Fit & Active October: Panache Sports Tank Review

Technically, I didn’t “need” anything when the Bare Necessities Friends & Family sale rolled around, but 25% off, combined with a $20 credit from American Express*, and I easily talked myself into the Panache sports tank. I knew some of you would also want one after reading my review, so I asked Panache if they’d like to offer a giveaway, and they said yes! Look for details on how you can win your own Panache Sports Tank on Wednesday.

I’m going to review my tank top from three angles: feel, function and fit.

FEEL

After reading Sweet Nothings’ excellent review of this top in July, her dissatisfaction with its clinginess almost convinced me not to buy it. Stepping into it and pulling it up does feel like putting on a swimsuit (I agree with the Herroom reviewer who says the fabric is like swimsuit material), so I fully expected to share Sweets’ self-consciousness.

Instead, I LOVED it! I have a fluffy back, but it probably helps that my tank top is black. And I like the front so much that I don’t even think about my back. I also find the length to be just right. For reference, I measure 15 inches from the back base of my neck to my waist. Since my hips are pretty narrow, I didn’t experience any riding up when I wore it to boot camp. It was pretty much a “put it on and forget about it” experience.

Except that for the first time in my life, I felt over-dressed at the gym!

32ff panache sports tank at ymca boot camp

Not a very good picture, but the man in the background gives an idea of what everyone else wore that Saturday. And some day I will buy bottoms that do this top justice.

Until I wore my Panache tank to the gym, I’d only been wearing my purple JCP sports tee that I wrote about three years ago (maybe I DID need this new tank top after all!). All that time, I was so focused on the women in streamlined bra tops that I thought they were the norm and I was the exception. But when I wore my Panache tank top to my Saturday bootcamp, I was definitely the exception. Fortunately, I had thoroughly tested my top ahead of time, so I felt absolutely no self-consciousness when it came to jumping jacks and push-ups.

FUNCTION

After clinginess, my biggest fear in ordering this top was cleavage. One Bare Necessities reviewer wrote, “I originally got it hoping to use it while running, however I feel like it is a bit to [sic] low cut for such a jiggly activity. I am a 32G, so this could be part of the problem. I prefer to [sic] the Panache Maximum Control sports bras that come up a bit higher for running.”

Perhaps my boobs don’t begin as high up as the reviewer’s, but when I’m standing still in this top, I have absolutely no cleavage. However, the big test is what’s happening when I’m jumping. So I took pictures to show you.

jumping 32G panache sports tank

I’m wearing a 32G on the left and a 32FF on the right. Both pictures catch me mid-jump. Excuse the serious face–I didn’t crop my head out because my hair proves I’m jumping!

I decided I could live with the boobage that shows up below my collarbone when I’m jumping or running. Besides, the only way to get rid of this is to go back to wearing a tee shirt!

You know what else is great about this top? There is no boob peekaboo when I’m doing pushups, planks or downward dog. The top of the cups lies perfectly flat against my chest. (At the other end, however, I’m pretty sure there’s panty peekaboo during downward dog since it isn’t long enough to stay over my hips when I’m inverted.)

FIT

I’ve recently been sized into a 32FF in a regular Panache sports bra, so I ordered the same in the tank. Surprisingly, things I didn’t notice in a bra that I planned to wear under a tee shirt became much more of an issue when I planned to wear the bra as a top! Suddenly my little pockets of underarm flab were a BIG DEAL.

32FF panache tank front underrarm flab

Could it be my 32FF regular sports bra didn’t fit as well as I’d thought? Or perhaps the tank top fit smaller? As much as I loved this top, I knew I wouldn’t be happy unless I tried the 32G before committing. Thankfully, Bare Necessities expedited my second order in time to make my decision before going to the gym.

You can see from my jump pictures above that the 32G contained more of my breasts during movement. From the pictures below, you can see there is slightly less underarm flab in the 32G on the left.

panache sport tank fit comparison front

32G on the left, 32FF on the right.

From the side, you can also see that the 32G contains more of my breast tissue than the 32FF.

panache sports tank size compare right

32G on the left, 32FF on the right.

And yet I chose the 32FF because what you don’t see in these pictures is the extra room at the base of the cups in the 32G. Also, strangely, the 32FF felt tighter in the band, so I expect it to last longer . . . especially since my regular 32FF Panache sports bra felt tight when I began wearing it in September, and I am now on the middle hook.

I tend to over-think things, and trying something new puts my over-thinker on overdrive. I finally decided that what matters most to me is how I will feel staring at myself in the mirror during class, and I decided I’d feel pretty good in this 32FF! So many things I’m over analyzing about myself in this top are things I take for granted in my classmates–and even in my instructor!

instructor example

This is my favorite fitness instructor. When I told her I was trying to convince myself that little underarm bulges are normal, she showed me her own and a love handle to boot!

After wearing this top once, my schedule forced me to take a week off from the gym. Now I can’t wait to go back so that I can wear it again.

*Besides occasional offers like this, American Express holders can also get a complimentary ShopRunner membership, which means free two-day shipping and returns with Bare Necessities.

Corporate Curves Report

Tina is out sick today. Here’s hoping she feels better soon!

Fit & Active October: Redefining Healthy Event Tomorrow

As we focus on being fit and active this month, there’s one thing I’m trying to steer clear of: using  “healthy” as a euphemism for losing weight. So when my friend Keila Tyner told me she was presenting at tomorrow’s Redefining Healthy event, I was excited not only for the chance to hear her in action, but also for the opportunity to explore the ways we engage in discussions of health. If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll join me! Otherwise, look for insights from this workshop in future posts.

Full Bust Finds ~ Bra:30 Review

I told you that my only goal this month is to be wearing a bra by 9:00 AM every day, but my latest purchase has changed all that. My new Bra:30 tank top is the first thing I want to put on in the morning.

I’m as surprised as you are! Despite repeated broken promises from clothing companies (remember the Aah Bra?), after I placed my order online, I got my hopes up, fully expecting them to be be dashed. The clever packaging raised them even more.

big bust support bra30 packaging

Inside was a very ordinary-looking ribbed tank top that I could barely squeeze over my head. Once I got it past my chest and down to my waist, however, I was pretty impressed at the effect of the 10% Spandex content.

big bust support bra30 spandex content

The photo on the right shows the inside of the tank top as I stretch it. You can see the sheen of the Spandex between the ribbing. This doesn’t show from the outside.

I could actually scoop and swoop my boobs to the desired height on my torso, and the elastic held them there! Would they stay there over time? Not really, but as you can see from the images below, they never descended all the way to my waist, and they never went completely East-West.

big bust support bra30 front views

On the left is how the top looked immediately after scooping and swooping at 9:00 AM. In the middle is how the top looked by 10:16 AM after working at the computer. Afterwards, I changed into street clothes and later that evening back to the tank top to cook dinner, empty the dishwasher and watch television. On the right is how the top looked by the time I was ready for bed.

big bust support bra30 side profile

Same left-to-right time sequence as above.

Initially, I was extremely conscious of the compression and wasn’t sure it felt any more comfortable than an underwire. After the first half hour, however, I became less aware of it, and on subsequent days that I’ve worn it, I’ve only noticed the compression to appreciate

  • the way it helps center my boobs, and
  • the lack of bounce as I walk around the house, including up and down stairs.

Unlike other bra-free lounge options, when I’m wearing this tank top, I don’t feel sloppy. I like that I look as good as I feel when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I would definitely answer the door and take out the trash in it, and I might even walk to the corner store for milk in it. If I felt too self-conscious to walk to the store, it’d be easy to throw a layer over it instead of having to undress and put on a bra.

You may wonder if this is simply a basic ribbed tank top re-packaged for the gullible. I certainly did! I haven’t searched for other 10% Spandex tees to compare, but here are three technical features that make me glad I purchased this top:

  1. The front is slightly longer than the back. I discovered this when I lay it flat to dry after the first time that I washed it. I wondered if I’d accidentally stretched it out, but a quick call to the Bra:30 office confirmed that the designer had intentionally made the front longer to accommodate breasts.
  2. The back has full coverage almost up to the neck. I’m probably reading too much into this, but I believe this adds to the support. It also keeps my skin from sticking to the back of my office chair. (It still has the racerback style armholes in back.)
  3. It isn’t necessary to size up. Although it can be a struggle to get the size medium on at first, that’s actually a good thing once it’s on because the compression can do its work of holding me in. I also tried the top in size large, and the more relaxed fit definitely meant more relaxed boob placement. That being said, if you wear an H+ cup, you may want to try one size up from your waist size in dresses because the scooped-out armholes mean less boob containment.

Of course this top isn’t perfect, and here are the drawbacks you may notice if you buy one:

  • There will be under- and between-boob sweat. It doesn’t really bother me right now, but it would be a factor in the summer. (I post a photo of the sweat effect below.)
  • The colors aren’t as saturated in person as they are on-line. I ordered the hot pink and ocean blue. The latter seemed more washed out than a sophisticated pale, and the hot pink is a nice pink, but it isn’t what I would consider “hot”.
  • Even though the colors seem slightly faded, they still run in cold water–at least for the first wash (see picture below). Despite the color run, the pink still looked nice after drying.
  • There is some riding up and clinging at the waist.  However, I don’t notice it as much after a few wears, and I like that this top shows off my waist (no tent effect).
  • If this were a bra, it wouldn’t  necessarily be a “perfect” fit because the sides don’t contain all breast tissue, and I imagine this is more significant in the larger cup sizes.
  • Yes, there’s monoboob. This doesn’t bother me, but you can see that it exists.

By the time I could order this tank top after first seeing it at Curve in February 2013, my enthusiasm had waned and I almost didn’t bother, but I’m so glad I did. My Bra:30 tank top is quickly becoming an essential part of my big bust wardrobe, and I can tell that the cost per wear is going to be excellent.

bra30 sweat marks

Sweat marks at the end of my first evening of wearing this top. However, what you DON’T see are any stretched out spaces where my boobs used to be. Impressive.

bra30 wash

So glad I took the precaution of hand washing it separately. Even though the care instructions say “tumble dry low”, I’m not going to shorten the lifespan of the elasticity by putting it in the dryer.