The Curvy Kate Carmen is a bra that I absolutely fell for as soon as the first promotional pictures were released. I’ve longed for a longline bra ever since they came into fashion a few years back, and when I saw it at the start of 2014, I knew I had to get it, even if it was a Thrill Me-style squeeze. When I discovered the Carmen would be available in 28-38 D-J, well…
…I knew it was meant to be. This is the Carmen Longline (32J) and Thong (14) in Rose Mix, the first colourway this set was released in. I’ve owned this set for about a year now, and I am still just as in love with it as I was when I first saw it. The cups are constructed with three vertical panels of hot pink, lightly padded fabric, with lighter coloured fabric overlaid on the outside of the cups. There is then another layer of sheer pink mesh draped over the cups for decoration, embroidered and shaped at the top with leaves and flowers.
The bra features fully adjustable straps, though I did notice they’re thinner than most of my other Curvy Kate bras. I assume this is primarily a stylistic choice, but this also may be do-able due to the longline band, which should distribute breast weight better than a regular band. The band is wonderfully wide, fastening with 6 rows of hooks and eyes. It has an inch-wide strip of elastic running round the bottom of the band, and a thin strip of elastic at the top. In this size, the band extends about 3.5cm below the wires, which isn’t as much as I’d personally like, but it’s still enough to be noticeably different from a regular bra.
Most full-bust bras by UK companies feature a U-shaped leotard band (where the upper band elastic curves up to meet the straps), but the Carmen has a square back. Despite usually wearing a 30K, I do think the 32J is likely the best size for me in this bra. My underbust is my narrowest point (as I have a rounded tummy and a V-shape ribcage), so about an inch above and below my underbust will measure closer to 32 inches. The band stretches to about 32 inches, so it does ride up very slightly at the centre of the back, but it doesn’t actually move, and any tighter would likely be too much for my tummy and result in the band flipping up all the time. I do find the band rides up at the front a little due to my tummy, but it doesn’t flip up and it isn’t uncomfortable, so I’d say I’m happy with the 32.
The wires are medium-width and sturdy – a little too wide to perfectly fit my breast root, but not so wide as to be a problem. I find the longline band means there isn’t as much pull on the wires as in a regular band, which means the wires are slightly more prone to floating. The gore doesn’t sit flat at the top (which may also be partially due to the gore height on my close-set boobs), and the sides are a bit higher than I’d prefer, but otherwise I think the bra is a fairly good fit, with no overspill or gapping. The cups are true to size to slightly generous, as well as being average-to-shallow, which, combined with the average width and open top design, results in pretty great cakes-on-a-plate cleavage.
The bra gives me a nicely rounded and uplifted shape (note it looks a little lower in this picture due to the loose mesh layer). Unfortunately, I do find this bra is not particularly supportive on me. It feels wonderfully supportive if I push the gore flat, but with the gore lifting slightly and the open top, I do get quite a bit of bounce moving around, so (for me at least), this is definitely more of a looker than an everyday bra. This may be different for others (likely those with less close-set breasts who could get the gore to sit flat), but I still really love this bra. The wide band is super comfortable, smoothing and supportive, and the design really is gorgeous.
A quick closer look at the detailing on the thong brief. I love the choice of embroidering and cutting the mesh – I think it’s a nice change from how florals are usually done. I have also bought myself the matching deep suspender belt since I photographed this set, and it is also truly lovely.
And of course, I had to see if it could be worn as outerwear! My conclusion is a tentative yes, though I think it would be better styled with a pastel toned skirt, and perhaps a white button down tied over the top.
So, after loving the Rose set so much, of course I had to invest in AW14’s absolutely stunning Black/Boysenberry colourway! Again I opted for the 32J Longline Bra and size 14 Thong, and I also got my hands on a size 12 Suspender Belt. I only have photographs I took myself in this colourway, but hopefully you can still get an idea of the set! I personally think this colourway lends itself much more to an outerwear look, and I think it has a much more sultry vibe than the Rose Mix.
I have to say, the suspender belt absolutely makes this set. It only has four clips to attach stockings, which isn’t ideal, but it’s still perfectly functional, and it is truly stunning. It fastens with 3 rows of hooks and eyes (similar to a bra), and it features absolutely gorgeous sheer mesh panels on the front and back. It is quite long, which both smooths the silhouette and provides a great anchor to stop it (and therefore the stockings) moving around.
Fit-wise, I found this colourway very similar to the Rose. My waist is currently around 31 inches, and the size 12 suspender belt fits my waist perfectly on the loosest hooks, though I could size up to a 14 if I wanted to wear it slightly lower down. Overall I am extremely happy with this set, and though it’s not the most supportive bra I own, it’s definitely one of my favourites, and one I would recommend getting if you like the look of it.
Unfortunately there hasn’t been a colourway since these SS14 and AW14 sets, but I am really hoping it’ll come back in another season! As this is an older set it isn’t available in as many places anymore (sorry!), but limited sizes can be found in both colourways on Amazon, Figleaves, Brastop and eBay at much reduced prices, so you may still be able to find your size if you’re lucky.
That’s all from me for now – I hope you’re all keeping well, and much love to you all!
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