Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Perfect Cami Review

It's time for the first official post of 2013 (and one I'm quite excited about, I might add)!

Let's talk about shirts for a moment. V-neck and lower-cut tops tend to be the most flattering for my figure (and busty figures in general), but unless I feel like giving people quite an eyeful in terms of cleavage (and/or showing off part of my bra), I have to make constant use of layering.

My solution thus far for Operation: Keep Cleavage in Check has been regular, store-bought camis. While these work out okay in theory, it's usually difficult for me to find a camisole that actually fits well. Obviously, the kinds with the "built-in shelf bra" (ha!) are out. Other camis can wind up being too short or too baggy for me, and they usually don't end up covering my entire bra. Also, the extra clothing layer that the cami adds tends to shift around - sometimes defeating the whole purpose of wearing one - and I often don't want the extra warmth and bulk that a second layer provides.

So, when I read Erica of A Sophisticated Pair's and Darlene of Hourglassy's reviews on The Perfect Cami a little while back, I was definitely intrigued! It seemed like it could offer a solution to all my usual cami and layering woes. Ann, the owner of Perfect Cami, kindly offered to provide me with several samples in different sizes and styles for review purposes (note blog policy).

Sizing/Fit
A handy chart is provided on the Perfect Cami site that shows how it works:
All of the Perfect Camis I tried out had the slider attachment shown on them so the wearer could adjust to fit their bra straps, but Ann let me know that customers now have the option of ordering based on their usual bra strap width (Narrow, Standard, or Wide), so dealing with the slider adjustment won't be an issue.

Sheer Crunch Perfect Cami
In regards to fit, the Camis are thin and stretchy, so there is some leeway. While the website gives a basic size guide for the 32-42 A-E range (in sizes S-XXL), I found the size chart based off bust measurement in Erica's review helpful in terms of figuring out a starting point size for myself. With a bust measurement of 36-37 (and usual bra size of 28H), I found that a size Medium worked out best for me. For comparison, I had a 30E/32DD friend try out a Small and a 32Fish friend try out a Large, and they were both pretty pleased with the fit.

Petal Scallop Lace in Grey and Black; Black/Silver Scallop Lace - all in size Medium
As you'll note, the Camis look a little different on me (and Erica and Darlene) than they do on the smaller-busted models on the Perfect Cami site. The back also tended to scrunch down below my bra band and not sit straight across as shown in the model (possibly due to my smaller underbust), but this didn't bother me or show up under shirts. All of this was pretty much expected, and didn't affect their purpose for me at all.

Look
I was a little apprehensive about whether or not the Cami would look okay and provide the coverage I was looking for, so I gave it a difficult test first off - a Pepperberry shirt with a plunging, shifting neckline and a clingy fabric that rendered wearing regular, full-length camis with it annoying and useless. The result:

Petal Scallop Lace in Grey
I was amazed, surprised, elated - in a word, chuffed! (all those UK blogs have really started to rub off on me...) The Perfect Cami worked out eons better than any other regular cami that I'd tried out with this shirt. I could go about my day without any worries of tugging, adjusting, annoying shifting, accidental flashing, or weird wrinkling. Amazing, I tell you!

Another thing I noticed is that all of the regular camis that I own have a v-neckline, while the Perfect Camis are all straight across. This led to the new discovery of Being Able to Wear Long Necklaces! Normally, necklaces such as the one I'm wearing above would disappear into my cleavage. No more!

Throughout the past several weeks, I've tried out the Camis with several different necklines. Below are a few different examples of necklines - v-neck, square, and scoop - to give an idea of how the look varies:

Petal Scallop Lace in Black (left, center) and Black/Silver Scallop Lace (right)






Obviously, the Camis won't show if your neckline isn't low enough, but I found that even the top edge of the Cami peeking out adds a nice little bit of interest to a shirt. Also, I found it can provide extra security under button-down shirts (you never know when gaping buttons will strike!). Thus, I think it's fair to say that the Camis could be quite useful even if you don't regularly wear lower-cut shirts. If showing any cleavage at all just isn't your style, then the Camis could open up a whole new realm of possibilities in terms of necklines to try, or they could "save" some shirts that you've just not been comfortable with wearing.

Comfort/Practicality 
I found the Camis themselves to be very comfortable and lightweight - enough for me to forget I was wearing them. The Velcro strap/hook system is pretty ingenious. Once it's hooked on to the bras straps, there's no awkward and annoying shifting of the material (a big plus over regular camis). The Camis sit right against the skin, and I was quite pleased with the coverage they provided - and the delicateness and various levels of sheerness prevented any kind of "dowdy" feeling.

Most of the Camis are sheer to some degree or another, so I would just keep in mind what you'll be using it for when considering which one to wear. A very sheer one like the Sheer Crunch would be great for certain tops, but you may feel more secure with something like the Basic Solid when wearing outfits with very wide or low-cut necks. There are quite a few style and color options to choose from on the site, and Ann is constantly improving and adding things! (Ann is also very helpful and knowledgeable, and I would definitely recommend emailing her with any questions or comments that you might have!)

A couple of little notes on care that I would make - I did notice that a little "bump" where the Cami hooks onto the bra straps can tend to show up under shirts, but generally only if the strap isn't adjusted quite right and if the shirt is thin - so it really isn't an issue that bothered me (and I'm guessing that this will be less of an issue with the newer models, since they'll be tailored to your specific bra strap size rather than having the plastic slider). Also, the fabric of the camis is fairly delicate, and the Velcro on the hooks can snag the fabric if you're not careful to keep the hooks closed as you store it or when it's on. Sharp or pointy necklaces can also catch and snag in the thin fabric if you're not careful. I wouldn't say any of these issues are any different than the care of any thinner/delicate article of clothing, however.

Conclusion
Overall, I was very, very pleased with the Perfect Camis. I've found that I really haven't worn any of my regular camis at all since I've gotten them! The fact that they're small and lightweight means that not only are they very comfortable to wear (coming from someone with sensitive skin), but they're great for travel purposes (or keeping in a purse for any cleavage-related outfit emergencies... it happens). As a bonus, they're a great option for nursing moms, since they can simply be unhooked on either side (much like a nursing bra).

Most of the Perfect Camis cost right around the $20 range, which is probably a bit more than you'd spend for a regular cami (if you're lucky enough to find one that fits well). However, speaking as a generally very thrifty person, I think they're well worth their cost. I've made great use of the Camis since I've gotten them due to their comfort and convenience, and they've even saved a few shirts for me (such as the purple Pepperberry shirt used as an example above). They've become an essential part of my wardrobe - honestly, I can't recommend them enough. The fact that the owner is so helpful and passionate about her company, and that the products are made in the USA, just makes them even more awesome!

So, how often do you make use of layering in your wardrobe? What do you think of the Perfect Cami?