How Not to Shop for Lingerie

How Not to Shop for Lingerie

I hate bra shopping, but I’ve been twice this month.  I know the statistics:  70% of women are wearing the wrong size bra.  But I was sure I had the know-how to not end up being one of them.  Oh, how the mighty fall!

Here’s my tale of two shopping trips.  Today, I’ll tell you about the trip where I screwed it all up and wasted money (ouch) and time (extra ouch!) on bras that don’t fit.  Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the shopping trip where I got it right.

I strolled into Macy’s intimate apparel department at about noon on a Wednesday, and the first thing I noticed was the giant signs advertising The Big Sale.  Hurray for sales!  No wonder it was so busy for a weekday.  My bra size has been all over the map this past year (can you say, pregnancy?)  so I set out to track down a fit specialist.

I soon found the lone employee on the sales floor, but she didn’t look old enough to be a fit specialist.  In my experience, the best fit specialists are grandmotherly.  My next best bet is someone my mom’s age.  But this woman was my age.  I might as well go to Victoria’s Secret and take my chances with one of their tape-measure-wielding teens who’s only guessing at my size.  At least there they have 49 colors and $12.99 sale bras.  But I set my stereotypes aside and asked her to measure me.

I joined the informal queue clustered around her and waited my turn.  She measured me there in the aisle, gave me a band/cup size that made me cringe, and said, “For a size that small,” (Oh, no she didn’t!) “you want to stick to Maidenform.  They make great bras for the smallest cup sizes.”  And then, she bustled off to help the next customer with shapewear.

There I was, insulted and on my own to navigate a dozen racks of Maidenform bras.  I duly collected one in each and every style–even the push-ups–and headed off towards the dressing room.  I thought about asking for help–or at least moral support–but there were no employees to be found.  I reassured myself that I’d done this dozens of times, and I could figure out the fit.

I locked myself in one of the closets and started the tedious trying-on process.  Fifteen minutes later, I had two winners. I couldn’t tell if I’d found the perfect fit or not, but they seemed pretty darn close to me (and fit a lot better than the bra I’d arrived wearing).

I bought one of each, and left feeling like I’d accomplished something.  As someone who hates lingerie shopping, I was relieved that for 90 minutes and $22 each, I could cross that awful chore off my list for at least a few months.

I wore my new bras for a week before I finally could admit it to myself:  they don’t fit.

Where did I go wrong?  Did you spot my mistakes?  Do you hate bra shopping as much as I do?  How old has your best fit specialist been?

photo credit:  Tracy Hunter

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20 comments | Comment

20 comments

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  1. Linda says:

    My personal view is that bras are a part of the curse. I’ve never been to a fit specialist. I usually just try my luck. Sometimes I come out okay….and then there are the other times!

  2. Jamie says:

    I HATE bra shopping – even when you do go get properly fitted and psych yourself up to spend ungodly amounts of money. It’s impossible to find anything that fits decently, looks halfway acceptable and will last more than a month. Ugh! If you happen to be an uncommon size (like I am) it’s even more annoying because they don’t even make many of the styles in your size!

    • Anne says:

      Jamie, I’m sorry! I used to be an uncommon size, but now I am blissfully average. But even so, it’s still hard to get it right 🙁

  3. Jodi B says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a properly fitted bra in my life, but the times I’ve been “fitted” they give me a cup size that is far too small. My size seems to be changing on a weekly basis though (nursing), so I don’t feel like I can splurge on a “good” bra, but if I could, I would totally shop here: http://myintimacy.com/ They have a store just down the street from my inlaws house. I would like to go there.

    • Anne says:

      Weekly basis? At least you’ve upgraded from hourly, which is how I felt in my early days!

      I just checked out the My Intimacy site. I would so go there!

  4. Amber @ neuronmommy.com says:

    As a, ahem, small busted girl, I have never liked bra shopping either. One time my sister (who is very, very endowed) said she needed a new bra and wanted one for her birthday. I went to a Dillard’s and was looking at the brand apparently made for very endowed ladies. When I asked the sales associate if she had the size/color I was looking for, she actually looked me up and down and said she “thinks I am in the wrong section”. I politely told her that it was not for me, but for my sister, and was so embarrassed and insulted!

  5. GeekLady says:

    1. It depends on how the ‘specialist measured you. If she measured your rib cage beneath your breasts, added 4 or 5 inches to get your band size, and then subtracted your bust measurement from the newly inflated band measurement to get the cup size, then she fit you incorrectly. I loathe this. I don’t know WHY they try to measure for a bra size like this, it produces a negative cup for me, which they ‘translate into a 42AAA.
    Measure your rib cage under your breasts – this is your band size. Measure your bust at its largest point and subtract your band size from the bust measurement. For every inch the bust measure exceeds the band measure, you go up a cup size. 3 inches is a C cup

    2. You should by a bra that fits properly in the bad on the largest hook size. The material will stretch out over time and use, and as it does, you will have the ability to fasten it more tightly.

    3. Make sure the shoulder straps are long enough so that the bra doesn’t ride up in back. The band shouldn’t sit on your shoulder blades.

    4. If the underwire it sitting into the side of your breast under your arm, you should try a larger cup to see if it helps. and if the bra tapes at the side

  6. GeekLady says:

    …before I was so rudely interrupted by accidentally hitting the post button, I was trying to say that if the bra gapes at the sides, try a smaller cup.

  7. DFrazzled says:

    Can I admit that I send my husband? When we were newlywed, he got annoyed at how long it took me to do the deed myself, so I showed him what I was looking for. Now he does a better job than I do, and in half the time, usually while I’m at work. I try on what he brings home and usually love it. I am also lucky that he is not into lingerie for looks. In the end I get soft fabrics, good construction, and high durability. He is more willing to splurge for good bras than I am, too. Ladies, this is the best way to go. Convince your man that Real Men Bra Shop and get him his favorite Starbucks while you’re at the mall as a thank-you.

    • Anne says:

      That is the best bra-shopping deal I have ever heard of. Especially if they fit. That would be worth way more than a grande cappucino to me!

  8. Lacey says:

    I hate bra shopping too. The worst. If you have pointers for us tomorrow, that would be fabulous. I am just weaning my baby and have no idea what size I am anymore. Not a hint of a clue.

  9. Hate, hate, hate. And hate some more. That is how I feel about bra shopping. I have no idea my bra size. I just weaned my baby, but have been avoiding shopping for new bras. I am looking forward to your tips tomorrow. Maybe it will inspire me to go get fitted. Maybe. That’s just how badly I want to avoid that chore.

    Thanks, GeekLady for the tips on sizing. That will help – if I get really inspired.

  10. Katarina says:

    My goodness . I hate bras hopping

    1. It takes too much time
    2, My size has changed like 4 times in the last 3 years so i almost always need to check my size first
    3. They just never seem to fit right
    4. ANd why arent they all cotton ?

  11. Mandi says:

    I’m pregnant right now and as soon as I buy bras that fit decently, they don’t fit anymore. Since they are so pricey, I’m just going to try to last until right before the baby is born and buy ones that (hopefully) will fit for breastfeeding. But I have to say, I don’t think that even the best bra I’ve ever had was the “right fit”.

  12. Linda says:

    I think I’ve figured out regular bra shopping (find a style/size that works, stick with it, order online), but specialty bra shopping – think strapless or backless – is a nightmare for a DDD cup girl.

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