Friday, October 12, 2012

Lingerie Shop Along: Part and Parcel (B)

Stands to reason that the month I do a Lingerie Shop Along, I manage to buy just about everything in the wrong size.

It doesn't help that I've upsized my bra size (unfoundedly, apparently) in exactly the same time frame during which I've eaten next to nothing (due to sickness). Thing is, even if I hadn't been eating next to nothing over the last 5 weeks, the bras I've bought are easily 2 sizes to big in the cup and one back size. I'm prepared to accept that I've dropped a cup's worth of volume and a back size. No more than that.

How, then, can this be? Well, it's hard to say exactly, but I'm pretty sure the Gem fits large and loose and the same thing goes for the Fantasie staple bra, a fact I conveniently forgot in my efforts to buy the right size. Note to online bra shoppers: if you a) buy a couple of small-fitting bras on the heels of reading b) 10 lingerie blogger posts wherein those bloggers have recently increased in cup size to good effect, it's possible you will be thrown off track.

So now I've got to send 90% of my Figleaves order back for either full refund (that hideous Panache cami) or different sizes (the too-small soft cup I bought carelessly in the wrong size and 2 of the 3 other bras - the Gem (temporary sob) and the beige basic).

I'm writing this moments after sustaining the disappointment, to give you the real deal.

This is inconvenient. This is anticlimactic. This is irritating. Based on returns, this great deal is a less great deal, though still a far better one than if I had bought the same loot online without the discount codes, to say nothing of buying in a local boutique. (Note, the return may not cost as much as it might have otherwise because I've still got the first batch of returns sitting on my dining room table, as I haven't been well enough to get to the post office. I did email Figleaves customer support and request an extension in light of my situation. Point is, one consolidated return might cost less than 2 small returns. Or not.)

I want to focus on the good in today's parcel (which sure as hell isn't delivery time, which was two weeks from the date of order):
  • The gem undies are true to size to slightly large in fit. As they're a Brazilian-style thong, I'm choosing to stick with the tactically-purchased size L. In truth, the M would work as well. As many ladies talk about how Freya undies are too small for them to wear comfortably in their size, this may work out well for lots of peeps. The style is lovely. As is the colour and fabric. I can't comment on the bra because I believe the smaller size will have slightly different construction and will use fabric differently than the one I bought. Bra manufacturers often change the construction and elements of textiles at a cusp size (to increase support). Apparently, the size I bought falls into that category for this style. But I have to warn you that the bra fits largely in back and cup. I'm toying with the idea of sizing down a back size and 2 cup sizes though I'll likely go down a back and one cup to be safe.
  • The Arabella bra, that sexy standard, fits fine - though it's loose in the back and on the loose side in the cups. I believe this bra just has a loose band (given the sheerness of the fabric), so consider down-sizing the band and upsizing the cups, to get a firmer fit. As I'm at a particularly slender moment, that may not persist once my appetite returns, I don't want to send this one back. Sure, it may be that I just don't have the stomach to return every fucking thing I've bought this round, but I'm weighing my options (haha) and I don't want to downsize the heck out of everything in haste. Remember, I modulate through a variety of small changes in size and shape within a given year or two.
Let's take a brief moment to talk about appetite, shall we?

I'm one of those people who's been known to begrudge her intense love of food, especially as I move into that perimenopausal moment known for temporarily changing one's body composition. But, as I haven't had interest in pretty well anything edible in some weeks, I have to tell you that possession of appetite is undoubtedly one of the most wonderful elements of the human condition.

I remember, during my pregnancy, I was as sick as a dog. It depressed me so profoundly that I briefly considered abortion. Needless to say, with that thinking I was not in my right mind, given that my pregnancy was planned and I wanted a child. (To clarify: I completely support a woman's right to choose.)

Appetite is life's great, optimistic urge. Like sexual desire, it possesses us; it compels us to satiety. Appetite is a defining feature of existence. And when it vanishes, even temporarily, the world becomes grey.

I say this now, and I mean it (at least from where I'm sitting today): I would rather have appetite - and struggle to maintain the self-discipline I often resent as beautiful food calls to me - than effortless slimness as the result of no-desire. Don't get me wrong, I want slimness and appetite, but this illness has helped me to clarify the contradiction somewhat more fully.

Hmmm, I must be feeling like crap if I've deviated this far off base.

To close the loop on the online shopping, I'm not surprised by the results of the second Figleaves parcel given what I learned from the first one, and given what I've written above. And, although this experience has yielded perhaps my "worst results ever" (in terms of fit and returns etc.), this is how it goes. Not every shopping trip brings immediate success. If you take some chances, you may have to redouble your efforts - though with each purchase (and specifically within one purchase/(potential) return cycle), you learn and ameliorate the challenge.

BTW, this is as bad as I ever feel about this sort of online experience. It's clothing, after all, not world peace. I hope my re-sends will be perfect fits. And, of course, I'll keep you posted. Does this in anyway undermine my interest in continuing to buy lingerie online? ABSOLUTELY NOT. I've had far more successful experiences than unsuccessful ones, and even those lacking in immediate payoff yield a good final outcome, because I see the process through. Also, I've still saved a whack of money. And got excellent customer service. And purchased great brands that will look terrific when the sizing's managed. So really it's all good.

Thoughts or feelings?


  1. Hey, I've been waiting for your update! I ordered the Gem from Figleaves as well and haven't received it yet. I did receive my LCL order (very quickly, at that) and the Lacey undies are awesome (I ordered all three styles), but I have to downsize in the bra. I also ordered the Fantasie Elodie, which I love but it also seemed not snug enough in the band. I've placed a second order with LCL (the Fantasie Susanna bra & panties) and Figleaves (Vivienne bra & panties in the Mink colourway) so waiting for those to arrive before I can consolidate the returns I have to make from those orders.

    When you're judging the sizing on bras, would you say that it's better to have a band that's a bit on the snug size rather than worry about ordering up? Also, I'm realizing that if I order down a band size, I also need to up the cup size to get the same fit. The Fantasie Elodie fits me perfectly in the cups, but not snug enough in the band. Does that make sense?

    I'm frustrated that there are no other panties available for the Gem, other than the Brazilian...


    1. I would definitely say it's good to have a band on the snug side - even if you need to use a band extender for the first few wearings in order to break it in comfortably. So, let's say you bought the Lacey in a 32F and the cups fit, but the band is too loose. In order to size down appropriately, you should order a 30FF. You've gone down a band size, so in order to retain the volume in the cup you have to go up one letter.

      I suspect the Gem will come out with more styles of undies in the next couple of months because they intend to make this a staple bra (so I've read). I think the manufacturing run got delayed, based on how much longer we had to wait for it than expected. So I think they're working out some kinks.

  2. While I'm not with you in the Lingerie Shop Along :-) I'm completely with you regarding appetite. I always hope I'll get through ageing filling out, healthy and happy rather than succumbing to one of the many illnesses and unwellness-es that make so many lose their appetite. Appetite is, among many other things, youth and health!

  3. Oh, and I also hope your appetite returns very soon!

  4. Oh! How dreadful not to have an appetite! I agree with you on this point.

    So far, just one pair of panties has arrived for me and they're great. A few other items were backordered and should arrive in another 10 days. And my Fig Leaves order is winging its way to me. Can't wait.

    I would go down 1 cup and 1 band size, which is like going down 2 cup sizes in absolute terms (ie: the cup size of a 34D is the same in absolute terms as the cup size in a 32DD). Right?

    1. Right. For example, a 32G is 1 back size and 2 cup sizes larger than a 30FF. A 30G is one back size and one cup size smaller.

      By your analogy, a 34D cup volume is the same as a 32E (which may or may not be the same as a 32DD - this is where US and UK sizing gets very tricky). I believe, in the UK, a 34D is the same volume as a 32E and in the US a 34D is the same volume as a 32DD. Thing is, US and UK brands tend to fit and size quite differently.

      At any rate, a 32D is 1 band size smaller than the 34D, and the volume is 2x smaller.

      My brain is really hurting right now.

    2. Thanks for the response (and Clio, too) but, yeah, my brain is seriously hurting. I think I'm going to have to reread both your responses a few more times... Um, I was never a math person. Julia

  5. I love your descriptions of appetites as life affirming. I feel sorry for people who do not hunger intensely, for all things. ;)

    Sorry to hear about the disappointing results of your recent orders. You're right about the overall validity of online lingerie shopping, though. With your fab LCL coupon code, I'm in the Lingerie Shop Along. I'm keeping my fingers crossed about my red Miss Mandalay Paris 30E. My only other red bra is the Freya Active sports bra.

    I'm mulling over what you said about losing weight and needing smaller band and cup sizes. Are you sure you don't want to wait until you're well again and back to your more typical size(s)? I can't recall off hand what the return window is for Figleaves and LCL. I know you're keeping the Arabella, but if you're only down one band and one cup, maybe it'd be worth the gamble to keep the others. If you keep the tags on and they're still too big in a few weeks, you may be able to recoup your money on eBay or Bratabase. Or maybe order a second of one of those, like the Gem, in a size you think will work now, and then compare and contrast when you get it and then again in a few weeks when you're back to your ambulatory self. Easy for me to say, of course, since it's your wallet and not mine. :-p

    1. I'm fairly certain that I'll go back to my default size which is still a cup size smaller than the sizes I bought in the Gem and beige standard. I was up-sizing these on the basis of a couple of small fitting bras I bought in the spring. BTW, I found one of those small fitting bras (the Freya Nina) in a cup size up from the snug-in-the-cups one I already own. When the new one arrives, we'll see if the one I already own was mislabeled, or whether the Nina really is a snug fit in every size. Interestingly, this is my first ebay purchase since I couldn't find the bra in the larger size anywhere else...

      Also, the bands on both the Gem and the beige basic are WAY to big. I mean, the 32 is more like a 34 in each (I should measure, to verify this). So I need to go down a band size not because I'm artificially slim right now, but because the band is really not adequately snug in its size. Remember that I sometimes wear a 30 band, though I default to a 32.

      I'd rather just return to get the right size now while it's still available. I can tell the difference between a little bit roomy and flat out too big. And I'm not much into selling bras, though I know it's a great way to recoup funds when you have, ahem, a habit. It's just too much work, IMO.

      But good suggestions. Thanks for helping to make sure I'm thinking things through! :-)

      I bought the Freya Lacey in my regular size in the summer and they sent me one size up by accident. At first I thought I'd have to return it, but then I realized (since the band on that bra is nicely snug) that it's a good bra on those days when I need a bit more room. The Gem, purchased in the same size as the Lacey I was sent, is much bigger in the cups.

  6. I feel your pain. I just ordered 3 bras, and not a one of them fits. I guess I relied too heavily on the sophisticated pair calculator that told me I needed a 34GG/36G, when I am probably more in need of an FF/G...they fit pretty close, but they're all just a bit big in the cups, and some in the bands. I had some trouble with the Arabella I had ordered a few months back--the band fit pretty well, but the cups didn't fit very snug and so weren't supportive enough for my taste (though I wonder if they would shrink a bit in the wash like a couple of my other mesh bras did) so I returned it. If only I could afford to spend like $300 and get two or three in a couple different sizes for fitting purposes....or if there was a local store where I could try them on. :-( Maybe I'll have to wait until the Royal to check out a couple of the stores in KC.

    1. Well, sometimes you win...

      The Arabella is an interesting bra. Some people think it's weak on support. I actually find it quite uplifting, but the fabric is mega sheer. The wires and cup piecing on that bra sure are doing a lot of work.

      I don't recall my original shrinking much, but I wash in cold and hang dry.

      I'm always recommending to people that they buy a few try-on sizes and then return the ones that don't fit. But I rarely heed my own advice. Partly that's because (in general) I do know what size to choose - I suppose I don't have much of a leg to stand on right now, mind you :-). Partly it's because I like to be a risk-taking daredevil but only in seriously low-stakes ways!

  7. I got this week a Freya bra and a freya bikini i ordered from LCL. I AM OVER THE MOON. the bra i by far the nicest i have ever owned and it fits really well, thanks to your kind helpful comments. interestingly, the 30DD i ordered is labeled as a 65DD in european size (and not a 70DD as i expected). I plan on buying a 30E next, just to feel the difference.
    but the truly enlightening moment is the bikini. i mean, i never had a bikini top offering any kind of support, which is no wonder when they come in smal-medium-large. it never occured to me that bikini tops could also be sized like bras...
    anyways, THANK YOU for this shop-along! it's been great fun and i've learn a lot on the way! i'm looking foward to read about how this shopping spree ends up for you!

    1. Remind me of which bra and which bikini you bought.

      Interesting about 65 being a 30" band. It makes sense because, when I have made bras, I make a 70 band and that's like a snug 32".

      So happy this has worked out well for you!

  8. I'll be posting about my bras once I wake up from OCFF. I'm glad I've taken a few days though because I've given the two I like a good wear. Two will be going back and the sports bra is good but with my sprained ankle it's not needed at the moment.

    I hope you are feeling better soon.

  9. Update:

    4th bra arrived- Suzie by Miss Mandalay. At first I was disappointed- it looks quite different to what I expected and I don't love the look, either off or on. It's also the first bra I've ordered which doesn't lie flat against my center gore, though it seems to fit everywhere else.

    Fortunately, it turned out to be very comfortable, and very practical- the padding is very lightweight and the shape under clothes is round like I love. I'll have to call it a win.

    Meanwhile I broke down and ordered not a black bra like I need, but rather the Ewa Michalak CH Lato in the last size available anywhere near my range.

    1. Interesting. Admittedly, it's not my fave of the Miss Mandalay line. And, in pics, anyway, it looks shallow in the cup (not good for me). Also, it's padded - which is not my thing, though I know padding works well for many.

      I don't want to burst your bubble, since you've come to enjoy it, but I suspect if it doesn't fit at the centre gore, it doesn't fit optimally. Note: I'm not looking at the bra on you, nor am I the one wearing it. Just suggesting, from my own experience and from observing this scenario on others. Could you go up a cup size?

      The CH Lato is beautiful. I remember thinking that when first I saw it. Is it a padded bra (in some shots it looks it, in others, it doesn't). I think you will be very happy with it!

    2. I'd definitely give the next cup up a try if it were available, but even if I weren't online-shopping, I'm already in the biggest cup. If I'd tried this on in a shop I wouldn't have bought it. But after wearing it for a full day it still fitted everywhere else, was still comfortable, and was still supportive. That's why I begrudgingly call it a win.

      I'm not sure how you define shallow, but the cup definitely runs small- I bought it in the same size as the Parfait Charlotte, which by all accounts run tiny. After ordering I wanted to change the order to a smaller cup, but it had already shipped. Turns out I was lucky.

      Until 2-3 months ago I had never tried on a padded bra, then I tried the Freya Ashlee because it's so pretty, and I found that I don't have a specific preference for padded or non-padded. There are other features of bras that matter to me a lot more. Of the 5 padded bras I've bought since then, this and the Freya Piper Longline have the lightest padding, and this has the softest padding.

      Fingers crossed for the Lato.