Wednesday, November 9, 2011

In Which I Remind You That You Can't Judge A Bra By Its Size

Fascinating occurrence here: I just got another parcel (that's 2 in one week, in case you're counting) from Figleaves UK. I've spoken about this online experience numerous times (just use the search and see). You know how up I am with the Figleaves experience.

This time I was shopping for basics - specifically beige bras to wear under all kinds of tops requiring, well, beige bras. I didn't want too lacy, too bumpy - observable.

The ones I purchased are the Triumph Doreen - see the links for my previous posts on this bra. I have strong feelings about it. And since I've owned the black version for about a year, I'll offer up my latest perspective: It's MEGA retro. I don't mean "modern nod to vintage". I mean, hands down, exactly like they designed it 60 plus years ago. From hardware to fit.

I will say it fits large. Go down a size at least. (Unfortunately no one seems to stock it in a back size smaller than a 34 - but it's not a stretch-er. A 34 on the second hook will serve you well if your back is a 32.) If your size is, say, a 32F, I'd suggest buying a 34D. Remember, for each back size you increase, you should decrease the cup size. In this case I'm advocating, depending on a few factors, going down one additional cup size.

I'll also say, it's much chicer, IMO, in "poudre" i.e. beige than in black. But, even given that I bought it one size down, next time I'll buy it an still another cup size smaller.

The fit is seriously high and pointy. Lord, I love that silhouette. I don't care if you tend towards "modern" or vintage - that's a great shape, IMO.

The second bra I purchased is the Panache Melody. It's a balconette that veers towards (but doesn't descend into) a demi. This one, I chose in my "regular size" and, while it fits, it is definitely smaller in the cup than the "smaller" Doreen bra. It gives a nice, smooth (despite a bit of lace), round shape. Very practical, but lovely. What I appreciate about this design is that it's high on the sides but delicate from the front. This improves the supportiveness without sacrificing the look. But ain't no way this thing compares to the Doreen in terms of support. The Doreen is a freakin' tank.

I bought both of these bras sight unseen. Yes, that's risky, but I did have some understanding of how the Doreen fits. Panache bras seem to be all over the map in terms of sizing so I went with the size that usually works on me, and it did. I was prepared to return them. I'm happy I won't have to. In truth, I've tried on so many bras that I have experience and intuition on my side. The only way you can gain those, is by trying again and again (though not nec. online, if complex returns don't appeal).

So, let's get to the interactive part of this post:
  • Thoughts about the pointy silhouette? I don't think it's universally flattering - I mean, it takes all kinds, but it is one I love. What do you think? (Note: Gertie wrote a good post on this recently...)
  • Have you worn either of these styles of bra? If yes, tell us more.
  • Do you buy your bras online? Do you return as many as you keep?
Let's chat!


  1. I'm tempted to try the Doreen.

    I've been incredibly happy with the Prima Donna Madison Full Cup bra, much happier with it than the Simone Perele Andora, but the straps on both bras tend to slip, especially if I'm wearing layers. The Doreen looks like it might not slip as much.

  2. I've bought bras online, and always been disappointed. I'm tough to fit, so I don't do it anymore.

    I've heard the Triumph line is great, but after reading about your experience, I'm not so sure.



  3. I really love both of these choices, especially the vintagey one. May I ask, are the new nude bras going to be worn under the new sweater from the last post? Because I am very curious to see how that open shoulder bit actually works with a serious undergarment. I love the sweater, and own the pattern book, but have not attempted it because I'd been worried about the look being spoiled by a big visible chunk of industrial grade bra strap.

  4. Susan: Love the Madison bra. I haven't worn it, but I think it looks great. I sense the Doreen is much more hardcore than it. Will not slip.

    enc: I find it interesting that, last year I said it fit small and this year I say it fits large. I'm not substantively different, bust size wise. Goes to show that you have to wear something to really understand it.

    Margaret: So glad you brought that up! I actually had to wear a strapless bra yesterday when first I wore the keyhole tee sweater. Total PITA. I'm going to have to come up with another solution but it isn't going to be this bra. The thick strap would be ridic observable. I think a clear strap is the way to go. I'll see if I can find them to add on to my strapless bra (that has clips for straps).

    For that reason alone, I would not remake this sweater. I love the look but it's too high-maintenance for me.

  5. I love a wirefree pointy cup, because no other silhouette can make you look hourglassier imo. I also love how pert I look in my longline pointies. I bought both of my longlines online through Women Within, and love them since they are so exactly like the longline vintage bras I used to find thrifting when I was a much smaller lady.

  6. Oh, I'm sorry to hear there are underwear complications with your beautiful new sweater (although I suspected that might be the case.) It sucks to have put that much work into something and then have to put work into the wearing also. But it is really lovely.

  7. I have never brought a bra online. I feel like that might be the one thing I need to do in person. Try that sucker on. For instance, I bought a swimsuit from J Crew at the end of the summer and the bra top did not correspond with my bra size, even though it was supposed to. Now I am left with a top that is swimming on me (final sale). Damn.

  8. I'm tempted to try Doreen also; I may have been tempted after your first report but never got around to it. Considering that my current favorite bra is Wacoal's Retro Chic bra, it may indeed be something I like.

    I mostly buy bras online, as I don't have much choice in my size where I live.

  9. I bought a Cosabella long-line strapless bra online for a dress and returned it for a smaller size which was still too big so I'm still wondering about online buying. But I'd seriously love to find that one all-around bra in a few colors for daily wear. I garden a lot and need something that can go from nice clothes to changing quickly into outdoor comfort. I don't know if I can do a pointy silhouette and I often buy demis because I'm small and um, low with no volume at the top. But I really need to branch out and try something new.

  10. Laura: I totally agree! Great info about where long lines can be got...

    A: I wouldn't do it if the sale was final - I'm not that brave :-)

    Mardel: I have to check that one out. I don't tend to love the fit of Wacoal, but maybe this one would be better on me...

    Amy: I do find the longlines fit large. I've tried a couple of times and I've been disappointed in the sizing. Seems there's not a lot out there for narrow, busty frames in the long line dept. I would have thought the minier boobs would have more luck. You should def try the pointy. Agent Provocateur and Princess TamTam are awesome for small boobs. The latest Huit range is also terrific. Those brands aren't cheap, but they are gorgeous.

    Margaret - it is a pain, but I learned so much (and found that lovely sweater clasp) so it's all ok :-)

  11. I love bras! And undergarments, in general.

    I actually was unusually put off by Gertie's post. It seemed like she was talking about push up bras rather than t-shirt bras. Don't get me wrong, there is definitely a lot to say about push-up bras and our culture. But I was surprised by some of the language she used - grapefruit, basketballs, slabs of foam... it was unusually hostile wording from her. Honestly, I felt like maybe she had recently had a bad shopping experience. I know from some of the smaller-breasted women in my life that it's incredibly frustrating and offensive that large retailers like VS seem to think that if you are an A cup, you obviously must want to appear larger, as if there is something wrong with smaller breasts.

    I'm pretty medium in size (at least in my own mind), but have a rounder shape. So, pointy does not work for me. I am pretty picky about fit, but I have bought bras on line in brands and styles that I already own. I think it would be a lot of trial and error if I ordered without knowing in advance.