Review: Panache “Sophie” Maternity Support Bra

Abstract: This is a wireless bra that provides decent uplift, but gives a pointy shape. In addition, the cups are very wide and shallow, which squashes the boobs together instead of properly separating them.

Image source: Bravissimo’s website.

Background: This is a wireless bra from Panache sold in sizes 28-40 D-J in black/nude and white/pink. It’s marketed as a maternity bra. Though I’m not pregnant, I bought this bra because there are some days on which I simply can’t be bothered with underwires; I usually wear a sports bra on days like those, but as sports bras tend give a pointy shape and can feel quite constricting, I decided to try out this bra as an alternative. I purchased a 30GG and a 32G, both in black/nude, online at the normal retail price a few months ago. Both were returned due to the strange fit and suboptimal shape.

Sizing: The bra seems to run large in the band. On the loosest hooks, I found the 32G to be too big and the 30GG to be comfortable, but still slightly loose, on my 32″ ribcage. This bra does have six sets of hooks to accommodate band size changes during pregnancy, so the loose band was probably a deliberate choice on the designers’ part.

The Sophie bra runs small in the cups. I’m fairly sure I’ve now grown from a 32FF to a 32G, and my boobs were bulging out over the tops of both the 32G and 30GG Sophie bras. A 30H or 28HH would probably have been the right size for me, but I didn’t re-order the bra due to several fit issues, which I’ll discuss in the next paragraph. If you buy the Sophie bra, assuming you intend to wear it as an everyday bra rather than a maternity bra, I suggest sizing down once in the band and up once or twice in the cup from your usual UK bra size.

Fit: This is a new section that I’m adding to my reviews specifically for discussing the fit of a bra independent of its sizing. Sometimes a bra may technically be the right size, in that the volume of the cups is equal to the volume of your breasts, but it might look and feel wrong regardless, perhaps because of the shape of the cups or the width of the underwires. In my previous reviews I’ve noted issues like this in various different sections, so I’m now adding a ‘Fit’ section to keep things more organized.

The main fit issue in the Sophie bra is cup width. For some reason, the cups on this bra don’t really get much deeper as the cup size increases — they just get wider. (The same effect has been noted in two other reviews, here and here.) In the G and GG sizes that I tried, the cups ended much further out than they should have, wrapping around my sides and approaching my back. The corresponding shortfall in cup depth pushed my boobs in towards my chest and also squashed them together in the center, which would likely cause uncomfortable rubbing and sweating if the bra was worn for an extended period of time. I don’t really understand why the cups on this bra have been designed in this way. You’d think it wouldn’t be difficult to make a wireless bra in which the cups are shaped to give the proper balance of width and depth, and don’t end halfway round the wearer’s back, but who knows — maybe there’s some kind of design or construction issue preventing exactly that.

What these fit problems come down to is that, for me, bras should be shaped like boobs. The Sophie bra is decidedly not shaped like boobs. Its center gore floats very far out from the sternum and it turns what should be two separate breasts into a single trigonal-prism-shaped mass on the front (and sides) of your chest. This was the main reason why I returned it to the retailer.

Comfort: Pretty good, in the short term. The fabric is very soft and smooth and, of course, the absence of underwires makes this bra much more comfortable to wear than any underwired bra. I don’t know how comfortable it would be on the timescale of hours, though, as I had it on for only a minute or so. As stated above, I suspect the boob-smooshing effect of the bra might produce unpleasant rubbing and/or sweating after a while.

Shape: Lifted, but pointy and triangular. This is more or less what I expected from this bra, since nearly all wireless bras create a similarly pointy shape.

Support: I didn’t wear the bra for very long at all, so I don’t know how well it supports over the course of a day. It does fasten with three hooks (in cup sizes GG and up), which is a feature that usually adds to the support factor of a bra.

Quality: Seems all right, though as I didn’t keep the bra I didn’t check it closely and I don’t know how much it stretches out over time.

Appearance: This is the best-looking wireless bra I’ve seen so far. I didn’t order the white/pink version because, from the photo, the color looked a bit too loud, but I really liked the look of the black/nude version on me. It’s nice to have a non-wired option that doesn’t look too plain or frumpy. I found the coverage a bit higher than average — it’s somewhere between a balconette and a full cup.

Conclusions: I would have kept this bra — despite its pointy shape — were it not for the weird fit issues. The extremely wide and shallow cups do not at all reflect the volume distribution of actual breasts. If you can deal with the resultant mono-boob and general squashing, then the Sophie could be the wireless bra for you. I don’t recommend it, though.

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