Lingerie Review: Josie by Natori Longline Bras
Disclosure: Samples were provided free of charge for review purposes. All opinions are my own. This blog post contains affiliate links.
It was my first pajama breakfast with my boyfriend's mother. She had entered the kitchen in a silky caftan with a bright painterly floral print, which I immediately identified as a Natori. Natori, the sleepwear brand founded in 1977 by Josie Natori, is characterized by an east-meets-west aesthetic, which expresses itself in bold colors and eastern-influenced prints on drapey robes, caftans, and pajamas. It is a brand favored by many American women of a certain age.
I admire Natori's bold aesthetic point of view and the way it delivers what could be a dowdy category of clothing it in a sophisticated way. While I'm a fan of the line, I don't have firsthand experience with it; I am not the target demographic for the brand and do not find myself shopping the Natori section of Nordstrom.
I see every moment in life as an opportunity to talk about lingerie, so why not over breakfast? I asked her what she liked about the caftan and she talked about the femininity of the print, as well as the cut of the garment. The brand specializes in silk pieces, which can cost up to $695, but this caftan was a high quality polyester, which felt like silk but had the advantages of being machine washable and durable. As well as being pretty, it was a practical garment that could be worn as a cover up around the house and outside to pick up the paper.
Natori is exceptional at offering a modern take on the type of loungewear that is vaguely reminiscent of midcentury dressing, when men and women wore robes and pajamas around the house. Except for lingerie devotees, most young people now wear some version of clothes derived from ready-to-wear (leggings, joggers, athletic shorts, tee shirts), so the whole category of robe and pajama dressing has diminished over the decades. Natori and similar brands cater to women in their 50s and up whose tastes were developed when robe dressing was the norm and who want voluminous rather than clingy boudoirwear.
To expand the company's appeal to a broader age range, it created the youth brand Josie. Josie sells mostly bras and underwear along with a little ready-to-wear, bedding, accessories and a recently launched fragrance. I hadn't been familiar with its offerings before reviewing two bras for this article, but I was interested in writing this because I was curious about how Natori would interpret its own brand identity for a young crowd.
When I visited the Josie site, I found bras that were lightweight and fun, and, like the Natori brand, always tasteful and sexy without being overtly suggestive. They also share with the Natori brand a boldness of color and slightly eclectic sensibility
I received two longline bras (here's my past article on the longline bra trend), the Bardot 3/4 Underwire Bra in Purple (available in 32B-36DD $35-$48) and the Spicy Essentials 3/4 Bra in Turquoise/Citrus (available in 32B-34DDD $24-$48). Both fit true to size for me.
The Bardot seems wispy and lightweight even though it has underwire. There is demi lining at the bottom of the cup to add support, but the cup is otherwise made of soft stretch lace, as is the front band. The band from side seams to center back is mesh. The front straps are made of fabric which is bound around the side bra. The back straps are standard elastic, but have the cute detail of contrast metal sliders and contrast ribbon where the strap attaches to the band. The lace pattern is called "butterfly" on the website, and though I don't see a literal butterfly motif, it does have an organic geometry that's feminine without being too girly.
I love the way this bra looks off the body -- pretty and easy. It is not heavily shaped, so rather than having to fit myself into it, it fit itself to me when I put it on. It doesn't provide a lot of shape, and I like the natural silhouette when I wear it. It feels as close to a bralette as an underwire bra can and is a bit of a hybrid, offering more support than a soft bra but not enough for me to want to run down the stairs in it. It comes in sizes up to 36DD, but I would not necessarily recommend it to anyone over a C, unless they enjoy their vigor unrestrained. I appreciate that this bra is not trying to be a corsetry-inspired longline, so the bottom of the band is unelasticated and unboned, unlike some longlines. The comfort advantage to this is that, as I slouch over my computer writing this, the Bardot is not digging into my ribcage at all.
The drawback of this kind of unstructured bra is that it doesn't lie exactly smoothly, as a more structured bra might. The band doesn't have facing or a nonstretch lining to give stability, so it tends to bunch up a bit as I move. For the same reasons, the underwire doesn't stay firmly where it should, but tends to shift around with wear. These are natural effects when a bra is made of mostly stretch lightweight fabric, so I think of them as tradeoffs rather than shortcomings.
The Spicy Essential 3/4 Bra is also a longline but offers more stability. Like the Bardot, it has a lace front, but the effects of the lace are visually quite different. This one is two-color, and has a contrast-colored cup lining, which adds visual depth. The lace pattern is a classic floral with a scalloped edge at the inner cup and band bottom. The cups have full lining, and the front band is faced with a nonstretch stabilizer. Unlike the Bardot, the bottom band has elastic to keep it in place. The back band, interestingly, is cotton rib which brings a suggestion of comfort and informality to the look of an otherwise elevated garment. Straps have a gathered ribbon fashion detail, and sliders are contrast color just like the Bardot.
The Spicy Essential feels comfortable with no irritation and enough support -- but like the Bardot it tends to bunch in front of the side seams after movement. This doesn't have deleterious effects on comfort or support, only on appearance.
This is a very pretty bra that doesn't take itself too seriously. The little pops of color in the hardware are fun and youthful, and the colorway I have, Turquoise/Citrus, is fresh and modern. I generally prefer a lined bra to unlined, so I would wear this one more often than the Bardot. I also found that the structure of the cups and front band gave the right amount of support for daily activities, where the Bardot trifled a bit.
Overall, I continue to be a big fan of the group of Natori brands, including Natori and Josie. I like that the two bras I tried looked like fashion bras but are comfortable enough to wear every day. I appreciate their thoughtful design and the quirky touches that feel fun enough to be Josie and sophisticated enough to be Natori.
Do you have any Josie bras? What do you think of them?