Off the Rack ~ Panache Envy Bra Reviewed

In the aftermath of Curve, each member of the Hourglassy team received a sample bra from Panache. This week I’ll be reviewing mine, the Panache Envy in black, size 30G.

The last time I tried Panache Superbra (as opposed to Panache Cleo) was several years ago. I was desperately in need of a strapless bra, and the Panache Porcelain molded strapless was the only thing I could find, as the Deco strapless had not yet been introduced and I was still relatively new to the small-band-big-cup world and just wasn’t aware of any other brands.

The Porcelain was a terrible fit on me: way too shallow and wires way too wide. I used it for the event at which it was necessary, and then I basically wrote Panache off as simply not being the brand for me. But last year I tried a random Panache bra with three-part cups in a brick and mortar store, and was pleasantly surprised at how well it fit. So you can imagine my excitement when a brand rep at Curve offered to send me a sample.

Since I haven’t worn Superbra in so long, I deferred to her recommendation on what bra I should try. I stated that I typically wear 28GG or 30G in Cleo depending on the design, and am currently waffling between 28G/30FF and 28GG/30G depending on brand. She said a lot of people find Panache to run tight (I usually do; most of my Cleos are 30 bands), and since I’m already taking the larger cup in Cleo I should do the same for Superbra. She suggested the Envy as a good starter bra and size 30G. I chose the black colorway in part because black dye tends to make fabric less stretchy, so I thought that would make the 30 band even tighter and closer to a 28.

Verdict: I am a total Panache Superbra convert!

However, I have to admit Envy is not a perfect fit for my shape (narrow root, very full on bottom). But let’s start with the good first! Here’s the manufacturer’s photo:

(Please ignore the weirdly Photoshopped cleavage.)

(Please ignore the weirdly Photoshopped cleavage.)

It’s pretty basic, right? But it’s hiding a fun surprise…

IMG_3111

The bottom portion is actually houndstooth fabric! One of my favorite prints, this is actually my third houndstooth bra.

There’s also a detail on the underside that I really enjoy:

Criss-crossed band trim!

Criss-crossed band trim!

The construction—a single vertical seam, a horizontal seam, and a side panel—gives excellent uplift and pulls the breast tissue inward. There’s no east-west look here at all.

IMG_3113

Further, the stretch lace on the top portion is divine. It’s really stretchy yet bounces right back, and feels very soft and not at all scratchy or itchy. There’s no ribbon or sewn hem at the top of the lace, meaning this would be an excellent choice for full-on-top ladies who worry about the top edge cutting in. Plus, unlike a lot of other cut and sew bras I own, I don’t get even the tiniest bit of rippling on my smaller boob side where the lace meets the lower portion (*cough* Freya) or along the center vertical seam (*cough* Bravissimo).

This is perhaps a minor thing, but I also quite appreciate how thin the straps are on this bra. Maybe I’m just used to Freya’s somewhat clunky-looking elastic-esque straps, but these look much nicer.

Finally, I’m really pleased with the overall shape. It’s very round and uplifted, yet has just the slightest downward slope on the upper half of my boob, giving a nice, natural profile.

Sadly, despite all my positive findings, there are some definite fit issues. First up, the 30 band is too big. Right off the bat, I’m wearing it on the tightest hook and it’s still sloping up my back just enough that I can feel it. In fact, when I swapped bras to take some photos of it on me, the Panache band was sitting at least an inch above the slightly red mark where the previous bra’s band had been sitting. The band is really stretchy and comfortable, so I have no doubt that a 28 would be perfect.

Unfortunately, the Envy starts at 30! Of the seven Panache bras from the Autumn/Winter 2015 collection that start at 28, only the Andorra has similar construction to Envy, so that one would be next on my to-try list. (But I really want the houndstooth!) I really don’t understand why Panache’s bras don’t all start at 28 when many of them have similar construction to one another. What is the logic of having half of them at 28 and half at 30?

Moving on, the next couple issues are things I deal with all the time. First, the wires are a little too wide. In this next photo, I’ve got my thumb placed where my breast tissue stops, about an inch in from the wire:

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It’s not that big a deal. I still feel supported, and I’ve certainly experienced waaaaaaay wider wires among other brands. But I’d still prefer narrower if I had a choice.

Next is that the bra is slightly too shallow in the base of the cups. It’s causing me to experience the “orange in a glass effect,” meaning my breast tissue can’t squeeze all the way into the cup base, so instead the cup is folding over and the underwire is being pushed further down my ribcage instead of resting directly below my breast tissue.

Folded over cup from front.

Folded over cup from front.

Folded over cup in profile. If you click the image to view it full size, you can clearly see the unfilled space and improper wire placement.

Folded over cup in profile. Here, you can clearly see the unfilled space and improper wire placement.

Finally, and again this is a common issue for me, the straps are set a little too far out to the side for my arms, leading to some chafing along my armpit. You can really see the way it’s digging in when I place these photos next to each other:

IMG_3125 IMG_3124

As I said in the beginning, despite these issues, I would still consider myself a Panache convert. They’re all issues that I experience with a lot of brands, but with Panache it’s much more minor. For example, Bravissimo has much worse shallowness (with some models, anyway) and Curvy Kate has way worse arm-chafing due to wide-set straps. I love the stretch lace with a passion and appreciate the attention to detail.

I think ladies who would get the best fit in Panache Envy would be women with fairly average shape: neither super full nor super shallow, neither super wide nor super narrow root, and neither a broad nor particularly small frame. The stretch lace does mean that very full-on-top ladies could do well in the brand, though. I’ll definitely be returning to Panache in the future…but I’ll also only be ordering from companies with a good return policy.

Disclosure: This bra was received as a review sample. All opinions are my own and based entirely on my experience.

 

Fitting In: Up where we belong . . .

(Note: Fitting In is fitting into Mia’s Best Breasts Forward spot today.)

Love lift us up where we belong

Where the eagles fly, on a mountain high….

Was that song an Oscar winner? Marvelous ending song to An Officer and a Gentleman where Richard Gere in his dress whites picks up Debra Winger and carries her off. A. Perfect. Movie. Ending.

You know what was a perfect ending to my first day at Curve? Being fitted by The. Fit Specialist. from Eveden. Darlene and I popped into Eveden Fit School and learned along with Fashion Merchandising students from Marist about the history of the bra and fit concerns. Check here for a brief history lesson.

Then it was time for a fitting.

Most of my adult life, I’ve worn a 40-something. When asked my size, I say “I’m in the neighborhood of a ____,” because frankly, it really does depend on the bra. The specific bra. I’d been fit into a 40H in a whole slew of Eveden bras in last winter’s visit to Lion’s Lair in Islamorada. Elomi seems to love my shape. In a year’s time, that batch was quite stretched out and last month I picked up some Prima Donna bras at  Le Piège des Boobies in Brooklyn. I’d also lost a bit of weight, and wasn’t surprised the band size went down. I was wearing a Prima Donna 38I when I got to Curve.

Freddy first put me into a 38K (US)/ 38H (UK) size bra. It had a nice lift like my Prima Donna, but still with plenty of room in the band and a little room in the cup. Out came the tape measure–36. Ah!  We try a smaller band. This one tacks better. My Elomi size: 36K (US)/ 36H (UK). The right bra has got me up where I belong.

I did not want to take that sucker off. Now I know I once again need new bras. We had a peek later in the week at the rest of the Eveden offerings, after which, a shopping trip is in order. Coming down from a 40 band size to 36 opens up a new slew of brands. Elomi still loves my shape, and I’ll pick up a few of those. I like to have enough bras to get through to a weekend to do laundry and have enough dry time. My ideal, money-is-no-object, shopping list:

  • A few more in more black.
  • At least 2 flesh tone. I’m pale, so the ubiquitous beige is actually dark on me. I look for the palest pink I can find to wear under white dress shirts.
  • 1 red. Because.
  • 1 Navy and 1 Turquoise — again, just because. Actually, it’s because I like to match the bra color to my clothing color and I wear a lot of blue and teal.
  • Some fashion colors and fun patterns.
  • Sports Tank. I have the Panache, but I’m eager to try the Freya version I saw at Eveden. I don’t want a situation where I skip a workout because my bra needs to dry. I always want another one ready to go.
  • Then bikini tops in as many colors as I can find. Why? This is my under-a-sundress bra alternative. The straps are going to show, no matter what I do. I prefer that it be of something meant to show.

Any gaps in your bra wardrobe?   And when was your last fitting?  Changing size is quite the norm.

 

Loungewear Layering for Big Busts with BreastNest and Bra:30

It won’t work when it gets hot, but for now I only want to wear my Bra:30 tank with the BreastNest underneath (the BreastNest was also reviewed by Mia.). The Bra:30 stabilizes my breasts and keeps them from going too East-West, and it hides the hideous BreastNest. Meanwhile, the BreastNest wraps everything in super softness and prevents sweaty skin-on-skin contact.  It’s a perfect functional combination. If both companies would work together to create a summer-friendly version, I’d wear it year-round.

breastnest tucked in under bra30

As you can see from the photo below, the longer Bra:30 Tummy Tucker would be better for hiding the untucked BreastNest.

breastnest under bra30 front
There’s no lift, but there’s plenty of comfort and security.

breastnest under bra30 side

breastnest under bra30 back

Always on the hunt for yet another large bust lounge option, my ears perked up at Curve last month when Kim Caldwell (32D bra fitter extraordinaire, formerly of Linda’s, now of Hurray Kimmay) mentioned Peach Uplifting tops. I haven’t been able to try them yet, but I’d love it if the spaghetti strap cami worked for me.  Of course I’m skeptical of any sizing that doesn’t take cup size into consideration, but Bra:30 and BreastNest pleasantly surprised me, so I’m going to hope for good things from this product.

peach uplifting spaghetti cami

peach uplift v neck

 

uplift v neck tee

uplift three fourth sleeve tee

The Celebrity D+ List: Jill Scott

Since Mia has such excellent taste, I had to click on this video when she posted it on Facebook last Tuesday. The singer’s voice gave me chills. And visually, I’m mesmerized by the way she carries herself.

asf