Let’s take a quick trip to France, shall we? (Sigh. If only.)
[Disclosure: Simone Pérèle generously provided the Revelation bra for review. Cervin generously provided the Boétie suspender belt and Charleston silk stockings for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
You may have noticed that my lingerie purchases tend to HEAVILY favor UK-based brands, followed by Polish and American brands. Some of this is because for several years I was outside the size range of most French brands, and another reason is that while the major French lingerie companies have a rich, long-standing history and products that feature impeccable craftsmanship and wonderful fit, the pieces tend to be more expensive than some of their UK counterparts. Especially since my size has been in flux over the last two years, I’ve been wary of investing too much in a bra that might not get more than a few months’ wear before my size changes again.
I was delighted, therefore, to be invited by Lingerie Française to a dinner during August’s CurveNY trade show. Lingerie Française is an alliance of some of the major French lingerie houses, and the group works to promote these brands’ cultural history. I visited the group’s touring show when it was in New York in 2013, and it was a real treat to get to learn more about these beautiful companies that have been making lingerie for over a hundred years. Several of the brands specialize in fuller bust sizes, and since I’d had great luck in the past with Maison Lejaby (featured here, and on my Instagram), I was eager to learn more about the other brands that had previously been out of my size range.
One new-to-me brand is Simone Pérèle. I’ve actually fitted a few of my clients into Simone Pérèle bras, but I’d never tried one for myself. I’m excited to share my thoughts on their classic demi bra, Revelation.
The Revelation collection includes a few different styles, including this classic demi cup bra, which features a two-part cup with a vertical seam. The cups are constructed of sheer black mesh embroidered with swirling pinwheels, and the top edges feature a lovely embroidered scalloped detail. The richly embroidered straps are fully adjustable, and the band closes with two rows and three columns of hooks and eyes.
I’ve now tried on bras from fellow Lingerie Française brands Maison Lejaby and Empreinte, and in those brands I get a pretty good fit in 32G, while my best UK size is 32GG. French sizes do not correspond exactly to UK sizes– French brands don’t use double letters, but the increments between the cup sizes tend to be a little bigger. Basically it’s kind of confusing and you just have to give it a whirl and do your best. I found the Revelation demi bra to fit me sliiightly small in the cups, definitely smaller than the 32G Maison Lejaby bras I’ve tried. It’s a very low-cut cup, so I sometimes get some spillage over the top and at the sides, which leads me to believe that my best Simone Pérèle size is probably 32H. Since the demi bra is only available up to a G, I cheat 😉 The 32 band feels great though– firm yet comfortable when fastened on the loosest hook. I’ll note that it does seem to be loosening up a little faster than some of my UK bras.
The materials of the bra feel wonderful: the cups are light and delicate, the band is soft yet supportive, and the elastic doesn’t dig in to my squishy bits the way some UK bras do (looking at you, Panache). However, because I most likely need a bra that’s 1 cup size bigger, I don’t get quite as secure a fit as I generally prefer. If the cup were slightly larger I’d get a little more coverage/lift and the underwires could rest more securely against my ribcage. That’s not at all a fault with this particular bra, it’s just related to the fact that the size isn’t quite right for me. The center gore is also a little wider than I prefer; I usually choose bras with very close-set cups. If my size continues to change in the coming months I might find that this bra feels more secure; otherwise I plan to try some Simone Pérèle styles that go up to H-cups.
While some of my fitting clients have adored Simone Pérèle’s spacer t-shirt bras, I’m really glad I got to try out one of their cut-and-sew styles. I think you can learn so much more about a brand’s aesthetics, shape, fit, and style from a non-molded bra, and the Revelation demi bra feels both rich and delicate– easy to wear, yet by no means basic. I’m looking forward to trying a few more styles to get my best fit in Simone Pérèle.
ABOUT THE STOCKINGS:
Cervin is another French brand with over a century of history, and they remain one of the few hosiery brands in the world still manufacturing fully-fashioned nylon and silk stockings. I was surprised and pleased when they emailed me out of the blue this summer offering a few pieces for review. I selected this six-strap suspender belt to try, since most of my suspender belts are more decorative four-strap ones designed to coordinate with bra and panty sets, and my first ever pair of silk stockings, because when someone offers you the chance to try silk stockings, you say yes please. I requested a size 6 after reviewing Cervin’s size chart— these stockings are sized according to height and shoe size.
Man, silk stockings, y’all. They are ostensibly the same thing as nylon stockings, but even though the fit and idea are similar, the silk ones are something else entirely. I opened the package and drew them out, and at the first touch my brain kind of futzed out on me, because they are like nothing else on Earth. Like, someone figured out how to take silk from a silkworm and spin it IMPOSSIBLY fine and then use it to make … ridiculously delicate carefully knit leg-covering-things that have to be held up by other things? Western fashion is weird sometimes, y’all. Also, THESE ARE AMAZING. They feel light and luxurious to wear, and I adore that they’re fully fashioned, with a retro backseam, welt, and keyhole finishing loop.
Real talk though: this color (“gazelle”) is a HUGE BUMMER on my skin tone– a yellowy-gold-beige that I normally avoid like the plague. The image in the PR materials I was sent showed black stockings, so when I requested these it never occurred to me that I’d need to specify that I, too, wanted black ones. I feel like a brat for being disappointed, but I now have a pair of stockings that fits perfectly, feels incredibly luxurious, and is probably one of the more extraordinary accessories in my possession, and I know I won’t wear them much in real life. I know, I know, my complimentary silk stockings are the wrong color, and also my diamond shoes pinch me, but in all seriousness if these stockings were black I’d wear them all the time like the fanciest lady in town.
The Boétie suspender belt is a super sturdy six-strap suspender belt made of firm black stretch tulle with metal fasteners and adjusters. It fastens in back with three rows and three columns of hooks and eyes, much like a bra would, and the front and sides fully cover my belly and hips. I requested a size XL, and it fits well, although perhaps a little snugly. Most of my squishy bits are concentrated around my waist, so wearing something that compresses my tummy and ends at my waist doesn’t give me the smoothest line under clothes (I was also a little puffy when we took these photos because it was the day before my half marathon and I was, ahem, fueling up). If you’re between sizes, I’d size up rather than down. It definitely acts like shapewear across the tummy and hips, and it stays put throughout the day like no other suspender belt I’ve worn before. This is a such a classic piece of lingerie– it would look equally great with retro/vintage-inspired styles and with modern, edgier designs!
Have you tried Simone Pérèle or Cervin before? I tend to think of French lingerie as have a slightly more sedate, mature (though certainly elegant!) look than some UK or Polish brands, although that’s starting to change. And would you ever wear silk stockings?
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Bra: Revelation demi full bra by Simone Pérèle (c/o), $95. Sizes 30 D-F, 32-40 D-G, 42 D-F. Simone Pérèle is a French brand, so the cup size progression goes D, E, F, G. Other styles available include a full-cup bra (C-H cups), a bodysuit (C-F cups), a boyshort, tanga, control brief, and bikini brief. View the full collection here.
Suspender Belt: Boétie suspender belt by Cervin (c/o), 54,90 €. Available in black, ivory, and white in sizes XS-XXXL.
Stockings: Charleston silk stockings by Cervin (c/o), 99 €. Available in gazelle and grey, sizes 1-6.
Photos: Studio Rezin