I’ll start with my review of the base layer I got, the Woolies Crew Stripe in Black/Medium Heather Grey Stripe. I own a lot of black clothing, as I’m sure most all of us do. I have black knee warmers, black girlie tights, black spandex tights, black spandex tights with a shammy, black spandex tights with fleece lining, and I could go on ad nauseam. Do you know what sweet relief it is to dig in a drawer in total disarray and be able to immediately spot your target, agrey and black striped base layer? It still hides dirt, looks good with almost everything, and is flattering. It’s everything a black base layer is, except it’s clearly saying “Hey girl, you don’t have to empty out your entire winter drawer to find what you’re looking for. ” SWOON.
Ok, maybe you’ve experienced the breakthrough of different colored clothing before the ripe old age of twenty-six. This is still a fantastic piece of clothing. As Kate said, I found myself reaching for it almost every day while up in Wisconsin, visiting for Christmas. Riding in a two horse open sleigh, going sledding, taking llamas for a walk (yes!), watching the stars at night…. for each of these activities I thought, “You know what would be perfect for that? My Ibex base layer.” Kate’s got it absolutely right, it wicks wonderfully, so whether you’re sweaty from being active outdoors, or getting warm spending time indoors before heading back out, you don’t need to worry about getting cold and clammy. I also liked the fit - the cut of the shoulders lets you have either narrow or wide shoulders; it’s got you covered. I have a somewhat long torso, too, and the torso (along with the sleeves) were a great length. Not too long, not too short.
It was on day five of my vacation that I realized that it hadn’t started smelling funky, like the rest of me had. Just kidding! I smell like roses 24/7. In all seriousness, on a scale of Roses to Smelly-College-Roommate, I would have expected it to smell at least like Damp-Shirt-Forgotten-In-Gym-Bag-Three-Days-Ago. But it didn’t! I had always heard of these garments, but never had I smelled such a deceptively clean smelling shirt. There’s not much more to say about that, except that after a while I knew it was lying and should probably go in the wash.
The holidays are stressful, right? And travelling is usually the most stressful part, right? So imagine that you’re at your parents’ house, packing the car the night before you drive back to North Carolina. You’re doing laundry, shoving it in the washer, running around collecting your presents and food your parents won’t miss, pulling things out of the washer and whipping them into the dryer…. Can everyone please be understanding when I admit that I accidentally put my nice new base layer in the dryer on heat? Oh, the pain of uncertainty. I held it up and said to my step-mom, “It’ll be alright, right? Won’t it?” and she looked at me and said “You poor, poor idiot. This is why you can’t have nice things.” Or that was my internal monologue, I’m not sure.
It still fits, but it is noticeably shorter in the torso and sleeves. However, this is a boon of sorts for this review. For a follow up, I’m going to try prescribed methods for stretching wool back into its original shape. Maybe someday you’ll put your wool in the dryer because you’re an idiot, or because maybe you were just feeling harried at the time, OKAY? If that day should come, I’ll be able to tell you how to undo your crimes against wool.
That up there is a picture of me in the Smokies in my recently shrunken Woolies Crew Stripe. Still, not too bad, and I’m still reaching for it when I go out!
Item #2, the Ibex Balance Support Bra in Medium that Kate now has, is not such a happy story. (Well, maybe it is for the bra; it escaped my clutches before I could damage it.) I’m a solid size 8 in most clothing, and a 36 B in regular bra sizes. According to the chart, a Medium is a size 8-10, and also a 36-37. This was not aspirational sizing on my part, like when you think “Well, I’m a size smaller in some things, and I’ll probably lose weight soon.” No. I was being honest with myself. When I got the bra, I wiggled my way into it and immediately felt like a sausage. It was tight on my back, and the bottom of the front barely came low enough to cover the girls. While this is probably because I should have gotten a size Large, do you know how hard it is to have clothing say to you, “I do not think you are that size. I think you are at least two full sizes bigger.”? Let’s just say this bra and I got off on the wrong foot. **Note** There was a reviewer of this bra on the Ibex site that says she’s a 36B, and that it fit her well. However, then there’s another self proclaimed 36/37 B/C cup that says a Large was good for her. The plot thickens. Just do yourself a favor and try it on somewhere.
Bruised pride aside, I like the look of this bra. The crossing in the back was really sexy looking for a sports bra, but it also felt very secure. I do have a few issues with it, though.
1) There’s a kind of neat feature in this bra, in that there are hooks attaching the straps to the back of the bra that allow you to uncross said straps. Unfortunately, I found that the front of the straps very lightly bunched when uncrossed. They also tended to want to slink off of my shoulders, even though I had adjusted them to be tight. I think that for me, the straps were attached too far apart in the back, causing the slinking. **Note** Two of eight reviewers on the Ibex site had almost exactly the same comment.
2) The hooks attaching the straps to the back of the bra were hard to get used to when I tried it on. They’re small, flat metal hooks, but they seemed to be positioned over the edge of my scapula. I do CrossFit, where the sadistic coaches regularly have you writhing on the ground and sweating, and the thought doing sets of the infernal Turkish Get-Up (at one point you’re on your back, your arm and shoulder extended straight above your head, holding a kettle bell) with bits of metal positioned right between my scapula and the ground makes me shy away from the bra a little.
3) Because the straps in back pull from nearly your arm pits to cross in the middle of your back, I feel like Bra Muffin Top (or ‘Bra Bulge’) is inevitable for me, though I don’t think Kate has this problem. Even the model in the blue bra on their website has this- it cuts into her upper back near her arm pits. However…
If you’re slender , or your shoulders aren’t comparatively very wide (or they are, but they’re made of solid muscle like Kate’s, the lucky bitch), and you don’t have to writhe around on a dirty gym floor on a regular basis, this bra could be for you. Though I didn’t have the pleasure of testing it, I would imagine it has the same magical anti-stink technology that the base layer does. I think any lady knows that beyond comfort, anti-odor really important in a sports bra. Some older sports bras, no matter how much you wash them, seem to have fallen into the Bog of Eternal Stench.
Since Kate wound up liking my Balance Support Bra, we sent her original bra back, and I look forward to testing the Ibex Balance Light Bra. In a size Large, of course. Until then, my ongoing Ibex sports bra testing is kind of in limbo.