To recap very briefly, I've tried NUMEROUS black or blackesque bras, in an effort to replace my absolute faves - the Empreinte Roxane and the Empreinte Lola (link takes you to my post about the blush colourway) - neither of which is available any longer. I am horrified to tell you - and this has been corroborated by Veronica (my bra-fitter friend who's very in the know) that Empreinte appears to be falling under the spell of the shallow, round, molded style and their awesome offerings for very projected, close set, narrow breasts are being slowly phased out. Ugh. Here's hoping it retains a continuity line of the projected bras. At any rate, pounce while you can.
In the last year, I've tried on and/or purchased (and been underwhelmed by the fit of, on my body):
- Masquerade Persia (cups too tall)
- Avocado Mirabelle (wires too soft)
- Empreinte Melody (ugly and slightly too shallow, also too big in band)
- Charnos Cherub (wires too soft)
- Minnie (too big, underwires and underband too thick)
- Numerous other brands and styles, in store: Fantasie, Ewa Michalak, Prima Donna, Empreinte etc.
I was not overly concerned about cost - well, natch I was concerned, but one has to give up on something at some point. My non-negotiable needs were these:
- Great lift, forward shape
- Perfect fit
- Excellent support
- Not too visible under snug clothing (not that I'm particularly a stickler on this)
- Of high quality (I want these things to last)
Which one shall I start with? Freya Rio - aka the war horse:
- This style was one of the first I ever wore when I started wearing bras that fit, 15 plus years ago. That was back when all of Freya's offerings were of very high quality (and more expensive) and the brand wasn't catering to the youth market specifically. It continues to be the one "original" bra they still make and it's made to the former standards of very high quality fabrics and construction. It also continues to fit me as well as it did all those years ago.
- While it was very popular 15 years ago (amongst a clientele of my age and older) it is now universally (it would appear) despised by the younger market. It's considered to be dated, pointy, visible under clothing and (I'm interpreting) out of touch.
It works on a reasonably discrete subset: those with narrow-set, even breasts that require a lot of projection at the centre gore. It's unique in that it provides for a lot of projection at the lower cup (something Freya's known for) and a reasonable amount at the upper cup. This means that if you have a very even-full shape (i.e. your breasts are full everywhere), it works beautifully. Most bras are shaped to work for upper or lower fullness specifically, which ignores a certain complement of the marketplace - those with evenly full projection.
Technically, this is the same shape that Empreinte caters to with its increasingly rare projected and seamed offerings. The Rio is a third the price, which theoretically makes it appealing to a broader population. Mind you, the Rio gives a different shape - it's more pointy (particularly at the apex where the three seams meet) and less delicate.
Given that I remember the old days (and liked the offerings then) and that I am the perfect shape for this bra, I bought it. But it's only fair to mention its potential detractors:
- The straps are too thick. They overwhelm on a small frame and they're unnecessary unless one has extremely heavy breasts. I'd prefer that they scale these differently but it's not gonna happen.
- The waffley fabric is difficult to match and finding the matching undies is less easy than you'd imagine.
- Some people say that the waffley fabric is transferred to their skin after a day of wearing (it goes away quickly, apparently). I have never experienced this. I wonder if those peeps are wearing a slightly too-small size or if their breasts are very soft.
- It's amongst the more pointy bras you'll find out there these days - and it's not ironic like the bullet bras. This shape would have been all the thing in the 80s but in the tens (do we say this?) it ain't ok if it's not pretending that your boobs are a demi sphere. I'm SO not down with that. I like many shapes and I don't intend to be limited by cultural norms. I mean, norms are fleeting and I'm here for the long run.
- I don't feel that the fabric is specifically observable under clothing (though it is a seamed bra and sometimes seams show), but it's not slippery fabric, so it can produce a tiny amount of drag if the fabric being worn atop the bra is of a particularly draggy hand.
- The fit, if it works, is excellent because the bra is well-drafted and constructed.
- It's really comfortable. Like, all day.
- The materials are of excellent quality.
- The lift is front and centre (pulls breast tissue from the sides) to give a pointy version of the boobs on a plate look.
- The support is beautifully firm. Do NOT size down in this band as you would with most Freyas. It's firm like the Freya bands of yore. I wear my standard 32.
- The bra lasts because it's well-made.
- This style has stood the test of time. Freya would not still be making it, I can assure you, if it didn't have a built-in market. I only wish they'd continued producing many of their other styles in this fashion.