Friday, April 29, 2016

Natori Pure Allure Attempt #3 (we have a winner!)

So I have chronicled my never-say-die attempts at this style in the new Natori:  Attempt #1   and,  Attempt #2

And here, finally, I achieve a decent fit. The good news is that the new Natoris appear to be quite consistent in their sizing (recap: keep your cup size, drop a band size). 

But first, let me just go off topic for this public service announcement. Because bears. Also, because where else but in Alaska would the term SOB be used, in an official capacity - & without irony - as the agreed upon name for the State Office Building:

Yes, I know it's crooked. No, I can't do better on a Monday a.m.
 That's currently posted in the elevator of my office building. Anyhoo, now that you have all shared in my morning elevator ride to work, back to Pure Allure.

Comfort 

Here is the pic of the fit I get in the 38H. Irony: to get the best fit, I was forced to get .... beige. I seriously dislike beige, and it was only my desperate need for a T-shirt bra alternative for thin summer knits - & utter failure to score any other color on sale, even in sister-sizes - that made me break down and buy this bland beige.



It's pretty comfy. Far more so than a thickly padded T-shirt bra. The padding is very thin; I'm guessing 1/8" as opposed to 1/4" standard padded bra. I did not overheat and the fabric moved with me. 

Cups.   A surprisingly friendly shape to full-on-tops. Though I don't think it would prove unfriendly to full-on-bottoms; there's no tendency toward gaping, and no cutting in either. A very universal shape, actually, with quite a bit of depth.

Wires.  Very low. A good inch (or more) lower than Natori's Satin Fleur. In fact, almost as low as the Fantasie Esme, which has the lowest wires in the history of ever. This is a good thing for me. It does give a different kind of support; it cradles, supporting from the bottom, rather than encasing, corralling from the sides. I like that, but it's a preference. The shape is also narrow, so the front and center shaping remains.

Much of the discomfort I experience with bras comes from the outer wire hitting pressure points, or digging; sometimes due to height, but often simply from rigidity or shape. The casing of Natori is better than Fantasie's, so I don't experience any dig-in or pressure of the wire tip through the casing. 

Tack.  This is the best tack I've ever gotten from Natori. A very nice soft tack, under 1/2" float. Partially due to the perfect height of the low gore, but also because the cup has  more room for upper and inner fullness than any other style I've tried in the brand. 

Compromises

Straps.  It's a bit of a flaw in Natori's design decision-making that none of the new styles have restricted-stretch straps. It's really a no-brainer in F-cup and up.  I am aware of the feel of the straps because they are taking on slightly more weight than they should, solely because the decision was made not to use restricted-stretch. I really hope they rethink this in future styles. The straps could still remain on the narrow side but would disperse weight across the shoulders better. It's not a dealbreaker, but it's a flaw that could have been easily avoided. 

Band.   The power mesh is not especially soft, and is no firmer or more supportive than previous iterations in a softer mesh. 

When Will I Wear It?

Any time I would wear a T-shirt bra. For me, that means only under very thin or clingy knits. Think modal fabric. Or, under high necklines, when I want to avoid the awkward shape a too-boosted balconette can give. 


Size:  38H  (consistent across all styles I've tried in new Natori, so that's nice)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Empreinte Grace (in which the angels sing a second verse)

First, let's establish which bra we're talking about; Empreinte can be confusing.



I tried the Low Neck version:  
















There is also a Full Cup version:


One sentence review: Now that I have met Grace, and found her to be deeply fabulous, I will be spending less time with my Curvy Kates, which are the equivalent of mean girl friends compared to the gracious Grace.

I'd seen Grace, but was on the fence for quite awhile, afraid she might be 'too much bra' for my liking. (I'd only seen the full cup version reviewed or available on eBay). But this review made me think she was worth a try:  Review of Grace on hourglassy.com  And when a Low Neck version came up, it seemed like fate.

Beauty

Grace is quite delicate looking,(please ignore those crazy morning curl tendrils, pre-taming; I was so excited at the feel & fit, I took these before my 2nd cup of coffee).


The lace pattern features large flowers, which renders it basically opaque. I'm still trying to figure out which flower it is: pansy...? dahlia...? I think it looks most like cosmos. Anyhoo. The lace is very flat and completely invisible under clothing. It is also very strong. I cannot imagine any situation that would allow you to put a fingernail through the lace - something you can easily imagine happening with Panache Jasmine. The color is a warm tomato red; as I have pale skin with an olive cast, I prefer a cool, cherry red instead. But this is a personal preference, and the red is still very nice and infinitely preferable to the dreaded beige.

Comfort & Fit
(Do settle in, while I babble on for awhile)

Cups.  Deep, and with plenty of room for my upper fullness. This is a very full-on-top friendly shape. Note how happy the tops of my boobs are, especially if you compare how sad they looked being wrangled into last week's bra. They give a weightless feel that is quite rare, and the mark of a great bra. The cups are seamless, but offer some rather amazing lift:

Shape.   Very rounded, but not orb-like. There is a defined apex and plenty of projection. The silhouette is much nicer than the round, wide, undefined 'boob mound' padded T-shirt bras often give.

Neckline.  The 'Low Neck' designation simply means balconette. It is in no way an actual low necked or 1/2 cup style. The gore is still fairly tall, but lower than the full cup styles I have tried previously, Capucine and Rose.  I find this style to be a better fit for me than the full cup. 

Tack.  The lower height allows a better fit for my relatively closer-set boobs. Although the gore tacks the same as the Rose: it floats 1/2" or so. This seems to be a consequence of my decidedly full-on-top shape, rather than a need for more cup depth - there's plenty of depth; it's just located in the upper and lower cup areas, rather than the inner center area near the gore. Tellingly, I find this to be the case in all of my most comfy bras; they are supportive, but the wires are soft enough to allow my natural shape to assert itself. Whereas in the bras were I get perfect tack (Curvy Kate, Panache, Tutti Rouge) the reason is because the wires are more rigid and are wrangling my boobs by force to fit the shape of the cup & wires. 

StrapsReally nicely designed. Wide and flat, they distribute weight beautifully. The picot trim, bows, and subtle stitched detailing make them pretty, tailored, and well-proportioned. Not center-pull, but not too widely-spaced. They rival the straps of the Anita Twin and contribute a great deal to the weightless feel. 

Band.  Stable and comfy, similar to the other Empreintes I've tried. The Grace band runss slightly looser than the other styles I've tried; not a full size loose, but enough to mention. I would actually consider a size down in this one, whereas I am happy with the 40 (90) in the other styles.

Compromises

Fabric.  This is the only thing that could be improved upon. The fabric could be a little softer. Part of that is a Me thing. At the end of a 9-hour day, one of two things things will usually be irritating me:  too rough fabric, or too tall/rigid wires. 

Buttery-soft microfiber fabric with some stretch will always be the comfort gold standard for me. But: lightweight and airy, preferably stretch, lace is the silver standard. The Grace is rigid lace, but flat and smooth, and very light. The rigid lace and the substantial straps combine to provide weightless lift, which is wonderful. The only thing I notice at the end of a long day is that the fabric along the upper outer cup, where it runs along the underarm and connects to the band can feel slightly rough. It is not noticeable until then, and is the only minor quibble I have. The Grace is otherwise overwhelmingly wonderful.

When Do Don't I Wear It?

There's really no situation where Grace isn't a great choice. She is invisible under thin knits; provides enough lift for a lower neckline blouse with limited bust room; gives a moderately projected, yet rounded, shape that works under structured clothing. 

Size:  40F (fits me like a UK 40G or loose 38GG)




Sunday, April 17, 2016

Review: Anita Edelweiss (in which I get my frump on)

The Anita Twin is still my ultimate go-to for comfort, i.e. it is the bra I can least feel on my body. In fact, it is pretty much the only bra, in the history of ever, that I've actually forgotten I'm wearing. There is no question of which bra I would choose for a long plane trip. But so far, that comfort success has not been true of any of the four other styles I have tried in the brand. The seamed styles in particular have a really frumpy aesthetic, and significantly less comfort. 

Note that, even on their model, the gore is nowhere near tacking
Unfortunately, the seams and shape appear very different in a the larger sizes. To wit:



Comfort & Fit


Fabric. Described as 'soft opaque microsimplex lining'. It's a very fine-textured, silky, almost batiste feeling fabric. The embroidered top section has no stretch, but is very soft against the skin.

Band.  Not the usual Anita soft microfiber fabric band. It's power mesh, of which I am pretty much on record as being a firm non-fan. It fits as usual for the brand. Their bands run snug, regardless of the fabric, and I've never seen anything but 3-hooks, widely spaced; a very stable, anchored band that does not require a tight fit. 

Cups.  They run a full cup size large, compared to others in the brand.

Straps.  A different, and interesting, construction. Very substantial, but smooth, and connected to the side of the cup, which you'd think would give better lift, but, uhhhh, doesn't. 



Seams.  Unlike the stock pic above, the seams are completely horizontal in this size. Something I did not expect, and would never seek out. It's frankly a terrible choice of seam structure, giving a matronly, frumpy silhouette on most boob shapes, but especially on full-on-top boobs.













I mean, yikes.











And in profile, the frumpitude is 
really hi-lit in all its glory:


Too-wide wires, and in this case, also too tall. The vertical side seam is basically defeated in its purpose of bringing tissue forward by the wide wires and horizontal seams - both of which are at odds with creating a centered, forward shape.








Beauty

The silky, delicate embroidery and the finely textured fabric do have an understated loveliness. 


The quality of materials is very high, as is the workmanship. The seams lay extremely flat, with zero puckering. They are surprisingly discreet under a medium-weight knit, or button-down broadcloth. And the shape, under clothing, is not as awful as I expected. But I certainly wouldn't call it a flattering shape, either. The fine fabric and details just cannot overcome the, let's face it, intense frump factor.

When do I wear it? 

Hmmm. Wellll....probably not often.The Edelweiss is basically the granny panty of bras. But without the comfort factor. I will likely only whip this out for PMS week, or in the (very rare) event that I require an actual white bra.  

Size: 40G. (This brand is German, so that's a Euro G) This is actually a cup size down from my usual 40H in Anita, so this definitely runs a bit large in the cup.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Natori Pure Allure: Attempt #2

I liked the Pure Allure enough on my first failed attempt (when I ordered based on the sizing of the former N by Natori (So.Much.Gapping.) to try again. 

After having success with Satin Fleur in a 38H, I intended to try that size again with Pure Allure. However, the top sheer section of the cup was so incredibly loose, and I wanted a color other than black, that I gambled on a 38G. Which almost fit!  Well, sort of.

Beauty

Really pretty, without being fussy. The edging is an unusual swirled DNA helix/infinity shape pattern. One difference I notice in this lower tier of the size range is that the sheer overlay at neckline is not nearly as large as in the 42H I first tried. In that size it formed a good quarter of the upper/inner cup; in this 38G, it's almost flush to the cup edge. I actually liked the sheer, stretchy panel being a bit more prominent. 

Pure Allure gives a really nice shape. Very rounded, but with a discernible apex. Narrow wires, and a lower gore. Moderate lift, with a...not exactly minimized profile, but a softened projection.The perfect shape to give good drape under thin knits, i.e., not boob-tent creating.



Not bad! Especially from certain angles, it almost seems to fit. Ten years ago, before I knew any better, I would have considered this a good enough fit.









Fit

Except, in this case, close enough just wasn't. Though it does accommodate upper fullness (no Natori accommodates inner fullness, unfortunately) these pics show where the inner wires are actually sitting right on boob tissue:
 
















 
And in this side pic, it's apparent that the wires are low, even for me. They are much lower than the Fleur. It isn't so much their height - I like wires to be lower - as that they hit at an awkward spot and dig a little due to the cup being too small. It's compressing my boobs which makes that strong line of demarcation between where I had a lot of shoulder muscle (now mixed with more fluffy bits, sadly) really stand out. This should be solved by going up a cup.


Comfort

I can't reliably assess true comfort until I have tried Pure Allure in the right size. I do think it shows a lot of promise as a comfy, lightweight Tshirt bra. It would be a godsend to those living in a hot climate, who want more coverage than a seamed bra provides. So, first impressions:

Fabric.  Though not in the description, it feels like spacer foam. Very thin, flexible foam cups. A huge improvement over the 3 other contour/foam styles I have tried in the brand. The mesh overlay is thin and stretchy. Natori's describes it as providing 'containment without bulk', so they consider it kind of a bumper guard against double-bubble. It does give a smooth line, but mainly it's there to be pretty. The cup foam is nice and thin, so you won't see an abrupt bump at the top of cup the way you can with, say, Freya's thickly padded Deco.

Band.  Power mesh. Not a fan. It's not as soft as Natori's usual finer mesh bands.

Straps.  Now, these are really nice. Unique from their other styles. They are relatively thin in width, but thicker in depth, with a slightly spongey feel. They are also covered in a fabric that reminds of chamois cloth. Very soft, velvety and grippy.

Wires.  The usual Natori narrow-to-medium width, which is about perfect for me. I like the lower height of the wires, and in a cup size up I'd expect them to be very comfy.

Sizing

The sizing of the new Natori Plus is categorically different from the former N by Natori styles. I only persevered because I love so much about the brand: wire width, soft fabrics, comfy & supportive bands. Here is where it is worthwhile to go in person to a specialty bra shop with a good fitter. If you have that option. I would have to fly 800 miles down to Seattle for that. For those who cannot try on the new Natori styles in person, here is what I suggest:

Keep your cup size in the old Natori, but go down 1 band size.

The new Natori Plus runs a full band size larger, while also running larger in the cup. And the increase between each cup size is a bigger jump than previously.

For instance: I am a 38GG (UK) and a 38I (US/Euro). Because many brands stop at a US/Euro H, I have to sister-size to a 40H (the equivalent of a US 38I and a UK 38GG). In the old Natori, I wore a 40H. In the new, I fit a 38H.
 

 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Review: Empreinte Capucine

Very glad I didn't give up on this brand. The Capucine is quite different from the Empreinte Rose. I received several really helpful comments from fans of the brand and decided to try a different style, in a cup size up.

No Beauty category, because, well, the Capucine is very plain indeed, as you see. 





Comfort:

Fabric.   An unusual knit texture; no cotton. It is a nylon-poly blend with a slightly 'nubbly' texture. This cannot be seen on the black colorway, but is apparent on the beige, which makes it appear less plain than the black:
 

I find this fabric a lot more comfy than the more rigid tulle of the Rose. Though supportive, the fit is actually not 'locked & loaded'. It's a nice midpoint.

Fit:

Cups.  Like the Rose, this is a very full-coverage balconnette with a high gore. The slight stretch in the fabric accommodates my full-on-top shape fairly well, though it contains completely, so doesn't allow as much rounding of my top tissue. As I'd been warned, the cup increase is significant; because there are no double letters, each cup up is a full inch or so, rather than the 1/2" increases of many UK brands.

Seams.   The seam structure is quite different; more of a traditional 3-part cup. It allows for more projection than Rose and also gives a pointer shape:
 

Tack.   I get a nice soft tack in this bra, whereas the Rose floats a good 3/4". I can fill the cup, but I have a little room left. I appear to be in-between sizes in Empreinte. Because tack isn't that important to me, and the fabric has some give, I would probably opt for my smaller cup size in this one.

Band.  Stable, 3-hook.  I went with a 40 again because I knew from my experience with Rose that an Empreinte band simply doesn't need to be tight. It's well-designed; stable, anchored, and stays put throughout the day. It really does make a difference that the band is angled lower on the back: it's more comfortable and secure and ensures that the band is really carrying its weight and dispersing it away from the straps and the underbust.

When Do I Wear It?
To work, mainly. It's a good basic and the shape it gives works well with structured clothing and higher necklines. I especially like the fit for the one week of the month that my cup size increases and I experience tenderness.

Size: 40G   (It fits me like a UK 38H. Empreinte sizing is very different from European brands, or even other French brands. For e.g., on me, it definitely runs about 2 cup sizes larger than Chantelle, and a little snugger in the band)