Soft Cup Bras

When I bought my first few D+ bras (in a 34DDD- not quite the right size), I managed to snag a Fantasie Elodie bra in slate grey. The bra was gorgeous on all the models, but looked awful on me. The lace cups came up almost to my collarbones and my breasts just looked pointy and saggy. Not a good look! Thankfully, Elodie found a loving home via eBay.

How it was supposed to look:

Frequently, the problem is the wrong size and I was certainly wearing the wrong size. But recently, I’ve tried on similar soft cup bras (in 32FFs, 30Gs, and 30GGs) from Fantasie and Freya and still look all sorts of wrong on me. I guess I’m a little less saggy, but the cups still come up too high and I still get bullet-boob. It’s really not a good look for me. My hunch is that the general seam pattern isn’t a flattering one for my shape.

I’ve had much better luck with the two Cleo soft cup bras that I’ve tried: Sasha (so pretty, but discontinued) and Lucy (I just placed an order for a 30GG from Butterfly Collection!).

Sizing: I stupidly ordered the Sasha in a 32FF… I needed a 32G or a 30GG. Sasha seemed to run tight in the band, probably due to the fashion fabric. If I could find the Sasha in a 32G or 30GG, I would jump on it. I tried on the Lucy in a 32G, fastened on the tightest hook. The 30GG should be great. Be warned, Cleo bras run small in the cup (I need a 30H for the Jude bra).

Shape: It’s technically a balconette. I don’t think the top section of the bra is doing much work, but the straps/sides/bottom give a lot of lift and support. Even with the Sasha being a cup size too small, it gives a really nice, round shape. The Lucy is, I believe, the same style, but is made with a different fabric.

Too small Sasha

You can tell the cup is too small, by the way the seams around top piece of fabric cut in (mid-breast and at the top)… a cup size larger would eliminate those indents and leave a really round shape. You can also see how the underwires are pulling back, in an attempt to fit my tissue. Never make the mistake of thinking a too-small bra is sexy (a moulded cup is less awkward, but still!).

Quality: I can only speak for the Sasha… the straps are made of a totally impractical material and managed to roll into wire-thin strands after wearing it once or twice. The rest of the bra is holding up really well.

Comfort: Again, the straps on the Sasha are awful. I might just replace them. The rest of the bra is wonderful!

I’ll update with pictures once Lucy comes in the mail. :)

Falling out of Love with Freya

So I seem to either have glowing reviews or downright rants. This one is a little more complicated- I still like (some of) their products, but I don’t feel like I can buy them anymore.

To be honest, the Deco is the only Freya bra that flatters my shape. I always love the way their bras look on models… but most Freya bras look strange on me. The soft cups all give me bullet-boob and the half cup bras always seem to squash me into a weird square shape, so I pretty much liked Freya for the Deco (I guess I also like the sweetheart bikini tops). But still, I loved the Deco so dearly… the shape is great, the nude is almost pale enough to match my skin, and I’ve been lusting after the ocean color for ages. Plus, the Deco is the bra that convinced me that D+ bras could be low-cut, sleek, and supportive!

So why am I falling out of love? Here are a few reasons:

  1. They offer the Deco is B and C cups… but cut off the 38 band at a G and the rest of the band sizes only go up to a GG (the 28GG has just been released, though I’ve only seen it available at Bravissimo). Honestly, I don’t know how many B and C cup-wearers would splurge $60 on a really supportive bra designed for D+ bodies, when they can easily find a $30 bra that’s more attractive and just as supportive. (I realize that B and C cups are hard to find in smaller and larger bands, but a small-bust company should take the reigns there, since they could provide a bra better suited to smaller breasts.) It would make a lot more sense to offer the Deco in H and HH cups than in B and C cups. Plenty of H+ women wear the Deco in the wrong size, because it’s such a great bra. Is Freya really a full-bust brand? (Les gros bonnets raises this question here.)
  2. The Deco is weird size-wise. It runs a bit loose in the band and an entire cup size too large in the cup. I’m normally a 30GG, but a 30G is my “best size” in the Deco (I can’t find a 28GG to try on). Everyone has noted the sizing problems with this bra. It really confused me when I first started figuring out my size and it doesn’t need to be so confusing.
  3. This one might be the last straw: my relatively new 30G Deco just broke. It was worn maybe 5 times. I was wearing the bra, feeling great, and then the underwire popped out. (The retailer refused to exchange an item that had been worn, which is absurd, given the reason for exchange.) Had I worn the bra a for a few months, I’d be sad, but I wouldn’t think it reasonable to complain… but the bra was new. I contacted Freya about the problem, and they said that, while the bra was obviously defective, there was nothing they could do. I would really like to see Freya stand behind their product, especially if they claim that it was defective, so I emailed again asking them to do so. Instead, I got a rather snippy response from Freya customer service, the first line of which read: “Legally your contract of sale is with the shop where the item was purchased not Eveden“. I had never questioned the legality of the situation, but had rather asked Eveden to stand behind the quality of their products when the retailer refused to do so. Not only was the reply exceedingly unhelpful, it was also downright rude. I understand if there is truly nothing that they can do, but the rude response was unnecessary.

So in all, it seems that Freya just doesn’t care about their customers. They make some great bras and bathing suits, but their customer service is terrible and they have been ignoring requests for larger cup sizes in their popular bras for ages. For now, I’m uncomfortable buying or recommending Freya (or other Eveden) products. If Freya starts really listening to customer feedback, I might try their bras again.

For the time being, I’m going to stick to brands like Panache (and all of their sub-brands), which offers an incredible range of sizes (there is talk of their considering sub-28 bands) and, at least on their Facebook page, has helpful customer service. I also want to check out Curvy Kate, but I’ve been unable to try their bras on and am terrified of ordering online without trying on first. I’ve been stalling on trying Ewa Michalak bras for the same reason! These are all brands that have proven their dedication to supporting (in all senses) their customers.

In the mean time, I really need a t-shirt bra. I’ll probably try to repair my defective Deco, but I really want to try the Parfait Casey (below). The problem is, I can’t find anywhere to try it on (the info on the Affinitas website is not up to date) and I’m worried that the 30G will be too small in the cup.

This bra doesn’t seem to get much publicity, but it looks like a great bra! Does anyone know of any stores in MA that stock Parfait bras? Any advice on sizing?

Problems with bra folding over

Remember the weird space I had at the bottoms of my bras? The underwires that were about 2 inches below my breasts? Well, I was able to solve my issues with the “bottom space” in my Freya Deco by going down a band size from a 32FF to a 30G.

Before:

After:

The “after” picture is a terrible picture (the red mark is actually from bad slouching in a loose band!), but it does show the lack of fold-over.

It’s not the case with my 30G Tiffany Plunge (Masquerade).

This is how the 32G looks:

And, though I don’t have a picture at the moment, my 30G folds over just as badly as the 32G. The band is definitely better, but the cups still flop over! Could it be that the cups are too small to support my breasts? When I scoop, I do spill over the 30G cups quite a bit. So would a 30GG (a size they don’t make) be better? (Maybe even a 28H (another size they don’t make), since the band is really big.) Thoughts?

Lady Grace has very little grace…

I just had the absolute worst bra store experience of my life. I’m still a little in shock at how horrible it was. I am almost never angry, but my experience at Lady Grace made me seethe.

Before walking in the door, I knew that they had terrible fitting services. The calculator on their site puts me at a 36DD when I input 30 for my underbust. I’ve heard of adding 4-5 inches… but 6? Really? So why did I go there? Well, since I hate buying bras without trying them on first, I decided to check out one of the stores in Brookline that stocks D+ bras: Lady Grace. So I didn’t go there to get a fitting… I went to check out their selection.

After entering the store, my eyes were greeted with a few racks of granny nightgowns and some very cheaply made panties. The bra selection was… not too exciting. They had a good deal of Freya bras, but everything else was very, very matronly. The website claims that they start at a 32 band, but there are some 30 bands on their online shop. I picked out a cute Freya soft cup bra and asked if they happened to have it in a 30GG (the size I normally wear in Freya). Rather than responding with a “yes” or “no”, the salesperson gave me a look and said “is this for YOU?” I said yes, at which point she started muttering “no, no, no…” and attempted to measure me with my sweatshirt still on, her “no”s growing progressively louder. She held the tape at least 3 inches away from my ribcage, measured above my bust, but never took a bust measurement. “No, no, no… absolutely not!” She then declared that I needed a 39 band, but would be okay in a 38D and “definitely not a 30GG”. Not once did she even look at how the bra I was wearing fit me or ask if I had problems with my current size… she just took the most bizarrely inaccurate measurements and added 6 inches. Even a Victoria’s Secret fitter can’t mistake me for a 38D.

I’ve heard 36 before… I usually get 34, even from mall-store fitters… but I have never heard 38. I wear a 30 in most bands, but sometimes need a 28 if the band runs large (I’d love a 28H Masquerade Tiffany). A 36 band is a joke, a 34 band is still huge, and even a 32 is loose enough to move up my back. The first time my bras ever looked right on me was when I switched to a 30 band from a 32. A 38 wouldn’t even make contact with my skin.

But in the moment, the inaccuracy wasn’t even what angered me… what angered me was the salesperson’s refusal to answer my question about the availability of a product and her “no, no, no… absolutely not!” How rude can one possibly be to a customer? I understand wanting to fit someone if you think they are in the wrong size… but you must be polite about it.

Yet now that I think about it, I should also be angry at the inaccurate fit. They claim to be “experts” and yet they have no idea what they are doing. At least mall stores like Aerie measure snugly around the underbust. Even if they add inches, they at least know what to do with a tape measure. And adding inches causes two awful things: 1) unsupportive bras and 2) the idea that a G cup is gigantic. It’s a whole lot more “gigantic” if you’re adding 6 inches to your underbust and then calculating the cup! I almost regret not trying on a 38D, just to show her how ridiculous it was… but I was just too shocked.

Take my advice: NEVER go to Lady Grace. Arrogance and ignorance is the worst combination.

Mall Store Experiences and the Real “Average” Size Range

Part I: Mall Store Experiences

I feel lucky every time I walk into a mall bra store and a clerk doesn’t try to force-fit me… or give me weird looks.

Today, it was probably over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the apartment, so I decided to check out what the mall had for sports bras. I stopped in a few stores: Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret (mostly to see if they carried DDDs in store), Target, and EMS (Eastern Mountain Sports).

  • Surprisingly, Macy’s only had a few sports bras, mostly sized S-XL, so I didn’t try any on. Instead, I asked about what cup sizes were available in store. The clerk told me that they carried up to a (US) G cup and looked at me incredulously when I looked disappointed. G CUPS ARE NOT GIANT! I really can’t stand it when people give me looks like that… ugh.
  • Last week, I mentioned that Victoria’s Secret had started making some of their more popular styles in a DDD cup. When I stopped in and asked, they said that only some locations carried the DDD cup, but they were all available online. They asked what size I wore and the fitter gave me one of those looks. She asked if I’d humor her and try on a bra, since she wanted to at least try. She handed me a 36DD. I put it on… even on the tightest hook, I could pull it at least 6 inches away from my body… and the center gore was about an inch away from my sternum. I pointed these things out, but she said a 34DDD would be fine. Thinking I’d been unclear, I said that the 36 was very loose even on the tightest hook, but I got the same reply. I tried once again and gave up. The cup was a little bit too small, but the band was giant. It was clear that she just really, really wanted me to fit into one of the available sizes.
  • No one bothered me at Target, since I was just wandering around and there were no clerks present. I found a 38DD sports bra, which would fit in the cup, but not the band.
  • Eastern Mountain Sports had a limited selection and also only went up to a DD cup. The clerk was very nice and suggested some other stores. Oh, and she didn’t look at me like I was crazy, which was a plus.

On a slight side note, I found this awesome bra at Victoria’s Secret:

It’s a push up bra for the “gorgeous” collection. The shape of (or perhaps lack of) the center gore would give the most amazing push up effect. Sadly, it only goes up to a DD. If I find a really, really cheap 38DD, I might consider buying it and altering it.

Part II: the real “average” size range

But seriously, what is WITH the incredulous looks? First of all, a G cup isn’t “giant”. Second, I’m not saying that I’m a (US) 30J compared to their 34D… I’m a 30J and they are probably a (US) 30G (or a 30F, if they aren’t bulging out of their bra).

Which reminds me of something that needs to be said: 32-38 A-D are NOT “average” sizes! I am sure that there are people who really are within that size range, but they would have larger than average ribcages and a very small difference between underbust and bust measurements. For example:

  • 32A: 32 inch ribcage, 33 inch bust
  • 32D: 32 inch ribcage, 36 inch bust
  • 34C: 34 inch ribcage, 37 inch bust
  • 36B: 36 inch ribcage, 38 inch bust
  • 38C: 38 inch ribcage, 41 inch bust

Not many people have these measurements. In fact, these, if any, could be considered “specialty” sizes. Assuming they are wearing the correct cup volume (and no more than +4 band), they should probably be wearing:

  • 32A should be 28C (or maybe 26D)
  • 32D should be 28F (or maybe 26G)
  • 34C should be 30DD
  • 36B should be 32D
  • 38C should be 34DD

So the “average” size range should probably be something like 26-34 C-G (UK C-F). It’s still not very inclusive of larger cup sizes… but it’s certainly better than carrying bras that very few people actually fit! The only difference here is that the bands have shrunk… the cups have stayed the same. But if we consider all of the 28Js and 30Ks that are squeezing into terribly ill-fitting bras, sometimes going up to 38DD to get a bigger cup, I think it’s safe to expand “average” up to a K cup. A US K cup is equivalent to a UK H cup, which is still well within the bounds of “not-huge-looking”… I border on a US K cup and I am frequently mistaken for a D or DD cup (carried in most stores), so I think it’s fair to include at least a K, since most brands make up to a DD. Anyway, if the real “average” is 26-34 C-K, stores should be carrying those sizes.

That range doesn’t include bands smaller than 26 or larger than 34. It also excludes cups smaller than C or larger than K. Don’t get me wrong, people DO need these sizes and I’d love to see every store carry every size. However, if the argument is “we stock what there is a market for”, then 26-34 C-K is a perfectly reasonable size range for a regular store to carry. Now we just need to convince bra companies that you shouldn’t add inches to the underbust measurement to get the band size…

Sports Bras

I climbed Mt Monadnock on Sunday… and now regret not owning a sports bra. My back and neck are in incredible amounts of pain! Thus, sports bras were on my mind yesterday when I stopped by the mall after visiting a friend (and walking a lot). I walked into Aerie (no, they have no bras beyond a DD cup) to see if they had gym shorts and a salesperson convinced me to try on a sports bra. Their sports bras are sized S-XL, and I figured that the front (with the quasi-cups) would be too small, and the back to large.

I figured correctly. I wish I’d had a camera with me… I tried on a large and an extra large. The large mostly fit my chest girth-wise, but my breasts were spilling out of every direction. It also provided no support, since the back was riding very far up my back and my breasts were dragging the bra down as though it were just a camisole. The extra large was better as far as containing my tissue, but the band was 2 inches away from my body at the front and the back rode up even worse than the large. I would have actually been better off wearing no bra! The salesperson was shocked that they didn’t work… but she also claimed to be a 34D and was clearly spilling out of the cups and no larger than a 30 band… so I don’t think she’s used to bras that fit. (In case you’re curious, I did end up buying a pair of comfy $10 (short-)shorts.)

So sports bras are still on my brain, but I’m a little wary to get one while I’m still changing bra sizes. Is the Panache ultimate sports bra as awesome as it sounds? Because if I get it in a 30G or 30GG and then change sizes due to its awesomeness inspiring me to exercise 24/7, I’ll be a little annoyed. ;)

Butterfly Collection

I realize how lucky I am to live in the Boston area when I hear that some people don’t live anywhere near a store that sells D+ bras. When I’m at college, I’m pretty much out of luck… but at least I can try things on when I’m home for holidays. The scene in Boston isn’t great, but it’s certainly better than other parts of the US. I’ve been trying to think of solutions for people who really need a good fitting, but who live nowhere near a good bra store.

A few months ago, I stumbled across some reviews of Butterfly Collection. They are a fairly new company (started in 2010), but seem to have their stuff together. They carry a pretty good selection of brands (including Alegro, which is fairly new on the scene) and appear to not airbrush the lumps and bumps out of their models! Wow! My favourite part is that their models all wear snug bands, and the slight indent that accompanies a snug band isn’t photoshopped out. I cannot overemphasize the importance of showing what a well-fitting bra looks like!

(Back view of Cleo Lucy)

Fitting services:

As though the images of well-fitting bras were not enough, they also have a fairly accurate calculator. Their instructions to wear a thin bra while measuring the bust are BRILLIANT. When I measure without a bra, I get an absurdly huge measurement, due to the shape of my breasts. When I measure with a bra on, the measurement is a lot closer to the size I actually wear. Most calculators put me at a 32HH or 32I (UK). Since their calculator doesn’t accept half inches, I rounded up. Their calculator puts me at a 32H (UK), with options of 30I or 34GG. I wear 30GG (in non-Deco bras), so that’s the most accurate result I’ve seen form a calculator! Their “bra school” is also pretty informative.

I noticed their online “free bra size consultation” and gave it a go! I took measurements wearing my 36DD Aerie bra and listed it as my “best fitting” bra. The online form asks a few questions: underbust and overbust measurements, dress size, best fitting bra, high, current bra problems, and what types of bras you’re interested in. Less than 24 hrs later, I got a lovely email suggesting that I try a 32H (UK). Since the questions they asked didn’t quite leave room to explain how small the cup was, the suggestion wasn’t too different from the calculator.

But not only was the email friendly and reassuring, it was also educational (why a smaller band would keep straps from cutting in, etc) and quite helpful! The fitter suggested a few styles of bras, based on my current problems and the types of bras that I’d said I was interested in. If you don’t usually have issues with bra calculators putting you in absurd sizes, I’d definitely recommend their free bra size consultation.

[Their email name is “Butterfly Support”. How fitting! (so many puns here)]

They also offer Skype bra fittings, which I find quite awesome, since it’s really difficult to find stores in the US that stock small band/large cup bras! A Skype fitting, perfect for people who live nowhere near a good store, seemed almost too good to be true. I decided to try it out, again with a terribly fitting 36DD. Why the 36DD? Because, realistically, stores like VS would try to put someone with my measurements in a 36DD (or 38DD)… and people wearing ill-fitting bras are the people who need a good fitting the most!

My fitter, Claire, the owner, was incredibly nice and informative. She helped me measure myself accurately (it’s difficult to do alone!) and managed to size me at a 30H just based on my underbust (30.5) and bust (41) measurements and my standing infront of a webcam while wearing a 36DD. A 30H is within my current size ballpark, though I only wear that size in bras that run very small. Had I worn a less inaccurate size for the fitting, she would have probably suggested a 30GG… but I was trying to stick with the limitations that most women have. From the looks of their return/exchange policy, had I bought a 30H, I would have been able to evaluate the fit and then exchange it for another size.

No fitting is “perfect”, but given the limitations of a) skype (vs in-store) and b) only one really ill-fitting bra to try on, this came incredibly close. I was also really impressed with how informative Claire was. She explained US vs UK sizing, why fitters tend to just go up band sizes to get the cups to fit, and how a well-fitting band can totally change the fit of a bra.

(Also, I’ve now had another person suggest a 30 band, which makes me feel better about it.)

Products:

Their selection is a little more limited than some larger stores, but the styles they do stock are great and they are working on expanding their selection. They carry wired, wire-free, strapless, nursing, plus-size, and sports bras… as well as matching panties. They also carry a few bra accessories (band extenders, nipple covers, etc) and “soak, which appears to be this nifty bra wash that was originally developed for knitters.

Not every bra is available in every size. You can, however, search by size and spare yourself from the pain of falling in love with a bra, only to find that your size has sold out (you all know what I’m talking about). I am a pretty big fan of this search feature.

Another neat feature is the explanations of how each bra fits. There is nothing worse than ordering your usual size only to find that a certain bra defies normal sizing! With most online bra stores, I have to cross my fingers and hope that someone decided to review the bra and mention how it fits. I’ll still probably double check with Bratabase… but the “how this bra fits” section is a great feature!

Pricing: 

The prices are higher than what I normally go for, but I believe that they are fairly normal, as far as D+ retail pricing goes. Luckily, they have free shipping to Canada and the US. I wouldn’t list them as a place to go if you’re looking for a super cheap bra, but their stuff is great quality!

Overall: 

The bras are a bit pricey, but I’m really impressed with what I’ve seen so far from Butterfly Collection, both in terms of their selection of products and their fitting services. I’d recommend them especially to those who don’t live near stores that sell D+ bras.

Oh, and in honour of how awesome Butterfly Collection is, I’m starting a list of Canadian D+ bra blogs(If you know of any, let me know!)