Panache Cleo Marcie Bra in Red 34J and 36J

I have long been a fan of the Cleo lingerie range by Panache.  Their designs are young, fun and a bit different.

I’ve previously reviewed the Cleo Zia in 32J and found the cups too small so when I saw the Cleo Marcie at a bargainous price on Amazon I knew I had to give it a whirl.

Image courtesy of Panache Cleo

Seeing as the 32J Zia hadn’t been big enough in the cup, I decided to go for the Marcie in 34J and 36J with a view to altering the band once I’d found the best fit in the cups.

First of all, we have the 34J (which is the sister-sizing equivalent of a 30K (a size not available in Cleo bras)):

I loved the look of this bra.  It has sheer lace cups with no additional padding so it made a welcome change to the lightly padded Ewa Michalak bras I normally wear.  The red lace on the tops of the cups was lovely and I adored the red polka dot lace fabric which made up the bottom section.

The cups give a lovely, rounded shape, the like of which I’ve only ever seen before from Ewa Michalak padded bras.  I am so impressed with Cleo for engineering an unpadded bra that is not pointy – no mean feat!

The straps are halfway adjustable (although I daresay the adjusters could be forced onto the thicker front section if you needed the straps to be shorter) and I had them adjusted as tightly as possible here, without forcing the adjuster further.  I could have done with the straps being shorter but for this review I was happy to make do.

The band fastens with two hooks and eyes and there are three rows of eyes to adjust as the band becomes stretched.  I have to say that I wish Cleo would make their larger cupped bras with three hooks and eyes for more stability and support because two hooks just doesn’t provide enough for the weight of boobs in this higher end size range.

In these photos you can see that I am wearing the bra on the tightest hooks here and to me it felt very loose.  I would need to alter this band down to a 32 or even 30 as the 34 was just too big for me.  It felt very uncomfortable and rode up at the back.

The cups of the Marcie are deeper than many other UK lingerie brands but unfortunately I found the wires way too wide.  I had empty space at the sides of the cups and the wires poked me under the arms.  The good news is that the central gore laid flat on my sternum and was not uncomfortable at all.

However, I found that the cups had a most peculiar fit.  They were a little big in the top lace section and if I’d kept this bra I would have needed to put a stitch or two in the give a better fit. Conversely, the bottom section was actually too small depth-wise, and created a weird ‘quadboob’ effect in the middle of the cup, as you can see from the final picture above.  You can also see from the angled photos that my breasts are made to point down somewhat and are rather compressed by the cups.  

All this points to the 34J being too small in the cup, so I tried the 36J (which is the equivalent cup size using sister sizing to a 30KK):

Naturally, the 36 band was way too big for me and even though I only had the bra on for a short time whilst trying it and then taking photos it was a relief to take off and stop the horrible ‘riding up’ feeling.

The cups on the 36J were better in terms of size, but the underwires went all the way round to my back as they were way too wide.  They were so wide that they were frightfully uncomfortable!  The depth of the cups was better but I had even more loose fabric on the top section than I’d had with the 34J.  

Had everything else with the bra been perfect, I would have been happy to alter the band down by 2-3 sizes and put a stitch in the top section of the cups to sort out the excess fabric issue but sadly this bra was a fail for me on many different levels that it was not worth keeping.

The shape I got from the 36J was fantastic – as you can see from the photos above my boobs look round, uplifted and projected forward.  I still found that upon close inspection some of the seams cut into my breast tissue (bizarrely on my left boob this time, whereas the effect was more apparent on the right in the 34J), particularly when I pushed my chest out or raised my arms, and I am not sure how much this would show under clothes.

Other blogs (see links below) have talked about whether this bra is likely to be a better fit for full on top or for full on bottom boobs.  My boobs are relatively balanced so I can say that it’s not the optimal choice for narrow, fairly close-set boobs that are balanced, but I think that due to the loose fabric on the top section of the cups the Marcie would work best for those who are fuller on top.

I wanted so badly for the Cleo Marcie to work for me but sadly I had to admit defeat and have returned both the 34J and 36J for a refund.  I won’t give up, though!  I am determined to find a Cleo that works for me and when I do I will buy multiples!

The Cleo Marcie is available in sizes 28-38 D-J and you can read other reviews here:

Fuller Figure Fuller Bust
Frivolous Mrs D
Bras I Hate & Love
Undressed to Impress
Invest In Your Chest
A Sophisticated Pair
Sweet Nothings NYC
Cup Issue



  1. Anonymous
    14 April 2013 / 19:28

    Such a shame this didn't work for you but the review is very useful nonetheless. Thanks for writing such a great blog.

    • Curvy Wordy
      6 June 2013 / 17:40

      Thank you! So kind of you to take the time to leave a comment.

  2. June
    14 April 2013 / 19:30

    Bummer that it didn't work out! Have you tried other non-Cleo Panache bras yet? I have to admit I've pretty much given up on getting non-Ewa Michalak bras at this point, besides the occasional Fantasie bra…

    • Curvy Wordy
      14 April 2013 / 19:34

      I haven't tried a non-Cleo Panache for some years, although when I tried them back then I found the wires were crazily wide and came up so high under my arms that they were physically impossible to wear! I must give them another chance, though.I completely understand re the EM thing. I ordered this because it was free delivery and returns so I had nothing to lose. There must be other brands out there for us :-/

  3. astrid
    15 April 2013 / 10:38

    I so want to try the Marcie, after my success with the Chloe. The Cleo Chloe works much better that Ewa Michalak bras for me and even better: it is unpadded! I think that the 2 hook and eye closures makes it more likely to ride up than a bra with 3 hook and eyes and a band of the same length though.

    • Curvy Wordy
      6 June 2013 / 17:40

      You're right about the riding up issue. I do wish they'd make Cleos with three hooks and eyes!

  4. Sophisticated Pair
    15 April 2013 / 15:28

    Caroline, I experienced the same fit problem with the depth of the cups being to shallow near the seam but the mesh section not contouring properly. I wonder if the underwire problem would be resolved if you could try the bra in your true size. I suspect the cup would still create problems, but the shape the bra gives is amazing!

    • Curvy Wordy
      6 June 2013 / 17:41

      I guess we'll never know! Interesting that others have experienced the same issue, though. I still love Cleo, despite this problem.

  5. Vee
    15 April 2013 / 16:18

    Oh my, that's why I gave up on Marcie – the in cup quadboob is almost inevetable in larger sizes. That said, I think you should have actually sized down to a 32j – I suspect you are inbetween sizes in this one so it might have been on the small side, but the wires would certainly feel better.I see you like the look of 36j, but mind you, that is not how a cleo should look like. The shape it gives you looks like ewa michalak projected elipse wheras cleo is more close to the chest and orb like if in right size. A 32J would give you just that I think.The incupQB doesn't seem to show under clothes though.Anyway, If you're not giving up on Cleo, I suggest you track down a 32j alexa or meg. They run somewhat larger in the cup then marcie and I think you would enjoy them 🙂

    • Curvy Wordy
      6 June 2013 / 17:42

      Hmm I shall have to keep an eye out for a 32J Alexa or Meg. Thanks for your advice 🙂

  6. Vyvyan
    16 April 2013 / 20:37

    Fantastic blog, very useful

    • Curvy Wordy
      6 June 2013 / 17:42

      Thanks Vyvyan 🙂

  7. Anonymous
    27 April 2013 / 08:06

    I wear a 30K Panache bra. I find the Panache bras are the best fit for me.

    • Curvy Wordy
      6 June 2013 / 17:43

      I haven't tried Panache for years but I always remember their wires being far too tall for me :-/ Glad they work for you, though!

  8. Merlin Diablo
    25 October 2013 / 23:41

    That red brassiere is comely especially with that larger bosom filling them up pretty good.

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