Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bra Review: Miss Mandalay Paris

OK, I'm about to start a long weekend of sewing (unless I'm so bamboozled by the weather that I spend it drinking on patios instead), but to mix it up a bit, I thought I'd provide a bra review of a new lingerie set that a) I've bought before (though long ago) and b) which I just repurchased - with some success.

The set in question is the Miss Mandalay Paris:

Miss Mandalay Paris
In case you think that bra looks exactly like the Miss Mandalay Paige, you'd be correct. It appears that this brand currently makes a very small complement of lingerie sets - fewer than it used to - as its swimwear line has really stolen the show.

No mind. They still make the Paris, my fave. When last I bought it it was in a cerise with leopard details. Oh, I did love that bra. Alas, it was always a small fit (one is urged to size up in band and cup when buying MM bras) and it hasn't been worn in a long while. I recently sold it. That's when I was reminded of my love for its simple sexiness.

In truth, I would have preferred to buy it in a majestic purple (not generally my thing but it's so jewel-y) or in the cobalt colourway. Alas, those bras (on sale) did not come in my size. In fact, the only place I can find the bras, at this point, is on the Miss Mandalay website (unlike the swimwear which is easier to source online).

First Up: How it Looks

It's a great looking bra. The shape is awesome. It provides lift and support. It's round, though it's unlined and with seams. The wires aren't wide (haven't measured this for Bratabase yet, but I sense that they're 5.7 inches wide cuz they fit me perfectly). They enclose everything and they provide perfect side-height for me - I like side height because I hate feeling like any breast tissue can escape! The materials are very nice - not Empreinte nice but much luxer than Cleo. I do feel that the quality is a smidge less high than that of my original set (when it comes to the ribbon detail at the top of the cup). It's not hugely notable but, given that I bought this set originally for 60 bucks and now, 3 years later, this one cost me $150, I do question any drop in quality.

The pink is highly saturated. If you do not like pink (or girliness in general) do not buy this set in this colour. I did so as an experiment, mostly to determine whether they've retained their original sizing and shape. On that topic, I've been looking for alternatives to Cleo and Empreinte (my go-tos) because many narrow-breasted, projected ladies have had their fill of Cleo and really don't want to invest in Empreinte. I'm seeking out a middle ground for us all. I agree that $150.00 is not cheap but, if the quality and design warrant it, then I hope you'll agree it's a reasonable mid point between the Cleo sets that one can purchase for $50-$75 bucks and the Empreinte ones that'll run you $350.

Had I not got my first set for $60 - admittedly a steal and 3 years ago - I think I'd have been a bit less grumpy to have spent 150 bucks this time. Having said that, I would buy on sale in a second, recognizing that there aren't that many of these bras produced and when the sales hit, you must pounce (ask me how I know).

This set is really sexy though entirely unembellished. It's FUN. It's youthful (though not priced for the young). It's chic.

But How Does it Fit?

Like I said, last time I bought this I found it snug and my breasts were a different size and shape back then. This time, on doing my research, I read many accounts that one should size up in band and cup by at least one size in each. Point being: This bra fits very small for size. I considered my former bra (which I felt, even when it fit, could have been half a size larger) and opted to go up 2 cups sizes and one band size. When I've done this in the past, it's always been an unmitigated disaster, but it seemed consistent with my reading and personal experience.

It was entirely the right decision. This bra fits beautifully. It's snug (but not tight) in the band. Because it is a closed upper cup (that ribbon is a challenge for those with upper fullness), if I'd gone any smaller, it would have pushed on breast tissue and caused a ridge. The gore tacks really well (and it's narrow). It's incredibly comfortable (something I cannot say for the last one, which was always too snug).

You can see the seaming under some tops but you know I don't care about that. It does bring the breasts up and forward but not to the extent that Cleo does. It produces a more subtle shape.

I'll totally buy this again - when I find a colourway that really appeals (they've recently cycled through a bunch of colours I do wish I'd purchased when they were available in my size - so who knows when they'll come back round to bright orange or cobalt). This set would be dynamite in an animal print (though it usually comes in a solid). The size range is from 28E to 38GG. BTW, if you're a person with a 25-26 inch band size, this is the company for you because the bands are super tight so a 28 would work.

A word of caution about the undies. They too run very small for size. I bought a large, which certainly fits, but I loathe the feeling of grippy elastic and the mesh fabric has reasonably little, 2-way stretch so next time I would get the XL. Furthermore, you get one option - a standard issue low-rise brief. My last set had a thong option (my preference) but it seems not to be on offer any longer. Alas, I cannot say that this brand caters to the largest portion of the market as one is effectively sized out at a 36G (which requires a Miss M 38GG). But it's not every brand's job to suit every woman. It's too bad though, because I think this bra would be easily scalable, given the firmness of the materials and the design, to at least a 40 band and HH cups.

Today's questions: Have you tried Miss Mandalay for bras or swimwear? Have you tried the Paris? If yes, what are your thoughts? Furthermore, do you feel this would be a good option for you (if you haven't tried it), provide you fall into the size range? What I mean is, does this seem like good value to you? Curious to know if this hits a sweet spot (not too expensive but good quality overall) or if you think that $150 for a set is as crazy-ass as spending $350? (UK peeps - as always, you luck out - MM is way cheaper for you to buy in your currency, in your country of origin.)


  1. Have you ever tried the Empreinte Capucine? It is sometimes on sale at Barenecessities for as low as $50 (but usually more)?

    It's interesting that the Paris fits you well. I've been trying to learn more about bra fitting from your descriptions and would've guessed from the stock photo that the part going outwards from the gore was too shallow. My visual/spatial imagination has never been the greatest, though.

    1. I have tried the Capucine and it didn't look good on me. It's slightly too wide and there's not enough immediate projection. The fabric is also vaguely napped and that can drag on clothing.

      You're spatial reasoning is good in this instance. From that photo, I agree the bra looks to be lacking in immediate projection (what you've described). It doesn't bear this out in real life though, as the gore tacks quite well in the right size (implying adequate projection). What I will say is that, while this bra provides great lift and support, it doesn't bring my breasts as front and centre as do most of the Empreintes and Cleos. It is a bit wider in the fit. Which is, I sense, partially what accounts for what you've noted.

  2. What a great idea! I did wonder on occasion whether a narrow, projected shape could find a middle ground between Cleo and Empreinte's price points.

    My first and last Miss Mandalay set was the cerise with leopard print accents and the matching bikini brief. After reading your review, I had to try it. It never fit right, though. What you said about it running a band and at least one cup size small makes sense to me.

    I'm not thrilled with the currently available colors, either. Maybe when they have something more appealing, I'll try them again. God, you're such a bra enabler! :)

    1. I don't know why it's cheap and cheerful or mortgage-priced with the narrow, projected bras. And I have to say that the sizing on MM seems even smaller than when I bought the cerise one which is why it's key to size up adequately. I don't know if I should apologize or thank you for the bra enabler comment :-)

  3. BTW I knew Miss Mandalay were looking for fit models about a year ago to change their bras a bit. I recently bought the black Paris in 32GG and it is smaller in the cup than my old cerise Paris in 32G 🙈