Sizing Me Up

I get lots of questions about how one gets started buying lingerie and my answer is pretty much always the same thing: find a good boutique and go get measured. If you don’t live near a boutique, The Sophisticated Pair has an amazingly accurate bra calculator and is a good place to start. Our newest contributor, Kelsey, went to a boutique and tried the process out for herself.

One of the most important aspects of shopping for lingerie or just an every day bra is knowing which size to get.  A year or so ago I sloppily threw a measuring tape around myself and came up with the size 34B.  I never questioned it.  That is until I decided to take my first adventure to a lingerie store other than Victoria’s Secret.  Bare Essentials, in Wilmington, Delaware is a local boutique which specializes in professional bra fitting.  I always have considered myself to have a small chest, so trying anything above a B cup was simply out of the question.  I was a little scared of what my actual size was, in addition to some recent weight loss I knew that I had to be smaller. Upon entering the boutique, I spoke to the owner, Liz who took me right to a fitting room to get all sized up.

And now, the moment of truth….28D??


Before I could come to terms with that, Liz was already rushing off to retrieve a number of different bras for me to try.  Padded, push-ups, lightly lined, sheer, corsets…Bare Essentials made me feel like a kid in a candy shop.  Even better, after I tried on the first bra, I realized I had been doing it all wrong before–if there was a bra equivalent of Cinderella’s glass slipper, this was it.  I’ll share with you two of my favorites, and one more that I walked out being the proud owner of.

First, to give you an idea of what I was dealing with before, this is me in my 34B nude, plain, ugly bra (which I now hate).

Not exactly a perfect fit...

Not exactly a perfect fit...

The first bra Liz brought me was from Harlequin by Panache, a lightly padded white silk, plunge bra with some bow detailing (fun fact: if there’s one thing I love more than lace, it’s bows).

Already, from the fit I could tell that this bra loved me just as much as I loved it.  There was no weird spillage out the sides, the band wasn’t too loose around my torso, everything was tucked in nice and neatly, and the adorable look didn’t hurt either.

Another one I loved was a push up from Pizzo Leavers with lace and bows and rhinestone details.  Too good to be true.

Finally, I tried on a lace bustier in red from b.tempt’d.  After help from Liz fastening all the hooks in the back (no, you cannot put it on over your head like a t-shirt), it was love at first sight.

It fit like a glove and besides supporting my chest, it accomplished the second most important task of lingerie, it gave me confidence, which was all I needed to tell me that this was a purchase I needed to make.

If I were a superhero, this would be my uniform, wearing it under my clothes everyday, prepared to bare all when I need to rescue another helpless woman from wearing the wrong bra size. Okay, maybe I’m getting a little carried away here, but my point is that something as simple as knowing your size can do wonders for your figure and your confidence.

Being somebody who had only browsed online, and read the blogs of high end lingerie fashion, I look back on my first in-person endeavor and measurement as something that should have happened much earlier.  But better late than never right?

While you’re here, why don’t you sign up to win some gorgeous made to measure lingerie?


  • Reply Jame May 29, 2012 at 3:12 AM

    I’d like to chime in about going to a nice boutique. After a few recent experiences at a big department store. I wear a size 16 (US) and I am a 34H in bras. So my rib cage is on the “smaller end.” OR more accurately, the smaller end of what inexperienced fitters would thing is possible for someone my size. Anyway, I went to 2 separate stores, not really looking for bras, but whenever there is hope of finding my size, I check even if the place is less than ideal. Experience 1: “are you sure that’s your size, H is soooooo huge, let me measure you.” This saleswoman was attentive, but we didn’t find any bras that worked for me (apparently in Wacoal I am a 34HH). She still seemed a little puzzled that I wasn’t wearing a 40+ band.

    As for the second store, a few weeks later, I asked if there were any 34Hs in stock at all. The saleswoman looked around, and then showed me the bra with a skeptical look “You said 34H? Are you sure you aren’t a 44H? Is 34H really the right size?”

    I rejected the bra she found (there was only one in the store) due to style, and explained, yes this is the correct size because I am currently wearing a 36 that is too big in the band which was why I was shopping in the first place. I decided that was the last time I was going to bother even attempting to look for bras there. They were just too clueless. I went back to my old standby department store. Where they are not completely familiar with how each brand of bra fits, they are aware that 34H isn’t an abnormal size, and no one gives me weird looks when I say that’s what I wear.

  • Reply Darlene May 29, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    I adore your Harlequin and lace bustier. You are going to have so much fun bra shopping from now on!

  • Reply Valorie May 29, 2012 at 11:38 PM

    I’ve tried bra fittings in boutiques and department stores in both Seattle and NYC to no avail. Every store seems to think I’m a different size (band sizes ranging from 36-42 and cups from C-GG). I have an entire drawer full of bras that hurt when I take them off or leave bruises under my arms from the underwires.

    I’m sticking with the same bra style I’ve worn for years because it comes in a size that is comfortable (40D) and doesn’t have underwires. I’d like something a little perkier, but not if it’s going to hurt to wear. I have discovered the joys of Unbelievabras and love them but for day-to-day wear around town, they are a little much for me.

    I think sales clerks just aren’t familiar with bra fitting the full-figured or overweight woman.

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