Peeps, I've got an interesting story for you today. We can even call it Valentine's-themed though, in truth, that's just an accident.
For starters, I received the Miss Mandalay Amelie and, no question, it's GORGEOUS. It's beautifully-made, it's sexy, it's old-school. But it is not firm. I'd go so far as to say, if you've got dense breasts (at any size) and you're moving into middle-age (when breasts often increase in weight, if not size), then it may not be the style for you.
Look, I've only got my own tits to go by, so by all means, buy it and tell me I'm wrong! The thing is that the material used has a lot of give. In some instances, even stretch. So if you're breasts need some big lift (by the combination of band support, firm cups and straps), it's potentially not optimal. By contrast, the Miss Mandalay Paris is super-firm and supportive - and also gorgeous (though by no means as luxe as the Amelie). You can find them both here.
The Amelie fits small in the cup - but generously in the bottoms. I considered whether to reorder a larger size, so appealing is the design, but I couldn't tell if I'd need to go up one size or two. To be honest, I don't have the stomach for anymore online bra purchase returns in the near future. So I sent the set back. (Let me say it again, LCL is an excellent vendor which I totally recommend.)
Given this experience - and many others of late - I won't lie. I was perplexed. I was confused. I was unhappy. WTF is going on with my boobs, people?? Or my sense of sizing? Am I no longer the queen of bra fit?
There was only one way to find out. I went out and got re-fitted at a bra boutique.
I'm not going to get into details about which boutique because I have a number of issues with it on the basis of officious corporate policies. (Plus the prices are outrageous.) But I have never doubted this store's commitment to excellent fitting and the skill with which the fitters approach their role.
It was a fascinating - if outrageously expensive - experience.
Some things I learned:
- I am decidedly in a 30 band at this point. 32s are too loose.
- Cup sizing is very different from brand to brand. I mean, of course I know this, but I was very surprised to find myself in a smaller size (than my presumed standard) in every bra I tried on in store - despite my challenges with online shopping skewing to the "too small" end, at least as often as "too large".
- None of the bras I tried in store was a Freya. Apparently, perhaps one reason why I've been experiencing numerous bra woes on the online front is because, so the fitter told me, Freya (the brand I order online most frequently) has gone pretty low with the materials and manufacturing over the last 3 seasons. I can corroborate that every bra I've bought in the brand - for the last year - has been narrow in the cup and the wires are short (compared with those in the same size from previous years). The fabric is also cheaper-seeming. Look back over my lingerie posts. You'll see a record of this.
- I will not be buying Freya online again anytime soon. Not unless I've tried on the bra at a store first.
- You know that lingerie blogger question du jour: Are my breasts full on the top or full on the bottom? I have vacillated in my opinion about the distribution of my own breast tissue many a time. According to today's fitter - and she does see more real-life, unclothed boobs in a day than I do in a year - my breasts are neither. The density falls squarely over the mid line, says she. Which is probably why I refer to my breast profile as "deep" far more often than I refer to it in any other way.
- My breasts are also close together (in the scheme of close set vs wide set). Add mid-breast depth to close set and you have a shape that challenges wires to lie flat at the breastbone. This has only just occurred to me though I've had difficulty with gore placement forever. In the past, I've blamed it on shallow fit. But it's more specific than that. "Shallow fitting" bras are often shallow at the midline, but still too wide at the sides. Hmmm...
So, what did I try on? Mainly Empreinte. Why? Well, Loves, when you go to the bra store on Feb. 14 (just a fluke, I swear!), your choices are limited. The only remaining options are mega-expensive ones. Which when you're already dealing with an expensive boutique is, frankly, scary. Furthermore, while this is a brand I have wanted to try for many years, I wasn't willing to pay for it before now, so I knew well enough not to bother. (What good could have come of that??) I have tried to order it from Europe on a couple of occasions, at a discounted rate, but they're serious when they say that trade agreements prevent the online boutiques from shipping it to customers out of the EU. If you want this shit, you've gotta pay.
I bought 3 bras and a pair of undies* and it cost me $615.00.
I'll let that sink in for a minute.
Yeah, I spent a plane ticket's worth of money on 3 bras and a pair of undies. Amongst them, these**:
|Inadequate photos from here and the one below is from Figleaves UK|
|The two bras above are the same - the Empreinte Lola|
|This one is the Empreinte Kaela (couldn't find an even vaguely decent shot of the undies). What is it with this brand and the bad photo options?? This material is awesome...|
On the plus side, these offerings do make my tits look like something out of a French film or a pin up calendar from 1958. They fit SPECTACULARLY. OMG, I was really starting to wonder about whether my perfect-fit bra days were behind me. Of course, it would be lovely if Freya could go back to the old ways and make affordable bras that look this good on me. In the meanwhile, who really needs a college fund?
*You may wonder why I didn't get the undies to go with 2 of the bras. One is black (and the undies cost $175.00). The other is "basic beige". I have undies galore that can act as reasonable matches for each these. Though it's not my preferred way, I couldn't justify spending another 200 bucks, before tax, on 1/4 yard of fabric.
** I will discuss the fit of these - and the qualities of the textiles - in more detail in another post.