Bra Review: Bali Comfort Revolution Shaping Wirefree (3488), Smart Size S

I’ve never reviewed a “matrix sized” bra from a department store before… until now! Since finding out my actual (comfortable) bra size and learning that I was sized out of most brands, I’ve relied wholly upon UK and Polish fuller bust brands. Matrix and/or S/M/L sizes have long been off my radar entirely. I have also been so preoccupied with finding supportive, wired bras that fit that I have rarely made space in my bradrobe for wireless options other than sports bras. Then some things changed …

This post is not actually what I had scheduled after my previous one. In fact, I have a backlog of dozens of bra reviews from the past couple of years (!) that I just haven’t had time to post yet. My life has been a little crazy and believe it or not, taking and editing photos and writing up reviews consumes a lot of time. I’m taking a moment to preface this review with a mini life update because one thing in particular has changed over the past year which has affected my relationship with my bras and how they fit: my weight. Feel free to skip ahead to the review if you’re not interested in my lengthy backstory! 🙂

Like most people, I’ve lost and gained weight consistently throughout my journey to find a bra that fits (beginning ~2014). Just when I think I’ve cracked it and found what size and styles work for me (and stocked up on a bunch of bras that I love), I drop or gain 5 or 10 pounds – seemingly all in my boobs, thanks genetics! – and have to start again. Since reaching my weightloss goal, I now have stacks of boxes with bras that no longer fit, but I can’t bring myself to part with.

I’ve gone from a UK 30G when I started this blog to a 28F today. My most recent weightloss has totally thrown my bra fitting for a loop with most of my go-to styles not really working with my body any more. I’ve even found myself being sized out of the smaller end of my favorite fuller bust brands’ size ranges. The Cleo Skye bra not coming in a 28E is a one that still hurts my heart (I have to size down because the cups run deep). It’s quite a shock to the system to find myself sized out of the brands that were initially the source of my bra epiphany. Fuller bust bras changed my life. It’s bizarre for me to think that I might be able to find something off the rack in a department store that works for me.

I never thought I’d say it, but one of the things that has become a factor in my comfort is underwires. When I was a 30G with sufficient “squish” around my ribcage, I preferred a medium-firm wire with light flexibility. I was just getting used to a bra in my correct band size (prior to that I was erroneously wearing 38DDs). After ditching my ill-fitting 38DD minimizers which used to poke and dig into my chest, underwire issues disappeared and I hardly ever felt them in my properly fitting bras.

After I started losing weight and dropped to a 28G, I found that the firmer and stronger the wires, the better. Then at some point in my weightloss journey, I started noticing my underwires, and not in a good way: they hurt. I had trouble finding underwire that worked for me. Now at 28F, I’ve lost nearly all the “squish” around my ribcage that I once had. On top of that, my ribs are flared and rather bony. I’ve discussed some of my issues with flared ribs in previous posts, so I’ll focus on the lack of squish conundrum for now.

  • Firm wires with no flex basically balance on my ribs at their widest part and can cause the skin to get raw unless the bra is a really perfect fit with a short cup and plenty of space above the wire (most half cups are okay, but rarely perfect). So it sounds like I need really soft wires, right?
  • Very flexible wires that won’t remain rigid can be just as bad. Because of the shape of my flared ribs and the slight dip I have in the center of my ribcage, really soft wires are problematic. They can bend and shift within the wire casings, meaning I get stabbed in the sternum or under my armpits. In extreme cases like with the Freya Fancies longline, the entire underwire can warp in the casing and kill my bra.

Dealing for the first time with underwire-wire related pain since I tried to fit my 30GGs into a 38DD is daunting. But it has also made me more receptive to finding wireless options to give my ribcage a rest. At a 28F, my boobs are significantly less weighty than they used to be (but also less “full” and therefore less able to fill out a cup, a problem to be discussed for another day), so this has opened up the possibility of “light support” – two words that were once a cruel joke to me. My fuller bust readers will know what I mean.

Now, the bra I’m going to review here has actually been in my collection since I was a 30F and it probably fit me a little better then. But I’m wearing it more often these days while traveling, so I thought I’d finally review it.

Appearance

If you’re sized out of most department store bra sections like myself, you may have walked past the Bali/Hanes/Playtex racks before without so much as a second glance. I tried on this Bali Comfort Revolution Shaping Wirefree bra on a whim when looking for a comfy lounge or travel bra for my upcoming overnight flight. Due to the underwire issues described above, I was not looking forward to attempting to sleep partially-reclined in a cramped airplane seat with underwires digging into my ribs. Instead of my usual stretchy sleep bras that I wear when relaxing at home, I wanted something a little more substantial for traveling that had a flattering shape under clothes and that I could also wear it all day, pull and lift my luggage, sleep in it, and not have to constantly adjust. Bonus points that no underwires would set off the metal detectors at the airport … because that’s not awkward at all, right?

bali-3488-front

Even though I was skeptical when I saw it hanging on the rack, I was immediately drawn to this floral lavender colorway. The 3488 style comes in tons of colors and monochromatic prints including florals, dots, and solids. This one has a subtle floral embroidery that looks like its embossed on the fabric.

Structurally, it’s non-wired bra, but it’s a hybrid of sorts when it comes to the features. The cups are a lightly padded/molded foam. There is no “gore”, but there is some inherent cup separation due to the way the cups are attached in the center. The interior of the cups are a very smooth foam that is pleasant to wear and doesn’t chafe.

There is a full, ribbed elastic band along the bottom that feels decently supportive even considering that the entire thing is basically a soft, stretchy fabric.

The straps are fairly broad and the cups or front panel are full coverage with a scoop neck. There is also a U-back, but unlike a lot of wireless bras, this Bali model comes with a standard 3-hook closure. I prefer this to bras that pull over the head because it gives some flexibility in fit (I’ll discuss the sizing later) and longevity.

Unfortunately, the straps themselves do not have adjusters on them. They are about an average length. Because the material is stretchy, they will likely work fine for taller people or those who normally need longer straps, but if you find that you always tighten your straps all the way or have short shoulders, some comfort may be compromised. I usually need to adjust my straps, and with this bra I would have loved to make them about an inch shorter for maximum fit. I’m not great with sewing, but they don’t look that difficult to alter since there is no strap hardware.

Size & Fit

I first tried on this bra in-store at Kohl’s when I was a 30F and chose a size S. I ended up ordering it online on clearance shortly after, but it didn’t arrive in time for my trip. By the time I got back home to pick it up, I had dropped another bra size to a 30E/28F and I still wear it now at that size. Truthfully, it probably fit me a smidge better at 30F, but I still consider it a fitting bra now. I needed the 3rd hook when I first bought it and filled out the top of the cup area more, but now I generally use the second and could use the tightest hook for more support.

Depending on how snug you like your band and how much “squish” you have on your ribcage, I’d say up to a squishy 32-band could wear the size S if E cup and under, but M if E cup and up, just to give an estimate. Please take that with a grain of salt. (I wouldn’t necessarily recommend any of these bras for cups above F even in the XL or 2XL sizes, but that’s somewhat anecdotal and based on the fact that my mother at a projected 38FF could not find an adequate and supportive fit with this bra).

This bra is almost my ideal wireless bra and it’s my best option for daily light wear. In terms of fit, there are only two issues that I struggle with. The first is that my very soft, pendulous, center-full boobs like to slide towards the “gore” area in any bra. Because there is no gore separation here, after a lot of movement, my boobs slip together and get cuddly in the middle, so I have to adjust with a reverse “scoop” towards the outside of the cups. A firmer band and some kind of substantial gore separation would help with this. But this is a big ask for a wireless bra. The only one I know that has real structural cup separation is the Panache non-wired sports bra.

If you’re wider set, self-supporting, and/or don’t have an issue with slipping towards gores, then you’re in luck. I would even consider sizing down to an XS to get a little extra compression to keep me in place if that size were available.

The second fit issue is the straps. They’re wide, plush, and comfortable against the skin, but since they do not adjust at all, they remain about 1/2 to an inch too long. This combined with an overall stretchiness of the bra and straps means there is a tendency for them to shift. After a long day, the straps can end up pulled towards my neck in a bothersome way that can cause a little strain. That said, I have short shoulders combined with a lack of upper fullness, so this is a common complaint for me.

On the plus side, the stretchiness of the material means this bra is unlikely to cut into tall roots. Another notable benefit of this bra is the smooth and rounded silhouette it provides under clothes due to the molded foam cups and seamless design. This makes it ideal for lazy t-shirt days.

Comfort

I bought this bra for comfort, and overall it delivers. “Comfort” features in a wireless bra can be a double-edged sword. For instance, the lack of strap hardware to make adjustments means, on the one hand, that stretchy straps can cause neck strain. But on the other hand, it’s superior in comfort compared with a traditional bra if you’re sensitive to metal hooks and O-rings. For this reason, I find the bra overall very comfortable for traveling and lazy days when my ribs need a rest from underwires or hardware that can poke and irritate. It’s also TSA security and cramped-reclining-chair-in-a-plane-friendly.

Quality

I’m impressed with how this bra has held up with wear. The finishing is very good and there are no scratchy or uncomfortable areas or loose threads. That said, the bra retails at $42 when not on sale. I can get a custom bra hand made from Poland for less than that! Thankfully Bali is available at many department stores (like Kohl’s, Sears, JCPenney, and Macy’s) and is often on sale for as a buy one get one half off, with some colorways as cheap as $15 directly from Hanes, or as low as $9 in some sizes/colors at Amazon.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a comfortable, everyday bra that’s readily available in stores, wireless, supportive, and easy to travel with, plus comes in plenty of colors, I highly recommend the Bali 3488 wireless bra. To sum up, the one caveat I have with wireless options like this is that you likely have to be willing to compromise on some of the fit standards that are easier to demand of structured, wired bras. Even though my bra reviews focus primarily on fit, I believe a healthy bradrobe is one that is prepared for all occasions. Lastly, if molded cups aren’t your thing, try model 3484 in the Bali Comfort Revolution smart sizes range, which has stretchy unlined cups.

 

 

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