Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thesaurus Thursday: "Molded Cups."/Bras!

Or rather: Bra-sized Swimwear!  In this Thesaurus Thursday: Bra Edition, I'll be doing a swimsuit review.*

Today's words are "molded cups."  Bras that have molded cups have been made from fabric that has been shaped by heating techniques to mimic the form of a woman's breasts.  They can be padded or unpadded.  They are often called "t-shirt bras," because they usually don't have embellishment that shows through clingier t-shirt materials.
Freya's Deco Honey.  The Deco is a very popular molded cup bra.

Molded cup bras can be difficult to get a good fit in, because the cups have been shaped to one particular mold that may or may not be similar to the shape of your breasts.

I love my Freya Decos (I may or may not have five of them...), but I have had to admit that they have some minor fit issues, so when I first heard about molded cup bikinis, I wasn't that interested.  For years, I have worn bikinis that simply covered up the important bits.  I would get XL triangle tops and tie the backs and neck ties really tightly to get enough support.  This was neither comfortable nor particularly flattering, but I was intimidated by cup-sized swimwear; I had nowhere close by to try on the tops, so I would either have to cross my fingers and hope or order multiple sizes (and returns are my nemesis), and the prices always seemed so crazy when I could pay $15-20 for a complete set at Old Navy.  But when I saw this molded cup bikini...

Top: Sizes 28 - 30 D-J, 32 D-HH, 34 D-H, 36 D-GG, 38 D-G
Shorts: Sizes 8-20

... I knew I had to have it.  Blue is one of my favorite colors, I'm a sucker for polka dots, and I love lower-rise bikini bottoms that have thicker sides and aren't cut in a V-shape in back.  It also comes in a regular padded top and has a side-tie bottom as an option.    For sizing reference, I bought this bikini with measurements: underbust 27", full bust 36.5", hip 37".  

From various full-bust blogger reviews, it looked like Curvy Kate swimwear usually ran smaller in the back and bigger in the cup than their bras.  They recommend starting with your usual unpadded Curvy Kate size, if you know it.  Because I'm on the smaller side of a 28 band and don't have any unpadded Curvy Kates, I was advised to go with a 28 and my Deco cup size, so a UK 28GG.  Because my Decos do gape some at the top edges (I'm fuller on bottom), I was debating between a 28G and GG.  I chose the larger size because this bikini top is modeled on Curvy Kate's "Smoothie," a molded cup bra that some women with balanced or lower fullness have had better luck with than the Deco.  The first thing I did when it arrived was compare the Pebble and the Deco:

I forget how long the Deco band is until I see it next to my other 28's.
They are actually remarkably similar cup-wise.  The width of the underwires is about the same, but the Pebble curves in a bit more at the top of the cups and is a little shallower overall than the Deco.  The cups of the Pebble are less stiff as well; the center gore of the Pebble is wider and higher, and the straps are set farther apart, but all of these differences are not that pronounced.  The main difference is that Pebble's band is definitely shorter, more like a true-to-size or slightly small 28.  Another thing I noticed about the Pebble aesthetically: the polka dots on the top are larger than the ones on the bottom.  I think the print still looks good, but I would prefer the ones on top and bottom to match.  I do wonder if the size of the dots have anything to do with cup size. If you get a J cup, do the dots become even bigger?

When I finally tried it on, I made a decision: I am never going back to wearing string bikini tops.  Ever.   I might have to channel my inner 15-year-old and burn them while playing Taylor Swift in the background.  I didn't know bikinis could be so comfortable!  While I don't get the same epic cleavage that Curvy Kate's model gets in their photos, it's enough that I feel beach-y and not like I'm wearing a bra while still feeling supported and contained.   

I think we need better lighting in our house.
The bikini isn't 100% perfect, but 98% isn't too shabby!  Because I do have lower fullness, there is a tiny amount of empty space at the bottom of the cups-- what some women call the "orange-in-a-glass effect."  It is barely noticeable, so I would say this would still work well for lower or balanced fullness. One more significant complaint about the top would be the placement of the straps and the height under the arms.  I have fairly wide shoulders and low-set breasts, but if the cups came up any higher or the straps were set any farther apart, I would have gotten annoying rubbing and chafing.  So it's not actually a problem for me, but if you are petite or have high-set breasts or narrower shoulders, you might have better luck with other styles.  The gore is also wider, so it also might not work if you have very close-set breasts or a lot of breast tissue in the middle of your chest.

As for the shorts, I bought a 10/S and am very pleased with them.  They offer full coverage in the back, but you can adjust coverage and rise with the side ties.  An 8 would probably have fit too, but I really don't like elastic digging into my hips.  I would be curious to see how both shorts and top hold up in the water.  I don't swim that much and usually just read when I'm at the beach, so I'm not that concerned if this bikini doesn't work as activewear, but I still go in the water sometimes and don't like it when swimsuits get baggy or lose their shape.  I will be sure to update everyone when I get a chance to test it!

Review Summary

Pros: Just enough coverage on top, molded cups that actually work for balanced or lower fullness, supportive/firm band, cute styling/doesn't look too lingerie-like, center gore not too high or too low, option of side-tie bikini bottoms or shorts but could easily be paired with other bottoms because of the colors and print

Cons: Wide-set straps, wires high under the arms, wider center gore, polka dots a little bigger on top than bottom (but maybe I'm just too picky), might not work well for women with a lot of upper fullness

Grade: A-

       This doesn't get as much in but has better lighting.
        ... I don't know why I stand like this in every picture.

*My phone camera isn't very good, and my real camera is currently not working.  So I know the photo quality is rather poor**, but hopefully you'll still get an idea of what the bikini looks like in real life!
**Also, I'm probably the only woman in my generation incapable of taking a good "selfie."  Duck face terrifies me.


  1. ola ,My bust is 30 and bust 38-39 inches.
    want to buy bikinis but I'm a little insecure for brands curvy kate. what do you advise?

    1. If the first number is your rib cage and the second your bust, I'd start around a 30FF/G and try some sizes around it, too. That's just a starting point, though! There are a lot of good brands with full bust bikinis. Freya and Panache/Cleo are probably the two most popular. If you want to look for affordable ones, I'd look at Brastop or check out EBay/Amazon first. :-).