Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Bra Adventures: The Ewa Michalak Experience and Some Other Things

Y'all know I read many lingerie blogs and many of those blogs have some fabulous things to say about Ewa Michalak. Certain others of those blogs have less fabulous things to say, specifically about the customer service.

I've discussed the service in a previous post. It wasn't good, but they did pull through when my package was lost in the mail. (Is it wrong of me to suspect that it was never sent in the first place?)

After a month, I received the set shown below:

E Michalak SM Trefl ("Soft Cup")
To clarify, soft cup refers to the fact that the bra cups aren't molded or padded. It does, as you can see, have an under wire.

I was not impressed by this bra in any way.
  • The fabric is not particularly supportive. It has a lot of stretch (making it good for a large bust which gravity hasn't touched) which makes the upper cups even more gape-y than they'd otherwise be.
  • The wires are fine but they're nothing to write home about, in the support department.
  • The band on this bra is quite firm. I wouldn't go down a band size, though many have indicated that bra band and cup sizing is all over the map. A good feature of this brand is that it will custom-make a bra for you in any size. The downside is that every bra seems to be (if one believes the reviews) its own particular size. Some are small in the cups, others large in the band or vice versa. Because customized bras are not returnable, it's a risk.
  • This bra wasn't cheap (though not expensive) and I was charged an additional, mystery "Paypal fee" that amounted, if I'm not mistaken, to about 6 per cent of the purchase price. There is no transparency about this fee and it pisses me off.
  • It took too long to arrive and the feedback was sporadic. 
  • The fabric, while not cheap-looking, has no delicateness. It's just not pretty enough to warrant all of the other hassles. By contrast, I have Empreinte bras that are as delicate-seeming as tissue, and they're far more supportive.
To put this into perspective, I paid about the same amount for the Cleo Melissa and it fits like a dream. It's utterly supportive. The band doesn't budge. It's gorgeous and unique. The cup is deeper than the one on the Trefl, but still open enough to accomodate a full-on-top breast.

Look, if you have very full-on-top, difficult-to-size breasts, perhaps this is a good option for you. I've only tried one style, and I do think the support is underwhelming, but I'm no expert on the brand. What I can say is that it's gonna be a long time before I bother with this again so I'm grateful to have other alternatives.

No, I'm not going to return this set. That would be far more trouble than it's worth. It's sitting in my adoption drawer, tags and everything. I'll aim to sell to recoup the money I spent on it, at some point.

But moving on...

An Update about "Ask The Bra Fitter": I want to let you know that Veronica is reviewing your questions and she'll answer a couple at a time. I hope to be able to address the first batch of your fantastic queries early next week, so please stay tuned.

And finally, once again today, I was approached by some lovely women who are requesting my bra-assistance via local shopping excursion. It's amazing to me that people - those who don't even know me as "the crazy lady who has a blog wherein she talks obsessively about bra fit" - have begun to ask me for this sort of help on a regular basis. Scott has a theory that I should put up a page about my bra-fitting services and turn it into a side-line business. (He also has a theory I should charge $1000 a day and become bra-fitter to the stars, so I think you need to take his ideas with a grain of salt.) A while ago, I decided to lengthen my May long-weekend by adding on an extra day. Now, it seems, I'll be spending it with the savvy women who own and run the hair salon I frequent.

On this topic: Every bra-fitter has a bias. Some go in for the tight bands (I get this, on a personal-choice level.) Some use measuring tapes. Others take pride in their ability to suss it out through experience and intuition.

There are suspect systems out there. (You no doubt read about these all the time.) After all, a ridiculously high percentage (TBD) of women are wearing the wrong size bra at any given moment. There are also some very good methodologies. Veronica was taught one of those - and she has a great eye.

I myself, have never been formally trained how to fit a bra (not that there's a degree to be had), but I've learned in many different ways:
  • My own breast shape and size is challenging to fit. I've spent hundreds of hours and tried on hundreds of bras in an effort to understand fit - as it pertains to me.
  • I've read zillions of blog posts written by women of all shapes and sizes to learn more about what works and doesn't work for them.
  • For years, I've been helper-shopper, searching out bras for family and friends.
  • I've always had a strange and reliable ability to determine what will fit whom. I frequently buy clothing of all sorts for and with friends and family and, while I'm not 100% successful, my odds are pretty good. 
  • I take fit fucking seriously. I'm the woman who spends 30 hours working out the math to fit a sweater - aka the addition of volume. I sew, wherein I have to consider carefully, how to strategically remove volume. I think it's fair to say, since I dream about it at night and mull it over every spare minute of the day, that this is an area wherein I am adequately - and ongoingly - self-taught.
So let me share my bias.

I don't care what bra-size you end up wearing. I just want you to find a bra that fits terrifically and makes you look great. Your boobs will be the same size whether that happens in a 32C or a 38H. Your size is meaningless as far as I'm concerned. Your shape is everything.

Secretly, I do love to speculate about the size my "fit subjects" will wear. It's a fun party trick. When I'm right, it's a kick. When I get it wrong (and there are so many variables contributing to this), who cares? We go up or down a cup size / band size - and try a variety of styles - till we find what works.

Every woman knows when she finds the bra for her. She loves the look and the fit. Women are the best arbiters, once they've been given the tools, to choose the right bras for themselves. When the gore tacks at the breastbone and the cups drape over the breasts and lift/support without being too small (pillowing) or too large (gaping), when the band is firm and doesn't budge - but also doesn't hurt, when the wires are high and supportive, but don't dig in - these are the signs of good fit and happy breasts - and a sexy look.

If you're reading this and you've not yet found a bra of this description, do not despair. It's out there. Just keep reading and trying and looking. If there's a good boutique in your area, visit it. Even if the fitters don't work for you, the stock is there. Try that stock from the vantage point of reading you've done. Order online. Get comfortable with returns.

And, of course, avail yourself of Ask the Bra-Fitter! Veronica is ready to answer your questions. And let me assure you, she knows her stuff.


  1. Thanks for reminding me! :-) *Fingers crossed* that she'll have seen someone with my particular issues in her time as a fitter.

  2. Oh, and that is crappy about the Ewa bra. I had such high hopes that it would at least be worth the trials you went through to get the darn thing. How maddening!

    1. I know. PITA. But I suspected it would go in this direction. I'm surprised by how large the cup was, given how everyone says it fits small. I think sizing inconsistencies, plus the fact that this brand's sloper is probably on the large side (especially at the upper cup), is a real issue. Thing is, I'm not willing to try again, only to discover that the next bra I buy (even in the same general style but with a different fabric) is too small.

  3. You are SO right! I was never happy with what I could find and then... one day... magic! It fit, it felt comfortable, everything looked good over it, i could sleep in it if I wanted to and not get jabbed to death. So I bought 4 new ones in the same model every year for a decade.... and now I'm cutting one up to sew my own because the style changed a bit and suddenly my magic bra... isn't.

    1. Thanks for corroborating this! Aren't you lucky you can sew, given the circumstances. (I do hate how bra styles change over the course of years.) I suspect this is also a good time to see if you can find a whole new brand or style that may work. Things are much better now than they were 10 years ago - regardless of bra size or shape.

  4. I'm glad you shared your feelings about the Ewa bras. I'd thought about ordering one, but will probably give it a miss now. Thanks for being a surrogate bra-tester!!

    Personally, I think Scott is onto something with his fit consultant idea ;-)

    1. Happy to help. Keep in mind, there are many other Ewa-buyers who have had some positive experiences.

      The weirdest thing about the bra is that (and this could well have been because the fit was so off) the cut was in no way boobs on a plate. I have other bras that accomplish that lift much better (and more elegantly). Perhaps it's really just not worth the effort given my shape.

  5. I'm with Scott, although he might be pricing out out of the market.

    1. You think? His philosophy is that I can get myself involved in New York Fashion Week (he doesn't understand NYFW, it's just his imagination at work) and go to fit the models for bras. Never mind the fact that models don't wear bras. :-)

  6. I am so taking you up on your offer to go bra shopping with me this fall. You can still change your mind of course, in which case we could at least go for a drink (it's about time we met, I think) and you can put me in touch with Veronica. Deal?

    1. We'll have a great time! Keep me posted...

  7. Bra fitter to the stars...hmmmm, has a certain ring about it. ;-)

  8. Did you try any of the other styles of Ewa? Most of the bloggers seem to love the CH/HP/CHP and the PL the most.

    Glad to see an SM review because they're very hard to find.