Ready for the beach!

Over the past few months, I’ve been on the hunt for good bikinis. I usually take a bit longer between blog posts, but with holiday-season pretty much underway, I thought I’d post a quick round up 😉

The first bikini I’ve got my paws on is the Panache Geneva balconette in a 30JJ. It’s definitely an old style (this is an eBay bargain), but it’s very similar to the newer Holly bikini. Like this season’s Holly, it is available in 28-40 D-K, and in both bikini and tankini styles. I was lucky to snag this a few months ago at £7, but it should be findable for under £15. I’ve matched it here with generic cheap bottoms, pretty much why I wanted a basic black bikini!

The cups run slightly small, but considering the stretchy material and stretch in water, I don’t think I’d size up. The back is (as with almost all bikinis) unadjustable, which is definitely a bit of an annoyance. I can see how most won’t want their swimwear to be too lingerie-esque, and I don’t know how well a hook-and-eye fastening would hold up in water, but when you’re paying the same as for a bra it’s a bit annoying to know it has a significantly shorter lifespan. The fastening also has an annoying habit of rotating (as does my CK bikini), but it should be easy enough to fix.

I find the shape and support pretty good – it’s definitely a very bra-like bikini. I’d say the construction is somewhat like the Cleo Lucy, but small in the cups and with a more true-to-size band. I’ve paired it above with high-waisted briefs. I’ve been hunting for high-waisted briefs for ages (I love that they’re both retro and modest!), but couldn’t really find any. So, I made my own from a swimming costume:

The costume was a magazine freebie which definitely did not have enough boob-space. I marked on the height I wanted them to be, cut off the excess and folded the top over.  I then sewed it with a stretch stitch, cut a small hole at the side and threaded through the “string” part from an old bikini to keep it from slipping down.

My second bikini for summer is the Curvy Kate Caribbean Curves bikini in a 30JJ. I really adore the pattern and colours of this, as I think it’s a gorgeous compromise between flirty leopard print and sophisticated dark colours. I’ve matched it here with (you guessed it) store-bought purple briefs, though I am definitely considering buying the matching set for this! I was once again lucky to get this bikini on sale, but I think the best price is currently roughly £22 at Amazon.

It is another very bra-like bikini, but it is also one of Curvy Kate’s few padded offerings up to a K cup. The shape is much better than I’ve gotten in any of Curvy Kate’s bras, it gives good support, and the band is nice and firm. However, it definitely comes huge in the cups: I normally have to size up to a 30K in Curvy Kate, and this is miles too big in a 30JJ. It’s okay standing, but when slouching or sitting you can see how much it gapes, and it will definitely loosen more in water. I think I would ideally need to size down to a 30HH (!), potentially making this a very good option for those who need KK/L cups. Aside from the size, I am so in love with this bikini! I think the padding and the construction of this are what we really need to see in Curvy Kate’s regular range. The fact that it can give me such great shape and support, even in a too big cup, is just incredible. I really hope this is the start of padded bras for higher cups!

Lastly, the Slinky Dip polka dot halterneck bikini, by The Big Bra Bar, is one I wasn’t expecting to work. Though it isn’t underwired, it is made with significantly larger triangle sections to accommodate a larger bust. It comes in general sizes – you just choose your size in the dropdown and they send the best size for you. It is a truly gorgeous bikini – retro-inspired, polka-dots, the long ties…Both my sister and I ended up ordering it and received the same size (I believe this is meant for 28-32 F-G).

Considering it’s made for someone a fair bit smaller, I think this gives a surprising amount of coverage. It isn’t anywhere near as supportive as a proper underwired bikini, but I don’t think I’m in danger of falling out. I definitely wouldn’t do anything too active in it – it’s more one for lounging by the pool. Here I’m wearing it with the necktie not as tight as it could be for comfort, but if I want more impressive shape/cleavage I can tighten it more. Obviously someone smaller would have an easier time of getting a good shape/uplift!

For spares, I’ve also paired it here with some Trinny and Susannah polka dot swim briefs. The bikini itself usually sells for £32 at The Big Bra Bar, but is currently out of stock. Also available in this style are the yellow polka dot version (£32, reviewed at thinandcurvy), and the zebra print version (£25.60).

That’s just about all from me for today – see you in the pool! 😀

Crazy for Cleo

I have never really tried many Panache bras. Before now, my only venture had been the Panache Melody in a 30JJ…

…Which was a complete failure. It ran huge in the cups, was more like a 34 back and the underwires were far too wide and painful. I’m now thinking it was mislabelled, and it still sits unworn in a drawer. At any rate, it completely put me off Panache. I didn’t even consider Cleo, which stops at a J, until I absolutely fell in love with the Alexa. When I was told it runs oddly large in the cups, there was no way I couldn’t try it.

Though a lot of women have found it an odd cut and can’t get along with it, I was ecstatic to find the cups are absolutely perfect for me.

The band runs slightly loose and many will prefer to size down, but as this isn’t an option for me I am making do. I can’t begin to explain how much I love this bra – the uplift, the cut, the wire width, the shape, it is just amazing. In fact, I love it so much, I own two. Though its RRP is £25, you can now find it on sale for as little as £16. And when I discovered the Olivia, a polka dot bra in the same cut…

…I clearly had to get that, too. At £25 per bra, Cleo comes cheaper than numerous competitors (especially considering the fun designs), but like most other brands, the matching briefs come in at about £15. Which, in complete honesty, is just more than I can justify. So sadly, I am forced to mix-and-match as best as I can, hoping for a decent sale!

As with the Alexa, I adore this bra. The back is slightly firmer and the cups slightly smaller, but the fit still works for me. It gives me a slightly more rounded profile than the Alexa, but the cut, uplift and wire width are the same. I think the Cleo shape is something of a mid-ground between the forward projection and pointiness of Bravissimo and the shallow, rounded shape of Panache Superbra.

Lastly, the Cleo Lucy was one I did not expect to work at all, but have been pleasantly surprised by. I was told the Lucy runs true to size, perhaps even small, but found the 30J perfect. The bottom section of the cup is made of a slightly stretchy fabric, so this may be why it still works for me.

I found the shape much rounder and with a higher apex than on the Alexa and Olivia, though the back runs similarly large. The central gore is slightly wider – if you have more close-set breasts this could definitely be a problem, but this is just about okay on me. It is also not a full band bra, which is less than ideal. But, all in all, I am so happy to have found Cleo bras that work for me! There is still something of a gap in the market for fun, feminine full-bust bras – while Curvy Kate are great for some, the profile is less than satisfactory over an H cup, so Cleo is fantastic news in my book. I just hope they expand their sizes at some point, as there are a lot of women missing out!