Earlier this year Panache offered to send me Masquerade’s brand-new “Serenity” bridal range for review and for inclusion in the bridal boudoir editorial published last week on Burnett’s Boards. Masquerade always creates incredibly special bridal collections; past season styles like Tiffany, Hestia, and Deity offered the D+ bride luxurious lingerie in a variety of shapes and styles that were every bit as supportive as they were beautiful. I was especially pleased to see that the Serenity range includes two strapless styles, a basque and a strapless bra, that are both available up to an H-cup, as there aren’t very many strapless options past a G or GG-cup. Panache generously sent me the strapless bra, convertible basque, brief, and suspender belt for review. While I received these items free of charge, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
The Serenity collection is, quite simply, stunning. In cool, bright ivory satin with large white-on-white floral embroidery and silver-toned charm accents at the center front and waist, this is a classic bridal collection that looks and feels like an heirloom.
As part of Panache’s more luxurious Masquerade line, the price points for these pieces are higher than Panache or Cleo prices, but I have to say the price is justified, just on looks alone. With fine materials and rich, elegant embroidery, this collection goes above and beyond aesthetically. Check out the beautiful lace on the removable straps—I felt like a princess when I was wearing them. Just to be a total cliché.
Both the strapless bra and basque use the same cup structure: a padded three-piece cup with a vertical seam in the bottom of the cup and one horizontal seam across the center, with an embroidered upper cup. The bra closes with three columns of three rows of hooks and eyes, and the basque closes with three columns of thirteen rows of hooks and eyes. The basque features four flexible bones in the front and two in the back (one on each side), more embroidery along the sheer mesh hip panels, and four detachable suspenders.
The brief features a smooth satin waistband, embroidered hip panels, a double-layer mesh rear and a center backseam. The suspender belt closes in the back with two rows of three columns of hooks and eyes, and it features all-over embroidery and a sheer center panel, with four suspenders. Each piece includes a small blue bow on the garment tags, just in case you still need a “something blue” for your bridal ensemble.
Oh Masquerade, you adorable bunny rabbit, your sizing is all over the place. I often have to try multiple sizes to get the right fit with this brand, and Serenity is, in my (larger) end of the size range, no exception. I usually find Masquerade basques quite tight, as I have a thicker waist, and I sometimes have fit issues with padded bras, so I asked for one band size larger, keeping the same cup letter, which gives me a size that is technically one band AND one cup size larger than I normally wear. This was a good call, y’all. I found both band and cup on the smaller side, in both the bra and the basque, so I’d recommend experimenting with sizing up, especially if you wear a larger size like I do. I found it more comfortable to wear an extender on the strapless bra during the photo shoot, even though the band was a size larger than I normally wear, so that sucker is firm. The briefs and the suspender, on the other hand, ran quite large on me. I should have asked for my “Freya” size, which is one size down from what I normally wear in other brands. I was able to exchange the suspender for a smaller size so that it would sit on my waist instead of sliding down towards my hips, and I should have done the same with the brief. By the end of the photo shoot the briefs had stretched a bit and didn’t fit as smoothly and firmly as I’d have liked.
So, my take: consider sizing up in the band (and cups, if your breasts are fuller) and sizing down in the briefs and suspender, especially if your hips and rear aren’t as full.
When worn with the straps, both the bra and basque give romantic, rounded lift and cleavage. The straps are placed quite wide, which helps to pull the breast tissue forward and center, as well as helping the center gore to tack. The cups are not especially deep (as I find is typical with padded bras), another reason to experiment with a few different sizes to find the one you like the best.
Now, full disclosure: I get the best shape in a strapless bra from molded cups, even though I prefer non-molded for my regular bras. They seem to hold their shape more aggressively, and I feel more confident wearing them under looser, more flowing strapless garments.
With seamed strapless bras, like Serenity, I personally feel like there’s not as much help from the bra when it comes to defying gravity. Although the padding helps provide structure and support, when I take the straps off the Serenity strapless bra, the band stays put (again, mine was super small and firm), but my breast tissue wants to spread out to the sides, a common occurrence in strapless bras for full-bust sizes. The basque definitely felt more secure and supportive, because there’s more structure holding the breasts in place from below. I’d probably recommend the strapless bra under a gown that’s already got some form and structure to it, rather than under a flowing, bias-cut silk or chiffon, for example.
Look, let’s not kid ourselves: I’ve never met someone whose favorite, most comfortable bra ever was their strapless bra. That being said, this collection is really, really special. The materials are soft and feel good against the skin, the extra row of hooks in the strapless bra (Masquerade normally only uses two rows, but I prefer the three rows they use here) helps distribute the weight of the breasts more smoothly and comfortably, and the bones in the basque are firm enough that they don’t bend or buckle, yet flexible enough to allow for movement.
The suspender belt is not the sturdiest around, I will say. The suspenders themselves are quite thin, and the materials of the belt have some stretch to them. I strongly recommend sizing down if you can: you want a suspender belt to fit firmly around your waist, so that it doesn’t have room to slide down your hips. The last thing you want to be worrying about during a special occasion is hiking your bra up or adjusting your stockings.
The full-bust market has grown astronomically over the last decade, and brands like All Undone, Harlow & Fox, and Mimi Holliday have created some incredibly beautiful, luxurious lingerie for full busts and smaller back sizes in particular. Even in an increasingly vibrant market, the Serenity collection is a standout. I think Masquerade were smart to offer a basque instead of a bodysuit like Deity’s (even though it was so very pretty), as they can be a much trickier fit. The shapes they chose feel smart, and I can see them appealing to lots of different brides for wearing under a range of dress or gown styles. With each piece available in back sizes from 28 to 38, the collection covers one of the widest size ranges out there in the full-bust bridal market.
P.S. How about those Harlow & Fox robes, huh? Pretty great? And the Dollhouse Bettie silk stockings, amirite? I’ll do a wrap-up post at the end of this series with all the details!
Photography: Kate Ignatowski (originally published on Burnett’s Boards)
Flowers: Mimosa Floral Design Studio
Lingerie: Panache Lingerie (c/o). Available in sizes 28-38 D-H (UK cup sizes) and XS-XXL.
Robes: Harlow & Fox “Eleanor” Robe and “Sophia” Kimono (borrowed)
Stockings: Dollhouse Bettie “Juliet” Silk Flapper Stockings (c/o); Charnos
Hair: Andy Tseng
Makeup: Anny Chow
astridAugust 4, 2014 at 8:14 am (9 years ago)
You look absolutely stunning in these!
SweetsAugust 4, 2014 at 10:51 pm (9 years ago)
Thank you so much, Astrid! Xoxo
Leah HAugust 4, 2014 at 11:00 am (9 years ago)
Lovely! But with the balconnet shape, there are very few wedding dresses that would actually cover these bras. I’m still waiting for Panache or Eveden to make some basques that plunge at least enough to wear them under a sweetheart neck.
SweetsAugust 6, 2014 at 7:48 am (9 years ago)
Hi Leah! Thanks so much! While I agree that there are some popular bridal styles that need very plunging undergarments, I have to say that your comment took me aback– when I think of my ideal formal dress or wedding dress, I can absolutely picture lots of styles that these shapes would work well under! But then again, you and I have different personal styles and very, very different body types, so maybe it varies from person to person? I’m glad you said something, because it hadn’t occurred to me!
Leah HAugust 6, 2014 at 9:37 pm (9 years ago)
I wore the Masquerade Hestia on several wedding dress shopping excursions last year, and found that the straight-across neckline and high gore (which are also present in these designs) didn’t work well with a lot of necklines. Certainly no sweethearts, and nothing even remotely plunging. Something about the gore also didn’t play well with necklines that weren’t particularly cleavage-bearing, but were meant to fit into the between-boobs crease. Since I insist on wearing a bra to my wedding, I wasn’t trying on anything backless or super plungey either. After a few shopping trips, I actually left it at home and wore a strapless Deco instead. In the end, I’ll be wearing a totally unsexy but practical beige Le Mystere strapless bustier (which, to be fair, has a more limited size range).
SweetsAugust 6, 2014 at 9:51 pm (9 years ago)
I totally hear you, and I can imagine how frustrating it is to have to make do in order to wear the dress you want, but let me just gently remind you again that we are very, very different sizes and builds. I’ve worn sweetheart and plunging styles with straight across balconette bras before with no ill effects, because sometimes cuts land differently on different bodies. So I don’t feel comfortable writing off this collection for all bodies, but I agree that YMMV. It all comes down to the individual, and some of those individuals will be able to wear this set comfortably with a variety of dress styles.
Ms. PrisAugust 6, 2014 at 6:49 am (9 years ago)
Thanks for reviewing this! The photos of the basque look as though the gore isn’t tacking and there’s a lot of empty space in the cups. I am surprised you didn’t mention that.
SweetsAugust 6, 2014 at 8:01 am (9 years ago)
Hi! Thanks for commenting, and I’m glad you enjoyed the review! I had to go back and really look at the pictures of the basque for a bit before responding. I think sometimes determining fit from pictures can be tricky, especially these, which are more “editorial” and “boudoir-y” than fit-focused. When I’m fitting someone else I always, always prefer to do it in person, as even video/Skype can’t always tell the whole story.
I definitely remember the gore tacking at the time (we shot these in April), and it tacks for sure now, as I’ve lost a little weight since then. I think I can see what might look “iffy” in some of the pictures, as there seems to be a shadow along the cleavage line. With that, I kind of have to shrug and say “eh, big boobs, what can you do?” My size is much larger than the Panache model’s, in both band and cup, and at the time I was super full on top, so I think the shadow is just one big boob casting a shadow on my sternum. So yeah, it’s gonna look a little different on me. As for the appearance of extra space, I’m not sure I see “lots”, but as this bra is A. padded and B. satin, it’s simply not going to be able to hug every (on me, large and prominent) curve on my body, and the light hitting the satin is going to highlight every single wrinkle, which doesn’t necessarily reflect what’s going on inside the cup. I did mention that the cups are a little shallow, but if there were major fit issues like a non-tacking gore or way too much extra space in the cups (which I do get in Parfait’s bras and some first season Tutti Rouge, for example) I definitely would mention it.
Does that help or answer your question? Let me know if I’m being waffly. Short answer: yes the gore tacked and no I didn’t feel like there was lots of empty space, and from a fitter’s point of view as well as a personal comfort point of view, I liked it!
Ms. PrisAugust 6, 2014 at 8:42 am (9 years ago)
Sure, thanks for answering! The space I see in the cups appears to be below and around the boobs, and I know that if a padded bra is at all stiff it can be hard to fully settle the breast into it.