It’s always exciting when a brand chooses to expand their size ranges, and Parfait, with their appealing, classic designs and budget-friendly price points, was a fan favorite practically from their launch for a size expansion. Earlier this year came the surprise announcement that they would offer three styles up to a K-cup (UK cup sizes, including double letters), and I know I was among the customers eager to take the new G+ styles out for a spin. Even though I’m not usually a fan of padded bras, I knew “Charlotte”, the retro pin-up style set with dramatic black contrast trim, was hugely popular, so when Parfait generously offered me a set for review, I decided to take a gamble to see how I liked it!
[While Parfait provided this set for review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.]
The pretty “Wild Rose” colorway I saw at Curve in August (above) wasn’t readily available yet, and the “Dusty Rose” did NOT play well with my super pale skin/dark hair combo, so I requested to try the cheerful, vibrant red version. I’d heard from other bloggers that the cups ran a bit small and shallow, so I requested my usual band size, plus a cup size larger than I generally take in Panache, the Eveden brands, or Bravissimo. I requested briefs in my “Panache” size, i.e. one size larger than I take in Freya or Bravissimo, as I find those brands run slightly large on me.
“Charlotte” is a looker, isn’t she? The bra lightly padded with a classic three-part cup shape (vertical seam in the bottom of the cup and a diagonal seam connecting the bottom cup with the top panel). Parfait uses a pretty two-sided shiny fabric for Charlotte, stitching some panels matte-side out, which creates a really nice textural variety. The cups, for example, are mostly matte, with the exception of the shiny exterior side sling (see picture below). The bold black stripes are dramatic and striking, and I really, really love the diagonal black stripes on the knickers. It’s an incredibly sassy set, and I can see some ladies having a blast wearing it at a pin-up or boudoir shoot.
All the G-K cup versions of Charlotte feature three columns of four rows of hooks-and-eyes, as well as fully-adjustable shoulder straps that are a full inch thick. On the hanger (or in my case, on the bed), it looks like quite a lot of bra, but the added depth in the band and width in the straps really help the bra feel secure and comfortable.
I’ve now tried on three sizes of Charlotte, and I got the best fit wearing my usual band size and a cup TWO sizes larger than usual. I have some fit nit-picks that have more to do with shape and my personal boobs than they do with size, but having tried several sizes of two different G+ Parfait styles (I’ll have a review of the “Alexis” babydoll later this year) I feel comfortable declaring unequivocally that the G+ Parfait bras, at least this first season’s run of them, are about two cup sizes smaller than other G+ bras on the market, while many bloggers find the D-G versions run true to size. Depending on your shape you may find a good fit one cup size larger than you’d normally wear, but I strongly advise G+ customers to size up in the cups, potentially more than they might be used to. Some people found that Parfait bands ran tight in the past, but my usual band size felt great.
So, about the shape. I tend to need cups that offer A) some flexibility (i.e. they can’t be too rigid) and B) a lot of forward projection. Charlotte feels quite shallow to me, particularly in the center, and the cups are very tall: I feel like I have plenty of extra room in the cup right in front of my armpit, where I don’t need it, but not enough room in the center of the cups or close to the gore, where I do need it. Further, the weight of my boobs has already bent and creased the bottom of the cup (although this is pretty common for me).
The briefs are a great fit, and the waist comes all the way up to my navel (just short of my natural waist). I’m getting a little digging at the waistband, but I have a bit of a belly, so I imagine women with more nipped-in waists will love the look and the fit. The legline is fairly low, which I find both more comfortable and less visible under clothing.
For being a large-cup, slightly rigid padded bra, Charlotte is very light and breathable. I’ve seen bras on the lower end of the price spectrum that feel flimsy or scratchy, but Parfait’s quality always impresses me: the materials are soft and comfortable, and the construction is clean and immaculate. While the deep band and extra-wide straps feel wonderfully secure and comfortable, I find that I keep putting the set on in the morning and then frantically changing into a different set before I leave the apartment. I love how it looks, but when I think about wearing it all day all over the city, I balk. I think I would spend the day adjusting and tugging and repositioning the bra to avoid spilling at the center and empty space at the sides and bottom, and when it comes right down to it I never really want to put up with it for a full day’s wear.
Overall, I love the look of Charlotte, but the bra’s tall, shallow shape just isn’t a great fit for me. While I do think some of my fit issues are specific to me, and that other women might like the shape, I hope Parfait will adjust the cup sizes in future productions of this style to bring them more in line with the rest of the G+ market. That being said, Charlotte is a fantastic addition to the full-bust world: it’s got a sexy, retro, pin-up vibe, it’s continuously available, the price point is budget-friendly, and the red, in particular, makes it a fabulous set for those who get into holiday lingerie. It will also work beautifully paired with a black underbust corset (as Bras and Body Image styles it here) or a black waist cincher or girdle (from Kiss Me Deadly, for example) for a great boudoir look!
For more reviews (erm, a LOT more– this bra is popular!) of “Charlotte” by Parfait across a wide range of sizes, check out:
A Sophisticated Pair
The Full-Figured Chest
The Lingerie Addict
Filling a Niche
Bras and Body Image
Hourglassy/Off the Rack
By Baby’s Rules
Invest in Your Chest
Petite & Plentiful
Busts 4 Justice
Quest for the Perfect Bra
Undressed to Impress
Note that some of these reviews are from prior to 2012; Parfait has adjusted their fit slightly with each season.
“Charlotte” retails for around $35-40 for the bra and $13-16 for the brief. It is available in Peach, Red, Dusty Rose, and Wild Rose. The set is available at Breakout Bras, Bare Necessities, Butterfly Collection, Large Cup Lingerie, Dollhouse Bettie, Helen of Troy Bras, and A Sophisticated Pair (contact the store directly to order).