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.