I’m hoping this post doesn’t bring a ton of weird people to my blog by accident… I can see it now. Ah well, this is too important to pass on posting. If you’re a guy friend of mine, I’m sorry in advance – just ignore the post and move on! It’s definitely a girl thing! 😉
Today I went in for a bra fitting. A proper bra fitting. I actually went for two, for curiosity’s sake. And it was a lifechanging experience.
I have known for a long time that I was wearing the wrong bra size. I don’t want to get graphic about it, but suffice it to say these puppies weren’t being held up or in by the cheap store bras I had been buying.
There aren’t too many places where a girl can buy a decent bra bigger than a D cup – and most of the time if you need something bigger than a C you’re limited to a very small amount of ugly neutral ones. I’ve found some online stores, but with shipping (and shipping back, if the bra doesn’t fit right), I don’t know that I can justify ordering without trying them on first.
Luckily there are two stores in San Diego that specialize in bras of all sorts of sizes. I’d been into one of them before our wedding to get a bustier, since I needed something strapless, but even though I knew about both I could never really take the time or spend that kind of money.
A few weeks ago, hubby and I were watching a BBC documentary about women with big breasts (it deals with reduction surgery, etc. – not pervy at all) and during the part where they were dealing with bra fittings he turned to me and said, “hey, your bra fits like that” (they were showing an example of an ill-fitting bra). I agreed that it did. “You should go get fitted,” he said. When I told him that “good” bras started around $50 and went to upwards of $100 (some even more), he told me that it was too important and I needed to go, and to only get a couple if I felt like they were too expensive. Yet another reason to love my husband.
Even so, I kept forgetting or just not being in the mood. Yesterday I went for a shopping day with my little sister (to use up her Christmas gift cards – my big splurge was on a $2.50 Old Navy tee shirt to throw on, since I’d spilled sauce on my shirt at lunch) and she saw the signs in the Fashion Valley mall advertising Intimacy (one of the two stores) and suggested that we could go. By the time we used up her gift cards, I was too pooped, so I declined. But I woke up this morning, determined to make it there today.
Now, before I continue, these are just my experiences at the two stores I visited; I didn’t get any free stuff (hardly!) or special treatment or anything, and the stores don’t know I’m blogging about them (in fact, I didn’t have any plans to blog about it beforehand). I just wanted to share!
I stopped into Intimacy (between Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, on the bottom floor of Fashion Valley mall) and was struck first by the fact that there were almost no racks. There were pretty bra and panty sets hung on the walls like decoration, and there was a swimsuit display, but it’s not the kind of store where you go pawing through sales racks. I was a little worried about this – I’m not much of a boutique shopper – but I figured I was here, so I’d just go for it.
I was asked if I had an appointment. Um… Appointment? No, I was walk-in. (Why would I need an appointment on a Wednesday morning?) They were actually very accomodating, but I guess that I was supposed to know to make an appointment. Anyway, file that away – if you can, call ahead.
I filled out a survey – just what I needed, what size I was wearing, etc. – and they introduced me to a fitter. She was very nice, showed me into a room, and told me about their method. Apparently they don’t use measuring tape; they look at you and try to figure out your size, fitting you into bras as they go. Yes, you read that right. They look at you. In your current bra and not in any bra. This was not something I could have done seven years ago (when having my first gyno exam made me want to break out in tears and crawl underneath the exam table). I don’t imagine most of us are too comfortable having another person (especially a stranger!) seeing our boobs. But you’re forewarned now – and it’s totally worth it – so relax as much as you can. I know hearing, “they’re trained professionals” doesn’t help too much, but they are trained professionals.
Anyway, I got past the momentary “ick!” and the fitter left to find me some bras. She came back in with the cutest blue lacy thing with bows! And she put it on me (lean forward into the cups, then stand up as you’re strapped in… too bad I can’t do that for myself – I’m a ‘clasp in front and twist around’ girl) and IT FIT! And it felt GOOD! She showed me how the center part of the bra is supposed to be flush with your breastbone, and the underwires against your abdomen. Yes, I know, I should know that. But it’s been so impossible to find a bra that fit me correctly that I just didn’t believe it could be. Especially not in a pretty pale blue lace with ribbons.
She tried on some other styles – some fit, others were just a hair off – and then put me in a sports bra. I swear I’ve never worn such an amazing contraption before. I felt like I could run a marathon (and I don’t run, in large part because of the boobs) and never worry about bouncing. And it was comfortable (and moisture-wicking, she added!).
She left me in the room to contemplate the choices available – in all, six bras plus the sports bra fit me like they were made for me. I looked at prices and almost fell over. I’m not sure that they’re totally justified – for all that they’re European and special lace and all that. The sports bra was only $47, but everything else was over $100 – one was even in the $175 range! I couldn’t justify that kind of spending! In the end, I left with one regular bra (the one that was the most versatile and the most comfortable, not to mention the most affordable at $116) and the sports bra. They did tell me that I should wear my bras 2-3 times before washing, and always let them “rest” a day, and if I did that, they should last me about 5 years. Which is actually much better, in comparison, than my $30 bras that last me a few months before stretching out or ripping or disgorging themselves of their underwires. But $175???
I decided to head down the street to The Enchantress, where I’d gone before my wedding for my bustier. The Enchantress is located on Camino de la Reina, across the street from the Target in the Mission Valley mall (in the Mattress Discounters center – it’s easy to miss it if you don’t know where it is). In contrast, this small store is PACKED with bras and lingerie and fun things to paw through, and the owner is very quirky and very friendly (I think you should probably make an appointment here too, but I doubt you’d be made to feel guilty if you didn’t). Don’t misunderstand me – they know their bras – it’s just a different atmosphere.
Anyway, the fitter who helped me there didn’t need for me to show her my boobs – which would be a definite plus for a lot of people! – and was a little more hands-off (the fitter at Intimacy would adjust them in the bra if she felt they needed it). I didn’t mind either approach, really – they both seemed to work really well – but if you’re a little squeamish you probably want to visit The Enchantress first! I didn’t tell my fitter at The Enchantress that I’d just been to Intimacy (I just wanted to see what she came up with, not to worry about what anyone else thought), but sure enough she came up with a similar conclusion as to my size (although again we proved that every bra is different – some fit better than others). She brought me a darling light blue bra with pink flowers dotting it. I almost keeled over from the cuteness!
I bought that one – for $76 – and a neutral one – for $56 – from The Enchantress. Overall, her bras are far more affordable, and I couldn’t see any real difference in the fit. I don’t know how their life cycle will be, but I think that you can probably count on them to be about as durable too. I didn’t see any sports bras at The Enchantress (although I know she does sell them, and nursing bras too), so I’ll probably still buy those at Intimacy, but I think I’d go for two of The Enchantress’ bras over one at Intimacy, just based on price. Intimacy did have some more sexy styles, and offered free alterations for the lifetime of the bra (which could be a real deal).
I ended up with four bras – each a different size (36H, 36HH, 38 H, and 38I). Because I bought them based on correct fit, not the size on the tag (like jeans, the size doesn’t really tell you much). I am SO happy (even though I feel like I spent SO much!). I had been wearing an F-cup bra. That’s several sizes too small. Which meant I’d get spillage – a “double boob” look that’s just never attractive.
My new bras have vaguely cone-shaped cups and look incredibly huge, but I don’t look any different in the mirror (except that I don’t get double boob!). I sort of feel all strapped in, but in a really good way – like there is actually a ton of support, not only in the cups, but across the back (where these bras fit me far lower than any other bra ever did). I’ve been wearing my new bra for a few hours now and already I feel like I’m standing straighter and feeling less pressure on my lower back. It’s a HUGE difference!
So the moral of the story is to get a bra fitting! DO IT! It feels a little odd, but it’s the most awesome feeling to wear the right size bra. Most women don’t know what their proper bra size is – we usually wear too big a band and too small a cup – and don’t realize that they could feel so good. I knew I was wearing the wrong size, but it’s still a surprise to me how incredible this is. Even if you only go to feel how a good bra should fit (and don’t buy one of the expensive ones), everyone should go get a fitting. It’s truly lifechanging! So what are you waiting for? Go now!