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.
https://www.brastogo.com.au/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/2000x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/p/i/pink_sugar_candy_fuller_seamless_nursing_bra_dd_9.png



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)