I don’t think I can go back to a regular store for bras anymore.
First thing to note, I’m petite. I can and have shopped in the children’s section, and sometimes get carded…at the movies. The size I generally get from chain stores is 32A, but anything I bought in regular chain stores just wouldn’t fit. It was frustrating to feel both like they were too big yet too small for me (where I was spilling out the top, yet not completely filling the cup out). Aerie was almost a sanctuary, because a few of their bras run a little small so it felt nice and snug. But I still had the “too big yet too small” problem.
Lingerie stores are intimidating. I have absolutely no one to ask for recommendations….no one I know goes to them, especially since their bras tend to be around $60-120. At Aerie, you could get 3-5 bras for that price. Even more if there’s a sale going on. Plus, lingerie stores are small, meaning sales associates will pay a lot of attention to you (hell for an introvert), and you have to get naked infront of the sales associate. A lot of people are too self-conscious for that. But you have to throw all that self-consciousness away if you want to get a bra that fits!
This week, I went over to a place here on Atlantic in Brooklyn, called Iris Lingerie. It’s one of the few that aren’t in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and with lots of positive reviews. I was a little skeptical to hear that they didn’t use measuring tapes to size you…but now I get it. It’s just like how you shouldn’t care about your size in regular clothes – vanity sizing makes stuff vary, and brand to brand you will see something different on the label. It’s the same with bras, even though that band number supposedly means inches. There’s a few things that I learned. It’s not just about your band number and your cup size. There’s also the shape of your boobs to consider! And mine are shallow breasts, meaning their “root” is very broad – my breast tissue starts just two inches below my collarbone! Other people have boobs that start lower and protrude outward more, for example.
They eyeballed my size and got me trying stuff right away…and 7/8 of them fit! It floored me to not see the cups gaping at the top. What I liked most of all, too, was that I could find UNPADDED bras at this lingerie shop! You go to any chain store and it’s almost always something padded or ultra-padded. You put one of those on and it feels like armor. It’s not soft, it’s not comfortable. A lot of stores assume people with smaller boobs want to look like they have big boobs, that they want all that padding. The truth is we don’t, we just wanna feel comfortable and look good.
So that store was amazing. They got my size down in 5 seconds flat, and based off their other online reviews, they’re great with big boobs too. Most of the reviewers, actually, seem to have unusually big boobs with a similar problem to me, in a way – they don’t fit in to the sizes you find in chain stores like Victoria’s Secret. I was told that my band size is more like a 30, but regular stores don’t sell anything tighter than a 32 band. It really helped when she mentioned a few brands to focus on in the future, that are known to cut their sizes smaller, despite what the label says. French and Japanese brands, the sales associate said, are geared for more petite frames. Because of my shallow breasts, I should stick to balconette, demis, plunges – things that have a lower cut so I’m not overwhelmed with material. Natori is a company from NYC itself, but also has a more petite cut. I left the lingerie shop with 4 bras of all different sizes – 32As, 32Bs, even a 34A. Different brands, different sizes.
They were expensive, don’t get me wrong. The cheapest I got was $38, the priciest was $68. Overall not as damaging to my wallet as I thought, but I’m used to paying $14-22 for a bra at Aerie (ill-fitting bras, however!). And I think these should last me for quite some time, till I get bored with my closet again, haha. By the way, they do sell nearly all of these same brands in department stores like Nordstrom. It’s just that the lingerie shops have attendants with a professional eye for sizing – that’s something totally worth the visit. It’s just too daunting to try everything yourself, without help to guide you.
The highlight of my day there was when the saleswoman asked me how old I was.
“What!? I thought you were 14!!!”
After that, the sexy bras came out ;) I loved that she was so nice to me the whole time – there has been SEVERAL Victoria’s Secrets associates at several branches that would look me up and down and tell me to….and I quote…
“Come back when you’re a little older.”
If you’re curious about breast shapes and want to read more about the differences (or find your shape), I highly recommend checking out r/abrathatfits (particularly their sidebar to the right).
Specifically for shallow breasts, here is a guide from that subreddit.