Friday, June 24, 2016

Review: Parfait by Affinitas Casey

Nutshell Review: Casey is very similar to the Freya Deco, except more comfy. 

I have found Parfait's sizing to be all over the place, and because of that, a hard brand to crack. But on the theory that the Deco runs a cup large, I tried Casey in a cup size down, and got a good fit. 


Comfort

Band.  Parfait bands run tight & Casey is no exception. They also run wide and stable; again, no exception. It is taller than I prefer, and as always, I could do without the obnoxious side stays.

Fabric.  Quite soft, actually. The cups are fairly thick foam. This is a traditional T-shirt bra style.

Beauty

There is good and bad news, here - depending on your personal tastes, and your skin tone. The beige color is very, very yellowy. My crap phone camera does not reflect just how yellow the color skews. This would be my natural skin tone only if I had jaundice. The only other colorways are a super-deep tan color, or an ice blue (my first choice, but tough to find). 

The gore is extremely low. This is a true deep plunge. 

The vertical lace covering the outer 1/3 of the cup is a pretty touch that makes the bra significantly less plain. 



 Compromises

Shape.  Decent, but not great. It is not as round as the Deco; though there is plenty of room in the upper cup, the apex reads strangely low. 


The cups are medium-width, but the shape under clothing - in this case a thin 'tissue' T-shirt almost appears wide and slightly pointy. Odd.
 


Tall Sides.  I dislike them, but a drawback for me may be a plus for some. 

Side Stays.  These simply, in every case, detract from the comfort of a bra for me.

When Do I Wear It?

Under very thin knits or very low necklines. Most likely under a low-cut formal number, but in that case I'd be more likely to choose the Comexim T-shirt bra, which I'll review soon.
 
Size:  40FF

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Review: Bravado Designs Essential Embrace Nursing Bra

While I know some have had success in wearing nursing bras for wirefree comfort, I have never gone that route - mainly because I cannot stand hard plastic clasps rubbing against my skin. That defeats the comfort of wirefree. But I tried this one after reading a great review of it on StackDD+ (whose blog seems to be gone now). In particular, because it seemed to give a great shape. But the main reason I hoped it might work? The unique feature of the conversion kit it comes with: you can remove the plastic nursing clips and convert it into a regular bra. Win!

I took no pics of the bra on me because, well, I just couldn't stand wearing it. Even for that long. 

It's easier to see the details in white, but I tried it in black, with purple piping:
Bravado Designs Essential Embrace Nursing Bra - 40H/I - Black Purplehttp://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0736/8263/products/Essential-embrace_black_1992d7f4-78c0-40f7-a005-3c4ddda85e02.png?v=1450301219

Comfort

(in which the news is all bad)
 
FabricA roughly 50/50 cotton/nylon blend that seemed promising. But in reality, had a canvas-like texture, and virtually no stretch. My first thought was scuba material. The fabric is not rough, but rather....industrial. Both band and cups are of the same material.

BandOh dear-mother-of-god, it is awfulThe material has virtually no stretch.
Besides the single blog review, I had only amazon reviews to go on. Enough of them mentioned the tightness of the band (in a negative light) that I did take heed and ordered up a band size. Which I thought would be sufficient because hello! Nursing bra. Fluctuations in band size are a major part of that process. Also, the extra columns of hooks should have provided ample adjustment. 

Oh, I was so, so wrong. The band was insanely, ridiculously tight. The 40 fit like a 34. I cannot imagine a nursing mother being comfortable with that kind of constriction, let alone me. Because of the material, I didn't even feel it was worth trying a larger band size; the lack of stretch, or even comfortable give, would have made this torture to wear if, as I often do, you experience any kind of size fluctuation throughout the day.

Elastic Edging.   Bravado actually lists this as a 'feature': rough, raised edging that covers the top and bottom of the band. The finishing of the straps connecting to the band was also abrasive. Pretty much the opposite of what you need when you have sensitive skin that is undergoing a lot of changes. 

Sides.  Extremely high. So that 'feature' of biting elastic pretty much guarantees chafing for me.

Positives?

ShapeThere's one. That's it. The shape is indeed very good: rounded, lifted, fairly natural. You could wear it under a T-shirt and feel comfortable - with the shape. You likely wouldn't be feeling any other kind of comfort.

Clip conversion.  Oops. I was so deeply annoyed by the discomfort of the scuba-bra that I had it right back on its way to amazon that same day....totally forgot to even assess that feature.

When Do I Wear It?

Hahahahahaha! Ha.....ha.

Size:  40H 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Review: Curvy Kate Dreamcatcher


This is a standard mesh balconette Curvy Kate style. It's a newer basic along the lines of Portia, but without the intense texture so more everyday clothing friendly. I own it in black, which makes the details difficult to discern; they are easier to see in yellow (a hue that makes me look jaundiced, and so one I forego):


Beauty

The pattern reads like large open polka dots, but they are meant to be tiny dreamcatchers. It's an odd design choice, since they are so tiny they simply look like, well, 3D polka dots. There is very little embellishment and the pattern itself is flat and undetectable under clothing - which is not the case with many CK styles. However, the diagonal seam across the cup is quite pronounced and does show through knit shirts in a rather awkward way. And it suffers from the same unfortunate design choice as all Curvy Kates: the upper cup becomes unfortunately huge as cup size increases.


Comfort

One Word Summary:  Disappointing. 
Fabric.  Thin mesh that is simply not very soft. It is, however, very sheer and light - especially the single-layer top cup - which allows air to flow through beautifully. I could actually feel that air flow as I walked about during my day. That was my main reason for buying it: to wear during the few muggy summer days we have up here. Those who live in hot, humid climates - & are without my issues of sensitive skin, dislike of higher wires, and full-on-top shape - may find this a useful summer bra for its delightful coolness.

Wires.   Narrow as per usual, but taller than Portia, and much taller than Gia's. I found the wires a little stiffer than these styles, and that, combined with the added height, made them uncomfortable for me. Even after bending the outer wires slightly outward away from my body, I had some chafing. The wire casing material is also especially stiff, which did not improve the lack of comfort from the slightly scratchy mesh. 

Fit & Shape

Cup ShapeSigh. This style is not among those recently tweaked to give an improved shape.  At all. This is the classic(ally awful) shape of early CK styles: a downward-drooping ski slope shape to the upper boob that someone coined as the 'upside down 7' shape, made worse by that prominent seam mentioned earlier. If even a tiny bit too small, the result is a bizarre squared-off triangle. 


When the size is correct, you get the look I have here, which is the ski slope shape. If I really swoop & scoop, & let more of my boob settle into the upper cup where it longs to be, I will get more of the squared-off triangle.

The, let's face it, rather dreadful shape is a result of the inexplicable choice to increase the upper cup vastly, and then compound that poor design choice with another one: utter lack of stretch in the upper cup. 

This issue has caused many to give up on Curvy Kate entirely. Especially full-on-tops.

Their new style Ellace (with an unpromisingly stingy looking strip of stretch lace along the upper cup), is for some reason very difficult to obtain on this side of the pond.


Tacking.  The gore does tack very well, as do all CK's on me. I have never found CK to run wide/shallow; in my size, the wires are decidedly on the narrow size (similar to Natori), and the cups on the deep side, even in the older styles. So I always get a perfect firm tack with CK.

Band.  The band runs snug. Combined with the fact that the fabric is power-mesh, and has the usual CK/Freya narrow elastic edging that cuts in, well, color me unimpressed.

When Do I Wear It?


Only on a very hot day. 

And then only under a loose woven fabric.

And even then, Dreamcatcher is doing me no favors.
  
(The shape under knits is as geometrically unfortunate as you'd expect.)



Size:  40GG
I also have the style in my usual 38GG, but the cup capacity runs slightly small, even for CK. I'd hoped bumping up a bit would improve the shape. It did, but the improvement is relative. Definitely not enough to make it a success.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Review: Glamorise Elegance Front-Close(!) Bra


I never really considered this brand before, mentally lumping it in with old school stand-bys like Playtex or Goddess. However, the concept of their 'Wonderwire' intrigued me. And I needed a non-cleavage inducing plunge bra - with less wide-set straps - for a specific blouse.

So I gave the Elegance a try:
jcpenney.com | Glamorise® Elegance Front-Close Underwire Bra - 1245


 Beauty

Subtly pretty. The deep mulberry shade is unusual and a welcome change from the ubiquitous red option. The top section reminds me of a velvet cut-out effect, letting a little skin peek through and making the bra appear lacy and light, while still being completely opaque. Although in larger sizes, that is unfortunately not apparent and it just looks like very plain, opaque lace. It's also a lot fuller coverage in my size. The eyelet lace effect along the edge makes the style appear a little less plain, while lying completely flat. The design is undetectable under clothing.

With the usual apologies re: pic quality. The dismal pouring rain means the sun hasn't been seen for a good week in these parts. 

Although it did make for fabulous whale-watching on the water yesterday. We saw a huge pod of orcas, of which I have no pics because I had zero chill and never put down the binoculars (which were hardly needed) as the whales came so close to our boat.


Comfort 

Fabric.  Very soft and smooth against the skin. No complaints there.

Straps.  Deeply padded, and set quite close-in. Zero shoulder pressure.

WiresNice. The Wonderwire is a softer, flexible wire encased in a thin layer of padded foam. (Just let that sink in a moment....the wire...is...cushioned.) Medium width and height, they do not wing back a'la Panache or Freya, but have a nice wide curve at the base and then go straight up. That equals no armpit-stabbing issues. There's also a forward-shaping seam.

Band.  I have not worn a front-close bra since the mid-80s when I wore a 36D (in reality, I was around a 34F). Surprisingly, it worked for me size-wise. The band runs snug - Glamorise very much uses the +4 system, so a 40 fits like a 36. There is no adjustability however, which is why front-clasps are rarely seen, especially in larger cup sizes. Though there is certainly a need, especially for those with arthritis or tendinitis. If you've had either of these, you'll know that having multiple band settings is way down your list, certainly behind actually being able to put on a bra by yourself. 

Gore. Which in this style is the clasp itself. It is actually tacking. I would have preferred the bra to cut away here and form more of a V-neckline, but the tops of the wires instead come up higher to form a keyhole shape. This does allow for closer set boobs, as the wire tips float at bit and seem to just be there as an overflow guard.

Compromises

Underband.  Unfortunately, this is where the bra fails for me, comfort-wise. There isn't any underband. The cup is a bandless style, i.e., there is no band beneath the cup. I prefer some underband, as it helps to spread the pressure. Without it, as here, I sometimes get discomfort as the weight of my boobs is fully on the base of the underwire itself. Even when the band is snug, as it is here, and the cup size is correct, and there are padded, wide straps, I often find this an uncomfy design.

Cups.  They are not particularly full-on-top friendly, though they do have stretch so I experience no cutting in. It's more of a locked and loaded style, so there's no jiggle.

Shape.  Pointy. Not my fave. I had hope of a slightly rounded shape because the cups have a single diagonal seam, which can give a better shape than a horizontal one. However, the seam is too low across the inner cup to achieve this. Instead, as is often seen, as the cup size increases the top of cup gets disproportionately larger. I'm not sure of the theory there, as I can't imagine this would suit the more common full-on-bottom shape either. 




 
But it results in a pointy profile which, oddly, cannot be seen in the side pic.








  



But is verrrry visible under clothing:














When Do I Wear It?

When I need a plunge shape and won't be sitting a great deal so the no underband/digging issue won't be as much of an issue. Also, if I have another bout of rotator cuff tendinitis where moving my shoulder is painful, the front-hook would be totally worth it. 

I do think the cushioned Wonderwire - and the fact that the wires are not wide - shows great promise for comfort. I'd certainly be willing to try other styles. With an underband. Although I really wish there was a more rounded shape option.

Size: 40G (US sizing) As with many US brands, the band runs tight and the cup generous.