Reviews: Bras I've loved recently from Natori, Skarlett Blue, Victoria's Secret, Calvin Klein and Gap

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Natori's Feathers Front Close T-Back Bra ($66-$68) is so pretty and comes in lots of fun colors, like mint. 

About a month ago I started noticing that although the cups on my 34D bras still mostly fit fine, the bands have started to become too loose. Rather than visit a chain where I've found the measurements are often off I went to an independent store in NYC and discovered that yes I'm still a 32DD but now there are more bras than ever being made in my true I don't have to settle for a bra that kinda fits anymore!

As I'm training for a triathlon in June I might go through 3 bras in a day -- one to work out in the morning, one for work, and one for my evening workout. So in the past few weeks I've tried on and purchased a ton of bras which I've been discussing in random comment threads around EA. I received a few emails asking if I could condense it all into a reviews post. Absolutely! Inside, what I've tried and what I've liked (nearly everything)...

Perkiness Factor: High // Seamless Factor: Low // Comfort Factor: High // Pretty Factor: High

Note: Unless otherwise noted, I tried on all of these bras in a 32DD.

When I'm on the hunt for new bras, three basic things matter to me: does the bra make my chest perky? (No one likes a saggy bust.) Is the bra seamless, meaning will it hide underneath my tops or will details and textures show through? (It's a little awkward when lacy details or raised textures show through, especially at work.) Most importantly, is the bra comfortable to wear? (If not, it goes back immediately.) And then just for fun I like to pick out pretty bras whenever possible...I feel sexier wearing them and it's a bit of a mood boost throughout the day, that little smile of knowing what lies beneath my clothes.

Where the Natori Feathers T-Back Bra ($66-$68) really succeeds for me is in its beauty. This bra is pretty to look at and I feel prettier the moment I put it on. Anthropologie carries it in several colors and there are also lavender and neon pink versions floating around at other retailers in addition to the basic nude, black and white. I've noticed some inconsistency in stocking sizes -- Anthropologie doesn't carry this bra in my 32DD while other retailers do, and there are some bras that Anthropologie does carry in a 32DD while other retailers do not. I can't figure it out, but if Anthro is reading this all I have to say is carry everything you can in a 32DD and I will buy it from you. This bra I had to go hunt down elsewhere.

My bra hunt initially began with a desire to find more t-back bras. I've noticed a lot of tank tops this summer with racerbacks and many of my workout tanks are racerbacks (I double layer a regular bra under a sports bra for high-impact activities). I don't think any other bra comes close to this one in terms of beauty. The t-back is gorgeous and the front cups are pretty too. This bra has lightly lined mesh-nylon cups with raised lace along the cup line.

The pros: There's no extra padding inside the cup which I know some people prefer, for me I don't care so long as the bra lifts my breasts up, which this one does to a perky but not over the top level. It has adjustable shoulder straps and a front close. It doesn't overly separate my cups -- it irritates me to no end when my breasts look like they're facing outward in different directions. My chest stayed in place all day -- no quadraboob issues or anything like that. Best of all, this bra is so comfortable! I put it on and then it's like I forget I'm even wearing it.

The cons: This bra isn't seamless -- that lace along the cupline peeks through silkier blouses and thinner slub tees. One oddity is that the side of the cups come up higher than the armholes on many of my tank tops, so you can see the bra unless my arms are by my sides. In the back, the area where the back band meets the 'T' is a raised triangle and that can show out of low-back shirts. I wish the back were lower without that triangular meeting point.

I paired this bra with the matching hipsters ($30); there's also a thong ($30) or a higher-waisted girl brief ($30).

This bra is also available at: Nordstrom // Bloomingdales // Shopbop // Neiman Marcus // Saks Fifth Ave* // Lord & Taylor** // Dillard's
* Saks' Friends & Family promotion begins on Monday April 20th, this bra will be 25% off
** You can take 25% off this bra right now at Lord & Taylor using the code FRIENDS at checkout. Nordstrom will probably also price-match this if you call and ask! 

Perkiness Factor: High // Seamless Factor: High // Comfort Factor: High // Pretty Factor: High

Good lord is this bra ever beautiful! Two triangular lace patterns meet in back (via a metallic double ring) while the front features heavily padded seamless cups and a front closure. It used to be that once you made it to C cup bras, straps were thick and ugly in order to deliver support. Times have changed thank goodness and this bra features some of the thinnest shoulder straps I've ever seen on a highly supportive DD cup bra.

The Skarlett Blue Minx Racerback Bra ($48) has the reverse situation of the Natori above -- Anthropologie carries it in DD cup sizes but no other retailer seems to. Bravo Anthro!!

The pros: This bra is totally seamless no matter how thin your top layer is. The lace in back is so beautiful that even if it does happen to show a bit the effect is aesthetically pleasing. This nude color is practically invisible against my pale pink skintone. It's ultra comfortable too. Gone are the days when bras used to kill my back!!

The cons: The cups are heavily padded at the bottom to provide lift, so my chest feels a bit bigger than it already is. I don't mind the trade-off of comfy pillows for my comfy pillows to rest on but I know is a dealbreaker for some. On the straps, the metal adjustment pieces are a contrasting color. On the nude bra they're rose gold so it's not such a big deal but on the black version of the bra they are gold and stand out like a sore thumb. Wish they'd chosen to make the metal pieces black on the straps only. The back band sometimes gets a bit wrinkly across my back -- as shown in the product shot above.

If you're looking for a seamless racerback bra that's also frilly and romantic, this one gets my vote. The next bra I'll review would be my vote for everyday T-back bra.

I paired this bra with the matching hipsters ($16). They are not full coverage from behind, but damn they look good.

This bra is also available at: Shopbop (here and here) // Nordstrom // Skarlett Blue Official Website

Take $15 off $100, $25 off $150 or $50 off $250 using the code SPRING2015
Perkiness Factor: Medium // Seamless Factor: High // Comfort Factor: Medium // Pretty Factor: Low

I go back and forth on Victoria's Secret...loving them sometimes, hating them at other times. Right now I have to admit they're killing it with tons of functional, beautiful options that fit me better than bras have in years. Of course knowing my real size helps a lot too.

I have never had good luck finding my size 32DD in store -- even a 34D is hard to find, and even at their multiple Manhattan flagships. So in the past few weeks I've placed a couple of large online orders and to my surprise kept nearly everything! The Victoria's Secret T-Back Demi Bra ($40-$42) is probably my favorite. Why? With the t-back it works under nearly any kind of shirt, and because the front straps do not cut in towards the shoulders, it works with most front necklines too. Bonus! Most racerback or t-back bras won't work with wider or even normal front necklines but this one does.

The pros: Seamless. Works under nearly any top. Lightly lined cups but no extra padding.

The cons: The T can pull the back bra band upwards a bit over the course of the day. The straps are really slippery and I noticed the adjustment piece slipped backwards a bit as I wore the bra.

Gap Favorite Modal Wireless Bra ($34-$40), runs TTS
Take 40% off your order TODAY ONLY using the code TREAT at checkout
Perkiness Factor: Medium // Seamless Factor: High // Comfort Factor: Medium // Pretty Factor: Low

Two years ago I never would have guessed that I would be able to wear a wireless bra, but technology has come far enough to where it's now not only possible but functional too! The Gap Favorite Modal Wireless Bra ($34-$40) is supportive and feels like nothing on. I love the soft colors it comes in and the modal is very comfortable against my skin.

Unfortunately Gap no longer makes DD bras, so I purchased this bra in a 34D.

The pros: Seamless. No wire means no poking! And yet it's still supportive and lifts to medium-perky levels. The back straps can either be crossed into an X or worn straight. 

The cons: The peachy pink color you see above has faded very quickly in the wash, even using color-safe laundry formula. There are vertical wires on the side of this bra which didn't bother me at all but some reviewers have complained about it.

More from Gap that I love: The Favorite Plunge Demi Bra ($27-$36) is my does-everything bra; it's great under sports bras, has back straps that crisscross or go straight, looks amazing under tees and pushes my cups up in a sexy way. But they wear out more quickly than any of my other bras -- possibly because I wear them so much. Plan on replacing these every 16 months. A bit better in the longevity department is the Favorite Lace Wing T-Shirt Bra ($30-$40) which gives my bust such a flattering shape and is all-day comfortable.

Perkiness Factor: Medium // Seamless Factor: High // Comfort Factor: Medium // Pretty Factor: Low

This is the one racerback bra to rule them all. Most racerback bras have a large panel in back that comes up pretty high...not workable with many summer tanks or sleeveless dresses. Then along comes the Calvin Klein Underwear Racerback T-Shirt Bra ($46) to save the day! It has a very small, very low triangular panel in back. All of a sudden tops like this become much more wearable to me. 

Calvin your bras...hate your underwear. (The underwear is a muffin top extravaganza for me. Not pleasant.) This bra does not come in a 32DD at Anthropologie so I purchased it in a 34D. 

The pros: Very seamless. Very lightly lined cups. Low triangular back panel makes this bra work with so many more tanks than other racerback bras. From the front, straps are wide-set enough to still work with most necklines.

The cons: The straps have limited adjustability. After a few washes, the bra looks kind of tired already, though it still fits great. 

This bra is also available at: Shopbop // Nordstrom (in DD sizes here) // Bloomingdales

More from Calvin Klein that I love: This multi-way bra ($46) is the ultimate in utility; this wireless bra ($38, also available here) has a hook in back to clip the straps together -- but requires some help to get the hook hooked.

Victoria's Secret Very Sexy Strappy Ring Racerback Push-Up Bra ($55-$62), runs TTS
Take $15 off $100, $25 off $150 or $50 off $250 using the code SPRING2015
Perkiness Factor: High // Seamless Factor: Medium // Comfort Factor: Medium // Pretty Factor: High

Before you start arguing with me that bras are meant to be worn and not seen...well, whatever. This bra practically demands to be seen! And even if you are hiding the Very Sexy Strappy Ring Racerback Push-Up Bra ($55-$62) underneath a top, how could you not feel sexier just wearing it? Although I roll my eyes at Victoria's Secret ridiculous male gaze advertising and sometimes totally impractical bras, this one drew me right in. Did I mention that it's super comfortable, easy to wear and mostly seamless? It comes in multiple sleek colors or two lacier options. I stuck with the ballet pink shown above and basic black, though the bolder vixen in me wants to invest in that super bright candy apple red.

Oh, and the coordinating panties? KILLER. (There's also a cheekini that offers somewhat more coverage.)

The pros: Knockout bra. Looks great with sports bras, under tank tops, peeking out just a bit from racerback tops or t-back tops. Mostly seamless -- I found the top of the cups are sometimes outlined by thinner shirts. All-day wearable.

The cons: The cups are heavily padded at the bottom to provide lift, so my chest feels a bit bigger than it already is. I don't mind the trade-off of comfy pillows for my comfy pillows to rest on but I know is a dealbreaker for some. The back straps require some finesse to sit correctly (having someone to help is a nice thing). 

Buy this bra and then ask your guy/partner for anything. Go ahead. I'll bet you get it.

A couple of other super-sexy options from Victoria's Secret: Honesty time..I got their Very Sexy catalogue in the mail and let myself get sucked into ordering a bunch of stuff from it. Their marketing completely got me! Of what I got, I ended up keeping the bra reviewed above, plus the Racerback Lace-Up Demi ($58) which is an evening-only bra and the Lace T-Back Push-Up Bra ($62), the latter of which separates my cups a bit more than I'd like but someone in the house insisted I keep it. ("It's a total bombshell bra -- keep it for my benefit if not your own," he advised.)

Bonus Victoria's Secret bikini recommendations: I'm headed back to Hawaii in June and picked up the Getaway Halter ($37-$45) and the Bow Bikini ($19-$23) in electric violet and neon hot pink. The halter is especially awesome -- great coverage and super supportive in my true size 32DD. I also ordered the Banded Getaway Halter ($40-$43) and coordinating bikini bottom to wear under my rash guard surfing, but it's on major backorder so I can't say how it fits yet.

Victoria's Secret Body by Victoria Push-Up Bra ($46-$58), runs TTS
Take $15 off $100, $25 off $150 or $50 off $250 using the code SPRING2015
Perkiness Factor: High // Seamless Factor: Medium // Comfort Factor: High // Pretty Factor: High

By now you probably get that I like bras that push me up a bit. For everyday wear nothing is beating the Victoria's Secret Body by Victoria Push-Up Bra ($46-$58). This bra is so unbelievably soft on, makes my breasts look even more amazing and feels great all day. I used to have an issue with Body by Victoria bras where the back band would slide up something awful over the course of the day, causing the front to slide down and make me look saggy. Doesn't seem to be an issue anymore.

I really like these panties with the bra. They're especially pretty in the colors with contrasting lace.

The pros: So, so soft. Sweet details. Padded in the back under the hook-and-eye closure for extra comfort. Does not slide up.

The cons: The cups are heavily padded at the bottom to provide lift, so my chest feels a bit bigger than it already is. I don't mind the trade-off of comfy pillows for my comfy pillows to rest on but I know is a dealbreaker for some. Limited strap adjustability.

More from Victoria's Secret: I tried the Body by Victoria Perfect Comfort Bra ($46-$48) based on a good friend's advice, but didn't love it on me. She has a smaller bust so this may be better on smaller busts than larger ones. Although very comfortable, and feels practically wireless, it smooshed my boobs together.

What bras have you tried and loved recently?