've seen around the web, you can get some good deals on luxury French bras. Your guess about its relative ordinariness accounting for the bargain price is probably right. Anyway, you got a great deal. A good part of the quality of brands like Empreinte and Prima Donna is how well they maintain their functionality over time, assuming you don't abuse it. If you end up doing a follow-up after a year, it'll be interesting to see how it holds up. There are just not enough reviews in this size range.

    1. Thanks for chiming in. I honestly hadn't considered the more rugged construction as a factor in quality. I have many bras that are 3+ years old and still in like new condition. Partly it's that I don't wear ultra-tight bands, so they're under less stress; that I only wear each bra once before washing, and never more than twice in a week; and that I wash them in a front-loader on delicate, inside wired mesh bra cages, which gives hand-wash results.

  6. BTW, Zazie is legit. That's where I get my online Empreintes form.

  7. Really appreciate the feedback. The price differential just seemed too good to be true, so I was a little leery. But this is great news - or it would've been, if I'd gone ahead & ordered Grace & Lana while they still had them in my size(s) instad of waffling. ~=o\