Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Plain Beige Bra Chronicles: Bravissimo Alana

Update: Thanks so much to Jill and Amanda and Elizabeth and Gillian and Julianne and Somisawhel for finding this lost post in her reader and saving me from having throw my computer out the window.


I haven't even started to write this post but I can feel it's going to be involved.

The Brief Back Story: Y'all know I'm desperate to find a replacement plain, beige bra that will fit smoothly under clothing and that isn't lined or padded. Easier said than done.

The Latest Attempt: Bravissimo Alana

The Findings (to be followed by an in depth analysis of bra shape and the universe):
  • This bra is terrific, IMO. It's a lovely pink beige. The fabric is very firm and not scratchy (as some others have suggested in reviews). It's not luxe, but it in no way feels cheap.
  • The shape is round, but with a slight point at the apex. This is how I like my bras because, to me, it highlights a genuine form. Some people say it's pointy. It's not. It might be pointier than they prefer but, I can assure you, I know from pointy. There is a slight down-slope from the upper cup to the apex. It's not intense. I suspect that this, coupled with the firmness of the upper cup lace is what makes the bra tricky for full on top breasts. 
  • It's very supportive AND very lifted. Tough times finding both of these features in the same bra, much less a plain, beige version. I am thrilled to say that these features coexist in this style. Furthermore, it brings the breasts forward on the frame, without any side sling or vertical seaming. To some extent, this is because the fabric is strong.

  • It's ridiculously comfortable. Honestly, I wore it all day and it was as pleasant as could be. The band is awesome, frankly. It's thick, firm but also quite malleable. The straps are on the wide side, but not unattractive, especially given that they're nicely set on the bra. I got the 3 hooks-wide version because I sized up - and it's the widest 3 hooks I've ever worn. In smaller sizes, the band is only 2 hooks wide, but I suspect they'd be about as wide as that of your average 3-hook bra. The wings (side band where it meets the cup) are high, as is the upper outer cup. Mind you, the wires aren't overly tall, IMO, nor are they particularly narrow nor wide. It's not one of those bras that cuts under your arm, is what I mean, though some have suggested that it does for them.

Now Let's Dig Into The Fit Details (which includes info about how it fits me, specifically):

There is but one challenge for me with this bra and for me it's cosmetic. Note: This challenge - which I'm about to discuss in detail - is generally a fit deal-breaker in that it denotes bad fit most of the time. In this particular scenario, one of the few I can think of, it does not. But pls. read the deets, to understand why. 

  •  Given the cut of this bra, on me, the gore does not tack. This is to say that I can fit a finger between the midline of the gore and my breastbone. This does not extend to the base of the gore. The base of the bra is firm against my body everywhere, as it should be.

You might be thinking, Kristin, a gore that floats means the cups are too small. Trust me, I've tried many a bra wherein the gore doesn't tack and it was because the cups were too small. In this case, it's because the inner upper cup/inner lower cup unit are cut slightly too shallow for my breast shape.

To wit: the wires sit perfectly beyond, even, where the gore begins its vertical rise. The upper cup is not tight - in fact, it's a bit loose on my smaller side - with a notable absence of the "quad boob" so many have experienced with the Alana. The outer cup fits perfectly against my breasts. Neither outer cup nor upper cup fullness conspire to pull the gore away from my breastbone. The gore is not wider than the span between my breasts. The straps could not be better situated for my shoulders. Honestly, this bra is FREAKIN' perfect on me in every other way.

In no small irony, this is the very thing I can't figure out when making my own bras. The minute I've got a tacked gore, the upper cup is a disaster of looseness.

I'm so taxed to understand... Whatever I struggle with in bra fit (and in fitting hand-made bras that much more), has to do with very fast projection at the inner breast, from the breastbone.

What I mean is this: My breasts are an average, over both sides, of 11.75 inches deep (measured from inner breast, where the gore would tack centrally, to the outer breast). Although my nipples are centred on this sphere (aka, my breasts do not splay to the sides), the projection from my breastbone is immediate. This isn't because my breastbone protrudes. I sense, it's because my breast root is proportionately wider than it is long. My breasts don't start high up on my chest, nor do they extend (at the root base) particularly low. This means that they don't cover much body length and yet they still manage to achieve a significant amount of depth. They go straight out, fast. In fact, were gravity not playing a role (at this point) they'd be rather in your face, so to speak.

The cut of the Alana, at the inner cup, is not conducive to this. In terms of my breast volume, the cups are more than adequate and the wire width is great. But this bra is putting that extra volume I need into some other spot. Upper cup or outer cup, I can't quite tell. Which is probably why I can't make a bra that fits. Needless to say, I've got to consider this shape carefully against my Cleos and Empreintes (which work amazingly for narrow frames and large breasts having short roots).

The Alana does not widen my shape because it's not fighting my shape. It's simply not perfectly conforming to it in one specific spot.

In my considered estimation, I could wear this without any problems - no damage to breast tissue, no potential "migration" (not that I necessarily buy into this concept), no smushing, no pulling.

But here's the thing...

I am an order-driven individual who associates non-tacking gores with problematic fit. Though you probably wouldn't even notice the gore, if I didn't point it out to you, I am all too aware of it. To me it spells imperfection. For me, a tacking gore - which, btw, mitigates cleavage substantively - is the bellwether of fit. I'm one of those people who, wearing a bra one-size too small (note: the Alana does NOT fall into this category), sports cleavage resembling a teenager's derriere. I don't like that. I think it looks cheap.


I'm probably not going to buy another of these - though I sure as hell am going to wear it till I find a better alternative. A propos of this, I've ordered 3 more styles of plain, beige bra (more info to come) and I'm going to order the Bravissimo Melrose - another plain bra, this one with vertical seaming. I wonder if it will provide more inner cup depth. Of course, I have no idea whether to size up or not. Depending on (relatively few) reviews, it's anyone's guess.

Today's questions: What do you think? Will you try this bra on the basis of my review? Do you share my breast shape (size notwithstanding)? Do you think I'm an insane control freak who has stupid views on butt-crack cleavage? Let's talk!


  1. I noticed that you weren't sure you believed in "migration" of tissue. I wouldn't say that I believe that it can seriously go clear around to your back or anything, but I do know from experience that it can definitely go farther into your armpits if you don't wear the correct size (or you wear only compression sports bras *guilty*) for a long period of time (think years, not just hours). I wouldn't have believed it except that my boobs get super tender during "shark week", and I noticed that for a while even my armpits would be tender--after wearing a correct (or at least closer to correct) bra it's more in the front and I don't have that tenderness anymore.

    So now that I've TMI''s a bummer that the center gore is the only imperfection of this for you, though if you don't have a lot of occasions to wear a nude bra, I'd still probably get a couple and wear them anyway...but then again, I'm one who bends the gore out away from my chest the second I decide to keep a bra. So I have not a single bra that "tacks". ;-)

    I seriously need to try an Empriente or Cleo though. Listening to you brag about them is slowly sinking in.

  2. Let me clarify my perspective on tissue migration. I do believe it can happen under the circumstances you describe, vis a vis breast tissue on the side of the breast where it meets the side body or the armpit area.

    I think the viewpoint taken by a certain subset of the bra-novation movement (for want of a better way to call it) is really overestimating its prevalence and likelihood and the extent to which the tissue can migrate. Not all back flesh is breast tissue. Not even most of it.

    I actually think that one of the most likely places for migration (in a fairly limited, but potentially notable, way) is the inner breast as it abuts the gore.

    I mean, that won't happen for me with this bra, for reasons mentioned within the post, but it definitely could happen with very soft, malleable breast tissue coming up against a very bony, prominent sternum.

    Oh, and keep listening. I can brag for a long time.

    1. Ok, I see what you mean regarding migration. And I would agree with that--it seems highly unlikely that most, if any, back fat is anything but back fat. I would kill for mine to migrate towards the center--then I could have more cleavage! ;-)

      LOL, I'm sure you can, and maybe after the body goes back to normal I'll see about buying an Empriente. Right now I'm looking for wire-free, so if you have some suggestions shoot me an email. I know you don't love Freya as much anymore, but I am eyeing their wireless Deco pretty hard.

  3. I was handwashing my bras last weekend and I had an idea for you and I don't remember it being covered in the other comments. What about buying a suitable white bra then dyeing it to beige?
    Many bra makers blog about dyeing bra components so this might be worth a try? First trial could be done with a bra on its way out to see if the procedure is viable....
    On your recommendation I plan to try an Empriente bra next time I'm buying, by the way.
    Good luck.

    1. Actually, someone else has suggested this to me and, while it's a totally smart idea, I'm just not ready to go there yet :-) But, maybe soon.

  4. We must have similar shapes. I bought and returned the Alana for that same reason (and I've discovered it's why many bras don't fit right). I am one who found the Alana too high under the armpit too, but I'm short (5'3") and short from shoulder to waist. The elastic on the wing under the arm rubbed badly in a few minute wear test.

    1. Oh, you have my empathy! I'm 5'3" too! Short in just the same way - though apparently not short in the underarm area :-)

  5. I haven't really cracked the code of my breast shape yet. It's something I'm thinking about and trying to analyze as I struggle with the (stupid) bustier I'm working on.

    I'd be in your camp though - I can't stand when the gore doesn't tack or conversely when it digs in, which happens to me sometimes.

    1. Yeah, digging isn't good. Given my shape, I rarely have to deal with that. Tacking is a happy occurrence. Mind you, that hideous Wacoal bra is miserable from that vantage point.

  6. PS - I am with you on the butt crack cleavage. It makes me think of the 80's... tacky.

  7. I have this bra in nude, black and red and for me it's a perfect fit. In fact I have two nude ones so I can alternate them as I wear them so often! I don't know if you bought your regular cup size though? The girls at Bravissimo advised me to go up a cup size and that's why the fit is spot on. I also really like the shape of the cups. x

    1. Hey Jane - I'm wearing it right now and I have to say, it's comfortable every time! I did go up - a band size and a cup size (effectively that means I went up about a cup and a half).

  8. I do love these posts on bra details. Even though I don't have pictures, I can *see* the fitting issues you're talking about!

    I'm willing to guess it is as close to your cup size as you can get in this particular style. If it was a custom bra, you'd probably add a smidge of length to that cross seam near the gore. Sometimes 1/4" makes all the difference. I'm also willing to guess that the next cup volume up grades up by about 1/2" from root to root, and anywhere from 1/4-1/2" in the vertical, which is more than you needed. Too bad there's nothing in between! It's such a pretty blush, though! I love that kind of "nude".

    1. I agree! Thanks for your comment - I sense you are exactly right in your understanding of the fit.