About a month ago, in fact it was on Black Friday, the news reached us that Panache would be having a factory sale. At first, we didn’t get hugely excited because we never thought it would be anywhere near us – as you might know, we’re situated up in the barren hills of North Yorkshire, far far away from most places. But then we discovered something excited: Panache’s factory is in fact located in Sheffield, only a couple of hours’ drive from us! Of course, I immediately booked the day off work, my last holiday day of the year and we planned to take the whole day to visit Panache then do a bit of Christmas shopping in Meadowhall. We’ll talk in more detail about the wonder that was the Panache Factory Sale over more of our posts, but for now, let me tell you that for a couple of lingerie obsessed bloggers, it was like heaven on earth! Apparently this photo only goes a little way towards showing the excitement on my face as I rifled through the boxes:
Bras were priced at £6.99 each, knickers were 3 for £10, swimwear was £9.99 and there was even a babydoll at £12.99, which I have to confess something about…and I might as well do it now! There was one, single, lonely babydoll, the black Marcie babydoll, hanging by itself off the shelving. I’d spotted the pricing for babydolls on the list, so assumed there must be a few, but it seemed that this was the only one. I’d been wanting a proper babydoll in a size that was closer to mine than, well, those ones that come in size 8, 10, 12 etc. or small, medium, large and so on. So I pounced. And okay, confession time, it’s not quite my size. In fact, it’s hardly my size at all – it’s a 32E…but that’s closer than a size 10, isn’t it?! Yes, the wires are a bit narrow, and yes, the cup does spill over more than a little, but it was only £12.99 AND it was a Marcie, the one name I had in my head for anything I wanted to buy that day. Unfortunately, I did’t come across a Marcie bra, but I did come across many, many others – I believe I tried on around 25, possibly more, bras in various sizes surrounding my own, and left with 4 (it was meant to be 5, but again, more on that later…), and the Masquerade Arquette was one of those.
APPEARANCE & SHAPE
I’ve recently learned to love the Panache Masquerade line – I own a few different bras from them at the moment including the Alice bra in a 28FF (which I reviewed here), the Hestia basque in a 30FF (which I reviewed here), the Persia bra in a 28G (not yet reviewed) and the Orla bra in a 28GG (not yet reviewed). Note the different sizes there, more on that later! But as you can tell, it’s a brand I’ve grown to love, mostly because they’re very sophisticated looking and slightly more “grown up” than Panache’s other ranges.
The Masquerade Arquette is a style that’s been around for quite a while I believe. It’s a moulded/padded (whichever term you prefer!) cup with a single seam. The cup itself is somewhere between ivory and beige, with that stunning lace overlay in navy, and the body itself in navy. The thing I love about this bra is the attention to detail, for example, the little tassled bow on the gore, the wavy lace design and the metal rings and sliders on the straps rather than plastic ones.
In terms of shape, I’d describe it as a balconette. The cups cut fairly low across the breasts and that “cakes on a plate” style of cleavage uplift. This wasn’t something I was particularly fond of before, but as long as the gore isn’t too high, I love it now.
It has 3 rows of 2 hooks to fasten, and the straps are half adjustable. I know both of these can be an issue for some people, and to be honest, I feel more comfortable and secure in a wider band with 3 rows of 3 hooks, but the straps aren’t a problem for me.
SIZING, FIT & COMFORT
Up until recently, I’d have identified as a 28G if you were to ask me my size, having gone up from a 28FF. After my trip to Panache, I’ve had to rethink that somewhat. I knew some of my 28Gs were bordering on being too small, so at the factory sale I picked up a range of 28Gs and 28GGs to try at first. I couldn’t tell you what styles I tried now, but I do know that every single 28G was far too small, and most of the 28GGs were either still evidently too small or bordering on it. So I headed into the territory I’d been hoping I wouldn’t enter: H+. It’s not that I personally have an issue with being an H cup or bigger, because really that letter doesn’t mean much, but I do know of the struggles that H cups and above suffer in relation to cup sizes below, as many brands or styles cut off at the H cup, and grading starts to take a turn for the worse at around this point – you also get gores getting taller (not great for my ribs!), cups getting wider, and materials being reinforced so they’re no longer sheer in the cups. And yet, all the 28Hs I tried on fit near perfectly – so it seems I’m now going to have to identify as a 28H.
I find that in general the Masquerade line has tighter bands than the other Panache pieces, and much tighter than brands such as Freya and Curvy Kate (whose 28 bands I even find too big sometimes!). I therefore picked up any Masquerade pieces I wanted to try in 30 bands rather than 28s, including a 30FF, a 30G and a 30GG. In the Arquette, I found the 30G to be the best fit, as the 30GG had a small amount of gaping. The band in the 30 is even still a bit on the tight side, but not so far that I feel I need a 32.
So the band is a good fit, and I also find the cups to be a fairly good fit too. For my more full on top shape, they’re nice and open, so no quadding or squishing going on. I also find the wires to be just about the right width for me in this size on this bra fortunately. I think I need about average size wires, although some 28Hs I’ve tried are starting to have wires that are slightly too wide for me (dangerous territory to enter – I told you!).
So I picked up this bra, along with a few others, for £6.99 – amazing, I know, especially since it’s still available at its full price of £45 on Simply Be! Fortunately it is cheaper at £18 at Figleaves (although in limited sizes), and some searching on eBay or even keeping an eye out on r/BraSwap might bring up more. I can’t say for definite, but I think this is/was available in sizes 28-38 D-H, as most Masquerade pieces are. There are also matching briefs, although I didn’t find any of these in my size on the day so I don’t have them.
PS: Like the new hair?!