Panache is a huge market leader in the full-bust lingerie industry, and, along with Freya, they’re usually one of the first full-bust brands many North American women encounter. Founded in 1982, Panache now includes five brands: Superbra (basics and basics-with-a-twist), Cleo (bright, colorful, whimsical designs), Masquerade (sometimes known as Harlequin in the US, slightly more sophisticated materials and shapes at slightly higher price points), Panache Swimwear, and Panache Sport (fave. sports bra. ever.), with Sculptresse (for the full-figured full-bust customer, wonderful preview at A Sophisticated Pair) coming some time in 2013. I covered Cleo a while ago, because I’m kind of obsessed with them, but the Superbra line deserves mention and applause for its quality, fit, support, and size range. Panache was one of the first brands to introduce a K-cup and is one of the few big lingerie brands to offer a KK-cup. Superbra includes seamless basics, pretty lace/mesh seamed styles, and a few maternity options. Superbra may not be as glamorous or flashy as some of her sister brands, but the shape and support really can’t be beat.
While a few new styles come and go each year, there are a host of continuity styles available each season, which is nice for those who find their perfect bra and want to keep wearing it forever and ever. Here are some of the tried-and-true staples Superbra offers.
Tango Balconette and Tango Plunge
Tango is one of Panache’s longest-running styles, and it’s available every season without fail in basic as well as fashion colors.
The plunge bra is really outstanding, in my experience. Most plunge bras I see on the market give dramatic, luscious cleavage, which is fine and all (great even!), but if you’re wearing a dress with a deeper neckline to, say, work or a religious service, it’s nice to have a bra cut low enough so that the bra won’t show, but discreet enough so that you don’t feel self-conscious.
Sienna is a popular unlined balconette bra in satin with a lace overlay. It’s a great example of a basic bra that’s been a bit dressed up with lace and seasonal colors. It’s come and gone from the rotation a few times, shown up in multiple colors, and it even made an appearance as a basque for a few seasons.
The current season’s offering is the beautiful teal-blue “Lagoon” color, shown above.
Porcelain and Porcelain Viva
Molded-cup devotees will be delighted to learn that the Porcelain range offers a few different basic styles, including a balconette, a plunge, and a strapless bra.
“Viva” is the same shape as the basic Porcelain, offering some stripes and lace detail. While I loved the Porcelain strapless before I switched to Freya’s strapless deco, the balconette never agreed with me. I find the cups too wide and shallow for my shape, but I know others who swear by it. I hadn’t realized the plunge version came in a wider size range, and I’d be curious to try it!
Melody is a fairly new style, but it offers Panache’s largest size range. The balconette bra (above) is available in black, white, beige, and a fashion color every season, and the full-cup bra is available in black, white, and beige.
Both the full-cup and the balconette bra are available up to KK cups consistently, so for some women, these are some of the few bras available in their size year-round.
Andorra and Jasmine
Erica of A Sophisticated Pair won me over on the Andorra. A sort of cross between a full-cup style and a balconette, Andorra is an unlined seamed balconette whose bottom sections are made of a stiffer, supportive mesh, while the top section is made of a wonderfully soft stretch lace that accommodates fuller-on-top breasts and monthly breast size fluctuations. It’s consistently available in black, white, and beige, and the full-cup and plunge style, which I’m itching to try, are available in a seasonal fashion color.
Jasmine is based on the same shape with the same stretch lace, and arrived this past season in a beautiful bird print. Erica previewed a fun, poppy floral print for next season that is already on my wishlist.
Own it, love it. More colors please!
I haven’t tried Ariza yet, but some of the recent color combinations, especially the black and pink above, have been seriously appealing to me. A sturdy seamed bra made of the same strong mesh Panache uses in many of their other styles, it looks like a breathable, practical-yet-pretty, comfy bra.
Sophie Nursing bra and Soft Cup Bra
Sophie was one of my holiday picks for new mothers, because I think it’s just really, really pretty. I have lots of women ask me about sleep bras and sleep preferences, and the soft-cup bra, with its cotton lining and pretty lace, would be a really good option for someone looking for a little wire-free nighttime support. The coordinating nursing bra and low-cut short are lovely. It’s consistently available in some basic colors, with a few fashion colors popping up occasionally.
Is Panache for everyone? Well, no, of course not, that would be silly. Here are some things to watch out for if you’re trying a Panache bra for the first time.
- Some customers find that Panache’s wires are too wide for them. The wires wrap too far around and begin heading to their backs, instead of neatly encircling breast tissue. I have never had a problem with the center gores (Cleo, in particular, suits my shape to a T), but if you find that, no matter what size you try, the underwires still won’t fit you right, you may need to try a different Panache style or move on to a different brand altogether.
- Speaking of wires, Panache got quite a reputation there for a bit for underwires that would stab you mercilessly in the armpit. Depending on a woman’s stature, she might either find the wires extra-super supportive or physically painful. I had a Cleo bra a while back that I couldn’t wear on a day when I’d be moving a lot, like if I was packing or doing a lot of housework. I’d be rubbed raw at the end of the day, and my skin would be red and chafed. I have not had this problem with later Cleo bras, and the great news is that Panache has made design changes in their latest lines to lower the wires and improve the comfort for women who wear G+ cups.
- Some people, myself included, sometimes find the straps too thin, particularly in fuller cup sizes. They tend to curl up on themselves and dig into your shoulders, instead of helping to disburse the weight of the breast across the width of the strap. Some styles have fixed this (Marcie by Cleo, for example, has thicker, ribbed straps that lie flat), but in other styles (Andorra among them) it can be quite painful.
That being said, I’d always encourage a full-bust customer to try as many different brands as she can. Each brand, or each brand’s individual styles, will fit and support every woman differently at different times. When I wore a different size, I preferred Freya over Panache, but in the last few years, I’ve increasingly chosen Panache or Cleo bras over Freya, just because my fit and support needs have changed. Panache is committed to creating affordable, high-quality, comfortable, well-fitting, attractive bras, they’re active in social media, and they listen to customer feedback. Check them out!
Have you tried Panache? Do you have any favorite styles?