Saturday, March 17, 2018

Review: Comfort Choice Wireless Lace Bra(lette)

Nutshell:  a bralette with the actual structure for big boobs.


Cotton fabric with a sheer lace overlay and deeply pretty lace from the neckline all the way up the front of the straps.

The straps really look good peeking out, which they will often do because they are very center-pull.

It's harder to see the lace on this deep green colorway, in one band size larger.

Also, the fabric is thick enough to minimize show-through about on par with spacer foam. 

Comfort & Fit

Cups.   Plenty of capacity. They are soft, heavy-weight cotton knit, and have just a moderate amount of stretch. Though V-shaped, they do not cut into my upper boob. They are meant for a balanced shape, though.

Straps.   Flawless! How often do you hear me say that? They really got these right. The straps are obviously expecting big boobs, so they are wide, flat, well-centered, with some stretch. And they are extremely pretty. When they peek out, it looks like you're wearing a camisole with a gorgeous V-neck.

BandNot impressed. It consists of a 1" strip of elastic. That's it. The same kind you find in the waistband of some brands of men's boxer-briefs. But just....bare elastic; without even that softish flocking on the inside. WTW? My husband won't buy men's brands with this feature; he dislikes it for the same reason I do. Why they did not cover this in fabric, for both comfort and looks, I have no clue. It's really out of place with the rest of the design, which has great detailing with the straps & lace overlay. 

Shape.   Surprisingly minimized. The cotton fabric is not super-stretchy, so you do get quite a bit of rounded flattening.



Side Seams.  I did not except these unwelcome seams -but not as much as I did not expect that bizarre band. They are large and very raised. Not as horrific as the honkers in the Target Curvy Studio Bralette but they are the same type, and in 2nd place. The sides are quite tall and after 4-6 hours, this seam is starting to annoy me. Before that, I'm aware of it. This is the biggest issue for me, far more so than the poorly designed bare elastic band.

Band.  The design is just silly. Not really supportive, just annoying. There are 3 hooks, at least.

Uniboob.  It might look like I'm getting a little separation here. Uh, no. There is zero. Less than the other wireless bras I've mentioned, though separation is quite minimal in any wirefree bra. But this is definitely more bralette than bra. Your boobs will be in very close company. And the bralette kinda creeps down over time, so there will be a whole lot more cleavage then. The shape you get is not really wide, though, as the cups are thick. And oddly, the shape you see under clothing is not at all a boob loaf. So it won't look like you have a uniboob - but it will definitely feel like it.

When Do I Wear It?

I'm more likely to wear this to work than for lounging at home. The minimized shape is really useful for tops with structure and limited boob room. It is not my holy grail for bralette comfort, but it is certainly one you can wear out of the house because it gives a very acceptable shape. The irritating side seams keep this from being a truly comfy bra/lette for me. If you don't have sensitive skin, or are not bothered by thick, raised seams, this is a great choice for some actual support and comfort during travel. 

Sizing. 40DDD(F)  Sizing runs very large (even for the brand) in both band and cup, but especially band. 

I first tried a 42DDD because that is usually my size in Comfort Choice. Since their bands run tight (even when you allow for their +4 system of adding 4" to your own measurement) this size fits me like a 38GG. However, in this style the band runs very, very large. I dropped one band size, which gave me the correct cup size, but the band is still quite loose, even on the middle hook. It really doesn't affect support, which demonstrates how silly that flimsy bare elastic band is; clearly, most of your support is coming from the thicker cup fabric and those beautifully designed straps. 

It's difficult to give sizing advice that is not confusing, so the simplest way: Take your US/Euro size, in my case, 40H, and then drop 2 cup sizes, e.g. to a 40DDD/F which will give you a looser, comfy bralette fit. For a more supportive bra-type fit, try dropping 1 band size & 1 cup size, e.g from a 40H to a 38G.

In UK sizing:  Keep your band and drop a cup. (Straight across; don't try to convert back and forth between US/UK or use 1/2 cups). E.g. From 40G to 38G.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Review: Delmira Floral Sheer Lace Unlined Bra

I liked the first Delmira I tried enough to try a 2nd style. That was the Floral Lace - yes, the names are, unhelpfully, all similar, though the styles completely different. As with that style, The Floral Sheer Lace seems to be meant to mimic the style -though luckily for me, not the harsh structure- of another well-known bra; in this case, Panache's Envy.

Image result for panache envy
Panache Envy  
Delmira Floral Sheer Lace  



I've always liked the look of the Envy and this bra echoes it with the subtle checkerboard pattern. The lace on the cups is much more plain, but then this is a $15 bra. The lavender colorway is muted and very pretty. 

Comfort & Fit

Band.   A firm, silky non-mesh with 3 hooks. Nice. 

Cups.   The fabrics are soft and conform well. A moderate amount of stretch, both top & bottom, though the lace is less stretchy/flimsy than Panache. Also, there is a thin strip sewn along the upper cup to prevent gaping on FOB shapes. When I saw this, I was not happy, but it turns out to not be particularly tight, and to still have some stretch, so it doesn't cause cutting in for me. Though it does cause a slight line on my larger boob.

Wires.   As with the other Delmira, they are slightly higher at the sides than I like, say, 1/2" so. But the wires are softer than UK wires, so they do not dig. Also, this style does not have the standard winging-back UK shape as the other style did. These wires are more U-shaped and narrow and stay very close to the boob. Huge pluses for me. I did bend the outer wire tips outward very slightly, to better conform to my muscle 'n fluff in that area.

Shape.   Rounded and moderate; a bit more projected than the 1st Delmira style I tried. Part of the improved lift I'm getting here is due to dropping a cup size, which I knew I'd need to do, and the rest to a slightly less stretchy fabric and the addition of a vertical seam in the bottom of the cup. 


Straps.  They're on the thin side, but that's not the problem. They do not lay flat near the adjusters, and kind of bunch up underneath:
Also, say hello to my 1930s old clawfoot tub
This did not turn out to be as irritating as I expected, and I really only felt it towards the end of the day. Straps are otherwise comfy.

Seams.   They are quite comfy and non-irritating, but the horizontal seam shows through clothing to an unusual degree. I don't usually care much about seams and a completely smooth look is not a goal of mine. However, I was surprised to find that these showed through a heavy-weight, non-clingy cotton knit.
The seams don't appear especially heavy duty, and they do lie flat, so perhaps it is simply where they happen to fall on the boob that makes them so noticeable.

Overall, this is a good choice for striking a balance of comfort, moderate support, beauty and quality - at a crazy low pricepoint. I do find that I slightly prefer the first Delmira I tried. I love that lace pattern and the rounder shape.

When Do I Wear It?

To work, mainly. It's comfy enough for a full day of wear, and gives me moderate control and lift. I do tend opt for it when I'm wearing a pattern, or a cardigan, that will camouflage the seam show-through. 

Sizing: 40F   Clearly, the cups run huge. I can't even recall the last time I fit into an F. This fits me like a 38GG, and the cup volume is a very good fit for me. The band runs a bit snug, so is a good candidate for sister sizing. I'd suggest that non-lovers of tight bands consider going up a band size. And FOT and balanced shapes will need to drop a cup size; FOB might even need to drop 2. Which means you're unlikely to be sized out. E.g.  FOB 34H would fit fine in a 36F/G in this brand.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Review: Glamorise Elegance Underwire Lace Bra

Although I've had mixed results with this brand, I hate to give up on it because the cushioned wires (Wonderwire) is such a wonderful -& inexplicably rare- feature in large cup bras. This Elegance is a completely different style to the Front-Close Elegance I tried, which had a very pointy shape and a very different fit.


I think this is my favorite look of the Glamorise styles I've tried. The colorway is Lilac, which is a muted periwinkle/gray -much less gray than it appears here- that works beautifully as a softer alternative to black.
The 'lace' in the name is not accurate. The fabric is a double-layer trellis patterned mesh that is semi-sheer; together with the sheer gore it reads lighter on the body and allows your skin tone to show through a bit. The periwinkle trim and bows give a subtle splash of color. The quality is moderately high, especially for $35.


Overall, it is a moderately comfy bra. But the fabric choices keep it from being a very comfy bra.

Fabric.  Double-mesh cups. Mesh is never a fave choice for me as I just find that it is more prone to chafing issues than other fabrics. However, this is a very soft mesh and so that didn't cause problems, but I would have preferred a single layer mesh in the top cup, which would allow for a bit of stretch. Better still, some actual stretch lace would have been welcome.

Band.  A lovely soft microfiber fabric. I wish the cups had been made of this fabric. The difference in comfort between this and a crappy power mesh is really evident. This is one of the comfier bands I've tried lately. Standard 3-hooks, well spaced. There is also picot trim, which is almost always simply irritating & I wish designers would just knock it off already. Freya and Fantasie do this a lot. Luckily, the picot edging beneath the cups flips up almost immediately and stays that way. See pic below.

Wires.  The Wonderwire is a great idea, but not very well executed. Instead of the (extremely comfy) foam-wrapped wires completely encased in soft fabric, such as Wacoal uses, Glamorise uses a padded flap that covers the wire. 

Unfortunately, the edging of the fabric -which is satin, and therefore soft- creates a seamed piped edging where there really doesn't need to be one; this sits directly against the sensitive underboob and is simply not as comfy as a fully encased wire. Also, 'padded' is not the same as foam; it's nice, but it's not blissful, and much of the comfort is off-set by that piped edging on the flaps and the picot edging beneath.

Fit & Shape

Cups.   These fit quite well, and though they are meant for a balanced shape they do not cut in on top. They are little higher at the sides than I prefer, so sometimes I am aware of the extra fabric there. 

Sizing.  This runs a little larger in cup & band than their bandless styles. I originally tried a 42G, which should equate to a UK 38GG, but actually fit me like a 40GG/H. I even had extra room in the top of the cup, which is unusual for me; a FOB shape would definitely need to size down.

Shape.   Profile shape is not the greatest, especially in the larger size, 42G. You can also see the extra armpit fabric, which is usually a UK style problem.

 And in the 40G.

Some of this is due to the non-stretch fabric and the fact that I'm FOT. But the top seam placement also does not promote a rounded shape.

When Do I Wear It?

Under clothing, the shape is better than you'd expect, especially from the front. It also gives a 'locked & loaded' feel that is not constrictive; it does not feel like a lotta bra, and is fairly comfy for a full day. So this is a good work bra when I want a secure, bounceless fit. I often reach for it when I want to wear a flowy sleeveless top with a cardigan, a combo which will soften the profile shape anyway. 
Size:  40G

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Heavy Periods? Yeah, You Can Change That

I received a couple of questions in response to my post about Menstrual Cups for the Sensitive  relating to heavy menstrual flow and cup capacity. It is true that the heavier your flow, the more often you will need to empty your cup, and/or go with a larger sized cup - defeating the comfort of a smaller cup. While I myself have always had a four day period of light-to-medium flow, I completely understand the heavy flow problem. Let me explain.

I had always been accustomed to pretty regular periods, never lasting longer than four days, and fairly cramp-free. In fact, the only real symptoms I experienced were boob swelling and salty cravings. I always opted for OB Regular, or better yet, Slender Junior if I could find them, and a thin liner. I have never had any need for those crazy-absorbent super 'overnight' pads or tampons. Before menstrual cups became widely available, I used to use an old, small (size 65) diaphragm left over from the late-'80s when I suddenly became unable to tolerate the pill. When I moved to the UK and got the far better cervical cap, I ditched it immediately. But I hung onto it for years because it worked beautifully for use at night during periods. (Cervical caps don't work for that because they are so awesomely teeny.)

Just for fun, here's a cervical cap (hello, old friend!) & a diaphragm, pic courtesy of the awesome British National Health Service (NHS) where you can go to a Family Planning Centre and get free contraceptive care (at least you could c.1991):
Image result for small  ortho diaphragm

I remember this period fondly, before I found the Copper-T IUD, which lasts 12 years, is 99+% effective and is oddly unknown in the US. They were my BFF's for 20 years; I can't believe I ever put up with the Pill's side effects in my 20s. That was before I had met Iudia. (just like menstrual products, we are ridiculously far behind)
When the SoftCup came out, I thought: Great! Because that's basically all it is: a disposable diaphragm for period use. Yeah, not great. Not at all. The thing is basically shaped like a huge clunky diaphragm - much bigger than I would ever have been able to use - and worst of all, it has a thick, clunky square-edged(!) hard plastic rim. Not the soft, rounded spring of a diaphragm. Again: you might as well just put in your special order for a UTI. 

Here's an idea of different sizes; the SoftCup resembles that frisbee-sized option in the back:
Image result for small  ortho diaphragm

I digress. (Anyone who reads this blog will not be surprised by that.) Anyhoo. After 25 years of having easily predictable and manageable periods, a year ago my period didn't come. Since I'm 51, I thought: this is it! Menopause is here. Yeah, no. Perimenopause was here. When my period returned, after a 3-month hiatus, it did so with a vengeance. Lasting for 20 days, 10 of which were heavy bleeding. 

Yeah. That's what I thought: W....T....F?! Although my B.S. is in Women's Studies (now called Gender Studies, but whatevs) and my specific area of emphasis was women's reproductive health [irony alert] that means I knew a great deal about contraceptive options...and precious little about perimenopause. Because, I dunno, I figured I'd get to that later, you know, when it applied to me. So. I was shocked by the level of blood loss, which amounted to 7 times my usual amount. (I actually got a test for anemia afterward). Worst of all, I had to get up in the middle of the night because even the medium menstrual cup, normally enough for a full 8 hours, could not cope with the amount of flow. I instantly had So.Much.Empathy for my heavy flow friends. 

I very quickly did a huge amount of research into this whole issue of heavy flow. In my case, it's called 'flooding' and many women will have at least one episode of it when they reach perimenopause, and it tends to worsen. Or, it can just be a onetime thing. I was hoping it was that. I came across so many desperate women online who were at the point of surgical intervention. I tend to be a little crunchy, but also very pragmatic. I research naturopathic and conventional approaches, then take the best and leave the rest. While I hoped that 20 day apocalyptic adventure was a one-off, because I tend to be a pessimist, I immediately ordered two herbal supplements (in liquid extract form) on Amazon:
  • Lady's Mantle and Shepherd's Purse
These are time-honored plants for reducing blood flow, both menstruation and post-partum; they are usually used in tandem, with Shepherd's Purse being the stronger and faster-acting. There is lots of fascinating history. For example, Lady's Mantle is so-named for it's resemblance to the cloak worn by medieval women, which fell in graceful pleats; the leaves are fuzzy and hold dewdrops, which then catch refracted light and sparkle like jewels, hence its other name, Dewcup. I happen to have an English-style cottage garden and Lady's Mantle was used to edge the borders. So I made my own tincture by soaking the dried leaves in vodka, but while I waited the month for this to be ready, I bought some on Amazon. 
 Image result for Lady's Mantle

Shepherd's Purse is aimed more toward reducing blood loss quickly, and it tastes pretty astringent. So named because the shape is reminiscent of the bags traditionally carried by shepherds.

Image result for Shepherd's PurseImage result for traditional Shepherd's bag
Good thing too, because just 3 weeks later, the same thing happened. This time I used the Lady's Mantle and Shepherd's Purse, multiple doses a day, and after 5 days the bleeding reduced and slowed, finally ending after 10 days. OK, so they cut the flow by 1/3, and the duration in half - 10 days is better than 20 days - but still, not acceptable. 

Also, while I usually prefer liquid tinctures, in this case, the amount required is a lot, and the cost would become higher. So I found a capsule formula that worked even better and is more cost effective. I took 2 capsules, twice a day for the first couple of days. You can take much higher doses if you're really trying to get the bleeding under control. It has the uninspiring name of Menstrual Reg. The first two ingredients are Lady's Mantle and Shepherd's Purse. There's also Yarrow, Chasteberry, and False Unicorn, all herbs with a long, honorable history as remedies for women.
I did more research. And learned two very simple, and inexpensive, options:
  • Ibuprofen. For reals. Several studies have been done showing that this alone can reduce your flow by 30-50%. That's huge. It appears you're likely to get the best results if you start taking it right when your period begins, or better yet, a day or two before it starts. And if you take the Rx level dose of 600-800mg a couple times a day, which is 3 or 4 Advil, or 1 or 2 Aleve. The 2nd article describes just taking the low OTC dose of 200mg, and a resulting reduction of 25%. So, you can try either. (Usual disclaimers of "I'm not a health professional, do your own research, use common sense, & make your own decisions, yadda yadda" apply.) 
Specifics here
And here

Personally, I found this did work to reduce flow by about 25%, however I only used the low dose because I have one kidney and NSAIDs are one of the few things I need to use very conservatively; otherwise, I would have opted for the higher dose. But in the end, I decided to simply address the root reason that my flow was so heavy in the first place, with:
  • Progesterone cream. For me, this completely resolved the heavy flow, restoring my normal, light 4-day period, within just one cycle. 
Basically, when flow is heavy it very often means there is an imbalance in the hormone ratio, with estrogen being high, and progesterone low. Not that either of those hormone levels are too high/low in & of themselves, but rather that their ratio to one another is out of balance. 

In real (as opposed to highly scientific)  terms, here's how it plays out: estrogen is what encourages the uterine lining to grow rich and fluffy, but fragile. Progesterone is what turns off the switch and says 'OK, lining, you're fluffy enough: stop and stabilize'. But when estrogen steamrolls over progesterone, the lining gets pretty over-the-top (like a house of cards, the bigger it gets, the more unstable) and then there's no smoothing out, no gradual easing into the shedding process. Result: lining releases chaotically, and because it grew needlessly fluffy, its got a lot to release. Hello, heavy, long period. But if you can steady that teeter-totter between estrogen and progesterone....Yahtzee! You can restore moderate, efficient bleeding.

Other good indicators that your estrogen level is too high in relation to your progesterone? You're approaching perimenopause (ages 35-50) or you've had issues with PCOS, or you know you have a short post-luteal phase (often concurrent with PCOS). That means that the time between ovulation and menstruation is too short. So, if the average period is 28 days, then ovulation is usually around day 14. But if your post-luteal phase is short, that means ovulation is happening around day 18 or 20, with you period starting 8-10 days later, due to that shortage in progresterone. Restoring that balance does all kinds of other good things for PMS, fertility, mood swings, etc, but that's all beyond our scope, here. This post is already in danger of becoming a novel.

So how did I use the progesterone cream? I just applied around a 1/4 - 1/2 tsp alternating areas with thinner skin (insides of wrists, belly, tops of feet) every day for 10 days out of the month, specifically that post-luteal phase above, so day 15-25. It sounds complicated, but it really isn't. I was pretty lackadaisical about it; I didn't measure exactly, just glopped some out and eyeballed it. And I wasn't too exact about the days either, just aiming for 1/2way into my cycle. 

Didn't matter. The results were fast and everything I'd hoped for. The first cycle I did this, my period was normal. And has been every month since. I occasionally still use Lady's Mantle tincture or some Advil on the first day of my period, if it seems to be on heavy side, but most often, I don't even need that. It's pretty incredible that a $15 cream so effectively stopped the escalating pattern of heavy periods coming every 3 weeks and lasting 10-20 days.

The brand of cream isn't as important as that it contains actual progesterone (not just yams). I've used a few different brands I've had good results with, and they are not the most spendy, either.

NOW products have always been reliable for me, and very reasonably priced. 
Smoky Mountain Naturals is also a decent choice. LifeFlo, too. The best is probably Ona's Naturals. More spendy, but also 30% more concentrated. Plus I like supporting small, woman-owned companies.
(No, there are no affiliate links; this is just what I use myself.)  

So, this was the result of all my desperate research, and what worked for me.  The important thing is that you don't have to put up with needlessly heavy bleeding that disrupts your life. I've never minded my periods, and as I've grown older -without getting too feminist goddess-worshippy here- I've come to kind of, not exactly enjoy them, but to appreciate them. 

Bottom line: It always feels great to realize that you can gather knowledge, consider all of the choices, and then take control of your own health.