Fitting In: Up where we belong . . .

(Note: Fitting In is fitting into Mia’s Best Breasts Forward spot today.)

Love lift us up where we belong

Where the eagles fly, on a mountain high….

Was that song an Oscar winner? Marvelous ending song to An Officer and a Gentleman where Richard Gere in his dress whites picks up Debra Winger and carries her off. A. Perfect. Movie. Ending.

You know what was a perfect ending to my first day at Curve? Being fitted by The. Fit Specialist. from Eveden. Darlene and I popped into Eveden Fit School and learned along with Fashion Merchandising students from Marist about the history of the bra and fit concerns. Check here for a brief history lesson.

Then it was time for a fitting.

Most of my adult life, I’ve worn a 40-something. When asked my size, I say “I’m in the neighborhood of a ____,” because frankly, it really does depend on the bra. The specific bra. I’d been fit into a 40H in a whole slew of Eveden bras in last winter’s visit to Lion’s Lair in Islamorada. Elomi seems to love my shape. In a year’s time, that batch was quite stretched out and last month I picked up some Prima Donna bras at  Le Piège des Boobies in Brooklyn. I’d also lost a bit of weight, and wasn’t surprised the band size went down. I was wearing a Prima Donna 38I when I got to Curve.

Freddy first put me into a 38K (US)/ 38H (UK) size bra. It had a nice lift like my Prima Donna, but still with plenty of room in the band and a little room in the cup. Out came the tape measure–36. Ah!  We try a smaller band. This one tacks better. My Elomi size: 36K (US)/ 36H (UK). The right bra has got me up where I belong.

I did not want to take that sucker off. Now I know I once again need new bras. We had a peek later in the week at the rest of the Eveden offerings, after which, a shopping trip is in order. Coming down from a 40 band size to 36 opens up a new slew of brands. Elomi still loves my shape, and I’ll pick up a few of those. I like to have enough bras to get through to a weekend to do laundry and have enough dry time. My ideal, money-is-no-object, shopping list:

  • A few more in more black.
  • At least 2 flesh tone. I’m pale, so the ubiquitous beige is actually dark on me. I look for the palest pink I can find to wear under white dress shirts.
  • 1 red. Because.
  • 1 Navy and 1 Turquoise — again, just because. Actually, it’s because I like to match the bra color to my clothing color and I wear a lot of blue and teal.
  • Some fashion colors and fun patterns.
  • Sports Tank. I have the Panache, but I’m eager to try the Freya version I saw at Eveden. I don’t want a situation where I skip a workout because my bra needs to dry. I always want another one ready to go.
  • Then bikini tops in as many colors as I can find. Why? This is my under-a-sundress bra alternative. The straps are going to show, no matter what I do. I prefer that it be of something meant to show.

Any gaps in your bra wardrobe?   And when was your last fitting?  Changing size is quite the norm.

 

Best Breasts Forward ~ Having a Fit

I learned so much at Curve this year, but the one thing that really stuck with me is that when it comes to bras there are many opinions about “fit”. I truly believe that there is a difference between “personal preference” and “fit”.

Always on the lookout for bras that will work for me, Darlene encouraged me to visit a brand that makes bras up to an American N cup in hopes that just maybe the 34 bands would run tight and I could sister size.  Instead, the owner of the company told me that my breasts were too low, the wrong shape and my 32 band was too tight. She told me that if a band leaves marks and creates “back fat”, it’s too tight. But that is what I call “personal preference”. My breasts are very heavy and if my band is not snug, the weight of my boobs will push the front band, underwire and all, downward. My band was comfortable to me until she rudely shoved and pulled on it while sucking her teeth and rolling her eyes. That was followed by her measuring me over my sweater and over an inch below where my underwire sat. As for back fat, it’s there because there is fat on my back.

As far as the shape of my breasts in my bras, I always prefer a rounder shape. I do not like cone shaped bras. I don’t like how they look, and because I am full on top, it is difficult to find one that the girls don’t bubble up and out of.

I say all of this because at the end of the day these are my breasts. Helpful tips from others I welcome, but especially when you are in an industry serving the very personal need of your customer, don’t be rude or snarky.

My bras may not fit your taste, but that doesn’t mean they don’t fit.

Off the Rack ~ A Visit to NYC’s Town Shop & Some Mini Bra Reviews

This week I went into a brick and mortar bra store for the first time in my life. I saw a Cleo bikini in a shop window and stopped in my tracks before I realized I was standing outside Town Shop (in NYC). It was 30 minutes before closing, so I popped in just to see what they had on offer.

I was immediately approached by a saleswoman who asked if she could help me. I asked if they carry size British 28G. She was confused by the specifier “British,” but I clarified that I just meant brands like Freya and Fantasie. I noted that technically American sizing would put me in a higher letter. I’m not surprised she was a little confused, though, since there are barely any American brands that carry big cup sizes and use the American sizing schema. In fact, the only DD and up American brands I can think of all use British sizing (Claudette, Parfait, etc).

Anyhow, the saleswoman took me straight to a fitting room without even browsing the floor. She then returned with five or six bras all in size 28G. I was excited to see a few styles I’ve been wanting to try for years (Freya Gem and Rio, Cleo Lucy). Not being shy, I whipped off my shirt to try them on, at which point the saleswoman marveled at my beautiful new Ewa Michalak bright green lace bra (the S Musisztomiec).

As I tried each bra, I commented on what I liked or not, what I thought of the fit, and so forth. We went back and forth on fit a little, but the saleswoman was polite and not at all disagreeable. For example, I thought one of the Freyas seemed unusually tight, and she tested the band and agreed, but said she didn’t think it would be a good idea to go up a size since it would stretch out. I liked that with each bra I tried on, she tugged here and there to make sure everything was situated in the right way. I especially appreciated when she yanked up on the straps to make sure the underwire was right up under my breast tissue where it should be. If only I could have a bra assistant with me every morning!

It was a little trying that I had to ask about price with each and every bra. I would prefer if she had said the prices straight off the bat. In fact, I was actually ready to purchase one bra she said was $53, but then later she double-checked and it was actually $60-something (which I wasn’t quite prepared to pay).

I ended up not buying anything, but didn’t feel pressured to do so at all. I’ve read a lot of stories of women feeling pressured to buy after a saleswoman has spent all that time with them. But when I said I was going to skip it, she just said okay, thanked me for coming in, and left me to get dressed. I think it helped that it was so close to closing time. In fact, I almost felt a little rushed, but honestly that was kind of what I was hoping for. I just wanted to pop in, see what they had, and pop out. I’ve no idea if the experience would be different on, say, a weekday morning when things are slower.

Later I checked the prices she had quoted me, and found that they pretty closely matched up with various online sources (barring a sale or coupon). It’s nice to know that they’re not jacking up the prices.

One last little complaint is that I wish Town Shop had more bras out on the floor for browsing. They don’t need to have all the sizes out, but it’d be nice if it were possible to browse at all. I only took a cursory look, but it seemed the only stuff on the floor was loungewear and robes—basically stuff that comes in sizes small-medium-large. I know bra stores have massive inventory when you consider all the sizes, but it’d be nice if they had a small, attractive display of the brands they offer, or even just the newest releases. Still, it was fun and a refreshing change of pace to walk into a store and be able to try on bras in my size!

As for the bras I tried, there were three Freyas, one Cleo, and two Panaches. I didn’t get the names of the Panaches because I didn’t like them, but they did fit better than I was anticipating. Aside from the sports bra, the last Panache I tried was the Porcelain molded strapless bra something like 4 years ago. It was so shallow and wide-wired on me that the wires couldn’t physically be placed under my breasts. It could only sit a couple inches down my rib cage. It was just about the worst fit I’ve ever had in a bra of the proper size.

These two Panaches certainly had too-wide wires, but the shallowness didn’t present nearly as much of an issue, I’m guessing because it wasn’t molded so the fabric was a bit more flexible. The gore was perfect—it laid flat, was just the right width, and didn’t stab my sternum. But the shape was quite east-west and somewhat minimized up top, so I still wouldn’t buy the brand.

The Cleo I tried was the Lucy. Normally I need to go up a band in Cleo bras, sometimes also a cup. This one was certainly extra tight, but again not enough that I would need a 30. If I were to buy it, I’d probably start out with an extender until it stretched a bit. The 28G cups also seemed a little small. But I’m not sure if they were actually too small or if the cups just didn’t suit me. They weren’t quite tall enough in the outer corners where the strap attaches so it seemed like I had a lot of uncovered side-boob. Otherwise the shape was the usual perfectly round orbs I’ve come to expect from Cleo.

Lucy_Bra

I next tried the Freya Gem and Rio, which were easily the best fitting Freyas I’ve ever tried! It’s no surprise that they fit so similarly since the Gem is actually based on the Rio cut, according to Freya’s website. Freya is known for giving a more natural, ever so slightly pointed shape. These two had the natural shape, but less of the pointyness. They also held me in really nicely on the sides, especially compared to the Cleo.

I absolutely love that the black Gem has a baby pink underlay. It turns a basic black bra into something special. For the Rio, I love the fishnet-like mesh on the upper portion. For both of these, the straps are unfortunately a bit wide. I’m still going to buy one of each at some point, but these straps are definitely designed for comfort, not looks.

GEM-BLACK

RIO-BRA

The last Freya I tried was the Ooh La La in black. I recall that it was a big hit when it debuted at CurvExpo. I didn’t think much of it at the time (I rarely care about black bras), but it was really lovely close up and on my body. The black isn’t quite as sheer as the photo looks. And the copper embroidered details are much more vibrant and sparkly. It made me think of Halloween. The semi-sheer black and sophisticated details make it really sexy but not trashy. Yet something about the fit just didn’t wow me. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I think it seemed more compact and flattened than the others.

freya-ooh-la-la

A Great D+ Destination in Delaware: Bare Essentials (where I tried Freya Lounge for the first time)

Mia is preparing her interview with Big Ballet dancer Carol Hartley, so look for her column again next week. If you hurry, there’s still time to ask your questions! I’m studying everything I can about collars, which is why you didn’t see a post from me yesterday, but I’m taking a quick break to share the post I meant to publish.

While my husband attended a conference one Saturday in early April, I seized the opportunity to explore Bare Essentials, a store in Wilmington, Delaware, that I’d heard about through The Full Figured Chest.

I loved the layout . . . three rooms filled (but not overcrowded) with many of the brands we count on. The third room was a surprise tucked at the top of the stairs and devoted solely to straplesses and bustiers for bride, bridesmaid and prom customers. It even had its own dressing rooms. Brilliant!

bare essentials upstairs 0

bare essentials upstairs 1

And yes, they do have 28 and 30 backs in regular bras–and they can tell you which bustiers run tight enough for 28/30 backs.

bare essentials 28 and 30 backs

What I really appreciated was being able to browse the racks myself. Even with an abundance of beige options, I like to be the one choosing what to try instead of depending upon a saleswoman to bring what she thinks I need.

bare essentials 1

more of bare essentials second room

Unfortunately, they didn’t have a Fantasie 4520 in stock in my size (now a 34G), but they had something else I’ve been wanting to try since telling you about it three years agoFreya loungewear!

freya lounge top

Actually, they only had the Sweet Dreams long sleeve top and matching lounge pants, but that was enough for me. I tried the top in Medium/B-DD. Only later did I realize I needed a Medium/E-G, which Bare Essentials didn’t have but could have ordered.

As it was, I loved the set so much that I was tempted to buy it anyways. The fabric is a great quality with a nice drape, and the design details are elegant.

freya lounge top side

Here’s what my side profile looked like when I fit myself into the “secret support” shelf. Not my preference, but not terrible.

freya lounge generous bottoms

I can’t remember if these were a medium or large, but the fabric and bow detail were generous. Even though full-busted women don’t NEED the bottoms, they were definitely worth buying together with the top. (And I think there were pockets.)

Here are the two reasons I knew I needed the Medium/E-G. First, the weight of my breasts inside the support shelf pulled the cream binding down from the neckline so that it didn’t lie flat or remain visible (red arrow). Second, the weight of my breasts also pulled at the arm scye, creating a tightness in the sleeve and armhole area (yellow arrows). Those factors, together with the approaching warm weather, helped me resist the purchase.

freya lounge all together

Bare Essentials also stocks the Freya Paradise halter swim cover-up, so of course I had to try it, too.

fantasie cover small

Small. Stretching to fit over my boobs made it sheer.

fantasie cover large

Large. If you could see the profile, you would see how low the elasticized bodice dips in back. A medium probably would have been just right.

Finally, the service at Bare Essentials was nice. From what I can tell, they begin by asking what bra size you’re wearing and go from there, and there doesn’t seem to be any high pressure saleswomanship going on. My saleswoman thought the Freya lounge top and the small swim coverup fit me well, and I’m fine with a difference of opinion when it comes to outerwear. Since I didn’t try any bras, I can’t attest to their bra-fitting expertise, but I have a feeling that a well-educated customer could do quite well at this store.