11/8/2013 – I have updated this post based on what I’ve learned over the past eight months.
I am very fortunate to have one independent lingerie store, Alice Rae, nearby as well as a Dillard’s that stocks about four varying styles in my size. Other bras I try come to me from internet stores. To enable me to effectively compare a large variety of bra styles in my size range and achieve the best fit, I have devised a mail order methodology.
My mail order methodology for ordering bras is as follows:
- Target the styles I want to try (balconette, seamless, plunge, etc.)
- Find a selection of bras in the style that are in-stock in my sister sizes.
- Order at least two bras in my target style in three sizes each. My order should be at least six bras. For example, to find my best fit in the Elomi Eva I will be ordering a 34HH*, 36G*, and 36GG* (see below to find out how I chose those sizes).
- With a little experience, you’ll learn if you need to order more different band or cup sizes.
- Don’t mix moulded styles with soft cup styles. I advise segregating moulded styles into their own order because these will be shipped in a large box to avoid damaging the cups. If you order seamed, non-moulded, unpadded styles that lay flat, they will (usually) be shipped in a small box or envelope. The return shipping cost is much higher for a box than an envelope.
The goal of choosing a bra style that is well stocked is the opportunity to experiment with size and fit. If you think you are a 36F and only order that size…and the bra isn’t a perfect fit, then you’ll never know if going up/down in band or up/down in cup size would have fixed your problem and netted you a well fitting bra.
The problems with this mail order methodology:
- It’s expensive.
- It’s tedious.
- I miss out on sale merchandise because it’s rarely fully stocked.
- Unless there’s a promotion or a fantastic return policy, I will be paying for return shipping.
- I must carefully read return policies and only order from shops whose policies I like.
*If you are new to bra fitting by mail, this is may be a good approach for you.
- Find your general bra size using a calculator like this one.
- Plot your sister sizes. As an example, this is the thought process I went through when I placed my order for the Elomi Eva in sizes 34HH, 36G, and 36GG.
- Elomi runs large in band, and wide at the gore on me. My goal is to discover my best fit, with room for alterations.
- I know 38 bands are too large for me in all Elomi styles I’ve tried, so I’m pretty sure a 36 band is what will fit me best. However, since I need a very narrow gore (and Elomi gores fit me better in smaller band sizes), I’ll try a 34.
- Since I alter all of my bras (especially Elomi) to equalize band tension between the top half and bottom half of the band, I know I need a bit of extra cup room to avoid the quad effect when the cups are pulled tighter across the mid-point of my breasts by the band alteration. My probable best fit is a 36G, but I may need a 36GG to accommodate alterations. I may also fit best in a 34 band, but I know I can’t tolerate too-small cups in a a 34, plus I need room for alterations…and I want to ensure I know which cup size is too large for me – so I skip the 34H and order a 34HH.
- I run the risk of missing my perfect fit – a 34H; however, I’m not desperate for a bra at the moment and I know I can order it later if I need it. Eight months ago, at the beginning of my bra-fit journey, I would have included the 34H in my order.