[Disclosure: Harlow & Fox generously provided this bra for review. The waist cincher and brief are factory samples that were not cleared for retail sale. I was not compensated for this post, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Oh my god y’all.
I have never felt more like a princess in my LIFE.
I’ve been lucky enough to wear Harlow & Fox a few times before (see Miss Fisher, Agent Carter, the bridal boudoir shoot, this trunk show report), but I’m thrilled today to present my first proper full-length review of this brand, so I have the chance to talk in detail about why I think Harlow & Fox is the best full-bust luxury lingerie brand currently on the market. This is also my first experience trying one of the brand’s padded bras, so I hope you find this review valuable if you’re trying to decide which lovely style you’d like to try.
Note: Because my brief and waist cincher are factory samples, I won’t go into detail about their construction (even though from my layperson’s perspective everything is outstanding).
Alexandra debuted with Harlow & Fox’s very first season. As a collection it’s both stunning and simple: a bra, a brief, and a suspender belt, you know, your standard three-piece lingerie set, except oh wait it’s a pure silk fairy tale. All three pieces are crafted from silk satin in an elegant, unusual silver-gold hue with an overlay of soft foiled lace for subtle shimmer. The colors and fabrics make me think of Charles Perrault’s Cinderella– there’s a delicate and timeless glamour to this collection. The bra is a very-lightly-padded three-part cup with a slightly plunging, narrow center gore, trimmed with a small bow and a dangling pearl charm. The bottom two sections of the cup feature the lace overlay, while the top cup section is left bare so the silk can really shine. The straps are partially adjustable, with non-stretch silk covering the shoulders and standard elastic straps at the back for comfort. The stretch silk band fastens with two rows and three columns of hooks and eyes. All hooks, rings, and adjusters are gold metal.
The best part? The cups, band, and straps are silk on the inside as well as on the outside. I’ll cover this more when I talk about fit and comfort, but this means that not only are you a silky goddess on the outside, you have nothing but silk against your skin. This is major.
The brief is Harlow & Fox’s classic brief, a lovely bikini cut in silk with a keyhole detail at the back, decorated with a pearl charm. Panels of foiled lace cover the hips, and the center front panel is double-layered so that silk lies smoothly against the skin. There is, of course, a cotton gusset for comfort.
Finally, taking the glam factor all the way up to 11, we have the waist cincher, a gorgeous silk and lace confection. Like the bra, this piece is lined with silk, and lavish all-over foiled lace makes this piece truly indulgent. There are four light pieces of boning for gentle shaping and some stability, and the four silk suspenders are adjustable and detachable. The cincher fastens with seven rows and three columns of hooks and eyes.
Lately I’ve been wearing a 32GG in most UK brands, and since Harlow & Fox stops at a G-cup, I wear a 34G (my sister size) in their bras. In all honesty, even if a 32GG were available, I might still take a 34G, depending on the style. While the silk in the bands offers some stretch, I still find the bands come up a bit firm, so if you’re between band sizes, I’d go with the larger of the two you usually wear.
Remember how I said I think Harlow & Fox is the best luxury full-bust brand on the market today? One of the reasons is because the fit is excellent, and it was excellent from day one. This is an incredibly rare thing: many, MANY full-bust brands continue to refine and correct their fit, even large established brands that have been in the business for years. The fact that Harlow & Fox launched with products no one had ever seen in this size range AND nailed the fit is extraordinary.
When I say the fit is excellent, obviously I can’t assure that it will work for every body type and shape, but I can say that, based on my own experiences and the people I’ve fitted at trunk shows, it’s pretty darn outstanding. The underwires are a lovely weight– not too flimsy but not too rigid, and the center gore is narrow, which suits my close-set breasts really well.
I’ve said it before, but I rarely wear padded bras. They frequently come up too small or shallow on me, the cups are sometimes wide-set, I feel like I’m being given extra volume I don’t want, or I don’t really feel like I’m “sitting” well in the cup (exception: Comexim). However, Alexandra? This bra is amazing. The padding is light, really just enough to give the cup some structure, cup volume is perfect (maybe even a touch generous!), I get a nice amount of projection, and I love the slightly lowered center gore. Unlike the shallow, wide-set shape I get from other padded bras, Alexandra suits me really well.
In most UK brands I wear a size L knicker, and I took the same size here quite happily. Harlow & Fox knickers do have a slightly lower rise than some other brands, which is something to note. The waistband and legline are lightly elasticated for a secure, comfortable fit
I originally used some of my tax refund to purchase the waist cincher in a size Large, but when it arrived I was sad to admit that it was just too small. Some of this is down to my body– my waist is a little thicker in proportion to my ribcage and hips, but Leanna, Harlow & Fox’s designer and creative director, also advised that because this piece features all silk panels with limited stretch, it can come up a bit small compared to waist cinchers that use stretch fabrics. Since she didn’t have an XL cincher in stock to do an exchange (although it is available made-to-order), she generously offered me an XL from her collection of factory samples. This time, the fit was perfect: it fastens comfortably on the loosest hooks (which means I have a little room for adjustment if my size changes this summer) and it sits comfortably over my ribs, waist, and upper belly. I might have liked slightly longer suspenders in the back, but I also wasn’t wearing my tallest pair of stockings here, so that issue might resolve itself in future wears.
I dunno, does the fact that I texted my sister “my boobs feel like they are being cuddled gently in a silken cloud” tell you how it feels?
Remember up top when I talked about how the bra cups, bra band, bra straps, waist cincher, and front of the briefs are all silk-lined on the inside as well as the outside? The first time I saw Harlow & Fox in person, this detail was an indicator, to me, that this brand was something special. Every seam is bagged out to lie smoothly against the skin, and there’s no itchy mesh or tulle inside the cups that could potentially irritate the skin. I’ve seen luxury lingerie products that were all about what the piece looked like from a viewer’s perspective: bells, whistles, and flash. Bagging out seams is a more advanced, time-consuming construction technique, and putting silk where no one but the wearer will see it requires a huge investment in both fabric and production time.
The result? I can’t overstate how incredible it feels to wear. Silk is a natural fiber, so it breathes well, and all those perfectly smooth seams mean no chafing or scratching. I could forget I’m wearing the set were it not for the fact that I kind of want to keep touching it the whole time I’m wearing it, it feels so good. I will note that sometimes those lovely silk straps want to slip off my shoulders, and the waist cincher, because it’s silk and not a powermesh or coutil, isn’t really designed for heavy shaping. Those notes aside, wandering around all day wrapped in pure silk from your shoulders to your hips makes for a pretty good day.
I know this is a gushingly positive review. I know Harlow & Fox, while beautiful, isn’t accessible to lots of people who wear DD-G sizes. But while a high price point in the lingerie world doesn’t always go hand in hand with design, fit, and comfort, nor with customer service, I’m happy to say that in Harlow & Fox’s case, you more than get what you pay for. One of the reasons this brand is so special to me is because it feels so amazing to wear. I spent most of my adolescent and early adult life feeling like lingerie was unavailable to me because of my size, and I felt so uncomfortable in the bras I was wearing. Having a full-bust bra that not only fits extremely well but also has silk on the inside of the cups feels genuinely celebratory of my body. The whole Harlow & Fox experience, from the stunningly gorgeous branded black gift boxes to the carefully tissue-wrapped purchases to the special silk wash, makes me feel valued, indulgent, and extremely, ridiculously sophisticated.
There are luxury full-bust brands with excellent, world-renowned fit that leave me cold, design-wise. There are luxury full-bust brands whose lookbooks dazzled me and whose fit turned out to be shockingly bad (I actually wound up declining to review one). There are, frankly, luxury full-bust brands who let their name and history justify a price point that just doesn’t make sense in today’s increasingly vibrant lingerie market. Harlow & Fox is the real deal. This is lingerie that makes me feel elegant, timeless, indulgent, glamorous, and comfortable in my skin. If I were a totally fancy lady who lived in a manor house my whole wardrobe would be Harlow & Fox, but even though I’m your average office-dweller, I still wear my H&F sets to work and to special occasions, to see friends and to hang around my apartment and blog. Sometimes we, as full-bust people, are used to measuring our bras by the metric of what we have to give up: oh, I can’t have skinny straps/sheer cups/certain designs etc. because they won’t work in my size. Harlow & Fox, by contrast, is all about treating yourself: fabulous fit, French lace, carefully dyed silk, a swish of silk tassels, lush prints, gold finishings, and the robes, oh my lord, the robes.
For other Harlow & Fox collections that feature the same padded bra frame as Alexandra, check out Ophelia (those lace shorts!) and Lydia, as well as the stunning Octavia collection due in later this year!
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Bra, Brief, and Waist Cincher: Alexandra by Harlow & Fox. Bra (c/o, £179 including VAT) 30-38 DD-G, Classic Brief (£98 including VAT) XS-XL, Waist Cincher (£189 including VAT) XS-XL.
Stockings: Pretty Polly, in barely back
Photos: Studio Rezin