Abstract: I’m going to go ahead and name this the prettiest bra that Freya has ever made — and Freya has made a lot of pretty bras. The shape under clothes is amazing, too. Unfortunately, the band runs very large and the size range is rather limited. If you wear a larger band and a smaller cup, though, it’s well worth a try.
Background: This padded half cup bra was released a few months ago as part of Freya’s autumn/winter 2012 collection. The size range is 30-38 B-G (excluding 30B and 30C); a seamed balconette version with a slightly wider size range is also available. When I first saw the product photos, I loved the cyan trim and the butterfly print; combine that with my well-documented love for padded bras and you’ve got an instant and eager customer.
I was pleased when I found out that Bravissimo was selling this bra, since UK online retailers don’t usually seem to carry padded half cups — fabric cup balconettes seem much more popular. Freya’s padded half cup bras are easy enough to find at US and Australian online stores, but I prefer to avoid those options because the prices are (perhaps unavoidably, due to import taxes) heavily marked up. I bought the Martha bra, in 30G, from Bravissimo in July at the normal retail price, but returned it because it was the wrong size.
Sizing: This bra follows Freya’s ignominious pattern of ridiculously large bands. The 30 band — the smallest available — was too big for my 32″ ribcage when fastened on the tightest hooks. It slipped around when I moved and could be pulled a fair distance away from my back. Cup-wise, I had serious double-boob in the 30G (the largest cup size available), which, I guess, is to be expected, given that my actual bra size is 32G. A 30GG or H would have had the right cup volume for me (although the band would still be too big). I would need a size somewhere in the neighborhood of 28H/HH or maybe even 26HH/J for this bra to fit me properly. None of those sizes exist, which is disappointing. Also disappointing is the fact that my actual size, 32G, does exist in this bra, but it would be a disastrous fit if I actually tried to wear it due to the band being miles too big.
If you buy this bra, go down two band sizes and up two or three cup sizes. Freya’s messed-up sizing here, as in the Faye and Edina balconette bras, renders the nominal size range of the Martha bra incorrect: I’d say 34-42 AA-F is a better estimate. A Martha half cup bra labelled 36E, for example, would actually fit more like a 40D. If you wear a 32 band or smaller, you’re pretty much out of luck with this bra. I don’t know what the sizing situation is like in the balconette version, but given Freya’s sizing track record, it’s likely similar.
Fit: I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary regarding the fit of this bra, although when you’re in the wrong size (that is, when the band is too loose and the volume of the bra’s cups doesn’t match the volume of your boobs), fit issues are difficult to assess. I can say that the underwires, the central gore, and the cup depth all seemed quite average — not overly narrow, wide, deep, or shallow — so I think it could fit reasonably well on someone who was wearing the right size.
Comfort: Undetermined, because I tried it on only briefly and had the wrong size. I did notice that it doesn’t come up too high under the arms, which could be good if you prefer bras that are more open on the sides.
Shape: Again, I can’t pin down the shape with absolute certainty because the cups were too small for me. Ignoring the double-boob, though, the shape of this bra was wonderfully rounded. Its cups are cut the same as the ones in Freya’s longline bras and in other models like the Monet, the Daphne, and the Patsy. It’s not the same as the Pixie, Ginny, or Lauren padded half cups because those bras have a horizontal seam that allows the cups to fold and form a point. The Martha, however, has uninterrupted vertical seams on the cups and no horizontal seams, which pretty much guarantees a nice rounded shape with zero pointiness.
Support: No first-hand experience to relate here, because I wasn’t wearing the bra for much longer than a minute or so. The band is pretty pathetic, though — narrow, single-layered powernet, flimsy as anything, and it closes with only two hooks. This bra does have quite wide straps (in 30G, at least), but apart from that, the Martha is quite lacking in the ‘structural engineering’ and the additional design features that larger-cupped bras require for support.
Quality: I didn’t keep the bra, so I don’t know how it performs in the long term, but given that it’s built on a very similar frame to the Faye bra and has a very similar band, I’d expect it would stretch out a lot over time.
Appearance: This bra is so gorgeous. In real life, the colors are brighter and more vivid than in the product photos, and the butterfly print really pops. The choice of cyan trimming is unusual, but effective, and I think the mix of colors on this bra would complement all skin tones, too. All in all, the Martha bra really excels as far as looks are concerned, which makes me rather sad that it isn’t sold in my actual size!
Conclusions: Though this bra is beautiful and give a great shape, its sizing is very inaccurate and it’s really only suited to smaller cups. Everything about its construction indicates that it’s aimed squarely at the standard A-D cup market; the size range has been extended a few letters into full-bust territory, but no consideration has been given to the idea of modifying the design to better suit larger cup sizes. Poor effort, Freya. If an accurately sized, stronger, more thoughtfully designed, and much more robust version of this bra existed, I would be flinging my money at it, but as it is, the Martha — like many of Freya’s recent products — was a failure for me.