Abstract: This bra gives an amazing round shape and, as a bonus, functions well as a nude bra while also being decorative and pretty at the same time.
Background: This is a padded half cup bra from Polish brand Ewa Michalak. It comes with a pair of foam push-up pads, which you can put into the pockets inside the cups for some extra volume. The sizes currently available on EM’s website seem to be 30–38 A–GG. I don’t know if the company does custom-sized orders for this style, but you can always email them to find out. I purchased the CH Karmelki, in 32GG, directly from EM during a 10% sale in early June of this year.
Sizing: 32GG is not my usual bra size; I’m between a 32FF and 32G (and lately I seem to be alternating between the two on a daily basis!). I sized up in the cup when ordering this bra for reasons outlined in my review of EM’s CH Toffik bra. Turns out that wasn’t necessary. The 32GG CH Karmelki is too big in the cup for me, but as with the CH Toffik, I wear it anyway because the cup gaping isn’t really a big deal to me.
Also, this bra runs a tiny bit large in the band. It started out fairly snug but loosened up a bit after several weeks. If you buy this bra, I would suggest either going with your normal UK bra size or, if you prefer a super-tight band, sizing down once in the band and up once in the cup.
Fit: On me, it’s brilliant. Refer to the other review linked above if you want to read three more paragraphs of effusive praise on the fit of Ewa Michalak bras.
Comfort: I did have issues with the underwires of this bra attacking my sternum, but, as with the CH Toffik, I think that’s solely because the cup size I’m wearing is too big for me. The problem is easily solved by placing a cotton makeup remover pad under the center gore when I put the bra on. Apart from that, I find the CH Karmelki comfortable to wear all day.
Shape: This bra gives an excellent shape that’s rounded, lifted, and centered at the front of the chest. I thought I would never find a bra that could do all three at the same time until I tried this and other Ewa Michalak bras.
I don’t use the push-up pads in this bra because on me, they create a weird-looking and discernible bulge at the bottom of the cup. This could be a sizing issue, and it may not happen if you wear the bra in the correct size.
Support: Good. I like that it has a three-hook-closure (in 32GG; smaller sizes may have two or three hooks, I don’t know). The back band isn’t as thick as the one on the CH Toffik, but it’s still decent. I wish the straps were wider, although I think most other people don’t share my preference for massive industrial-strength bra straps.
Quality: My CH Karmelki bra had a strange odor when it first arrived. All new textiles do have some odor due to chemical residue from processing, but this bra smelled strongly of — of all things — string beans. It took four or five washes for the smell to disappear completely. This seems to be a one-off thing as I haven’t noticed it happening with my other EM bras.
As mentioned above, the band stretches out a bit over time, but I find the degree of stretching acceptable. One (largely cosmetic) complaint is the unfinished edges on the inside of the back band, similar to what was going on in my Cleo Juna bra.
Appearance: I was immediately taken with the subtle lattice embroidery on this bra when I first saw the product pictures. The pattern is smaller and tighter than Curvy Kate’s signature lattice pattern (which I also love) and it’s sewn with shiny thread, so it has a gorgeous sheen to it when viewed in real life. There’s also lace trimming on the cups, embroidery on the straps, and scalloping along the edges of the band. All of those details together make this your everyday nude bra taken to the next level.
The amped-up appearance of this bra hasn’t made it any less practical to wear, as it disappears under light-colored clothes just like any other nude bra does. The main vertical seams on the cups are visible under most of my tops, but the embroidery and other details don’t produce any noticeable bumps. The color of the CH Karmelki is darker than most other nude bras I’ve seen, so it may not be totally inconspicuous on you if you have very pale skin.
Conclusions: This bra proves that practical nude bras don’t have to be boring. Its decorative appearance and brilliant shape score lots of points with me. Though it isn’t 100% perfect, I do like it and wear it regularly.