[I received this set as a gift. I was not compensated for this post, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.]
WHYYYYY has it taken me so long to get this review, up, I keep asking myself, because let’s just get this out of the way now: this is one of the most gorgeous, well-made, and exquisitely constructed DD+ lingerie sets I’ve seen in my life. I gasped when I opened the package. Ellesmere is an independent lingerie brand based in Canada, and I’ve long loved their lookbooks, with pieces for both core sizes and D-G cup sizes. You may have seen the lovely Wen from Comics Girls Need Bras modeling for Ellesmere. There’s an appealing lightness and delicacy to the collections, and a freshness to the way the collections layer soft textiles like tulle, delicate embroidery, and floral lace, combined with small hits of drama from metallics or black straps.
I was stunned and delighted to receive an email from Julia, the found of Ellesmere, asking if she could custom-make a set for me, including a bra in my size, which falls outside of Ellesmere’s usual A-G size range. I thought the Ellesmere bras and bralettes looked beautiful on Wen, but I’ve gained weight over the last year, and I really didn’t think such sheer, delicate pieces would work on me at all. I’ve never been more pleased to be wrong.
Julia sent me a set from the Blue Fig collection: an underwired demi bra, high-waist brief, and garter belt, including a pair of garters! The Blue Fig set uses both rigid black tulle and tulle with four-way stretch to allow for support and comfort, as well as a beautiful dark blue and gold rose-patterned lace. The waistband and legs of the brief are trimmed with scalloped black elastic, and there’s cushioned, soft elastic along the bottom edge of the continuous bra band. The cups are a demi cut three-panel shape constructed of rigid tulle and lace, with two vertical seams designed for lift and a “presentational” look to the décolletage. The black satin elastic shoulder straps are fully adjustable, and the bra band, consisting of rigid black tulle around the cups and stretch mesh for the wings, fastens with three rows and columns of hooks and eyes. The high waist brief is fully sheer, with a panel of blue and gold lace at the center front and panels of stretch tulle across the hips and rear. The garter belt reverses the lace and tulle pattern of the brief, so the center front is simple black tulle, with lace over the hips and black sheer mesh around the back. Four slim black satin elastic garters are fully adjustable and feature gold hardware, perfectly coordinating with the adjustable black leg garters, which feature gold leg rings for connecting to the straps.
The full visual effect of this set is dazzling. These pieces feel genuinely magical to me; for a while when I’d put this set away I’d have a hard time remembering if the dominant color was black, or gold, or blue, or silver– it was like an enchanted thing that changed every time I thought about it. It reminds me of some of the fairies from the ballet The Sleeping Beauty, which y’all know is 10,000 percent my jam. The oversized gold roses keep the fairy tale theme going, and I love the thoughtfulness of how this set is built: depending on what you might want to wear on a given day, you can go for total sheerness and light, or layer a suspender belt and stockings, or just wear the garters to add a little rock and roll to the sweetness.
Ellesmere’s usual bra size range tops out at a UK 36G, but 36G does cross-grade to a sister size of 32H, my current usual size. When I first held up the bra, my heart sank: I thought it would be way too small for me in both the band and cup, particularly as I usually have to size up in demi style bras. To my surprise, the fit was fairly good: the band is flexible and stretches to fit firmly yet comfortably on the loosest hooks, and the center gore sits securely flush against my sternum. The cups are just a touch small for me in these photos, and they’re a bit smaller on me now that I’m writing this, as I’m sitting more between 32H and 32HH. I would say if I’d been between 32GG and 32H, they’d be a perfect fit.
Based on the fit guide, I selected size XL for both my brief and suspender belt, and that was absolutely the correct decision. I wear a Large in many of the big-name full-bust brands, but when I shop with independent designers, I tend to go for an XL. The lace panel across the front of the briefs provides a little bit of stability and shaping, but the stretch back makes them easy to get on and off. I like wearing the suspender at my natural waist, above my navel, so you get a more noticeable layering effect.
It’s been so hot EVERYWHERE, who doesn’t want to wear clothes and lingerie that are as light as possible? This set feels lovely to wear, and the garters mean I can wear all three pieces even if I don’t want to wear stockings, making it a versatile, year-round piece. If my cup volume was one size smaller I’d be wearing the bra all time (high praise indeed for a demi cup bra); but unfortunately I ate too many cookies this summer (or, you know, depression and anxiety or whatever), so the bra is more of a boudoir piece for me at the moment. I’m really hoping that one day I’ll be able to bring the whole set back into my daily rotation, because it’s divine: completely beautiful, well made, and easy to wear.
I’m truly dazzled by my first encounter with Ellesmere. The brand has such a distinct aesthetic, with beautiful botanical laces and embroideries and delicate tulle creating soft and sweet ensembles, accented with surprising elements like straps, cutouts, or even leatherette. This complete three-piece set retails for about $200 USD (including the garters), an astonishingly approachable price for handmade full bust lingerie with with this level of sophistication, detail, and impeccable construction. If you haven’t already lost yourself in daydreams browsing their website, be sure to check out the other beautiful collections, in soft pastels and shadowy blacks. While I’m disappointed that I’m a bit sized out at the moment, I’d recommend Ellesmere wholeheartedly to fuller bust folks in the D-G size range who are looking for something truly special.
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Bra, High-Waist Brief, Garter Belt, and Garters: ‘Blue Fig’ collection by Ellesmere Lingerie (c/o). Available in sizes XS-XL and 30-36 C-G (UK cup sizes, so the progression goes C, D, DD, E, F, FF, G), as well as custom sizes. Prices for pieces in this set range from $56-127 CAD, or around $43-97 USD.
Photos: Sylvie Rosokoff
Model: Gus, obviously