Over the last few months I’ve had the very great pleasure of getting to know Marzena, current Creative Director of Samanta Lingerie, one of the best-known lingerie companies in Poland. Founded by Marzena’s mother 25 years ago, Samanta has grown from a small family company run out of her mother’s home to a major European lingerie house, offering hundreds of styles every year in sizes ranging from petite to curvaceous. As Samanta has grown to serve countries across Europe, they’re now beginning to introduce the brand to American retailers and customers.
Since the Samanta catalogue is quite large (seriously, so many pretty styles!), Marzena very generously sent me three separate sets in different cuts and constructions (all from the Pret a Porter sub-brand), so I can share an overview of some of the styles available to the full-bust customer. Let’s dive in!
[Note: Samanta Lingerie generously provided these sets for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
The Kerk collection includes four separate bra styles and five knicker styles (two different briefs, a thong, a tanga, and shorts). Samanta styles are identified by style number rather than collection name (so, in this case, the A922 cut recurs across several different collections). A922 is designed for those customers on the fuller end of the cup size range, available in band sizes 65-90 (30-40 UK) and cup sizes from D-M (D-J UK), depending on band size. The bra is a three-part full-cup bra crafted from all-over lace. The bottom two panels of the cup are backed with sheer tulle (in this case red, to match the lace), plus an internal side sling of the same red tulle for forward projection. Apart from a red-and-pink flat bow at the center gore the bra is otherwise simple, letting the opulent lace take pride of place. The band closes with two rows of three columns of hooks and eyes, and the red straps, padded for extra comfort, are fully adjustable.
In terms of size and fit, Kerk A922 seems to run a bit larger in the cup than the other two styles I tried. I converted my most common UK size (32H) to Euro sizes (70K) for my first round of try-ons, we then exchanged the Kerk bra for a 70J (32GG), and even then I still have a bit of extra room in the cup. The straps are fairly wide-set, particularly in back, and I have to wear mine fully extended (as I do with some Panache bras like Jasmine)– those of you who are tall or have long torsos may run into issues there. Another fit note: some people are very sensitive to lace that extends below the center gore, so if you need a clean line there, you might want to investigate a different style, like Hana (below).
As you can see in these shots, this bra is fairly full-coverage: it comes up high on the chest, the center gore is tall, and even the briefs have a higher rise than some US brands’. While this isn’t a bra for those of you looking for cleavage or a plunging neckline, I really love how the transparency of the lace, both in the bra and over the hips of the briefs, lightens the overall look and keeps it from feeling like it’s overwhelming. Also good to note: this bra really cuts down on, um, jiggling and bounce. I feel great wearing it all day long, and I noticed as I was sprinting down the escalator at Grand Central one day that this bra was holding everything all nice and steady. It’s not a sports bra, of course, but if you’re looking for a light, breathable bra that will hold everything aloft and in place over the course of the day, this style might be the one.
I think the Mintaka collection, which includes four bra styles and three knicker styles) is just so, so stunning. This Violet colorway, in particular, with its sheer panels and opulent gold, magenta, and violet architectural embroidery, feels so rich and regal. I love how the otherwise simple boxers incorporate the embroidery over sheer hip panels. The Mintaka A925 bra seems to run the smallest (and therefore most true-to-size) of the three styles I tried: this is a 70K (32H), and it’s a pretty outstanding fit. Mintaka A925 is available in band sizes 65-95 (30-42 UK) and cup sizes D-M (D-J UK), depending on band size.
A925 bras feature a three part balconette cup with a sheer upper section and lightly padded lower cup sections. The vertical seam provides good lift, and the center gore is slightly lower than that of the Kerk A922. The band closes with two rows of three columns of hooks and eyes, and the embroidered straps (again, padded for comfort) are fully adjustable. I’ll also note that I find the underwires in this style shorter under the arms than the other two styles, which is nice for those of us who find large cup bras sometimes come with tall, stabby wires. While the boxers share the same rich embroidery as the bra, they’re remarkably practical: the center panel offers very light shaping, and the legline features a seamless, “clean-cut” finish to avoid showing under clothes.
One thing to note with all Samanta bras: while all the center gores tack on me (this means that the underwires in the center of the bra are resting against my sternum, instead of standing away from my body), Marzena advised me that these bras are NOT designed to tack as firmly as some UK brands’ bras. I agree with her; the wires tack very lightly, which may feel strange if you’re used to wires that press firmly against your ribcage. Never fear! The bra still feels anchored and supportive, and I never worry that my breast tissue will shift around or move out of the cups. This is great news for people who have wound up with bruised or sore sternums– Samanta bras might alleviate your discomfort while still providing excellent support.
Hana A111 Bra in Claret
[Note: unfortunately the coordinating Hana briefs never arrived. I’m wearing the Paramour bikini briefs by Claudette, since they were the closest color match I own].
The Hana collection includes two different bra styles and four different knicker styles. The A111 bras are some of the more unusual ones I’ve seen in the full bust market– a half-cup style with a single horizontal seam. The lower half of the cup is designed like a molded seamless non-padded bra (like this one by Fantasie), while the top half features heavy floral guipure lace with slight stretch. In this size range (band sizes 65-95 (30-42 UK) and cup sizes C-M (C-J UK) (depending on band size), it’s much more common to find half cup bras with at least one vertical seam to provide shaping and lift. This is a great style to pick if you’re sensitive to trims, laces, or embroideries that extend below the band; the smooth line won’t dig or irritate the skin of the upper belly.
The result is a wonderfully comfortable bra with a perfectly smooth lower cup. The guipure lace, though thicker than the stretch lace many UK brands use, does mold a bit to your individual shape. I’ll note that I’m wearing a size 70K in these photos; 70J would be a much better fit. I have a little extra space in the bottom of the cup, and I’m not quite filling out the top. As a result of a slightly too big cup, and with no vertical seams to help with support, I don’t get a lot of lift and projection in this bra. It’s very comfortable, and I like wearing it on days when I’m feeling a little full and sensitive, but it’s not the bra to choose if you’re looking for dramatic re-shaping or a noticeably lifted profile. I also find I have to adjust the fit more frequently throughout the day than I do when wearing the styles with more seams, although that might just be personal to me.
While Samanta offers three separate sub-brands– Glamour, Young, and Pret-a-Porter— the entire brand is unified by attention to detail, an impressive variety of textiles, embroideries, and construction techniques, and, above all, variety. With multiple cuts of bras and knickers in every collection, Samanta makes lingerie to fit a truly staggering range of sizes. The three bras I tried all feature:
- Unique fabrics, laces, and trims
- Narrower underwires than many UK brands, at least in my size range
- Boning in the sides of the band for additional smoothing and support
- Soft, cushioned straps to relieve the weight of fuller breasts (although I’ll note again that they’re wide-set and a little on the shorter side)
- Comfortable, beautifully detailed coordinating knickers
A note on sizing: While the Samanta website offers a size calculator (in centimeters), as with all size calculators, it will only provide an estimate. In my case it returned a size 2 band sizes too large and 2 cup sizes too small; I had better luck converting my UK size directly to Euro sizes. The calculator worked a little better for knickers: it suggested a size Large, but I preferred an Extra Large. I find Cleo knickers run a little small, and therefore I’d recommend using them as a guide when choosing your Samanta knicker size.
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Readers in the UK and Europe can order bras directly through the Samanta website. Based in North America? You can email firstname.lastname@example.org to place an order directly through the company, and you can also tell your favorite local boutique that you’re interested in buying Samanta.
What do you think of the styles I reviewed here? It’s definitely a different look from the padded plunge bras of Ewa Michalak or Comexim, the other two Polish brands I’ve tried. Any styles on the website catch your eye?
Photography: Studio Rezin