I sense the writing's on the wall. Based on reader feedback, preliminary research and what I can deduce (though Figleaves did advise this eve, that it has a new order on the Fantasie Smoothing Underwired Balconette due to arrive in 2013), it's time to find an alternative staple basic beige bra (aka "nude" in my skin tone).
Let me recap my many needs:
- It's got to be supportive.
- It's got to be vaguely attractive in cut and material. I don't expect it to be exciting, but if I end up at the hospital or (far better, if just as unlikely) having some kind of quickie in a fancy hotel hallway, I don't want to be embarrassed by it.
- It's got to be without seams or any embellishments having profile. No lace. No texture. Just smooth and seam-free.
- It's got to have under wire.
- It's got to be flexible (aka soft cup). Firm molded cups are not for me. We can debate what molded means, but for the purposes of my needs it means anything that has even a slight hint of built-in cup structure - foam in even the slightest amount, padding, chemical shaping etc.
I really don't know how this bra-type has become so popular because it fits most women rather poorly. Well, I'm pretty sure the reason is that it's cheap to make so it's been in the best interests of brands to market them well. No seaming means reduced labour and less intricate design. While retail stores have promoted molded bras as good options for women of different breast sizes, they nearly always gape on the smaller side. Furthermore the shape does not tailor to one's breasts. It forces the breast to conform to the mold.
As a sewist, I can tell you that seams are magical, from a fit perspective. They mitigate gaps and puckers. They promote symbiosis between the breast (given all of the parameters of its shape and size) and the bra. Molded bras often gape at the side breast or pucker at the gore because they're a blunt instrument. They also tend to add volume with structure. Furthermore, the shape they provide seems artificial, to my eye though, in truth, I do prefer a pointed cup, which many others find just as artificial-seeming. I can spot a molded bra a mile away. (Note: for a "standard" shaped, symmetrical small chest, molded cups can work just fine. But on women of larger chests - and that's an increasing proportion of the bra-wearing population - they tend to fall flat.)
What to do? Most seamed bras, while they contribute to good fit, have seams. Most molded bras, while they often fit badly, are seam-free. Which is where the Fantasie Smoothing Underwired Balconette comes in. It manages to give good fit in a soft cup (i.e. not molded) without seams.
For what it's worth: Many women, while they purport to love the Smoothing Balconette, do acknowledge that the style falls down on fit in one way - it often puckers at the top of the cups if the wearer has bottom-dense breasts or one breast that's larger than the other (in that case, there's often puckering on the smaller side). As one of those women, let me tell you that it's not visible under clothing in any way and said pucker is largely correctable by repositioning of breasts in the cup and shortening the straps accordingly. This kind of proves my point, above. Without seams it's really hard to work around differences in breast sizing or asymmetry.
OK, let's leave behind the molded bra rant. I've beat it to death, largely because it's so germane to my next step.
We now know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I will not buy a bra with an inflexible molded cup. We also know that, in addition to the soft cup, I require under wires no seams - and all of this in a larger than a department store standard cup size and a smaller than department store standard back size. Gotta tell you, them pickins is slim.
Stay tuned for some options I've researched, which I'll present in my next post on this topic. And please feel free to weigh in with some options you might know and love.
But, today's question: What's your take on the molded cup? Love it? Hate it? What's your rationale?