Monday, May 27, 2013

The Bra Adventures: Cleo by Panache - Bella

Well, my lovelies, it appears I have a new brand.

Cleo (the deep cup offerings) is perfection but do note: I've had to size up in the band (32 not 30) and in the cup. The likelihood is that you'll want to do the same.

To wit:

(See this post for deets on where to get these...)

What I find amazing (from a personal restraint perspective) is that I haven't tried the Marcie or Lucy - this brand's iconic offerings. Why? Well I sense they're not the optimal shape for me - particularly the Lucy. The wires look too wide and the bras, it seems, cater to a fuller on bottom shape. I feel these styles would not lift and project like the styles that really work for me - Meg (well, if I could get the right size), Melissa, Bella. I suspect the Natasha would also work extremely well but I cannot stand the pattern. Each of these is deep through the centre, reasonably narrow (though not excessively so) in the wires and very firm in the band. They are also full balconettes that plunge, ever so slightly, at the centre, which is to say they have a plunge that's restrained enough to provide support for soft breasts. The deep Cleos have more oomph than the Panache Jasmine, interestingly, not because the gore is lower (it's exactly the same height) but because the upper cup (which is quite narrow) starts quite high. Also, the widest piece of this bra is the lower side cup. It makes up fully half of the cup.

Let me tell you about this set:
  • The pattern is awesome - bright, cheerful, eclectic, youthful. While bugs on bras is not my thing, these yellow, embroidered butterflies (and birds) are just the thing. And the colour is much more vibrant in real life than in any photo.
  • The shape is fantastic. It's high and front-and-centre. It fits a full through the middle, deep breast shape very well, with no pillowing - but don't forget to size up. I suspect if one is considerably full on top or on bottom this bra might not work, but a little in either direction will be well-accommodated.
  • The support is excellent. It doesn't merely lift, this bra also holds everything in shape. It's got that patented "no-stretch" three piece cup happening.
  • The undies, like the bra, are very well made and in the cutest shape. In truth, I haven't had a chance to try them on yet but I sense that they will be flattering.
  • One thing that I have noted about this bra - and it is more observable in the Bella than in the Melissa (though the dimensions appear to be almost identical in this respect) - is that the under-band is pronounced. If you have "girth" (hideous word) that begins just under your band, you may want to give this a miss because, as you can see from the pics, this bra has a broad under band. It's one of the things that contributes to it's good support. 
  • Overall, the Melissa provides less coverage (though quite enough) and the lovely Bella provides a bit more (perhaps hovering on the cusp of too much, depending on one's shape).
So, today's questions: Has anyone else out there actually tried this bra?? What do you think of it? The reviews sure are far and few between. I suppose it's possible I got this version right out of the gate but I'd love to know what others think.


  1. I can't help myself, I'm a sucker for a cute camo print and the Natasha looks like something I'd absolutely wear. Especially given that my hubby is an occasional hunter. ;-) I also think the Bella pattern is adorable too, might be worth a try.

    So, you said that you sized up in the band AND the cup? Or sized up in the band and down in the cup like normal?

  2. I was also surprised that there aren't very many Bella reviews, so I'm glad to see another one. :) We must have just got it early!

    Lucy and Marcie are actually Cleo's opposites--if one doesn't work, the other usually does! Lucy is definitely more full-on-bottom, but Marcie is better for full-on-top. You might consider trying it if you get a chance :)

    And I agree about Natasha's pattern. Disappointing. Although I guess it's good that there IS a full-bust camo bra out there, haha.

    1. I definitely think the Marcie would work better for me than the Lucy. But I think they both give a wider profile than the ones I like - especially the Melissa. I actually think the Natasha has the truest-to-my-shape fit of them all (well, I think Meg, Melissa, Bella and Natasha are pretty well all cut exactly the same). It looks to be the deepest.

    2. I have tried most of cleos I fit into and I must say that Lucy, Natasha and Zia work better for full on bottom. Marcie is no more wide then say Alexa and is very forgiving on top. Meg is more forgiving on top then Natasha, but much less then alexa, olivia and the likes. zia, natasha and marcie have tighter bands, meg and alexa have loose bands. My favorite cleo bra was Lizzie and nothing even close to that came out :( I do like the belle and it will be mine :)
      I just wonder, you sized up from what size in what bra? I mean it's not really the same if you size up from curvy kate thrill me or from fantasie bra :p :)

    3. Sized up from just about every brand I own - Freya, Empreinte, Panache, Miss Mandalay, Fantasie. Obvs, Curvy Kate is a very small, shallow fit (so I don't even try with those bras- they don't work on my shape). I would say, by comparison to most small(ish) band / large(ish) cup brands, the Cleo runs small. I sense it's because it's catering to a younger market.

  3. Well that pattern has to have some appeal! :-) I sized up in the band AND in the cup. (It's very slightly loose at the upper cup but not observably so. I can just feel it.

  4. I understand what you're saying about the Marcie, but I still want to hear what you think about it on. What do you mean when you say you think it will give you a wider profile than the Melissa and Bella?

    I do think if the Marcie works on you, which I think it would, given your top/bottom evenness, it would create a very spherical profile. Is that what you mean? I myself love that about the Marcie.

    Nice review of the Bella, though! We totally need more of these. Have you entered it into Bratabase? If you could take photos of it, too, that would help. Sometimes the product photos don't really capture a bra's true colors. Usually the product photos err on the side of clear, bright colors, when the bra itself is somewhat murky or pastel.

    1. Well, if you're baiting me into trying a new bra, you're not going to get much resistance from me! :-) Here's the thing though, I don't like the Marcie in any of the colourways currently available. I mean, they're fine but I'm not so much a red, white or purple wearer. If they came out with that bra in beige, I'd be happy. It seems like a basic.

      I have added the dimensions into Bratabase but I'm not a picture-uploader.

      Interesting, in this case, the pic looks more murky than the actual bra.

  5. I love this bra and am dying for it to go on sale somewhere so I can get a good price. I have had my eye on this and the Lana for weeks now. Bella's colors are so pretty. Since you turned me on to Bratabase I have been reading all the reviews and comparisons and buying bras and becoming obsessed with them. I have found really good luck with the Cleo Marcie and the Lucy. I was hoping you would be able to compare them, especially to the Marcie. The shape of the Bella looks so similar and Bratabase says Marcie, Bella, Melissa, and Lana are the same cut. I think the Natasha is too, I think I read on some blog somewhere that that is an animal print and not a camo print.

    You say you sized up in this bra. Is it sized up compared to the other Cleo brand bras or your general size? I sized up in the Marcie, but I had to go directly to the middle set of hooks and I am afraid I am going to have to rixie clip it before too long.

    1. I'll let you know if I see it on sale but I suspect it's too new. Isn't Bratabase useful for that! I can say that the Bella and the Melissa are very similar (though differences in fabric make them fit differently). To me the Marcie looks different, but maybe I'm just not seeing things as they are. I guess I'm going to have to buy that bra when it comes out in a colour I like.

      On the sizing issue, I find that cleo fits small in cup and band. I sized up in both - though keep in mind that I didn't size up in the cup for the Melissa and it fit great. These deep cup offerings are a bit hit and miss. You might find them a bit snug in your regular cup size and a bit large in your next up size (That's what happened to me with the Meg.) Because they don't stretch at all, you kind of have to fill them out or they can gape. On the other hand, slightly too small in the cup is just as bad in my books.

      For example, if you regularly wear 32FF, I'd suggest 34G unless you're a slight 32, in which you might try 32G. And, if your bust isn't overly deep or full, then you might go up a band but keep the same cup aka 34FF.

      Thing is, you'll have to figure out how Cleo bands fit on you. I find them a full size small - which is a boon for women who wear a 28 and who can never find anything to fit in the back.

      The cups are less knowable on these offerings because the fabrics are all very different, even though none of them stretches. There's innate give in the drape of fabric and some of these bras have more of that than others. Point is, you might have to try a couple of cup sizes in order to find the right fit. That's a pain when ordering online.

  6. Wow, this is just beautiful... Will hunt for a sale! What is a rixie clip?

    1. I sense this one won't be on sale for a bit - maybe 2 months or so - cuz I've pretty much determined that it's new. But there are lots of others with the same cut (Melissa, Meg, Natasha, and apparently the Marcie) that aren't new and can be found for deals. A Rixie clip is a temporary clip that shortens a bra band that's too long:

      Unfortunately, at this point it only comes in a 2 hook version which I've bought but have yet to need (I have lots of bras and I only buy ones that have very snug bands. Takes me a long time to stretch them since I rotate efficiently.) Apparently, they're going to come out with a 3 hook version.

      I did try it to see how it works and I think it's a bit fussy. Mind you, if you've got a bunch of stretched out bands and you can't afford to replace the bras (or you can't bring yourself to let a gem go), it's an interesting approach. Note: By the time a band is shot, I sense it's time to get a new bra if at all possible. Stretched bands tend to go along with stretched everything else (though not always). I think it's probably a good idea for that brief phase when a band is becoming too loose.

  7. I love this one. Very front-and-center, like Alexa. My boobs are mostly full on the bottom, but I used my normal 28G and didn't get gaping up top.

    I love Lucy but the bottom of the center gore really slices into my skin. The edging on Bella is broader and more comfortable. The fabric's reasonably smooth, too.

    1. I haven't tried the Alexa. I wonder if it's still available (will check). Thanks for your feedback on this bra vs the Lucy...

    2. Like Vee said, Alexa/Olivia would be a good one for full-on-top boobs. The top panel has a nice broad band of lace that doesn't cut in or bunch as much as the trim on Meg. It isn't a disaster on my softish full-on-bottom boobs, either. A bit of a gap when I move; nothing much under a thin top.

  8. Okay, I feel an urge to set the record straight on Cleos.
    Lucy is a cut on it's own and can't be compaired to any other cleo. It runs loose in the band. FOB friendly.
    Marcie is a cut on it's own and can't be compaired to any new cleos. It's a deeper version of george and it isn't wider then others. It has a tighter band. FOT friendly. Can cause in cup quadboob.
    Alexa, Olivia and Chloe have the same cut and all run large in the cup. Extremly FOT friendly! Alexa has a very loose band.
    Natasha, Zia are a cut of their own and I suspect Belle has the same cut although I haven't tried it yet. They are FOB friendly - the upper panel is qute restrictive and they run tight in the band.
    Meg is between Alexa and Natasha cut. It is more suited for balanced to FOT shape and provides more coverage. It runs larger in the cup then Zia and Natasha. It runs loose in the band (at least the blue one does). It has this weird folding horisontal seam that for me shows under clothing quite a lot - it has been described by Bras i hate and XL hourglass.

    All cleos have the exact same wires - they are narrower and shorter then Panache, much more stable then Freya and CK.
    All cleos have straps set very far apart.
    All cleos give quite a lot of projection.

    My personal favorite cleo of all time was lizzie. Nothing ever came close, and they seem to have abandoned that cut all together. It was very opened on top, had narrow wires but kept boobs very close to the chest, it worked as a push up bra. It had the same effect as George but had a higher gore and more coverage. I want it back :(((

    1. Hey Vee: Thanks for your comment. Just from the visual, it appears that the Lucy and Marcie are unique cuts in the Cleo pantheon of offerings, but it's nice to see that confirmed. I haven't tried any of the Alexa, Olivia and Chloe - so good to know.

      And, though I haven't tried the Natasha or Zia, from pics, the cut seems identical to the Bella - which is identical to the Melissa in construction.

      I've not heard of the Lizzie but I have to check it out! I hate it when they stop making the perfect bra...

  9. My size was sold out, but now that I know to size up I'm going to try again. I'm seriously in love with this set.

    1. Can't wait to hear how it goes - btw read all of the comments in this thread. They may give you more sizing info still...

  10. I am one of those who has been wearing the wrong size till now 32DD. stumbled upon panache.. and cleo panache..and a 28GG!

    This bra made me feel soooo good. I never knew my "big" boobs could look so good. It lifts me up so well, covers perfectly.. and accentuates my waist.. I also have a few another ones from Panache.. but this one in particular is the best!