Busty and the Beach: Cleo by Panache Leena Tankini Review

Here’s what I wore to Rockaway Beach with Leah on Saturday.

leena tankini front body view

There’s so much that I love about this suit:

  • the heart print on navy background
  • the yellow detachable straps
  • the lifted shape even though the integral bra is essentially a strapless

Cleo targets a younger demographic, so I’ve always wondered if there was something special about their styles that wouldn’t work on me at 49. Good news: there isn’t! As long as you’re brave enough to wear their predominantly low-cut bottoms, there’s a good chance you can find a Cleo top that will fit and flatter your chest, even if you’re middle-aged.

I wasn’t feeling particularly brave about low-cut bottoms, so I chose the tankini in 32FF to go over the gathered bottoms in US size medium (UK size 12). Later, I tried both the Leena balconnet and halter and realized that it’s possible for a bikini top to be so cute that I would gladly wear low cut bottoms with them–but more on that later.

leena tankini bottoms

Saturday was super windy with lots of strong waves–a good test of our swimsuits’ staying power.  My tankini felt completely secure on top, and I didn’t mind constantly tugging it down when it rode up my hips.  If tugging is a pet peeve for you, then you’ve been warned, but I feel like the slim, princess-seamed column down the torso is worth it. The bottoms were mostly fine, except for one fierce wave where I felt like I might lose them.

Another reason for choosing this tankini is its high back. I’ve been feeling a little self-conscious about my extra back skin ever since it was called to my attention, and it’s especially visible through the keyhole back of my Tallulah. I thought it would be good to own at least one suit that concealed my “wings”, and the Leena does so perfectly.

leena tankini back

I don’t know what I expected, but if I had realized that this type of back requires an integrated bra similar to the one in my very first Panache tankini, I probably wouldn’t have chosen it–even though I do appreciate the adjustable back.

leena tankini band

It’s a good thing I didn’t turn my nose up at this integrated bra because the Leena tankini has two significant improvements from the Geneva. First, the cups are foam, so no more mechanical stretch drooping. Instead, they give a nice rounded shape and keep the chest lifted. The foam also prevents headlights. (I also think it’s brilliant that the princess seams in the fabric line up perfectly with the seams in the two-part cups.)

leena tankini integrated bra

Second, there’s no “bridge” connecting the bra to the tankini. Instead, the center gore is integrated directly into the neckline, so there’s no chance of floating around.

no bridge to integrated bra

While I prefer this direct integration into the neckline, it has one unexpected side effect of pulling the top edge of the cups down toward my chest and causing slight pillowing above the cups. It doesn’t look bad, but because of it I could probably have sized up to a 32G or a 34FF in this style.

leena tankini bubble cups

Otherwise, the fit is fine. The band is snug and parallel to the ground and the wires completely encase my breast tissue.  The center gore almost tacks perfectly, but because the underwires go higher up in the tankini than they do in the balconnet or the plunge halter, it doesn’t lie completely flat against my sternum. However, I have close-set breasts and always run into the issue of high center gores in full-cup bras, and my breasts felt completely separated in this 32FF suit regardless. This is one of the instances where I am willing for my swimsuit fit to be less precise than my bra fit. I wouldn’t go for a jog on the beach in this tankini, but I felt perfectly supported running into the waves. (For reference, my underbust measures 32″, and my apex measures 41″.)

I also found the bra to be surprisingly comfortable in two ways. First, I thought the foam cups would feel bulky while swimming, but I didn’t notice them at all. Second, although essentially a strapless bra, I felt none of the pain that I normally feel after wearing a strapless bra all day. In fact, after we got home, I had to remind myself to change!

Once changed, I immediately soaked the suit in cold water and lay it on a drying rack. Today when I went to retrieve it, I noticed two negatives about the suit that I should disclose to you. They’re both related to the yellow satin loops sewn into the top of the cups where the straps are meant to be attached. First, the color ran onto the bra. It didn’t stain the heart-print fabric and isn’t going to show when I wear it, so I’m fine with it, but I was surprised. Second, the right loop has begun to come unraveled and isn’t going to be able to support the straps much longer. Fortunately, the straps are quite long, so I plan to use snippets from them to replace the satin loops. leena yellow loopsIt’s important to be able to wear the straps because the suit needs the pop of yellow that they provide. Without it, this tankini can look a little plain. In fact, if there’s one more change I’d make to this suit, it would be to add a little yellow bow to the middle of the neckline–just like the Leena balconnet that Leah will review this Friday.

Speaking of the Leena balconnet, I LOVE it. It was accidentally sent to me in a 32F, and I can almost wear it. I was so tempted to keep the balconnet instead of the tankini, but when I saw it fit Leah the way it’s supposed to fit, I felt completely satisfied with my tankini.

leena balconet 32F fit closeup

Finally, I was lucky to be able to try the Leena plunge halter when I took a friend swimsuit shopping at Town Shop the other day. This time, I could barely fit the cups of the 32FF over my breasts. This was especially surprising because I had just tried the Cleo Lucille unpadded balconnet in 32FF, and it fit perfectly. Out of curiosity, I tried the 34FF instead, and I fell in love. I couldn’t believe how securely contained I felt in this top, and in the short time that I wore it around the dressing room, I didn’t even notice the straps around my neck.  Speaking of which, the straps for the tankini were perfectly comfortable, too.

leena halter

The only thing that would make this top better would be that little yellow bow in front. Agree?

Disclosure: The tankini and bottoms were received as a review sample. All opinions are my own and based entirely on my experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Donna M says:

    You look marvelous! How do you find the halter? I see you have been trying them–They are very painful for me-I am currently a 32G. Also, how difficult is it to hook the bra portion. I purchased the Panache Anya and had to return because it was such a struggle to put on. I previously had a Panache Isobel that is currently a bit small. It had the keyhole back and was much easier to put on. I have rheumatoid arthritis and find some of these suits impossible to put on!

  2. Thanks, Donna! I really liked the halter, but a lot of other women get sore necks in them, so I can understand their being painful for you. I don’t find the hooks difficult to fasten, but I don’t find them difficult in the Panache sports top, either, and I know other women do. It looks like the Isobel is the only tankini from Panache with the keyhole back, although I see other brands have them.