First, I must apologize for the delay in blogging here. I have so many fantastic ideas for the new year, but my business partner and I are in the midst of finishing up all of the necessary information for last year’s financials plus getting a jump start on taxes (basically stuff we both abhor with a passion). Sadly, blogging is one of the lower priority items on my agenda for the time being even though it’s one of my favorite aspects of the business. Ironically, despite intermittent Internet access, winter storm Jonas has provided me the perfect opportunity to catch up work on blogging because I was stuck at home while a barrage of freezing rain and pellet-sized hail assaulted the already fragile tree limbs, tempting them to give way and fall to the earth. Rather than brave the packed ice constituting our roads which left my brother’s newer and nicer car sliding about and unable to climb a hill, I curled up inside with a beautiful afghan knitted by my aunt as a present, my terrorists, and a glass of wine to write product reviews and edit a very special guest post for later this week. Here’s hoping all of my east coast readers weathered the storm safely.
Returning to our normally scheduled lingerie discussion, I mentioned a few months ago that I ordered several newer Panache styles expressly for blog reviews, and my first foray with Georgia was so successful I ordered a bunch for the shop. I was equally excited to delve into the Panache Black line, which has underwent a few name changes and aesthetic shifts over the years. Prior to its current moniker, the line was known as Masquerade and used decadent fabrics and bra frames unique to its line. Long time readers may remember my love for the Rhea, but since the reorganization and change in branding, I had not tested anything new. With Panache Black, the fuller-bust brand has opted for a slightly safer route, transforming classic Superbra frames into more luxury-oriented pieces with better quality fabrics and sophisticated finishing touches while still remaining more wallet-friendly. Because most of the regular bras are priced under $85, the Panache Black line allows customers to dip their metaphorical toes into the luxury lingerie market without breaking the bank. To kick off my exploration of the line, I will be reviewing the Eclipse. Full Disclosure: When I ordered the Eclipse, I ordered just that: “the Eclipse.” It was done in a rather rapid succession of emails, and I did not put two and two together that Eclipse was actually a Tango derivative, so please keep this in mind as I go through the review.
Despite being a little more in 32 territory now than 30, at the time I ordered I was a bit between sizes. My standard Superbra size of 30HH fit fairly firm in the band to the point of possibly needing an extender. The cups created a slight amount of overflow, but I believe this issue relates to the fabric and cup shape rather than the size. Consequently, I would estimate the bra runs true-to-size for Panache.
Having tested the original Superbra Tango before, I developed some decided opinions on the model which bear repeating here as they directly influence my review. I am not a Tango fan. My first Panache sales rep (not my current one who is great) recommended the bra to me as a “standard” for any lingerie boutique, and having never tried the bra myself and being more of a bra fitting novitiate than expert, I implicitly trusted the recommendation. They took forever to sell, and I still have one or two floating around my sale bins. In all fairness, some people freakin’ love this bra, and some boutiques have told me they sell exceptionally well. However, it never found a strong footing here, and I personally think there are a lot of fit issues that have been addressed in other, more recent additions to the Panache collection—Georgia being one such exceptional example.
Tango is a very full coverage bra with heavy wires and stiff fabric on the cups, and the people who prefer it often have heavy, soft bottom-heavy breasts and prefer more coverage and heavier fabric. The lower price point of $55 is another selling point, but the height and wire shape can cause the bra to dig in painfully for some people, going so far as to even scar the skin. My criticisms may seem harsh, but I voice them because I know Panache has been so innovative in other styles, and Tango really has become a bit dated.
As a result, when I realized what the Eclipse actually was, I tried to keep the aforementioned opinions in check to be as objective as possible. For my close-set, balanced breasts with a general lack of side tissue, Tango is the opposite of what I need. The frame is one of the widest in Panache’s canon, and the three section full-cup design is shallower at the center with an exceptionally firm upper cup. The width creates an east-west phenomenon for me, and the wires extend fairly far onto my side, leaving extra space along the entire length of the underwire. Heavier wires create firm tacking in the center, and the top section forces my upper breast tissue downward in a less than flattering profile. As I mentioned above, this bra has some long-time fans in a breast shape that is fairly different than my one, so please don’t let my general issues with the Tango dissuade you.
That said, the Eclipse features some impressive tweaks which substantially improve on the original. First, the wires are slightly lower in the front and on the side, and the cup itself feels a little less full-coverage. It seems as though Panache listened to criticisms from consumers regarding the original Tango because the Eclipse, despite fit issues, feels more comfortable and wearable. Even the materials are significantly better. The original Tango utilizes the somewhat dated Austrian leaf embroidery and a scratchy textured fabric. The embroidery, in particularly, is a throwback to an era when manufacturers had not developed new technologies to create flat-lying details that spruce up a basic bra without functioning as a braille-like element under thin knits. Granted, the Tango retails for about $55, and the Eclipse is $79. Given the increase in price, it’s natural the quality would go up to match the new price. Panache tends to starch their fabrics pretty heavily, but Eclipse still manages to be fairly soft. The wings firmly anchor to the body and seem less prone to stretching, and the smoother cup fabric disappears under knits. If Tango more or less works for you, Eclipse is without a doubt worth considering.
From an aesthetic perspective, the Eclipse is a successful exercise in modernist minimalism and effortless sophistication. The deep teal color flatters most skin tones, and the solid black accents and sparing use of accessories give the bra a luxurious but accessible quality. Textured straps and crystal pendants at the center elevate the design. Sometimes the fancier the bra, the more polarizing it can be. Fantasie, for example, has delivered some technically and artistically brilliant pieces in their collections, but the raised edging, the colors used, and sometimes the lack of basic detailing make them difficult to sell. Eclipse walks a tightrope of sell-ability and beauty quite successfully, which is why I was so interested in trying it in the first place. The white and black variation is lovely too. However, the price point is high. For my customers, as soon as the bra ticks above $70, it really has to be phenomenal, and even though the fit of Tango is a favorite for some people, I am not convinced the upgrades for the Black line warrant a $24 price jump. To me, this is a $69 bra, but in all fairness, there may be a longevity component I am missing as I did not keep the bra for myself. I also could be somewhat biased because Georgia from Superbra line (a $62 bra) is on par quality wise with Eclipse and could readily be sold for around $69 (I list at MSRP, but still, Panache could have charged much more for it.) And I’d go so far as to suggest Georgia’s frame make its own appearance in the Black line.
In lieu of giving an absolute “grade” for the bra, I’d like to end with a few closing thoughts. Tango Eclipse, at its core, is still the Tango, and while the improvements are impressive and should absolutely make their way to the original collection, it’s not going to suddenly convert a non-Tango person into a fan. However, if Tango is “your bra” then absolutely buy this! The smoother cups, the general improvements to wire and cup height, and the upgrade in softness of materials are totally worth pursuing this bra.