Reading women’s magazines in the eighties, I wanted to be a Maidenform Woman when I grew up.

I still aspire to the level of cool confidence and authority portrayed in these ads, but I no longer want to be a Maidenform Woman. That’s because I’ve long outgrown Maidenform, as I discovered when I tried their Lilyette brand last week.

When I discovered that Lilyette bras go up to an American G, I ordered the Enchantment Minimizer in 34G and 36G, and the Enchantment 3 Section in 34G and 36G, each on sale for $22.68 from Macy’s. I hoped against hope that they would fit like the Fantasies, Prima Donnas and Panaches that we depend upon. What a breakthrough if a common department store brand could fit the G cups of America.

Instead of a breakthrough, it was a breakdown . . . in an area I didn’t expect to care about–the tacking of the center gore.

  • Diagram 1 is the minimizer. From my sternum to the floating underwire ends there was a good two inches of empty space.
  • Diagram 2 is the 3 section bra. Looking down at my boobs, I felt like I was looking at a box resting on my chest!
  • Diagram 3 is the Wacoal Alluring in 36G that I ordered at the same time. There was an empty space of 1/2″-1″ between my sternum and the underwire ends.
  • Diagram 3 is the Prima Donna Deauville in 34G. There was empty space of 1.5″ between my sternum and the underwire ends.

If Lilyette went up to an H cup, I suspect I would wear a 34H. Their 34G underwires were not wide enough to contain my breasts on the side, and their 36G, despite being too shallow at the top of the cup, had too much room at its base.

Other than the lift and shape they gave my boobs–which is all that matters!–the Lilyette bras had some nice features that made me sad they didn’t fit:

  • super smooth and thick band fabric with the kind of finishing that Leah always wishes for (only one piece of fabric instead of an elastic hem that gives back bulge; it didn’t help my back bulge, but for those of you who don’t have bulges when you’re not wearing a bra, this might be worth a try)
  • really tight bands . . . I had to fasten the 34 on the loosest hook
  • three rows and four columns of hooks
  • actually very little bouncing as I walked up and down my stairs (although I did feel the underwire beginning to move just slightly when I marched my arms . . . I knew this would increase and drive me crazy after a few wears)

Below are photos comparing the side views of these bras, in the same order, left to right, as the numbered diagrams: Lilyette Minimizer, Lilyette 3-section, Wacoal Alluring and Prima Donna Deauville.

If I had tried these bras at Macy’s back in 2008 before beginning this blog, and assuming I realized there were cups higher than a 36DDD, I probably would have purchased this Minimizer in the 36G and perhaps the 3-section bra in a 38G–simply because I wouldn’t have realized that a better fit, lift and shape were available.  My takeaway from this experiment is that low-cost brands generally available in U.S. department stores have a long way to go to create well-fitting bras that honor the shape of full-busted women. As long as they fail to offer a full range of sizes, specialty stores will never run out of department store refugees to rescue.