Focusing on the silver lining in the clouds—a task I always attempt albeit sometimes unsuccessfully, then the positive side of gaining weight has been the myriad of lingerie options I can now try and review. When I wore a UK 30H (US 30K), there were several styles and even entire lines which were unavailable in my size or which simply did not work for me. In some cases, the fit issues directly related to the size itself, and most people wading through the small band/big cup market can write lengthy treatises on which bras do not scale properly and are plagued with fit and comfort issues. As a UK 34H (US 34K), I still encounter some of the same issues, usually related to my breast shape, but not nearly as many. My lingerie wardrobe boasts a variety of brands and styles now instead of solely representing the latest and greatest from Comexim. Furthermore, I have been able to explore new brands with real hopes they could fit me, and Sculptresse has been one such brand. Panache’s plus-size line starts most styles at 34 or 36 bands and often goes to a 46, and the fit profiles have ranged across breast shapes. Candi is an ideal option for wider set breasts while Chi Chi is perfect for narrow. As part of my ongoing experimentation, my sales rep sent me Gina, and I was eager to determine where this style fit into the line.
In the center, the underwire is narrow with a moderate height and a comfortable tack; however, due to the wider shape on the side, I have extra space between where my breast tissue stops and the wire begins. The side panel rests more on my ribs and less on the breast tissue it should be pulling inward and supporting, and yet, the profile remains forward without being east-west. Generally, I don’t mind if a bra extends further back on the side provided no comfort issues result, but sadly, Gina rubs under the arm. The width of the wire pulls the cup fabric into my underarm, particularly when I move, and I know from experience, it creates problems long term.
Even though the shape does not work for me, I love the choice of a moderate width. Not everyone has close set, narrow rooted breasts like I do (which is basically a fancy of way of saying my boobs are close in the middle without much tissue on the side), and some certainly have side breast tissue needing to be fully encapsulated inside the cup. Given Sculptresse already has two options on opposite sides of the width spectrum, adding Gina to the mix feels like the right way to capture the average to slightly wider rooted customer who cannot comfortably wear other frames.
Furthermore, the entire cup utilizes a two-ply mesh with a stiffer but comfortable feel. Fabrics with less give usually provide greater lift and also maintain shape better over time. With Gina, that same fabric is used on the upper cup fabric but is tempered by a thin strip of elastic along the upper stitching. The downside of firmer fabrics is the cup tends to be less forgiving of asymmetry or weight fluctuations, which is just the nature of the beast. If this is a problem for you, stick with styles using stretch fabrics like lace. Stiffer fabrics also close in the top of the cup more too. For my balanced breast tissue, I do not experience any problems with the cup digging or cutting, but I am not sure the same will be true for full on top tissue types.
Fit quirks aside, firmer cup fabric works well for people needing or wanting complete containment of the tissue. One of our chief complaints about the stretch lace styles from Panache is the breast jiggles and moves too much, especially for people with softer tissue. Customers who teach, have active jobs, or work in male-dominated fields often gravitate toward styles like Gina which lift and round but keep tissue stationary. The elastic strip on the upper cup improves the contour ability here, making it more accessible to those customers without compromising fit. Between the firmer cup fabric and the moderate wires, Gina is positioned perfectly as another option for Sculptresse shoppers.
A wider size range and thoughtful design approach causes Gina, like many of Panache’s newer styles, to tip toward a higher price, specifically $72. As with the other styles I reviewed recently, Gina sports a high quality befitting the price increase. The two-ply mesh features superior hold, and the overall construction is sturdy and solid, even in higher bands. Panache only uses the best materials—comfortable, supportive fabrics, powemesh wings with sewn-on elastic, and partially-felted, fully-adjustable straps. I prefer the encapsulation style wing of Chi Chi and Candi because it smooths better, but some customers find the mesh more comfortable and breathable. If this were a Superbra style, I imagine the price would be $67 like Jasmine, but because Gina is available up to a UK 46HH (US 46L), I think the extra $5 is to account for the size range.
Aesthetically, I love this bra. I have no idea what’s with me lately, but I am in a neutral kick. I wear Petra twice a week and love it every time, and I only have one colorful bra in my rotation. With Gina, the style reads simple sophistication and elegance with a decidedly modern but minimalist influence. The interior fabric layer is a simple mesh, but the exterior uses a beautiful geometric print which is both flat-laying and subtle. The gorgeous mink color channels a neutral with its muted purple, and the contrast navy bow at the center provides a final touch. More companies are embracing nudes for all skin tones rather than the blanket yellow-beige, and mink is a lovely option for darker skin. Of course, I think the shade is such that it works on everyone, but I like the idea of using mink as a way for people with darker skin to explore color while still blending under lighter clothes. In fact, Panache, if you are reading this, Gina should be a new Sculptresse basic, and Mink should be a core color for every line. Just sayin’.