The fitting for my niece Hillary (not her real name) was actually a two-stage process–or three if you count my post-fitting analysis at the end of this piece.

Stage 1.   Assessment

This occurred in the big dressing room that Hillary, her little sister and I shared at Marshall’s on Sunday.  When it was Hillary’s turn to try on the shirt she’d brought in, she began to try it on over the shirt she’d worn to the store.

I probably made her self-consciousness worse when I asked her to take off her original shirt and stand sideways in front of the mirror.  Below is the bra that she was wearing.  It’s by a brand I didn’t recognize, and the label said “36A Girls”.

I gently (I hope!) showed her how the band rode up in the back and explained that no amount of tugging was going to keep it down.  Then I asked her to raise her arms and showed her how the cups rode across the bottom of her breasts.  Actually, she didn’t even need to raise her arms for that to happen!  I ended my lecture by showing her how the sides of her breasts needed to be contained in the cups.  Then I gave her a break.

Stage 2.  Fitting

We went to Magic Corsets and Lingerie because I really liked the owner when I bought my Anita sports bra there.  Also, it’s not every boutique that can pull two different 34H sports bras off the shelf, so I knew they’d have enough inventory to accurately size both my niece and her mother.

The owner wasn’t there when we arrived, so her assistant took charge.  Long story short, my thirteen-year-old niece is a 36A.

Long story long, I’m glad I was there.  Who cares more than any shopkeeper in the world about proper bra fit for a young woman?  In this case, Hillary’s 34H aunt.  In your daughters’, nieces’ or sisters’ cases, YOU.

The cups for two of the bras that the assistant said fit her did not lie flat against her breastsYou know those women you see with little half moons above their breasts from the edges of their molded cups pressing against their tee shirts?  That would have been my niece!  The assistant didn’t have those styles in a 36A, so she gave them to her in a B cup (I don’t remember if it was a 34 or 36 band) and Hillary is definitely not a B cup . . . yet.

She also put her in a gorgeous Italian bra (only $30) that I thought was perfect–until I realized that it was already on the tightest hook.  I was disappointed that it was I and not the assistant who pointed this out.  They would have altered it for her, but my brother’s family was leaving the next day so there was no time.

At some point, the owner entered the picture and worked her magic.  I like the owner even more after this visit.  In the end, we bought this Lejaby ($35 on clearance) and Jezebel ($28) for Hillary. 

I was so surprised that Hillary liked this one the best!  However, it has two great features: (a) removable straps and (b) a cut-in at the side of the cups that means the bra won’t show through the armhole of sleeveless tops.  There was definitely a little bit of extra room in the cups, so I guess she can grow into it.  I’m not sure how I feel about that, but it was her favorite.
Hillary said this Jezebel bra was the most “normal” feeling of them all, so I insisted on buying it for her.  Unfortunately, it was only available in leopard.  Hillary mostly wears blues and purples, and if she wears white, she wears a camisole underneath, so she should be okay.
Stage 3.  Debriefing

Since the fitting, I’ve had the following questions:

  • What have I done???  I put a thirteen-year-old in a leopard print bra to wear to band camp next week!!  Is that okay?  The fact that there were no pastel options for Hillary leads to my second question.
  • Was the store too grown-up?  Hillary’s bubbly 11-year-old sister parked on a stool facing a corner because she was so embarrassed by the pictures on the walls.  Seeing the store through her eyes, I noticed the sheer body stocking and cupless bra photos for the first time.  She later told me that she’d seen something to do with candy, and that was all she was going to say.  Her reaction reminds me of Ali Cudby’s Mother’s Day piece. Oops. 
  • How would I do things differently? I’m still considering this one.  The decision to go for a fitting was a spontaneous one, and we had a limited amount of time. 

    a.  If I had had more time to plan, I would have googled parent forums and the like. 

    b.  If I still wanted Magic Corsets after conducting research, I would have prepared my  nieces for what they might see in any lingerie store.

    c.  I would have measured Hillary before we went to the store so that I wouldn’t feel at a disadvantage when the assistant proclaimed that a 34 would be too small for her (her underbust measures 34″, so it may have worked).  I also would have had Hillary try some of the bras at Marshall’s the day before so that I had an idea of prices and fit.  (Just because $28 and $35 would be a steal for someone who wears a D cup or higher doesn’t mean it’s a good deal for someone who wears an A cup!)

    d.  I would have made an appointment for the fitting to be done by the owner.

  • What would I do the same?  I would always begin with a professional fitter.  I have a fair idea of what works for me, but when it comes to A cups and padding, I have no idea what is optimal.  TweenParent recommends stores like Target or GapBody, but I wouldn’t expect to find an experienced fit expert there. Even though I would go to these stores after the initial fitting, I would suggest that my sister-in-law take Hillary for a follow-up with a professional at least once a year.  

I have one more giant question:  WHAT SPORTS BRA SHOULD A 36A WEAR??  We didn’t buy one at Magic Corsets because there was too much bounce in the two that Hillary tried (would you make your niece jump up and down like I did?).  She needs one soon before she uses her pretty ones for marching band practice and PE in the fall!

I can’t wait to hear your perspectives on this process.