Friday, February 21, 2014

Bra Review: Lulu Tout Coco

The Lulu Tout lingerie set arrived, and was returned, with nary a blip. It did not cause even a hint of misery, though it was a pain in the ass to get to the post office in this weather and I'm out 20 bucks in shipping. It was a risk. I knew the risk. It didn't pan out.

But this purchase does make me more sure than ever that I'm not ordering Figleaves house brands in the future. Each time I've done this, I've been met with the same suboptimal (if attractive) product: one that doesn't provide anywhere near the required support for heavy, large or dense breasts.

It's not surprising. The way they keep the costs down is by using flimsy materials. Flimsy materials are just fine in bras sized for a cup volume smaller than @ 32E (34DD, 36D, 30F etc.) - or when the breasts in question are young (naturally self-supporting) or not terribly dense.

By the time you've had a kid (or two), hit your mid-late thirties or gone through menopause, chances are your breasts are too heavy for this bra's infrastructure, especially above a certain size. (Note: This brand caters to the >DD cup range aka that which is larger than the standard bra matrix size range. Arguably, its core responsibility is to provide good support.)

Look, my breasts - while heavy - are not particularly saggy. Those Cooper's ligaments are holding their own. But heavy breasts (even if they're not at your navel) need good wires - and strong materials - or one's tits are apt to bounce. Not good.

I'm more convinced than ever that a) I will wear Empreinte forever more and b) the likelihood that I will be able to make a bra that provides the support I desire - what with materials and notions that are available out there - is potentially a pipe dream. Never mind fit. That's a binary issue that will be meaningless once I crack the code. Material sourcing, not so much.

But what about the Coco bra deets? (Note: I didn't even take the undies out of the packet. I had no interest in them once I knew the bra was a dud.)
  • The colour is indeed lovely.
  • The baseline shape is also nice (specifically of the mesh underlayer).
  • The lace overlayer is not well attached to the underlayer and it has been poorly chosen (having no stretch and being of an awkward length). Net result is that it pops away from the underlayer and leaves a very notable ridge. It actually looks wrong. I read another review on Bratabase that corroborates this but I didn't understand the extent of the issue till I tried the bra on for myself.
  • It's not the most expensive-looking bra - but then it's not expensive.
  • It's flimsy. Mere walking initiated unacceptable bounce.
  • It's not optimal for very projected breasts. I mean, it's not a cut bra for shallow breasts, but if you have a lot of centre or immediate projection, it likely won't work well. (Note: I don't think sizing up would help - it's more of a shape compatibility thing. The gore did tack on me, but not in a firm, secure way.)
  • Despite its suboptimal unsupportiveness, the band is extremely firm. I don't recommend that you buy this bra, but if you do, go up in the band.
  • It's inexplicably dowdy.
I could see this working on breasts of a very specific shape (a bit wide set, full on bottom) in the smaller end of the size range but there are so many better options, IMO. Why bother with this?

So, there you have it. Public service accomplished. Now go out and buy something by Empreinte.


  1. Easier said than done. Can't find Empreinte in a size equivalent to Fantasie 32G. Any ideas, based on your own comparisons?

    1. Here's the dilemma with Empreinte 1) the sizing and 2) the shape. It's a very specific combo which, if it works is perfect (and bankrupting) but if it doesn't is perhaps not meant to be. Because they don't do half sizes (aka FF, GG) you have to fit into the full size - and there's a larger span between them than between the UK bras (including Fantasie). Empreinte also cuts every size with different wires. What I mean is, the 32F has different wire shape and size than the 30G. That's not done elsewhere because it's labour-intensive and expensive. Empreinte recognizes that a woman with a smaller back, even if her breast volume is that of a specific cup size, will need a different shape as a result of corollary measurements (back width, shoulder span etc.) Furthermore, the bands on Empreinte, while snug and supportive, are not on the tight side the way some UK bra bands are. Point is, if you hover between a 30 and 32, you may want to go down a band in Empreinte. Difficulty with that is that going up a cup size can result in a cup that's just too big. So you can be screwed over by that lack of half-sizes in a bunch of different ways.

      Another dilemma is the shape issue. If you don't have rather narrow roots i.e. breasts all front and centre, with a LOT of immediate projection, the cup is not going to work. The wires will sit on breast tissue or the breast tissue will swim in the cup.

      Fantasie cuts with a much wider wire than Empreinte. Don't get me wrong, I do wear 1 Fantasie bra that I can't live without (that beige balconette I've gone on about forever) but it is not usual in the scheme of Fantasie bras. It's cut narrower than any other Fantasie I've tried.

      Furthermore, while Fantasie is somewhat projected, it's not always immediately projected (to support breast tissue at the gore and base of the wires that juts out fast).

      Upshot - you might get away with an Empreinte 32F as a "sister size" to 32G Fantasie. But it may just not work in the end.

    2. While I'm writing a book on this topic, check out my post (see bottom) on the structural similarities between Empreinte and Cleo.

      Cleo is a good bet if you want to get the benefits of Empreinte without the cost - and if you need the additional half-size options and UK sizing. The major difference is that Cleo does 2 hooks and eyes on the band, not 3. And I do think, at this stage, that I prefer 3. It's more comfortable and it provides a smoother line under snug tops.

      Having said this, I do wear and love Cleo. It's much more youthful and fun than Empreinte - which is sultry and sophisticated. Cleo seems to be the only brand I wear now, other than Empreinte, given my fit specifications.

    3. Great book! Girl meets bra, girl loses bra...Wish the ending wasn't so sad!

  2. I get it. This is where Sara got the Empreinte bug in her ear :)

  3. " Now go out and buy something by Empreinte." LOL! I thank the heavens everyday I browse bras (which would be every single day of my life) that Empreinte is too narrow and projected for me. I feel so thrifty when I buy Prima Donna Plunge Bras now, having read about your Empreinte! hahahaha

    BTW, I saw an Empreinte bra on sale somewhere but then remembered the awful customs situation for you Canadians. (Yes, I know you're American, but Canadian customs doesn't care...) If you ever want help from a US pal to help you with that, let me know. I already do that with a couple Canadians I know.

    1. You know the craziness? You can't get Empreinte shipped out of the EU. Not to US or Canada. You either have to buy it within North Am (at the inflated price, generally) or have a friend in EU who will ship to you. Here's one time I can't blame it on Canada Customs! :-) And thank you so much for your generous offer but , since my family lives in the US, I hit them up for shipping help routinely :-)

  4. I am always glad tat you are willing to do these bra experiments so the rest of us don't have to!
    If my weight/bra size ever stabilizes, I'm going to start buying good bras again. But for now... (looking around furtively) I've been wearing Victoria's Secret 'Close Up' bras, and they've been the perfect cut for me. Will I still be allowed to comment here now that you know my shameful secret?

    1. I just live so on the edge :-) There is NO shame in wearing whatever bra works. Victoria's Secret bras, while they suit a relatively small subset, are quite well-made (I've heard).

  5. I just bought a Lulu Tout bra (not Coco) last week. Waiting for it to arrive. I'm not discouraged by your review though since we have entirely different shapes.