Saturday 17 May 2014

Cleo by Panache 'Maddie': Bra review

  Panache is a huge name in the fuller bust lingerie sphere and quite rightly so. It has been Panache's mission for over 30 years to provide women the world-over, with quality lingerie that marries form, fashion, function and affordability. The company prides itself on its desire to innovate; at product level, Panache seeks to provide lingerie for different bodies and fit needs, and on a wider scale, Panache strive to lead in a competitive market through campaigns that hinge upon promoting good bra fit and healthy body image.  

   I have been very fond of Panache for years and its sub-brands (Panache Sport and Swimwear, Masquerade, Cleo and (most recently) Cleo Swimwear and Sculptresse). Each sub-brand boasts a distinct identity, with collections that continuously deliver well-fitting and fashionable lingerie to a variety of tastes. 

   Of all of Panache's sub-brands, I predominantly wax lyrical about Masquerade (I am a sucker for luxurious and elegant lingerie like the 'Capella' bra, 'Anise' and 'Amor') but Cleo is definitely an unsung hero of the Panache family on my blog (aside from my review of the Cleo 'Lucy'!)

   What I particularly enjoy about Cleo lingerie is the trendy and fresh vibe that permeates the collections. The designs are fashion-led, with popping colours, quirky prints and pretty detailing; all of which serve as a reminder that fuller bust lingerie can be fun, young and playful!

   When Panache got in touch with me and asked whether I would like to review some of their lingerie, I jumped at the chance. I was incredibly excited to receive a parcel with not one, but two gorgeous Cleo sets inside! One of the sets that I received was the Cleo 'Maddie' bra and matching briefs in aqua..

   The Cleo 'Maddie' comes in sizes 28-38, D-H and is available in various colourways: continuity shades include black and 'nude', fashion variations consist of animal print and aqua, with 'strawberry' and 'floral' as exclusives to Bravissimo. 

   The set that I received was the 'Aqua' colourway; a zingy electric blue/ turquoise shade with a contrasting pink button detail at the centre gore. The bra is a moulded balconette, featuring subtly textured, striped, seamless cups, which are edged by a picot trim. As a regular wearer of moulded plunge bras (such as the Freya Deco), I was especially interested to try a balconette style moulded bra. 

   Neon brights are big news for Spring/ Summer 14 and the electric blue of the 'Maddie' is even more vibrant in the flesh. I instantly fell in love with the highly-saturated aqua shade and the subtle sheen of the fabric, which makes the set look rather luxurious. The pink button detail adds a pop of clashing colour, lending to the set's playful aesthetic.

   Panache have taken the humble seamless bra and have updated it with a stylish stripe pattern, giving the bra subtle textural and visual interest, without compromising on practicality. Generally, the 'Maddie' gives a smooth look under clothing, however, I do find that the lace trim edging shows through slightly under tighter tops and dresses.

   I originally asked for a 30FF in the 'Maddie', but due to recent weight loss, I found myself needing a 28FF instead. Compared to other Cleo styles that I have tried (e.g. 'Lucy', 'Eleanor' and 'Marcie'), I would say that the 'Maddie' comes up looser in the band and more 'true to size'.

   The band does feel quite stretchy and after a few wears, I have already found the need to move on to a tighter hook. (The back band is also quite thin compared to that of some of my other bras - an feature that may not be to everyone's taste.)

   I am pleased to report that the straps are fully adjustable, allowing for increased longevity of wear and a tailored fit (which is ideal for women of different heights and builds). The straps are also quite thin, at just 1.3cm thick, making them well-suited to a Summer wardrobe. It is worth mentioning that the straps are quite widely spaced and this design feature is equally reflected by the wider underwires.

   This brings me to talk about the fit of the 'Maddie', which seems slightly better suited to wider-set breasts. The 28FF is my best fit, although the wider wires and wide strap placement are not the best match for me. As a result, I experience a little bit of 'gapping' at the top of the cups near the armpit, with the straps cutting in slightly at the armpit also (a result of the design being too wide for me). I also find that the 28 back does not completely tack to my sternum, which suggests that this bra is more compatible with shallow breasts.

   Aside from a few fit issues (which are predominantly due to shape incompatibility), the 'Maddie' does feel comfortable to wear. The fabric is soft against the skin and the bra gives a lovely rounded and uplifted shape, resulting in a natural-looking 'Marie Antoinette' cleavage that is ideal for everyday! I also really like the balconette cut, which lends itself well to square necklines.

   I received the matching 'Maddie' briefs in a size 12 (my usual Panache brief size) and they fit perfectly. The shorts feature an all-over seamless stripe pattern, complemented by two diagonal stripes of picot trim and a central pink button detail. The briefs are made of a polyamide, elastane and cotton blend and the material feels buttery soft and smooth against the skin.

   The cut is also very flattering and the briefs have a good amount of stretch, meaning that there is no uncomfortable digging in. My only criticism is that the button prevents the briefs from being 100% seamless, but on the whole, these briefs really deliver on practicality, flattering fit and fashionable design! (Plus, hooray that they are machine washable!)

   The Cleo 'Maddie' set is a great 'fashion staple' and an excellent option for fuller busted ladies who are in search of an eye-catching and trendy moulded balconette bra that serves up comfort, support and style in equal abundance! This set would definitely have appealed to my teenage self too and I am glad that Cleo by Panache is catering fun and practical lingerie solutions to a younger market. The 'Maddie' looks set to remain a continuity style in the Cleo range for seasons to come, with a scrumptious raspberry version coming out this A/W14. 

Cleo 'Maddie' in Raspberry (Coming this A/W14)

   Cleo lingerie is very reasonably priced and the 'Maddie' set comes in at £25 for the bra and £12 for the briefs, available at a range of retailers, such as FigleavesBravissimo and Brastop.

   Keep your eyes peeled for another Cleo by Panache review coming soon and in the meantime, check out the rest of Cleo's gorgeous new Lingerie and Swimwear collections.

What are your favourite pieces from Cleo's latest range?