LIFE

I Got Fitted For Bras At Five Different Stores To Try To Find My True Size

by Sneha Goud

The last time I was excited to go bra shopping was in the sixth grade, and I was buying my first bra with my mom.

If only I knew how much of a headache bras would turn out to be, and how much they would cost me over the years, I wouldn’t have been in such a hurry to grow up.

That day marked the beginning of a life spent wearing an uncomfortable undergarment every day, and spending way too much money for different styles to fit under different outfits.

Over the years, I’ve bought most of my bras at Macy’s or Target. My main requirement is that the bra be on sale.

I decided somewhere along the way that I was a 34B, and I’ve stuck to that slightly arbitrary size for about 10 years.

A few years ago, after reading countless “Wearing the right bra size will change your life” articles, I visited a fancy-schmancy bra store, was fitted by a self-proclaimed expert, and spent $70 on the perfect bra. It fit well, was invisible under my clothes, and matched everything. I wore it until fell apart. Literally.

The lining began to separate from the cups, and the straps were frayed. I sadly tossed my favorite bra — and never replaced it. Trekking to the fancy bra store seemed like too much work when I could just grab a reliable old 34B on my next Target run.

I’m relatively petite and go braless as much as possible, especially in the summer under sundresses. I probably shouldn’t, but it’s so much more comfortable. When I do wear a bra, I rip it off immediately after walking in the door while cursing my womanhood.

I recently bought some new summer dresses that require a bra, and I also needed some well-fitted bras for special occasions. So off I went, with a list of high- and low-end stores to visit, on a quest to find a new perfect bra.

Stop 1: Macy's

Stop 1: Macy's
Courtesy of Author for LittleThings

I begin my quest at an old stalwart, Macy’s. I call ahead to make sure bra fitting is available and am assured the bra fitter, Laura, is around. I start my journey by getting lost trying to find the lingerie section, since Macy’s is huge. I find the bras and am overwhelmed by the quantity. I pretend to browse until I spot a “take charge” looking woman with a name tag reading “Laura” and a tape measure around her neck. I hover nearby and meekly ask to be fitted for a bra after she finishes with a customer. She whips out her white tape measure, wraps it around my cup (the largest part of my dress) and band (underneath my breast), tells me I’m in between a 32A and 32B, and walks away.

Courtesy of Author for LittleThings

I didn’t get a chance to ask Laura what I should do if I’m between two different sizes, so I wander around the section aimlessly. All the racks are too overwhelming, so I slink out, determined to find something at my next stop.

Verdict: I could have done the same thing in the privacy of my own home. And being told two different sizes doesn’t help me at all.

Rating: 1/5 bras. I didn’t even get a size!

OK Macy's, no bra is going to make me look like a Kardashian…

OK Macy's, no bra is going to make me look like a Kardashian…
Courtesy of Author for LittleThings

Maybe Rob.

Stop 2: Iris Lingerie

Stop 2: Iris Lingerie
Courtesy of Author for LittleThings

Am I one of those women? Yeah, probably.

I had high hopes for Iris Lingerie. Iris Clarke is known as the “Bra Whisperer” and can allegedly check your bra size just by looking, no tape measure needed.

She did not disappoint.

Iris Lingerie is located in the downstairs room of a funky boutique. It’s definitely no-frills. I’m instructed to take my shirt off in the “changing room,” which is a corner of a tiny room cordoned off by a bed sheet/curtain. Iris takes one look at the nude bra I bought years ago at Macy’s and pronounces it garbage. She doesn’t tell me my size, just brings me a series of bras and briskly tells me to try them on. She is shocked when I start putting a bra on over my head. I can’t hook bras without seeing the hooks! She teaches me how to hook the bra around my waist and let my boobs fall into the cups and adjust them.

Don’t go to Iris or any specialty bra shop if you’re squeamish about being touched. TMI, but I suffer from a serious affliction known in the nonmedical community as underboob sweat, and the tiny room is definitely not air-conditioned. A small table nearby has tissues and baby wipes, thankfully. Iris understands #thestruggleisreal. Each bra I try on feels wildly comfortable — I might not want to take them off as soon as I get home. When I point out the band might be too tight on one of the bras, Iris looks at me over her glasses.

“I don’t fix back fat.” Savage.

 

Courtesy of Author for LittleThings

I’d decided to look for an everyday T-shirt bra at each store, so I settle on a smooth rose-colored bra with double straps. I tell Iris I’m not sure about the double straps, but she informs me it’s the style, and asks where I’ve been. Not in her bra store, obviously.

Though Iris tells me I need four or five T-shirt bras, one lace bar, and one strapless bra, she’s not pushy when I just decide to buy the one. I decide visible back fat is worth the comfort and splurge on a $64 bra. I hide my old bra in the bottom of my purse as I saw that Iris threw the previous customer’s old bra away, despite her protests. I check the new size only after I leave: 32C.

Rating: 4/5 bras. Point deduction because of Iris’ insults.

Stop 3: Victoria's Secret

Stop 3: Victoria's Secret

I’m not a fan of Vicky’s Secret. The black walls make me think of some kind of sexy dungeon, likely coated with a layer of something I don’t want to see under a black light. Ditto those rifled-through bins of panties. [See pic from The Office above.]

Also, the music is too loud (#thisis30).

As much as I dislike the atmosphere, I have stopped in before, when I need a bra in a pinch, since the locations seem to be everywhere. I last was in a VS when I picked up a strapless bra while I was on vacation and needed one for a new outfit. On that visit, I grabbed a random 34B from a strapless bra rack and paid. In and out in five minutes.

Courtesy of Author for LittleThings

I was immediately approached by a friendly Victoria’s Secret consultant, Shanika. I told her I was looking for an everyday bra but wasn’t sure of my size. She removed the pink measuring tape from around her neck and measured me over my shirt outside the fitting room.

I was a 32C, so she gave me a standard black bra they must use for fitting and told me to try it on and press a button inside of the room when I was done. She would come check on me. Fancy!

This is the bra Iris told me was garbage:

This is the bra Iris told me was garbage:
Courtesy of Author for LittleThings

It looks fine! I’m still keeping it in my weekly rotation.

Courtesy of Author for LittleThings

While browsing the 32C bras, I fall sway to the “Bombshell” collection, which claims to increase a lady’s bust size by two full cups! Sold!

I avoid the piles of panties on sale.

Courtesy of Author for LittleThings

Shanika gives me this card with my size and the date to take home. VS offers complimentary bra fittings every six months. Iris would not approve, but I can’t drop that much cash on every bra.

Verdict: Fair. I like the padding of the bra I bought, and the service was helpful.

Rating: 3/5 bras. The service was good, but the store decor and sexy messaging stressed me out.

Stop 4: Bloomingdale's

Stop 4: Bloomingdale's

The last time I went to Bloomingdale’s, I was accompanying my roommate while she bought wool tights. I enter feeling hopeful, thinking perhaps I can find a bra reasonably on sale.

 

 

I love the shopping bags at Bloomie’s, and inside, I find these cute tote bags! I buy one on my way to the lingerie section.

Courtesy of Author for LittleThings

Right away I get distracted by the bathing suits.

I should have called Bloomingdale’s ahead of time to make sure bra fitting was available. After wandering the section for a while, I find a woman to take my measurements. She perfunctorily pronounces me a 32A. I’m disappointed after the service I received at VS and leave without buying anything.

Rating: 2/5 bras. At least I got a measurement, kind of.

Stop 5: Orchard Corset

Stop 5: Orchard Corset

Orchard Corset has been a staple on New York’s Lower East Side for decades. The store is run by Orthodox Jews, and reviews promise that the employees can measure you and get you out the door quickly.

When I walk in, I’m struck by the floor-to-ceiling boxes. The store looks more like a storage warehouse than a boutique. I am instructed to take my shirt and bra off in a dressing room. The bra fitter looks at my chest, pokes the side of my breasts, and then brings me a few bras in both sizes 32A and 32B. No measuring tape, just eyeballing.

 

I say I like a black bra she brought, and it’s immediately taken to the cashier, presumably for me to buy. (I do.) I’ve probably been in the store for five minutes. The bra does feel amazing, and I will end up wearing it the next day under a dress I usually go braless in.

Verdict: 4/5 bras. Loved the bra I bought, but felt rushed.

I end up with three bras. In total, I spent more money on them than I have on bras in the last few years, but they’re worth it.

I would highly recommend visiting a specialty bra store in your city and skipping department stores that are crowded. A store devoted solely to undergarments might not be fancy, though some certainly are, but the fittings are accurate, and the bra quality is outstanding.