[Avocado generously provided this set for review. I was not compensated for this post, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.]
After having the opportunity to share Avocado’s new website launch and new collections with you earlier this year, I was very much looking forward to trying the brand for myself. When I first started writing this blog I was sized out of most Avocado styles, plus I was still figuring out how European, French, and UK sizing conventions worked together (spoiler: they don’t really, everyone does everything differently, life is a rich tapestry). Avocado stayed in the back of my mind though: the designs were elegant without being staid, grown up without being frumpy, and detailed and embellished without feeling froofy or kitschy. When my size began to change I wondered if perhaps I would get to try a style for myself, and I was therefore delighted when Anna, Avocado’s founder and designer, reached out to me to introduce her company. Not only was I able to get a set of my choice that fit well, she kindly sent me samples from several different collections, so that I could see the materials and workmanship of each design in person.
I was actually surprised by the set I chose for myself. Jewel has been a part of Avocado’s catalogue for many seasons now in a range of beautiful colors, and at first glance it’s a pretty common style for a European non-padded bra: three-part sheer tulle cup featuring heavy embroidery and embellished straps. Two years ago I can remember vividly rolling my eyes at heavy embroidery, thinking it was stuffy and boring and old-fashioned. By contrast, I now think Jewel is absolutely stunning. The simplicity of the sheer black tulle base makes the embroidery feel organic and delicate, like the creeping flowers and vines are growing on the body. And the subtle cut-out elements, where bare skin peeks through the center of roses along the neckline and legline? I die. It’s so, so beautiful– it makes me think of fairytale illustrations. And even though the market was a little oversaturated with blue-and-black color combinations a few seasons ago, it’s a combination I still love, and the subtle gray leaf elements add a shimmer and a three-dimensionality to the black and blue rose embroidery.
As I mentioned above, the construction is familiar to many full-bust bra wearers: a vertical seam in the bottom of the cup for lift, with another seam cutting across the cup diagonally to connect directly to the strap. The firm embroidered straps are fully adjustable, and the band fastens with three rows and three columns of hooks and eyes and features vertical stays under the arms for stability. The matching shorts are things of delicate beauty– completely sheer tulle with lavish embroidery over the front, a smooth sheer stretch mesh back, and a delicate keyhole detail at the back of the waist. Little special touches abound, like that keyhole trimmed with silver ribbon and a blue bow, silver ribbon trim on either side of the back fastening, and perfect pattern placement across the cups, so that the embroidery is symmetrical. Avocado lingerie is priced slightly higher than some UK and European brands, but touches like these explain why: not only are the materials of the highest quality, the designs have been carefully considered and feature special touches you won’t find elsewhere.
Since Anna was generous enough to send me samples from almost every collection so that I could see them in person before choosing my review set, I was able to try on almost all of Avocado’s shapes and fabrications, a huge privilege. While size variations are often different at different points in a size range (for example, folks in the 28-30 E-F size range may have a different experience with a given brand than those at the 34-36 H-J size range), it may be helpful to have a quick run-down of what worked for me.
As a European brand, Avocado does not use double letters the way many UK brands do. Instead, the cup size progression is D, E, F, G, H, J, K, L. So if the F-cup comes up too small for you, you wouldn’t order an FF cup, you’d order a G. At the time I received my samples, I was wearing UK size 32GG pretty consistently (my size is all over the map this year, more in a second). This would usually translate to around a 70J in Euro (non-French) brands, but Avocado bands come up both firm (not very stretchy) and small, such that I could only try the bras with an extender. Here are the sizes I would take in Avocado’s offerings for my (at the time) 32GG body:
Chloe Folie: 75H
The Amber style has deep and generous cups, so I would actually size down one cup size in that collection. In addition, the knickers run a bit smaller than many UK and French brands, so I took an XL instead of my usual L.
As far as Jewel goes, Anna kindly sent me both the NF and the A cut, and the NF wound up working the best for me. I’ll note again that my size has been in flux more dramatically than usual this year, such that from week to week I find myself wearing different sizes. When these photos were taken I was mostly wearing 32Hs in UK sizes, and as such my 75H bra is a touch small in the cups (a 75J would have been better). However, when I’m wearing my 32GG or 32G bras, the 75H is a great fit. The band fastens comfortably yet supportively on the loosest hooks, and all my breast tissue is contained within the cup with no digging or gaping. The center gore tacks comfortably against my sternum. The NF cup is designed to suit wider-set breasts and wider arms, while in general styles like the A cup are designed with closer-set breasts and narrower bodies in mind. I’m sort of in-between– I have a broad back and broad shoulders, but my breasts are narrow-rooted and close-set. When I’m wearing bras on the smaller end of my size range, Jewel is fits well– not super lifted or projected, but comfortably supportive. When I’m feeling a little fuller, though, I do start to notice a little shape incompatibility, where I think “this might be just a little too wide and shallow for me.” The ideal shape for my body is super projected, so any bras that don’t offer that kind of shape require some adjusting throughout the day.
I love sheer lingerie– it feels light on my body, and it breathes so beautifully. I’m always conscious that padded bras force my body to fit them, whereas I feel like non-padded bras fit to my body instead. Jewel feels light and easy, and the gore doesn’t tack aggressively or float away from my sternum, two fit issues that can be dealbreakers for me. Because the shape isn’t quite perfect for me and the embroidered tulle doesn’t provide any stretch, I don’t reach for this set on days when I’m bloated (real talk, like I was for these photos the day before my period arrived). I also sometimes do find the wide wires and underarms stays a little uncomfortable for long-term (12+ hours) wear, so this wouldn’t necessarily be an airplane set for me. But I know that when I put it on I’ll feel supported and get a lovely rounded shape, and the matching shorts are so comfy I wish I had a few more pairs. While this isn’t a workhorse set for me, it’s a fantastic everyday (and special occasion!) set. I pretty much live in black lingerie sets, and Jewel is in constant rotation.
While Jewel isn’t the perfect match for my body (what is, in this vast and trying world?), this is a set I admire and enjoy wearing. The quality is outstanding, the design is beautiful and darkly femme, and while delicate, it’s a set that’s built to last. I can say the same of the other Avocado samples I got to try on. I was surprised by how much I liked the fit and shape of Chamade, given that half-cups and I don’t usually get along, and I think Chloe Folie would be a great choice for those who like soft lace and are looking for a slightly dressed up everyday bra. I can’t get over the beautiful and unusual green and gray color scheme for Calypso, with its unique embroidery (this is straight-up mermaid lingerie). Valentina is all decadence (check out Comics Girls Need Bras’ great review to see what I mean), while Amber offers smooth, comfortable support with minimal frills. So much care and thought has gone into the design of each collection: this is really lingerie to treasure. It’s wearable and “functional”, but the details and excellent construction make it feel like special-occasion lingerie. I’m looking forward to trying another style soon.
* * * * *
Bra and Brief: Jewel (NF) by Avocado (c/o) (289,00 zł/129,00 zł, about $74/$33 at today’s exchange rate). Bra available in sizes 60-95 E-L (depending on band size), or about 26-40 E-HH in typical UK band and cup sizes. Some Avocado styles are also available at Zathiya if you’re looking for a US retailer.
Hold-Ups: Kix’ies Lois Backseam Black Stockings ($22), available in core and plus sizes
Photos: Michi Rezin