Over the last four years Claudette has become one of the most popular full-bust indie brands on the market. Widely praised for their phenomenal colors and signature neon mesh “Dessous” collection, the brand’s appeared at ASOS, Faire Frou Frou, Anthropologie, and other major lingerie and general apparel shops. Unfortunately their launch coincided with my sliding out of the D-G size range, so I didn’t get an opportunity to try them out for myself until late last year. I was pleased to feature their beautiful pointe shoe range in the Sleeping Beauty holiday editorial.
So I was surprised and delighted when Claudette launched their new e-commerce site earlier this year. Claudette Encore offers Claudette fans the chance to buy past-season styles at SERIOUSLY reduced prices. This means that if there were colorways you loved and missed, or a cut you particularly loved that has since changed, you can restock your drawers without breaking the bank. It’s important to note that all sales are final, so if you’re new to the brand I encourage you to look for reviews before purchasing (also note that the shop only ships to the USA).
[I purchased this set under my real name with my own money. Claudette is not affiliated with this review, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.]
God, I love red lingerie.
Paramour is a three-part unlined underwire bra with a sheer upper cup. The garnet colorway is a rich, deep red with black fully adjustable straps and black trims, including Claudette’s signature grosgrain bows. The band (in my size at least) fastens with three rows of three columns of hooks and eyes. The cups are fairly full-coverage and are particularly tall at the sides.
The low-rise bikini brief features a lined center panel and sheer, unlined hips and rear with a ruched center back seam and a coordinating black bow at the waist.
Paramour is the predecessor of Paloma, one of Claudette’s current styles, and while they’re similar in appearance, they are quite different in fit. My current UK size is around 32H, so I knew going in that I’d be cheating a little, because Claudette’s bras stop at a G. I ordered a 34G, and as I expected, the band is loose on me. I wear it on the middle column of hooks now, though I could easily wear it much tighter. Fortunately for me, Paramour runs a full cup size large. All three women in my family ordered this bra (Mom, Julia Lambert (my twin) and me), we all wear different sizes, and we all sized down in the cups. So my 34G has the cup volume of a 34GG, the sister size to my 32H, which means the cup fits me fairly well.
The underwires are fairly short under the arms, which is nice if you find some brands are a little stabby, and the center gore tacks nicely against my sternum. Let’s talk about the cup: it’s an unusual one, in that it’s not super projected yet it’s still quite full in the bottom of the cup. This is great for me, since I sometimes have trouble with bras that are shallower in the bottom. Underwires very rarely sit right at my breast root, since I’m very full, so even though I really like the fit of this bra, there’s still a bit of visible tissue fold as well as some wrinkling in the bottom of the cup because the shape of the cup doesn’t quite match my natural shape (also because the band is loose, so it’s not fully springing the underwires, nor is it anchoring the bra as firmly against my body as it could).
The bra is also unusual compared to some of the full-bust bras in the market in that aggressive re-shaping is NOT the name of the game. No side panel to pull breast tissue forward, very soft materials, and a super stretchy top cup all mean that this bra offers soft, gentle support instead of sky-high lift, a super-rounded shape, or amped-up cleavage.
This is my new airplane bra. This is my walk-to-the-farmers-market-on-a-quiet-Saturday bra. This is my bra for when I’m menstruating and feeling worn-out and tired. This is my bra for when I’m feeling down and just want something comfy to wear. If I were still pole-dancing this would ABSOLUTELY be one of my pole dancing bras. It is COMFY, is what I’m saying. The materials are so, so soft, and the band feels smooth and gentle. I’ll note that if you have very soft breast tissue you might run into issues with the top section of the cup: the sheer mesh is much stretchier than the lower sections of the cup, so if your tissue is soft there may be a line where the two sections are joined, and furthermore you might find that the elastic along the edge of the cup digs in.
I find that Claudette’s briefs run smaller than some other brands’ (I take an XL instead of an L), and also lower-rise, but I really like the Paramour knickers, and I definitely like them a bit more than the Dessous knickers. The mesh has more stretch, so I feel like they fit my body and move with me, rather than digging in or shifting around. I LOVE a nice ruched backseam on a pair of briefs. These get top marks from me.
If there’s a single bra in my drawer that could be described as “androgynous” this is the one, and I freaking love it. Y’all know I love corsets and ruffles and lace and other super-femme lingerie design elements, but the first time I tried this on I loved the look so much I immediately turned around and ordered the all-black colorway as well.
This bra is so streamlined, sleek, and chic compared to some of my frillier sets. It’s as close as you can get to minimalism in an underwired full-bust bra, and it honestly makes me feel a little more athletic and badass whenever I wear it. Instead of sculpting my body or dressing it up, I feel like this set says “hello, this is my body. This is what it looks like. It’s awesome.” I didn’t realize how few options there are like this in the full-bust lingerie market until I tried this on. Sadly, in more recent seasons Claudette has drastically shortened their cups and made them a bit shallower/smaller. This is great for people who are, say, shorter than I am or less full than I am, but I’m sad knowing that once the current stock of Paramour is gone from the Encore shop, this shape will be gone for good.
SPEAKING OF WHICH: Claudette is running a sale! Use code “SUMMERLOVE” at Claudette Encore during checkout to take $5 off each item you purchase, which means this set could be yours for a mere $20. Seriously. Sale ends June 15, 2015.
* * * * *
Bra and bikini brief: Paramour in Garnet by Claudette ($19.99 and $9.99). Available in sizes 28 D-G, 30-34 A-G, 36-38 B-G, XS-XXL. Also available in Black. Claudette uses UK sizing, so the cup size progression is A, B, C, D, DD, E, F, FF, G.
Photography: Lydia Hudgens