Sunday, August 2, 2015

Bra Review: Cleo Lucy

This is the first of 3 more bra reviews on the subject of finding a black bra that fits me. You know how I've been in the "black bra drought" for a LONG time now and my last one is on its last legs. (Yeah, first world problems and all, but I do hate it when there's a hole in the lingerie wardrobe.)

FWIW, black bras can be a tricky fit. For kicks, next time you're in a store that stocks a bra you wear and like in a fashion colour or beige, try on the black version (presuming it's made in that colourway) and notice the difference in fit. Black dye - as sewists and knitters can tell you - tends to shrink fabric more than other dyes. It can also impact the texture. Fun fact: That's one reason why I hate black jeans.

Colour notwithstanding, I never thought the Lucy would work on me, and it doesn't. No sense in lingering over the punch line. The Lucy went back to Figleaves immediately after I tried it.

I was optimistic, as my very well-fitting Lori and Kali are sister styles (according to lots of resources, they're cut exactly the same). That's not corroborated by my experience nor by Veronica's (bra-fitter extraordinaire). The fit differences are subtle but, in my case, they're a deal breaker.

First up, the bra in question:

Cleo By Panache - Lucy
Yeah, I know it's venerable. Many of you probably own it. It's a very useful "fit" bra - when you're trying to determine your size - particularly if your sense is that your breasts are full on bottom. It's considered to be the fit inverse of the Cleo Marcie (the "fit" bra for full on top breasts).

Black and white are its continuity colours. It also comes out in fashion colours each season (at least it used to). Many of those are still readily available online.

By comparison, here are shots of the Kali and the Lori:

Cleo by Panache Kali

Cleo by Panache Lori

FYI, I've written detailed reviews about the Kali and the Lori, in case you'd like to read more about them.

I really wish that these stock photos were of the same woman in the same position. I also wish that I could adequately describe how the most subtle changes in dimension can tank fit altogether.

Here's the gist (and measurements corroborate this):
  • The cup width is the biggest issue. The Lucy has a width of 7.5 inches from gore wire to side wire (measured over the upper cup span). The Lori's is 6", Kali's is 5.8". For me, 6 inches is optimal. What this means is that the cups are much wider than my breasts. They pull my breasts out to the sides and the gore rests slightly on breast tissue. It's not good for immediate centre front projection because it caters to a breast shape wherein the majority of breast tissue is on the centre-plane or outside of the breasts.
  • Unsurprisingly the wider cup leads to a shallower profile (this isn't always the case, but within the same size and shape it generally is). The Lucy is 10.5" deep. My preference is 11.5. Interestingly, in the same size, the Kali measures 11" and the Lori measures 12".
  • The Lucy is stretchier in the band, than either my Lori or Kali - which makes it pretty unsupportive. FYI, I bought the Lori in a 32 band so, in actual fact, the Lori's band is likely as stretchy as the Lucy's - but it doesn't impact me. Stretched Lucy band (purchased 34) = 33". That's very stretchy for Cleo bras, though pretty true to size for other brands. Stretched Lori band (purchased 32) = 32.5. Stretched Kali band (purchased 34) = 31.5. My preference in stretched bands, these days, is 31 - 32". The former, slimmer and less sensitive me would have preferred 30 - 31".
  • Furthermore, as mentioned, black dye impacts the fabric feel and stretch factor. Yeah Cleo cups are non-stretch, but all fabric has natural ease which results in a bit of stretch. Not so much when it's dyed black. Often it's that give that provides the perfect fit in the final analysis (when shape and size needs are largely met already).
  • Wider cups lead to wider straps - and the straps on the Lucy are at the edge of falling off my shoulders. Happily, in addition to having narrow shoulders I have narrow breasts so I'm not required to wear bras, to work for my breast width, that are misaligned with my shoulder width. The combo of stretchy band, wide straps and wide cups makes for a very unsupportive and bouncy bra.
  • Finally, Lucy's cup separation - specifically at the bottom of the gore - is just too wide for me. It makes sense. The Lucy is a wider bra than either the Kali or Lori. It's also less deep at the gore where it meets the cup. The top of the cup has a separation of 1 inch - which is on the edge of too wide for me (my breasts are VERY close set at the top). 0.5" is my preference (though that's very hard to find). 0.7" works alright for me but by the time you get to an inch, it's likely not going to work. The Lori's is 1 inch, interestingly, but the fabric is different and it doesn't widen too much at the base of the gore (which is where the Lucy goes all to hell on me). The Kali's is 0.8".
So, there you go.

In terms of the fabric and feel, the Lucy's alright. Feels quite like the Kali (by contrast, the Lori is beautifully soft). It's vaguely starchy but nowhere near as industrial, fabric-wise, as the deep styles that Cleo makes (Ellis, Lily). I've never really liked this bra - I feel it's bland and it does look wide on every model. Mind you, I can appreciate that it might be awesome if it works with one's natural shape. That's kind of how it is with all bras.


  1. it's interesting to me that people can properly and attractively engineer the george washington bridge holding many tons of vehicles with nothing more than wire straps but can't design an attractive and well-fitted bra to hold up two projectiles using a band and two straps.
    as you point out (pun intended) the wider a cup is, the shallower it is and if you prefer forward thrust to
    never seeing your arms again, you'll most likely never be a happy camper. but once you get into K cup territory there's very little choice. almost everything available is a minimizer. they're not advertised as such. they trick you into believing that they're normal bras. there are a few exceptions, of course. curvy kate fits in the K if i go up one band size, but the freya bras, which i love the look of and come in K cups never fit regardless of band size. the shallow cup bras all fit in my normal 36K. this is UK sizing of course, because the USA refuses to acknowledge that women might have large breasts.
    someday i'll see my arms and like my bra at the same time.

  2. B: Sorry for the delay in responding. Things have been a bit nutty! I completely agree with you about how they can get people to the moon but they can't make a bra to fit a lady with a 36K bra size?!? I loathe the minimizer. Who wants to widen one's breasts? They're at their loveliest front and centre. :-)