Diving In with Curvy Kate

Last year, Curvy Kate came out with their first selection of swimwear. It wasn’t without its problems, but there were some stunning offerings. This year, Curvy Kate has released another gorgeous selection of swimwear, with some adjustments to improve the fit. Since Brastop is offering 40% off CK swimwear and free shipping for this week, I decided to try a few new pieces.

CK Caribbean Curves 30JJ full

This is the Caribbean Curves bikini in a 30JJ, which I bought last year. Though I have reviewed this before, I thought I would share it again due to size change. I found this bikini too big in the cup last year (as a 30JJ)  and thought I’d need a 30HH/J, and I now find it to be slightly small in the cup. Based on this, I think this runs approximately 1 cup big.

CK Caribbean Curves 30JJ close

The main issues I had with this bikini were the very long straps, very high sides, wide gore and square back. I also found the wires to be slightly too wide, but that’s a common complaint for me. I found the shape to be better than I had got in any other CK bra (slightly more rounded/uplifted).  I was willing to overlook the issues for the support and appearance, and I still found it quite comfy.

CK Caribbean Curves 30JJ briefs

I also (finally) got my hands on the matching side-tie briefs in a size 14. I found them to be a very flattering cut, and I think the long, thick ties are gorgeous. Ideally I think I would wear a 10/12 in these as I get some excess material, but unfortunately these sizes weren’t available. A shorts version is also available.

CK Bondi Breeze 30K full

Another set from last year: the Bondi Breeze bikini in a 30K with size 12 shorts. I decided to try this set so I could accurately compare this year and last year’s bikinis in the same size. I found it fairly comparable to the Caribbean Curves, though obviously with slightly bigger cups, but it seemed like the extra space was in all the wrong places for me. The gore was slightly wider and higher, and the sides also slightly higher. The tall sides made this size just a bit too uncomfortable for me, so I think I will be returning this set.

CK Bondi Breeze 30K close

I would say this fits like a 30KK, but I still get some overspill at the centre and gapping at the straps due to the shape not being quite right for me, so the overspill wasn’t much improved. I found the shape to be good and the material very comfy.

CK Bondi Breeze 30K shorts

The shorts in a size 12, which I found quite comfortable, if a little low at the back. I believe there is also a tie-side option for the briefs. I do quite like this bikini – it’s very chic and minimalist, but still with some adorable details. I think it could definitely be worth a try for those who like the style, though the tall sides are something to be aware of.

CK Pebbles 30K full

One of this year’s offerings, the Pebble Padded bikini in a 30K with size 12 shorts. Can I just say how excited I was to see a polka dot K-cup bikini?! Polka dots are one of my biggest weaknesses, and blue tends to be a great colour on me, so I knew I had to try this set out. I was happy to find that the fit has been vastly improved from last year, which can be seen by the measurements (see bottom of page). I noticed that the gore height has been reduced by about 2cm, and the wing height has been reduced by around 4cm, a vast improvement. I also found the band to be more true to size, whereas last year the bands ran somewhat small. All in all, I found it far more comfortable.

CK Pebbles 30K close

As expected, I have some overspill towards the centre, but it doesn’t seem too bad – I find bikinis tend to have more give once wet anyway, so this will likely be fine with wear. The bikini seemed very comfortable and supportive, which is always fantastic news. The cups seemed deep enough, they were just slightly too shallow towards the centre for me. I really liked the shape it gave on me, which seemed like an improved version of last year’s. The cups are visibly lower at the sides (although I would personally still prefer slightly lower), and I don’t have any gapping towards the straps. A smaller improvement I noticed is that the band is slightly wider, which means that the clasp is sturdier and doesn’t pull diagonally, as well as being slightly more comfortable. One small issue I had was the shape at the bottom of the cups – it seemed as though the cup curved slightly inwards before projecting out, which meant I couldn’t get my boobs to go into the very bottom of the cup.

CK Pebbles unruched shortsCK Pebbles ruched shorts

The matching shorts in a size 12, shown here with the sides down and fully tightened. The size 12 seems to be a good size for me, and I really liked the tie sides – I think the shorts are much more flattering on me with the sides fully tightened. I thought these shorts were a bit taller than last year’s shorts, so they came up a bit higher at the back. There is a tie-side option available for those who like less coverage, and there is a moulded cup version for lower cups. All in all I love this bikini, and I think I’m going to have to hang onto it.

CK Horizon 30K full

The last set I tried, the Horizon Padded bikini in a 30K with size 12 foldover briefs. As expected, I found the fit and measurements to be pretty much identical between this and the Pebble bikini, so it was similarly comfortable and supportive. I think this bikini is a very stunning set, and I think the pattern is quite quirky and cute.

CK Horizon 30K close

I had the same slight overspill, and I think the slight emptiness at the bottom is more visible in these pictures. The cups seem to take this shape even before putting them on, so it seems as though it might be more of a manufacturing/storage thing. The properties are all pretty much the same as the Pebble, though I did find the shape to be slightly better in the Pebble bikini for some reason, which I think is most visible in the angled picture. I’m not entirely sure why that would be!

CK Horizon briefs folded downCK Horizon briefs half foldedCK Horizon briefs unfolded

The foldover shorts in a size 12. Sorry for the lumpiness in these pictures, I was wearing them over my pants! I found the briefs to look most flattering on me completely folded down. I found that they rolled down and bunched up if I half folded them, due to my belly. I saw how stunning CurvyWordy looked with them worn unfolded, but unfortunately they hit a very unflattering point on me if worn like this. Again, there is a tie-side option available (which I think would be comparable to these in terms of coverage), and there is a moulded cup version for lower cups. I would personally love a super high waisted option, as I find this is usually the best look for me. I do really love this bikini, but unfortunately I just can’t afford to keep both of them! So, I am definitely going to hang onto the Pebble, though I might have to snap the Horizon up again in the future.

Overall, I am so happy about the new selection of swimwear. Last year has some great offerings, but Curvy Kate seem to have really knocked it out of the park this year. I love the designs they’ve released this year, but I think something even better is how they’ve listened to customer feedback and improved the fit – something a lot of companies could learn from. I am sure many women will be happier with the improvements, and I can’t wait to see what they’ll come up with next year.

Crossing the K cup barrier

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve recently gone up to around a 30K/KK. I have been getting by in Cleo bras, but I’ve also tried quite a few bras over the past few months. None of the bras in this post are really successes, but I decided to review them anyway for anyone in K+ territory who was considering them.

Brav Alana stock

The first bra I decided to try was the Bravissimo Alana, one of the only bras readily available up to an L cup. I have tried the Alana before when I was a 30JJ, so I knew that the Alana runs about a cup small and I would probably need a 30L. Unfortunately, despite going to an L cup in 32-40 bands, it only goes to a KK in a 30 band (and only to a J in a 28 band), so this is a 30KK.

30KK Alana black

As expected, I found it to be too small in the cup, resulting in significant overspill along the top. What did surprise me is how much of a difference there is between the 30K and 30KK – the 30K Alana was one of my favourite bras, mostly due to how comfortable and well constructed it is. With just one cup up, I found the straps to be unbearably wide, the wires too wide, the gore too high, and the sides are far too tall under the arm. I can’t tighten the straps enough without the straps/cups digging into my arms/shoulders, and I also found the band to run surprisingly loose. The Alana features the usual 3 hooks and fully adjustable straps, along with a fairly narrow gore. Ideally I’d need a 30L for cup volume, but even if the size was being made, I think the straps and armholes would be unbearable. A 30K in a regular Bravissimo balconette would be far more preferable and should fit the same as this, so I wouldn’t recommend buying the Alana in this size.

Boudoir Beau Raspberry stock

The next bra I decided to try was the Bravissimo Boudoir Beau, which is available in 28 E-J, 30-38 DD-K. I have tried this bra in the past and found the cups to be slightly generous, so I thought it could be worth trying a 30K in the Ivory/Raspberry colourway.

Boudoir Beau 30K close

Once again, despite being a stunning bra, I found this to be too small in the cup. The cups were definitely deeper than the 30KK Alana, but it also seems to be more closed on top, resulting in an extremely pointy, projected shape but with the same amount of overspill. Due to this, I would think this bra may be more successful on those who are more bottom heavy. I found it to be quite east-west, and I didn’t seem to be able to get a very uplifted shape however much I tightened the straps. I found the wires to be quite wide (Brav wires tend to stretch easily), and the gore fairly standard for Bravissimo (narrow but tall). The band seemed like a true to size 30, and the bra sports the usual 3 hooks and fully adjustable straps. As with most bras, I found the straps to be slightly too wide set for my frame, but they seemed fairly standard for Bravissimo – definitely not as wide as the 30KK Alana, and the sides didn’t seem as tall either.

Panache Ariza stock

One that was recommended for me to try, the Panache Ariza, which is available in 30-38 D-K. I was told that it ran tight in the band and generously in the cups, with narrow wires and deep cups.

30K Ariza black

Despite the reports of the band being tight, it’s worth noting that the band seems to get looser in higher cup sizes – this fits more like a 32 band, so I’d say it fits like a “standard” 32JJ. The wires are very sturdy and do not distort when the band stretches, so they are quite narrow when on. However, I wouldn’t say the cups are particularly deep in this size – it doesn’t bring you up and centre, it’s more of an hourglass-from-the-front bra. The cups also don’t seem particularly generous, as I still have overspill, especially if I hold the gore flat. I found the wires to be uncomfortably tall, both at the gore and sides, to the point that I’m considering unpicking the wire channel and shortening the wire. The gore doesn’t tack on me, both due to its height and the too-small cups. I might try bending the wires to see if it relieves the armpit digging/floating gore, but I don’t know if it’s worth me buying any more of this style. Apparently some other colourways are lower at the arm, which might be worth looking at for anyone in the size range. One good thing about this bra is the strap placement, as they are significantly closer together than anything else I’ve tried. However, the straps are also quite thin compared to most other bras, which can be quite uncomfortable. Ideally I think I’d need a 28L in this bra, though I would definitely need lower sides for it to be a success.

So far, I have tried bras that I hoped would run big in the cup or small in the back. The other current options for K+ bras would be looking for more bras that are readily available above a K cup (such as the Bravissimo Alana or Panache Melody), custom orders (some possibilities are Ewa Michalak or Louise Ferdinand), or altering the band of a sister size. I am also looking forward to the launch of Edwards & Millers, a luxury line who plan to stock 26-34 DD-M. Hopefully when I find a few more bras that fit I will be able to cover more of these options in depth!

   

A Taste of Kris Line

Kris Line are a Polish brand, stocking bras in 65-100 (30-44) bands and A-KK cups. The brand has their own sizing system – each cup in Kris Line is based on a 2cm increase, compared to a one inch difference in UK brands. They also use an I cup between HH and J. I have been curious about Kris Line for a long time, but due to being a Polish brand, their bras are often very hard to find at reasonable prices in the UK. Recently, Brastop have got quite a few older season models in stock, including a couple up to a K cup.

Selena stock image

The first bra I decided to try was the Selena Semi-soft Balconette, a half-padded underwired bra in green. Brastop skip the I cup, so a KL 70JJ is listed as a 32K to correspond with UK cups. I am around a 30KK in UK brands at the moment, so I decided to try the 32K to get a good comparison with UK brands. The measurements of both of the bras in this post are displayed at the bottom.

KL Selena 32K details

Appearance-wise, I found this bra to be much more beautiful in person – the lace under the cups is just stunning. Despite being listed as green, I would say this is more of a muted turquoise. The bra also has removable padded inserts which add quite a bit of volume, which would be good for those between sizes.

KL Selena 32K 1

Sadly, it is very much too small in the cups. A UK 32K is a sister size of my current 30KK and should theoretically be okay in the cups, but I found the cups to run very small – I don’t think the side pictures capture quite how much quadboob I have. I had also heard that Kris Line bands often run small (partially why I tried the 32), but I found this band to run loose at just under 33 inches. I believe this bra is about 3 cups small on me, and 1-2 bands big. This, combined with comparing the measurements with other bras on Bratabase, leads me to estimate this bra as fitting like a loose-banded UK 32H/HH.

KL Selena 32K 2

Fit issues aside, this bra is really wonderful and I am so sad it doesn’t fit. The wires are gloriously narrow with a low, narrow gore which is perfect for my close-set boobs. The wires also seem to be quite firm and stable, so they stay fairly vertical at the sides rather than distorting as the band stretches. The sides are also nice and low (no armpit digging!), and the straps are the widest and comfiest I’ve seen. It seems to give a very uplifted, somewhat pointy profile, though that may be different in the right size cup.

KL Promenada stock photo

The second bra I decided to try was the Promenada Unpadded Balconette in a 30K (KL 65JJ).

KL Promenada 30K bra

Once again, this is a really stunning bra, far more gorgeous than it first looks in the official pictures. The embroidery on the cups is delightfully sophisticated, and the lace edging is lovely. I also love the embroidered straps and the patterned navy mesh.

KL Promenada 30K 1

Unsurprisingly, this is also too small in the cups. I have huge amounts of overspill, and there is some empty space at the bottom that I can’t fill due to the cups being too small. The cups feel about 4-5 sizes small, and the band stretches to just under 32 inches. Using the same method as before, I would say this fits like a loose-banded UK 30H/HH or a firm 32GG/H.

KL Promenada 30K 2

The Promenada has all the same good features as the Selena: narrow wires, low/narrow gore, low sides and comfy wide straps. It seems to give a slightly pointed, naturally uplifted shape, the kind that I personally favour for everyday wear. I would compare it to a 32H Bravissimo Alana, but with slightly narrower wires/gore.

Assuming the 2cm-per-cupsize estimation is accurate, a possible way of estimating cup size would be by manually calculating between your UK cupsize in inches and KL cupsizes in 2cms. For example: I currently need around a KK cup in most brands, which is the 16th UK cup. 16 cups → 16 inches → 40.68cm → 20-21 cups, which suggests I would need around an M in KL sizing. Using this for the above cups: a JJ is the 15th KL cup. 15 cups → 30cm → 11.8 inches → 11-12 UK cups, which would be an H/HH. That is pretty much what I estimated these bras to be, so that calculation could be worth doing as a part of choosing a size.

I can’t speak for any of the other Kris Line bras, but for anyone in my size range, I don’t think it would be worth trying either of these bras. However, for anyone who wears a HH cup or under and prefers narrow, deep cups, these bras seem like a very good choice, though I would definitely recommend going down a band size and going up (I imagine) at least 2 cups. The sizing is the main issue – aside from that, they are very well-made, hugely comfortable, and undeniably gorgeous.

      

Cleo’s Marcie and Meg

Over the past few months, I’ve undergone a size change, going from a 30JJ to approximately a 30KK. This means that, outside of custom orders, my options are now very slim. For now, I thought I’d review some of the bras that I’m getting by with. All of these bras can be found for £12-£16 each on Amazon and eBay, and the briefs are usually between £4-£8 per pair.

Cleo Marcie Red 30J full

One of my current favourite bras, the Cleo Marcie in a 30J. This fit me best when I was around a 30JJ, but it’s still wearable due to a combination of not scooping properly, the open-on-top cut, and the stretch material. Ideally I think I would currently wear a 30K in this, but it is still very comfortable and supportive in this size. I got the briefs in a size 14, which I found to be a comfortable fit on my 42″ hips. I love the blue bows, different meshes and the side ruffles, though I think the cut could be more flattering at the back.

Cleo Marcie Red 30J close

The band runs quite loose, stretching to around 31.2 inches, so small 30s may need to size down. I personally need to wear it on the tightest hooks, but I have been told that the band runs firmer in the lower cupsizes. I found the wires to be relatively narrow, and the gore fairly standard. It is stretchy on top, which means I think it could suit a range of shapes. The main issue I have with this bra is the strap placement, as the straps are placed quite wide at the front, which can irritate my shoulders/upper arms. It gives a fairly round and somewhat minimised profile, the kind Bras I Hate would love, but I would personally prefer to be deeper. The bra features Cleo’s standard two-hook fastening, and the straps are fully adjustable, although I did find the straps quite hard to adjust due to the textured material.

IMG_20130606_154646

To demonstrate what the bra looks like if I actually scoop and swoop. I think it’s clear I could do with about 2 cups up, but for now I can usually get away with stretching the upper lace and tucking back in. This usually just gives Marie Antoinette style cleavage, along with slight quadboob and spilling toward the centre.

IMG_20130606_155115

Another issue, this one due to depth. The seam is very rigid, and the fabric has more give on one side, which means that if you need more depth than the bra allows, there is bulging on one side of the seam. However, I have had luck stretching the seam, so this becomes less of an issue over time. Overall, I do love this cut and would very much recommend trying it out. Based on my knowledge of other Cleo bras, I would probably suggest a cup down from your Zia/Lucy size, or the same as your Alexa/Olivia/Melissa size.

Cleo Meg 30J full

The bird print Cleo Meg, also in a 30J. I loved this bra as soon as I saw it – the swallow print, the deep blue colour and the red accents are all just perfect. You can’t see it very well in my pictures, but there is also a lovely little swallow-shaped charm on the gore, which I think is just adorable. Sizewise I found it similar to the Marcie, so like a slightly generous 30JJ, however the shape is completely different.

Cleo Meg 30J close

I found it slightly firmer in the band than the Marcie, stretching to about 30.8 inches. Compared to the stretchy, layered fabric of the Marcie, the Meg is made with a stiff fabric, which may partly explain the tighter band. As with the Marcie, I wear the Meg semi-adjusted, with similar results. It features the usual two-hook fastening and fully-adjustable straps, but I’ve been having an entirely different problem than with the Marcie – the material doesn’t seem to have much friction, and I find myself having to re-tighten the straps throughout the day. The strap placement is also too wide, something I find fairly often with Cleo. This, combined with the smooth material, means that they are very prone to slipping off my shoulders.

Cleo Meg 30J angle

Semi-scooped and fully scooped. Though it is gorgeous, the shape seems to be very hard to fit. Meg has a lot of space at the apex, and then curves back in at the top. Rather than the super-round shape most expect from Cleo bras, this results in an odd, almost square shape. Even in a cup that is clearly too small, I still get wrinkling at the apex. All in all, though it is a stunning bra, it might be hard to find a good fit in for a lot of people. For those that think it would work, I would suggest trying it in your Marcie size.

Cleo Marcie Aquamarine 30J full

Another 30J Cleo Marcie, this time in the wonderful aquamarine colourway. I found it to fit fairly similarly to the red, so I can’t really add much. In this size, it gives the same round and minimised profile, and it is just as comfortable and supportive.

Cleo Marcie Aquamarine 30J close

One issue that does seem to be improved is the seam rigidity – though I do still get slight bulging above the seam, it is much less than in the red. Finally, I’m sure I don’t need to say it,  but I love the appearance of this bra. The colours are just too perfect!

We’re still in summer, but I’m already very excited for the release of Cleo’s AW13 collection, which will include a babydoll version of the Marcie (yes!) and the new Lily, an improved version of Meg. Aside from a size expansion, what more could you ask for?