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Lingerie Review: Cadolle Retro Dot Bra

Note: I purchased this lingerie myself. Cadolle and Jane's Vanity are unaffiliated with this review.

Editor's Note: The below photos may be NSFW.


Like the Marie Jo 'Catherine' bra set I reviewed several weeks ago, my Cadolle Retro Dot Bra was another honeymoon lingerie purchase. I'd spotted this bra at Jane's Vanity ages before my wedding day, and I remember being so worried that it would sell out before I had enough money to commit (fortunately, as you can see, it was not). Though the Cadolle brand is over a century old, it's still big name within the luxury lingerie world. As a matter of fact, the company's founder, Herminie Cadolle, is also credited with inventing the first bra way back in 1889 and calling it a "corselet gorge."

In the interests of full disclosure, my experiences with Cadolle have not always been positive. Even in the years since that article was written (and as my knowledge of the lingerie world has grown), I've found myself wondering if the Cadolle name is perhaps overrated. The company's corsets, for example, are wildly popular among the high-end lingerie set, but have always left me feeling underwhelmed (both in terms of construction and design). I know that's not entirely Cadolle's fault; no one could call me a "typical" lingerie consumer, after all. But when I ran across this vintage-style bullet bra and fell in love, I saw it as an opportunity to not only treat myself but also see what all the fuss was about (and, of course, share my impressions with my readers!).


I purchased this bra in a French size 95, which, according to Jane's Vanity, corresponds to a US 36 B/C. Quite unusually, this bra is sized by the band only (a nod back to its historic roots, perhaps?), so I'd definitely recommend getting sizing confirmation from whatever retailer you choose to buy from. I did not purchase the matching thong, so this review is for the bra only.

A few other notes: the Cadolle Retro Dot is made in France, which is both interesting and unusual since so much bra production has moved to Asia now. The band and wings are constructed from a firm powermesh, as is the lower portion of the gore (those two inverted "v's" between the cups you can see in the photo below). The cups are a four-part construction - one part on top and three parts on the bottom - in a rather unique design you don't see anywhere else. The cups are made of double-layered non-stretch tulle, with the first layer containing the fashionable dot motif.


Because this is a luxury brand, certain luxurious touches, both visible and hidden, are to be expected. Most obvious is the ribbon trim along the top of the cups and the shoulder straps , which reminds me of the ribbon trim that used to decorate historical corsets. However, the side boning channels and the underside of the straps also have a luxe touch - a lining of supersoft plush velvet. In addition, the inside of the band's hook and eye closure is lined with satin. The underwires themselves are also encased in what feels like flannel and are wonderfully soft against the skin.

Oddly enough, these other materials are not included in the fabric composition tag on the bra, which only reports 92% polyamide/8% spandex as the fabrics. I wish I knew what the velvet, satin, and flannel material was made from as I doubt very seriously that it's all nylon and elastane. At any rate, those little touches are what convey a truly luxurious experience. No one else will see the velvet or the satin or the flannel (they weren't even mentioned in product descriptions of the bra I ran across), but the wearer will know, and they absolutely change the way the bra feels.


As far as fit, I found this bra to be surprisingly comfortable. Because of my shallow shape, I can't fill out most bullet bras, yet my breast tissue perfectly fills the cups of this Cadolle piece. The gore does not tack, but the bra doesn't shift around. I'd describe the band as a tad snug, not uncomfortably so, but keep in mind that I also sister-sized up. Despite the tulle and velvet and satin, there's something very industrial about this piece. It's made like it's meant to stand up to a few wearings. Oddly enough (and quite against expectations), I don't feel like this bra made my breasts look pointy under clothing. It is undeniably bullet shaped in the cup, but I didn't feel anachronistic while wearing it. At this point, I've adopted the Retro Dot as a daily wear bra under my sweaters and sweatshirts; I wouldn't say it's in my regular rotation, but it is definitely comfortable enough to wear all day long.

At $249, the Cadolle Retro Dot was undeniably a special occasion purchase for me. I doubt I'd have picked it up at full price without the impetus of my wedding. The size range is undeniably narrow, and this is not a bra that will work for all sizes and shapes (to be perfectly frank, I don't get the impression that Cadolle has any interest in serving anyone outside of their traditional target market). And while I'd be open to picking up another varation of this bra (there's a 100% sheer tulle version as a well as another incarnation with sequins sewed between the fabric layers), I don't think I'd spring for it at full price again. That's not a commentary on the bra itself. For those with the budget, there's nothing wrong with buying it at full price. Yet every time I've worn this bra, I've simply thought it was "nice." And it is an objectively nice bra. It's beautifully made, thoughtfully designed, and comes from a lingerie house with serious cachet. But at the end of the day, I want a bit more than nice. I want a bra I feel excited wearing, and I don't think this delivers.

Have you purchased anything from Cadolle before? What did you think of it? And if you haven't, would you give this brand a try?

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Cora Harrington

Founder and Editor in Chief of The Lingerie Addict. Author of In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie. I believe lingerie is fashion too, and that everyone who wants it deserves gorgeous lingerie.

9 Comments on this post

  1. Carey Pumo says:

    I had the pleasure of meeting Poupie and Patricia Cadolle recently at a lecture at FIT. The Cadolle family/tradition has been an inspiration to me in my pursuit of becoming a custom bra-maker entrepreneur. One of the things that Poupie mentioned in the talk was that in her opinion, American women suffer from the negative effects of the uniform rounded foam-cup look. She would love to see a more pointy shape as you describe in your article. She feels that it is much more flattering overall to the female form under clothing. Thanks for mentioning your appreciation of the cup shape.

  2. belpita says:

    I work in a lingerie shop and we have a few choice pieces from Cadolle.
    Like you said, their corsets leave a lot to be desired – especially if you compare them to some other brands, which are sometimes less expensive. I often find that the materials used in Cadolle’s other lingerie items are cheap(ish) polyester instead of silk. This surprises me, since it’s supposed to be a luxury brand. There are indeed nice little details, like those you mentioned on the inside of the bra. But there are also instances when the finishing of the garment looks a bit haphazard.
    The bra looks great on you, though. So I’m glad you were lucky with that one purchase! :-)

    • Cora says:

      Thank you! I’m also grateful to you for sharing that “insider” perspective as someone who works in a lingerie shop.

      Have a wonderful day,

  3. Camille says:

    Love the photo shoots!

  4. WOW, Cora! This bra looks like it was made just for you. What a stunning piece, and you really do it full justice! I have also been a bit skeptical of Cadolle, but you may have just changed my mind. I might need to indulge in this one too!

    • Cora says:

      I’m so glad you liked the review, Angela! As you know, I have tremendous respect for your work, and I’m always interested in what lingerie designers think of the companies we talk about here.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Saeran says:

    I’ve visited Cadolle in Paris and bough a few things while I was there. I like them ok but I have also felt the brand is overhyped. I think they are overpriced–which I’m sure is due in large part to their grand history–and not terribly innovative or necessarily interesting. The aesthetic is beautiful, and i think this bra is one of the nicest I’ve seen from them. I had stopped paying attention to them but this review has renewed my interest.

    • Cora says:

      I’m happy to hear my review renewed your interest! Overall though, I’m inclined to agree with your comment. As someone who writes about lingerie, I feel like I have to keep up with Cadolle because of their history, but personally, as a consumer, when it comes to where I want to spend my dollars, they’re rarely at the top of the list.

      That said, I’ve been eyeballing this lace skirt for a few months, and I think it may be my next purchase. It’s just so swoonworthy.

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