Monday, November 9, 2009

Adventures in Lingerie Part I: A Beautiful Comfortable Well-Fitting Bra – Reality or Urban Legend?

The Kensington Bra by Prima Donna. Photo Courtesy of Bare Necessities. I don't own this bra, but I wish I did. Truly a work of art.

Since I began wearing bras in the 5th or 6th grade, I have consistently felt annoyed with them. Like many women, I have long had a difficult relationship with bras. Frequently uncomfortable and viewed as a necessary evil, I always felt that my body was somehow wrong because all those cute bras at the department store never seemed to fit me whether I was slim or heavy and I loathed reaching for the Playtex bra box as was the standard in my childhood home. During this past summer, frustrated with a recent weight gain resulting from a year of tremendous stress, I was tired of putting off my interests and desires until I “lost the weight”. I wanted to like my body now, in the present, as it was and is, regardless of the scale or the number on my clothing tags. Although I was in the proper bra size by all available calculations, I couldn’t get the darn things to fit right without spillage, straps falling down or the front center section sitting off my body by nearly half an inch or more. FRUSTRATION!!!!

Around the same time I was reading Entre Nous about how French women are very particular about their lingerie and how important it is that they wear beautiful high-quality pieces. According to the book (and other sources) a woman’s foundation garments are just as important as their outerwear. I wanted that for myself too…a life of quality, a few fine pieces rather than lots of crap. My daughter and I are fans of What Not to Wear and How to Look Good Naked. From those programs I learned more about proper bra fit. The latter program introduced me to a little store called Intimacy where there are bra-fitters extraordinaire and, according to the program, miracles occur. I so terribly wanted to be one of those miracles. I found one of their stores in Chicago merely two hours from my home. I scheduled an appointment for a fitting at Intimacy’s Chicago store thinking my 10 year old would find it interesting too. She had her first taste of a training bra some time ago and after the novelty wore off, 3-4 days, she discovered what so many of us have experienced, they are uncomfortable. Luckily for her she’s not yet developed so no support is needed in that area of her life. Though willing to wait for me, she opted out of my exciting journey content to listen to her iPod instead.

While my daughter entertained herself, I was whisked into a dressing room where a fitter asked about the current bra I was wearing, the size, the size shirts I wore, special needs, favored styles, etc. Then she left me to quickly grab some bras. By a process of elimination and her constant guidance, I learned how to evaluate fit and quality, make adjustments, proper bra care and wearing. Did you know that you should never wear the same bra for 2 consecutive days? The bra needs to rest a day after wearing it to allow the elastic to shrink back into its proper shape. I also learned that when worn properly and cared for properly, a bra’s lifetime expectation is only around 6 months (though I’m not certain, I hope that estimate is based on at least every other day wearing). A good quality seamed lace bra will generally last longer than other types of bras as the lace is quite strong. Another tip is to position one's nipple directly behind the seam when wearing a seamed bra. This will reduce the appearance of the dreaded "head lights" phenomenon. To experience your own bra education, I strongly urge you to visit Intimacy’s website. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with their fitter in their store, whose name escapes me. It was a lovely and educational experience. I learned quickly that my body was fine just as it is. The reasons bras had not fit properly in the past was because they weren’t the right bra for me or they were improperly adjusted. Some bras have a deeper cup than others even if they are the same size.

I managed to come up with a lovely bra wardrobe. I bought one athletic bra, because I do a good amount of walking and support is a necessity. I choose a Freya athletic bra and I can say without a doubt, multiple days of consecutive wear or not, my girls aren’t going anywhere in this device. Funnily enough, it’s pretty comfy. It looks a wee bit bullet-bra-ish, but if it helps to preserve my girls for another 10 years, then I’m all for it.

The four other bras I chose are more elegant and downright beautiful. Did I mention functional too?

Chantelle Africa demi bra in Ebony. Photo courtesy of For when the occasion calls for décolletage.

Chantelle Legende T-shirt bra. Photo courtesy of Fabulous T-shirt bra

Chantelle Legende Full Figure bra. Photo courtesy of
Makes me want to sing "I feel pretty, I feel pretty, I feel pretty and witty and gay...

And now the Pièce de résistance:

The seamless Melody bra by Empreinte. Photo courtesy of This is my overall favorite. I'm not even certain why. I got it in a lovely ivory color and although all of the other bras fit me very, very well, this one fits me like a glove....and I NEVER thought I'd say that about a bra. Love it!

Now that I have the know-how, and the bras, I feel confident and indulged. Yes, it was a splurge, a big splurge. But at that point I’d done nothing to celebrate my turning 40 this past spring. No party, no present, no dinner out, and I’d not had a proper vacation in two years. So I splurged. I think my bra wardrobe is complete except for one piece, a good strapless bra. However that is for another installment. This is, after all, Part I of the adventures.

Once home, I modeled them for my best friend, then her mom when she stopped by in the midst of my show. They were both quite impressed. My friend even wondered when she could go for her own fitting.

I think the luxurious aspect of this post is obvious. But what about the less part? How does paying the money for a good quality bra save you money? First of all you quit spending money looking for the bra that you hope will fit, unlike all of your other bras. With a proper bra wardrobe, you have what you need to fit most if not all of your bra needs. With a proper fitting quality bra, your clothes fit BETTER! Hence you may not feel the need to continue shopping for clothes that fit better to make you look better. Your foundation garment now does that for you. I’ve heard it said that a properly fitted bra along with good posture makes you look 5lbs slimmer. Now that is a true LESS in my book. Most importantly, once you understand how to choose a quality good fitting bra, you have a better sense of which brands fit you well and can find more economically advantageous deals both online and in the stores.

My day of corsetry indulgence occurred in early July of this year. It is now nearly mid-November and I still LOVE MY BRAS! Every time I put them on I feel special and as if I’m experiencing a luxurious treat. Most of all, I FEEL PRETTY!

What foundation pieces make you feel pretty, happy, adorned or even sexy? Where are your sources for bras? Is this an area of your life you want to explore more? Or is all this talk about lingerie too frou frou for you or just a bunch of wasteful hype?


  1. What a fabulous post Kristine. I have had a fitting or two in the past, and one of them was very professional and helpful, but nothing like your experience. Perhaps I should try a boutique lingerie store rather than a department store next time. Merci for sharing your bra experience!

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Fiona. I'm not sure a lingerie boutique would do a better job than a department store as I know a number of people who have had wonderful experiences at department stores like Nordstroms. However, I imagine that the small boutique does have a certain ambiance about it, though department stores do have better prices. I've noticed that some department stores are beginning to carry more of the European brands that tend to be of a higher quality (at least that's what Intimacy claims).

  3. Great post! I think fit is so important. I think this boutique is also located in Houston so i may be able to go there over the holidays when I visit family.

  4. What fun you will have, Bounjour Madame! A friend and I were just discussing my experience last night and what a treat it was.


I so enjoy reading your sweet comments.