Undressed to Impress

Bravissimo Autumn/Winter Mini Round-Up

Bravissimo’s latest Autumn/Winter collection has had me intrigued with quite a few interesting new styles. Since my last trip to Brav was quite a while ago, I decided to pop into store this weekend to try on a few of my favourite styles from the collection.

First up was the Panache Idina Moulded bra. I’ve seen the balconette version of this in store before, but it didn’t come in a 28 back and I’m not a big fan of unpadded bras so I passed it up, despite liking the design. The moulded version very much reminded me of my beloved but sadly no more PL Black from Ewa Michalak in terms of styling, so I was keen to try it out.

The 28G was a good fit on me – the same size I wear in the Masquerade Amor (the only other moulded style I’ve tried from Panache). I was pleasantly surprised by the wires – they weren’t horrendously wide (as I expect from Panache) and felt very wearable. The band was firm and felt comfortable on the second hook (bearing in mind my 26″ underbust measurement). The overall shape was rounded, but I felt like something odd happened at the top of the cup. The pictures below don’t capture it and it’s quite hard to describe, but I felt like there was just a bit of shape incompatibility at the top. It didn’t quite feel like overspill, but it didn’t feel like there was quite enough space at the top and the shape wasn’t quite there for me as a result. I think this problem could have been avoided with a slightly lower cut cup, which would have left the shape feeling more open at the top.

Looks-wise, it was very pretty and definitely one to consider if you’re looking for the smooth shape of a moulded cup but want something a bit prettier than your average t-shirt bra.



Next up was the Curvy Kate Flaunt. This is based on the traditional CK plunge shape seen in the Tempt Me and Wild bras, so I knew straight away it wasn’t going to be compatible with my shape. However, I absolutely adore anything peacock-related (or pavonine, if you will) so I had to try it out.



I asked to try on the 28GG in this style, as this is my best fit in the Tempt Me bra, and didn’t realise until after I’d tried it on that I’d actually been given the 28G. I actually quite enjoyed the fit of the 28G – the straps weren’t too wide-set (as is the case for me on the 28GG) and I got some excellent cleavage from it! The centre gore did not lie flat, however, as the cups were far too shallow for me. The band is also incredibly stretchy, and the 28 was too loose for me on the tightest hooks. I’m still almost certainly going to buy this bra though, because the design is just amazing. Since it’s so wildly impractical for me I’m tempted to go for the cleavage-tastic 28G.

Next up was the style I was most excited to try – the Satine basque. I’m a big fan of the Satine bra, as it’s so very comfortable on me. I like the plunge style as I find balconette wires uncomfortable due to my close-set shape, and the cups are cotton-lined so they’re great even on a hot summer’s day. My only complaint is that the band is a bit too loose for me in the 28, so I was worried this would leave the basque feeling too loose for me in the body.



I was pleasantly surprised to discover the basque was a really good fit for me on the second row of hooks. It definitely feels slightly tighter than the standard bra – for reference, my waist is 25.5″ at the moment. The basque has boning down the front and sides to help pull everything in, and I felt comfortable and supported by it. The Satine bra used to have an issue with the thin layer of padding not lying flat within the fabric on some of the bras, and I’m pleased to see that the issue appears to have been fixed on the basques (at least, I didn’t notice it on any that were out on the shop floor). An added feature that’s great to see on the basque is multiway straps, making the basque more versatile. The suspenders are also detachable.

The basque felt a good length on me, and I can see it working for a number of different heights as it’s not too long. However, I think women with a larger waist to high hip ratio than myself might struggle with the sizing, as it was snug on me all over. It’s also worth noting that the back sat quite low on me – although perhaps something that could be altered with a different strap length – and as a result I got a bit of back bulge at the top.

Overall I really liked the basque and probably would have bought it if I liked the pattern more than I did. It’s a subtle purpley-grey colour that looks different depending on the level of light so I can see it appealing to a lot of women, but it  wasn’t my cup of tea. It’s £59 price tag really made me feel like I needed to love it to buy it. In terms of sizing, I tried the 28G, which is the same size I wear in the Satine bra, and the fit was spot on. I hope Bravissimo will keep manufacturing this style in a 28 next season (unlike the Lola basque) as I’d snap it up in a heartbeat in a less fussy design.

The final item I tried was the new Cleo Marcie Babydoll. My initial desire to try this style faded when I saw the open back design and ultimately I was won over by the floatier Curvy Kate Lola more than the Cleo Marcie. However, I was still keen to try it out and thought I might as well while I was there.



I tried the babydoll in a 28G – the same size I know fits me in the Marcie bra. In general, I felt the fit was very similar but the cups ran a touch smaller than the red colourway from a couple of seasons ago. This felt to me like the difference black dye can make to bras and to me it didn’t feel enough different to need to size up. Some women have reported that it fits more like the turquoise colourway of the bra, but I haven’t tried this one so can’t comment. The back is firm, as in the bra, and you may need to size up if you’re between sizes or like a looser band. The rounded shape was the same as I’ve come to expect from the Marcie bra and overall I felt it was a very good fit. (The cups weren’t actually wrinkling as you see in the first photo – this was just from lifting my arm to take the photo.)

As I expected, I wasn’t particularly keen on the straighter style of the mesh section or the open back. However, the back does come completely open when you undo  it, so it’s a good option if you have larger hips or worry about getting into this sort of garment. I also think the polka dots keep the babydoll feeling younger and more accessible than the Curvy Kate Lola, and it’s quite fun as well as sexy. Overall, it wasn’t one for me due to the firm wires used in the Marcie styles which I find dig in.
Overall, I’m really impressed with these new styles – it’s particularly great to see basques and babydolls becoming more mainstream in the fuller bust market. Have you tried any of these styles? Let me know what you thought in the comments!

1 Comment »

High-street dress shopping May ’12

Back in May, not long after I moved back to England, I went shopping on the high street for some new dresses. I was looking forward to trying out the latest collections from some of my favourite brands that aren’t available in France, particularly Oasis as I have had some luck in the past with clothing from there that fits over my bust. I usually look for styles with a fitted top and flared skirt, as they suit my shape very well, and I found several dresses that fit the bill, plus one that didn’t but I liked it enough to try it anyway.

…Can you see a theme there?! I love blue, but didn’t quite realise what I’d picked up until I was in the changing room!
These are the stock images of the dresses I tried:

The first dress fit OK on my bust, but was far too big on the waist. On the right is how I wanted it to look!

The next dress was a better fit, although the lace panel came down quite low and would probably show my bra. The main issue was the lumpy seams around the waist. I also wasn’t a fan of the cheap-looking zip at the back.

The third dress was one I’d admired in several magazines and was a lovely purple/blue colour. Unfortunately, I don’t often get on well with shift dresses, and this one was particularly bad. It was too small on the bust, too big on the waist and too small on the hips all at the same time! Definitely not one for curves, which was a big disappointment.

The last dress almost fit on the bust, but was too big on the waist again and I didn’t feel it looked particularly flattering.

So no success with Oasis! Later on I went to H&M, where I had no hope of finding anything fitted that would work over the bust. For example, this turquoise maxi dress really caught my eye, but was so small on the bust I just had to take a photo. Does it look painful? Because it was!

And then, miraculously, I found this!

I don’t know what made me pick up this dress because I didn’t expect it to fit at all, but the shape from the side was exactly what I’d been looking for all day! And it was only £12.99!

What about you? Do you know any high-street shops that cater particularly well for your shape? Or do you find things that fit when you least expect it?


Bravissimo Satine review

I recently took a trip to my local Bravissimo store to try out their own brand padded plunge bra: the Satine. I’ve tried on a couple of Bravissimo brand bras in store before, but have never been particularly interested in their offerings because they’ve most been balcony and/or unpadded styles, both things that I’m not a fan of in a bra. So I’ve been excited to try this one ever since it came out a few months ago, but have had to wait due to not living in the right country!

I know a lot of people will be underwhelmed by the black or white colour options in this bra, but I was more than happy – I’ve wanted a plain black padded plunge bra that looks a bit nicer than the Deco for a very long time, but have never found one that fits requirements until now. Still, if you’d like something a bit jazzier, Bravissimo recently released the floral Oh So Kimono version of this bra. It’s not my cup of tea, but it’s definitely more summery and interesting.

I went for the 28G in this bra – the size that usually fits me best in plunge bras. Bravissimo bras seem to strike a happy medium between the wide wires of Panache and the narrow ones of Freya, so they probably work for a lot of people. The bands run a little loose, and this 28 works for me only on the tightest hook – meaning I will have to shorten the brand in the not too distant future. Thankfully the straps are fully-adjustable so I’ll only be needing to make one alteration. They’re also a good level of slipperiness – easy to adjust but they don’t lengthen as you wear/wash the bra.

Shape-wise, this bra doesn’t give me much cleavage. It also has more of a natural shape under clothing than the likes of the Deco, so it would be a good option if you don’t like the perfectly rounded look. I find the cups have more coverage than some other plunge bras I own, which gave me a little sizing hiccup. My breast tissue comes up quite high on my chest and I often find that cups with a lot of coverage cut in ever so slightly at the very top. This is usually either not an issue, or becomes very pronounced after I have been wearing the bra for an hour or so. Thankfully it’s not an issue in this bra, but I wouldn’t wear it under a skin-tight top because of this. The other reason I wouldn’t wear it under a very tight top is I find lines often appear on the outside of the bra due to the lining. This seems like a construction issue and varies from bra to bra – I tried on another that was much worse than what you can see in the picture below. With mine, I find I can smooth this out, but it’s a bit disappointing considering the bra retails at £29 (or £32 for the Oh So Kimono – apparently printed fabric comes at a premium these days…).

An issue I often find with plunge bras, but don’t experience too much in this one is the ‘orange in a glass’ look where space is left at the bottom of the cup. I get this very badly on the Curvy Kate plunges because they’re so shallow in the cup. In the picture above I’d been wearing the bra for a whole day, and you can see a slight hint of empty fabric at the bottom of the cup, but it’s barely noticeable. It doesn’t show up under clothes and, more importantly, doesn’t leave me at the risk of my nipples making a break for freedom. I felt very supported and contained by the bra all day.

I don’t usually pay full-price for bras, but I made an exception for this one as a good plunge bra is hard to find and Bravissimo don’t discount their stock very much when it comes to their sales. What really makes it worth the price is how comfortable it is. There was no need to ‘break-in’ this bra – it was comfortable the very first time I wore it. Overall, I’m very happy with this bra and would recommend it to anyone searching for a good basic plunge. It’s currently available from Bravissimo for £29 in 28-38 DD-J – a fantastic range of sizes for a padded bra.

Leave a comment »

Bravissimo Part 2: Re-fitting and sub-28 bands

The second Bravissimo store of my trip was the Oxford Circus branch. I used to wear a 28FF in most styles, but have been sizing up to a 28G in so many lately that I decided it was time to get fitted. This served only to confirm my worst fears: that I’m a ‘small’ G. Not what an internet shopper who can’t try before she buys likes to hear! I went in wearing a 26GG Ewa Michalak bra, so the fitter went to find me the tightest 28s she could. I was impressed with her knowledge of the stock, and nearly everything she bought me was tight enough – unheard of! Unfortunately I didn’t get to take any pictures, but I wanted to share some styles that may work for the sub-28 market (and above, of course).

The Cleo Juna was the first bra my fitter put me in. I tried a 28G and the cup fit was OK. The lace was quite loose at the top, probably because my boobs are fuller at the bottom, so this would most likely be a good bra to try if you’re fuller on top. I definitely couldn’t have sized down without getting overspill. I didn’t get my preferred rounded shape from this bra and the band felt like a fairly typical 28, so this wasn’t a bra for me.

Next up was the Porcelain bra by Panache in a 28G. I LOVED this bra. The cups were a perfect fit on me and the band was wonderfully tight. The shape was rounded and smooth and I feel like it would be a fantastic alternative to the Deco for women who find the 28s too big. As with all Panache bras, the wires were quite wide and so the profile was slightly more flattened than the Deco. At £26 it’s quite reasonably priced too. I would have bought it if it weren’t for Frugal Feb!

Next came the Paige bra from Miss Mandalay. I’d spoken to the fitter about my general dislike of unpadded bras, due to it being more difficult to get the rounded shape I like. With this one she proved me wrong, as the 28G gave a really nice, rounded shape from the side. The top of the cup cut in ever so slightly, but not to the extent that it would be noticeable under clothing. I found the 28 band to be pleasingly snug on the loosest hook. I really hate this colour, but the new yellow shade is much more up my street.

The only downside was the £36 price tag!

The Ditsy Blossom Bra by Bravissimo. This bra absolutely did not work for me. We’re talking elf shoe combined with gaping on the top. We didn’t waste time trying to fix this, as I don’t like the pattern either. It’s worth mentioning that I think this bra is true to size, rather than coming up a little smaller in the cups (as with the other bras I tried), and this is also true of the back band.

Finally, I asked to try a strapless bra and I was brought the Deco Strapless in a 28FF (which is my usual Deco size). I’ve tried this bra before, but in a store which only stocked 30s and above, so I was really pleased to be able to try a 28. It was an absolute sub-28 joy, fitted tightly on my 26 inch underbust. I threw myself around the changing room a little (with restraint as the fitter was still there!) and it didn’t budge an inch. I found the bottom of the cups to be slightly too shallow and I had a small line there, but it couldn’t be seen under clothes so I wasn’t bothered by it. It’s quite low-cut for a strapless, so is another good option for full-on-top boobs.

And that’s where the 28G/FF options ended. The fitter told me that the 28 and 30 bands always sell out very quickly in that branch and, illogically, less of them are ordered in. I really wanted to try some of the prettier styles and some of the Bravissimo exclusives, but alas, it was not to be. On the plus side, I discovered some basics and one prettier style that are great for the sub-28 market, and got the wonderful fitting and service I have come to expect from Bravissimo.


1 Comment »

Bravissimo Part 1: Rococo Charm Bra

During my recent trip to the UK, I made a special effort to visit two Bravissimo stores while visiting friends. I love Bravissimo for offering a brilliant fitting service and a huge range of sizes that are usually only available on the internet, where they can’t be tried on, but I had some problems in both the stores I visited.

The first store I visited, in Reading, left me feeling very disappointed. The shop itself is large, with plenty of stock on display. I was one of only two customers in the store, but my presence was not acknowledged during the 10-15 minutes I spent browsing. Usually when I visit Bravissimo I am told at some point by the staff that not all the stock is on display and that I should ask if I can’t find my size. I was clearly checking for my size in each style I looked at, and had I not known the system from previous shopping experiences, I could easily have left disheartened. Instead, I approached the assistant and asked her to look in the stock room for my size in three different styles. She did this and came back empty-handed, telling me none of them were in stock. She then didn’t tell me that I could order my size for home delivery, as I usually am told. Maybe I’m picky, as I don’t usually expect this level of service in other stores, but I have had such great experiences with Bravissimo that I was a little disappointed.

At this point I tried on the only 28FF out on the shop floor: the Rococo Charm Bra by Bravissimo. I’ve been curious to try this style from Bravissimo for a while now. The super-high centre gore puts me off as I often have a problem with wires digging in if they come up particularly high in the centre, hence my love for plunge bras. This one didn’t feel too bad, but it is hard to say until you have worn it for a couple of hours. An immediate comfort issue I did notice, however, was that the straps were far too wide for my narrow shoulders and would undoubtedly rub. A plus point of the straps is that they continue on from the cup, instead of being tacked on like an afterthought, as is the case with far too many bras.

Fit-wise, I definitely needed to try a 28G, which wasn’t available. The cups were too small and gave me quad-boob and a shape I really didn’t like (shown best by the picture on the right). The wide wires mean it is quite flattening, and whilst the shape was very rounded, I didn’t feel it gave much uplift. This might be improved with the correct cup size. The band felt like a standard 28, so a little loose on my 26 inch underbust.

I’d be curious to try a padded version of this style, such as the Moulin Rose, as I felt like I wasn’t get enough support or shaping from the unpadded Rococo Charm. It is, however, a stunning bra and in an unusual colour. I’d definitely like to try it in a 28G to see if the fit issues I experienced are resolved.

1 Comment »

Marks and Sparks Parisian style

I’ve been wanting to visit the new Marks & Spencer store on the Champs-Elysée since it’s recent opening but, as much as I wanted my fix of English food, I didn’t fancy being trampled in the chaos of crazed expats and curious locals in order to get it. I assumed by now the excitement would have died down a little and I might be able to step inside the door of the disappointingly small-looking store with relative ease.

Marks & Spencer Champs-Elysée

It was still surprisingly busy for a Thursday morning (only an hour after opening!) and I had to elbow my way through the crowds to get to the tiny food ‘hall’. I felt a bizarre sense of happiness to see shelves full of spongy bread rolls, cheddar cheese and Percy Pigs, although this was shortly replaced by dismay at the inflated prices: 2.19 for four English muffins! Oh well, I can be enjoying 12 for £1 from good old Asda in just over a week.

Not wanting to feel like my trip was a complete waste of time, I decided to check out the large lingerie section. I don’t shop in M&S for lingerie and haven’t for years as I find their sizing inconsistent and their small-back-large-cup offerings severely limited. Although they stock my size it’s usually only in a handful of styles and they never seem to have many (sometimes any) 28 backs in stock in stores. In addition, M&S seem to want to confuse bra-sizing matters somewhat as even though they sell DDs and GGs they don’t sell FFs. Well, they do, but they’re not called FFs, they’re called Gs. I have absolutely no idea why they do this and presumably this means their GGs are actually Gs. Anyone else put off yet?

I was curious to see whether the store would have any 28 or 30 backs in stock as they are practically non-existent in this country and I’m looked at like a complete freak if I dare to ask for a 75H (the French equivalent of a 28FF) in a lingerie store. I thought I was off to a good start when I saw a size conversion chart which included these sizes, but it quickly became apparent it was not to be. There was not a single 28 or 30 back in the whole range, despite many styles clearly advertising on their hangers that they were available in these sizes.

To further add to my woes, I was very impressed by many of the styles and was keen to try them. I even saw some gorgeous longline bras, but they were in awfully limited size ranges – their D+ offerings were 30-38 D-DD! I decided to try on a couple of other styles I knew did come in my size in a sister size just to get an idea of whether they’d be worth hunting down in UK stores while I’m back for Christmas.

Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera on me and my phone’s camera didn’t like the changing room light levels so I don’t have any pictures to show you except those from the M&S website, with a model who you may also have seen on the Figleaves site.
The design of this bra looks perfect for a Christmas party: smooth, moulded black satin cups are covered with sequins and finished off with a small bow in the centre. Best of all, it’s only £18 so there’ll be lots of change left over for the LBD to go on top!

I tried this bra in a 32F as it looked to me like the same cut as the one bra I own from M&S (review to come just as soon as I find my camera), which I found to be painfully tight in a 28 band and too small in the (G) cup. The 32F was a good fit, with the cups fitting perfectly and giving a good shape with a nice amount of cleavage. The band fit well on the tightest hook, so I think a 30G would be perfect. Definitely one to go up in the band with while keeping the same cup size. However, if you really need a 26 band then this would be a good one to try in a 28. The only major downside of this bra for me was that the straps are not fully adjustable and I could see myself having problems getting them short enough.

The second bra I tried was the black version of this gorgeous turquoise number. It’s from the Autograph collection, so a little more pricey at £22 – although this is still a great price for a larger bra. The bra contains 30% silk so it’s very soft to the touch and it comes in four different colours.

I tried this one in a 32E and I wasn’t a fan at all. The cups were on the large side and it felt like they just sat on me without providing any uplift. I had no cleavage whatsoever but an OK profile and it looked fine under clothing. Unfortunately this bra had an enormous band. I didn’t have a tape measure on me to check but the 32 felt more like a 36 and I could pull it far away from my back. Starting at a 30 (which probably feels like a 34), this is definitely not one for small-backed ladies. A big disappointment because I love the colour!

Whilst you should always try on a bra before buying if you have the chance, I feel this especially applies to M&S with their all over the place sizing and confusing cup letters. With some gorgeous pieces in this Christmas it’s definitely worth a look if you have the time!