[Elila generously provided this set for review. I was not compensated for this post, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Elila holds a unique place in the full bust lingerie world for several reasons. For one thing, they’re an American brand, instead of a UK brand, and for another, they make one of the widest size ranges in the business, with sizes 34-56 bands and B-N cups. They’re also standouts in offering wire-free bras in this size range, since many other full bust or full figure brands focus on the superb support and shaping underwires can offer. Finally, when I think of Elila, I think classic, and by that I mean a little old-fashioned. I don’t say that condescendingly or pejoratively at all; I mean that these are bra shapes that are decades old (although made with modern elastics and stretch fabrics), and as such, you will NOT get the rounded, almost globular, look that’s popular with the kids these days, nor will you get a super-cleavage push-up effect. Instead, these bras are designed to provide comfort, coverage, and stability for folks who wear both full band and full cup sizes.
While Elila continues to offer their classic bras in an increasing range of shades, they’ve also introduced a few fashion collections that are real standouts in this size range. I remember reading Holly’s review of the original ivory Glamour collection and being really intrigued by this brand, so markedly different from the likes of, say, Freya, Tutti Rouge, or Cleo. I was delighted when I met with the Elila team at the Fall/Winter 2017 trade shows and they offered to send me the new burgundy colorway for this set. This review turned out a bit long, but there are some really unique features about this set I thought it would be valuable to cover in detail.
Glamour, a three-piece vintage-inspired lingerie set, is the most opulent and embellished collection in the Elila product lineup, with design elements you rarely see in this size range. The bra, panty, and suspender belt are all a rich wine red, heavily embroidered with flowers (poppies?) in a range of red tones from bubblegum pink to dark purple. Decorative elements abound: the embroidery continues onto the back of the bra band, the cups and front of the briefs feature raised pintucked seam patterns, and the suspender straps are split for a total of eight fastenings for stockings. Glamour is significantly more expensive than the rest of Elila’s offerings, but it’s a showpiece collection– all of these decorative elements add to the price, but they’re also elements that make the set feel really special, especially, again, for this size range.
The bra is unlike any other I’ve worn before: true, there’s one primary vertical seam in the bottom of the microfiber cup (the other “seams” are decorative pintucks), and true, there’s an embroidered top panel, as in many seamed bras, but the feature that stands out to me the most is the interior sling. Instead of an unobtrusive mesh panel in the side of the cup, Glamour features a lightly padded interior sling that runs all the way from the shoulder strap following the underwires around to the center gore. This full internal sling creates an extra-lifted, extra centered shape in the cup, aided by narrow underwires that match the actual shape of my breasts instead of extending onto the sides of my body. Though this is a full-coverage bra, with a fairly tall center gore, the exaggerated sweetheart neckline lightens up the look. The fully adjustable straps are wide and lightly padded at the apex where they meet the cup and the interior sling.
The continuous band has vertical boning (or stays) under the arms for stability. Everything about this bra feels a little more engineered, rigid, and sturdy than some of my other full bust bras, and the band is no exception: it’s made of a layer of opaque red stretch microfiber, lined with another layer of powermesh, and it fastens with four rows and four columns of hooks and eyes. Another element that makes this set really unusual in this size range is the way the band is cut in back. Most full-figure and full-bust brands use what’s called “leotard backs”, rather than straight or square backs, which are more commonly found in core sizes and luxury brands. The back of Glamour is a mix of both styles, mostly straight with a gentle curve down to the fastening, and it feels a little more elegant than other full figure bras, which usually have exaggerated leotard cuts.
The coordinating panties provide a nice amount of coverage without veering into full-on high-waist pin up knickers; the waistband sits just below my navel. Panels of embroidery trace along the legs in front and decorate the back of the waistband. The seat features a double layer of power mesh, and the legs and waist are hemmed for a secure fit. The gusset is lined with cotton for comfort.
The suspender belt isn’t designed to do as much shaping work as a girdle, but it provides enough coverage to sit securely and offer light smoothing. The front panel and back panels are microfiber lined with powernet, and the front features symmetrical embroidery panels, while the hip panels are made of powernet alone. The belt fastens with three columns and five rows of hooks eyes. The split suspenders are partially adjustable, and what’s more, they’re detachable, so you could conceivably wear the belt as a decorative accessory even without stockings.
Whoo boy, we had a doozy of a time getting the bra size figured out. Another difference between Elila and the UK brands is that Elila uses their own fitting system. They recommend beginning with the “Plus 4″ method to find your band size (in other words, adding 4 to your raw underbust measurement in inches), and then their cup size progression omits the double letters many full-bust brands use. I currently wear a 32H and a size L/14 in most UK brands (my US skirt/pant size is around a 12). When I was measured at the Elila booth, they recommended trying a 36E or 36F, but when I confirmed my measurements at home, the team decided to send both a 36H and a 38H for me to try, as well as both XL and L knickers and an XL suspender.
I got a great fit in the XL knickers and suspender belt, but the bras were far too big in both the band and cup. The 36H was closest, but I estimated it was at least two cup sizes too big and too loose in the band. I asked if we could try 34G instead and crossed my fingers, and happily it’s a fantastic fit! The band fastens comfortably but supportively on the loosest set of hooks, so I’ll have room to adjust as it stretches with wear. The underwires rest securely against my ribcage and sternum, and all of my breast tissue sits comfortably contained in the cup, which doesn’t wrinkle or dig. There’s the appearance of a tiny bit of extra space in the bottom of the cup, but I attribute that both to the shape of my body (I get it in almost every bra I’ve ever worn) as well as to that padded sling that runs around the full interior of the cup.
The sling helps contribute to another standout feature of this set: that vintage shape! If you’re a retro revival kind of person, this bra would be an amazing choice for your vintage dresses: tons of projection, tons of lift, and a centered, gently pointed shape. This shape is unusual for me, and it doesn’t work well with every outfit, but I really like both the look and the feel of it– it’s so supportive I feel like I could sprint for a train in perfect comfort, while the overall appearance is light and lifted.
Since this set is more structured and features more “engineering” than some of my other sets, it’s not I’d necessarily wear every day. It’s not that it’s uncomfortable, it’s just “a lot of bra”, and particularly in the summer, I gravitate towards lighter, more streamlined sets. That said, I have worn this set all day to work a few times, and it works really well for a long day’s wear. The deep band doesn’t curl up or ride up, and the narrow underwires and interior sling mean that I never once needed to “scoop and swoop” my breasts back into the cups or make any adjustments: I just put it on, and it stays put. Heaven. While the suspenders are partially adjustable, they are a little on the long side, so I recommend wearing one of your shorter pairs of stockings (I’m wearing the M/L size from What Katie Did here, but I could probably get away with S/M because the suspenders are so long). By the end of the first day’s wear I was conscious of some of the interior seams, which felt a little rough and scratchy, but a little more wash and wear will soften those edges. Finally, getting all the suspenders hooked took me longer than I anticipated (it’s a little fiddly to get them all hooked neatly), but once they’re in place they kept my stockings up securely and comfortably throughout the day.
I’ve been really, really impressed with my first Elila set. I’d always been a little intimidated by their fitting process, and I do think it will take each person some trial and error to find their best size, as neither the Plus 0 nor Plus 4 fitting methods (the latter of which is Elila’s recommendation) returned an accurate size for me, and the cup sizes don’t necessarily correspond neatly if you’re trying to convert your UK size. But in a market demographic currently obsessed with “invisible” t-shirt bras and shapewear, or chasing the retail-friendly bralette trend, an opulent, heavily embellished three-piece lingerie set that provides a visibly retro profile really stands out, to its great benefit. This set goes up to a size 46K in the bra and 5X in both the panty and the suspender– I don’t think I’ve ever seen lingerie like this in those sizes. Ever. And I look at a LOT of lingerie every day. The ivory version would make for stunning bridal lingerie, but this shade of red speaks directly to my soul. This is beautiful (and beautifully made) lingerie designed to celebrate the body instead of concealing or minimizing it.
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Bra, Brief, and Suspender Belt: Glamour Burgundy (c/o) by Elila. So far I’ve only found the full three-piece burgundy set available at Linda’s; I’ll update if I find other retailers. Bra ($78) available in sizes 34-46 DD-K, brief ($47) available in sizes M-5XL, and suspender belt ($54) available in sizes M-5XL. Elila does not use double letters; the cup size progression is E (or DD), F, G, H, I, J, K.
Stockings: What Katie Did Maroon Glamour Seamed Stockings ($15), available in Small/Medium and Medium/Large. Looking for plus size stockings to wear with your Elila suspender belt? I recommend checking out Glamory (up to 39″ thigh circumference), The Big Tights Company (up to 30″ thigh circumference), or The Nylon Swish (up to 4X).
Photos: Michi Rezin