Review: Bordelle ‘Tropicana’ Plunge Bra And Thong
Disclosure: This lingerie was purchased for the purpose of review by The Lingerie Addict. All opinions are my own.
Bordelle is one of those lingerie brands who now arguably has a ‘cult’ status; its bandage style creations are instantly recognisable. Celebrities across the globe have sported its signature ‘Angela’ dress whilst its designs can be spotted throughout major fashion press. Indeed, when I first began my forays into the lingerie world as a teenager, Bordelle was one of the first brands that I truly fell in love with. In those early years I scrimped and saved and acquired quite a significant collection; yet a few years ago, I fell out of love with the brand. The collections lost their spark and seemed a little lacklustre.
In the past year or so the brand seems to have regained their direction and is once more creating original and attention catching lingerie. Whilst their imagery might stir up some controversy (and I certainly think their ‘Frida’ inspiration for the current range deserves some criticism for its appropriative themes), the lingerie itself is once again striking.
When Cora asked me to review one of the sets from the SS15 collection I must admit that I was intrigued to try the brand again. It had been several years since I’d purchased a Bordelle piece and I wondered how it would compare to the brand’s previous offerings. I selected the ‘Tropicana’ plunge bra and matching thong in the ‘poudre’ colourway. The bra was in a size small (recommended for UK sizes 30D/32C/34B with adjustable band) and the thong in a size medium/large (recommended for UK size 10-12). Bordelle’s bra size range tops out at a UK 34D/36C, with soft pieces available in small to large (UK 8-12). Although not the most extensive of size ranges, some of the more adjustable pieces can be more flexible. Originally the bra retailed for approximately £92 and the matching thong for £102 (though both pieces can now be found for dramatically less in various sales).
Both pieces are created in a soft blush silk satin with caramel satin elastic strapping. Gold toned metal components are used throughout alongside canary yellow bow trims. All other trims are in black, which feels a little jarring when the rest of the garments have been so carefully colour co-ordinated; only the edges of the picot elastic poke out of the bra and knicker edges, along with black stitching on the elastic and wire casing. It’s not a bold enough contrast to feel like a purposeful design detail, but appears to be more of an afterthought. I understand entirely how difficult it can be to colour match lingerie components as an independent brand but this doesn’t lessen the fact that it disrupts the beautiful blush silk. Both pieces are listed as being made in the EU but the country is not specified.
The bra is a plunge push up: unusually for this style, the cups are entirely cut and sewn out of foam rather than relying on a pre-made molded cup. There are internal pockets created out of nylon mesh on the bottom half of each cup with extra ‘cookies’, should you desire more or less push up effect. There is light plastic boning on the side of each bra cradle for stability and there’s a small area of blush powernet wing before extending into Bordelle’s signature adjustable strapping. The bra closes with 3 columns of two hooks and eyes, in a gold finish in a black tape. 2 straps at the centre back of the garment can be adjusted by approximately 2 inches each for fit flexibility. Satin elastic trims the neck and underarm edges of the cup, leading up to a branded ‘Bordelle’ decorative bra slider. Stitching is neat and accurate throughout, though the changes in thread colour are a little distracting: matching blush on the cup, but contrast black on the rest of the garment.
Although the word ‘thong’ normally conjures the skimpiest of lingerie styles, Bordelle’s cage thong is certainly one of the most solidly constructed pieces of underwear I’ve seen. The front panel is comprised of blush silk with black picot edge elastic and a black cotton jersey gusset lining. The rest of the garment is made entirely of caramel satin elastic, gold components and bows. The silk panel side edges are bound by the satin elastic, leading to a ‘cage’ effect of 4 adjustable straps. Each strap has approximately 10 inches of adjustability so arguably has quite a lot of fit flexibility. Stitching throughout is neat and accurate, particularly on the tricky areas of thick layered elastic. What is a little disappointing however comes back to the details; once again, a black picot elastic has been used which is barely visible when worn and a little out of place. Unlike on the bra, blush thread has been used on the outer elastication; however, the stitch tension wasn’t perfect as throughout spots of the black bobbin thread are visible. Additionally, on the inside of the garment there are loose threads coming from the silk where the stitching hasn’t extended far enough down the elastic to completely cover them.
Both pieces held up well to washing, though it’s worth noting that the satin elastic that Bordelle uses quickly becomes very rumpled when it’s not under tension. This issue purely affects its hanger appeal though, as it isn’t visible in the slightest when the garments are under tension on the body.
I’m not sure how to describe the fit of the bra as it’s quite unlike anything I’ve experienced in lingerie before. The main fit issues comes down to the wire, which is entirely too small for the listed 34B cup size. On the body, it’s so narrow and tightly positioned that me breast tissue is forced partially underneath it and into my underarm. But from the outside it vaguely looks like it fits: the wire tacks at the centre front and it is possible to largely scoop my breasts into the cups. The cups have an appropriate volume for a 34B cup size, however with the small wire they offer the most extreme forward projection that I’ve ever experienced in a bra. It feels almost comical and looked a little bizarre underneath my clothing. Although it doesn’t work for me personally, this may however be a godsend for other small-busted women looking for a more extreme ‘boost’ without sacrificing fashion-forward aesthetics. Admittedly I do favour the more natural soft cup breast shape but I just didn’t feel this bra is wearable on an everyday basis. The silhouette that it creates is so at odds with how I see my body and how I wish my clothes to fit.
The thong however fares much better than the bra. The first wear does take a little time to get all the adjusters symmetrically in the right place for your body shape but it’s worth taking that extra time. It’s always a wonderful thing to find lingerie pieces that adjust to fit you, rather than forcing your body to fit them. The straps can be loosened enough to sit flush without cutting in and the caramel colourway distances the garment from looking to obviously S&M and lends it a soft sophistication. Although yellow is by no means something I’d ever choose personally, I love the bright pop of colour it adds. The bows are a lovely and flirty trim and look wonderful adorning the centre back strap of this piece. Lingerie pieces that put as much consideration into the side and back views as they do the front are a rarity, and it’s something that Bordelle routinely nails.
Overall, the ‘Tropicana’ set is a mixed bag. I do feel that the lack of attention to details like trim and stitch colours detract from the overall experience (and lingerie is all about the details). Although bra fit is often idiosyncratic to a brand, I just didn’t enjoy wearing this bra. It isn’t just the fact that I found the bra uncomfortable but that it made me feel distinctly unhappy with my body’s silhouette. I would like to see the brand address these fit issues in future. In the meantime, if I happen to purchase any more Bordelle pieces, I’ll be sticking to the softer bras and bodywear.
Readers: Have you tried Bordelle before? What do you think of adjustable lingerie?