Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lingerie Review: Cleo Ellis

So, you know I've spent the last 3 weeks spring cleaning. It's been mainly by necessity - certainly not from natural enthusiasm. There's nothing like finding 4 sweaters with holes and a moth to change the trajectory of one's free time for a month.

In case you're wondering, yes - I have over-reacted.

But, I've also managed to cull about 40 items (conservative estimate) from my wardrobe, as I've cleaned, mended and reorganized.

Sure, I imagine, were I to count - and I'm getting almost curious enough to take on this ridiculous exercise - I'd have 20 skirts and 20 dresses and 40 sweaters and 10 pairs of jeans - for starters. But I really enjoy everything and most of it fits (except for a small collection which is a size up or a size down, just to be practical).

I'm actually rather pleased to know what's what, and to be able to see it all easily.

Disclaimer: I have always been a rather organized and tidy person (with a strong, orderly aesthetic) so my closet, while now more minimal, is really not any prettier than it was before.

One of the areas I've culled excessively is the lingerie drawer. As my body has changed over the past couple of years, I find that many of my sets are no longer as supportive as they need to be. I've also gone up approximately a cup size - so the bras that were on the smaller size in my wardrobe, are now too small. Are they wearable? Yes. Will I wear them? Not a chance.

On this topic: Stay tuned for another bra "sale" in the near future.

I mean, don't start crying for me. I still have more beautifully-fitted, gorgeous bras than any human being requires. But now the drawer seems a little bit lacking in something, how shall we say it?, new and fun.

It seems the only two brands I buy anymore are Cleo and Empreinte. Empreinte brings out the European sexpot in me (with unparalleled shape and support) while Cleo hits the fun spot.

Lots of peeps are pissed that Cleo can't seem to make a bra that even vaguely nods at neutral. I hear those angsty cries, but I LOVE the insane patterns that this brand produces again and again and again.

To wit:

Photo courtesy of Miss Underpinnings (you should read her post...)
Once I had a lot of pink in the cupboard. Now, I need some more!

Is this not perfect for spring??

This bra fits very similarly to the Melissa and the Bella - both of which I own and which I've reviewed (click on the links).

If anything, this version of the style is the best fitting of them all so far - though I have achieved very good, "boobs on a plate" fit in every Cleo bra I've bought in this size. The bands are quite tight so consider sizing up. I wear a 32 and, while I'm getting used to it, I use an extender.

You should know that not all Cleos are constructed the same. The Lucy, for example, works better for wider, bottom-heavy breasts (in the scheme of things - the line does cater to narrow roots).

But, if you have narrow roots of standard height (see the link, above, on Melissa for more about this lingo) and very projected, even-to-full-on-top breasts, this might be the brand for which you thank your lucky stars.

Did I mention that it's totally affordable? I got the set on eBay for 50 bucks, all in. Please. (It almost offsets the hysteria-inducing prices of Empreinte.)

Some Details:
  • The pattern is as gorgeous in real life as in photos.
  • The bra is comfortable - but note that the band size runs quite small in Cleo bras.
  • The fabrics are supremely supportive because there's NO stretch in them of any sort. Having said that, they can be stiff at first. The fabric is never going to be luxe. Mind you, it feels luxer than any mid-priced brand I've tried.
  • The undies are standard issue with this cut of Cleo bra. There's a boy short and a thong. Both fit nicely, but I'd size up in each - especially the thong.
  • The weakest elements of the Cleo bra persist: the straps are too thin (and not strong compared to the rest of the bra) and the back has only 2x2 hooks and eyes. This works fine for me because the band of the bra, wires and fabric (in addition to construction technique) give me adequate support. But, in a larger cup size - or in the case of heavier breasts / breasts of different shapes - both of these challenges can be significant. And they're both very resolvable! Mind you, that would involve money and the reason this brand is affordable is because it's somewhat no-frills.
  • The shape is fantastic: high, round and front-and-centre. Totally pin-up and not in any way minimizing. Mind you, bras that minimize tend to add 10 pounds (by compressing breast tissue and moving it to the side body and down towards the abdomen), so why would you want that??
  • The difference between the Ellis and the Melissa/Bella (and I'll need to wear it for a while before I understand the fit fully) is in the upper cup and the immediate centre front projection. That's why it works so well for me. My boobs jut straight out quickly from the breastbone (and are quite close set). Bras which provide immediate projection from the centre gore are my best friends! And, trust me, they're very hard to find. The lace is quite soft and open (though not stretchy like that of the Panache Jasmine). This makes it malleable for upper breast fullness, but not weak as stretchy lace can be if one's breast tissue is soft.
I'd say the fabric hand is more like the Bella than the Melissa but the fit is more like the Melissa than the Bella. Of these three bras, I sense I will continue to love the Melissa best - it's just spectacular - but I can tell that the Ellis has already edged out the Bella. The Bella is good, but it's a bit pointier and sturdier than either of the others. And I just don't dig turquoise as I thought I would.

Well there's an epic on a Wednesday afternoon. Wait till you hear what else I've bought!

Today's questions: Do you wear Cleo? Why or why not? If you wear it and you love it, is your shape similar to mine? Do you love this gorgeous pattern?? (Yeah, I know that one's leading.) Let's talk!


  1. Congratulations on the culling. That set is gorgeous. I've not tried Cleo, but I need to look for new bras as I've lost a good bit of weight. Our shapes aren't at all alike though, so though I can sigh over your choices, they probably won't work for me.

  2. Thanks M! I'm really pleased with this pattern - so cheerful! You should definitely get new bras if you've lost weight. The bra size can change in back, cup or both?!