When my friend Hayley at Curves 'n' Curls blog told me about a purple babydoll - the Panache Cleo Kali - she was being sent to review I was green (not purple) with envy. I got in touch with the lovely folks at Panache and they very kindly offered to send me one too so that we could do a joint review, so do be sure to check out Hayley's review here.
Image courtesy of Panache
I currently wear a 32LL/34L in Ewa Michalak bras, but as the Kali is available in UK sizes 30-38 D-J I had to compromise. I opted for a 34J in the babydoll (£35.00) and an 18 in the thong (£12.00, UK sizes 8-18).
Full credit to Panache Cleo for making a babydoll that is not only beautiful but that also has several tiny but important eye-catching design features. The purple of the babydoll is offset with occasional flashes of pink, including the strap adjusters and rings, the hooks and eyes, and the writing on the innerside of the wire channels. There is a small purple and pink bow on the central gore of the babydoll and on the front of the thong.
I must make clear that the Kali is a gorgeous Cadbury Dairy Milk purple, but in my photos here it looks quite a bit darker, so please do bear that in mind.
For reference, in the following photos I am wearing the babydoll and thong with my Kix'ies Lois hold ups and some bedroom heels from eBay.
The Kali Babydoll is essentially the Kali balconnet bra with a skirt attached. The Kali is based on the much-loved Cleo Lucy bra, which I personally never got on with as I find 'bandless' bras don't work very well for me because the underwires cut in too much under my boobs. That said, I didn't realise this babydoll was a relative of the Lucy until I had already taken my photos and was doing some research for this post, so perhaps the design of Panache's bandless bras has changed since I last tried the Lucy!
The bra section of the babydoll is unpadded and made from three part construction (one section along the top of each cup and two on the lower part). The more sections a manufacturer uses the better shape the bra will give, so three parts are good but four - or more - would be even better. The cups are made from beautiful purple lace embroidered with delicate hearts. The lower half of each cup is reinforced with a second layer of plain mesh fabric, which adds support and modesty as it makes the section more opaque...but being the slightly naughty person that I am I wish this wasn't there and may in fact end up cutting it out of mine so that the entire cup is semi transparent. It's not as if I will be wearing this babydoll for long periods of time, and in any case the cup is not a perfect fit on me as I will discuss shortly. It's nice to have a few pieces in one's lingerie drawer for occasions when you want to feel super sexy and for me making the cups more transparent would enhance the appearance of the babydoll.
It doesn't take a genius to work out that the 34J cups are quite a bit too small for me and you can see I have pretty drastic quadboob going on in some of these photos. However, as babydolls are 'bedroom' attire I don't think this is a deal-breaker as it would of course be if I were wearing the bra version. It came as no surprise to me that this was too small in the cups - a 34J is four cup sizes smaller than I'd usually wear so that breast tissue has got to go somewhere!
The Kali's wires are nice and narrow and are comparable to those of my Ewa Michalak bras. The central gore sits slightly away from my sternum because the cups are too small for me, but under my arms the fit is good. At the sides the wires encase my breast tissue and they do not poke or rub in my armpits.
The band fastens with three rows of two hooks and eyes; for a babydoll this is fine but for a bra I would want three eyes per row for increased support. The 34 band is too big for me and as you can see in these photos I am wearing the babydoll on the tightest hooks. Even then, the band still feels loose so a 32 would have been better but unfortunately the largest cups available on the 32 band is J. This would have been even smaller on me as a 32J is the equivalent cup size of a 34HH.
The straps are halfway adjustable, but I am pleased to report that with some careful manipulation it is possible to move the adjuster onto the front section of the straps and therefore make them fully adjustable. The front section of the straps is thicker and not at all stretchy, making them sturdy and comfortable to wear. Additionally, there is soft felt-like padding on the back of the front section of the straps, so even though the straps are fairly narrow they do not dig in or fold over at all.
As is typical with babydolls, a simple skirt is attached to the 'band' of the bra section. The Kali uses plain purple mesh fabric for the skirt, which is perfect as anything more would be overly fussy because the bra area is sufficiently decorated with the heart lace. However, a feature I wasn't expecting on this babydoll was the open back of the skirt. The photos on Panache's website do not show this so it was a pleasant surprise to discover this unusual design when I received the Kali. The open back can be quite revealing, as you can see from my photos, but how open it is will depend on your lower body size in relation to your bra size. If I'd gone for a larger band, I daresay the skirt would have sat a little differently on me and given me more coverage over my bottom, but again I will not be wearing this babydoll for modesty or to be demure so it's really not an issue for me. The design does make this babydoll ideal for all bodies (provided you can find a way of fitting into the sizes available - you may need to be creative like I was!) because if your lower half is bigger the skirt will simply sit more open on you. Not an issue, I am sure you will agree.
The detailing on the thong is every bit as perfect as the babydoll. It's made from a single layer of the same soft lace as the bra section of the babydoll, so it's teasingly transparent except for the adorable heart embellishments and of course the cotton-lined gusset. The height of the rise is perfect at both the front at the back and the thong feels very comfortable to wear.
I went for the largest size available in the thong: a UK 18. However it's definitely on the snug side on me and on several occasions whilst taking these photos I found my soft hips wanting to eat the slim sides of the thong. Again, not a huge problem for bedroom wear but important to note in case you are thinking of buying the Kali bra and the undies to match. I haven't tried the matching briefs so can't comment on their sizing.
I also took a few photos of the babydoll with nude/natural coloured hold-ups from The Big Tights Company for a slightly different look, as you can see below. I've paired them with some old nude heels from George at Asda.
I was surprised at what a difference the colour of my hold-ups made - these nude ones really make the beautiful purple of the babydoll stand out and look much brighter. I must never underestimate the effect of different colours and types of hosiery on an outfit.
The Kali Babydoll is a wonderful lingerie option for anyone looking for something special but affordable. I hope in the future that Panache and Cleo will extend their cup and back sizes but for now I will sister size and cheat a bit in order to be able to wear these beautiful items.
Don't forget to read Hayley's review of the Panache Cleo Kali Babydoll, too! She is quite a bit taller than me at 5'8 (I am only around 5'4 or so) so the babydoll comes up shorter on her, and we have very different body shapes. But what I love about lingerie like this is that it can look fantastic on anyone and our reviews show how we rock the Kali babydoll in our own unique ways.
Do you own any babydolls? What do you think of the Kali? Let me know in the comments below.