I’m deliberately starting these introductions with the brightest and girliest brands I know, because I want to reassure you that if you’ve just been fitted and you’re having a minor freak-out about a cup size that’s a letter you didn’t know existed, you will have PLENTY of sassy lingerie to choose from. You may even have some sassier options than your more average-sized counterparts have. I’ve ducked into Macy’s, Target, Old Navy, and the Gap recently, and beige, black, and hot pink seem to be the boring de rigueur, especially once you leave “juniors” brands. I’m an old cat lady, but I want cute duds, dammit.
(Also, massive tangent: American retailers and buyers are OBSESSED with t-shirt or seamless bras. I will grant you that there’s a time and a place for them, but I beg you not to build an entire wardrobe out of them. For starters, if you’re fuller-busted, a bra cup that has seams is much stronger, more supportive, and better at shaping than a molded cup. Molded cup bras are the trickiest to fit (see By Baby’s Rules’ excellent post here that talks about some of the common pitfalls), as your breast tissue can’t, well, to be kind of graphic, smoosh and settle into the cup like it can in a seamed bra, so you have to find precisely the right shape for your individual boobs. Molded cup bras are also a PITA to store, because you can’t cram them in a drawer with all your other frilly bits, and is there anyone out there who feels they have too much storage space, whatever shall they do? Yeah, didn’t think so.
Furthermore, can I tell you how much I love opening my lingerie drawer and seeing colors! and patterns! and lace! and polka dots!? I love it a lot. Opening a drawer to a sea of beige and black? Again, sometimes you need those guys, and there ain’t no shame in that, but should practicality really be the primary mission of your lingerie drawer? Booooo. We have to be practical ALL THE TIME: we have to pay our bills and our taxes and go to our jobs and eat healthily and keep our bodies moving etc. etc. When it comes to our lingerie, let’s support ourselves in style and have a little fun, shall we?)
Anyhoodle, Cleo is ADORABLE. Panache is one of the major players in the full-bust market. They’re constantly innovating, adding new styles, new lines, and new shapes. Cleo is often described as “Panache’s younger sister”, and while it’s true the styles are more youthful, I don’t think they’re limited to teenagers and 20-somethings. I find the bands to run, if not firmer, then certainly less stretchy than some others (cough Freya cough), which is what you need for a good, supportive bra. Their balconette bras are some of the best I own. Not to get too personal or again too graphic, but day-um, my boobs are UP and LIFTED. It’s fabulous. There’s something about the way the cups are constructed that just . . . holds everything in and perks it up. The shapes tend to be more rounded than retro-pointy, which I love. Panache recently revamped their website, and a bunch of the new season styles are just now trickling into stores, so let’s take a look at some pretties:
I know I was just ragging on molded-cup bras, but Cleo does offer some molded styles for those who are die-hard fans. Jude is one of their continuity styles, available in black and beige, in addition to a few seasonal colors. I found this one to run a bit small/shallow in the cup when I tried it and got sized out, but I think it would be great for someone looking for a smooth silhouette under a plunging neckline without in-your-face cleavage. Molded plunge bra, 28-38 D-G, short and thong XS-XXL.
Karen is a new style for Cleo, a molded balconette bra with a freaking star print. Cue the “my boobs are cosmic” jokes. Molded balconette bra, 28-38 D-G, Short XS-XXL.
For those who like padded bras, this new style is particularly lovely: it’s a little more elegant than Cleo’s usual offerings, but the pink dotted ribbon spices it up, and the range includes Cleo’s first ever high-waisted brief! Sexy AND comfy = awesome. Balconette bra, 28-38 D-G. Brief (pictured) and high-waisted brief, XS-XXL.
Some of the bloggers I follow got invited to a press event a few months ago and snapped some pictures of the next two sets, and I’ve been using them as impulse-purchase control ever since. I cannot wait to try these on.
Red lingerie usually = slutty sexy harlot sexy times, which is all well and good for when you need it, but I’m kinda digging how this red lingerie is, well, cute. Aww, it’s got Swiss dots, y’all! And ruffled knickers! Love me some ruffles. Balconette bra, 28-38 D-J, ruffled brief XS-XXL, currently available at Nordstrom.
When Roommate and I moved into our miracle apartment four years ago and I actually had enough room for a real-person bed and, you know, decorating, I went a little bird-crazy. My bedding has birds. My rug has birds. My wall at the time had birds. And then Portlandia came out with this, and I was like “Ah. Yes. That is correct. I shall cool it with the birds.” Y’all, I still kinda dig this. Add red and navy blue, two of my favorite colors to wear? Yes, please. Balconette bra, 28-38 D-J, brief and thong XS-XXL, also currently available at Nordstrom (
although they’re just stocking the thong and not the brief, which is nuts, because thongs, I do not like them, but to each her own).Just kidding, the brief is totally there, carry on, for all is well.)
Obligatory polka-dots, available in yellow or pink. Balconette bra, 28-38 D-J, brief and thong XS-XXL.
Lucy is another continuity style offered every season. Over the summer they released it in yellow, and I found I had a sudden intense desire for a bright yellow lingerie set, even though yellow generally makes me look green and hideously ill. The yellow is still available at some retailers, and the lime green is available at Bravissimo. For Fall it’s available in black, white, and a cute navy with pink and white trim. Lucy fits me a bit oddly: the shape is great and round, and the first time I wore one it was fabulous, but then my size changed this year, and I bought a different color in my new size. I . . . I don’t know. The fit is . . . off. I don’t feel as secure in the cup as once I did. But it does feature one of Cleo’s new innovations: a super-soft, almost fleecy lining to the straps, so the lace and mesh don’t scratch or irritate the skin. Lovely!
So, yes, that’s Cleo. Pro tip: American websites don’t always differentiate between Panache and all of the related brands, so if you’re doing searches online for styles or stores, some of these styles may show up listed under Panache, instead of Cleo. Cleo will also begin offering swimwear in 2013, which I cannot wait to see.
Also, since this is already the longest post in the world, a question: are these introductions helpful? If it feels like I’m trying to sell you on something, I assure you I’m getting exactly nada in return for my shills. I just remember my own feelings of discombobulation and uncertainty when I first started figuring out my size, and I wish I’d been more aware of what was out there, instead of going to store after store and getting frustrated. I imagine these first few intros will continue to focus on the full-bust market, since that’s my area, but I do plan to spotlight as many of the more mid-price, affordable brands as I can, for smaller-busted ladies, full-figure ladies, and ladies in between. If there’s a specific style, color, shape, or brand you’d particularly like more information on, just let me know!
Cleo by Panache is available at: