Yesterday, I told you about my first bra shopping trip when I screwed everything up and bought the wrong sized bras.
Here’s the story of how I did things right on my second attempt.
I was at Dillard’s at 11:00 am on a Wednesday. The store wasn’t very crowded, and it occurred to me I should just bite the bullet and see if the lingerie department was busy and if I could get a fitting.
I headed over to lingerie and asked the first employee I spotted if a fitter was available. “I can do that,” she said. She was roughly my mom’s age, and her nametag boasted 12 years of service in intimate apparel. I thought that was a good start.
So we headed back to the dressing room and she got my measurements, and declared my number and cup size–both different from the bra I was wearing that I’d gotten just two weeks before. I asked her how I could possibly need a bigger cup size, when I wasn’t filling out the smaller cup I was wearing! “First of all, your band size is too big right now. But also, you’re not wearing a style that suits your body. Women don’t realize that getting the size right is just the beginning, and my job is to help you find the bra that suits the shape of your body.” (Bra-maker Bali points out that not every 34C is the same, and to try on different styles until you find the one that works for you.)
So after a few quick questions—Lace or no? Nude or black?—she set out to pluck some bras off the sales floor.
She returned with a pile of 15 bras, all nude, mostly Calvin Klein. She fastened each one on the loosest hook (“because they’re only going to stretch with time”) and instructed me on the proper way to wiggle in. I tried each one on and she checked the fit of every one.
We made small talk while we worked through the pile. “I have a daughter about your age,” she said. (I knew it!)
After we exhausted that pile she returned to the floor and came back with 6 more.
In the end we had found a half-dozen that actually fit well, and from there I selected my two favorites. I was wavering on how many to buy. There weren’t any sales or specials going on, and the price was steep. “You say you’re still breastfeeding?” she said. I nodded. “This one was far and away your favorite. Buy the one, keep the tag in a safe place, and come back later to buy more.” I know her pay depends on her sales volume, so I was impressed that she told me this even though it would net her a smaller commisison.
I scanned the carnage in the dressing room. There were 20 bras in a jumbled pile, their hangers falling off the chair onto the floor. I made a lame apology for the mess.
“Oh, that’s nothing!” she said, laughing. “Some women try on three or four times that many. It’s not easy to find the right bra, you know.”
Yes, I know.
Here are some tips so that you can have a successful bra shopping experience on your first try:
- Once you are confident in your size and ability you can hit the $12.99 bargain bins on your own. Until then, get someone to fit you properly.
- Most stores will have fit specialists available, but it’s a good idea to call ahead or make an appointment. Good fitters have lots of experience—the longer she’s been doing this, the better.
- Don’t go during peak times if you can.
- Tell the fit specialist your general preferences about cut, fabric, and style and let her pick out a bunch of bras for you to try.
- Measurements should be taken with your bra on.
- To put a bra on properly, bend over and put the wires on your ribcage, your shoulders through the straps, and fasten the back. Then stand up, lift and redistribute.
- The shoulder straps are adjusted properly if you can slide one finger between the strap and your shoulder.
- Have the fit specialist evaluate the bras as you try them on to check fit and make sure it’s the right style for your body.
- Bring something to read, because this could take a while!
What do you do to make sure you get a bra that fits well?
photo credit: Robert Wallace