I’m really trying to shift my shopping habits to support smaller retailers, but I confess that when Figleaves sends me a discount code, I usually bite. I’m trying to pinch pennies wherever I can, and I also really need new bras, so Figleaves’ timing was much appreciated. After a lot of deliberating (everyone and their mother have released some fantastic colors for Fall), I chose the “Marcie” set by Cleo and the “Emily” by Curvy Kate in this season’s deep blue color.
I’ve been wanting to try a Curvy Kate (non-Showgirl) style for a while now. I really like the brand: I like the sense of fun they bring to the full-bust market, I like the body-and-boob positivity, and I love the new, grown-up blue (Midnight/Blush) color for Fall. Cleo, meanwhile, is quickly turning into my favorite brand. I find the fit is more consistent than Freya, and their unlined balconette bras suit my shape almost perfectly: the bottom of the cup is never baggy, the wires sit flush, the bands are nice and firm, and the straps don’t slip. Some women find that Panache bras have painful underwires, but I’ve never had that issue with Cleo. I think it would be a great brand to offer to a full-busted teenager, as some of the styles are sweet, fun, and youthful, but I don’t think Cleo is exclusively for the under-20 set. Who doesn’t want to add a note of sexy playfulness to her lingerie drawer?
Emily first: The bra is really, really beautiful, especially considering that it’s kind of a “basic” bra. I love the vibrant blue, which is kind of a cross between navy and royal blue, and the contrasting embroidery is a very pale sepia-pink that’s quite lovely. Mine had a few stray threads on the cups, but the seams are all secure. The bottom of the center gore features a small eyelet ruffle, which is very pretty and feminine, and happily it doesn’t continue all the way around the cups, as sometimes details like this can rub and irritate the skin directly under the breast. My size features three sets of three hooks and eyes in the back and fully-adjustable straps. The band is true-to-size, and it fits very smoothly. With some bras I’ve found that the band’s outer edges don’t stretch evenly with the rest of the band, which means the top or bottom of the band pinches and digs in while the fabric of the band itself stretches lazily. With this bra, the stretch is more consistent throughout the band as a whole, which is both more flattering (if you’re squishy, as many of us are) and more comfortable. I had heard that some women prefer to try a cup size up in Curvy Kate bras, and since I’m kind of between sizes right now I went with the larger cup size.
My experience with Emily is proof that even if the size is technically correct, sometimes a bra’s shape isn’t 100% perfect for you. The center gore is a bit higher than I’ve found with some balconette bras, and the cups are also cut higher, so to me it feels a bit like a cross between a balconette and a full-cup bra. A fuller cup is great for support, but it does run the risk of showing under some necklines. My breast tissue is fully encapsulated in the cup and the band sits firm and horizontal on the loosest hooks, but the darned center front won’t sit completely flush against my sternum. Generally your first step in that situation would be to try a cup size bigger. However, I already have a bit of extra space in the bottom of the cup, and a cup size bigger would probably just be too big. So what does it mean, when a size is technically correct, but you can’t tick all your good fit checkboxes (in this case, the center gore) in good conscience? It means that your size is fine, but the fit just may not be there. See why it’s a good idea not to get too hung up on the size on the tag? Sometimes the bra just isn’t your soulmate. Emily is super comfortable, but the cups probably aren’t a perfect match for my breasts. There’s also a chance that the center gore is a bit wider than on some other bras. It might be great for women whose breasts sit further apart from each other than mine do, but there’s currently no room between my boobs for that gore. Even though the cut isn’t absolutely perfect, I’m considering keeping the bra, and here’s why: it’s crazily comfortable, I like the shape it gives me, which is a bit lower-profile and less in-your-face than some bras, the support is fabulous, I love the color, and I suspect that I can alter the center gore so that it’s narrower and will fit my shape better.
CK sizes its briefs in UK sizes 8-22. I’m between sizes in skirts and pants right now, and I went with my smaller size when ordering my knickers, which was a good call (reminder: my hips and rear are narrower in proportion to my bust. If you have fuller hips or a fuller rear, you may need to choose your size differently). I really like that the waistband doesn’t dig, and the gorgeous embroidery and smooth fabric are just as lovely here as they are on the bra, but the briefs are a bit lower-cut than I’d like, and between the low cut and the looser waistband I worry they might ride down throughout the day. My obsession with matching lingerie sets is making me hesitate about keeping both parts of a set I’m only 94% sold on, but I’m definitely going to look closer at the bra to see what an alteration to the center gore might accomplish. Decisions, decisions.
On to the Marcie: I first saw this set in one of Invest in Your Chest’s A/W 2012 preview posts (she has also reviewed Marcie, so check her out if you’d like to see some IRL pictures), and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. It’s always hard to try to figure out how a bra will fit you compared to how it fits a model, but I suspected that, given my success with similar Cleo bras in the past, this shape would suit me. The color sure does! A bright, cheerful, cherry red, with sheer mesh embroidery on the top of the cups and swiss dots (oh look, dots, we are all astonished I love them) on the main part of the cups. My size closes with three sets of two hooks and eyes, and the straps are fully adjustable. These straps deserve extra mention: not only are they fully adjustable, but they’re lined with a soft, slightly fuzzy fabric that won’t rub your shoulders raw, and the top side of the strap is ribbed, to ensure that once the strap is adjusted to the right place, it won’t slip. That is a really nice touch, especially considering that fuller busts can be, you know, heavier busts.
And yep, this shape is my shape. I love it, I love it, I love it. Again, I’m between cup sizes, and I went for the larger one. The band is firmer than the CK Emily, and when I first put the bra on I thought the cups were too big. TEACHABLE MOMENT: It’s super, super important to wiggle and shimmy and adjust and reposition and bounce around and stretch your arms up over your head when you’re trying on a new bra, especially if your breast tissue is soft. Once I did my trying-on dance, my breasts settled into the cups, and I realized the fit was perfect. I don’t know what wizardry the Cleo team uses, but their unlined balconettes are magical. The wires sit directly against my ribcage under my breasts with no excess fabric or digging, the center gore is flat against my sternum, there’s no wire poking into my armpit, and the construction of the cup gives gloriously rounded, uplifted boobs. This isn’t a cleavage-y bra, but it gives an extremely sexy shape nonetheless, and it really elongates the torso and slims the waist, since the bust is so perky and uplifted. I wore the bra today under a jersey dress, and even though there are seams and embroidery on the cup, which I know some people shy away from, it’s practically invisible. Marcie, darling, I love you.
The Marcie briefs are also completely flipping adorable. Ruffles, dots, bows: I’m there. I went for my smaller size, which was again the right decision. They’re a little lower-cut than I’d like, but that’s an old song at this point, and they’re too darned cute and comfy for me to care.
I took Marcie out pole dancing tonight. She held up beautifully.
As a fun P.S., it looks like Cleo has great faith in Marcie, as Invest in Your Chest previewed a new electric blue color to debut for Spring 2013!
*N.B. Unless otherwise specified, any item I review here at Sweet Nothings is something I picked out and bought for myself. I do not have sponsors, and I do not use affiliate links. All opinions are entirely my own.