Product Review: Panache Black Aria

Hello Everyone,

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.

Anyway, the Aria from the Panache Black Label was originally slated to be further on my review schedule, but *spoiler alert* I love this bra so much that I could not wait any longer to shout my affections from the rooftops of cyberspace. When I spoke with my fantastic Panache rep late last year, I told her I was interested in reviewing a few new styles and essentially gave her carte blanche in what she sent me. Aria was outside my normal review bubble partly because it is from their upscale line and partly because the design utilizes a molded cup. Molded cups and I are, at best, frenemies because of their inherent fit challenges. Rigid preformed structures like molded cups often fail to contour to the softer, constantly changing shape of breast tissue. Essentially, you and your tissue moves, but the molded cup does not. In the store, these summer staples are perennially popular with customers, but they also create the most problems in finding a style which fits and flatters the individual. Furthermore, my experience specifically with Panache molded cups, both professionally and personally, left something to be desired. The shapes never quite worked whether it was the wire shape not completely tacking, the base of the cup being so shallow the entire bra would slide down the ribs, or the strap placement causing gaping at the top.

Panache Black Label Aria Plunge: UK 28F-H, 30-38D-H; $82

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.

In the dictionary under “cabin fever,” you will find Mordy’s picture. He even wandered out in the snow . . . although he quickly retreated back inside to the warm hearth.

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.

Erica

Product Review: Panache Black Aria
Erica

Erica is a lover all things lingerie and is passionate about helping people find the bra which fits and flatters. Side passions include reading, writing, hiking, dairy-free food, walking her Jack Russell terrorists, and dying her hair everything from black to red.


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15 thoughts on “Product Review: Panache Black Aria

  • March 3, 2017 at 4:18 pm
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    I wonder if this different shape/fit will finally work with my usually Panache-averse shape. Definitely curious to try- great review!!

    Reply
    • Erica
      March 3, 2017 at 4:52 pm
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      Well, there’s a definite lowness in the front, which we know you need, and the sides are comparable to Comexim. My concern is whether a) you would also get some shallow issues at the base and b) if so, whether that would bother you. I was definitely surprised by how much I liked it and how comfy it was!

      Reply
  • March 3, 2017 at 5:26 pm
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    Great review! I wear a 34 H (U.S) or a 34 FF (U.K.) bra. I ALWAYS have problems with my bra sliding down my rib cage! It drives me crazy! The best fitting bra I have is the Wacoal supporting role bra in U.S. 34 G. Yes, I know it’s small, but it was discounted and I really needed a bra at the time. Even my well fitting, gore tacking, Parfait Celine wire bra in 34 G U.K. slides down my ribs (Celine ran small in the cups for me)! The band is tight enough, I can’t go tighter or looser. I try to wear narrow width wires. I basically live in support lacking sports bras. It’s better than putting up with a bra that slides down! Is there a way I can fix this issue without spending tons of money on a new bra wardrobe? Thanks!

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    • Erica
      March 3, 2017 at 5:40 pm
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      Hi Eden! Is 34 the correct band size? I just want to make sure you aren’t experiencing movement because you need a 32 instead of a 34. Celine did run a bit small in the cups and fairly firm in the band. How does the rest of the cup fit? Is all the breast tissue inside with no gaping/wrinkling/etc.? It sounds like you may need a bra with more bottom fullness. Have you tried Panache’s balcony bras at all either from their Superbra or their Cleo line? What about Comexim?

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      • March 3, 2017 at 6:33 pm
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        Yes, 34 is the best band size I’ve found for me in both of those bras. There is slight gaping in the Celine where the strap connects to the top of the cup, and a teeny tiny bit of space between the bottom of the cup and underwire. I also have the Celine in 32 G U.K. and the cup has a small amount of overflow, and the gore mashes waaay to hard. The 32 band is also really tight. I have tried the cleo maddie which was very shallow and also the cleo Natasha, which was a very strange fit. Unfortunately, I don’t have a store close to me that carries bras my size, so I just try to squeeze into the best Wacoal bra I can find at the department store on the clearance rack. Money’s a little tight for me right now, so it might be a while before I can order some new bras. I’ve never tried Comexim, although I’d like to try maybe next time I order bras online. Oh, the struggles of being busty!

        Reply
        • Erica
          March 13, 2017 at 11:30 am
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          Hi Eden! A few thoughts: First, if money is tight. Check out Bratabase. They often have new or lightly used bras on sale complete with measurements and reviews. It sounds like the sizing is about right, but that the styles you are trying do no have enough lower fullness for your tissue. Try Panache Envy, Jasmine, Marcie, or Hettie. You may also want to look at Freya too. Much as I love Wacoal, their options in your size are limited, and it may be worth spending a couple hours poking around Bratabase to find some other styles, particularly any that are rated well for a full on bottom breast type. 🙂

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  • March 3, 2017 at 9:07 pm
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    This is gorgeous, and the separation looks good enough to tempt me. I need to come see you soon I have lost enough weight that almost everything is fitting weird.

    Reply
    • Erica
      March 13, 2017 at 11:30 am
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      Well, I did just get the new Kayla in too . . . so not to enable you or anything, but it could be time for a trip out. >:)

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  • March 4, 2017 at 4:38 pm
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    Even if this bra came in my size, it’s a total shape mismatch…BUT I’m pleased to see Panache make a bra with fully adjustable straps. It’s my number one gripe in any brand, not to mention my go to. Thanks for the really great review!

    Reply
    • Erica
      March 13, 2017 at 11:32 am
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      Hi Mary! Molded cups are fraught with shape mismatches unfortunately. 🙁 I know we struggle a lot with this in the store! That said, Panache does offer a fully-adjustable strap on most of their bras. It just takes a little wiggle. Literally. Any of the bras with a partially-felted strap can become fully-adjustable. Take the bra off and feed the fabric through the adjuster manually, and you can get it to tighten more. Even bras like Clara (which has a very thick felt) can do this with a little patience and practice. 😀

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      • March 13, 2017 at 3:16 pm
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        I’ll try that, thanks!

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  • March 8, 2017 at 7:03 pm
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    The intricate designs on the side remind me of Mayan or Aztec ornamentation. Nice.

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    • Erica
      March 13, 2017 at 11:33 am
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      I agree! It does have an interesting ornamentation. The way it flows across the cup is particularly nice!

      Reply
  • March 30, 2017 at 10:18 am
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    This is my first bra that i have brought after getting recommended size from your calculator but just like your picture there this extra space at the base of the cup, is my size not correct, should i up or down a size? I am a 36ff, thanks

    Reply
    • Erica
      April 4, 2017 at 8:02 pm
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      The size is probably correct. It’s just the base of the bra is shallower, so the tissue moves upward to create space. I don’t really consider it a deal breaker for me because the bra is comfortable and supportive, but it definitely classifies as a “fit quibble.” 🙂

      Reply

What are your thoughts?