Tuesday 27 September 2011

Bras I Hate: The Panache "Eliza"

Panache is usually the only brand I can wear, so I’m sorry to hate on them, but there are a few weaknesses in their products that have bothered me for a long time. Witness the “Eliza”:

It suffers, of course, from the same problem as the Fantasie “Belle” I described in my last post—not much shape or support. I do think it’s rather more attractive than the “Belle”, and I actually wouldn't be ashamed to be caught dead in it. It must be noted, though, that the upper section is double-lined in larger cup sizes, so the whole bra is opaque black and less flattering, something they normally don’t mention clearly in advertising descriptions.  

The other problem with this bra is that it is literally the most painful one I’ve ever worn. It’s not even due to my wonky ribs sticking out. When I owned this bra and wore it regularly, I weighed a bit more, so I had a lot more “padding” around that area,  and none of my bras hurt me back then—except the “Eliza”. It had this stiff band extending beneath the bottom of the underwire, which conveniently isn’t pictured here, so I take it that’s another addition for the larger cup sizes (thanks!). This band rolled under the cups during the day and cut into me sharply, since it was lined with some sort of thick thread/torture device. The straps were made of a very similar material and cut in so much that I gave up on wearing the bra merely due to discomfort long before I discovered that there were more visually flattering options than this. 

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Bras I Hate: The Fantasie "Belle"

I just read a blog post about how the “Belle” is celebrating its tenth birthday. I could cry at the fact that this monstrosity has been in production for so long, when bras that are actually attractive often get discontinued after just a few seasons. (At least there’s eBay.)

It’s appropriate for this to be the first bra featured on this blog, because it was actually the first bra I ever tried on in a real size. After a few years of bewilderedly cramming my boobs into 34DDs, my best friend dragged me to a specialty shop where they fitted me into a much smaller back and much bigger cup and my life was changed, blah blah. Unfortunately, the first bra they fit me in was the “Belle” and I nearly ran out of the store because of it. It gives the dreaded “torpedo boob” look, visually increases the size of your chest by 8000%, and covers EVERYTHING, including a lot of your shoulders. It might not surprise you to learn that this wasn’t what I was looking for at age 17, especially coming straight from Victoria’s Secret bras, which, while abysmally small on me, at least gave me a rounded shape.

Here’s the thing about shape with non-molded bras:

Basically, the strap needs to attach to a section that hits the bottom of the boob to get any uplift. A bra that has the third construction is going to do little more than conform to the shape your boobs have when you aren’t wearing a bra, which is why these bras usually look so dowdy on anything above a G cup.

Mysteriously, the “Belle” has an almost cult-like following. The reviews on Bravissimo are glowing and I think it has one of the highest average ratings of any bra they sell. I can only assume its devoted fans were fitted into it, own 9 of it, and have never tried anything more flattering. That, or these people are looking for something much different from what I look for in a bra. After all, Fantasie really caters to an older set, as evidenced by their refusal to offer anything below a 30 back.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Why I'm Doing This

I love my boobs, and they’re huge. Because of their size, they require a lot of TLC, so I’ve spent the last few years finding out everything I can about bra fitting, construction, and fashion. I read a number of really supportive (ha) and entertaining blogs about D-K lingerie, and I’ve found out a lot of useful things through these blogs. The thing that gets to me, though, is that I have almost never seen a negative review of a bra on any of the websites I frequent. Sometimes a blogger will hint about a possible issue, but modify it immediately. 

She’ll say “It was a little itchy, but that was okay, it didn’t cause discomfort.” I think if itching is noticeable, it is by definition uncomfortable. 

She’ll say “The straps were so thin they were cutting painfully into my shoulders, but this could be great for some people.” For whom?  

From the reviews I see on the blogs I read, it mostly seems like these women fit into, and love, almost all the bras they try on.

This is very far from the experience I’ve had. In the US, where I normally live, there is one store about an hour away from where I live that does real fittings, but last winter I sized out of them. The only bra they carry in my size is one that I hate. Now I’m living in the UK. I was excited to go to Bravissimo and finally try on a big selection of bras in my size. But out of the fifteen or so bras they brought out for me, only ONE fit me.

I know very well that size can change depending on brand and design. Unfortunately for me, I’m at the edge of the size range—I wear the smallest band available and often the largest cup—so I really don’t have the freedom to simply try a bigger cup and smaller band if a bra fits poorly. This makes me feel bitter and frustrated, especially because of my knowledge of bra fitting and construction. I feel that bra companies have the power to do so much good for their customers, and I don’t understand why they don’t make simple improvements that would elevate their products from horrible to excellent.

What I want to see is more accountability. These companies are making products in the hopes that we will spend money on them, so technically you could say, “If you hate this bra, don’t buy it. Buy a bra you like.” But the sad fact is that women of certain bra sizes are literally FORCED to buy bras that suck, bras we hate, bras we have to alter, bras that leave scars, because there is NOWHERE else to go. Someone has to point out a few flaws to these companies. And failing that, a good bitchfest will make me feel better.