Full Bust Finds from France

Somehow there’s always something new, different or better to tell you about after our visits to CurvExpo. Here are my favorite SS2017 finds from the French companies that we visited.

Aubade is finally offering a G cup!

On a pre-wedding shopping trip with my best friend in 2008, I discovered the Aubade Bahia in black. It was the prettiest bra I’d ever seen, and I had to own it even if it meant sister sizing into a 38F. However, by the end of the year I learned more about bra fit and never tried Aubade again. Until last Thursday.

Thanks to a surprise conversation with an Aubade rep, I discovered that Saks Fifth Avenue (oh how I wish that were an affiliate link) is the one store in New York City to carry the one Aubade style that currently comes in a G cup . It’s called the “Bahia Couture Comfort Demi Cup for Full Cup Sizes“. The 32G fit me perfectly.

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Let me know if you’ve found otherwise, but from my experience with French demi cups, it is necessary to size up in the cup. I mildly quadraboobed in the 32F that I tried, and the band was very stretchy, so I didn’t want to try the 34F. However, if Aubade comes out with 3/4 and full cup styles for G cups, I will try the 32F again. [Read more…]

A Happy (Big Bust Bra Fitting) Ending at Empreinte

It’s my dream–and I’m sure it’s yours–that if a brand makes bras in my size, to be able to walk into a store and try EVERY style available in my size. Since this didn’t happen for me earlier in my week in Paris, I squeezed in a visit to Empreinte an hour before it closed the evening before we left. Dream accomplished.

empreinte purchase

Despite the late hour, my fitter Céliane was incredibly thorough. She answered all my questions and accommodated my every preference. After confirming my size, she wheeled a rack into my dressing room that held every bra that Empreinte makes in 32F.
[Read more…]

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. [Edit: I have since noticed this feature on other bras, but none use this wide a band of elastic.]

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.

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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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Pretty Bras for Big Breasts: Antigel

My first encounter with Antigel bras was a bit anticlimactic after the glamor and elegance of Éprise and Antinéa. Basically, the collection seemed like a variation of the Freya Deco–a lot of contoured cups but in interesting prints–plus one really neat 3-part charcoal basic in super soft Modal that you’re going to love. I planned to write this in a quick summary at the end of my last post, but the more I prepared for said summary, the more I realized there was nothing quick about all I have to share with you.

First, Antigel bras are the moderate arm of the Lise Charmel group, retailing at around $90 for 3-part bras. Rather than intricate constructions of lace and embroidery, the company relies on its exclusive prints and fabrics to make an impact. Each line includes loungewear, outerwear or shapewear that builds on the base established by the bras.

For most Hourglassy readers, the style you’re going to care about is the 3/4 cup 3-part bra that is available from a 30G to a 36G, and since I began with continuity styles from Eprise and Antigel, I’ll do the same with Antigel. Let’s start with the charcoal Modal bra that I mentioned earlier.

It was the minimalist sweatshirt look of the Simply Perfect that initially grabbed my attention, but then I touched the fabric in a matching lounge top and melted from the softness. The same super soft Modal is used in the bra. Some of the matching loungewear comes with shelf bras, but if I could wear this 3/4 cup bra underneath the pieces that don’t have it, I wouldn’t miss it. The Simply Perfect 3/4 cup bra also comes in beige, light grey, ivory and black.

antigel sweatshirt grey bra on table

3/4 cup 30-40E, 30-38F, 30-36G $90; thong $40, bikini $44 range of 5 neutrals (dark grey, beige, light grey, ivory, black) modal

antigel loungewear

Shopping for basic bras is usually just a chore, but next up is a basic that would be a real treat to bring home. The style is called Personal Pep. Given a choice between the rounded Antinéa Essentiel Fit that I told you about yesterday and this lifting, centering full cup with lace-up front and alternating opaque and transparent stripes, I’d choose the the Personal Pep!

antigel latice lace front black bra

This full cup style (no 3/4 model in this style) comes in 32-44F and 32-38G. It’s constructed out of microfiber fabric and is available in beige, black, white and red.

antigel interior latice lace front black bra

Side sling inside the cups

There’s one more basic called the Culte Beaute that comes in a 3/4 cup in 30-38F and 30-36G, available in white, black, ivory, blush and “poudre de soleil”. I love its simple clean lines.

antigel culte beaute 3 fourths cup

Finally, here are two examples of Antigel’s gorgeous prints. I’ll update this post once I’ve confirmed which styles are available in 3/4 or full cups.  From what I can tell, D is the highest contour cup size that Antigel offers.

antigel padded dentelle au coeur

Dentelle Au Coeur (check out the matching wrap dress on the website here: http://www.lisecharmel.com/collections.aspx?l=dentelle-au-c-ur&cat=534317)

antigel padded dark background velvet bow

Oiseau d’Eden. Don’t you love the velvet bow in the center?

Oiseau d’Eden appears to come in a 3-part cup, complete with interior side sling.

antigel dark background soft cut and sew

antigel dark background inner sling

Definitely check out the Antigel website for some of their other prints–you can see that I gravitate towards lacy or floral, but they also have plaids and polka dots.

But wait–there’s more! Here’s a bonus peek at some of the 2016 swimwear prints in styles that should accommodate a French G cup.

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antigel swim 6

antigel swim 8

antigel swim extra

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Antigel compare swim with 3 part basic bra

This turquoise bikini top is based on the cut of the Culte Beaute 3/4 cup bra.

Currently, it seems easier to find Antigel swimwear than bras, but I’m now on the hunt for stores that carry them. Sandra Jones, the U.S. sales rep for Lise Charmel, told me that neither Antinéa nor Antigel are sold in massive department stores, and 95% of the time they are only sold online by brick and mortars that have their own website. What a nice way for boutiques to be able to distinguish themselves–especially if they offer the full range of sizes so that full-busted women can discover which band and cup size work best for them in these brands.