Off the Rack ~ ModCloth Update

As I mentioned in last week’s column, I wrote a rather angry letter to ModCloth after noticing that they carried a Parfait by Affinitas bra and neglected to offer the full size range, or any useful information about fit and size. Well they wrote me back. Here is what I wrote to them, followed by their response:

I’m really angered by the way you’ve presented this item on ModCloth. I own this particular bra, which is actually the “Charlotte” bra from Parfait by Affinitas. First off, you don’t offer the full size range. I wear a 30G (and yes, I have natural breasts), and in fact I write a column about small-waist big-bust fashion and lingerie. The Parfait by Affinitas line is specifically designed for this demographic, and yet you don’t offer any of the larger cup sizes (F and up) for 30, 32, or 34 bands. It’s things like this that contribute to not only the fact that the majority of American women wear the wrong size, but also make young women feel like freaks when they can’t fit into “normal” bra sizes. They ARE normal, but companies (like ModCloth) simply choose not to offer their sizes.

Furthermore, you state that the bra uses UK sizing, but don’t explain the difference between US and UK sizes. How are people supposed to pick out the correct size from that? Oh, right, you list a measuring chart—only it’s completely useless and incorrect. The bust measurement does not dictate your bra size. According to your chart, I’m a 36D AND a 36DD. Wrong. To find a bra size, one must measure the bust AND the underbust.

Further, 36 and 38 bands go from DD to F, but 40 goes DD to E to F. What happened to 36 and 38E? If I look at the “Additional Sizes” listing, 36 and 38 do have E. But your measuring chart here is totally different than the other item listing. Here, my measurement makes me a 36E, 36F, 36FF, and 36G all at the same time.

And lastly, you state that this bra fits true to size, but that’s not true. It’s common knowledge that Parfait by Affinitas bras run both a cup size and a band size small, as some of the reviews on ModCloth will attest to. So someone who normally wear a 32DD would actually need a 34DD (cup size is relative to band size, so a 32DD actually has the same cup volume as 34D. As such, 34DD is both one cup size and one band size higher than 32DD).

Of course, I can’t write any of this in a review on ModCloth, to help other shoppers choose the right size, because your company only allows reviews from people who’ve purchased the item directly from you.

The response:

Hi Leah,

Thank you for taking the time to write in to us! I can completely understand and appreciate your passion for representing and choosing a proper fitting bra. As I’m sure you understand, shopping online for a bra is a very challenging task, and while I can completely admit, that ModCloth is new to the lines of intimates, I am sure with continued experience, we will be able to offer our customers the utmost service in these lines.

Here at ModCloth, we like to offer our customers pretty items that just so happen trend on vintage designs. We try to provide our customers with as much information as possible, and if more is needed- we are more than happy to help them seek the answers they need.

I am very sorry that you were so offended by the way this product was described. If you have any other questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Best Wishes,

Product Knowledge Lead

I think the “I am very sorry that you were so offended” is a bit of a sarcastic dig, but that just makes me laugh. I guess bras are kind of a trivial thing to get so worked up about in the grand scheme of things. It wouldn’t have even made me as mad if I were allowed to write a review so other shoppers would know what they’re getting into.

I do appreciate that ModCloth responds in such a timely manner, so a shopper could conceivably ask them questions about picking the right size. But I wonder if their sizing advice would be any good (probably not!). Anyone want to try it and report back?

It sounds like ModCloth is new to the lingerie game, and thus just don’t know any better. Maybe they’ll get better if more people write to them. Though from the looks of the complete “intimates” section, I doubt it. I realize that ModCloth shoots for mostly vintage looks, and the intimates choices reflect that, but quite a few of the bras they have listed come in Small, Medium, Large instead of band and cup sizes—and some of those are underwire! That is really confounding to me. Does the size reflect both the band and the cup? So the manufacturer assumes all women are the exact same proportions?

It’s just a nonsensical choice. Wouldn’t such a sizing scheme limit potential customers to a very narrow group? Or maybe they expect women to just buy the products anyways, and wear an ill-fitting garment simply because it (the garment itself, not the woman in the garment) looks pretty and vaguely vintage?

Coming Up!

Look for this month’s Support1000 post very soon. You’re going to learn about a great lingerie store that has been supporting Support1000 from the beginning.

Big Busts, Blazers and Thrift Shops: Never Say Never

I’ve stayed away from thrift stores because I’ve never expected to find the right size, style and color combination amongst all those one-of-a-kind bargains.  Surprisingly, I’ve found that other women with large breasts have not adopted my thrift store avoidance strategy.  Their experiences plus three other factors have caused me to re-consider:

  1. the potential for extending my clothing budget;
  2. my great dress find at last month’s clothing swap; and
  3. my search for a high quality blazer worth altering and telling you about.

Last week, I entered a thrift store just three blocks from my home and found a high quality blazer worth altering and telling you about for only $19.

I’m not sure what alterations Elena will suggest . . . perhaps narrow and taper the sleeves again?

I’m pleased with the high armholes. I’ll explain the cuffs with another photo below.

I’m very curious to find out if the back can be made more form-fitting.

Here is a closeup of the cuffs. I’d like to have these lopped off to just beyond my wrist bone  so that I don’t have to worry about them becoming un-rolled.

My biggest takeaway from this experience so far: begin with a jacket you already like, not one you have to talk yourself into. Here’s a comparison with the blazer I wrote about last time.

I think you’ll agree that the 100% virgin wool in the new jacket has a much nicer drape.

Look for another report once I take my new blazer to Elena.

The Celebrity D Cup and Up List: Eva Amurri Martino

I purchased the July 2012 issue of InStyle for the Salma Hayek feature, but I had no idea I would discover a potential celebrity spokesperson for the Bra Band Project:

Revealing that she wears a 30E bra and has a 23-inch waist, Martino knows a thing or two about dressing for a top-heavy figure. “Boobs are fabulous–your best fiend when you’re naked–but when you’re shopping for clothes, they’re a nightmare,” she confesses. “When in doubt, I go for V-necks or sheath dresses that go in at the waist.”

Are we entering a new dawn of celebrities who know their true bra size? Can Christina Hendricks be next?

It may be that Eva should be in a 28 or even a 26 band, but just the fact that she doesn’t claim to wear a 34DD* is one giant step forward for full-busted womankind.

*Back in 2009, I noticed that 34DD seemed to be the magic number to which celebrities could admit wearing.