Monday, June 25, 2007

A Bra Epiphany

I'd been in denial for over a year and it was time to face the music. I needed new bras, and I needed them in a smaller size. An A Cup to be exact.

In the last two years I lost about 20 lbs when I decided to switch to healthier eating and exercise habits, and while it was great to lose the weight I'd gained since I stopped playing sports full time in high school, I was annoyed to notice that my chest was shrinking along with the rest of my body.

To understand why I was so distraught about trading down a cup size, you should know that I come from a family of full-busted women. My mother, grandmother and aunts all were well into D cups by the time they were my age, but unfortunately the boob gene skipped a generation and my sister and I were left with only half an hourglass. So I've always felt that I was unfairly given average/small breasts and spent my post-puberty years attempting to compensate with push-up and gel bras.

But last weekend, as I looked down and saw my bra cups flapping and straps falling off, I decided I needed to accept my boob shrinkage and get sized for a few new bras. Since I'm still fairly new to New York, I decided to do some research online to find a lingerie store known for great service and a huge selection of sizes, styles and prices. Time and again people recommended The Town Shop an Upper West Side lingerie emporium that has been around since 1888.

I hiked up to 81st and Broadway and entered the store, which, with it's crowded racks filled with basic, unsexy undergarments, hosiery and sleepwear, barely resembled the sexed-up Victoria's Secret most of us are used to. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, the store was buzzing with women of all ages, shapes and sizes (though I'm pretty certain I was the youngest in the room). I put my name down with a friendly saleswoman, and when a dressing room opened up, was escorted to the "NO MEN ALLOWED" area in the back of the store. The saleswoman assisting me closed the door behind us and asked what I was looking for.


I told her about my incredible shrinking breasts and asked for something, anything that would make my chest look fuller and more proportionate to the rest of my body. She asked me to take off my shirt, and then after tugging at my bra in various places, gave me a look of pity and asked, "how long have you worn a 36B?" "Since the 7th grade," I replied. She looked down and shook her head. "I'll be back in a minute, I think you'll like what I've got for you."

She returned a couple minutes later with 8 bras in her hand.

"You might not believe me, but you're a 32C."

"How the hell did that happen?" I asked.

"Like most women, your band was too loose and your cup was too small. You also weren't putting on your bra correctly and your breasts weren't in the right place in the cups."

She had me bend over, put the bra on over my shoulders, "vigorously shake the breasts" (her words, not mine) and then hook the back. Then she had me stand up, lift each of my boobs so they were properly situated in the bra, and adjust the straps. I just want to apologize to those who know me personally and may be disturbed by having that image of me in their head. I had to admit that the bra and my breasts looked and felt better than ever, and even without padding or gel inserts, they had a lovely shape and size. I ended up choosing two bras, a Wacoal iBra and a LeMystere Gigi bra. They were more expensive than any bra I'd previously owned, but for the incredible service I received and my new knowledge about proper fit and sizing and the quality and perfect fit of the bras themselves, I thought the prices were justified.

As I walked home, I couldn't help but check out the chests of the women around me (I swear, I wasn't trying to be creepy at all) and it was obvious that most of them were wearing bras that were either too tight or lacking support, and they didn't fit in their clothes properly. I thought about what it would do for them (not to mention my friends and family) if they were properly fitted for bras.

I've become somewhat of a bra evangelist as of late, randomly asking women I know whether they've gotten fitted before. Almost everyone I've talked to (especially women my age) have not, and I hope I've convinced at least a few of them to go find a real lingerie store (not a department store or a Victoria's Secret/Frederick's of Hollywood chain place) and ask for a fitting. I'd highly encourage the same thing for all of you, it's amazing how a good bra can make you look and feel so much better.

30 comments:

Monica said...

The Wacoal iBra is wonderful. (As is your blog--first time commenter here.) Since it seems you spend most of your time in Mass., you might want to check out Lady Grace, based in Brookline but with other locations. That's where I had my own, very similar, bra epiphany.

Deja Pseu said...

Another Wacoal fan here. If you take good care of these, they last a good long time, well worth the investment. And I agree about VS...their bras are horrible and they know nothing about fit. Run, don't walk, AWAY from VS!

Julie said...

Love Wacoal! I share your appreciation for a good lingerie store-- I lost weight, too, and was wearing a 36D, ended up in a 34 E (!) after I lost 20 pounds. Talk about wrong bra size! I ended up in a Panache SuperBra (I guess for supersized boobs) and checked myself out in every window as I walked down the street-- my boobs looked that good. Woo!

Aruek said...

I love LeMystere bras! My favorite is the linguini strap bra but I can't seem to find it online anymore (uh oh!).I think I also need to get fitted- my breasts have grown about a cup size in the past few weeks and my old bras aren't doing quite what they used to.

Teresa said...

I, too, was converted to the wonders of proper bra fittings after going from a 36B to a 34D and discovering my shape was much closer to "hourglass" instead of "lumpy" after all.

I'm not plus sized but I buy lots of my bras from Lane Bryant and have always received excellent service and fittings there - I highly recommend them to anyone who is a 34/36D and up. VS insists that I am the wrong size and their quality is horrible. Down with VS!

Becca said...

I agree, a proper bra fitting makes all the difference. I was "fitted" at Victoria's Secret once, but was not terribly impressed with that experience (no surprise there). I highly recommend Nordstrom. They have great service and selection, including Wacoal, La Mystere, and my favorite, Natori.

JessieB said...

I'm de-lurking (Hi!) to second both the Nordstrom recommendation and the Wacoal. Hooray for bras that fit and bra purchasing experiences that don't give a nervous breakdown!

franki durbin said...

oh I love it! I had asimilar experience...only the lovely german woman who helped me actually stood behind me and 'fixed' the position of my girls. LOL.

I had the rare opportunity to work with a fellow designer who could tell just by glancing if a woman was wearing a 'bad bra'. She was an absolute pro and shared much wisdom with me. I, too wore the wrong size before I discovered that I too wore a 32 band. What a difference it makes!

My ultimate bra is the Le Mystere Tisha collection, but have had great luck with Wacoal as well. There's nothing better than good support. ;)

Kai Jones said...

I like the Freya line, but then I'm a 40F/FF depending on the manufacturer. And I do all my shopping online, with figleaves.com--they have free return shipping, so you can try on the bra(s) and send them back if they don't work.

ashley churchill said...

you make me want to go!!!! i've had a horrible feeling that my ladyfriends needed some new garments and this only solidifies it!

Toya said...

LOL! I just wrote a blog post about this last week - great minds think alike!

My favorite bra is the LeMystere Dream Tisha.

Meg said...

I'm really curious about what size I was before my breast reduction. I thought I was a 38 DDDD because the 38 DDD was too small. However, I might have been a smaller band size and therefore needed even larger cups (but since I couldn't find any bras that size around here to try, I just wore what I could find). After surgery, I went into a 38B bra, but now I'm wearing 34D-34DD bras which I think is finally the right size. I wish I could find more bra sizes around here to try.

Life According To Tina said...

The only time i've ever been fitted for a bra was years ago at VS and the girl said I was a 36A. Now, I may have never been properly measured for a bra, but I know i'm no A cup. Reading this makes me wonder if I should head for my local Nordstroms and see if i'm really a 36C. Maybe i'm really a D? That would be too cool.

chloe said...

i'm sure your self esteem changed in 5 minutes of fitting? from 36B to 32A!!

fashionista's closet said...

You've inspired me to get a bra fitting (I've only had one at VS)! I have all the symtoms of ill-fitting cups and straps that won't stay put.

Maya said...

I too love my Wacoal iBra, which I also got at the Town Shop! Love them. Great shape, great fit, beautiful style, and extremely comfortable. The only problem I've found with it is that the seamless synthetic material it's made of doesn't breath in the warm weather. Not a deal-breaker, though. It's my 'winter' bra... :)

Rapunzel said...

Wow, now i feel inspired to go and get fitted by someone reliable. I have lost weight recently and noticed my bras haven't been fitting terribly well.

Anonymous said...

For all your lingerie needs, visit http://www.the-lingerie-post.com and join the discussions in the forum!

Karen said...

My favorite lingerie shop in manhattan (the site of my bar epiphany as well) is la petite coquette - It is located on 5th ave near 12th street.. http://thelittleflirt.com/

Chesney said...

Unfortunately, its tremendously difficult to find people who work in lingerie stores to know how to correctly fit someone else for a bra. I've been desperately researching for a month or so trying to find a store with knowledgeable fitting people, and I may have to drive an hour and a half just to get a fitting! Its very frustrating...

Anonymous said...

I went about a year ago on the advice of a friend. I thought I was a 36a/b --ooohhh no! The salesgirl laughed when I told her what size I was wearing :) Im a 32d/dd, which can be a 34c - sometimes. I laughed when she told me I am a d/dd. I made her bring me a c also - too small. Im 5'8' and weigh 135 - and the girls have never looked better! If you have never gone - get theee to the bra shop! I went to Nordstroms. If you are in the LA area there is also the Wizard of Bras in east Pasadena.

Anonymous said...

I work at VS and just wanted to say that not everyone there is incompetent...it's gotten to the point where I can just look at a girl and tell what size she should wear, and I haven't been wrong yet! If you're not comfotable with what someone tells you, ask someone else to size you or ask what the 'sister size' would be (like 32C/34B/36A)

Anonymous said...

i had to downgrade a bandsize after i came to the sad realization my bras didn't fit right. now i wear one bra and one bra only, the le mystere tisha t-shirt bra. gives my small droopy boobs a perfect, pert shape with no pushing or padding.
now spread the gospel about the importance of proper underpinnings!

KC said...

I got my first iBra at Town Shop, too, and have bought other Wacoals in my newfound proper size at TJ Maxx and Loehmann's at quite a discount. TJ Maxx also carries LeMystere on occasion, too.

PinkPowerSuit.com said...

I hear ya. Imagine what they look like after nursing 4 kids! Ugh.

Anonymous said...

thanks for your story!! i live in the nyc, was wondering how much did you spend in total for the 2 bras??

Anonymous said...

I was fitted at the Town Shop a few years ago - best thing I ever did for myself- 32DD Donna Karan Intimates... unlike VS they really are comfortable and last simply ages!

Aruek said...

Yesterday I bought an iBra (well, actually I bought two) in my new bra size and I love them! They're a little funny looking on the rack but so comfortable on! Thanks for recommending it.

Anonymous said...

Last year, a friend and I were dicussing clothes for her upcoming recital, and it occurred to me that her bra, looked rather like it did not fit. Upon my inquiry, my extremely buxom, 5'9", full-figured friend said she wore a 42C.

After I finished laughing at her, I dragged her to Nordstrom...turns out she was...wait for it...a 36H (yes, that's an H).

It rocked so hard.

hug said...

I live in Sydney and i cant find a bra fitting place... anyone got any ideas how i can find one???