After a great response to my posts describing different styles of bras offered by Panache/Cleo and Freya, I’m now moving on to the third titan of full-bust brands: Curvy Kate!
|Are you as excited as them?!?|
If you’ve been reading my blog since the early days (in which case I’m blushing!), you may have seen my initial reviews after I did a massive order of most of the Curvy Kate styles. Since I was just starting out, those reviews were a little less thorough than the kind I like to do now. I’ve since updated most of them, and I also hope that this overview will fill in any gaps that remain.
Luckily for me, Curvy Kate is quite a new brand! So unlike the dim and misty past of Panache and Freya, the whole history of Curvy Kate is within my grasp and I should be able to cover all the styles they’ve done. I will also talk about Brastop’s Flirtelle range because those bras are made by the same people and cut to the same shapes so they essentially function as part of the same brand, just available more cheaply.
One really outstanding feature of Curvy Kate is that they find all their models through contests entered by, and voted on, by their actual customers. So it is MUCH easier to see what Curvy Kate bras will look like on a variety of sizes, including the bigger sizes, in contrast to many other brands that only use models on the smaller end of the size range. Curvy Kate's UK Star In A Bra winner for this year was just revealed today--the beautiful Sophie Morgan!
|Sophie Morgan, Star In A Bra winner 2012!|
Finding Your Size
The most important thing to understand about Curvy Kate is how the sizing works. Although some people find they can wear the same size in Curvy Kate that they would wear in other brands, plenty of others find they need to go up one or two cup sizes from what they would wear in other brands—this is especially likely if your boobs are tall/high or full on top. Personally, although I can usually get away with a 30H in Panache/Cleo/Freya, I can NEVER wear that in Curvy Kate. I will always need at least a 30HH, sometimes a 30J.
A common complaint with Curvy Kate’s unpadded balconettes is a somewhat triangular/square shape, that looks like this:
|Too-small Curvy Kate shape.|
This shape means your Curvy Kate is TOO SMALL! Don’t despair and give up, thinking this is just the shape Curvy Kate gives—it’s not! You’ll get a much nicer look in the right size. Try going up one or two sizes, and shorten the straps to take out any slack in the cup. For a lot of people, this is enough to make Curvy Kate bras successful for them. For some people, it might be that you cannot shorten the straps enough to get the right lift in the big-enough cup size, and this unfortunately means that you will either have to alter the straps, or simply move on to a different brand (or just stick to Curvy Kate's padded styles).
Also, all of Curvy Kate’s unpadded balconette bras are cut with the same shape, so you can wear the same size in all of them—SORT OF. The different fabric and laces used do make a noticeable difference between the fit of some of the styles, and I’ve tried to specify that here. Knowing your size in one Curvy Kate balconette is an excellent starting point, but you still might need to tweak the size a bit when you try other styles.
The sizing of the padded bras is different, and I will talk about that when I describe the individual styles.
The Portia is one of the styles that’s been with Curvy Kate since the beginning. Way back when, it used to come in colors…
…but for the past few seasons they’ve just had it in continuity colors of black/pink and white/pink, plus an exclusive magenta color for Simply Be.
The Portia is a good basic and seems to run pretty much in the middle of Curvy Kate sizes. The ribbon across the top is not tight in the newer runs; in fact, it is looser than the fabric surrounding it.
This is an older style that Curvy Kate don’t make anymore. From my experience trying it once, it seems to run about average in sizing. However, I do know there are some differences between the colors; the purplish-pink one seems to run a little smaller, for instance, though not enough to need a different cup size unless you are already between sizes.
Since this bra is discontinued, it’s one of the few that you can get at cheap prices in black and white.
The Angel runs a little tighter than other Curvy Kate styles. It has the same all-over diagonal stitching as the Portia, but on the Angel the lace at the top edge (though not the actual ribbon) is tighter, which gives the cup a smaller fit overall. I personally find that I would ideally wear one cup size up in the Angel (30J) compared to the size I wear in the Portia/Emily/Ella (30HH).
The back on the Angel runs tighter as well, as the criss-crossed ribbon adds some stability to it.
The Princess is the hardest fit of all the Curvy Kate unpadded bras. Like the Angel, it also runs a bit tighter than other Curvy Kate styles, but it is also the only one that does not have fully adjustable straps; the floral lace covers the front half of the strap. Remember when I said that you will need to go up in the cup size and shorten the straps more to get the right lift and shape in Curvy Kate? That’s much less possible in the Princess because the straps just do not adjust enough. It's too bad that it's a trickier fit, because it's so cute!
Check here for the barrage of alterations I performed to make my Princess somewhat serviceable. The fact is that it’s just not as easy to fit into as other Curvy Kates.
The Emily is, in my opinion, probably the best Curvy Kate bra. The top section is more stretchy and so it is an easier fit than the other styles that have stiff lace or ribbon there.
So if you find the Angel or Princess squash you no matter how high you go in cup size, the Emily is a better bet. With my full-on-top boobs, I definitely find I get the best shape in the Emily.
The Romance that came out recently is very similar to the Emily, with that same little bit of give in it. I’m really excited by the Romance and I think it is a really promising style.
If you’ve seen the behind-the-scenes photos of Curvy Kate’s Star In A Bra competition, you may have noticed how truly amazing the Romance looks in a K-cup! (Not all of Curvy Kate’s bras look as beautiful in the highest sizes.)
The Ella is discontinued but also shares the feature of being more stretchy in the top section, though not quite as much as the Emily.
If you can’t find the Ella on Brastop, the Flirtelle Dahlia style is the exact same bra as the Curvy Kate Ella, but in continuity colors.
This is another newer style, one whose popularity has surprised me a bit. I personally don’t think it is as flattering as the other styles; the huge sheer section doesn’t look nearly as nice in the highest cup sizes as it does in the smaller cup sizes.
The people I know who have tried the Lottie (I haven’t, since I don’t really like how it looks) have mixed reactions. Some love it, some find it gives an east-west look.
The fabric on the bottom sections of the Lottie is thick and firm, similar to the fabric on the bottom sections of the Flirtelle Sublime.
Tease Me/Thrill Me/Fleurty
These bras are constructed to give a really round shape. The size ranges are not as inclusive as the unpadded bras, but it’s still a great deal better than the miniscule size ranges other brands offer in padded bras. These bras are not marketed for everyday use (they're meant to be 'bedroom' bras), but lots of people (including myself) use them as T-shirt bras. I'm still hoping for a day when all the bra companies realize that the Thrill Me and Tease Me are exactly what many of us want for everyday use--colorful, cute, padded bras that give a round shape and don't cost and arm and a leg.
Although those with full-on-top boobs are more likely to need to size up in the balconettes I talked about earlier, those with boobs that are fuller on the bottom are more likely to need to size up in these Showgirl half-cup styles because there is so much lift from the bottom. In general, the older colors of Thrill Me and Tease Me ran bigger than the more recent colors. This article "Thrill Me, Tease Me, Explain Me" on the Bratabase blog is useful for explaining these size differences.
The Fleurty is a new style, and so far the verdict I’ve heard is that it fits similarly to the Thrill Me and Tease Me, but maybe just a hair smaller—so if you’re close to busting out of your Thrill Me/Tease Me, you may want to get the next size up in Fleurty if it’s available.
The upcoming Entice style also is based on this same seam pattern.
The Elegance padded plunge bra was added to Curvy Kate’s continuity lines a few seasons back and I reviewed it here. Despite my failure to get a good fit in it, I remain fascinated by the Elegance. There is something about it that makes me want to buy it over and over. I think in a lot of ways, the Elegance represents the way in which Curvy Kate is truly superior to other brands at pushing the market and giving women who wear higher cup sizes the things that we really need and want. I guess I was surprised that the Elegance wasn't very hyped up and I haven't seen as many reviews of it as I would have expected, though there are a couple out there--Invest In Your Chest mentions it here, and A Sophisticated Pair did a detailed review.
The Showgirl Tempt Me and the upcoming Wild bra also have a similar shape.
The sizing for these plunge bras is challenging and weird. It seems like just about everyone, with any shape, needs to go up at least one cup size, maybe two or even three to fit in the Elegance or Tempt Me.
These plunges are also very wide-set and therefore better suited to people whose boobs have a bit more space between them. I personally found the Elegance dragged my boobs apart because it was just too wide-set for me. If I try again, I’ll try in a 30J (the biggest available size) and try to take in the center gore.
This is a new style and unfortunately I haven’t tried it yet. It is different from the other padded bras in that the shape is based exactly on the shape of the unpadded bras so the seams follow a balconette shape.
I sort of fear this bra, personally—I worry that the padding would exacerbate the problems I’ve experienced in the tighter styles like Angel and Princess. If I do try it, I may size up in the cup to a 30J. You can see other bloggers’ reviews at Invest In Your Chest and Brood's Big Bras Blog.
This style won’t be available until July, but I wanted to mention it here because it is a totally new style. It’s not seamed like Curvy Kate’s other padded bras, but molded like the Freya Deco.
I really like the animal print and I have a suspicion that this bra will sell fast if it is any good. I’ll definitely be getting one—I plan to try it in both 30HH and 30J and I will do a full review at that time.