Archive | November 2011

Bra Review: Fantasie Savannah 2152

This is a review of the Fantasie Savannah Plunge Bra with Side Support, model #2152. I spent a lot of time writing and revising this review. I have this bra in several colors, and it has so many good and bad qualities that it’s hard to balance them all. So, this is wordy.

Because the Savannah is very revealing, I decided not to take a picture of myself wearing it for the blog. You can see the shape it gives under clothes here.

First, a comparison of colorways: I have this bra in pink/black, “Mulberry”, and in “Cafe Latte”.  All three are pretty and intriguing, but the “Cafe Latte” in particular is just exquisite. It’s just a very pretty color combination, with a pinkish-bronze lace overlying a pale, neutral pink.

The Cafe Latte is also the most comfortable of the three colorways. It is roomier in the band and cup than the black or mulberry styles. The black style is pretty comfortable, but a tad smaller in the cups. The mulberry is tightest in the cups, just a little tighter than the black, but also, the mulberry has the scratchiest, most uncomfortable elastic. The elastic on the mulberry is quite rough compared to the others, and ultimately this makes it uncomfortable for more than a few hours wear. As a result, I have removed the mulberry from my daily rotation; it is now designated a “special occasion bra.”

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What’s Your Bra Size, Really?

I am pretty relaxed about naming my weight and bra size. They are just numbers, after all. And I have spent enough time in ill-fitting bras to know that bra fitting is a quality of life issue: a well-fitted bra is more comfortable than a poorly-fitting one, and also, it makes me look much better. It makes EVERYONE look much better. Your shape looks healthier and neater, your clothes fit better, etc.

Which leads to the following rant:

Sometimes I see women claiming a bra size that is just not possibly theirs. I almost never see anyone claiming to have a size larger than they have, but instead, a size smaller. What’s the deal with that?

The lovely Sophia Jenner has blogged about Christina Hendricks doing exactly this. I’ll tell you something: there is no way that Christina Hendricks does not know her right bra size. The woman has a regular role on a TV show: that means that every inch of her body has been measured for costuming, and furthermore, she is expected to maintain the same size throughout the season, in order that her costumes ft her when needed.

(It is also absolutely not possible that her bra size is 38DD, or 36DD, as frequently reported in the media. Additionally, I’ve seen reports that Ms. Hendricks is a US size 12, which is yet again, absolutely not possible. Recall that the camera really does add ten pounds visually, and then have a look at Ms. Hendricks. Also, in this interview,  Christina’s stylist says that sometimes, they use vintage dresses to dress her for award shows. Those of you who collect vintage clothing are nodding your heads right now, knowing that it would be next to impossible to find vintage gowns that would actually fit a woman who was a size 12US.)

Today I saw photos of a woman who is quite tiny, with enormous breasts, who claims she is a 32FF. I am telling you, there is just NO WAY. I am not going to link to her, but comparing her to my fellow “boobie bloggers”, it is obvious that she is more like a 28H or J. There are photos of her crammed into bras that clearly do not fit. Why, why, why? What’s the point?

The Importance of Cup Shape

In a typical discussion of bras and breasts, we hear a lot about cup size. We don’t, however, hear a lot about cup shape, which is just as important in the fit of a bra. A cup that is wide and shallow might be good for someone with breasts that are small relative to their torso, but for those of us with breasts which are large relative to our torso, we need something different.

This is a separate, but related, issue from that of wide/narrow underwires, which I will definitely cover in a post soon, along with some of my discoveries in that vein. The width of the wires has something to do with it, but the shape/cut of the cup is also part of the picture.

I went bra shopping and took pictures of various bras for you to compare shapes. In these pictures are three bras: first, the baseline, my own bra, a Fantasie Savannah. Then we have two bras I tried at the shop: a Primadonna Amazone, and a Panache Andorra. Primadonna does not do half-sizes, but they are known for having larger cups: the Amazone I tried in a 34G, the other two bras are 34GGs. All three bras have the same width of wire, and all three “fit” technically, which is to say that they contained my breasts. I started out in a tight tshirt to get the best idea of fit, but by the time it had been pulled on and off several times it got a little stretched out.

I hope you will forgive the poor quality of the photos: these are phone snaps I took on the spur of the moment.

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When Sister Sizes Aren’t

Most women with large breasts are familiar with the concept of “sister sizes.” Sister sizing is an idea established by the bra industry. In the sister sizing system, a bra cup is the same size (in volume) as the cup of the same bra in the next lowest band size, and next largest cup letter. The simplest way to explain this is to say that the cup of a 36C is the same size as the cup of a 34D. It works in the opposite direction, too: the cup in a 36C is also the same size as the cup in a 38B.

Those of us with hard-to-find sizes rely on the sister sizing system to find bras that fit us. Sometimes we just can’t find a bra in a store that will fit us, but we can find one that is a close fit, and by evaluating the fit of that bra, we can determine which size to order. We trust the sister sizing system to work. I learned recently, though, that it doesn’t always work: at least with one company, it can’t be trusted.

On my recent trip to Nordstrom, I was hoping to find some bras that would fit me. I tried on several bras, but had a few problems. The first problem was that the SA didn’t seem to believe me when I told her I wear a 34GG or H, and sometimes a 32H. She actually brought me FFs and Gs to the dressing room, which was frustrating, but also led to me laughing out loud as I tried to cram my boobs into them.

The second problem was that Nordstrom had almost no bras above a G cup. Those they did have were from Chantelle and Wacoal, both brands that I find too wide and shallow for my build (the cups are shaped really weird, y’all!)

The SA did bring me one bra that I rather liked, a Cleo Sasha. I was initially skeptical about this bra, as I usually find that Panache bras have a center gore too wide for me, and often too-wide cups as well. I saw that this bra seemed to have neither of those problems, though, so I tried it on.

Unfortunately, once I got in on, I found that the band was very loose, and then discovered that this was in fact a 36G. Surprisingly, though, the cups were too small. I bulged out of them all over. Here are some phone pics I snapped in the dressing room. Please forgive the blurriness!

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Oh, Size Charts

I went to Nordstrom the other day to try to take advantage of the half-yearly sale. Specifically I wanted to try on some jeans. It is very hard for me to find good-fitting jeans! Most jeans that fit my hips tend to gape in the back of the waist, because my waist is so much smaller than my hips. I have heard raves about “Not Your Daughter’s Jeans” from other curvy ladies: supposedly they have a much smaller waist than hip. So I decided to try them out.

Before going in, I looked at the size charts online. Based on those size charts, I was a 14-plus. I thought “Ok, these run really small” and didn’t worry about it. Pants size is just a number.

When I got to the store, I went to the plus section, pulled a bunch of 14-pluses, and went into the fitting room (contrary to my usual experience at Nordstrom, the SA was not at all interested in helping me, so I did all this by myself.)

Every pair was way too big. They just hung on me. I was surprised.

I went back down to regular sizes (the saleslady there had been a bit sour when she directed me up to plus, but when I came back she was nicer) and picked out several pairs of jeans in 14 and 16. I tried on a pair of 16s first and found that they were too loose, so I went right to the 14s. All of the jeans I tried were black, with the exception of a sort of faded/washed black pair in modern bootcut.

The modern boot cut in size 14 was a great fit, even a bit loose in the waist, in regular black, but the washed black ones were a little tight. I think they would stretch to be a good fit. The modern flares (which the SA insisted on giving me, though I asked only for boot cut) were a little too small, I had hangover. The classic boot cut was a good fit, but I like the silhouette of the modern better, especially as it seemed tighter around the hip.

The straight leg 14 was too small. Straight leg 16s were a good fit at the waist, but the leg was unflattering.

The size chart in this case seems to have no relation to the fit of the jeans. Supposedly the size 14 regular will only fit up to a 43 inch hip, but my 48 inch hips fit easily with room to spare in all but the straight legs. Thank goodness I had the opportunity to try them on, or I might have ended up with an oversized pair of jeans.

The SA warned me that these jeans have a high waist. I found the waist to be moderate: it fit right around my navel. Definitely not low-rise, but not really high either. A true high waist is too high for me, but these were alright.

However, the price. The PRICE! These are some fancy jeans. And totally out of my art-student price range. So, I am keeping my eyes peeled on eBay.

Effuniaks, Ordered

Well, I did it: I ordered some Ewa Michalak bras. I would have done it weeks ago, but someone cloned my debit card and emptied my bank account. It took a few weeks to get my money back. In a way waiting was good, because Ewa Michalak is having a sale on some models.

I was still confused about size, so I took this opportunity to order a few models that are on sale, and see what works best for me. I don’t like the looks of Effuniak plunges, so I decided to skip a plunge altogether, and order two half-cups. Since the lace half-cups don’t come in my size, I ordered one CH model, and one HP model, to compare. The Effuniak size calculator says I am an 85GG, but many people say that the calculator gets the band size too big. So, after comparing to measurements of women on Balkonetka, I ordered a variety of sizes to see what might work best.

Fortunately, one of the models on sale is CH Miętus. I didn’t like the looks of this bra when I first encountered it, but it has grown on me, and I found that I like the colors. Also, I’ve seen some photos of it looking phenomenal on some busty gals, so I decided to give it a shot. Unfortunately, the shop was out of 80GG, and it seems the Miętus is being discontinued, so I ordered one in 85GG and one in 80H, just to cover my bases. I hope very much that at least one Miętus fits me, as it is such a pretty bra. Whichever one does not fit will be offered for sale, and returned if there are no takers.

I also ordered an HP style,  Puder. I think this is a pretty bra, and I have heard that in person the pink is more intense. But the main draw for me in ordering that one specifically was the sale price. It is kind of plain, and I already have a few pale pink bras (they come in handy under light or white shirts) so it would not have been my first choice, but 20% off is a great incentive. I ordered it in an 80GG, based on advice and reading Balkonetka.

I do hate this whole mail and try-on thing, but I am looking at it as an investment in future bra-wearing comfort. Finding my size in Effuniaks will be a chore, but once I know that, it will be much easier for me to confidently buy bras from them. They say my package will take 12 days to arrive. I’ll be counting those days! There will be full reviews here, of course.

Why You Really Shouldn’t Worry About “Pointy” Cups

As large-busted woman, I prefer bras with seamed cups to those with molded cups. I often see on the internet the complaint that a bra (usually a seamed bra) gives the wearer’s breast a “pointy” shape. (Some women even describe modern, seamed bras as “bullet bras”, which I, having owned and worn real, vintage bullet bras, find ridiculous.)

Let’s first clear that up: the slightly pointy shape in many modern seamed bras is nowhere near being a bullet bra. Bullet bras were severely, seriously pointed, and they stiffly lifted and separated the breasts. To call a modern, seamed balconette a “bullet bra” is just silly. This is a bullet bra. Note that the cups are very cone-like, and that they point in opposite directions. What you can’t tell from the photo is that the fabric is relatively thick and very, very stiff.  I have one very similar to this, and it’s essentially a girdle for your upper body. The seams are very stiff too, and are for the most part entirely straight. This is NOT a bullet bra, but some reviewers describe it that way. This is a seamed bra, made of fabric that flexes to conform to the shape of the breast. It gives a very natural shape that some describe as “slightly conical.”

I think this complaint stems from a three different factors:

One: the recent popularity of molded bras, especially in the inexpensive bra market. Cheap molded bras create an externally-visible shape that gives no clue as to the actual shape of the breast. Rather than true support, most of them offer compression and coverage. The hard cup means you really can’t see fit problems.

Two: sadly, most young women today have never seen a naked, unaugmented human breast, and if they have seen it, they haven’t had a moment to just see it, without judging that breast or their own. They don’t know what a breast “should” look like, what is normal and what is natural.

Three: most women aren’t wearing the right bra size. This distorts the appearance of their breasts, so they don’t really know how their breasts are shaped; then when they finally get a good bra, they are shocked or uncomfortable with seeing an unfamiliar shape on their front.

The round, high, augmented breasts most people see on television and in pornography are not natural. Most large breasts, especially on small chests are, are somewhat oblong, or “UU shaped.” A bra’s job is to lift, support, and position those breasts in a way that is comfortable and appealing. The shape that a good seamed bra gives is like the shape of a natural breast:  deep and oblong, with a rounded apex. The breast volume has to go somewhere: do you want it in front of your chest, or in front of your arms? (Have you ever tried to reach forward, only to find that your breasts were in the way?) Much better for the breast to be supported and projected in front of the torso. This slims the appearance and means you can move your arms freely.

What most women also don’t know is that a young woman’s breast, a breast of a woman in the prime of her fertility, is slightly pointed. Men who are attracted to women may unconsciously be attracted to this shape of breast. If you care at all about that sort of thing, it’s something to keep in mind. I think, however, that the most attractive bra is one that is comfortable and makes the wearer feel attractive and confident.

Before you avoid seamed bras, try one on under your clothes. I think you will find that you like the shape it gives you. Some styles are pointier than others, while some others give a rounder profile, so with time and patience you really should be able to find a seamed bra that gives you a good fit. You will find that the support of a seamed bra is absolutely unparalleled!