I currently have three orders out for bras and swimsuits.
A return with BareNecessities, a swimsuit order with BiggerBras, and a third with HerRoom because I had a moment of self-pity and went a little wild for Claudette bras, while simultaneously deciding I must have a soft cup bra.
It’s moments like this where I just want to kick myself. I hate pending orders – I get antsy and impatient and imagine everything that can go wrong will go wrong. I’m further frustrated when online accounts don’t give me the information I’m looking for. However, it can be helpful to sit back and review my requirements from online/mail-order store, to streamline my vendors.
Here’s a quick rundown of who I’ve ordered from and my experiences.
BareNecessities – A good selection of the standard bra and lingerie fare. I do like their bathing suit selection more than HerRoom.com; however, not as much as BiggerBras.com. While they do have customer reviews, I don’t find them as numerous as HerRoom and they don’t list fit information like band height, gore height, etc. Product details usually lack helpful fit hints like “the cups run large”. Sometimes they do answer specific product questions under “Product Q&A”. BareNecessities does not make it easy to translate your size between manufacturers. Clicking on “size chart” takes you to a comparison between U.S., U.K., and European sizes without indicating which measurement system the bra you are considering is sized in.
They do have a full search function that provides good results, and a Bra Glossary using popular terms. This can be helpful, for example, if you know you only like plunge bras so you can only view that type and narrow by size, color, etc.
Online ordering goes smoothly. The last order I placed included free shipping and free returns, and took 8 days to reach me from date of order. They do include a pre-addressed label for return shipments. Return shipping (if applicable) will be deducted from your refund and the rate is very reasonable. As I found out today, status on the return shipment can be obtained Monday-Friday during regular business hours by calling their customer service number. I do admit a bit of concern about this return, because the customer service rep couldn’t find tracking information in the system. They ask you give three weeks for the return to reach them, and if the return doesn’t arrive, an investigation is opened about the package. I am crossing my fingers I don’t end up with a lost return. If I order from them again (and have a return), I will pay for trackable return shipping. They are members of ShopRunner, so if you like ordering from them and want a way to reduce shipping and returns costs, a membership may be worthwhile.
Customers do have accounts where you can check on shipping status, etc.; however, as I learned this week…return shipping status is not updated in the system (at least for my order).
BiggerBras.com (Big Girls Bras) – The selection isn’t as large as BareNecessities or HerRoom; however, I really enjoy their selection of bras and swimwear, and they carry some unique stock. I placed my first order this week for these two swimsuits that I had been lusting over.
I did read their returns policy before ordering, and I suggest shoppers do so since they have some unique policies regarding refunds and store credits.
The site does have customer reviews, and while not as numerous as HerRoom and BareNecessities they are generally worthwhile. Once in a while you see fit notes like “cups run large”. One feature I really like is the underbust to overbust differential chart for each bra. The chart helps you avoid ordering the wrong size cup if translating from U.S. manufacturers to U.K, for example. To use the chart you do need to know your under and over bust measurements. If you don’t know them already go buy a measuring tape. Liberal use will help you get a better fit the first time.
Their site search function does not perform very well, yielding limited and odd results. I get better results using their drop down or side menus.
The ordering and payment process went smoothly. I did notice when adding the items to my cart, the shipping information said “ships within 30 days”, which is why I tried to check on my order status in my online account. Unfortunately, my online account wasn’t functioning, so I called customer service. I was told the both swimsuits are shipping from the manufacturers, and should take 30 days to arrive at their facility. The customer service rep offered to cancel the order, but I declined. Regarding my account, I was told that if an account was created during checkout, the first order would not show up in the account. The customer service rep offered to set the account up for me; however, it appears to have the same problems as before.
HerRoom – I must admit, they are my first stop for online shopping. As far as I can tell, they carry the largest selection of bras in my size(s). They have a large swimsuit and lingerie collection; however, I don’t like their swim selections as much as other online vendors.
I am a huge fan of their product fit information: band wing height, gore height, fit notes, customer reviews, and fitter advice like “size up in the cups”. The customer reviews are also peppered with comments from HerRoom and manufacturers, and helpful fit info can be gleaned with reading. The site allows you to view different shirt styles over bras so you can see if a straps or gores will show under your shirts. I’ve recently come to appreciate the mannequin photos because I can judge the width off the bra strap style.
HerRoom offers Universal Cup Sizing next to the manufacturer’s sizing…which I’ve read is controversial in the bra blogosphere; however, I find it helpful in most cases. UCS sizing helps translate sizes between U.S., U.K., and European. I wear a D5 (UK FF) or D6 (UK G) cup, as an example. Their bra fit advice is helpful, but if you are starting your bra fitting journey, so much detail can be a bit overwhelming. The site also offers a “Know Your Breasts” q&a to help you define your breasts, and find current stock that will fit.
Ordering is smooth, and delivery is fast. If I order on a Sunday I usually have my package by Thursday. Returns are processed quickly and I’ve never had a problem. They send emails notifying you of return receipt and refund processing. I do pay my own return shipping, and admit it can get pricey if shipping UPS.
So, in summary, I don’t think I’ll be dumping any of the above vendors. I find myself switching between HerRoom and BareNecessities based on product availability. In the future, I will track and insure returns to BareNecessities. As far as BiggerBras goes, well….sometimes they offer what I can’t find anywhere else.
I do urge shoppers to read return policies carefully. I also advise you to insure and track your returns.
Do you have a favorite etailer, or hints, tips, and tricks for mail order?