Sunday, September 24, 2017

Review: Hanky Panky Organic Cotton Crop Top

https://i.pinimg.com/236x/14/ae/9d/14ae9d52f9844a26864b1f99bf86f22d--hanky-panky-organic-cotton.jpg 



I tried this in black, but it's much easier to see the details in white. Which is why I didn't bother to take any photos of how it looked on me before I returned it. 
https://i.pinimg.com/736x/1d/42/07/1d42072560b7f8d91bc1a7a64b2dbd12--panky-hanky-organic-cotton.jpg

Nutshell: Very disappointing.

I opted for the crop top style over the other bralette designs by the brand as it came in extended sizes and the construction was more likely to work for larger busts. Theoretically.

Beauty: The lace pattern is quite pretty and saves it from being completely plain. 

Comfort:  Nope. The lace is scratchy, not soft in any way. Which is outrageous, considering the price point of $50. The organic cotton is also pretty underwhelming. It is far less soft than the $15  Leading Lady Cami Bralette, which is a superior choice in every way: comfort, support, & price.

Fit:  Very little in the way of anchorage in that inadequate thin band with the scratchy lace hanging limply below it. The straps are the worst part of the design. They are flimsy and ultra-stretchy. They literally provide less-than-zero support. If your boobs are bigger than an A-cup, they will simply drag them down like grapefruits suspended from dental floss. Wait. That would actually offer more support than these straps, because it is not stretchy. 

Who Might This Work For?
Literally, A-cups with skin as non-sensitive as the hide of a rhinoceros. 

Size: 1x
 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Review: Maurice bralettes

Maurice is a store brand I had never heard of. They seem to be more common in the Eastern side of the country and the price point is $16, so, not much to lose. Anyhoo, I came across a review online and decided to give them a try. Since I now have a half dozen wired bra brands I am happy with, I am turning my obsession with comfy support to finding bralettes with those characteristics. 

About that whole bralette thing: I'm surprised at myself, but I kinda like this whole anti-support movement. I suppose because it is really gratifying to see women demand comfort, in direct opposition to the fitting philosophies of Victoria's Secret foam domes or the Panache-y rigid lockdown support. Of course, I think we deserve both: comfort and support. But yeah, I know: good luck with that, right?

So, here we go. Spoiler Alert: Fail.

I tried two different styles, both vastly different in fit, but mostly similar in their suckage quotient. Helpfully, they don't seem to have names other than 'Floral Lace Bralette'. Both are made of cheap, non-soft lace. As you would expect.


This style has thin, bouncy straps and far less cup capacity than the other. 

Which you can see here:

It's basically only covering 3/4 of my boob and flattening it in the front.

The cups are an odd mix of too stretchy at the bottom and inflexible on the top, with a rigid strip along the side. 

Culminating in a boob pressed against a window shape.




And, to top it all off, here is the dreaded metal ring connector, conveniently located on the top of my shoulder bones.

I actually feel the urge to slap the idiot responsible for the whole concept of that stupid connector. 

Not that I take it personally or anything.



 Next up is this slightly better-designed T-back style:


 Plenty of cup capacity; it's actually more like a crop top. 


 
The straps are super stretchy, so offer no support.

But they do have this interesting racer-back design. And if they had used that broad lace section of lower strap as the actual shoulder strap, it would have been a real improvement for comfort and support.  

(An aside: this gives a good idea of how broad my shoulders are, so when I mention straps are too wide-set, it's a good indication that they are ridiculously wide-set.)




Here we come to the main problem: the 'band' is incredibly loose. 

It is nothing more than a flimsy, single strip of lace.

My boobs literally would be able to fall through the bottom. 







(My first thought was Ms. Choksondik of South Park, 'cuz who doesn't want that look?)  
                        
Image result for Ms. Chokesondick of South Park

 Who Might These Work For?

Those without sensitive skin, who just want something cheap & pretty, with zero support. If you are on the smaller end of the cup size range, or alternatively, if you need a large band size, and smaller cups, say 44B, the crop top style could actually be a good solution for you.

Sizing: XL

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Review: Delmira Floral Lace Underwired Bra

This was a random pick on Amazon: a stretch lace bra with a big size range, and a risk-free pricepoint of $17. It also seemed vaguely familiar....



I realized once I had it on that it is basically a copycat of the iconic Lepel Fiore:
https://brastop.cachefly.net/content/images/thumbs/0020752_lepel-fiore-full-cup-bra-neon-pink.jpeg

Beauty

The lace is a large floral pattern with subtle tonal changes and lots of sheer sections, so it appears light on the body and does not read as 'a lotta bra'. The lace has a slightly raised, embossed effect that does not show through clothing for me.

 

Comfort

Overall, I'm a fan. This is what I consider a 'soft hold' bra. Lots of stretch, light-to-medium support. It's not going to alter - or fight against - your natural shape; it's not going to jack up your cleavage or create a lot of projection. Instead it will support comfortably and moderately. You're not going to want to run for a bus in this; it's not designed to eliminate all bounce. 

Claudette represents this type of bra quite well. The opposite end of the spectrum would be Cleo. 

Fabric.  The upper cup is a single layer of soft lace, and the lower is lined with a knit fabric, which is a lot more comfy than the usual mesh lining.  

Band.   Non-mesh. Which is always a huge positive for me. I find it true to size. Of note: I am pudging out a bit lately, so a 40 may not be sister-sizing these days.

Straps.  A nice width, but not overly substantial. Comfy. No ring-connectors - always a plus - and no sharp edges where the fabric connects to the band, either. It would be nice if they were restricted stretch, but they're fine as-is. 

Fit

Cups.  These run quite large, about a full cup size so. This is also similar to Lepel Fiore, which runs huge. Because they are quite stretchy and the top is a single layer, I will actually order a cup size down next time. (If you're full-on-bottom, you'll almost certainly want to consider going down a cup.) 

There is a medium amount of depth near the gore, about on par with Natori. They are clearly not designed for a very projected shape, but the fabric is very forgiving, so it's quite doable for full-on-tops.

Shape.  It gives a natural, rounded shape that is my usual workaday preference. There would likely be more lift in a cup size down, since I have extra room here.


Compromises

Wires.  They are a bit taller than ideal for me, but then, I strongly prefer lower wires. They also are standard UK shape, with the wires winging back a bit. My firm preference is for Euro style wires that do not slant back, but rather, stay close to the boob in a U shape.


However, they are not overly wide, stabby, or rigid, just a little higher at the sides than I like. And dropping down a cup size may well solve this for me. 


Higher side/pit area.  This is an issue with most UK bras and it goes with the UK wire style and its higher, Nike-swoop shape. There's just more fabric than I want/need in the area between the strap and armpit. But it's less extreme than the issue can be in brands like Freya or Panache. 

When Do I Wear It?

When I need a flexible fit without a lot of intense molding and shaping and I'm not going to be super active or walking several miles. So, when I'm experiencing size fluctuations from PMS swelling or a hot day. Or when I want a softer, moderate profile, such as a fitted blouse requires.

Size:  40G (UK), which I found fit me like a large 40H. My actual size is 38GG. There are no double letters, so each cup size is a fairly big jump.

 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Review: Hip & Curves bralettes and balconette

This is a brand supposedly designed for curvy women, so I gave a few items a try. 

Conclusion: when they say 'curvy', this apparently means from the waist down only. Literally, their fitting approach seems to be tailored completely toward an extreme bowling pin shape: big hips and A/B cup sized boobs.

The lounge pants and panties I tried both fit beautifully: very pear friendly, with fitted waist and generous hip and thigh room. The bra and bralettes however....Not. At. All. 

I tried two different styles. The one on the left, especially, I thought looked workable in terms of cup capacity and more substantial straps. The one on the right, ehhh. 
Related imageImage result for hip and curves bralettes

Both turned out to have ridiculously tiny cups. I mean....incomprehensibly small. Maximum capacity would fit a small B-cup. 

Even then, the design is so inadequate for real boobs, I would not choose either style. The tiny straps have so much stretch they basically function as yo-yos. Cups have little stretch and zero depth. Bands run quite large and stretchy, so sister-sizing up is a non-starter.

I cannot post pics of these bralettes on me because, well, it would be basically pornographic. There is zero side cup, and basically no inner cup.  But here is a pic with a 38G bra on top....and the hysterically inadequate, flat-cupped bralette below it.


I was not expecting a great fit, but these actually have less cup capacity than your average bralette aimed at core A-D cup sizes. A lot less. 

The poor design is a shame because the fabric is wonderful. Literally the softest lace I have ever encountered. 

Chloe Soft Lace Cup Bra

I fared better with an actual bra in the line. But it was not a success, either.



Beauty & Shape.  Very pretty indeed.  Flat stretch lace, soft and non-irritating. Despite its horizontal seam structure, it gives a nicely rounded shape due to the very stretchy lace upper cup. The lower cup is lined in a soft knit fabric which is supportive without being stiff. 

Comfort & Fit.  The fabric has great comfort potential. But the wires are a dealbreaker for me. Nice and narrow-to-average, with an upright shape, but waaaay too tall for comfort.


And because the sizing runs quite small and I need at least a cup up, in my proper size the wires would be even higher. Which would put them basically at the level of my eyeballs. 


Because the wires are narrow, but the inner cups lack projection, while there is plenty in the center and outer cups, it seems that the cups do expect projected boobs - but just think that smooshed-together cleavage is the proper fit result. 

So again, great fabric, but a design fail for big boobs.

Sizing: I tried this in a 40G, as a starting point, based on my experience that most US bands run snug and cups a bit large, with greater increase in each cup size. That turned out not to be the case here. The band runs incredibly snug. This fit like a tight 36. And the cup also runs quite small. Because of the very high wires and awkward cup shape, I don't think sister-sizing would be successful.

What Shape Might This Bra Fit?

 Non-high-set, medium-to-narrow, balanced to full-on-top, non-projected boobs, without much in the way of inner fullness.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Review: Glamorise Sport Low Impact Cami Bra

So, I really have no need for an actual sports bra. Because I am all about the low-to-no impact. One of the great things about a cross-country ski machine - besides having no impact on my cartilage-damaged knee - is that is causes virtually no bounce and so little need to corral the boobs. (Irony alert: I live in a place where actual skiing is a thing, but the injury risk is too high for me now.) 

So, really, yeah, I'm just looking for another wire-free bra option. And this one's not bad.


Beauty

Comes in many color combos, and the center panel hides cleavage and controls bounce, while looking like a very casual camisole, due to the perforated nylon material that resembles a basketball jersey. 


Comfort & Fit

When I searched for reviews, all I had to go on were comments left on amazon. If you've ever tried to order a bra there, you'll know how generally unhelpful those reviews are. Very rarely is any frame of reference given - such as the wearer's size - and when that is provided, it's often pretty obvious that there is no understanding of bra sizing. So, what you get are a lot of comments like 'Uncomfortable' or 'Runs small' or 'Runs big - band kept riding up'. Yeahhhh. Unless the reviewer gives enough info that I can tell they know what they're talking about, I pretty much disregard all of them. Exceptions: I pay attention to details about the fabric: if it was scratchy, or flimsy, etc. And I look for patterns. e.g. did a lot of people mention the cups run large? Even without the sizing context, that can help me determine my correct size in a brand. 

In this case, the mention of cups running large and band running snug were consistent. And that turned out to be correct. But multiple comments about 'no support' are baffling, especially as they came from folks just looking for a leisure bra to wear around the house. This bra has plenty of support. Definitely enough for yoga or weightlifting. Anything but jumping up and down, I would say.

Shape.  Overall, the shape and structure remind me a great deal of Panache's iconic sports bra. 

There is definitely lift and containment, though no flattening. There is plenty of depth in the cups. This angle looks almost like the shape has a touch of 'elf shoe' (for the origins of that fabulous term, see: Bras I Hate & Love - Also, I adore her for lighting the shining beacon of hope for all full-on-tops, and wish she would come back). However, there is no real elf shoe and the profile shape is actually quite rounded and compact:


Straps.  Wide, flat and comfortable. 

Seams.  Non-irritating and very diagonal, which usually results in a nice rounded shape. 

Breathability. Meh. A bit better than Panache, which wears really warm, but not super ventilated.

UnderbandA+  Glamorise really got this right. It is not too deep and tall, only about an inch high, has the perfect amount of stretchy give, and it is covered in soft, soft satiny fabric. It feels like a cloud of angels floating about your ribs. And then they went and undid all of that comfort with....

Clasp.  Five rows of hooks on an unpadded clasp. With sharp, scratchy edges. That can be felt at all times, from all angles. Really, Glamorise? Really?

When Do I Wear It?

When I want more support than a Bali bralette can provide and will be active enough that I do not want any wires rubbing. Say, when I am going to the garden center and lugging home a lot of shrubs. Or rambling a rocky beach with my wee beastie. And I am willing to contort myself to wedge a folded Kleenex between the clasp and my back.

Size: 42F
The comments about the cups running large were frequent enough that, together with my own experience of often needing less cup capacity in a wire-free stye, I opted to drop down a cup, but keep my normal band size for this brand. That turned out to be the right call. 

Keep in mind that Glamorise is a brand from the 1920s, and as such, is very wedded to the +4 sizing approach. The 42 fits me like a snug 38 in a UK brand. Most US-sized brands follow this older sizing model, from the time before the wonders of spandex, when the inches had to be built in for give. Brands such as: Playtex, Wacoal, Curvy Couture, Comfort Choice. 

Due to this, I have learned that often I am not sized out of these brands. I wouldn't even say I am sister-sizing in these cases, but rather taking their sizing on its own terms. So, while I am a 38GG in most UK sizing, and 38I in Euro, wearing a 42G in these brands is simply following their own system of measurement, which is different from sister-sizing, i.e. compromising on a too-big band to finagle enough cup capacity. Being willing to consider other sizing systems on their own merits will open up many other choices, at a whole range of prices.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Review: Cake Sugar Candy Everyday No Wire Bra

I really wanted to subtitle this post 'In Which My Wire-free Dreams are Crushed To Dust - Again'...but I ran out of space. 

I had high hopes for this one. Cake is a maternity brand from Australia and they do lots of small-to-regular band sizes, and large cup sizes. They also have great names, all based on confections. The Sugar Candy is the only non-maternity bra they make. Based on the photos, which are helpfully shown on an actual curvy, full-busted model, I thought it really might work. 

(Hint: keep your eye on the shoulder/strap area. No digging, no hint of problems, right?)

http://images.shoprw.com/belliesinbloom/Cake-Lingerie-Sugar-Candy-Full-Cup-Seamless-Wirefree-Maternity--Nursing-Bra_23005F.jpg 

Structure

It is a lot like the usual comfort/leisure Bali-esque bralette, but with a good deal more structure. True, it is a stretchy nylon/microfiber fabric without actual cups. But - the fabric is thicker, and the interior has a sling/shelf made of soft padded fabric, so it is far more substantial and supportive than the usual stretchy leisure bra.

The sling seems like it would be a great way to add lift and support, without wires.


And you would expect that it would give a rounded shape...but you would be so very wrong.

 Shape & Fit

Here is how the Sugar Candy looks on me. For reference, I am similar in size to the model above, perhaps a 1/2 cup larger. But likely not similar in shape.





Yeahhhh, that sling is doing my boobs no favors. It is reminiscent of the boob-in-a-bag shape I achieved with the Breast Nest though certainly less extreme. I imagine in order for the sling/shelf to give the nice round-mound shape the model is getting, you would need to have wider, far less projected boobs than I do. 



Some angles look a bit better. 

Like this one. 

And if the bra were actually comfy, this would not be a deal breaker.






 


Although the profile view is pretty lackluster, it's not actually downward drooping...much.



And at least the sides are nice and low, while still being substantial and supportive.  





Comfort

Ah, here we are. Now we are in deal breaker country. 

Straps. i.e., Are you f**king kidding me?!  They are appalling. Just regular, on the thin side, bra straps. They are not restricted stretch and they are a rough fabric that I imagine is meant to be grippy, but just feels like sandpaper. But they are in no way equipped to deal with the weight of actual boobs. The digging in was immediate - and actually immediately painful. 

Note: my shoulders are not super-fleshy; they're broad, a little bony at the edges, and have a fair amount of muscle on the tops. I hate to think how these straps would feel on softer, fleshy shoulders. Pretty much like dental floss cutting through your skin, I would think, based on how they feel on mine. None of the pics I have seen of this bra show even a hint of digging, & I'm not sure how that's possible.


The straps are correctly adjusted - neither too tight, nor too loose. 


The band of the bra is the correct size for me: snug and sitting properly horizontal around my back.

I cannot emphasize enough how awful these straps are. 

They are far beyond mere discomfort, such as a Curvy Kate strap with sharp edges, that, if determined, you can semi-ignore.

They actually hurt. The harsh texture, but most especially, the cutting in. 


This pic of my shoulder was taken after having the Sugar Candy on my body for less than 5 minutes





When Do I Wear It?

This one makes me sad as I had hoped it would be a real option for an everyday bra. But there is just no way. For this price point of $60 I would expect better engineering along with the nice cup fabric. There is a real need for this type of bra in large cup sizes and it is a complete gap in the market. To be fair, if you have skin that is not at all sensitive, and you are a small(ish) cup size, say, an E or F, and you have a shallow shape, perhaps this would be a great option...? I don't know.

I am coming to the conclusion that something better than the Bali Comfort Revolution Wirefree simply may not exist. Recently, I was slightly alarmed when I went to buy another. There is a new version with foam-lined cups and it is not big boob friendly. The foam does not stretch and so reduces the cup capacity drastically. I am now going to stockpile the original version since the minor quibble I have with the strap seems even more minor now, by comparison.   

Size: XL  per the size chart, fits 36H-38GG, which is quite accurate. 
For this style, the sizing is much more specific than the usual, which is great. Sizing tops out at an XXL (38H-42G) and begins at XS (30F-GG)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Review: Comfort Choice Cotton Everyday Wireless Full-Coverage Bra

Nutshell: A good, if unlikely, contender for a cotton, wire-free, wear it out of the house, option. And a bargain at $15.
 
I was familiar with this bra from years back. It's the much better designed cousin of this bra.

 Beauty

Not beauty, so much as fun. Loads of colors and prints. I opted for Violet Blossom.

Comfort

Fabric.  100% cotton. That's it. No spandex, no polyester, no nylon. Just a substantial cotton knit that is soft against the skin and very breathable. The only slight irritation I experience is from the seams beneath the piping running along the upper cup, but the seams across the boobs cause no irritation.

Band.   Quite deep and stable. Three-hooks, widely spaced. 

Straps.  On the thin side, they are center-pull, made of reinforced cotton in front, and connect to a regular stretchy bra strap in the back; no evil ring connectors. A wider design would be a nice upgrade.

Fit & Shape

Cups.  The whole design is very retro. The cups have full-on horizontal seams - something I normally avoid like the plague - but this bra is an exception. 

The shape is surprisingly good! 

I'm not quite sure why the seams work in this case, but they do. 

The shape is very rounded, and is not causing the usual pointy horribleness that happens when full-on-top boobs meet horizontal seams. 

 

    
It actually makes my boobs 
look like they are a balanced shape. 

The top of the cup is a single layer of cotton knit, with the bottom being a double layer. 

The wrinkling is not due to any looseness, but is just the result of what 100% cotton does, when not infused with spandex. 

The sides are nice & low, too.

The shape under clothing is pretty decent, certainly an acceptable shape to wear out of the house, & much better than the Natori Glance.
 

This is a thin cotton T-shirt & I really did not expect the Everyday bra to give this shape.

I'm very pleasantly surprised.

As a wirefree style, it can't give real separation, but it does not actively smoosh the boobs together as many styles do.




I am fine wearing this out & about. I also didn't think it would work under a low-V neckline like this since the gore is pretty tall....

.........but it does.








When Do I Wear It?

Pretty much anytime I want. This bra feels substantial on the body. It is not a lightweight, airy, super stretchy fit like the Glance. It is comfy, but in a different way. It's rare to find a bra that is 100%cotton-knit. And does not come in just frumpy white. It is definitely supportive enough for work. It's not as comfy as a Bali bralette, but it works well as a hybrid weekend bra: when I'm wearing jeans & T's, and alternately puttering in the garden and running errands.

Size: 42DDD (US)

Sizing notes: The cups run generous and the bands quite tight. This sister-sizes to a 38G (UK) or a 38H (US), but actually fits me like a 38GG (UK) or a 38I (US). The size range is huge, from 38-54, B-G. In reality, it's more like 34-50, C-J.
 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Review: Kindred Bravely Soft French Terry Sleep Bra

This is a bralette aimed at maternity wear. So a good bet for softer fabrics and lots of stretch. A bargain at around $20.

 Beauty

For a practical sleep bralette, it is quite pretty. It comes in this pale pink as well as the ubiquitous beige & black. I'm a sucker for the crossover styling. In theory

Comfort

The fabric is really nice. French terry is, as I understand it, a thicker cotton material with a flatter finish and the very minimal 'loopy' quality of terrycloth. This just feels like a substantial, very soft, cotton knit.

The straps are nice and wide and are also racer-back to spread the weight. Wasn't sure if I'd like the pressure near my neck, but it's fine and doesn't cause any irritation.  

Fit

The cup capacity is small, especially for a maternity-aimed style. 


There are regular sizes, and also 'Busty' sizes. I opted for an XL-Busty, which per their size chart, fits a 38E - 40G (US). On me, it fits like a 38F/G. 

The crossover style is - as always, for some reason - right over left. That means that my larger right boob is allowed to make a break for freedom, when it actually could use the greater containment that lefty is getting. 



The band is quite snug. I'd say it could work for 36-40 bands. The straps are very stretchy and would be much improved by tweaking the design to be double-layered or restricted stretch. They do not prevent bounce and really reduce the support. 

The shape under clothing is pretty relaxed. I've worn it out of the house under a loose woven cotton tunic where shape & lift aren't essential. It doesn't really give enough support for comfort and containment, the way that the Bali Comfort Wirefree and Leading Lady cami bralette do. (The former, I'll wear out of the house and feel quite comfy.)

Compromises

Scratchy, uncomfy seams. There is no way I could wear this without flipping it inside-out. The seam joining the band to the cups is pretty harsh and rugged. This is just not a seam I can tolerate on sensitive under-boob skin:



Crossover design/cup capacity. Looks nice on smaller cup sizes, but realistically, it's not a match with F+. Especially when combined with the lack of projection in the cup shape (those very shallow gathers don't allow for much expansion) and the overly stretchy straps. 

When Do I Wear It?

For lounging around the house under my jim-jams. It does provide enough support & separation to improve comfort and for some, it could be a good choice as a sleep bra for PMS swelling, especially if you are full-on-bottom and like a snug band. But because of the band style of snug, thick, continuous elastic, I'd be more inclined to opt for the Bali Comfort Revolution Bralette with its soft, minimal knit-in band.
Size: XL-Busty

Saturday, May 20, 2017

In Which My Quest for Wire-free Bras Continues...

Yep, I'm still trying to find a reliable option that is work-friendly for those - increasingly more frequent - days when wired bras just bug me. Mostly this is due to swelling, which causes fluctuation in my cup size, which in turn causes even usually comfy underwires to dig in on the sides, or create new pressure spots. 

Bras with lots of stretch in the cup fabric definitely help (Natori Satin FleurAnita Twin, and to a lesser degree Wacoal Dual Control) but still, when I experience hormonally-induced swelling, the wires themselves eventually just irritate me. The fit of the bra is subtly changed in multiple ways and the wires, by their very nature, cannot adapt enough to the changes. Result: I quickly become uncomfortable. This is where you would think it would be a good idea to try a maternity style bra, which are theoretically designed to adapt to such changes. 

However. The vast majority of styles available are not actual maternity styles, but rather nursing styles featuring horrid hard plastic clips, the edges of which rub the skin raw. Seriously. What genius thought of that. The first bra of this type I tried (because it could be converted by removing the hard plastic) was an utter failure: Bravado Essential Embrace. Like a scuba suit with the all the softness of canvas. So while it's tempting to try brands like Hot Milk or Cake, with their unique plastic 'flexi-wires', the unfortunate fact is that the hard clips would ruin all other comfort features for me. Royce is known for offering both maternity & nursing styles - but they also are known for some of worst shapes ever seen in wire-free designs. Horizontal seam frumpitude extraordinaire. Like kryptonite for full-on-tops. 

So that leaves me randomly trying wire-free options that have designs that seem promising. It's a lonely road, people. The latest two attempts:

Curvy Studio Cotton Wireless Bra

If this seems familiar, that's because it is the cheaper line of Curvy Couture, made for Target. I reviewed the regular version here: Curvy Couture Cotton Luxe Wirefree


How does the down-market version compare? Favorably...in some ways.

Straps.  The Target version loses the awful straps of the spendy version: no ring connectors at all, and no wadded up lump of sewn fabric either. That's a pretty big improvement. That alone makes the Comfy Studio version wearable for me. They are still quite pretty with the lace edging on the inner strap. Very fine and soft, it causes zero irritation and looks great peeking out from a wide-necked top.

Shape.  A bit droopy on its own. Which the Couture version is not. This one has more projection but less lift. However, it looks reasonably good under clothing. Better than expected. Also the gore is lower on the Studio version.



Fabric. Ah, here's where they slashed their costs, resulting in a pricepoint of under $30. This is not the silky rayon/cotton blend of Curvy Couture that felt almost like bamboo. Uhhhh, no, it is not that fabric. It is a polyester heavy cotton blend. Soft-ish, but not soft. And that satiny underband? Gone. Ribbed fabric that is not soft covers it instead. Also gone is the lavish lace, replaced with much smaller token lace strips.

Band.  This is the least comfy part of the bra, and really noticeable when sitting down for any length of time. First, it runs very tight, just like Curvy Couture does. A good 2 sizes worth. Beyond that, it is extremely tall, around 6". I dislike overly tall bands, so that's not a plus for me at all. When sitting, it tends to roll & dig. At least there are no side stays. This is the usual issue that often makes underwire seem more comfy to me overall: I hate the restrictive, tall band of many wire-frees and the way they just seem to concentrate the weight of my boobs onto a narrow band of space across my chest.

When Do I Wear It?  I'm less likely to wear this for lounging around on weekends. The band just isn't comfy enough for that. But I would wear it to work, when sitting upright at a desk, rather than reclining with feet propped, renders the band reasonably comfy - well, 'neutral' is more like it. But I like it best for a more active weekend with standing/walking involved.

Size: 42G.  Because of the extremely Wacoal-tight bands, you're unlikely to be sized out. For me, this size fits like my actual size, a 38I. (I often have to sister-size to a 40H in both US & Euro styles because they usually stop at H.) The size range of the brand is great - especially for a store like Target. It starts at a 34F (which fits like a 30 in this brand) & goes up to a 44H (really a 40J)

Just My Size Super Sleek Front-Close Wire-Free Bra

This was a total fail. 

The ridiculously poorly designed ring-connector strap strikes again:



All of that seamed, wadded up fabric, plus the ring connector and strap slide clumped together in one perfect storm of 'Ow!'



Here's a view of the top of my shoulder.

All of that weight concentrated on 1/2" of skin as a single pressure point. 

Just.....Why?

I felt immediate discomfort. After less than 5 minutes - literally just long enough to take these pic - I couldn't wait to remove this bra from my body. Angry red marks had already formed where the strap sat. 


Fabric.  This was nice. Silky nylon with lots of stretch. And the front hooks provide an option for those with arthritis or shoulder injuries. 

Though I can't imagine the hook closure lying flat beneath a blouse.

Also: cleavage. You won't avoid it.


Shape. Quite decent, really. For that alone, it's a shame the bad strap design makes it totally unwearable for me. 



It might, however, be wearable for you if: you are very petite and very high-set, which would enable you to have the straps fully shortened (moving the slider away from the top of your shoulder) and causing the ring to fall further down toward your back. Also, it would help if you are full on bottom, to avoid the over-the-top wench boobs the style creates on me.

Size: 42DD (fits like a 38G)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Deodorants for sensitive skin: underarms & underboobs - reviews & a recipe

I believe I've mentioned my sensitive skin, prone to rashes, eczema & now, rosacea. So my latest Princess & the Pea adventure started like this: 5 months ago I became inexplicably unable to tolerate the fairly gentle Dove deodorant I've used for the last decade. It has the same active ingredient as 90% of anti-perspirants do, but a good 20% less of it than almost any other brand. Did I mention I learned this after purchasing a 5-pack of said Dove from Costco? Because, of course. 
 
So began my quest to find a deodorant/anti-perspirant without Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Gly. 

Let me just say here that, although I am fairly crunchy - I've been a vegetarian for 20 years & hate plastic bags - some stuff just has to work. Among those things for me are toilet paper (I won't be giving up Charmin anytime soon), laundry detergent (no thanks, 7th Generation, even though I love your cardboard bottle), and deodorant. I've tried several natural brands over the years, from Tom's of Maine (perpetually sticky) to Aubrey (kind of sting-y) to the liquid Crystal roll-on (literally hours to dry). 

And they all had one thing in common: they simply did not work. Not for me. Not for longer than about 4 hours. Mayyyybe. That is just not acceptable. Not in a professional setting - hell, not even sitting alone on my sofa.

I should stop here & explain what I mean by 'unable to tolerate' normal deodorants anymore. I mean I developed a reaction well beyond a rash: large red sections of irritated skin across my armpits that developed into actual scabs. (Apologies for that TMI, but you'll understand my desperation when I realized I could no longer use the gentlest effective product I've found - & all known alternatives sucked.)

I did lots of research and quickly determined that I did not want to risk a product with baking soda, as most negative experiences were related to that ingredient, complete with some painful looking review pics on amazon similar to what I described. Unfortunately, the vast majority of crunchy products contain baking soda. 

I ordered one from etsy that did not, and actually came in a stick form. It was not a success. It had the texture of candle wax and the 'Jamaican Vanilla Bean' smelled like car air freshener on me; it felt tacky and coated on the skin. Fail.

Then I realized that I could just try making my own. I do make my own hair & skin cream from coconut oil - a mainstay of most recipes - and I had come to the conclusion that I really prefer a cream product rather than a wet roll-on or a sticky gel. And surprisingly....it worked! Very well indeed. And it is cheap as dirt. I have not had a reaction in the 4 months I've used it. 

I also found two other alternatives that work incredibly well. Here they are:


I'll start with the one in the center. This is my every day go-to now. The other two are for when I want something a little stronger.

What I love about the homemade recipe:
  • I scoop out a pea-sized daub of cream, hold it against my skin for 2 seconds, whereupon it instantly melts and can be rubbed in thoroughly and easily. 
  • It dries to a velvety soft finish very quickly.
  • There is zero caking. I can top it with body powder - still no caking. Ever. 
  • No need to wash your hands! Stay with me here. The only difference between this deodorant and a body cream recipe is the greater amount of corn starch. Nothing icky that needs to be washed off. I just really like that.
  • It can be used under the boobs to protect delicate skin from friction and keep things cool & dry.
  • Coconut has natural properties that are pretty great: it is inherently mildly both anti-bacterial & anti-fungal. 
  • The protection usually lasts me all day. It can be easily reapplied if you wish. (See no-caking, ever, above)

Here's the basic recipe. It can be customized in many ways:
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup corn starch
20 drops essential oil (or extract) of your choice. 
      (I usually use neroli (bitter orange flower). It has an earthy green edge that cuts the sweetness of regular orange blossom. It also has properties that mend tiny capillaries, a big part of sensitive skin issues and redness.)

Melt the coconut oil until very soft, but not totally liquid (it doesn't matter if you do, but it's easier to work with if you don't). Mix in the corn starch. Use a fork or spoon until blended. Add in the oil or extract. Stir until smooth.

That's it. You're done. Or, you can customize it to your exact liking.

To tweak the texture:
  • If you want to use an electric beater after the fork (don't do it at the beginning because the light-as-air corn starch will fly into the air) it will make the final product lighter and more whipped in texture, and it will also increase it in size since you're whipping air into it, so you'll need a bigger container.
  •  I live in a cold climate, so the coconut never ever liquifies. I mean, ever. Because it never goes above 72F here and the stuff liquifies at 75F. So I add 1 T of grapeseed or avocado oil to keep the mixture softer, otherwise it would form a solid balm (which is how most of the products for sale are) which you have to scrape out with the back of your fingernail. I prefer not. So a tablespoon of oil makes it a soft, thick cream.
  • Add a little more cornstarch. It gives a more velvety texture and a nice dry finish.
To increase the strength:
  • Add a capsule of powdered probiotics. Basically, the idea here is to outweigh bad bacteria with good.
  • Add a pinch of baking soda. Start small. See if it agrees with you. 
  • Substitute a portion of the corn starch with arrowroot or clay.
  • Use stronger antiseptic essential oils that are commonly found in these recipes, but that I personally dislike the scent of (in my skin care): lavender, tea tree, rosemary, frankincense, peppermint, cedar.
To customize the scent: do anything you want!
  •  I like the tangy floral of neroli, so that is my usual default scent. But this month, along with the neroli I added 5 drops of sandalwood and 1/4 tsp of almond extract (alcohol-based extracts also help with preservative, though you don't really need that since the recipe lasts one month).
  • Coconut will be a part of any scent you create, but it fades into the background and becomes more of a base note.
  • Use regular kitchen extracts if you don't like essential oils, don't want to spend the $$, or just love foodie scents: vanilla & almond work really well here. The one thing I would add is that I would be cautious with extracts that are not alcohol-based. E.g. I tried a buttercream extract in a body cream recipe....and came back to find the glycerin base had caused the coconut oil cream to  implode into a bubbling soup texture.
  • For sensitive skin, some good essential oil options include: rose, orange blossom, sandalwood, neroli, chamomile, frankincense, lavender.

 

Next up: Tussy

This brand has been around since 1925. That's right. You, too, can feel like a flapper. A 21st century flapper with sensitive skin. 

I remember when I lived in England in the early-90s my elderly neighbor - who had lived through the London Blitz - swore by Tussy. With my American devotion to Secret, I took no notice. Until years later, and the Great Deodorant Crisis of 2017, I came across this on amazon during my research. And remembered fondly.

Tussy contains Aluminum Chlorohydrate, which is a much gentler version of the ingredient used in more modern products. So it is actually an anti-perspirant as well. As such, it will give stronger protection than the homemade recipe above. This is what I used for my wedding in Las Vegas. I was wearing a velvet dress and just wanted to jack up my coverage.

Things to note:
  • Tussy has my favorite texture of the 3 products I use. It is a light, whipped cream and a very small amount blends in easily. 
  • No caking. Powder away!
  • It has the most unique scent for a woman's deodorant I've ever encountered: Cloves! Not sweet, not floral, not powdery, not 'fresh'-  but the gentle, warm, spicy scent of clove.
  • You definitely need to wash this off your hands. And this is the only one of the 3 that is not appropriate for under-boob use. 
  • Very economical. Around $5.00. Some stores still carry it, and of course, amazon.

 

Next up: Yodora

This one comes from the 1940s. And it works. Well. Really well. Better than any modern actual anti-perspirant I've tried. It is the most effective of the 3 products here and works even into the next day. With zero aluminum. It's a weird kind of magic. Especially when you consider that.....

This stuff is basically Desitin diaper cream. Not. Even. Kidding. It's pretty much a combo of Vaseline (moisture barrier), zinc oxide (the old white-nose sunscreen stuff), and boric acid (gentle enough to be used in eye drops).
  • It works shockingly well, while being very gentle.
  • The scent is not my favorite: very sweet & powdery, and well, a little 'old lady'. But it doesn't linger & isn't strong.
  • The texture also isn't my favorite. It's...well, just like baby butt cream: greasy and thick and opaque. But you only need a very small amount. Still, it's got a very ointment-type feel to it, and it has a tacky, heavy feel that takes a long while to really absorb. It's very dry and smooth by the end of the day, though. And it is still working, well into the next day.
  • The zinc oxide has strong antiseptic (as well as sunscreen) properties. There's good reason it features heavily in diaper creams. Along with the Vaseline, it provides a strong barrier against irritation - & sweat. 
  • Highly appropriate under the boobs, though does not have the silky feel and velvety finish of the coconut oil recipe.
  • A bargain at $7.
This gives an idea of the different textures of the 3 creams: 

Tussy: light whipped cream
Coconut oil: cream-paste
Yodora: thick cream-ointment
 




I am thrilled with each of these products. My own recipe meets my needs 80% of the time. I love that I can make a 2 oz jar, customized to my exact tastes, in 10 minutes, that will last me at least one month. And cost me around 50 cents in high quality ingredients.

But the other 2 products have earned a place in my bathroom cabinet as well.

I enjoy the light texture and scent of Tussy, and it is very travel friendly. No need to worry about temperature changes that will affect the recipe cream. 

And if I need serious protection that lasts 24+ hours, I will absolutely reach for Yodora. It works better than Dove or any other commercial modern product I've tried. This would also be very effective for chub-rub in a beach situation. I mean, it even has sunscreen & antiseptic built in. 

What has been really amazing to me is just how well the products of my grandmother's era have held up. I mean, they just plain work! With no ill effects or fancy packaging. In the end, the product that is almost one century old, is what I wore for my own wedding in 2017. And the product from WWII is still more effective, and less toxic, than the 21st century options. And my favorite is made from a tropical product used for many more generations in the island nations of the Pacific.
 
So there you have it: options. Hopefully this helps someone else & spares them some frustration and exhaustive research.