Saturday, January 1, 2011

Strange experience the other night...

The town where I live has some great shopping. There are tons of local designers and artists, and it's easy to wander around downtown and find something amazing and unique. But there is no decent place to buy bras. There are the usual mall stores, (but no Nordstrom's which I hear does decent fittings and carries a good range of sizes) and a sort of adult store/lingerie place combined, where the focus is not on fit due to the fact that the lingerie sold is not really meant to be worn for any length of time. The closest place to get fitted is 2 hours away- well worth it, but not the most convenient, for sure.

So a few days ago, my boyfriend, Gregory, and I went to our local mall, with the intention of finding some new jeans for him, hopefully on after-Christmas sale. We wandered into Dillard's, and I decided to look at underwear. I have a habit of occasionally checking out the bras when I go to these stores, because A) it's fun to make fun of all of the claims that they make that are things that would be fixed just by wearing the right size and B) I like to watch to see signs of progress in terms of size selection. I have seen more and more 32DDD's, for example, and three years ago when I still bought bras at these places, that size would have been a vast improvement over the 34D's I had to put up with.

Imagine my surprise when I reached into a sale bin labelled "36D" and pulled out a bra by Fantasie- in the size 30G! And discounted to about $20, no less. I was stunned, but also excited. 30G is my mother's size, and while she already owned the bra in question, maybe they had other styles.

I excitedly went over to the sales woman and asked her if they regularly carried that brand and if there were more of them somewhere. She told me "No, they didn't sell well so we are discontinuing them." At my expression, she added, "I know, that's how everybody reacts, but most people just think they know the size they are and head straight for it."

We talked to this lady for a few minutes- she understood, and told me that she felt fortunate to be a 32, and even that was hard to find. Looking at her, I think she probably truly needed a 30 or 28.

I was a bit crushed, honestly. If I had known, I would have bought my mother bras there, and sent chestier friends there, instead of driving several hours to the nearest place that does proper fittings.

I have focused a lot on wishing there was more selection at places like this- but now I realize even more, as Gregory told me afterwards, that the focus needs to be on educating people. Really, it's a bad idea to have people so easily able to go just buy whatever size they think they are or that sort of fits them- the purchase of a new bra, in an ideal world, would always be supervised by a competent fitter, even if you knew your size. After all, sizes can change frequently, and different styles and brands can fit differently, and a fitter should be able to know their products and be able to help you figure out the best bras for your needs, every time. Until people are taught their true size and are demanding it, places like Dillard's won't change.

So, there needs to be more places that you can get fitted at. I'm tempted to try to start one in my area, but I have a few years of college I want to finish first. But I hope that someday, soon, everybody can be able to get properly fitted and buy a large selection of sizes, in any city we might live in. Until then I will keep educating people as best as I can over the internet.


  1. For several years now I have been unable to get a properly fitting bra. Though certainly not for lack of trying. No one carries a simple t-shirt or smooth look type bra that works on my chest. I’ve been to “Intimacy” (and they have a no return, only exchange policy), Nordstrom’s, and Macy’s. The fitter at Macy’s was a real joke, although ON MY OWN there, through trying on just about every bra in the store, I found the best make due solution. I have a wide set, firm-for-my-size chest with quite a bit of breast tissue that extends under my arms, and no one seems to be able to help me, so I DO resort to settling for a bra that “will do”. The girl at Intimacy hinted that it was fat, and not breast tissue under my arms. So I got insulted on top of having my hopes crushed. Nice. I refuse to pay $70+ for a bra that gives me rocket boobs, hurts under my arms and makes it hard for me to breath. I would LOVE some ideas or suggestions.

    - Tessa

    P.S. And don’t get me started on back bra-roll!

  2. Tessa, I would love to help you! I'm so sorry you had such horrible experiences with bra fitters. I've been thinking about how to respond, and I've realized that 1) it will need to be a longish answer and 2) the answer could benefit other people as well! So, would you mind if I copied your question and answered it in a blog post so others can see it as well?

  3. Please go right ahead! I am all for anything that can be done to help with this kind of situation.

  4. This also got me thinking--so few women bother to get properly fitted. It's also hard to find truly good fitters as well. Breasts are so taboo, so sexualized in our society, that it makes us so embarassed to ask to get fitted. We think, "It's so private!" It doesn't help that some women have practically been ridiculed for having a certain figure type when they went for a "fitting". So women just try things on their own, hoping something "will do for the time being".

    One of my friends says that she "knows nothing about bras". Her mom buys them for her. In fact, she has no idea how bra sizing works. But she does agree that the right size can make a difference, and she does think she's probably wearing the wrong size. So I gave her some useful links and tips. Not only do many people have a misconception of what certain sizes look like, some don't even have a clue as to what bra sizes are to begin with! Educating people is key.


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