Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Bra Review Part 1: Avocado Essentia and Avocado Mirabelle

OK, I'm going to start this post by saying that the reason I've never ordered from Polish powerhouse, Avocado Lingerie, before is that they didn't have a workable online system. That means, till about a month ago, you had to order from an English distributor site called Wellfitting and that increased the complexity of the process and the difficulty of returns. In truth, I don't know how direct-to-Avocado returns would work, in practice, though I was prepared to take on that administrative task. Mercifully, I don't have to figure it out, but I have heard that Avocado's customer service is awesome and, thus far, I have only good things to say. You may be interested to note that I ordered the very first day that the system went live and I had no issues. During a previous attempt at an online platform, things did not go well and it took them quite a long time to ramp up to what they've got now.

A Bit About Price and Shipping: I'm not going to go into detail on pricing, shipping costs and add-on VAT charges etc. I'll leave that for another day. What I'll say is that for 2 sets, undies and bras, I paid 180 bucks all in. 90 dollars for a sexy bra/undies set that fits beautifully and looks great are ENTIRELY in my budget. I know this might be a ghastly thought for some, but I barely hesitate at spending 225 bucks on a bra at this point. And undies to go with it cost another hundred. As a non-Polish person ordering from Avocado you will be charged in Euros. That's your only option. Yeah, that sucks, but so does being charged in USD (at this point) and I deal with that all the freakin' time.

A Bit About Avocado Sizing: You know I read everything in the land about bras and bra fit. I've had occasion to become sensitized to this brand over the course of a couple of years. Many of the lingerie bloggers I like best have taken the plunge (ha!) on a variety of occasions. I highly recommend that you read Miss Underpinnings on the topic. She actually took a lingerie tour of Poland and blogged about it?! This post and this post are particularly enlightening but Two Cakes on a Plate has also written about Avocado as have many others.

What I ended up ordering was a 75 back size (roughly equivalent to a 34 in UK sizing), given my current sensitivities and that I have read that the bands run tight. In fact, I think I'll size down in the band next time to a 70. I just don't find the 75 that snug - which is a wonderful thing, IMO. This might be on account of improvement in my pain condition. Of course, were I to do this, I'd need to go up in the cup size because, given the perfection of cup fit, I don't want to mess with that volume or shape.

For what it's worth, I used the Avocado sizing system and it worked out pretty well. Were I to purchase my "correct" band size - a 70 - then I'd be in a cup size which is 2 higher than that which I wear in UK bras. This is Euro sizing non-standard sizing in which cups go up in 4 cm volumes.

I believe that the fit guide worked for me because a) I truly fit the shape that Avocado is designing for (really deep cups, immediate projection at the centre gore, narrow (but not too-narrow) wires) and b) I truly know and understand my bra size / fitting needs in many different sizing systems. I've got every my every vertical and horizontal breast measurement memorized. If you haven't gone full-on with the Bratabase, multi-dimensional measurement system, I urge you to do so. It will advise you about your shape and size in some very meaningful ways, which you'd have to be an intuitive whiz to figure out otherwise.

Brief PSA: Even though Bratabase is annoying, consider entering in the 8 zillion requested measurements for all of your bras. This is how we can all get better at buying online, without disappointment. The broader the sample size, the greater the accuracy. I won't buy online without adequate info about, among other things, the horizontal depth of a bra cup. That's my "difficult" measurement and most of us have at least one. I will enter in info about these new bras, particularly because there's not a lot of Avocado representation in the database, so every review counts.

A Bit About Avocado Materials: If I have a disappointment, it's in this category. Don't misunderstand, the fabric materials are very soft and comfortable. They are also very lovely to look at and high-end-seeming. But all you need to do is hold an Avocado bra in one hand and an Empreinte bra in the other to recognize that there is no comparison in terms of the materials and construction. Of course, there's also no comparison in price.

Empreinte provides extreme lift and support by virtue of otherwise unsourceable band materials and incredibly strong (but delicate-looking) lace. The wires are also unparalleled in their firmness. (Note: They're not painful-firm the way that Panache wires tend to be.) This is to say nothing of the beautiful, elegant, sexy shape that Empreinte designs.

Avocado wires are amongst the bendiest I've encountered. I can source wires stronger than these for handmade bras. This is a shortfall, IMO. I think the situation is that this brand is not actually high-end (though it does a good job of looking that way). The materials are nice, but not luxe. Don't get me wrong. They're infinitely better-looking and more supportive than anything Ewa Michalak. (I'm so over that brand.) But they're not strong in the UK-brand sense of things.

I don't think this is particularly relevant to the young lingerie bloggers who've reviewed this brand (they haven't had kids, aren't even in their 30s), but for more mature women, I wonder if the support would be adequate. Note: Because my breasts are fairly self-supportive (gravity notwithstanding) and because the cup and band fabric is reasonably firm, these bras provide me with more than adequate lift and support. But I don't know if the average 50 or 60 year old, with projected breasts, would feel the same way. I'd NOT hesitate to recommend Empreinte to a woman of a certain age, with projected, soft breast tissue. Those bras defy that sort of boobs. But not so sure about Avocado as yet. I'll need to wear these for a while before I weigh in.

A Bit About Avocado Construction: This is surprisingly good. Strongest feature, dare I say.
  • The bands are firm and short - optimal for narrow torsos.
  • There are 3 hooks and eyes (at least in the brands I deliberately bought for that feature).
  • The seamed cups are ingeniously designed for centre-full projection (a very tricky shape for which to design). 
  • The under bands are narrow - not thick and wide in the way that projected Cleos always seem to be. (Note: The Mirabelle is wider at the base of the gore than the Essentia - and this results in a less-optimal fit for me (though not for everyone). It's by no means a deal-breaker.) 
  • The straps aren't in any way thick or tight nor do they dig in, but they do provide adequate lift. They're on the wide side, fyi. 
  • The length of the wires (and the shape) are perfect for projected breasts. These wires are narrow but they're not as narrow as Ewa Michalak, IMO.
I realize that I haven't got into the specifics of the Mirabelle and the Essentia as yet - though all of the things I've discussed in this post do apply specifically to each. For that, and more pics, you'll have to wait for the next post.


  1. This is a brand I've been researching for myself, but hadn't pulled the trigger on. When you say that the straps are on the wide side, are you referring to placement or the actual width of the strap? I ask because you said that they aren't thick...

    I have a narrow torso that is as deep as it is wide, so narrow strap placement is *my* "difficult" measurement, sadly, last time I logged in to Bratabase it still didn't offer that as a measurement/search option, even though from the forums it's obvious that I'm not alone in that.

    Anyway, glad you found a perfect fit on the first try! Does that ever actually happen in real life? ;-)

    1. Very quickly - I meant widely set straps. Bratabase still doesn't take that measurement, fyi.

    2. Hey - more on this vis a vis the Essentia. IMO, the straps are too wide set on my frame. I actually get a bit of friction at my side body where it rubs. This isn't bad design, it's fit mismatch - and it might aright itself as my body adjusts to the bra and the fabric adjusts to wear. But if you're super narrow (and I am), it might be a challenge. BTW, I haven't found this with many other bras - none in recent memory. I think it may be about the cup style. I'm going to talk more about the differences between the A, K and H styles (same bra styles come in diff construction styles) in upcoming posts. So, for example, the K might be better for me.

  2. When are you writing a Bra Bible?

    1. After I start my skin care boutique.

    2. in a curated tasting bar? stroll around with a glass, get a bra fitting while slathered in a moisturizing treatment...