Let me preface this review with a note about the weather. When we had the wonderful snowstorm back in January, I closed on a Saturday due to the inclement road conditions. Now, did I take Saturday as a snow day like any sensible thirty-something? Of course not! I schlepped out my camera and took pictures in the snow of the bras on my review docket thinking a) natural light means no need to edit any brightness/contrast issues created by the camera, b) it’d be pretty, and c) it would still be freakin’ winter when I had time to film the videos and write the reviews. While my bronchitis did contribute to the problematic nature of point C, we also must state the obvious. North Carolina took a vote, and apparently, everyone decided there would be no more winter after January. As a result, the photos for this review are in the snow . . . and so are the pictures for the next two reviews.
Because the Aria is only available up to a UK H cup, my rep sent me the UK 32H for review. The last few months my best fitting bra sizes (yes, more than one) include 32H, 32HH, 34GG, and 34H depending on how much the band stretches and the general shape of the cup. Given the plunging nature of the design as well as the aforementioned molded cup, I expected an indecent amount of overflow, but the size works! The band was quite firm on the loosest set of hooks but has broken in with wear, and the cups do not have any overflow or extra space. Well, to clarify, the cups do not have overflow most times. There is a particular time of month where I tend to wear my fuller-coverage fits. Otherwise, the size fits well and feels comfortable.
For years, Comexim has made my favorite bras, but our relationship deteriorated recently (something I will discuss in a future post). As a result, I have been searching for alternatives both for myself and for the shop, and I truly love Aria as much as I love Comexim. First, Panache utilizes a firmer gauge underwire, allowing the gore to completely tack and the bra to snugly anchor to my ribs. An extremely low center and moderate cup depth compliment my close set breasts much the same way a classic Comexim does, and the underwires on the sides end at nearly the same place. A graduated cup design with flexible, contouring foam gently pulls tissue forward and up for a high, rounded profile.
Since my breast tissue literally connects at the middle, cleavage is a way of life for me, but I am impressed with how Aria manages to provide a smidge of separation with such a low gore. My cleavage looks less pressed together, a nice feature I ordinarily do not have in molded or padded cup plunges. To be fair, I do experience fit issues related to the molded cup, namely the aforementioned extra space at the base of the cup. It’s very minimal though, and when I did the video I didn’t even realize I had any. However, the cup preserves its shape better to prevent the bra from sliding, and I do not experience any pain, discomfort, or detriment to the overalls support. Essentially, it’s a quibble that I can overlook because despite my bra fitting background, I am not a stickler for a textbook perfect fit if I love everything else about the bra.
The Panache Aria is also a bandless bra. Bandless, I say! I haven’t had a bandless bra . . . well, the last one I can distinctly remember was a Frederick’s of Hollywood monstrosity I wore as a teenager. For those not familiar with the term, bandless bras lack the added elastic piece at the bottom of the underwire, meaning when the underwire stops, the bra stops. Aptly, bras with the elastic at the bottom are called “banded.” The general rationale for why you don’t see bandless frames in fuller bust pieces is because the added elastic promotes anchorage and security; however, depending on your shape and your job, it can also create rolling or flipping too. Sometimes the problems related to banded bras are actually a symptom of the general quality of the elastic or even the shape of the underwire against your ribs with some bras being more prone to issues than others. With a bandless bra, you never have to worry about those problems, and the underwire shape and design usually arch more, giving added space for rib flares, a higher tummy, or some extra jiggle. At first, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about not having the added security, but I love it!
Before I even look at myself in the mirror (lest the pretty factor overrule my better judgement), the first thing I do when trying a new bra is the side test. I type a lot and move even more, and there is nothing which gets a bra rejected faster than where it hits me under the arm. Aria artfully side steps any grievances with low underwires and side cups, the latter of which features soft, flexible fabric to enable movement. Sleek wings exploit a comfortable smoothing fabric and then taper into two hook-and-eye closures. I prefer at least three, but the support and comfort of the bra is so wonderful I don’t mind. Fully-adjustable straps improve the fit for petite and/or short-waisted people and are inset more than other Panache styles. They are wider than an altered Comexim, which could present a problem for anyone with narrow shoulders searching for an off-the-rack alternative.
As part of the exclusive Black label, the construction and materials quality on Aria naturally increases to match the $82 retail price. I have never owned an $82 bra, but I can clearly see where the added expenses are. While I have not tried the bra personally, the somewhat similar Panache Porcelain Elan plunge retails for $69 and uses top notch fabrics. I mention it because Panache’s recent collections focus more on quality and careful selections of materials ranging from features like encapsulated wings, plush molded cups to improve fit, and beautiful laces and fabrics. In comparison to Elan, you spend $13 more for the upscale Aria, and the difference is in the details. By definition, a higher quality, luxury oriented bra is supposed to have features you don’t really need. In essence, it’s about treating yourself to something more, something you truly want for the sake of wanting it. Aria delivers here with an understated sense of luxury and sophistication, perfect for someone wanting to stand on the bridge of the luxury market.
Black and cream are one of my favorite albeit subtle combinations in lingerie because I think they channel a sense of effortless class. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bra that has every feasible design element thrown into the mix except the kitchen sink (okay throw that in too if it works), but I think there is also something to be said for the bras which use restraint. The Aria reads like a classic black bra with a twist. Gold tone hardware lends a richness, and the taupe underlay with geometric lace topper twists across the cup and extends onto the sides.
Is Aria a practical everyday t-shirt bra? Nah. The seaming on the lace does show a bit under thin knits (not like I care), it’s so beautiful and comfortable and luxurious that I cannot help but love it. It gives me a little taste of luxury in a fuller-bust bra, and to be honest, it’s an affordable luxury. Most high quality molded cups, especially those for F+ cups start around $60 and go up from there. To have something up to a UK H cup and in 28-38 bands with these materials and this attention to detail clock in at $82 is completely reasonable and appropriate. Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention something that does bug me a bit: the size range. If you can make this bra in a UK 38H, there’s no reason we couldn’t see some higher cups in other bands. People needing a shape like this would certainly appreciate another option on the market.
And just to prove how much I love it, I am totally wearing it today.