Panache's Cleo range is described as being 'crafted for fit; styled for fun' and I'd completely agree with this. The vibrant prints and colours are varied and exciting, and perhaps typically appeal to a younger customer, but as the fit is so superb I know these sets are worn by women of all ages.
The Cleo Minnie Red Spot (bra available in sizes 28-38 D-J, briefs and thong available in sizes 8-18 (UK)) is a pretty red and white set featuring my beloved polka dots:
Image courtesy of Panache
There's something about red and white spots that puts me in mind of Minnie Mouse, so this set was very aptly named!
Having previously tried the Panache Cleo Zia in 32J and Marcie in 34J and 36J, I knew the cups would be too small in either of the lower band sizes so I opted for a 36J in the hope that although the band would most likely be pretty loose the cups might just work for me. For the briefs I went for the largest size, 18.
Seeing the set in real life was fantastic - it was a joy to behold. The red is bright and vibrant, and the white spots really jump out at you. The top half of the cups feature unlined slightly stretchy lace with embroidered red holes and red edging. On the central gore there is a cute little bow, which is white with fluorescent yellow spots - sounds bizarre but actually it works! The briefs are equally bright and have a stretchy red material at the rear to allow for a decent fit.
There are two things I absolutely adore about Cleo bras: the narrow wires and the deep cups. No other British lingerie brand that I've tried comes anywhere close, and brands such as Freya, Fantasie, and Curvy Kate - whose wires I find impossibly wide - could really learn a lot from studying how Cleo makes this combination of features work so incredibly well. Narrower wires mean that the breasts are kept at the front of the body, and deep cups mean that there is plenty of space for the breast tissue to accommodate. Of course, narrow wires and deep cups won't suit everyone, but certainly in the H+ cup range it seems the majority of brands struggle with making bras that work, so why is it only Cleo who are proving that it IS possible to do this?
The balconnet cups provide me with fairly full coverage but they give a fantastic shape. These cups are not foam lined or moulded so this is all achieved by the three part cup construction (and of course the narrow wires). The sheer cups are very comfortable to wear thanks to the great quality fabric used and I did not feel any irritation from the lace. I did find these cups to be just a smidgeon on the small side for me - oh how I wish Cleo went beyond a J cup! I think even just half a cup up would have been ideal for me.
As I *might* have mentioned before (hee hee), the narrow wires work very well for me. They encapsulate my breast tissue perfectly and do not go too high into my armpits. The wires seem to have a little padding, which helps make the bra more comfy to wear for long periods, and the central gore is as narrow as it can possibly be. The central gore doesn't quite sit flat against my sternum, but it's only a few millimetres off and certainly doesn't poke or irritate me.
The 36 band is definitely too big for me and I am wearing it in these photos on the tightest hooks. The band fastens with two hooks and eyes, and there are three rows of eyes so there is room for adjustment if required. I do wish Cleo bras had rows of three hooks and eyes instead of just two, particularly in the larger cup sizes as that would offer extra stability and support from the band.
The straps are possibly the comfiest I have ever worn and are fully adjustable. There is a simple embellishment down the centre of each strap to stop the adjuster slipping with wear, and the strap is attached to the rear of the bra with a circular ring, so no digging in!
Although I wouldn't necessarily describe this as a 'sexy' lingerie set, it's perfect for everyday wear and really fun thanks to its design and colours. In fact, I felt so fab in this lingerie set that I couldn't resist donning a pair of high heels (from Primark) with my new Big Tights Company Prague Lady Lace Hold Ups (they have a superb range of tights and stocking for plus-size women) and taking some full length shots.
The briefs are pretty skimpily cut, especially bearing in mind that I opted for the largest size available: an 18 (UK). They generally fit pretty well, although I did find the elastic along the top dug in somewhat. The backside area is rather too high cut for me for everyday wear - with a large posterior like mine knickers tend to move around and cause me a wedgie so for day to day wear I prefer a more generous and modest cut over my butt cheeks!
Overall I am pleased with the fit of the 36J bra but a small part of me wonders how I would have got on with the 38J - naturally the band would have been even looser but the cups would've had extra room and I could have a go at taking in the band to make it a better fit. Hmm...maybe something to try one day. For reference, I currently wear a 32KK (and probably need a 32L/34KK) in Ewa Michalak bras.
You can buy the Panache Cleo Minnie Red Spot Balconnet Bra from Belle Lingerie here (and it's currently on sale so don't delay if you're tempted to try this one for yourself!).