Apart from “Emily”, which I tried last Spring, I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to try Curvy Kate‘s nonpadded styles. I’ve tried a few Showgirl styles just for fun, but I never wound up wearing them very much: padded bras are rarely my first choice, half-cups even less so, and I found the styles so shallow that I didn’t feel very settled or comfortable when I wore them. After Emily fit me just so-so, I was wary of trying again, until the lovely Charlotte, Curvy Kate’s designer, told me at February’s CurveNY tradeshow that Curvy Kate had re-patterned and re-cut their nonpadded bras following consumer feedback. When Curvy Kate reached out to me shortly before August’s Curve to offer me a set of my choosing to try out the new cut for myself, I jumped at the chance. [Note: While Curvy Kate generously provided this set, all opinions and comments are my own.]
Both Portia and Romance made it onto my late summer wishlist, and I decided to take Portia, one of Curvy Kate’s original and enduringly popular styles, out for a spin. The bright “Watermelon” shade is a warm, coral-y pink, and the dark purple ribbon trim gives it an unusual, slightly edgy punch. Portia features a lightly raised criss-cross pattern in the fabric, fully adjustable straps, and three columns of three rows of hooks and eyes.
Portia is a gorgeous, classic three-part balconette bra. The lovely textured fabric, the eyelet (broderie anglaise) trim, and the ribbon woven through the cups are classics, but they’re fresh and feel unique to Curvy Kate– pretty and feminine without looking musty or dated.
Some of my earlier fit issues included small, shallow cups and a wide center gore that didn’t tack (lie flight against my sternum). I was delighted to find that the new style does indeed correct some of these issues: the cups feel fuller and deeper, and the center gore is narrower. The wires tack beautifully, although the tiny bit of wire play right at the tips of the center wires does not (more in a bit). I found the band to run quite big, certainly larger than I remember Emily running, so I’d recommend sizing down if possible. I started off on the middle set of hooks right away.
I tried what I consider to be my “normal” size in the briefs (same as I wear in Panache, one size up from Freya and Bravissimo, which tend to run a bit large), and I found them to be a great fit. I do find them to be a bit low-cut, but that’s pretty par for the course for me: I prefer a rise somewhere between a classic bikini and a full high-waist brief, so those of you who prefer bikini briefs will be very happy. There was a bit of extra room in the hips, which is good news for ladies who have fuller hips.
So, is Portia perfect? Well . . . almost. She’s certainly very comfortable, but there are a few things that are still keeping her from being one of my favorite bras.
1. While I get a lovely, natural shape, I’m not getting the same feeling of super-supportive lift that I get from some of my favorite bras, like Panache’s Jasmine or Bravissimo’s nonpadded balconette bras. Portia is one of those bras that sort of cradles your boobs gently rather than hoisting them aloft. It’s a lovely, gentle look, but it’s not necessarily my absolute first choice.
2. The wires are ever so slightly narrow for me in the bottom of the cup. They’re closer to being V-shaped rather than U-shaped: I prefer a wire that has a wider curve in the bottom of the cup, even though the sides remain fairly close-together. Portia’s curve is a bit too pronounced for me, and my boob can’t really “settle” into the bottom of the cup. So even though the cup isn’t shallow, and the wires fit really well at the center and sides, the curve of the wires doesn’t give me enough room to fill the bottom of the cup, and my “usual” size feels slightly too small. All of my breast tissue is sort of forced up to the top of the cup throughout the day, pushing against the eyelet and ribbon trim, bending the very top of the gore away from my sternum, and slowly creating a quadra-boob look. Not my fave.
3. This is something I’m grateful to Bras I Hate & Love for pointing out, because she articulated it really well: because the sheer mesh doesn’t have any elastic in it, over the course of a day’s wear it slowly starts to stretch out of shape. Obviously a bra that is nothing but stretch won’t be stable and you’ll bounce all over the place, but a bra that doesn’t have any elastic-type fibers that will “bounce back” into place in it can gradually lose its shape as gravity does its work. Portia looks lovely when I first put it on and get all situated in the cup, but by the time I get home at the end of the day I don’t feel like the cup can give me the same support and shape.
Even though Portia wasn’t the best fit for my personal boobs, I think Curvy Kate is only getting stronger from a fit and design point of view. I have had really good luck in the past with laminated fabric cups, like Bravissimo uses in “Cherry Fling”, so I currently have my eye on Curvy Kate’s “Gia” style, which also features laminated cups. This kind of construction is super stable and will hopefully help me fight off the end-of-the-day droopiness.
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More Curvy Kate goodness!
Lots of lovely lingerie bloggers have written about Curvy Kate:
Bras I Hate & Love
Invest in Your Chest
Fuller Figure Fuller Bust
A Sophisticated Pair
Bra Nightmares: here and here
Brood’s Big Bras
Curvy Wordy: here and here and here
Braless in Brasil
Busts 4 Justice
Also, the deadline for entries for Star in a Bra North America is OCTOBER 3! Entries are open for contestants in the United States and Canada. If you’re a fan of Curvy Kate and want to be the brand’s next model, enter on Facebook here.