[Disclosure: I purchased this set under my real name with my own money. Bravissimo is not affiliated with this post. Secrets in Lace generously provided these stockings for review. I was not compensated for this post, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.]
I’ve mentioned this a few times before, but discovering Bravissimo was the first time I was ever genuinely excited about bra shopping. My normal reaction to a lingerie department, boutique, or website was “ugh, I guess I’ll see if they have anything in my size,” while with Bravissimo it was “holy shit, look at all these beautiful bras, where do I even start?!” Lately I feel like I’ve outgrown some of Bravissimo’s design choices, but I still think of them fondly and recommend them highly. Over the last few years I’ve had especially good luck with Bravissimo’s three-part non-padded balconette shape, so I recently decided to test a different shape to see how it worked. I decided on this four-part non-padded cup with a side sling, partly because it works well for me in other brands (like Panache’s Jasmine and Envy styles), and partly because it’s available up to an L-cup. Even thought my size is smaller, I hoped a review might be useful to anyone who needs K+ cup sizes who might be looking to purchase this style.
The Peony collection was a standout from the Winter 2015 releases. It’s a bit more sophisticated than some of Bravissimo’s ditsy florals or zany prints, with the classic mix of black and pale pink, and I hoped for a tattoo-like effect from the delicate embroidery and pale sheer mesh.
Peony is a four-part non-padded bra: the bottom of the cup is divided in two by a vertical seam and is constructed of sturdy, laminated black fabric for stability and support. The top cup is described as ‘Nude’ on the website (sigh, nude isn’t a color, y’all/there are lots of shades of nude); it is in fact a pale ballet pink single layer of non-stretch tulle. The black embroidered peonies are perfectly placed to create an elegant, symmetrical design growing down from the neckline. The fourth part of the cup is the side sling, which connects directly to the straps and is designed to draw breast tissue in from the sides of the body and offer more projection. The band fastens with three columns and, in my size, three rows of hooks and eyes, and the black elastic straps are fully adjustable. Pale pink and black bows trim the straps and center gore.
The coordinating suspender belt is crafted of a layer of pink tulle backed with a layer pink mesh, with the peony embroidery again beautifully placed to reflect the embroidery in the bra. The suspender fastens with two rows and three columns of hooks and eyes, and the four slim attached suspenders are fully adjustable.
As an avowed thong hater, my only other underwear option was a short. The front waistband features a panel of the pink embroidered mesh, while the rest of the short is smooth black microfiber. While I appreciate that the short features a sheer panel of embroidery to coordinate with the bra, I think it was a mistake not to offer a brief with this set (purely from an aesthetic point of view). The sheer fabric and delicate embroidery give the set an ethereal and revealing lightness, an effect undone by the staid blockiness of the short. The suspender and the short also don’t layer as well as the suspender and thong, which leaves those of us who dislike thongs but love three-piece sets in a bit of a bind.
I currently wear a 32GG in most UK bras, although occasionally lately I’ve been taking a 32H in some styles. Since I often find that Bravissimo’s in-house brand runs small in the cup, I originally ordered a 32H. When it arrived I was dismayed to find that the top of the cups gaped and I had lots of empty space in the bottom of the cup. I sent the bra back in exchange for a 32GG, which is what I’m wearing in the photos. The band fits surprisingly firmly– in the past I’ve dinged Bravissimo for cutting their bands big and their cups small, but this band seems to run a little snug and with less stretch compared to some Freya and Panache styles. While the band is an improvement, there are a couple of issues related to the fit of the cups:
I seem to be between sizes– the 32H was surprisingly generous in the cup for a Bravissimo brand bra, but the 32GG isn’t a great fit either. The wires suit my shape, but I get some pillowing at the top of the cup. Part of this might be a volume issue, but I suspect it’s related to the fact that this shape is fighting my natural shape at every turn. The top section is of the cup is larger and taller than I expected (and disproportionately larger than it appears on the model wearing a smaller size), and there’s no stretch. The bottom of the cup is too shallow, so my breast tissue is being squeezed up from below, while the wide, flat, non-stretch top cup is flattening my breast tissue and pressing it down. Rather than a lifted, rounded shape, I feel like my boobs are being pressed down and pointed straight out from my chest. The fit feels hugely different from the three-part balconette bras I’ve tried and loved in the past (like Boudoir Beau). I get a rounded, lifted shape from Bravissimo’s three-part cups; Peony’s shape is shockingly different.
I ordered the short and suspender in a size Large, and found them to run a little generous. The short sits comfortably over my hips and tummy, but I generally prefer the elasticated legline of a classic brief, which is less likely to ride up. The suspender felt a little big– it feels like it’s been cut to sit around the hips rather than the waist, which is a sure-fire way to guarantee it falls down over the course of a day’s wear. It’s almost like top elastic edge is snug and then the rest of the belt flares out like a skirt: it feels flimsy, and there’s little stability or support.
My Bravissimo bras in the past have been my go-to, I-can’t-wait-wear-this, my-boobs-look-amazing bras. I adored both Boudoir Beau and Cherry Fling and wore them until they not longer fit me. Peony is a different story. The shape is so incompatible with mine that I feel like I constantly have to adjust and tug and reposition the cups throughout the day. I dislike the flattened, pressed-down, pointy shape the bra gives me, and I’m disappointed to see how different the bra looks in my larger size compared to the smaller size worn by the model in the catalogue. The top panel feels too tall and large and the lower laminated panels too short and shallow. It’s just not a good match for me.
I loved the look of Peony on the website, but it really just did not love me back. There are elements I’d like to change about the fit and/or design of each of the three pieces, a disappointing conclusion considering my initial high hopes. While the color scheme and embroidery are some of my favorites Bravissimo has produced in seasons, the bra is a dreadful mismatch for my breast shape, the suspender is ineffectual, and the short is…okay the short is actually fine: it’s not its fault I wish it were a brief instead. Although! What if the embroidery detail continued along the legline instead of just at the waist? It would lighten it up a little and help it match the other pieces better, right? I don’t know, there’s a reason I’m not a designer, but it just feels too blocky and heavy for an otherwise delicate set. The only reason I kept the set is because by the time I paid to send it back, I would have spent more on return/exchange postage from this particular Pepperberry/Bravissimo order than I would get back in my refund (thanks USPS!)
That said, this bra has excellent reviews on the Bravissimo website, and coincidentally they’re all from people wearing bras in the H-L range. When we look at people wearing sizes from across the full range of commercially available bras, there are dramatic differences in shape, weight, and tissue density, and there’s a chance I’m just the odd duck who didn’t have much luck with this one. I strongly encourage those who wear cup sizes at the higher end of the range to check out the reviews from blogger Danielle at Rolls and Curves. She’s reviewed both Alana and Nordic Rose by Bravissimo. You can find more L-cup styles in Bravissimo’s current collections and sale section.
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Bra, Short, and Suspender Belt: Peony by Bravissimo. Pieces are available in sizes 30 E-K, 32-40 DD-L and XS-2XL, currently on sale for £12-27 (about $17-$39).
Stockings: Curvy Dana stockings ($14) by Secrets in Lace (c/o), available in sizes XL-4X, Black, Suntan. These stockings are so soft! Normally when I hear “nylon” I think “stiff, non-breathable”, but the Curvy Dana Stockings are a treat to wear. They’re smooth, sleek, not too shiny, and don’t dig in at all around my thighs. I’m wearing the 2X here, but I probably need an XL instead, as these are a little too big around and as a result try to slide down my legs more than some other pairs I’ve worn. I’m really thankful to Secrets in Lace for giving me the chance to try their stockings– I’ve been surprised and impressed by how comfortable they are, how nice the quality is (they last very, very well), and by how affordable they are compared to some other retro hosiery brands. I’d especially recommend the Curvy sizes for those who are tall and/or plus size– they’re terrific!
Photos: Studio Rezin