Crazy for Cleo

I have never really tried many Panache bras. Before now, my only venture had been the Panache Melody in a 30JJ…

Melody 30JJ

…Which was a complete failure. It ran huge in the cups, was more like a 34 back and the underwires were far too wide and painful. I’m now thinking it was mislabelled, and it still sits unworn in a drawer. At any rate, it completely put me off Panache. I didn’t even consider Cleo, which stops at a J, until I absolutely fell in love with the Alexa. When I was told it runs oddly large in the cups, there was no way I couldn’t try it… 

Cleo Alexa 30J full
Though a lot of women have found it an odd cut and can’t get along with it, I was ecstatic to find the cups are absolutely perfect for me.

Cleo Alexa 30J close up
The band runs slightly loose and many will prefer to size down, but as this isn’t an option for me I am making do. I can’t begin to explain how much I love this bra – the uplift, the cut, the wire width, the shape, it is just amazing. In fact, I love it so much, I own two. Though its RRP is £25, you can now find it on sale for as little as £16. And when I discovered the Olivia, a polka dot bra in the same cut…

Cleo Olivia 30J full
…I clearly had to get that, too. At £25 per bra, Cleo comes cheaper than numerous competitors (especially considering the fun designs), but like most other brands, the matching briefs come in at about £15. Which, in complete honesty, is just more than I can justify. So sadly, I am forced to mix-and-match as best as I can, hoping for a decent sale!

Cleo Olivia 30J close up
As with the Alexa, I adore this bra. The back is slightly firmer and the cups slightly smaller, but the fit still works for me. It gives me a slightly more rounded profile than the Alexa, but the cut, uplift and wire width are the same. I think the Cleo shape is something of a mid-ground between the forward projection and pointiness of Bravissimo and the shallow, rounded shape of Panache Superbra.

Cleo yellow Lucy 30J full
Lastly, the Cleo Lucy was one I did not expect to work at all, but have been pleasantly surprised by. I was told the Lucy runs true to size, perhaps even small, but found the 30J perfect. The bottom section of the cup is made of a slightly stretchy fabric, so this may be why it still works for me.

Cleo yellow Lucy 30J close up
I found the shape much rounder and with a higher apex than on the Alexa and Olivia, though the back runs similarly large. The central gore is slightly wider – if you have more close-set breasts this could definitely be a problem, but this is just about okay on me. It is also not a full band bra, which is less than ideal. But, all in all, I am so happy to have found Cleo bras that work for me! There is still something of a gap in the market for fun, feminine full-bust bras – while Curvy Kate are great for some, the profile is less than satisfactory over an H cup, so Cleo is fantastic news in my book. I just hope they expand their sizes at some point, as there are a lot of women missing out!

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Founder and main author of Bras and Body Image. Anna is a lingerie lover, feminist and maths student based in the UK, who hopes to someday cuddle every cat in the world.

6 thoughts on “Crazy for Cleo

  1. I’m also a Cleo fan but haven’t had much of a chance to figure out my size in them again. It’s crazy that in Curvy Kate and Ewa Michalak, I’m more of a 28JJ whereas in Cleo, I’m probably a 28HH?

    How did you find the backs on these, though? Because on the Cleo George that I tried I found the band too big so I only wear it on days that I’m retaining some water. It’s really a shame because the bra gives me a great shape. 😀

    • 28HH is quite possible for the Alexa and Olivia – the cups run big but the top section can be hard to fill if you’re bottom-heavy. The bands are definitely big too, maybe Bravissimo-ish looseness (30 band is ~31). I’m thinking about taking the Cleo Lucy gore in, still a bit scared of altering my bras though 😛

  2. I’m cleo crazy too as much as I hate their bands – i need 3 hooks, i would feel better with 4 or even 5 hooks. Could you messure yourself in the cleo lucy? That would be very helpful for me to compare. Also, I would like to see you in the panache andorra wich i think you might like :)

  3. I agree about women with larger busts missing out on bra variety. Now we’re finally starting to see better selections and better fits, but they are still few and far between, and expensive to boot.

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