Lingerie Reviews: Empreinte’s Lola Bra in 32D & Ophelia Bra in 34C

Note: All lingerie in this review was purchased by me. Empreinte, Figleaves, and HerRoom are unaffiliated with this review.

empreinte_ophelia_bra

Empreinte ‘Ophelia’ Bra

For years, people have been telling me I need to try Empreinte. Founded in 1946, this French company is regarded by some as the Rolls Royce of lingerie, offering a distinctive style of bra that is both richly luxurious and wonderfully supportive. You know an Empreinte bra when you see one, and you can’t say that for every lingerie brand. With a price tag that starts in the three figures, Empreinte’s bras were far outside my budget when I first started blogging. They were also completely at odds with my personal style at the time. But over the last year or so, as I’ve become more and more enamored of the cut-and-sewn look, I found myself giving Empreinte another, much longer glance.

empreinte_lola_bra_blush

Empreinte ‘Lola’ Bra (in a different colorway)

Both the bras I tried, the Ophelia and the Lola,  are 3 part cup unpadded bras. Empreinte is a full bust lingerie brand, and this type of cup tends to be most supportive and shaping for fuller busts. The Lola bra has a mesh lining for modesty, while the Ophelia is completely unlined.  I purchased both of these on sale, one from Figleaves Outlet (note: they only ship to the UK) and another from HerRoom. If I am not mistaken, both of these styles are discontinued. In addition, both bras are designed and made in France, which is atypical for the lingerie industry and likely contributes to some of that higher price point. Both the Ophelia and the Lola are extremely well-made and the fabric is exquisite (no itchy lace or mesh!). I hate when you purchase a high end bra only to receive shoddy worksmanship and cheap fabrics, and that’s definitely not an issue here. Both bras were a delight simply to look at and touch.

empreinte_lola_bra_front_2

I’ve been on a bit of a polka dot kick lately, and the Lola (shown above) was the perfect fit for that. I fell in love with the polka dot mesh and lace trim months ago, but was on the fence about purchasing because the only size available in the black colorway was a 32D. A few weeks ago though, I finally gave in and bought. This is a demi cup version of the full cup Lola. I love all the little details on this bra, like the mesh ruffle around the bottom edge of the band and the ruched straps. It’s those kind of details that really help convey a sense of luxury, which is appropriate since this bra retails for $172 full price.

empreinte_lola_bra_closeup

There was no side support in this bra, which was a little surprising to me. The wires also felt like they went back a little too close to my armpit, but that could also be because I’m not used to wearing a 32D and so the proportions of the smaller band feel off to my body. I even liked the little pink bows on this bra, and I have next to no use for bows on lingerie.

empreinte_lola_bra_back_2

When it comes to fit, the band, as expected, was pretty snug. I fastened it on the loosest hook, and fastening it any tighter was an impossibility. This is not a bra I can see myself wearing at all if I start exercising again. That’s not a fault of the brand, of course; my personal preference is just for a loose band. However, one of the things I did notice with the Lola is that I could not get it to tack all the way. There’s about two fingertip widths of space between the bottom of the center gore and my sternum, and the space is about one fingertip deep.

empreinte_lola_bra_front

The top of the gore tacks, but this cantilvered effect means that the top of the gore starts to dig in uncomfortably after an hour or so of wear. That discomfort kind of radiates out from the center of the bra to the outside edges of the underwires as the day goes on. About six hours, the underwires started to feel very uncomfortable and unbalanced for me, however the band itself became a bit more comfortable as it warmed up and stretched out to my body.

empreinte_lola_bra_side

empreinte_lola_bra_back

There’s also some loose fabric at the top of the cups (the nylon cups are nonstretch, so if they aren’t filled out, they just kind of bag, like a loose nylon stockings). The lower two thirds of the cup felt fine, but there was nothing to to be done (save maybe inserting a ‘chicken cutlet’) for the upper third. In addition, when I took off the bra, the top of the gore and the outer edge of the wires (both places I experienced discomfort) left red marks on me. And again, that’s just not my preference when it comes to bra fit.

empreinte_ophelia_bra_2

The Ophelia (shown above) was my first Empreinte purchase from earlier this year, and I bought it because I absolutely fell in love with the lace (or maybe it’s an embroidered mesh, I’m not sure). The overall effect is a bra which looks incredibly delicate but is actually incredibly sturdy, and I imagine that’s a great selling point for women who need support but also want something pretty.

empreinte_ophelia_bra_closeup

The bra straps are covered in some deceptively strong lace, and the center bow also has lace overlay. Unlike the Lola, this bra has a side sling on the inside, but it lacks a modesty lining. While I wouldn’t really call this a demi bra, the cups are low enough to be unobtrusive under clothing.

empreinte_ophelia_bra_center

The 34C Empreinte was much more comfortable for me. The underwire ends just outside my breast tissue, and I didn’t feel any pressure from the wires on my ribcage. While the center gore for this bra does tack better than the Lola, there’s still about one fingertip’s width of space between the bottom edge of the gore and my sternum, however this space isn’t as deep as it was on the Lola. While the lack of tacking resulted in a similar kind of “cantilever” effect, it wasn’t quite as intense and so I’m able to wear this bra for longer periods of time without discomfort.

empreinte_ophelia_bra_back_2

Again, as with the Lola, I had some gapping along the top of the cups. That’s not a bra issue; if you have fuller breasts, you’ll likely have no gapping at all. But women with a shallower breast profile should be aware. The band fit snugly with minimal stretching and the straps are also quite non-stretchy (a similarity this bra shares with the Lola and perhaps all Empreinte bras). Of the two, this was my favorite purchase.

empriente_ophelia_bra_front

Overall, both of these bras have very deep cups, firm bands, and firm straps. Neither bra fit perfectly on me, but I feel the lack of tacking is a bigger issue than the extra space in the cups. If your breasts are full all around, Empreinte’s a great brand for you. If you have a shape like mine however (fuller on the bottom, pretty much no fullness on top), you may want to take a cup size down. I felt like I had a good fit in the bottom of the cups, but there was nothing to fill out that upper third. I have absolutely no complaints about the fabric or construction though. I could see both of these bras lasting indefinitely with proper washing and care.

empreinte_ophelia_bra_side

empreinte_ophelia_bra_back

I’m a bit sad that neither Empreinte bra worked me (at least not enough to make another purchase), but that’s okay because every brand shouldn’t work for every body. There are so many different sizes and shapes (not just for bodies, but also for  breasts), that it just wouldn’t make sense for every single brand to cater to one specific body type. If Empreinte made B cups, I’d probably give them another go as I think a smaller cup would take care of some of those gaping and tacking issues, but since they’re a full bust brand they don’t go that far up the alphabet. So I’ll just have to add Empreinte to the list of brands that don’t work for me.

Fellow lingerie addicts, have you tried Empreinte bras before? What did you think of them?

Cora

Cora

Founder and Chief Editor of The Lingerie Addict. I started TLA in small studio apartment in 2008. Since then, my little site has become the leading lingerie blog in the world, and it's been featured in Entrepreneur, Forbes, CNN, Time, Today, and Fox News. I believe lingerie is fashion too, and that every woman deserves gorgeous underpinnings that help her feel comfortable and confident. Body snark free zone since 2012.

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25 Comments

  1. 26/11/13 at 2:05

    I know Empreine gets few reviews as they don’t send out samples, but as someone who bought them for a decade+ … I no longer do as they’ve gone a bit downhill (looser 30 bands; elastic goes quickly with washing now) and frankly there are so many much better options out there now. Just in the UK Mimi Holliday and Beaujais are sexier and cheaper, for example. And in a comparable price point you can get Fleur of England (who needs work on the support, but they have an amazing range to go with the bras)

    • 26/11/13 at 2:58

      Oh, that’s really interesting. As someone who hasn’t been familiar with the brand for that long, thanks for sharing some of those long-term insights. Of the three other brands you’ve mentioned, I’m most interested in trying Fleur of England. I love everything they come out with.

    • 09/01/14 at 18:43

      The reason the elasticity is is coming apart so fast is because of the detergent you might be washing with most of them will break down the elasticity. the only detergent i would recommend using is lasting care because it has flexall in the ingredients which is a chemical that will keep anything with elastic tight. or draft like what you would wash newborns clothes in.

  2. Franceska Luther
    26/11/13 at 4:23

    Empreinte are an old school larger cup brand and the fit I find, is very much for the full bust, especially the fuller top cup aspect. They are the grandfather of Freya/Fantasie and very much a proper structured bra , made very well. I find the fit to be very tight around the band but apparently this is how one should start , and then break them in. I really don’t think that one can compare Mimi Holliday as product, this is a fashion brand not an established brassiere label and they are manufactured in China not France. I love Fleur but again I think for a bigger full bust one must really purchase from brands like Freya/Fantasie from a fit perspective.
    Cora, if you have gaps in the front cradle to the body then you have the wrong size I think. This should always lie flat on the body. Great review though, thanks.

    • 26/11/13 at 12:18

      Hi Franceska! Yup, I know the gore is supposed tack. However, the size I think I’d need in this brand (36C or 36B) wasn’t available for either of these bras, and they’re much too expensive to experiment for a third time. The size I usually take in bras is a 34C.

  3. Ellen
    26/11/13 at 8:14

    I only “recently” bought this brand – last Christmastime – but I must admit that I really like it a lot. Maybe it was, in part, because of how snugly it fit? I’m a fairly big breasted girl and the only other brand of bra’s I’ve managed to wear comfortably before, was Prima Donna. In any case, it’s truly an amazing bra for me – it fits snugly, gives my breasts a great lift, and the neckline is probably one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen (in my bra size, mostly). The price is quite high, however, and while I do adore this bra, it’s not a brand I can afford to purchase often.

    • 26/11/13 at 12:20

      Thanks for that comment. It’s always nice to get other reviews. I can definitely see how the tighter band is a plus for fuller busts who need that support.

  4. 26/11/13 at 12:46

    Oh wow, the second one is a beauty. I feel for you that neither was a perfect fit! But I’d still wear the shit out of the second one. It looks so nice, nevertheless!
    I tried on some Empreinte bras but never bought any, because most of their bras are threepart cup styles and they very rarely fit my bust. So I rather spend my money on some better fitting luxury.
    But damn, the ophelia is really a wonderful thing and I think the design looks gorgeous on you!

    • 26/11/13 at 12:58

      The Ophelia was definitely my favorite of the two, and it fit well enough that I’m going to keep wearing it.

      I really like 3part cups (Claudette is amazing for me), but so far the 3 part cups I’ve bought from brands that specialize in full busts (Empreinte, Miss Mandalay) aren’t a good fit for my boobs. I want to get that sheer Fantasie black bra next, and maybe a Panache.

      • 27/11/13 at 1:30

        Oh btw, did you try the threepart styles by cleo by panache? I found that they work amazingly well on a lot of smaller busts and i think they are insanely comfy. The marcie is my current favourite.

        • 27/11/13 at 2:20

          I’ve never tried Cleo by Panache. I do want to try Panache next, but I think the Cleo range is a bit too bright and busy for my personal style.

  5. 26/11/13 at 13:33

    So nice to see a write up on Empreinte! I love the brand, they are incredibly well manufactured pieces of lingerie and offer amazing support for a bigger bust and can’t really be compared to Mimi Holliday though I agree that the back sizes do come up bigger than other brands. I’m finding that a lot of places are marking Empreinte up much higher than the recommended retail price, their prices start around the £70 mark, the RRP for the ‘Ophelia’ is £80. If you’re looking for a 3 part Panache bra, I would recommend their ‘Envy’ bra, it’s one of the only 3 part soft cups I have ever personally got along with and i’m finding that it suits a wide range of bust shapes, I love the high waisted briefs that come with it! Although the difference in manufacturing between a Panache bra and an Empreinte bra is clear, Panache offer fantastic bras at accessible prices.

    • 26/11/13 at 20:03

      Thanks for the comment! That’s a really interesting note re: the markup. I wonder if it has to do with custom duties or import fees or maybe even Empreinte themselves demanding a higher price for the US market? I know, for example, that Figleaves can’t sell Empreinte bras to US customers because Empreinte told them not to, which is…let’s just say “interesting” to me. I haven’t tried Panache yet, though I plan to soon, and I have tried Mimi Holliday but the brand just isn’t a good fit for me.

  6. 26/11/13 at 14:10

    I’ve not tried this brand and the bras do look nice (the polkadot one especially) but they look like cheaper bras than they are – from the photos at least, maybe close-up the quality makes them look more expensive. Nice, but I won’t be buying one.

    • 26/11/13 at 20:01

      Hmmmm…I think I get what you’re saying. The Lola in particular looks a bit stiff and maybe even scratchy in photos (though it doesn’t have either of those qualities in person) and so I can understand how the photograph might make it look cheaper than it really is. The Ophelia though is really quite nice. I think it’s sparked a slight obsession with embroidered mesh for me.

  7. 26/11/13 at 16:10

    I’ve been fitting with this brand for quite some time, and I’m glad that you tried it. That being said, I don’t think the Empreinte wire is for you. From my experience, it either works or it doesn’t. I carry full to the side and bottom, with medium to softer tissue that likes to be shoved around in a cup (lol), and as a 36G, the brand does fantastic things for me. That being said, it’s not a bra I often bring in to my C cup clients. The center wires do tend to sit higher, so women women with sensitivity in the sternum bone sometimes feel the pressure there that you mentioned. On the plus side, their center wires are very narrow, which will allow them to tack on most women, even those with very close set breasts. I’m not surprised the 34C is more comfortable, I would say that the D wire is just…too much wire for you. Yes, the Lola has been discontinued, sadly. Many boutique owners are not impressed. Perhaps it will return. In regard to band fit, Empreinte has patented their own elastic, called “Penn” elastic that promises to hold its shape and stretch out slower, for longer wear overall. It does deliver. You mention that you prefer a looser band, but I have often found many women tend to go down both in back and cup when I fit them in this brand. Make no mistakes, the cups are definitely deeper cut than most brands. Besides the Lola (of which I have 2), my other favorite style is the “Lily Rose”…it’s really lovely. I have Empreinte bras that have stood up to wear and tear for years, literally. For those who want to try Empreinte but are put off by the price point, the “Daisy” costs about a third less than their other styles, and is just as pretty. I also found their “Iva” basic unlined smooth to be a godsend, unfortunately it seems that may also have been discontinued.

    • 26/11/13 at 19:57

      I think characterizing the D cup as “too much wire” really about sums it up. I don’t like bra that do a lot of intensive molding and shaping. I doubt I’d take a band size down in Empreinte though, even if I were try to them again. Their 32 bands (like most 32s) are just too snug for my personal preference.

  8. 26/11/13 at 16:19

    re: The comparison between Panache and Empreinte and Empreinte looking “cheap”…in person it definitely does not. If you put the Empreinte Lola side by side with the Panache Cleo, you immediately see a difference in the quality of the lace and construction. In person, you see the difference as well. I was extremely excited to try the Cleo in that fabulous blue myself and when I put it on, it was a total disaster!

  9. 26/11/13 at 16:27

    …sorry, one more thing (lol) If you’re curious, this is what my Lola looks like on me
    http://www.babsthebrafitter.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/LolaRed-261×300.jpg
    I’d also recommend not ordering this company online, and rather go to have it fit in a boutique…because of the nature of the wire, deeper cup and band fit, again, often your usual size will not be the right one. Trying one on before buying, you’ll avoid costly mistakes. Also, their panties run especially large as well. You may want to take yourself down a size there as well. :-)

    • 26/11/13 at 19:56

      Thanks for sharing that photo! I agree that this is a tricky brand to buy online, but I also think it’s important to acknowledge that this brand isn’t sold in very many boutiques, and so many women who may want to try it won’t be able to able to get a local bra shop and put one on (and that doesn’t even get issues surrounding the stock of your local boutique re: style, size, etc.). To illustrate, no one near me carries Empreinte bras, and I live in a major metropolitan area. I know it’s easy, as a boutique bra fitter, to simply say “Go to a boutique,” but that’s not an option every woman (especially women who live outside of large cities) has.

  10. 26/11/13 at 16:46

    Sorry for all of the posts…important information keeps popping into my head after I hit “send”, and this is extremely important. Empreinte differ from other brands in that they use a unique wire for each band and cup size. So basically a D cup is ALWAYS a D cup, no matter what back size. This may be why your 32D fits as it does, as it is bigger than your 34C cup. If, hypothetically, I am fitting a 34E who finds the cup size is fine but the back is snug, I would then offer her the 36E first, rather than the 36D. I’ve found that this is not always the case, but the majority of the time, comparative fitting actually isn’t applicable with this particular brand. Oh, and while I also would love to try a Fleur of England bra, I also have to chime in that Empreinte, along with Prima Donna are likely best bets when it comes to high quality, full support bras. I don’t think Mimi Holiday or Fleur are up to the task, supportwise and while Panache and Freya are comparable, defnitely not quite as good as Empreinte and Prima Donna. Okay, NOW I’m done, I swear! lol

    • 26/11/13 at 19:52

      That’s a really interesting note re: the cup sizes, and I’ve never heard anyone mention it before. But then, I don’t run across very many Empreinte reviews, so I imagine it’s not common knowledge. Thanks for sharing that fit tip here!

  11. 26/11/13 at 16:56

    Empreinte were my first high-end seamed bras. I loved them at the time, they really fit like they were made for me. I had a problem, though, with the bands: they stretched and stretched and stretched. They gave no sign of ever stabilizing. I had the bands on both of my 34s taken in over and over as they became too big, and they would promptly stretch right back out. The elastic on the edge of the cups also gave out rather early. I think that a bra that costs so much should have better quality. The material of the cups was very sturdy, but the band just wasn’t.

    My boobs grew and I became sized out of Empreinte demi cups, so I moved on to other brands. I miss Empreinte’s excellent straps and the shape of the band, but I think they are overpriced.

  12. 26/11/13 at 23:01

    I understand that it is difficult for some to “just go to a boutique”. My advice is, if you ARE interested in this brand, definitely do NOT buy it online. Save it for a time when you are able to research a boutique in a location that you may be visiting, if there is not one near you. In your case, it would have saved you the price of your Lola. Also, there are quirks within the brand itself. The Lola has an even deeper cup fit than most other Empreinte styles right from the get go, and good fitters know the ins and outs of this particular brand. In your case, I’d have recommended the 34C in Lily Rose instead, which has a more shallow cup than other Empreinte styles, and does better by women who have more dense tissue, or less fullness to the top of the breast. But like I said earlier, I’m not convinced it’s the wire for you, anyhow….oh well, live and learn, but it does make me sad that in the end, you have a very expensive bra that doesn’t fit you as well as it should. I know a lot of women don’t like to work with fitters, period…but sometimes it is helpful to do so.

    • 26/11/13 at 23:28

      That’s fair. I do most of my shopping online, and I suppose I’m fortunate in that I’ll wear a bra even if it’s not a perfect fit (though the Lola, I will likely wind up giving up away since it actually does hurt). As a consumer though, I wish these kinds of brand quirks were more well-publicized. I think one of the benefits of the blogging community is that shoppers don’t have to be dependent on fitters for these kinds of details; we can crowdsource this knowledge. I just wish brands themselves were more transparent about them as well. There should be nothing wrong with a brand saying who their bra works well for and who it doesn’t, but that’s an entirely separate issue from this post, I suppose.

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