In my search for a bikini top, the Panache Amelia bandeau caught my eye right away and has been at the top of my wishlist ever since. In photos, it really stood out to me as different from other patterned tops and I was hopeful that it would be an ideal match for the swim bottoms I already have. When my order arrived, I was super excited to try it on, having never had bra-sized swimwear before. Let’s take a look at this beauty.
Panache says that Amelia’s floral print is inspired by a summer garden, and that couldn’t be more accurate. There are warm tone red, wine, pink and purple flowers with hints of green and gold in the leaves against a pale sky-blue background. It reminds me of a watercolor painting of a summer meadow. The outer fabric of the cups gathers and twists in the middle, a detail that I appreciate for making the top look and feel less like a bra and more like swimwear. Halters and strapless styles tend not to work for me, so it’s difficult to find support without that bra-like appearance.
Panache hit it out of the park with this print. It’s lovely. Incidentally, you might recognize it from the Panache Jasmine bra in the blue floral colorway, so obviously it’s a popular one. I can’t possibly wear Panache’s unlined bras (they’re torture) even though I often like the designs, so I like that this bikini is available to those who might have more luck with the bandeau or who just want to show it off as outerwear for a change! I’d happily wear this elegant floral print as a shirt, dress, or sleepwear, too. And it would be perfect for the Panache Non-Wired Sports bra (hint hint, Panache!).
Overall, I believe that Amelia has a lot of crossover appeal. It’s feminine yet sophisticated, whereas a lot of patterned swim tops can read childish. It can easily work for any age range, skin tone, or occasion – from beach to pool party to cruise ship.
The single-seam, two-part molded cups are lined with matching blue interior fabric. I point this out because I only just discovered that many swim tops have contrasting white interiors, which I really don’t like. The top itself has a substantial feel to it, with thick, heavyweight materials in comparison to other bikinis I’ve tried. It reminds me somewhat of the Panache Sports bra in the density of materials, cup padding and underwires. The underwires are definitely of the typical industrial Panache variety. I guess I would say that the weight and attention to detail make it feel expensive, but unfortunately it also adds unwanted bulk to my frame. More on that later.
The floral pattern from the fabric twisted cups continues onto the wings and the removable and fully adjustable shoulder straps. I’m sure it’s possible to attach one strap as a halter or to crisscross the straps if preferred. I appreciate the straps in their standard configuration a lot, as I am not likely to wear a bandeau without straps while swimming. Straps in general can also help with potential fit issues by allowing for more adjustment in where the top sits.
The hardware and attachments are a matching light blue tone plastic, as is the single-hook back clasp (making the band non-adjustable). Another nice detail is the gold-tone Panache plate tag on the front of the cups. None of the other tops I’ve tried so far have had this high-end touch.
Amelia retails at $68 in the US (Currently on Figleaves.com for $52).
Size and Fit
I chose a 30FF (my standard size when assuming the band will run tight) despite reading reviews giving competing advice that that you should “size up because the cup runs small/shallow”, and “size down because it runs big/full on top”. Apparently it’s Panache’s standard bandeau cut. I presume that means it will fit just like Britt and Lucille from previous seasons, but it’s the first Panache bandeau that I’ve tried, so I won’t be able to make comparisons.
I am moderately projected with short roots and soft tissue. This top generally fits me well in the size I chose although it is too tall and wide for me, which is the source of most of my fit issues with it. I don’t think sizing down would help because the cups are already on the shallow side.
From the front and side, this top doesn’t look all that bad fit-wise. I’m not spilling out anywhere and it stays put. But there are some issues.
The cup is 5.5″ wide, which I think is about an average width for this size range, but it felt wider on, maybe due to the oppressively thick wires and wire channels. I know some people like firm wires, but they are incompatible with the shape of my rib cage and overall just awkward for me. I feel like Panache wires are constantly fighting with my body and this bikini is no exception. For larger bust sizes or rib cages with more “squish”, the denser wires may well lend more support, but my slightly flared rib cage is more bony than squishy.
In terms of depth, the cups are also very shallow at the bottom, so I get about two fingers’ worth of empty space above the underwire. The wires are also tall at the gore and sides, so, all combined, this makes the top sit too low on my ribs. A 7.5″ cup height should give me higher coverage, which is one reason why I chose this style, but I can’t pull it up anywhere near my IMF. I expected the cups to be on the tall side and was hoping to have more of my chest covered as a result, but I would need a good inch more depth at the wire to achieve that. You can see in the photos that there is a shadow under the gore. I always have a little bit of a dip there, but it’s cavernous with this bikini. The underwire is basically balancing on the ends of my ribs.
The real deal breaker, however, is the gore. It is unfathomably wide, enough so that it forces my boobs away from each other. I’d say I’m somewhat close set, and a 1.2″ gore separation is more than I can handle with a gore of this height (3.4″). You can see in some of the photos how it’s pushing my boobs apart uncomfortably and sitting on tissue.
Another thing worth noting is that the single-seam on the cup gives me a pointy appearance. It’s surprisingly not so visible in the photos, but very evident when I look down. Add that to the wide gore, and from my vantage it looks like my boobs have had a fight and don’t want to speak to each other. I’ve never actually worn such a pointy top, bras included, and wasn’t expecting it with this level of padding. The inner and outer sides of the cups near the underwire channel are as shallow as the bottom, so my boobs just look sort of flattened at the sides and pointed at the seam.
Paradoxically, I would say the cups run TTS, only shallow all around and tall. In other words, I couldn’t size down or up to get a better fit. The band is snug and supportive. It stretches to only 28″, so definitely size up in the band if you are a true 30. My underbust is 28″ and I could never go for a 28 band in this style.
I noticed when comparing photos of this top with others I tried on that because of how tall the cups are and how overwhelming they are on my petite frame, the top sits so low that it makes me look wider than I am. I also have to stop myself from looking down because that east-west point is just too much. But … did I mention it’s so pretty? If I were in the market for a spare or extra top, I might have just kept it for the prettiness.
To be honest, this top wasn’t immediately comfortable when I first put it on. I only tried it at home for a short period and never wore it swimming or anything, so I can’t fully attest to the comfort level for that. I can say that the second time I tried it on and wore it for a little bit longer, it did start to feel somewhat more comfortable. Even though it doesn’t fit my body right, it’s certainly passable in a lot of ways for swimwear, which I hold to a slightly lower standard than bras. Had I not found my ideal fit with another top, I might have convinced myself to keep it and somehow alter the gore.
That said, the edges of the gore sit on tissue and put pressure on my sternum while pushing my boobs out uncomfortably to the sides. While overall the top feels supportive, the support comes from squishing my boobs down hard into thickly padded, shallow cups. Since this was my first bra-sized swimwear, I thought maybe this is how it works, otherwise how would my boobs stay down when I tried to swim? But then I tried a few more bikinis on and it’s definitely possible for me to get a more rounded shape, even in other bandeau tops, and definitely to get support in a top that feels more flattering on.
I’ve already mentioned that the wires are not comfortable for me. They are just like every other Panache I’ve tried including the wired sports bra, so I won’t belabor the point. The heavyweight build to this item gives it a quality feel. However, on my petite frame, I just found it bulky and inflexible. I feel like if I jumped into the deep end with this top on, I’d sink right to the bottom. All in all, just too much wire and material for me. I wish Panache would offer this top in a version for petites.
I really did try to convince myself to keep it since I’d been trying to get it for so long and it was at the top of a very short list of bikinis that I wanted. After I took it off, I was sore where the gore was causing me discomfort. I then tried on a different bikini top and felt 10 pounds lighter with the same level of support and knew that Amelia probably wasn’t for me.
I give it a 6.5/10 for comfort, mainly because it keeps everything in place and the coverage is good at the top and wings. It would probably be more than adequate for lounging around on the beach and is supportive enough to not worry about coming out of it.
Amelia is a little on the pricey side, but well-made. It’s obvious to the touch. Everything is cleanly stitched, the padding is thick, and the underwires covered well. It looks like it would last a long time. I estimate that it might also take a long time to dry due to the weight of the cups, but I can’t confirm this since I never had a chance to get it wet. If I had to nitpick, the plastic clasp closure and hooks to attach the straps felt cheaper than the equivalents on less expensive tops I’ve tried – and cheaper than the rest of the bikini itself -and should have been coated metal or a more substantial plastic.
Appearance wise, I love everything about Amelia: the delightful floral print on light blue background, the bandeau cut, twisted fabric detail, and the detachable straps. It’s beautiful and I was devastated to have to return it. I would recommend this top to someone who is more wide set. For someone with a taller upper body and broader chest/shoulders than me at 5’1″, this top is definitely a great option and absolutely gorgeous.
Both Panache and Cleo are brands that I consistently strike out with, apart from the Panache Non-Wired Sports bra which is my favorite. Their bras are just made for someone with a completely different body shape (read: taller), tolerance for materials (those wires, ugh), and their scaling is off for me in the small-band and medium-to-large cup range. The cups are open when I need them closed or vice versa; the underwires are too high, too hard, and flare out in the wrong directions for my body. This makes me sad because they have some of the cutest (Cleo) and prettiest (Panache) designs on the market. So this bandeau swim top sadly didn’t work for me, but I encourage you to try it if you have luck with other Panache cuts as it seems true to their other items. If I see anyone wearing it this summer, I’ll definitely be jealous.