One of the perks of abruptly changing cup sizes over the last year has been the discovery that all of a sudden I can wear Elomi bras. Elomi’s recent collections have really upped their game in terms of style and fit, and their Autumn/Winter 2013 collection looks to be absolutely gorgeous. They were one of my favorite showings at Curve, despite the fact that I didn’t appropriately schedule my appointments and only really got to see them from the sidelines. When I was looking for a strapless bra to wear to a friend’s wedding this summer I reached out to the lovely Erica at A Sophisticated Pair for help, and she suggested trying the Smoothing Strapless bra by Elomi in my sister size (as it’s not available in my true size). Elomi will release a beautiful new strapless range in super-comfortable spacer fabric in August in a hugely expanded size range (as well as 32 bands in the basque, a first for Elomi!), but for the time being we had to fudge it a bit.
I placed a special order for the “Smoothing” strapless bra in beige, and it arrived the week before the wedding.
Construction: Like the Freya Deco “Shape” Strapless I reviewed earlier, it features smooth, molded cups and multiple points of attachment for the straps, so you can keep the straps hidden under different necklines and armholes. The straps are ever-so-slightly wider than those that came with the Deco, and they’re very soft with good stretch for comfort.
Appearance: Smoothing is very much a basic, functional piece of lingerie, and as such it’s nowhere near as pretty as the Deco Shape, which is intended to be bridal/special occasion wear. It’s by no means unattractive though: the lines are clean, it’s smooth and soft, the color isn’t too dingy, and there’s event a discreet, shining bow at the center gore.
Unfortunately, as nice as it would have been to have a basic strapless bra, Smoothing felt much smaller in the cup than the Deco Shape. To some extent this has to do with something Freddy Zappe touched on at the Eveden fitting event at Curve (both Freya and Elomi are Eveden brands). Freya caters to the full-bust market, and Elomi to the full-figure full-bust market, and as such the patterns for each brand are designed for different builds and body types, even though there’s overlap in their size ranges. Deco Shape offers more projection in the cup, as well as feeling slightly more “structured” when worn: it offers very firm, very sturdy support. In spite of my moaning in my review about the hooks and not-at-all longline band, when I wore the Deco Shape under my dress for the wedding, that sucker STAYED PUT. I walked, I danced, I danced some more, I threw my hands up in the air like I just didn’t care, I carried buckets of flowers, I helped unscrew light bulbs at the end of the night, I hauled baking supplies home at 1:00 the following morning, and when I took my dress off and dropped it on the floor in exhaustion, my bra (and my boobs) were where I’d positioned them ten hours earlier.
Elomi’s bra, on the other hand, felt softer on the body, slightly more gentle. Whereas Deco Shape is a somewhat fearsome piece of engineering, Smoothing feels ever-so-slightly less sturdy. The band closes with three (you hear that Freya? THREE. not two) columns of four rows of hooks-and-eyes, and features silicon grippy strips at the top and bottom edges of the band, albeit thinner than those on the Deco Shape.
Of course as lovely as it is to have a bra that cradles you gently instead of hoisting you up, when it comes to a strapless bra I really need the latter. Another difference between the two bras I tried is that Smoothing’s cups are set further apart: the gore is wider, the wires are wider, and the cups themselves are more spread out and shallow. It’s simply built for someone with a slightly wider build, even though the band was a pretty good fit. My boobs are full, but they’re close-set with a lot of projection, and ultimately Deco Shape matched my, uh, shape, much better than Smoothing.
Here are two bras in the same size, same style (molded strapless), made by the same parent company, and yet they fit very differently. It was another good reminder not to get frustrated if you try a bra on in “your size” (or sister size, in this case), and don’t get a fit you love. The size on the tag is only part of the story. Try on as many bras as you need to to find a shape and fit that suit your style and your body.