BRA REVIEW: Panache Sports Bra aka A Little Slice of Heaven

Obsessed.

Trust me, this is one word I have never used in relation to a sports bra. But I finally got my mitts on the Panache sports bra and I couldn’t believe it: for once, a bra that lived up to all the hype.

I have now worn this bra for several activities, ranging from low to high intensity in cold, mild, and warm temperatures: snow shoeing, tennis, pilates reformer class, Bar Method, and brisk walking (hey, I’m pregnant!).  It has not let me down!

This is an encapsulation sports bra–i.e., each breast is compressed individually–which I prefer to a compression sports bra (where both breasts are compressed together aka the uniboob) which doesn’t give me as much support.

Compression sports bra

Now, some encapsulation bras I’ve tried feel like my breasts are just hanging out of the cups and bouncing around everywhere (this Freya sports bra totally failed a dressing room bounce test), but the Panache sports bra feels like it compresses just as much as a uniboob bra while keeping my breasts separated and lifted. I mean, seriously, my girls are up there!

And even though my breasts do extend past my ribcage in this bra, I haven’t noticed that I “run into” them with my arms when reaching across my body during sports, like with my backhand in tennis, where they used to really get in the way in my other sports bras. I think this might be because of just how held in they are in this bra.

Besides the superior encapsulation design, there’s a lot more that I love about this bra so I’m going to just dive right in.

First are the super comfy straps. They’re nicely padded and covered in mesh fabric, and they widen out at the top of the shoulder before tapering back down for a thinner strap on the back.

This construction means I have never noticed my straps pulling, slipping, or giving me any sort of pain while exercising, even during intense tennis drills. I also haven’t noticed any red marks on my shoulders when I take this bra off, which I’ve noticed I can still get on occasion even with a tight fitting band on other bras. I’m guessing the extra cushioning and the weight distribution from the strap all account for these perks.

Now, here is my one big caveat with the straps and the noticeable negative I have experienced with this bra. The straps are only this comfortable when I wear them in the regular leotard style and don’t hook them into the racerback option. The first time I tried the racerback style I had to let the straps out all the way to get it closed and keep it from pulling. Unfortunately, it was so uncomfortable that I immediately undid it.

Straps shown in the basic leotard style

Straps hooked into the raceback style

Wanting to give the halterback style a real try before I reviewed the bra, I hooked it for a 90 minute tennis lesson to see how it did. I’m sorry to say that the racerback style pinches my neck muscles and the straps dig in to my shoulders, and I had to have one of my tennis friends help me unhook it and tighten the straps back up 45 minutes into the lesson because it was just too uncomfortable. Maybe this would all be alleviated with longer straps–I can’t be sure as I have extended them as far as they go but still feel they aren’t long enough. At 5’8″ I’m sure I don’t have the longest torso, so my experience is that these straps are a bit short for the racerback option. It’s too bad, because the straps are thin enough and pretty enough that even if they poke out of a racerback top, they’re still kind of cute and not giant bra looking!

With that one negative out of the way, back to the high praise! This bra is filled with tons of thoughtful details to increase comfort. One I really appreciate its the mesh fabric in the cleavage and along the top of the cups. Boob sweat (including large wet marks under my breasts) used to be a given while exercising, but I never really notice it with this bra. Overall my breasts are much drier at the end of a workout.

Mesh fabric in cleavage area and along top of cup

I think the decrease in boob sweat also may have something to do with the fact that my boobs don’t move around as much, either, and are snug in the molded cups (I NEVER notice my boobs bouncing in this bra, EVER–not to say they don’t move at all, I’m sure they do, but I just don’t even realize that they are). Additionally the underwires are made to be very soft. I couldn’t figure out what they did to make them so cushy, so I looked at their website: apparently they achieve this magic by wrapping them in silicone and sewing them between fabric layers. My boobs thank them wholeheartedly for this!

The molded interior cup and cushioned underwires

Even the hook-and-eye closure has extra cushioning so you don’t feel it when you’re exercising.
Even with my extra heavy pregnant breasts, this bra has not let me or my breasts down. The Panache sports bra gives them superior support and lift, is super comfortable and breathable, and firmly holds them in place so much so that I literally don’t notice my breasts when I’m working out — a first. While I usually can’t wait to strip off my sports bra after a workout, I’ve actually worn this bra a few times to run errands on casual workout-gear-as-clothing-because-I’m-pregnant days, something I’ve never done before in my life.

Plus, I love the fashion colors it comes in. In addition to basic black or white, you can get these pretty versions:

Dark gray with pink and light gray

A new red, white, and blue version, based on the Union Jack in honor of the Olympics in the UK, will also be available soon, as shown at Curve Expo:

Claire at Butterfly Collection fitted me into a 30H in this bra via our Skype fittings. She has found that the band is on the tighter side and the cups generous, so although I’m fitting into 28J/JJ in most regular bras, going up one band size and and down two cup sizes in this sports bra worked perfectly for me.

The Panache sports bra is $68 and comes in sizes 28DD-H, 30-38 D-H, and 40DD-GG. Bare Necessities has the full range of colors and sizes. So go, have fun working up a sweat in this superior full-busted sports bra!

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