(This post is written by a very special guest writer, my sister! I hope you enjoy it.)
I'm picky about bras. Back before I knew about proper bra sizing, I refused to wear anything besides intense pushup bras in black or hot pink. So when I first got properly fitted, I tried on all the bras in my size and I hated them all passionately. Don't even get me STARTED on 582 variations I tried of the Tango, a bra that looks utterly horrendous on me.
I hated all the bras, that is, except for one. The only problem was that the one I liked? It cost $279. It was an Empreinte.
Empreinte is a brand that I haven't seen talked about much on bra blogs. The heart attack-inducing price tag is probably the reason for that. (Believe me, I could not afford it either; I split the price with my mom and didn't buy another bra for almost two years.) The other reason is that in the US, Empreinte can only be sold by a handful of "certified retailers," so they're hard to find and nearly impossible to get for cheaper than retail. While some websites (like Figleaves) sell them, once you enter a US shipping address, it won't let you buy them. I've found a few on Ebay (around $40, much more reasonable), but I felt slightly guilty when doing so because it's not entirely "legit."
But despite the difficulty of getting ahold of them and the absurd prices, I love Empreinte bras. In fact, they're really the only bras I wear regularly. For me, Empreinte is just that good.
My boobs are full on the bottom and not at all on on the top, and they're pretty wide set. With my shape, I'm most comfortable in an unpadded, molded cup. I'm a 30E, and because I'm lazy (or live an exciting life? ha), I also prefer a versatile bra that can fit situations from everyday workwear to sexy scenarios. I've owned three Empreinte styles, which all fit the description above. From Ebay I know Empreinte also makes non-molded bras, but I've never owned or seen them in a store, so this is by no means a comprehensive brand overview; it's more like a love letter to the bra brand that changed my life.
Since Empreinte is shrouded in mystery, I'm not sure about their size range. The bras I've seen on Ebay generally start around a C cup and go up as high as an F or FF, and range from a 30 back to a 38 or so. That's not definitive, though. I also don't know, because none of the bras I own have appeared on their bizarrely un-navigable website, what the model/style names for any of my bras are. I own (and occasionally wear!) a couple of Freya Decos, which is a fairly well-known style, so I will use the Deco as a point of comparison to my molded Empreinte bras.
The main reason I like Empreintes as an everyday bra is they give a well-supported shape that is at the same time very natural. Compared to a Deco, my Empreinte molded bras are made of a thinner foam and lack push-up properties. In a Deco, my boobs are held in close to my chest, and they're pushed up and together, giving me a TON of cleavage from the front, but making my boobs appear smaller from the side--the "purple shape".
By contrast, my cleavage in the Empreinte is subtle, and from the side my boobs look more like the size they actually are, but still have a rounded shape. Overall, it closely matches the natural state of my boobs while providing support--more like the "green shape", which I prefer. In the following photo, the left shows an Empreinte bra, while the right shows a Deco, both in a 30E. You can see the Deco gives much less projection.
I wear the same size in the Empreinte as I do in the Deco, and I don't quite fill out the top of the Empreinte cups, which means there is room for people with fuller-on-top boobs. But if you're between band sizes in the Deco and wear the tighter of two possible bands, I would go up one band size (and down one cup size) in the Empreinte.
I also think Empreinte bras are really beautiful and sexy. I've had three different designs: one that was black with a subtle pattern of black glitter; a second that was white with a pattern of black pansies:
... and a third, which I own in both black and white, is a solid colored bra with a flower detail attached to the left strap and the center gore:
I love the subtle design details that keep all three of these styles interesting and beautiful even though they are overall basic. I particularly like the straps on the third model; they are thinner than the Deco's and look delicate, but they aren't too delicate to provide support.
The place where Empreinte bras really stand out, though, is their incredibly high quality and long-lasting construction. Remember the bra I bought for $279 and couldn't afford another for two years? I wore that bra every single day for that almost-two-year period. Not only did it hold up for 600+ wears but it continued to support me surprisingly well even when I shrank a band size. What that means is the band is high enough quality to not stretch out over a period of many wears. That, or the Empreinte manufacturers made a deal with the devil to produce magical always-supportive bras.
I cringe to recommend to others a bra that costs $279 retail. That's just plain expensive, and I was incredibly lucky to be able to afford it. But if you are able to put together the cash upfront, I do think the Empreinte comes out to be a solidly cost-effective purchase, given how long it lasts. It's also versatile, going from office wear to lounging at home to a date to even low-impact exercise (yoga or low-impact dance), so it allowed me to get away with owning only one bra. Then there are the hidden costs, like back pain and low self esteem, that for me still come with other bras that aren't as well constructed. So while I've had flirtations with other bras (Freya, Panache, an ill-considered fling with a Masquerade), I always come back to the Empreinte. If you see one on Ebay in your size or if you have some cash to spare at one of the "certified retailers," definitely consider giving it a try.