Review: Cleo Sasha Balconette Bra

This review is a long time coming. I meant to post it months ago, but in a way, I am glad I waited. As I’ve been wearing the Sasha regularly for months now, I feel that I can give a much more thorough review than I could before.

The Sasha is a balconette offering from Cleo, a subgroup of Panache. Cleo is marketed as Panache’s “younger” line, which seems to mean “cheaper” and “brightly colored.” The workmanship and materials on this bra are definitely of lesser quality than bras from Panache’s Superbra line. I think that perhaps Panache believes that the women to whom Cleo is marketed will not care about the quality of the bra, but the truth is that women of all ages wear Cleo bras and we notice these things.

Sasha is available in a purple feather print. The cups are two layers, one of printed mesh, and one of a very thin simplex. Since the Sasha was introduced, another bra, Alexa, was also released, one with the same cut as the Sasha, but with a brighter print.

Here are the things I like about the Cleo Sasha:

The underwires are narrow, the narrowest I have ever seen from Panache. The center gore is narrow too; in my size (34GG), the wires are right next to each other, just how I like them. This is fantastic for me, and it is a great direction for Cleo (and Panache in general) to move in.

The shape of the cups is just phenomenal. The cups are deep (rare in Panache) and strike just the right balance between “round like a bubble” and “too pointed.”  The cups are cut pretty small in the bottom, which gives a lot of uplift. It is roomy in the top of the cup, so if you are full on top, you will have room, and if you are full on bottom, it is still likely to be a good fit, as your tissue will be pushed up by the tight bottom of the cup.

The cups are also shaped so as to slightly, subtly shift tissue toward the center of the chest. This is  not visible from the side or the front, but only from the top view, and in my opinion it helps to make the boobs look a little smaller from the front. This effect is a bit counteracted, though, by the shelf-effect: the cups on the Sasha basically raise the breasts up and out. This means you have a lot of projection (and also a handy place for a child or significant other to rest their head.)  The shelf makes the Sasha great for when you really want your boobs out there, but not up to your chin. It’s a sexy look. The shelf also means you want to wear this shirt with a top that pulls close to the body beneath the breasts; a loose top will hang off the end of the shelf and make you look fatter in front.

I love the balconette styling, which leaves the décolletage and collarbone open. I am pretty short (5’3″) so I like my bras to be true balconettes, and the Sasha comes through: it is a true balconette, cut very straight across and exposing the upper chest.

Yes, sorry. I know, it's a terrible photo. But it shows off the neckline, yes?

In a v-neck, the Sasha is very revealing: someone standing close or above you could look right down your shirt, through your cleavage, and to your stomach. Really.  So, I try not to wear this bra with a v-neck shirt. The low-cut, very open neckline, though, means the Sasha is great with scoop-necks and square necks. It never peeks out of a shirt.

Speaking of shirts: the Sasha is a really good tshirt bra. The seams are very flat, and the fabric is thin.  If, like me, you don’t like padded bras, but you do like tshirts, the Sasha is one to keep on your list.

Like most Panache bras, the Sasha has underwire cups but no side boning. So the band is soft and very comfortable.  I also like that the band comes up high under the arms.

Now, on to the things I don’t like about the Sasha.

The straps have become an absolute deal-breaker for me. They are very, very thin. They cut into my shoulders horribly, and in fact painfully. The amount of “centering” you get from this bra is in part dependent on the straps, so the straps are important. I am seeking to replace them, but having a hard time finding straps in a matching color.

The back band is also thin, with only two hooks. This means that it is much less stable than a bra with a three-hook band.  Cleo bras all have two-hook bands, no matter the size, which is I think ridiculous and cheap. A wider band, at least in larger cup sizes would be more stable and comfortable.

The fabric is also cheap and thin. As the bra has broken in, the fabric has stretched but the seams have not, so I can get a little bit of a dig from the seams themselves. This is very slight, so possibly only noticeable to me.

The cheap, thin fabric issue extends to the underwire casing. It is the thinnest I have ever seen. This means that the underwires very quickly began to dig into my armpits, and that was painful. The Sasha is in fact the bra that I used for  my tutorial on adding padding to a pokey underwire.

Last of all, I don’t like the print much. It has grown on me, a little, but that just means I no longer find it hideous.

Incidentally, the Sasha was the first Panache-made bra that ever fit me, and that fit encouraged me to try other models from Panache (with mixed results.)  So I am glad I discovered it and bought one for myself. But as long as the flaws persist, I won’t be buying another bra in this cut.

All that said, the Sasha is not a terrible bra. I still wear it, though not on long days,and I do have to adjust it during the day. The Sasha is a new cut for Panache and Cleo, and so it has potential: they can improve on the bra, making the band and straps wider, and I would like to try that improved version (if it ever happens.) Right now, I think the Sasha might be best for ladies in the D-F size range, just because the narrow straps and band make larger sizes a little problematic.

6 thoughts on “Review: Cleo Sasha Balconette Bra

  1. I just tried my first Cleo recently and have to admit I’m a fan (after not being over excited with their other line). I agree about the straps, I’d also like something a bit wider/more stable but I’ve actually grown to like the band only having two hooks. I didn’t think I would at first but it’s easier for me to put it (I’m still figuring out the whole putting it on in back!) and I think it allows a wider range of women to feel comfortable in it (for instance some women’s underbust curve in and others curve out but since it’s thinner it doesn’t irritate as much if the band is built for an opposite curve then your own).

    I’m definitely a fan and have to try more, this looks great on you too!

    • Thanks! It does look good, but wearing it for more than a few hours is just agony because of the straps. 😦 I do love so much how low-cut and open it is.

      I always fasten my bra in front (around my waist) and then turn it around and then pull it up to the right area.

      I have another Cleo (the Lizzie) and it is cute but still has problems. I think that going up to a wider band in larger cup sizes would solve most of them.

  2. You might try not trying to match the color straps, but choosing one of the three colors on the bra and matching it in a solid. If that’s what you’re already trying to do, another solution is to get a color that is somewhat similar and put a purple/mauve lace overlay on top of it.

    • Hey, thanks! I think what I am going to have to do is make some padded straps in a fabric on one of the colors. It just won’t be possible to get this feather print exact 🙂

  3. I’m not a fan of Panache’s skyscraper-high underwires. I tried the Harmony & though the cup fit perfectly & had nicely padded wires (by Euro standards) the wires actually stabbed into the center of my armpit. And I’m 5’9″!

    Cleo has much lower wires, though still much higher than Freya. I got my best shape ever from the Lucy…bit had the exact experience as you: the straps were too thin, bit the wire casing was so thin & harsh it caused a welt. After 2 hours, I took an early lunch so I could go home & take it off. It was that bad. Never have I had such perfect fit, & been in such pain. I was so grateful for the comfort of my Freya Jolie I didn’t even have the urge to weep at the super-torpedo shape it gives, like I normally would.

    • I actually do like the high underwires, when they aren’t stabby. HIgh underwires help contain my side-boob, make me feel more supported. The problem with the Sasha isn’t the height (the underwires are pretty short actually) but that the casing is cheap and thin.

      You might be able to salvage your Lucy if you try the alteration I linked to: several people have told me that it helped them out a lot. There are also silicone underwire cushions sold online.

      At this point, i think I might buy a Cleo again, but ONLY on sale for very cheap, because it would need so much work.

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