Abstract: This bra really lives up to the hype. The shape, support, and comfort are all incredible, and — bonus! — it looks nice, too. It is quite pricey, though, and I find that it holds on to sweat and body heat in a not-so-pleasant way, but overall, I’m very impressed with the Panache Sport.
Background: Bloggers and reviewers all over the internet are in love with this bra, which has a size range of 28–40 B–H, with some exclusions (see screencap below). The continuity colors are white, black, and a grey/lilac mix, and there have been multiple fashion colors as well.
I wasn’t keen on the Panache Sport at first because the Freya Active Soft Cup has been my go-to sports bra for years, and I didn’t really feel the need to try any others. All the great reviews swayed me, though, so I went ahead and purchased one online when I saw it on sale this June. The bra I ordered was a 32F in the “navy” color, which is a mix of blue, white, and red. After I received it and tried it out, I immediately bought two more, a navy 32E and a grey 30F, at the normal retail price — I didn’t wait for another sale because the bra was so amazing that I decided I needed more of them in my life right then and there!
Sizing: Every review I’ve read has something different to say about the sizing of this bra. Undiegamer’s review has more details and links, and I think she’s right about the sizing varying depending on the color and size range.
I’m currently hovering around a 32FF in terms of measurements (31½” underbust, 39½” bust), and in this area of the size chart, I’d say the bra runs a tiny bit small in the band and quite large in the cups. The 32 band seemed to have a bit of give on me, which is why I bought a 30, which turned out to be very tight. The 32E and 32F both fit me well, as does the 30F with an extender.
If you buy this bra and you’re a similar size to me, try going down one cup size and keeping your normal band size. If you’re between band sizes, choose the larger one. You’ll probably want a band number that’s no less than your ribcage measurement in inches.
Fit: Due to the moulded cups, the high coverage, and the padded underwires, it’s hard to tell what boob shape is best suited to this bra. The cup shape isn’t skewed one way or the other, so it should suit both full-on-top and full-on-the-bottom boobs. The “gore” is wide, so if you’re extremely close-set, it may not work for you. As is the case with most other reviews I’ve read, the underwires don’t sit completely flat against my sternum. They float about an inch out. Nonetheless, the bra keeps my boobs well-separated, so they’re not squashed against each other in the middle.
The wires aren’t too wide, and the wings and partly-adjustable straps are both shorter than I expected. Those last two could make this bra a good choice for high-set breasts; mine are set quite low on my torso, much closer to my elbows than my armpits, and I sometimes feel like the bra wants to sit higher on me than it actually does. As for the racerback option, I haven’t tried it myself, but some other reviewers have found the straps are too short when fastened that way.
Comfort: The moulded cups are very thick and they cover a large area of my chest. This acts like an insulating layer, trapping body heat, which is very uncomfortable and stuffy-feeling in hot, humid weather. The material also retains sweat and doesn’t wick it away like my Freya Active Soft Cup does, so after a workout it feels like I’m sitting in a puddle of sweat. Not so great. To be honest, when I wear the Panache Sport bra all day, I can’t wait to take it off so my boobs can get some air. It’s not very breathable. I can imagine the insulating effect being advantageous if you live somewhere with very cold winters, though.
That aside, the bra is super comfortable to wear if I’m not hot or sweating. The soft fabric and padded underwires feel wonderful — seriously, why doesn’t every bra in existence have padded underwires? Best invention ever! — and the wide, padded straps are great for distributing the weight across your shoulders. I like that the inside of the back closure is lightly padded, too, so the hooks and eyes don’t dig in.
Support: Pretty amazing. The padded underwires, strong band, and wide, thick straps help keep everything in place while you move. When running in this bra, I feel a tiny bit of side-to-side motion, but there’s absolutely no uncomfortable up-and-down bouncing. Your mileage may vary depending on your size; in the 32F/FF neighborhood, I find that the Panache Sport is supportive enough for just about any sport, both low- and high-impact. I expect the racerback clip would increase the support level too, but I haven’t used it myself.
Quality: From what I’ve seen, the Panache Sport costs more than most other sports bras that are made for large cups. I think it’s worth it, though, because structurally it’s been very well designed and put together, and the quality of the materials seems pretty high.
Regarding care and maintenance, this bra is underwired and moulded, so it can’t take as much abuse as my Freya Active Soft Cup can. I can’t wash it together with my regular clothes, for example, or squish it into a ball for stuffing into a suitcase.
Though the labels say these bras should be hand washed only, I put them in the washing machine on the delicate cycle, in a mesh bag, with my other wired bras that are supposedly ‘hand wash only’. They turned out fine. I’ve worn and washed them about once a week for four months or so, and they’re as good as new. The bands haven’t stretched out to any noticeable degree.
Shape: One word — awesome! This bra makes my boobs look very round and uplifted, and it’s good at centering too, so there’s no east-west torpedo action like in the Freya Active. It’s also a bit minimizing, holding your boobs in closer to your chest rather than projecting them outward. The shape is just as good, if not better, than what you’d get in an everyday underwired bra. Though I’m personally not too fussed about what my boobs look like under my shirt during sports, a bra with a shape this great is nice to have sometimes.
Appearance: It’s sleek and sporty, with a modern design that’s leaps and bounds ahead of other full-bust sports bras on the market. The flattering curved lines on the cups and the high-ish coverage at the front make this a great bra to wear on its own as a top, if you’re brave enough to do so! And it’s almost invisible under a T-shirt, too.
The fashion colors are hit-and-miss for me — I love the “navy”, the pink, and the purple, but the “raspberry” and aqua colors look pretty hideous to me. Not really a negative, though, since it means there’s a color out there for everyone’s taste, not to mention the basic black, white and grey options.
Conclusions: For sports bras, I favor lightweight fabric cups and easy care, so the Panache Sport hasn’t quite managed to unseat the Freya Active Soft Cup as my top choice. Nonetheless, it’s a very, very good sports bra, and if your priorities are different to mine, it could easily become your new favorite. Give it a try if you’re in the market for a comfortable, supportive, and visually appealing sports bra with bonus winter insulation. I hope Panache will expand the size range to include more band and cup size options, because every girl should have one (or more!) of these in her wardrobe.