Bra-fitting Boutique: Vanity Sizing = Vanity Pricing

One of my mother’s co-workers went to a special bra shop on the Upper Westside and came back raving about how it didn’t even feel like she was wearing one because it was so comfortable. So over the family weekend in Manhattan, my mom dragged me and my sister along with her. We weren’t really into the idea, but when we overheard her in the dressing room saying things like “Wow, this is really comfortable. How many colors does it come in?”, we changed our minds.

Now, when I buy bras, it’s been the same brand and style for the past 10 years. Their official retail price is around $30 each, but there’s always a deal that works out to $15-18 each. That’s what I’m used to, but my mom warned me that the price tags would be around the $60 mark. Hm, okay.

Well, it turns out that for your $50-90 (depending on what they’ve got in your size and preferred style), you get some serious vanity sizing. I’m assuming my female readers know that your band size is the actual measurement around your ribcage plus 4 (rounding up if it’s an odd number). I tried on three or four different brands and they were all very obviously just the ribcage measurement. For a brief moment, I felt skinny! And then there was the cup size. Now THAT was clearly vanity-sized to make small-to-average women feel enormously endowed because there’s just no way…just no way…I mean, we were way too far into the alphabet. My mother knew she was wearing the wrong size – 42B (I’d have pegged her at a 40D) – but to hear her screech, “I’m an F??? As in, What The F….??? Because that’s just ridiculous, I’m not Dolly Parton.” Then she went ahead and bought two, with extenders to ease the initial discomfort.

I bought one bra @ $49. It was my second choice by a slim margin, but my first choice was $89 and I don’t think that slim margin was worth $40. I copied down the style numbers and all that to google when I got home. Sadly, these bras are like fancy cosmetics – same price no matter where you buy them.

So ladies, if you want to feel 2 sizes skinnier and at the same time 2 sizes more buxom, AND you don’t mind paying $65 on average for a new underthing, go for a boutique fitting. I’ll follow up in a few weeks to let you know if I think the purchase was worthwhile…if I add this to my Investment category, you’ll know I was very, very happy with my purchase.

And now I’m a little worried what kind of Google traffic this post might generate…

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5 Responses

  1. More like vanity sizing for the man in your life! I couldn’t care less what size I am but boy does Mr M like to brag about those things. Whatever. Is it comfortable? I hate spending lots of money on undergarmets cause the dogs think they are chew toys and are certain to destroy anything nice I buy. I only get the $15 ones now so when they end up ruined, I’m not too bummed.

  2. I am unfortunately one of those people who can only shop at those stores as most stores do not carry above an F. $60 is cheap for a bra. The last one I got was a strapless for a wedding at well over $150 (yes, it cost more than the bride’s dress!). Occasionally you can find the fancy stores having sales on their wares. If they have a list for special offers, sign up. My friend has saved several hundred dollars that way. Other options are to ask for gift certificates from loved ones for Christmas or birthdays (my sister does this to great effect).

  3. I usually buy them at regular stores, but that’s because I don’t have specific needs — small chested and most bras fit me perfectly…

    I did however, buy 3 bras at the right time from La Senza. Wireless, seamless.. THE BEST BRAS EVER! And now they’re gone off the shelves but I bought 3 while the buying was good

    If they come back, I’m buying more 😛

  4. Actually, most European brands (and higher end American brands) have always used ribcage measurement = band size. Its the low to mid-range US brands that use formulas. And not all of them use ribcage plus four, some use three of five and most switch to just ribcage and round up above 36 inches. I was in bra hell for all of high school and college and most of my early twenties because a department store clerk insisted on using the formula and put me in a band size 44DD. I know I’m not small, but I’ve never been that big. Maybe for a smaller bust, it just leads to a bit of fit issues, but for a girl with natural breasts to rival a lot of Victoria’s Secret models, it was 10 years of constant pain that know one could trace until a friend began studying clothing construction. Now I go to the little boutique and know I am getting a specialized professional to help me find the right bra. Yeah, I’m in a larger cup size, also measured by the difference in inches from my ribcage, but I look overall about three cup sizes smaller than I did just because they are hoisted into the proper position. They may cost twice as much, but they last a lot longer. I used to buy bras quarterly, now its been over a year.

  5. This is NOT vanity sizing, they are fitting you correctly. The idea that band size = your ribcage measurement + 4 or 5 inches is just wrong, and almost always leads to a band that is way too big. You will not get good support if the band is too big, the back will ride up, the shoulder straps will dig in, you’ll be forever hiking them up and all to no avail. The reason the cup size is bigger is simply that cup size is proportional to band size, so a 36b is the same cup volume as a 30DD. You are simply wearing the correct size at long last, and the fact that the cup size seems so outrageously large to you proves only that the U.S. bra industry s*cks, and has done a disservice to many, many women with small rib cages.

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