Friday, March 25, 2016

Review: Natori Plus Satin Fleur (In which, all of the angels sang)

Finally. My bloody-mindedness perseverance with this once-favorite brand of mine, has paid off. Finally. On my 4th attempt at finding a style that worked, and cracking the new sizing, I have been rewarded. Did I mention, finally.

The Fleur
 

Let's just get to part I care about most:

Comfort

FabricYes. Yes yes yes! Here is where the faeries wept in bliss. Silky satiny goodness. It is double-ply, yet still very light. It is actually silkier, softer and thinner than my previous gold standard for this, the Anita Twin. And it certainly gives a better shape. 

Wires.  Perfection. They are happily narrow, with just the right amount of flexibility. This means they are not Panache rigid-harsh, but not so Bali-flimsy they will distort under the weight of your boobs and stab you in the inner arm.




Band.  Joyously, the band is of the same soft satin as as the cups. No scratchy mesh. It is the standard Natori band: a wider band, with 3 well-spaced hooks; it anchors well, without digging or needing to be overly tight.

Cups.  I was surprised to find that the cups are seamless. The impression of the photo is of a 2-part diagonal seam, with the upper cup stretch lace, and the lower, satin. I didn't even realize that Natori had a non-padded seamless style. All other styles I have by the brand have a single vertical seam. Nope. That is simply a deep band of applique lace. The cup beneath is seamless satin. Basically irritation-proof.

Beauty

 Fleur is sleek and lovely, even in the 8 a.m. gloomy Alaskan 'light'. 




The satin fabric has a really pretty sheen, especially in this deep seaglass hue. The styling is minimalist and would be quite plain without the deep band of lace. 


Fit

Wire height.  The wires on all the new Natori styles run taller. I prefer the lower height of N by Natori wires, but they are still narrow and flexible, and so still comfy. 

Shape.  Excellent. I get a better shape from Fleur than I do many seamed bras. The outer cup fabric is thicker and inner is molded for quite a bit of depth, so the cups accommodate a good deal of projection and provide a lot of lift. They seem to be meant for a balanced shape, but they adjusted to my full-on-top shape, and I believe full-on-bottom ladies would fare equally well. 

The shape under clothing is exactly what I want 80% of the time: rounded, moderately projected and lifted, centered, and not too wide. This is an ultra fine-gauge sweater, and you can see a faint line where the lace is, but this doesn't bother me. Personally, I'm a little unnerved by the 'breastplate of absolutely smooth orbs' look afforded by thickly padded Tshirt bras.



Sizing.  The band runs loose, partly due to the fabric, but the new Natoris all run looser in the band than the old. A 38 fits well; the equivalent of a 40 in the older N by Natori styles. The cups also have more capacity; a full cup size more. So sister-sizing won't work as well, but also, there is no need to size up anymore. Fewer women will be sized out.
 
Compromises 
 Here's where the angels subside into modest humming.

Straps.  They are the standard new Natori straps - not at all an improvement over the old. On the thin side, though adequate. But they are not really restricted stretch; that, along with slightly more width, would really make this bra unbeatable for comfort and support. The straps do not dig in, but I do notice they are not as comfy and secure as Freya or Empreinte straps. Though they are more comfy than Curvy Kate. And they are more centered, so narrow shoulders will rejoice.

Tacking.  This tacks as usual for me with Natori. The gore floats 1/2". This is fine by me. I don't care for a hard tack, and the fit is very secure. Even or bottom-full ladies will likely get at least a soft tack.

When Do I Wear It?  A lot. And I plan on more. I purchased this one for $27 on amazon, and found another on eBay. Fleur works well with both knits and structured clothing, giving a round, moderately projected profile. And a full day's worth of comfort. Because it works so well for me, I fully expect Natori to discontinue it, like Luxe, because, that's how it goes, right? 

Size:  40G  (I have to wear it on the middle or tightest hooks)
My correct size in Fleur is 38H and the rest I'm buying are in that size.
 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Review: Paramour by Felina, Captivate (i.e., possibly the most uncomfy bra ever)

This is the most uncomfortable bra my boobs have had the misfortune to meet in a very long time. If you've had the displeasure of spending any time with a Cleo, then you've already made the acquaintance of Paramour, who is apparently Cleo's equally evil American boob-twin cousin. She, too, will charm you with her (considerably more elegant) beauty; and make you fall in love with the way your boobs look while hoisted in her barbed clutches. But is it worth it? Is it really....? Let's find out.

Beauty
 
Captivate is just gorgeous. And yes, your boobs will look a-mayyyy-zing. Cakes on a plate, swathed in lace, with a sexy keyhole. 

And here it is on real life 38GG boobs:

 
And you will also be counting the minutes until it can be ripped from your body. Because it is that uncomfortable.

(Dis)Comfort - oh look, a new category

Wires.  Let's just start here, because they are the most heinous comfort offender. Extremely high. Flat-as-a-pancake (oh, if only they had been pancake soft). Sharp. Rigid and harsh. And with a burlap-textured casing. Did I mention flat? As in board-like, with no hint that they have any clue the female body is not 2-dimensional.

Side stays.  I am not a fan of these at the best of times. Though some brands can do them well, i.e., a softly flexible second line of support. Triumph and Empreinte come to mind. Needless to say, Paramour does not do them well, and these are the tallest, harshest, most rigid and jabbing side stays I have ever encountered. I may actually have uttered "Are you f**king kidding me?!" as I tried to get a side profile pic while simultaneously trying to avoid one of them puncturing a lung.
 



They are just almost indescribably awful. Except, of course, I just described them. It's as if they broke off the top of a plastic fork and just jammed it into the band of the bra. You know, like you do.
Fit
Frankly, who cares?  At this level of discomfort, even if the fit was perfection I would never get back those hours of my life spent in hideous discomfort. But, for the sake of information:

Straps.  Very, very short. I had to fully extend them. The straps themselves are fine. Much improved over the thin, scratchy straps of Felina's Harlow, if you've worn that. 
Band.  Really snug. The 40 fit like a looser 36. 
Cup.  Slightly small. Not much stretch. Nice shape.


The gore is quite wide, but due to the rigid wires, it tacks well.

When Do I Wear It?
Hahaha. Around a quarter-past-never. And I can't imagine ever wanting to try anything else by this brand.
Size: 40G




Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Review: Tutti Rouge Fifi

This is perhaps my favorite Tutti style, after the lustrous Betty. Alas, Fifi and I did not live happily ever after. My only unqualified success with Tutti, comfort-wise, remains the Liliana. 

Beauty
But, see what I mean? Is she not 18th century, baroque Rococo fabulousness? Lace, polka dots, ruffles, and tiny rosebuds. 

 http://sophisticatedpair.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/fifi.jpg


 Fit
       ....Annnnd here's why we start to go off the rails 

Wires.  A bit too rigid for my preference. Like the Nichole, I had to bend the wires at the gore, as well as at the sides. Something I rarely have to do. But these actually curve inward at the gore, and they would dig horribly if not bent outward into a neutral position. However, the width is good. I do not have any empty space at the bottom of the cup, as I often do with Tutti's. Although the usual sharp dip at the base of the wire is still present.

Cup.  A distinctly odd shape. I was excited at first that there was plenty of room in the upper and inner cup. And I love the roundness and more subtle profile that a vertical seam provides, but the Fifi has a very defined apex, giving a more upward pointed shape.


This results in oddly flattened shape, as if my boobs are pressed up against a window, for e.g.
It could simply be that the cup shape is intended for full on bottom boobs, which the cups would form into a more rounded shape. With my full on top boobs, I already have plenty of inner and upper fullness that fills that area of the cup naturally, so the shape I get is....this. But I'm not a seamstress so this is just a theory.

Comfort
The rigidity of the wires means that there can't be true comfort for me. Ditto with the mesh fabric. The lace ruffle below the band never bothers me with Tutti. The fact that it is a ruffle means it floats gently against the skin, and never digs in, the way it would if it were stitched into place as a flat edging, as say in the Fantasie Rebecca, which causes me a lot of irritation. The straps are on the thin side and very wide-set. I am broad-shouldered, and they are right to the edges of mine. If you are narrow-shouldered, I think this would almost certainly cause issues. 

When Do I Wear It?  Very rarely. I had hoped Fifi would serve as a rare neutral bra for me under lighter tops. But though she is gorgeous, I just do not find the lovely Fifi at all comfy. I have worn her for periods of 2 or 3 hours on weekends - and am really happy to take her off at that point. This is another of my vast collection that should really be re-homed via eBay.
Size:  38GG
 






Sunday, March 13, 2016

Update: Natori Plus Decadence, post Franken-bra revision

So I decided to try removing the hideous, bright white, support sling/tube sock thingies (SSTT's) from the cups of Decadence. 

Just to see if it would at least make the bra wearable. I would not have bothered had I paid full price, but as I previously loved the brand, wanted to see if I could save this one.

You'll recall we last saw the SSTT here:

  





                                     And after removal:

There was actual sun that day, which is why the bra is showing its actual IRL color. I had to stand by my front door (on the SW side of the house) to capture the very fleeting sunlight before it dropped beyond the huge mountains, so I just gambled that the postman wouldn't come early and be scandalized.



Though the bra is a bit more wearable, I still can't settle into the cups. Even without the dreadful SSTT's, they are simply too tall and shallow. The width of the wires is just right, but the height is insane. Especially when combined with an incredibly shallow and bizarrely elongated cup. It is difficult to visualize the boob shape and body type for which this would be an ideal fit. The cups are so tall, that it would require a woman taller than my own height of 5'9", with very low-set - but tall and shallow - boobs, with almost no projection. 

So that was a Fail. I still plan to try the Pure Allure in a size (or 2) down, but it's beginning to look like the newer cup shapes, and especially the new scaling in larger cup sizes, is going to mean Natori will no longer be my go-to brand for comfort and beauty. 

Sadness.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Review: Fantasie Esme

This is an unusual outlier among Fantasie's usual offerings: seamless, non-padded, non-projected, with incredibly low and wide-ish wires. 




Fit:  

Band: runs snug, but is usual for Fantasie. It is only 2 hooks, but it's a stable, firm band.

Cups: Seamless, wide, and shallow. Full-on-top friendly. Runs about 1/2 cup large. I had slight wrinkling at the top when I was a 36GG. But now, at a 38GG, it still fits well. Esme functions as a T-shirt bra, but gives the opposite shape to their fairly iconic padded and/or molded T-shirt bras. The effect is minimizing, with boobs held close to the chest:





Straps:  kicked in, and a hybrid of center-pull and almost T-back. They really angle in at the back. Useful if you have narrow shoulders, or just want to give your shoulders a break and have your straps in a different spot.  

Wires:  unusually wide, especially for Fantasie. And low. Wow, do I mean low. I couldn't contort my arm to get a good pic, but they are almost - dare I say it, me, the high wire hater - too low. They will actually dig into my fluffy bits by the end of the day. They're also wider than I need. Anita wide. 

TackThe gore doesn't tack well because the cup is quite shallow. I can always tell when Righty, my bigger boob, is making a break for some extra space.



Beauty
The fabric is subtly pinstriped. And there is a tiny tuxedo bow at the gore and base of the straps. The straps have a soft tiny ribbed texture. It's a nice clean-lined design, but not boring.

Comfort

The Esme is comfy - with caveats:

  •  The wires are softish, but they are so low that they do not dig into the armpits, so their extra-wide shape doesn't bother me. However, there isn't any cushioned tip on the ends, so they can poke into the soft flesh a bit. 
  • The 2-hook band is never ideal for me. I'd prefer the smooth comfort and support of 3 hooks.

When Do I Wear It?

Under loose flowy tops, because I know Esme will not give me a boob tent.  When I want a lightweight, non-padded T-shirt bra, with zero show-through, and a secure no-bounce fit. With tank tops or shells with a narrow neckline and cut-away sleeveless fit; Esme excels at disappearing here.

Size:  38G

Friday, March 4, 2016

Review: Tutti Rouge Mae/Sophia

This is Mae in Deep Berry. She is the same as Sophia, which I have in an unusual mint bluey-green that is very pretty - on someone else, with different coloring. But the Mae is a gorgeous, juicy jeweled berry.



Beauty - ohhhh, lots of it.

Tutti Rouge's aesthetic is always stunning.  I have 5 different styles - all very different shapes - but all are objectively beautiful. The brand is famous for its small touches and attention to detail: the heart-shaped strap adjusters; lace ruffles; detailed straps; embroidery on the clasp.

Comfort 

The materials are good quality, and comfy in and of themselves. Cotton lined, padded lower cup; very soft tulle upper cup. All of Tutti's straps are quite slender, but, surprisingly, they are not uncomfortable. This is due to the scaffolding effect of the intensely structured cups. It reads, and feels, like 'a lotta bra'. For me, this is a welcome effect if I have swelling, but otherwise, not so much.

Fit

Cups   They are of a 1/2-padded style not often seen in UK or US bras; it's a popular style in Polish brands, however. Meant to give the coverage & structure of a padded bra, with the shaping of a seamed bra. The bottom is padded and very structured, while the top is completely the opposite. Stretch lace would have been a better choice, frankly. The soft tulle fabric of the upper cup is completely unfitted and has no stretch. So, even on full-on-top shapes, it sort of flutters about loosely. This isn't visible under clothing, but is just an odd design. Overall, there is just more cup than I prefer.



Band:   Mae/Sophia has a 3-hook band, unlike the Liliana. I do prefer this, but because the cups are so structured, it matters less. The band is comfy, softish mesh. 
 
Compromises
 
Wires   A little firmer and taller than is ideal for me. Not Panache-harsh, but firm. I do bend out the upper outer wire tips to better conform to the outer flare of my own shape there. The main flaw - & it is present on all Tuttis - is the very steep dip at the bottom off the wires, and the way it dips way down below the band. I find this uncomfortable, and basically a recipe for digging whenever you are sitting down. It's just a really unfortunate design choice in construction. It gives the illusion that the band is riding up, but it is actually quite snug, and sitting level. Like so:

Cup seam.   The transition between the padded part of the cup and the loose tulle is not smooth; the seam is thick and raised, forming a ridge. I always have a deep red mark across my boob when I take the bra off. While both fabrics are very comfy in  themselves - that cotton lining is genius - the way that they are joined negates a lot of that comfort.

When Do I Wear It?   Under thin, clingy knits where I'd want the coverage of a T-shirt bra. Or, with a dress that has a high waistline, and can accommodate some projection. The Mae is not in regular rotation because I just prefer a lot less coverage and architectural structure in a daily bra. 
Size 38GG