Fairy Bra Mother #2: A Letter from Boo Said the Elf

Boo Said the Elf writes her letter from a personal experience with her best friend.  Here’s hoping it inspires you to be as good a friend to the women in your life who need the confidence that comes from a perfect fit.

Dear D+ Young Woman,

I know a girl who was just like you. My best friend actually. I had noticed for a few  years that she’d had breasts the same size as mine, or bigger, but it wasn’t until a few months ago when I discovered she’s been wearing an A cup! I was completely horrified. Even more so to learn that it was almost certainly because her mother was jealous of her breasts and kept giving her A cup bras and insisting she wear them, despite them obviously not fitting her rather firm and moderately large chest.

Finally I snapped and handed her a few of my old bras and informed her that she was going to try them on and see what a terrible fit she’d been wearing  (at least in the cup size as these were 32 D’s) and lo and behold, a much happier and much better supported friend. I sent her home with these bras until we could go bra shopping at the weekend to get her some properly fitting bras and she was far more cheerful than her usual self. I guided her around the shopping centre until we found the bras in a larger size range. Unfortunately I let her have perhaps a little too much freedom of choice and a little less guidance than I should as she went home with a couple of 34 D that obviously rode up in the back. However her self esteem rocketed after the introduction of these bras so I left it for a few months.

Eventually I persuaded her to accompany me to Bravissimo, I told her it was because I’d never gone before and I’d like some company while I was there that wasn’t my mother. Of course while we were there we might as well have a look to see if there was anything for her there despite her objections that at only a D cup, she was unlikely to find anything that would fit her. However once we got to the store the sales ladies were very useful in helping me persuade her to get a professional fitting along with myself. And what do you know, that 34 D the thought she was turned into a 30 E with plenty of perfectly fitting bras to choose from. Suddenly this mildly depressed teenager who had virtually no self esteem and hated her body and never considered herself attractive was confident, cheerful and obviously proud of her stunning body. She will happily wear bikinis and v-necked tops; she’s even stopped complaining about her ass which hasn’t altered at all.

This is something I’ve shared with you because I can see in you what was in her, the anxiety and worry over having a noticeable chest. And I want you to understand that there is absolutely and positively nothing wrong with having a bust and that it can only add to your beauty as a person, a beauty from inside. Because everyone is beautiful no matter what size or shape they are, and the world will appreciate all these beautiful people being confident enough to share their beauty with the world, be it with their personality, wit, charm, intelligence and a million other traits that are wonderful.

But we all know a person is never truly able to let their best and most beautiful aspects shine when they feel uncomfortable in their own body. And that is a tragedy. So please understand; there is nothing abnormal or weird or negative at all in your shape. Embrace it and love it because that is how you show every other poor lost girl that they are beautiful too. And the world needs you to be the shining star that you are.

Your Fairy Bra Mother

Fairy Bra Mother #1: A Letter from Katie D.

Last December, I asked:

If you passed a well-developed young teenager on the street who was obviously wearing the wrong bra, and a magical lingerie store owner suddenly appeared out of nowhere, tapped you on the shoulder and said, “You are to be this girl’s D+ Godmother. Write her a heartfelt letter of advice, and you could win an unlimited supply of all your favorite bras (with matching panties!) for the rest of your life,” what would you write?

Five of you responded with amazing letters that I’m posting this week (the Soaks and Bring It Ups are on their way).  As you read their heartfelt responses, you’ll understand why I wasn’t about to choose the three “best”.  Instead, the writers have agreed for me to make a small monetary donation to Support1000 on their behalf.  When I tell you more about Support1000 next week, you may want to make your own donation.

Dear D+ Young Woman,

The last thing you want right now is someone telling you all of the feel good cliche’s about embracing your body image and loving your curves. You’re in high school. Breasts bring unwanted attention, detract from your perceived intelligence, and make you stand out from your friends.  But let’s think about that for a minute.  Attention is just that, attention. You can make of it what you will – it’s how you react to people’s comments and perceptions about your breasts that decide how the girls will affect your relationships and confidence. Think about the other big chested women you’ve seen: from porn stars, to librarians hiding underneath thick sweaters, to Marilyn Monroe, or perhaps an older woman who hasn’t heard that a good bra can bring her boobs from her stomach to above her waist. Go ahead, laugh. You know it’s true.

The only difference between those women (besides age, race, childhoods, etc., but you get the picture) is how they approach their breasts.  The porn star uses hers to make a living. She might be confident or exploited, but her chest is her defining feature to herself and others. That librarian? She’s so desperate to be seen as intellectual that she hides herself from the world – and make no mistake about it, hiding behind baggy clothes in an attempt to disguise your breasts is to be ashamed. There’s no need for that.

Then look at Marilyn Monroe – she is still adored for her beauty decades after her death. Size 12 and a D cup. She is adored because of her perceived confidence, not her body, despite what people might tell you.  Think of all the other beauties and babes – what separates them from Marilyn? An iconic picture, a smile, and an appreciation of her own body.

And that woman whose boobs swing below her chest? That was my mom. While her predicament is entirely of her own choice (she refuses to try on bras – I’ve even brought them home to her), it has been one of my greatest motivators.  I like to think of a good bra as my retirement plan – a little painful to purchase now, but when I look good at 50 or 60 it will be all worth it.

Want instant gratification?  I always thought I had back and shoulder problems – went away within days of getting a properly fitted bra. Some women want cleavage while others want to minimize their breasts, and because of that manufacturers provide bras that do both. You won’t find them at the mall though – if only it were that easy. Bras for the D cup and above require more attention from the salespeople, and as such cost cutting stores – like Dillard’s, Macy’s, and Victoria’s Secret – won’t help you find the one that fits you best. While we’re on the subject of Victoria’s Secret: go ahead, buy the underwear, but realize that their world does not understand breast support. Take a good look at one of their advertisements, after having looked up how a bra should fit. Even with photoshop they can’t get it right. If you disagree, that’s fine, just test try an expensive bra from a lingerie store (no purchase necessary).

Remember what I said about a retirement plan? That costs money. Good bras for the curvy women do too. Not because they don’t like us or because they think they can take advantage of us (although feel free to think so), but because it takes more thought to create a supportive bra. Boobs are heavy – would you rather put your schoolbooks in a drawstring bag or a supportive and cushioned backpack? That’s what I thought.

This is getting long, and I know you’re tired of reading. Just go try on a bra from a lingerie store, after asking for the salesperson’s help.  Then go look online (there are a number of blogs which can tell you just about anything you wanted to know about finding bras, dressing your body, etc.).  I won’t promise everything will magically be better, but it will let you know what solutions others have found and that it’s okay to discuss them.

Your fairy bra mother

P.S.  I’m an unemployed 22 year old with 30E/30Fs – it can be done on a budget (eBay is your friend) and your friends won’t care if you say you love your boobs. They might even agree with you 😉

Curve Cam and Bralebrities at Bra La Mode’s Intimate Affair

My friend Moira works in the lingerie industry and has a website called Bra La Mode.  She covers “intimate affairs”, and yesterday she held the inaugural intimate affair for Bra La Mode at the famous Bra*Tenders in the Theater District. The music, food, and drinks were great, but the people were even better.  Below, see fabulous fashion finds on some of the full-busted attendees, and meet some of the “bralebrities” who were there.

Enid wears a 40G/38H. If you haven’t yet discovered her posts over at Bra La Mode, then you need to make up for lost time. Start with her latest about shapewear. Don’t you love what she chose to wear to yesterday’s event? The princess seams, zippered back and deep scoopneck are great design features for full busts. Also, check out her georgeous beaded bra straps–nice touch!

Crystal wears a 32F/FF and is one of the most gracious bra fitters I’ve ever met. Bra Tenders is lucky to have her. If I were wearing this amazing dress that she found at Banana Republic last summer, I’d have a big smile on my face, too. It’s my all-time favorite neckline for the full bust. Also check out her patterned tights. What do you think are the principles that make everything about her outfit work so well together?

This is Jennifer Dule, a custom couture designer, wearing one of her creations. I immediately recognized that this jacket would look amazing on any full-busted hourglass figure. When I photographed it, she said I was the only person who’s ever been interested in the buttons and not the embroidery. Looking at this photo, I now realize how strategically minimizing embroidery details like these can be. I’m also interested in the seams that create this gorgeous piece and will ask her more about them when I interview her for a post on Hourglassy in the near future. Let me know if you have other questions you’d like me to ask her!

This is Roslyn Hart, an 88-year-old legend in the lingerie business who continues to design bras.  Before yesterday, I had only met her over the phone in 2008 when she patiently answered my questions about fit.  She was the first person to tell me about the difference between the full-breasted and full-figured markets and that my shirts would be “button front” and not “button down” (the latter indicates that the collar is buttoned down).  It was fun to show her my shirts that were only a dream 4 years ago.

And here’s Ali Cudby, whose book Leah reviewed for Off the Rack recently. You’ve also read guest posts from her about first bra fittings and Amoena Mia.

Below left is Margaret Shrum, the Lingerie Goddess responsible for the current rennaissance in my lingerie drawer.  On the right is Asi Efros, the creator of the most exquisite lingerie line I’ve ever seen, Ann Vogue.  Last September Margaret wrote a fascinating interview with Asi for The Examiner.

Don’t you like the fishnet stockings worn by the Chantelle representative? Chantelle was one of the sponsors for the event.

Finally, one of my favorite characters at the event was the cat, here being held by Bra*Tenders owner Lori Kaplan.  Not only does Lori have a soft spot for cats, but she also has a special place in her heart for adolescents who need the support of a correctly-fitting bra.  I can’t wait to have further conversations with her about ways she has helped young women (a Bra Mitzvah!) and what’s ahead for the Fairy Bra Mothers.

Off The Rack ~ Perfection in Parfait by Affinitas

It’s a miracle. After three years of knowing my correct size (and a dozen with the wrong sizes…), I have finally found my perfect bra brand—and it’s both American and reasonably priced! It’s the Parfait by Affinitas line (which you may remember from Darlene’s coverage of their big-busted camisoles).

I first fell in love with the red and black Charlotte when I saw it on a couple sites around Christmastime. But I was hesitant to try a new brand; I guess I prefer to stick with bras that I know fit, rather than take the time or money testing the unknown. But then Hautelook.com had a sale on Affinitas bras, offering them for up to 60% off (or $18 a pop!), so I couldn’t resist.

And now I’m kicking myself for not ordering the entire stock! Here are the two I did purchase:

The Parfait Bess

The Parfait Tanya

I spent Tuesday wearing a scratchy bra with too-wide wires that dug into my ribs and rubbed my armpits raw. I also received my Hautelook package that same day, and when I tried on the new bras that night, it was a revelation. Apologies for the hyperbole…but compared to the one I’d been wearing all day, these felt like being caressed with a silken cloud. The fabric is so smooth, the wires are the perfect (narrow) radius, the horizontal seams sit at the nipple instead of below, and the cups are (for once) deep enough at the base. Not to mention the fact that they are beautiful: the color is more vibrant than pictured above and the details are charming. I adore the pleats on the Bess. It takes what could have been a boring pink staple and makes it modern and unique.

And get this: the regular prices are only $40-$45. Amazing! And according to their website’s store locator, there are lots of online retailers, as well as brick and mortar stores, that carry them. So if you live in the U.S. and near a city, you may even be able to try one on in person.

The two bras I selected are both described as “padded,” but they’re not so much padded as simply molded. The fabric is only moderately thick and somewhat stiff, with a flattering perky, round shape without “push-up.” Many of the “padded” designs also come in what’s called a “wired” version, which looks to be a thinner, non-molded fabric. So if you prefer soft cups, they’ve got you covered.

As for sizing, this line runs both a band and a cup size small. Every review I found online said as much, so that’s what I tried, and it’s perfect. And thank goodness for that, because I’m a 28 and these are not made below a 30 band. (The full range is 30-40 D-G.)

Even Freya, which has been my go-to brand ever since I figured out my real size, doesn’t fit quite as well as Affinitas. I’m not a huge fan of Freya’s ratio of sheer mesh to opaque fabric (I would prefer more of the opaque), and find that the horizontal seam tends to sit just below the nipple, but I feel more supported when it’s level or just above. The base of Freya cups are also just a touch shallow on me.

If I could afford to replace my entire bra collection with Affinitas choices, I would!