I have given the Panache Sculptresse brand a lot of grief over the years, but in the last 18 months, they have been killing it! If you are unfamiliar with the line, Sculptresse is Panache’s plus-size collection, and it boasts an impressive size range made from high quality fabrics and materials. I would be remiss without acknowledging my wonderful sales rep Jacquelyn who is always on point with her recommendations for styles, and one of her latest suggestions is the new Siren plunge bra. Plunge bras in plus-size are not always easy to find as many brands tend toward full-coverage fits. Because I wear a UK 34H (US 34K), I am sometimes forced to sister size in Sculptresse into a 36 band, but Siren is one of their styles which actually starts at UK 34FF, meaning I was able to go with my standard size.
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.
I have a vision of two Panache designers sitting at a long table with colorful fashion sketches intermixed with swatches of fabric, lace, and ribbon, and one asks “What about making another, slightly different version of Jasmine?” The other nods as she contemplates the question before finally responding “Well, you can never have too much of a good thing.” There’s more to this fictitious conversation obviously, but I truncated it to what is relevant for the review. For those not familiar with the brand, Jasmine is one of those best-selling, crowd-pleasing favorites which brands and retailers alike dub “rent payers,” and because of that success, Panache has tweaked Jasmine several times, including fuller-coverage Envy and plus-size friendly Chi Chi. As a result, when my rep told me last year the Cleo line would now feature a Jasmine-esque style, I was so ecstatic I ordered a bunch for the shop. Yet, I have never seemed to review the style myself.
Welcome to Panache week! With our Find Your Fit Event on Saturday, I thought it would be fun to review two new Panache styles, starting with Petra from the classic Panache line. I’ve been eyeing Petra lustfully since the debut, but I am always hesitant about padded cups. My concern relates less to disliking padding and more to the myriad of fit issues I experience, including too shallow cups which create the “floating boob” or “orange in a glass” effect at the base. I also struggle with the center cups not having enough immediate projection which reduces the ability of the bra to tack, i.e., sit flat against my sternum. Considering my experience with Panache’s molded cups has never been exceptional, I worried Petra would simply be a pretty bra I could never wear.
Try not to die of shock that I posted not once but TWICE in a single week. I have so many amazing products in my review queue that if I don’t get my butt in gear, I’ll never get to them all! With today’s post, we can all officially wave goodbye to the snow pictures, and I can take future photos more reflective of our current weather. Today also marks the last of my Panache freebies as well as my first Cleo review in quite some time. Back in the day, Cleo was my jam (that’s probably not what the kids are saying, but I don’t care). They had narrow underwires and deep cups and a great shape, and hey, did I mention I climbed a freakin’ mountain in the Marcie?
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.
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.
This product review has been a loooooooooooooooong time coming. First, I’ve mentioned before how hard reviews are when you are not feeling the most body positive about yourself because, hey, there you are in all your unphotoshopped glory for everyone, but especially yourself, to see. Motivation to be in front of a camera dissipates rapidly, but the world doth not stop for a forty pound weight gain. Consequently, I shot this video and planned to review it a few weeks ago, but in the chaos of the move, Thanksgiving, gift guides, bronchitis, and now Christmas, I have had “Chi Chi Review” on my project list for some time with no forward progression. Friday, in between helping last minute shoppers, I squeezed together enough time to jot down the written portion as well as to organize the copious number of products I plan to review in the coming weeks. Basically, I told myself, and pardon my language, “Girl get your shit together.” And I am, and I will, and you lovely readers get a review in the process.
As my teeming inbox continues to remind me, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and general holiday chaos are right around the corner! This year, we’ve brought in some very special products to make shopping for loved ones (or for creating your own wishlist!) easy and affordable. As many of you know, I have an aversion to “Buy this!” posts because I feel uncomfortable using the blog for such blatant marketing and promotion—an ironic turn of events given my original intentions when I created it five years ago. However, as the blog grew and flourished, the purpose transitioned into towing the line between professional and personal, and I prefer eschewing gimmicky posts in favor of interesting content. That said, I also feel that our store, like many local businesses, is often forgotten during the hustle and bustle of the holiday gift giving season when we have so much to offer. More people buy online to avoid crowds or head straight for one-stop shops, but small businesses often possess unique, one-of-a-kind items and the money spent with them funnels back into the local community and charities. Not to mention, since I rarely post any new products here, some customers may not realize how many wonderful potential gifts we have in the shop right now . . . oh, and did I mention prices range from $15 to $100? All budgets welcome here!
Remember my annual stats series? No? I don’t blame you seeing as how I started it back in August during a streak of productivity and over-ambitiousness which was ultimately sidelined by the damn move I keep mentioning. Anyway, the store has been unusually quiet, even for a traditionally slow month, and while that bodes poorly for sales, I seized the opportunity to slog through my expansive “To Do” list and revisit my statistical posts. Originally, I planned to divide the content into two smaller, more manageable blogs, but sheesh, how many do we really need? I have so much more content to work on and post that I think we’ll close here with an abundance of cool information on our best-sellers, our up-and-comers, and even our down-and-outers. (Previous entries were: A Guide to Interpretation, Band & Cup sizes, and Best-Selling Bra Sizes.)