Since the Sculptresse Candi narrowly missed being chosen for our first bra review of the year to the Freya Fearne, it seems only fair that Candi should be the second. Candi is a new style from Sculptresse and focuses more on a softer, rounded look as opposed to the structured, forward-projecting Chi Chi. When I first saw images of Candi in my catalog, my gut reaction was: “Dayum! Panache has the tenacity to challenge Elomi’s powerhouse Cate/Caitlyn style.” Then there may have been some childish “Let’s get ready to rumble” nonsense going on, but in all seriousness, I think it is natural to invite comparisons between the two. However, since I have never formally reviewed Cate, I will focus more on Candi and only compare to Cate when I feel appropriate.
Because I never travel to trade shows, my amazing Panache sales rep sent me a Candi as gratis to possibly review and test for the shop. The only available size close to mine was a UK 36FF (US 36H), and when I saw the tag, I wrote off the possibility of a blog review, thinking the sizing would interfere too much with the fit and invite unfair criticism. But for giggles, I gave it a whirl anyway, and behold!
The sizing is actually pretty close. At the time of the pictures and video review, I was a wee bit indulgent in baked ham *cough* and slow cooked pork butt *cough*. Suffice it to say, the amount of sodium I imbibed the first two weeks of the new year was sufficient to cause, uh, some puffiness. At that time, the loosest hooks on the 36FF was quite comfortable, but now that I returned to sensible eating, I wear the bra on the tighter setting. Furthermore, the cup fits well with only a slight overflow toward the center, but I suspect if I sized down to a UK 34G (US 34I), it may pull more tightly. As a result, I estimate my ideal size in the Candi to be a UK 34GG (UK 34J). Sculptresse bands often run firm, and Candi is no exception, but the cup size is also more generous. In most Panache styles, I hover between a UK 32HH (US 32L) to a UK 34H (US 34K). If you are considering trying this style, I recommend sizing up in the band, especially if you are between sizes, and possibly down in the cup from your normal Panache size.
Sizing quirks aside, the fit of Candi impressed me more than expected. Like Cate, the center gore features a wider, splayed shape, and the underwires reach further behind on the side, creating extra space and wrinkling where my tissue ends before the underwire begins. The center cups are not overly shallow although they are not as deep as the shape Panache traditionally uses. As much as I love Cate (and companion style Keira from Goddess) in the store, I find the wires sometimes extend too far back on the body, especially in higher cup sizes. Most customers do not mind, but I love how Panache resisted the urge to venture too narrow or too wide.
Two-section lower cups provide upward lift while a side panel pulls breast tissue inward, and the upper cup provides better containment and contouring without feeling overly rigid. Fully-adjustable straps, felted straps are wonderfully inset to prevent slippage on narrow and sloped shoulders, and the soft wings are wide and smooth for better anchoring. The profile is rounded and mostly forward, although you can tell I do have a little more breast tissue relaxed at the side than I did in the Chi Chi or Fearne. And that’s okay. Not everyone prefers that uber-projected shape, and not everyone has my boob type (center heavy with no side tissue). Not to mention, for a design in many ways at odds with my natural shape, I can’t help but like it, probably because Candi is freakin’ comfy, like “I forget I have a bra on comfy.”
Per usual, the materials for Candi continue to highlight Panache’s commitment improving their designs and offering a better product. I lauded Chi Chi for those fabulous encapsulated wings, and Candi carries on the tradition. The solid fabric sections of the cup manage to be both smooth and soft while still offering firm, supportive shaping, even for heavier tissue. Meanwhile, the upper cup addresses so many problems across multiple styles in one genius stroke. The fabric maintains enough stretch to offer flexibility in contouring across breast types to prevent gaping, extra space, or overflow but not so much as to sacrifice containment and stability. Brilliant!
Now, gushing review aside, here’s where the comparisons to Cate crop up. Aesthetically, they’re pretty similar. In all fairness to both brands, a classic four-section cup design like this is pretty common in the fuller-bust industry. The pop of red is bright and festive although once again I wish Panache would give customers a core or neutral option. Red can be polarizing, and as a retailer, if I am already taking a gamble on a new style, I am less likely to do so if the color is also risky for me. As for the embroidery, I find the polka dots a classic, simple, flat-laying, and innocuous enough print to appease most aesthetic tastes while still adding visual interest.
Another area worth noting is price. I mentioned in the Fearne review that prices in the industry are ticking upwards due to rising materials and labor costs, and if you haven’t read Cora of the Lingerie Addcit’s article for Teen Vogue, please do. Candi retails for $74; Cate retails for $59 (formerly $55). For me, I like both bras and would stock both in the shop. Cate offers a larger size range and a more wallet-friendly price in core colors with good quality, but the design is not without faults. Candi offers a comparable to better fit, higher quality materials, and better elastic on the wings which is less prone to rolling. Essentially, the price on both matches their respective quality levels, and if you like Cate or simply want a less forward Panache style, consider Candi. It really is an amazing bra!