I purchased a few sets recently and discovered, completely accidentally, that I'd bought the three non-padded bras that Freya currently releases in my size: the Balcony, the Plunge Balcony, and the Plunge. Trying them on all at once, I was struck by how different the base structures looked on me. I'm reviewing them all simultaneously so everyone can see what I'm blabbering on about, instead of having to pull up a separate review for each one.
The Balcony: The Ellie
Freya often splits lines by cup, releasing two bras in the same design for different size profiles. In smaller cups, they'll offer a plunge balcony and for the GG+ crew, they'll make a balcony (Examples: the Faye, Jolie & Lacey). These bras have a wider band and straps, a higher center gore, "sturdier" fabric and more coverage than the typical Freya "look". Flipping through promotional images, it was hard for me to find an accurate representation of this bra's fit, as most of their models seem to be Gs and below. But here's how it looked on me:
The good: I adore this print! I've been looking forward to it for months, but when I saw it in person, it was even lovelier than I imagined. The ivory background is such a timeless color, the detailed, artistic florals appear layered on, and the contrasting trims are freshly current. This type of design is exactly why I'm so taken with Freya! Unfortunately, these patterns don't translate well online. I've seen several digital photos that don't do any favors for the gorgeous Ellie; it's something you have to 'see to believe'. In terms of the silhouette, the balcony looks...boob-like? I've read that some ladies think Freya's bras are pointy, but I prefer the balcony's shape. I like the Ellie's natural/teardrop look. This is essentially the shape of my boobs, abet with some very helpful wires:
The not-so-good: As I've mentioned here before, Freya's balconies are marginally too full for me. Along one side of the bra, I get a slight ripple (or tiny gaping?) running through the apex of the bra. Since it's only on my smaller side and hardly noticeable, I just tinker with the strap and ignore it. However, this is another style where I may be inbetween sizes (G cup being smallish and the GG giving a slight gape). Happily, the Ellie does have a firmer-than-usual band. Now that I think of it, I remember that all these new bands were firmer than my previous Freyas. Hmmmm, the times they are a' changin'...
The Plunge Balcony: The Martha
The plunge balcony seems to be the most widely available style from Freya. Just as the name suggests, this bra is a middle ground between the balcony and plunge coverage. Although I like bras with more or less coverage, most of my everyday bras belong to this group or a similar cut.
The good: Right, I'm not crazy about butterflies. They're okay, but they're not my #1 winged creature (I'd take a hummingbird over a butterfly, any day). However, the print of these butterflies strongly reminds me of Victorian insect collecting, rather than little-girl-butterflies. A little more morbid, a little less cute. Like the Ellie, Martha's print appears layered, almost like an old photograph. I think the contrast between the bright turquoise trim and the more subtle pattern is very chic and summer-y too. The first time I wore this bra, I went shopping and tried on several sheer shirts. I really liked how you could see the trim and straps through the fabric! The fit in the cups and band was exactly true-to-size.
The not-so-good: If you're someone concerned with the shape a bra provides, the plunge balcony would not be the first bra I'd suggest for you. The bottom of the cup gives a lovely round appearance, but the top panel flattens more significantly. To me, this looks a little like a ski jump. I wouldn't call it pointy, but it's not nearly as round and compact as other bras (the Plunge below, the Panache Andorra).
The Plunge: The Ada
Looking through the recent Freya catalogs, the plunge is an endangered species. This season, the Ada was the only plunge released and it's a shame since, in my experience, it's the best bra Freya offers. For Spring/Summer 2013, there will be a second fashion colorway of the Beau. I wonder, why Freya doesn't make the Beau a basic? I'd gladly buy that bow print in ivory or black. Despite my aversion to the Ada's fabric, I bought this bra because I was gauranteed a terrific fit. I wasn't disappointed:
The good: I could gush all day about the fit! The minute I put this bra on, it was like a key clicking into a lock. This bra and it's sister shapes are in my personal Bra Hall of Fame for their blend of comfort, flirtatious design, and stellar fit. Like any good lingerie nerd, I've thought deeply about why the fit works so well and I've come up with a few factors. First of all, the bra has a smaller center gore that works nicely with the fullness I have between my breasts. Secondly, the top sheer panel is very accommodating or flexible. It doesn't cut in or restrict as much as the other soft bras I've tried. Finally, I think the cup's depth suits me perfectly. With the GG+ balconies, they're fractionally too deep whereas the same line's 28G plunge balcony creates a margin of spillover.
The not-so-good: I may get massacred in the comments for this, but (eek!) I'm not a fan of the tattoo print. Like the two other patterns, the tattoos are completed in an artistic, detailed way that looks marvelous in person. It actually makes all these bras look quite expensive! Unfortunately, I had an early 2000s "faux punk" phase which soured me on the rocker girl colors of the Ada. I wore Doc Martens, decorated my bedroom with feminist quotes, and regularly listened to the Sum 41 hit, "Fat Lip". I haven't been able to get into hot pink/black combinations since then.
Okay, hopefully this triple review was helpful! Let me know in the comments if you'd like to see more group/comparative posts or if you prefer one style reviewed at a time.