Undressed to Impress

Longline Lust

I’ve been drooling over longline bras for a very long time now, and have been envious of my friends who can buy dress-sized ones from high street shops. It induces that kind of bra stupidity in me where I think ‘oh but I could just buy a large and take in the band’ or ‘a 34 back won’t be THAT huge, will it?’ Luckily, I didn’t succumb to this foolishness and was just a miserable bystander in this trend until a Christmas promotion at Debenhams reeled me in a couple of months ago. I spotted two longlines in their ‘Gorgeous range’ which both started from a 30 back, which I was willing to try as I have had some tight bands from their range before.

Black Spot Flock Longline Bra Gold Jaquard Flower Longline Bra

Like all the bras in the Gorgeous range at Debenhams, both the longlines are very reasonably priced at £24 with matching knickers coming in at £8.50. Debenhams also offer free delivery on orders over £30 and simple, free returns. My experience shopping online with Debenhams was positive overall and only let down by the delivery man who was clearly lacking intelligence. In the week before Christmas when it was cold and wet, he put my parcel over the back gate, where it lay for three days as I was away for the weekend. The bag was wet inside but luckily the bras were in individual plastic wrap, otherwise they would have been wet too and probably damaged. What was most illogical is that the parcel could have easily fit through my letterbox!

Lookswise I very much like the black bra. I’m a sucker for anything with a flocked pattern as I love the way it feels. I like the details on the bra, with the contrasting purple straps (which are a lovely velvet texture at the front), frill edging and the velvet bows. With only five hooks you get the longline style without the difficulty of a lot of hooks to wrestle with. My only major disappointment on receiving the bra was realising that the straps are only partly adjustable. As you can see I ended up tightening them as far as they would go and this still wasn’t enough for me.

From the front the bra looked promising, but you can see from the side picture that the cups were far too small. The underwires sat on my breast tissue and there was some overspill, although this is not visible in the picture. As a result, the overall shape was minimised and not ideal. The back band was OK, tighter than your average 30 but not really comparable to a 28. I think I would have put up with it if the cups had been a better fit.

I’m much less of a fan of the styling of this one. I don’t particularly like the colour and the lace in the middle just looks weird to me. It does also come in a silver version, but this wasn’t available in the 30F I was looking for.

The fit issues here were the same, and I found the two bras to be pretty similar, so at least there is consistency in the range. My previous experiences with the Gorgeous range have also pointed towards the same fit, and I have needed to size up in the cup and sometimes the band. Once you find your size in this brand I think you could buy with confidence, and as there are so many pretty designs to choose from at such reasonable prices, this is a definite bonus. If it was in stock, I probably would have bought the 30FF in the black longline, as it is a really pretty bra.

I returned both of these bras in store, along with some other bras I ordered at the same time. I found the returns process to be a little odd, as I was told only some items could be returned at the till and others had to be returned ‘out the back’ and sent back to a warehouse. One of the items that was sent back to the warehouse I never received the refund for, but when I phoned customer services they were incredibly helpful and sorted this out for me with ease – I particularly appreciated this because I was no longer in the country and envisaged difficulties  resolving the problem! Overall, I definitely recommend ordering online from Debenhams. Whilst these bras weren’t available in a 28 back, many others are, including a large proportion of the Gorgeous range, and there are often discounts on the already low prices. International delivery is a little pricey at £7-£15, depending on where you are, but they deliver to over 40 countries and the regular discounts could easily make up for the postage cost.

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Hey Lyla…

It’s 5am and I can’t sleep, so I thought I’d do something useful and review a bra. The Freya Lyla is basically the same bra as the Arabella, a bra which was around for many seasons in many different colours. The Lyla has floral embroidery on the cups instead of the simpler design the Arabella had, but shares the sexy sheer cups and shape. I’ve never tried the Arabella, partly out of my dislike for non-padded bras and partly because I fell in love with the Cassis version but could never get it in my size. I wasn’t particularly excited to try the Lyla when it first came out, but it looked so good on the model I had to give it a go.

Unfortunately, Lyla and I did not get on. The bra was more full coverage than I was expecting and came up much higher than I like my bras to usually. In addition, the centre gore came up higher than I like to see on a plunge. The wires in the centre of unpadded bras really have a tendency to stab me, so I really try to find the lowest ones I can, although I appreciate it is harder to produce an unpadded bra with a low centre gore than a padded one. I did like the colouring and the attention to detail, in particular the red on the inside of the straps. The embroidery was not especially to my taste and I prefer the simpler Arabella.

As with most Freya bras, I found the 28 band fairly loose as 28s go, and since my underbust is only 26 inches, I prefer tighter 28s when I can get them. My biggest issue with the bra was far more of a problem than the band size, and it was the shape it gave me.

The cups fit OK, cutting into the top of my breast tissue only a tiny bit, but the uplift was non-existent. And this is after considerable tightening of the straps! I felt like the bra just sat on me and didn’t change my natural shape. If I wanted that I wouldn’t bother wearing a bra!

You can probably see in this last picture I have a problem with migrated breast tissue, as many women who’ve been wearing the wrong size do. In most bras I can get rid of this with proper rearrangement after I’ve put the bra on, but it just kept slipping back out of the side of the cups with the Lyla. I suspect the wires were not quite high enough under the armpit to contain the problem tissue.

A disappointment of a bra for me, but I wasn’t too enamoured with its looks (just the model, really!) so no great loss. I’m still yet to be impressed by a Freya bra other than the Deco.

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Strapped In and Ready to Go

I’ve been on a bit of an exercise kick lately, out of a desire not to be out of breath for the entire journey after running to catch the train rather than a need to lose weight. As all women (should) know, a sports bra is often the most important piece of kit you wear, and without one you can do lasting damage that will leave you with saggy boobs. When me and my friends discovered this, aged 16, in a school P.E. class held at a local gym, we spent the rest of our time on the treadmills desperately clutching our chests to stop the bounce!

There are loads of sports bras out there that I’m keen to try, but since I’m not sure yet if I’ll become an exercise convert or give up like I always have before, I picked up a cheap one on eBay. For the very reasonable price of £5 I bought the Shock Absorber D+ Max Sports Bra, which rated at a Level 4 is supposed to be one of the most supportive bras they offer. It comes in a variety of different colours and doesn’t look too bra-like so you can wear it as a top if you’re feeling brave (or exercising at home, like me!)

I'm a sucker for a blue bra!

If you wear a 28 band and have ever searched on eBay for your size, you’ll probably have seen one of these come up, and at a very low price. This isn’t true of any other band size – sure, you’ll find them, but they won’t be around the £5-£7 mark as the 28s are. I’ve now discovered the reason for this.

The band is EXTREMELY tight. I found the 28 painfully tight on the first wear and even after a few washes I can still barely fasten it. My underbust measurement is 26 inches, so I would recommend sizing up one, if not two, band sizes. I know it needs to be tight to provide good support, but the band measures a tiny 21 inches and stretched I can’t get it bigger than 26 inches. Unfortunately, the gap between the two lines of hooks is much smaller than on a standard bra fastener, and so it is not possible to use an extender.

In addition to the main fastening, this bra has a second set of hooks. I’m fairly flexible and fasten my bras at the back, so I don’t have too much trouble with it, but reading reviews of this bra many women really struggle with it, and I can imagine if you’re a front fastener it’s an absolute nightmare. To make things extra difficult, both of these fastenings have two hooks and you often end up getting one in only to have the other pop out.

The ‘cup’ sizing (it’s a compression bra, so doesn’t have defined cups) is good and I don’t get any overspill. I haven’t shown a side view as I don’t think the shape is terribly important whilst exercising, but it is perfectly normal, rounded and fairly minimised – as you would expect from a compression bra.

The straps are wide and padded, although only partly adjustable and I find I have to wear them as tight as they’ll go. They also slip quite easily and I usually have to re-tighten them after washing. The fabric is comfortable and not irritating, and it is moisture-wicking to keep you cool. The construction feels robust,  and once you get it on, it stands up well to the challenges of exercise. Even whilst doing the most energetic exercises I could come up with, I only noticed a very slight movement and I didn’t feel any discomfort.

This bra is available from a 28 to 40 bands in D to HH cups. Not the most exhaustive size range available in a sports bra, but I’m pleased that Shock Absorber have including a 28 band and, inadvertently, support for women who really need a 26 or a 24 band!


Freya (mis)fortune

Freya as a brand generally leave me feeling a little jaded. Every season they come up with a bigger range of D+ bras than any other brand I can think of, albeit without much range of shapes. These aren’t just boring bras either. Their ranges are youthful, colourful and cover a range of needs – including swimwear and loungewear too. But more often than not, I cannot wear Freya bras. They often don’t offer styles in a 28 band, including, most disappointingly for me, their longline style and their triangle bikini tops. But not only that, their bands are often considerably looser than other brands I’ve tried, and I find I cannot wear the 28 backs they do offer.

I got excited this morning to see an image of the longline style to be offered in the AW12 collection. I’ve not been overwhelmed by the designs they’ve brought this style out in and I was particularly disappointed by the Edina this season, but I have been desperately longing for a longline bra for longer than I can remember (am I getting the message across with the overuse of ‘long’ there?). The style debuted with a very limited range of sizes, starting at a 30 back, and this expanded with the Edina but also went no lower than a 30. So I hoped and I prayed that next season might be the time for Freya to introduce a 28 back in the longline…


…but it is not to be. If the triangle bikini top style is anything to go by, I shouldn’t get my hopes up that it’ll ever be available in a 28.