Thursday 3 May 2012

What Does Curvy Kate Have to Offer? (Brand Overview)

After a great response to my posts describing different styles of bras offered by Panache/Cleo and Freya, I’m now moving on to the third titan of full-bust brands: Curvy Kate!

Are you as excited as them?!?
If you’ve been reading my blog since the early days (in which case I’m blushing!), you may have seen my initial reviews after I did a massive order of most of the Curvy Kate styles. Since I was just starting out, those reviews were a little less thorough than the kind I like to do now. I’ve since updated most of them, and I also hope that this overview will fill in any gaps that remain.

Luckily for me, Curvy Kate is quite a new brand! So unlike the dim and misty past of Panache and Freya, the whole history of Curvy Kate is within my grasp and I should be able to cover all the styles they’ve done. I will also talk about Brastop’s Flirtelle range because those bras are made by the same people and cut to the same shapes so they essentially function as part of the same brand, just available more cheaply.

One really outstanding feature of Curvy Kate is that they find all their models through contests entered by, and voted on, by their actual customers. So it is MUCH easier to see what Curvy Kate bras will look like on a variety of sizes, including the bigger sizes, in contrast to many other brands that only use models on the smaller end of the size range. Curvy Kate's UK Star In A Bra winner for this year was just revealed today--the beautiful Sophie Morgan! 

Sophie Morgan, Star In A Bra winner 2012!

Finding Your Size
The most important thing to understand about Curvy Kate is how the sizing works. Although some people find they can wear the same size in Curvy Kate that they would wear in other brands, plenty of others find they need to go up one or two cup sizes from what they would wear in other brands—this is especially likely if your boobs are tall/high or full on top. Personally, although I can usually get away with a 30H in Panache/Cleo/Freya, I can NEVER wear that in Curvy Kate. I will always need at least a 30HH, sometimes a 30J.

A common complaint with Curvy Kate’s unpadded balconettes is a somewhat triangular/square shape, that looks like this:

Too-small Curvy Kate shape.

This shape means your Curvy Kate is TOO SMALL! Don’t despair and give up, thinking this is just the shape Curvy Kate gives—it’s not! You’ll get a much nicer look in the right size. Try going up one or two sizes, and shorten the straps to take out any slack in the cup. For a lot of people, this is enough to make Curvy Kate bras successful for them. For some people, it might be that you cannot shorten the straps enough to get the right lift in the big-enough cup size, and this unfortunately means that you will either have to alter the straps, or simply move on to a different brand (or just stick to Curvy Kate's padded styles).

Also, all of Curvy Kate’s unpadded balconette bras are cut with the same shape, so you can wear the same size in all of them—SORT OF. The different fabric and laces used do make a noticeable difference between the fit of some of the styles, and I’ve tried to specify that here. Knowing your size in one Curvy Kate balconette is an excellent starting point, but you still might need to tweak the size a bit when you try other styles.

The sizing of the padded bras is different, and I will talk about that when I describe the individual styles.

The Portia is one of the styles that’s been with Curvy Kate since the beginning. Way back when, it used to come in colors…

…but for the past few seasons they’ve just had it in continuity colors of black/pink and white/pink, plus an exclusive magenta color for Simply Be.


The Portia is a good basic and seems to run pretty much in the middle of Curvy Kate sizes. The ribbon across the top is not tight in the newer runs; in fact, it is looser than the fabric surrounding it.

Criss Cross
This is an older style that Curvy Kate don’t make anymore. From my experience trying it once, it seems to run about average in sizing.  However, I do know there are some differences between the colors; the purplish-pink one seems to run a little smaller, for instance, though not enough to need a different cup size unless you are already between sizes.

Since this bra is discontinued, it’s one of the few that you can get at cheap prices in black and white.

The Angel runs a little tighter than other Curvy Kate styles. It has the same all-over diagonal stitching as the Portia, but on the Angel the lace at the top edge (though not the actual ribbon) is tighter, which gives the cup a smaller fit overall. I personally find that I would ideally wear one cup size up in the Angel (30J) compared to the size I wear in the Portia/Emily/Ella (30HH).

The back on the Angel runs tighter as well, as the criss-crossed ribbon adds some stability to it.

The Princess is the hardest fit of all the Curvy Kate unpadded bras. Like the Angel, it also runs a bit tighter than other Curvy Kate styles, but it is also the only one that does not have fully adjustable straps; the floral lace covers the front half of the strap. Remember when I said that you will need to go up in the cup size and shorten the straps more to get the right lift and shape in Curvy Kate? That’s much less possible in the Princess because the straps just do not adjust enough. It's too bad that it's a trickier fit, because it's so cute!

Check here for the barrage of alterations I performed to make my Princess somewhat serviceable. The fact is that it’s just not as easy to fit into as other Curvy Kates.

The Emily is, in my opinion, probably the best Curvy Kate bra. The top section is more stretchy and so it is an easier fit than the other styles that have stiff lace or ribbon there. 

So if you find the Angel or Princess squash you no matter how high you go in cup size, the Emily is a better bet. With my full-on-top boobs, I definitely find I get the best shape in the Emily.

The Romance that came out recently is very similar to the Emily, with that same little bit of give in it. I’m really excited by the Romance and I think it is a really promising style. 

If you’ve seen the behind-the-scenes photos of Curvy Kate’s Star In A Bra competition, you may have noticed how truly amazing the Romance looks in a K-cup! (Not all of Curvy Kate’s bras look as beautiful in the highest sizes.)

The Ella is discontinued but also shares the feature of being more stretchy in the top section, though not quite as much as the Emily. 

If you can’t find the Ella on Brastop, the Flirtelle Dahlia style is the exact same bra as the Curvy Kate Ella, but in continuity colors.

This is another newer style, one whose popularity has surprised me a bit. I personally don’t think it is as flattering as the other styles; the huge sheer section doesn’t look nearly as nice in the highest cup sizes as it does in the smaller cup sizes.

The people I know who have tried the Lottie (I haven’t, since I don’t really like how it looks) have mixed reactions. Some love it, some find it gives an east-west look.

The fabric on the bottom sections of the Lottie is thick and firm, similar to the fabric on the bottom sections of the Flirtelle Sublime.

Tease Me/Thrill Me/Fleurty
These bras are constructed to give a really round shape. The size ranges are not as inclusive as the unpadded bras, but it’s still a great deal better than the miniscule size ranges other brands offer in padded bras. These bras are not marketed for everyday use (they're meant to be 'bedroom' bras), but lots of people (including myself) use them as T-shirt bras. I'm still hoping for a day when all the bra companies realize that the Thrill Me and Tease Me are exactly what many of us want for everyday use--colorful, cute, padded bras that give a round shape and don't cost and arm and a leg. 

Check out my posts here and here for my reviews of Showgirl bras.

Although those with full-on-top boobs are more likely to need to size up in the balconettes I talked about earlier, those with boobs that are fuller on the bottom are more likely to need to size up in these Showgirl half-cup styles because there is so much lift from the bottom. In general, the older colors of Thrill Me and Tease Me ran bigger than the more recent colors. This article "Thrill Me, Tease Me, Explain Me" on the Bratabase blog is useful for explaining these size differences.

The Fleurty is a new style, and so far the verdict I’ve heard is that it fits similarly to the Thrill Me and Tease Me, but maybe just a hair smaller—so if you’re close to busting out of your Thrill Me/Tease Me, you may want to get the next size up in Fleurty if it’s available.

The upcoming Entice style also is based on this same seam pattern.

Elegance/Tempt Me/Wild
The Elegance padded plunge bra was added to Curvy Kate’s continuity lines a few seasons back and I reviewed it here. Despite my failure to get a good fit in it, I remain fascinated by the Elegance. There is something about it that makes me want to buy it over and over. I think in a lot of ways, the Elegance represents the way in which Curvy Kate is truly superior to other brands at pushing the market and giving women who wear higher cup sizes the things that we really need and want. I guess I was surprised that the Elegance wasn't very hyped up and I haven't seen as many reviews of it as I would have expected, though there are a couple out there--Invest In Your Chest mentions it here, and A Sophisticated Pair did a detailed review.

The Showgirl Tempt Me and the upcoming Wild bra also have a similar shape.

Tempt Me

Tempt Me

The sizing for these plunge bras is challenging and weird. It seems like just about everyone, with any shape, needs to go up at least one cup size, maybe two or even three to fit in the Elegance or Tempt Me.

These plunges are also very wide-set and therefore better suited to people whose boobs have a bit more space between them. I personally found the Elegance dragged my boobs apart because it was just too wide-set for me. If I try again, I’ll try in a 30J (the biggest available size) and try to take in the center gore.

Daily Boost
This is a new style and unfortunately I haven’t tried it yet. It is different from the other padded bras in that the shape is based exactly on the shape of the unpadded bras so the seams follow a balconette shape.

I sort of fear this bra, personally—I worry that the padding would exacerbate the problems I’ve experienced in the tighter styles like Angel and Princess. If I do try it, I may size up in the cup to a 30J. You can see other bloggers’ reviews at Invest In Your Chest and Brood's Big Bras Blog.

This style won’t be available until July, but I wanted to mention it here because it is a totally new style. It’s not seamed like Curvy Kate’s other padded bras, but molded like the Freya Deco. 

I really like the animal print and I have a suspicion that this bra will sell fast if it is any good. I’ll definitely be getting one—I plan to try it in both 30HH and 30J and I will do a full review at that time. 


  1. my experience with curvy kate was much the same - i went up a cup size but that was still too small, i would have needed to go up two. unfortunately, going up just one size meant that the bras cut into my armpit so badly, that in combination with $$$$ shipping cost to exchange, i gave up on CK unpadded styles. a shame, as they are very pretty. i do still have hope for the showgirl range though.

  2. You bring up a lot of good points - except with the tempt me! I'm normally a 36ff in the thrill me showgirls, found that i'm a 38ff in the tempt me, they dragged my boobs apart too but also made them look normal size! I'm never ever ever taking mine off, I actually dont mind the shape they give me.

    As for the soft-cups I personally went in 38FF except the Emily I'm a 38F, found the back quite snug! The cups are "good" not the best bra i actually live in my showgirl bras despite all ready having a big chest the showgirls truly do give me the best lift and shape - wish more bras were like that!

    I hope you do more posts showing how the individual bras fit you to further help people like me! Unfortunately i'm in Australia and the only CK i can get here are $80-90! So I'm forced into using online brastop (best thing ever) and guesstimating sizes still works out cheaper, but it helps when bloggers post more on their chests and demonstrate how each bra fits comparative to normal sizing.


  3. I've been looking at the Fleurty because the ribbons in the Tease Me and Thrill Me are not so much my style, and the Smoothie looks promising. I have to downsize in the band for the Showgirl ranges, will see about the Smoothie...

    The Wild/Tempt Me/Elegance fit very oddly on me, by which I mean I can't fill out the bottom of the cup because it's shallow and I'm full on the bottom, so I get an ugly section at the bottom that just hangs.

    Thanks again for your exhaustive research!

  4. About the non-fully adjustable straps on Princess... Yes, you are not supposed to be able to adjust them fully but with some force and stubbornness it is definitly possible to force the adjuster over the seams attatching the end of the embroided ribbon to the strap, and just like that make the straps fully adjustable. :) Kind of saved Princess for me!

  5. I love this post on Curvy Kate! It truly mirrors the experiences I've had in my store. The Elegance, for example, is a bra I always pull in two cup sizes higher than the woman's starting point size. My experience has been that when this bra fits, it really FITS! It's perfect, sexy, and swoon-worthy. Women fall in love with how they look and want to leave the store wearing it. But, when it doesn't fit, it doesn't seem like there's anything that can be done to tweak it. Also, I agree that the Emily is one of CK's best designs, which shocked me because I wasn't overly wowed with it the first time I saw it in the catalog (I know I'm in the minority there!), but after I bought one for myself, I've really fallen in love. Like you, I'm not as wowed by the Lottie in bigger cup sizes either. One thing I have noticed about CK's balcony designs is they translate it to higher cup sizes by expanding the sheer section. Even on bras like the Emily or Princess, the sheer top cup portion is much bigger than on the G cup model. With the other styles, it's okay, but on the Lottie, it takes away from the aesthetic because it's just this huge expanse of sheer fabric with no embroidery or ribbon or something to break up the space.

  6. I get that awful square-boob shape on my Emily and I'm tempted to try sizing up in another of their unpadded bras... Although it seems odd because I'd be sizing up two cup sizes from 'normal'. I already size up twice in the Thrill Me (and the band is very loose) and it's fine, but I sometimes spill out a little.
    This still seems like an awful lot of difference compared to other people! I wonder if it's something about the design of Curvy Kate vs. my boobs.

  7. The first time I tried a Curvy Kate I thought "meh, what was all the fuss about?" The gore seemed to lie flat but the shape was all wrong. After reading this article I sized up one cup to a 34H for the Thrill Me and Tease Me. This was a good idea, although I should have sized up two cups for the Tease Me, because it doesn't lie flat. I also found the band a little loose; I am on the second hook. Just more of the usual frustration on how much variation there can be between bras!

    Anyhow, I still don't like the shape that they give me as much as my standard bra (a full-cup Elomi), but they are the first balcony bras I've found in years which fit my full-on-top breasts well, and I'm so it's nice to have something I can wear under lower-cut tops. I really appreciate your detailed reviews. It's especially helpful for me since I have the same breast shape and I have found that most bra styles really don't work for me.

  8. I've never been able to get a Curvy Kate to fit me, I must say. When they first launched the brand, the quality was appalling, the fabrics wouldn't keep their colour and used to shrink over time. Thank god they sorted that out, but now it's the sizing and the fit that need work. I find they all rub me raw under the arms and often on the gore as well. As a usual Freya wearer of a 30J, I need to go up to a 32 back usually. There is nowhere near me which stocks the brand to try, so it's always a bit of a hassle to try and return - I rarely end up keeping any. I love what they are trying to do and the price is great, but the fit doesn't suit me at all - which is a shame!

  9. I am loving your blog! I wish I had found you sooner! I saw that you are also a fan of Panache bras. Do Curvy Kate bras separate as well as Panache bras do? I have large, top-full breasts as well...and I would really love to try the Emily in Curvy Kate...but can't bear the though of going back to a bra that squishes my boobs together.

    Thank you for making this blog! It really is refreshing and fantastic to get such great insight on what bra's work and which ones don't from a fellow large-busted gal!

  10. Thank you so much for this post! I just tried on my new Emily bra (32J) and had that awful square shape. This post encouraged me to try a bigger cup size - I hope that the fit will be better! Ordering CK bras online for the first time is not easy and posts like these really help to find the right size.

  11. Thank you for the work you have put into this post, it helps clear up some questions my sister had.I will bookmark your blog because your posts are very informative.We appreciate your posts and look forward to coming back.

  12. Whenever I look at the Curvy Kate offerings they just look cheap to me. I love the sexy look of my Panache and Freya bras and undies and I guess what I like is that they are sexy without trying too hard or looking sleazy. The women in the top photo look like they're in costume--strippers at a bachelor party come to mind. The CK stuff looks like the fabric is cheap too--judging from the photos most of what I see looks like it would be uncomfortable against the skin. Am I the only one who thinks like this or is anyone with me?

  13. bought a curvy katte bra on the weekend and my husband loved it and said i hope i see it alot more...i think he will...i did go up a size then i normally wear, but the smile on his face was worth it!

  14. Hello!

    Just found your blog, and wanted to let you know I think it is brilliant!! Absolutely what you need sometimes, especially as big cups = big $$ so it's nice to be able to feel that bit more sure.

    Thank you for this, please keep writing!!

  15. Hello! Love your blog! It has become my favourite lingerie blog since the last few weeks!

    I noted in a previous post you said that Curvy Kate runs small in the cups, however I've found with my experience of the Angel, Princess and Emily that it runs slightly big! Why could this be? I wear a 28FF in Panache and sometimes even a 28G, however with these three bras I would have needed a 28F or maybe even less! Could there be any explanation behind this?

    Sorry for the bother, thanks!

  16. Great post and you are so right regarding the sizing...i am normally a 32GG in CK padded bras but for the Tempt Me i had to go up to a 32H to get a great fit...i love CK

  17. I have found that I am the same size in the CK range as I am in most other bras. The brand I have found to be smaller is Panache. Need a GG as opposed to just a G. The CK bras I have are the Thrill Me, Portia and the Princess.

  18. Curvy Kate Smoothie - I love the bra and have nude & hot pink. But the straps have to be firm, otherwise the cup can pull down a bit. I am wearing a 30GG with a bra extender to give me one more row of hooks (probably need a 32G really). I love the bra though. 30GG is my regular size in Freya (even though I measure 32 inches under bust - Freya has stretchy bands).

    Curvy Kate Wild - I am a perfect fit 32H in the Curvy Kate Wild, so it is true you do need to go up 2 cup sizes! Nice soft cup at the top. I am full on top & bottom.

    Curvy Kate Portia - I am 30H in this (30GG too small). Low cut compared to Smoothie.

    Curvy Kate seems more on point with sizing in the band. And the bras seem firmer than Freya.

    Thanks for your reviews, you helped me in figuring out my sizing for the Wild & it was spot on. Lucia, NZ.

  19. I just bought two Curvy Kates for about $18 each on eBay - the Portia and the Emily, both in size 38HH. The Portia seems to fit well but the Emily is far too loose across the top of the cup and doesn't hold the shape at all. I'm more of a full on the bottom type, so that could be why there's the difference.

  20. Thank you SO MUCH for this post. Emily fit me well, but in the same size Lottie I got the dreaded triangle shape. It appeared to be the same cut, but I wasn't sure. I googled to find out what the difference was in the shape of the styles and found your post. AHA! I put the 2 bras on top of each other and the Emily is about 1/2 - 3/4 inch taller in the cup than the Lottie. AHA! That's about a full cup size, I believe. I won't be trying a larger size in the Lottie, but now I have a starting point to use for the other CK styles, knowing which seem to be smaller. I really love the look of their bras (except the sheer panel of the Lottie - I agree with you it's a no-go) and because I need a narrow cup, most other bra manufacturers' are just a disaster. CK seems to be about as wide a cup as I can wear. Thanks again! Great post.

  21. I've tried the Elegance and Tempt me and don't find that they are similar in style at all. In fact I don't think they could be more different. The Tempt Me styles fit me like a glove but that is because I have wide set, bottom heavy boobs. However the Elegance was a awful fit, leaving me with a gap at the bottom - an issue which didn't effect me with the Tempt Me.

  22. I have read your blog off and on for a while and always enjoyed your 'tell it like it is' mentality. In fact I would like to quote some of your comments, particularly about bra fitting experiences, on my site if that is ok by you. If that is ok I would happily link to the original article to give you credit. Susan

  23. I am a 32DD. Since I'm on the lower end of the range, would you advice me to go up in cup sizes, or stick to a 32DD in Curvy Kate?