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Polish Lingerie 101: Coverage



I found it nearly impossible to keep myself from comparing the British full bust brands with the Polish ones I encountered. It was the biggest challenge of my trip and I believe it's an easy mistake to make when ordering internationally. If we approach these producers as if they're the British brands in disguise, we will continually be disappointed, frustrated, and confused. The British brands preach a singular and consistent message about correct bra fitting, proper breast appearance, and technical construction. It's inevitable that their devoted converts -- and I count myself as one! -- would want to apply their mandates to other lingerie cultures. However, if we remove our familiar conceptions of how these companies should be, we can understand Polish lingerie in it's own context. Jumping from cleavage to coverage, this post examines the type of bras I found surprisingly abundant and others I noticed were scarce:

Many more of these...
In the United States, full cups reign supreme as the king of bra options. I frankly never thought much of it since the style was only a piece in a greater puzzle of the market which generally prefers traditional, conservative lingerie. There are many, many D+ full cup bras available here and if what the brand representatives say is true, these styles are bestsellers across North America. Even at Curve NY; where the latest fashion and trendiest items are supposed to reside; full coverage bras abound.

...than these.
You can imagine my surprise when I wasn't given few full cup options in Poland. The experience of trying on those gigantic bras has become so normalized for me, it felt strange to find a deep selection of soft plunges, half cups, and low three part cups. One Polish executive told me that the industry has a term to mock this look and in translation, it is an illusion to the outfit of a performing equestrian. We have a saying too -- have you heard someone ever say that a style is "a lot of bra"?  However, all the brands seemed to make at least one model and admitted that they were popular with older women. Boutique employees and owners told me repeatedly that they turn to one Polish brand, Kris Line, for their best full cup stock.  

With this observation, I'd love your input because I'm a little stumped. Do you think that this availability is solely linked to the popular "buffet" cleavage? Why do North Americans buy so many full cups? 

18 Comments

  1. In principle, I wouldn't have anything against full-cup bras if they didn't spread my breasts out so wide. In the smaller cup sizes Fantasie bras do that for me but in the higher cup sizes they go out too wide.

    As for plunges, they just don't work as well on my shape and tend to give me a lot of spillage towards the center gore. I think they really only work best on women with firmer breasts (so a younger crowd). That being said I love half cups if they are designed well. Then they actually can do well on softer breast tissue and that's one big reason the Polish bras stand out. At least with Ewa Michalak they keep my breasts enclosed in the cups without being a lot of bra. Ironically, often times British full cups end up being too much bra due to soft, bottom heavy breasts so I get gaping underneath the straps because my breasts are too tall.

    So long story short, for me it's not much about personal preference but more fit issues that arrive if I get certain styles. I think British brands haven't perfected the shape of half-cups well at all in higher cup sizes (honestly I see pretty much zero effort there since none of them even carry half cups in large cup sizes!!) so they use the lazy option of just making full-cup bras in the higher cup sizes.

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    1. June, I agree with you. When Sweets and I were hanging at Curve, we met with a professional lingerie lady and I told her that there was no half cup bra on the British market for me. The Fauve ones stop at an F, Freya's are padded, Masquerade has the Orla coming out soon but it looks like it's intended for bridal. She told me to check out Bravissimo and when I checked online, they had one layered half cup with a wide side panel. Side panels are the death of me. Anyhoo, the British companies do seem to ignore that entire type of style in larger cups and it seems very strange (Ha, or lazy!).

      When I got to Poland and saw half cup demis everywhere, I thought I was dreaming. You're right, they're great for soft tissue and equally awesome for us with high chests who don't like that nasty 3rd part of the cup -- plunge, full, or what have you.

      It's gonna go on my "lingerie wishlist"!

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    2. in the UK Fauve do the half-cups up to a G, and a 'real' G not a teeny one like some brands but ... they are not at all well engineered, so real boobs tend to pop out. I suspect they are intended for women with implants. I tried them, and even doing really un-athletic things like sitting down, or walking ten feet, didn't work in them ...

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  2. Hmmm, again - I've not tried the Polish brands (though certain of my readers have recommended Kris Line) - but I don't think the round shape, full cup look is an attractive. Full cup and pointy go together well, IMO, hence the Doreen (so ugly it's gorgeous). I'm pretty true in my love of the balconette (and sometimes a plunge). One of the fascinating things about the Polish bras is that they all look SO huge. My husband was looking over my shoulder a minute ago and suggested that the bra cups look larger than the model's head (of course, it's likely the angle of the photo). One other thing that photo really brings my attention to is how fundamentally unappealing the Polish marketing is to my North American sensibility (which isn't puritanical, I assure you). The Polish campaigns and modeled shots often seem, to be honest, trashy - like cheap soft core porn. Note that I'm not suggesting the bras look that way on real people! I'm sure they are lovely when styled differently.

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    1. K. Line, I know precisely what you're talking about and when I showed my mom these catalogs, she was like, "Uh, are you sure you want to meet with these companies? How reputable are they?". Hahahaha, but I'd like to explore that more...which companies are presenting their merchandise that is appealing to North American consumers? Which ones aren't and why might that be? I hope we can dive into those questions in the posts ahead because I do believe it's another area where the Polish lingerie is being "lost in translation".

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    2. Have to agree with the marketting and now I'm wondering if I buy off Avocado because theirs isn't trashy but instead chic and Western-appealing ....

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    3. I'm Polish and believe me, we do found some of catalogues trashy and silly. I like Bravissimo style photos, with happy, comfortable looking women hanging around in places looking like their bedrooms etc. As far as I can see, most other customers of 'bra-fitting' brands think similar.

      I think the reason behind those trashy photo shoots are actually bad marketing decisions or bad choices of photographers...

      I quite like Effuniak's style of photographing - minimal, if any retouch, models in various sizes and general style, but frankly I like Bravissimo's photos nicer.

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    4. Another thought... I just took a look at Gossard's site and I thought about this discussion - Gossard is a good example of overly sexy way of photographing lingerie and it's British brand. So I think it's just a marketing choice. Gossard usually use the same, Barbie-like model and her breasts are always squished, also the poses and set is always more or less sexy. Frankly, I don't like anything about it - the model looks cheap to me, her squished bust doesn't represent the brand's good fit and I have to ignore it and try to imagine how the bra really looks like or google it to see on reviewers. Seriously, their bras fit really well and have wide range of sizes, but you wouldn't know it from their site.

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  3. I think that the American retailers believe their customers prefer something a bit more covering, it must have something to do with the Victoria's Secret -culture. You know, "anything above dd cup is ginormous and must be covered". I know to some people the full cup is a great option for good support but I can't imagine it to be the only option. To me a good half-cup in a right size can be as supporive and ten times more attractive.

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    1. Exactly! What I forgot to mention here is that one of my favorite bras, the Panache Andorra, is a full cup. However, if I had a drawer full of them I think I'd want to scream...and so would Mr. Underpinnings. Sometimes, yeah - I like how my breasts FEEL in full cups (compact, restricted movement, contained) but I LOVE how my boobs look in half cups. And I'm on board, the best ones are just as supportive as the full styles! :)

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    2. Andorra is called a full cup, but in appearance and coverage, it's a balconet. It gives an uplifted, forward shape, with a very open, low neckline that is cut almost straight across.

      I was actually turned onto it when I was at a bra shop and insisted on no full cups. The SA had few options for me, but Andorra was a winner. For awhile it was the only bra that really fit me. I do have a drawer full of them.

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  4. From personal experience, I always went for full cup bras as I thought they were the only things that fitted. They hid the terrible spillage and gaping caused by wearing the wrong size. I thought DD was huge, and felt like I had to wear minimiser bras to hide my boobs. Since finding my real size (32H, not 36DD) I love plunge and balconette bras! I love (tastefully :P )showing off my boobs :)

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  5. I agree with unsureinloveandlife.

    Look how often you see (bad) advice to wear a full cup to control your boobs. I personally hate full cups. I will say my beloved Fantasie Florence is close to a full cup on me but it fits well enough and is open enough at top it's not an issue... but the moment I start getting fit issues it starts cutting in because I have a smaller underbust than waist and my bra will slide down.

    A full cup bra can hide a myriad of fitting sins. Given the terrible state of bra fitting in the States, why should we be surprised? It's sort of the thing minimizer mentality. Also, look at how popular molded cups are. They also hide many many fitting sins.

    I usually refuse to wear full cups. I hate having my bra come up so high. Give me a balconette or plunge or half cup any day. I need to get brave and actually buy a polish bra to try out!

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  6. I think it's funny that they consider Kris Line their "full cup". I have 1 Kris Line bra and it has about the same amount of coverage as any British balconette, and waaaayyyy less coverage than anything that is described as "full cup". I love my one Kris Line bra, and it's actually the only unpadded bra I'll wear, but generally I agree with Poland- less coverage please! My boobs work best in a plunge, and I have a lot of revealing clothes, so I'm usually struggling with bras being too full coverage.

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  7. I like the way EM PL bras *look* on me, but I can't stand the jello-on-top feeling I get when I try to walk with any kind of speed in them. So for me, fuller coverage isn't about modesty at all; it's about comfort! (I haven't yet found a true full cup bra that works for my size and shape, so generally wear balconettes or bras with similar coverage.)

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  8. i have nothing constructive to add to the conversation, but had to let you know that the second picture made me gasp so loudly the dog came over to see what was wrong. where have you been all my life you dotty frilly confection?

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  9. Oh, and I don't know why Americans like full cups so much - I know some people like it, especially when they don't know their proper size, but seriously - full cups are impractical - unless you wear roll-necks or buttoned up shirts they just cover too much and stick out from almost any top.

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    1. I wear plenty of V neck tees and full cups are fine...in fact i cant wear anything but full cups in them.

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