Éprise and Me in Paris: Finding Full Bust Fit with Lise Charmel

antigel 2836 charm center

lise charmel guipere closeup

Given the gorgeous Lise Charmel collections at Curve every season, you can understand the flutter in my stomach as I approached their flagship store in Paris last May. Every Lise Charmel brand is available in A-E cups, but its Éprise, Antinéa and Antigel lines include larger cups. I couldn’t wait to try each beautiful piece that would fit my current UK size of 32FF.

While I didn’t get to try everything*, I came away with an even better understanding of which Lise Charmel styles fit which large breasts best. Basically, the right Lise Charmel bra for a large chest comes down to three factors: size, shape, and fabric.

Size

  • Don’t dismiss all French bras simply because they follow a different sizing sequence from the UK. I wear a 32FF in Freya, but I wear a 32F in Éprise.
  • Don’t dismiss all bras in a French brand simply because one style doesn’t fit you. My breasts bubbled over the edge of a 32F half cup , but they settled nicely into a full cup bra.
  • Basically, begin with the size you think you are and experiment with cup and band combinations,  remembering to factor in cup shape and fabric.

Cup Shape

Women who wear 32-34 bands and F+ cups should focus on full and 3/4 cups. Sadly, I was told that Éprise, Antinéa and Antigel half cups work best for full-busted women with broader shapes . . . think 38-40 bands. Don’t give up entirely on half cups, however. My fitter also felt there was a good chance that the 30G Guipere Charming would have fit me if it had been available to try.

On a side note, last year I heard the phrase “tulip cup” for the first time and assumed it was the same as a 3/4 cup. My fitter clarified the difference. A 3/4 cup covers less of the chest than a full-cup and comes in three parts, like the Antigel 2386 below (the bow and tassel in the photo at the beginning of this post belongs to this bra).

antigel 2836 cup closeup

A tulip cup comes in only two parts, like the Antinéa 6213 below. It is best for firmer tissue and offers some décolleté.

antinea 6213 tulip cup

Fabric

Fabric can change the fit equation. Although the breathtaking Exception Gitane below is a full cup, my bust pillowed slightly above the 32F that I tried. The heavy Guipere embroidery means less give for full-on-top breasts like mine, while someone whose breasts are full on the bottom could wear this style easily.

lise charmel red roses guipere exception gitane

Guipere isn’t off limits to all full-on-top busts, though. The Guipere embroidery on the 3/4 cup of the Jardin d’Ete below is in a narrower strip that is also softer and more elastic.

closeup 2845 jardin d ete

Simple Calais lace designs offer even more adaptability. My fitter explained that although this Poésie Bohème bra might seem too shallow at first, its heavy tulle base and light features of embroidery would allow it to fit within 10 minutes.

lise charmel poésie bohème

lise charmel white lace closeup

Impressively, EVERY Éprise, Antinéa and Antigel bra designed for large busts includes a tulle lining at the bottom half of the cup to offer greater lift and longevity while simultaneously adapting to a wearer’s shape.

antigel 2836 tulle lining

lise charmel inner sling double tulle exception gitane

In Real Life

Happily, I found a bra in the store that fit me, and the company even gave it to me as a gift: the Depart Aux Iles full cup bra in 32F. Although I received the bra for free, all opinions in this post are my own.

big bust eprise depart aux iles full cup

The Depart Aux Iles isn’t the most eye-catching bra in the Éprise spring/summer 2016 collection, but once on, it was so pretty that I wanted to show it off under my white shirt.

eprise big bust under white shirt

Of course I never wear it under white, but I wear it under absolutely everything else, even knits. With its pastel shades and delicate leavers lace (soft, not scratchy!), I feel fresh and summery every time I put it on.  The lace and seams may show up a little bit under thin knits, but not enough to be distracting, and I really like the lift and shape.

big bust eprise shapeHere’s what else I love about it:

1. Other than occasional glimpses that remind me that I’m wearing something special, I never think about this bra during the day. There was no break-in period to stretch it out, and there is still no band movement on the loosest hook after over two months of many, many wears.

2. Sturdy straps and cushioned underwires are standard in a good full bust bra, but they feel positively luxurious in my Éprise. At 7/8″ inch wide, I own only one bra with wider straps–my Panache sports bra. However, the feminine color and lace applique keep the straps from looking industrial.

eprise large bust straps

While it may not look industrial, the wide straps extend down the length of the leotard back, making it feel incredibly secure. Do any of your bras have this feature? In every other bra in my drawer, the strap ends where it attaches to the ring on the band, and the band is simply hemmed with a zig-zag stitch to the hooks.

big bust eprise leotard back

Here is a closeup of the cushioning on the underwires.

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For reference, the underwires are very flexible.

lise charmel flexible underwire poésie bohème

3. Finally, the 32F fits me perfectly. A Swarovski crystal dangles from the perfectly tacked center gore. There is no spillage at the top of the cups and no empty space at the bottom. The wire length is ideal for someone with high set breasts like mine: long enough to contain all breast tissue, short enough not to poke the soft skin beneath my armhole. I’m pointing to where the underwire ends in the photo below.

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As you’ve probably guessed, this is my favorite souvenir from our trip to Paris.

lise charmel packaging 2 5-10-2016 11-28-39 AM 480x640

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*In some ways the Lise Charmel store is like a showroom. You can see all the styles, but they may need to special order your size. With this in mind, if Lise Charmel is on your Paris itinerary, it wouldn’t hurt to contact them ahead of time to make sure that the sizes and styles you want to try are available during your visit.

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Wearing More Front Room in Real Life

The timing couldn’t be more perfect for me to wear my altered More Front Room pieces for the very first time this week because the company is having an amazing semi-annual clearance sale. All I could think as I wore my peplum top and silk blouse was, “You’d have to be crazy to let this sale pass you by.” $47.60 for the peplum top is a steal. (Yesterday there was a glitch on the company website and I thought I’d missed my chance to show you these pictures before the sale ended. Nothing like a second chance!) As a reminder, here’s my post with pics of how it looked before I had the sleeves shortened and the waistline raised. I like how the bootcut jeans balance the peplum. I would have liked the waistline slightly higher, but I lost that battle with my seamstress.

morefrontroom peplum with jeans front

morefrontroom peplum side

morefrontroom peplum back

Next the silk blouse as I wore it on Sunday. If there’s any chance you will ever need or want a silk blouse, then you need to stock up on this right now.

morefrontroom silk blouse rolled sleeves front

morefrontroom silk blouse rolled sleeves side

The sleeve length is perfect compared to how they looked before my seamstress raised the cuffs.

morefrontroom silk blouse unrolled front

Raising the cuffs means a shorter sleeve placket, but I’m fine with it. I was super pleased that the cuffs could be reattached to the shortened sleeves without any loss of detail.

morefrontroom silk blouse unrolled cuffs point out

My seamstress raised the buttons so the rolled sleeves stop at my elbows, although shortening the tab may have been another option. At first I thought I preferred the rolled sleeves, but I really like the elegance of the full-length sleeves.

morefrontroom silk blouse unrolled button point out

As you can see, I have a very corporate, conservative style with this blouse (my husband said I looked like I was going back to the law firm). Since the length is quite long on me, next time I’ll try wearing it untucked over leggings.

Full Bust Finds: MM.Lafleur Dresses

Last week Kat listed MM.LaFleur as one of 30 workwear brands that Corporette readers had probably never tried.  She was wrong because her readers raved about their MM.Lafleur dresses in the comments.

I checked out the size chart, but the numbers didn’t give me much hope. At 41.5″ around my bust in my 32F Empreinte padded plunge bra, it looked like I would have to follow the old size-up-to-fit-the-bust routine. However, knowing that size charts don’t always tell the complete story, I decided to pay their studio a visit today.

Am I glad I did.

MM.Lafleur targets women who want to look great without the hassle of shopping. The company is known for their Bento boxes–a curated shipment based on a customer’s answers to their questionnaire. Their physical store, on the other hand, is a dream come true for women who want to try things on in person. It’s like going for a bra fitting with fitters who know their product inside and out and don’t mind bringing you anything you ask for–including prosecco and water.

Pauline was my amazing “fitter”. I told her that I was probably a size 8 or 10 in the waist but might be a 16 in the bust. She decided to start me off with a sampling of size 10 dresses that tend to work well on “heart” shapes. Every single one of them fit.

For the rest of this post, I’m going to focus on fit and the seams that caught my eye.  If you want to know more about the impressive fabrics and workmanship, they have some very passionate Yelp reviews on the subject. Here are the seven dresses that I tried.

Emma

The Emma was my favorite, but the photos don’t sufficiently convey how “together” it made me feel. I positively swaggered in it. Pauline described it as the perfect presentation dress. The fabric isn’t stretchy, but I felt that there could be room for an extra cup size or two.

emma front closeup

I’m trying to point out a vertical seam that runs almost parallel to the folded detail.

[Read more…]

The Shadow Bra Industry: New Options, New Issues

Throughout the Shadow Bra Industry series, you met two New Yorkers, Jessica and Anina, one Chicagoan, Adrienne McGill, one Californian, Lisa Cole, and two direct sales companies, Peach and Essential Body Wear. Today I wrap things up with some final thoughts on the subject.

As you read the articles in this series, did you sometimes feel like you were reading infomercial scripts? I certainly felt like I was writing them! I think it’s because I was introducing you to individual women who work from the shadows to bring good fit to their clients. It goes without saying that each fitter in this series is human, so I decided to go without saying anything critical. None of the private fitters has a huge marketing budget or much time to promote herself on social media. She simply cares about other women feeling great in their skin. By agreeing to be interviewed, she gave Hourglassy readers one more answer to the question, “Where should I go for a fitting?”

When I began this series, I also didn’t anticipate the need for discretion–not discretion about celebrity clients (although these fitters have them), but about trade secrets! There may be a limited universe of bra fitting techniques, but when a fitter has spent years tailoring her approach to the way that her clients think and feel, it isn’t fair for a blogger to swoop in and tell everyone exactly how she does it.  I also didn’t think it was fair to include their fees in my posts because what may look expensive on your screen will seem insignificant when you meet the fitter in person. In my opinion, the women who have decided to build their livelihood on private lingerie fittings are the biggest argument against free bra fittings. It isn’t only the time involved for each appointment, but their determination that every client will walk away satisfied (and lifted, supported and comfortable!).

Although I knew better, I naively hoped that a magical solution to every big bust bra fitting issue would emerge from the shadows through this series. Instead, I learned more about the challenges in the industry.  For instance, there’s a reason that you probably know more about big bust bra fit than many department store fitters. In the past, bra manufacturers held early-morning training sessions for department store employees in the hours before the store opened to demonstrate how their products were supposed to work. Today, the bra companies still want to train, but the stores don’t want to pay their employees to show up.

The ability to carry multiple styles in many sizes remains a major challenge.

  • I thought that partnering with an online retailer would be the perfect solution, but online stores haven’t yet learned the value of having someone on the ground to fit their customers for them. One fitter worked closely with a large online seller, only to be told “You’re no longer an affiliate,” when her main contact moved to a different company. She moved her business to another big online store but has never been acknowledged for the giant orders that she brings them.
  • One private fitter confided that she runs into the same dilemma I had hoped to resolve with this series: To whom can she refer women with the largest bands and/or cup sizes that she doesn’t carry? If we’re picky about finding fitters we can trust, you can imagine how a professional fitter must feel!
  • Although the direct marketing model is a great way to offload inventory risk, focusing on one brand can be limiting, especially if the brand doesn’t work for you.  I have to admit that my Peach bra is now my gardening bra. I wore it on my flight to Paris last month and couldn’t wait to take it off. My Essential Body Wear bra continues to perform well, but it’s a basic that isn’t my top choice when I get dressed in the morning.

Finally, while writing this series, I learned about a DIY option from Ali Cudby. Having trained hundreds of bra fitters, Ali has a good idea of who the good fitters are. But even those fitters can have an off day. After a friend of hers had a bad experience at a reputable store, Ali decided it was time to train the customer. For the price of a Victoria’s Secret bra, she teaches all the basics and some of the finer points of bra fitting in three modules that last a total of one hour. Ali’s goal is to empower the customer to be able to find what she needs no matter who the fitter is or what the store’s inventory is like. It’s great to have one more way to help our friends find their fit!