Buying a RTW Bra for my Birthday

WARNING: This whole post is one big overshare. If you don’t want to hear details about my fitting bras, skip this post.

I will be the first to admit that I have no clue how to fit smaller bewbs. I love you smaller bewb’d friends but I’ve had to deal with bigger bewbs so, of course, I obsess. I’ve had several people thru my life tell me that I wasn’t the size bra I was wearing. First time it happened, I was changing my clothes in the locker at school. I was in 8th grade and I have no idea what size bra I was in but the girls in the locker didn’t think I needed a bra. I ended up flashing them so they’d believe me.

There were a couple of other times though one stands out. I was working at an elementary school and it was after school hours so a couple of us were gabbing in one of the classrooms when we started talking about bras. Yeah, wherever I go, I talk about bewbs and bras! One of the teachers couldn’t believe the size I was wearing. At the time, I was wearing a 34DD and I can only guess that the back strap was really stretchy because in looking at pictures, my bewbs are the same size now as they were then and today I would never try to put myself in a 34DD.

The story ends when I pointed out to the teachers that breast tissue can extend into the underam area and that I have bottom heavy bewbs. If I don’t wear a top that points out my underbust or the length of my bewbs, you could go for a while thinking they aren’t as big as they are. Well, maybe not a long while.

Most of you know or have noticed that I’ve lost a big of weight as I’ve had to eliminate gluten and sugar for the health issues I’m dealing with. So far, I’ve lost 30lbs! It’s crazy and while I’m happy for the loss, I don’t have all my energy back so I’m definitely not enjoying myself yet. But soon.

While that big of a weight loss you’d think my bewbs would’ve shrunk more but, y’know, genetics.

I’ve been overdue for a new bra for a while and my birthday weekend seemed the perfect time to get a new one. I went to Nordstrom but didn’t take them up on their offer to refit me. I had used this bra size calculator and I know how things should fit so I thanked the woman and grabbed about 9 or 10 bras to try on. I went for the 32G’s as a starting point though there was a nude bra I wanted to try on and they didn’t have the 32G so I grabbed a 30GG.

This is the one I tried in the 30GG. It’s the Freya Deco. My issue was that on one bewb I got spillage and the other one wasn’t quite fitting. I know I was PMSing and so I got leftie wanting to jump ship. I’ll have to try it on again once I’m not ballooning. I’m wondering whether a larger cup size would do the trick. The 30 band fit perfectly, which is why I think cup change. I do want to find a nude bra since I get so much use out of them.

I also tried on the Cleo Bella balconette in a 32G and I think I could’ve used either a larger cup or a size up on the band…or maybe just wait until I break in the band? I dunno. It was really cute on and I got a very similar shape to the model below- surprisingly. I was super lifted, like 8th grade lifted, but not as far as being a chin rest. I really need to find out my size in this bra. I

I then tried on Chantelle’s Rive Gauche. I swear I didn’t get a “push up” bra effect. It felt and looked like a normal full coverage bra. My notes say that the back was too big and the cup a tad too small. I tried on the 32G. Next time I try this bra, I’ll try on the 30GG and see if I get a better fit.

Then, I tried on Elomi’s Betty which I pinned on Pinterest a while ago. Sadly, all they had in stock was a 34G. The cup and the band were a size too big so I just sunk in there and it wasn’t pretty. I’ll try a 32G when I get a chance and see if one size down in the band helps the cup issues.

Last, I’ll show you the one I bought. It’s the Freya Patsy in a 32G. The band fit great on the last hook, which is how you should try a bra since the band will stretch with wear. If a fitter tells you to hook your bra on the last hook, just know that over time the band will loosen and the fit won’t be great. At least that’s been my experience. With larger bewbs you need that band to do all the supporting. You don’t want your shoulder straps to do all the work.

Here you have a side by side comparison of the model next to my own pic so you can see the difference. See, I’m always curious how bras, especially bras made for larger cups, actually fit on women with larger cups.

Freya Patsy Leila

Let’s be scientific. The proportions are done well. The bridge (the piece of fabric in the center front of the body) is longer on my bra than the models to accommodate a longer measurement that comes with a larger bust. You can see the band on the model doesn’t push any fat on her like it does on me. I’m okay with that since the band is actually comfortable and the hooks aren’t pulling. Β I think the way the two pictures are taken is making the lace look like it curves more on the model. Maybe I’m wrong. Anyway, it’s a pretty close image if that’s all you’re going off of.

I really want to try some of the bras above in different sizes. My best bet would be to buy them online in a couple of different size combinations and then return what doesn’t fit or I don’t want. Nordstrom is the only place nearby that I can find my size and my size is still tricky to find. I went for 32G’s because they are easier to find than 30GG’s. I’ve read of the utter frustration from lingerie bloggers who try to find 26-28 bands with G and up cups.

I want to try the Panache Jasmine and I see the Nordstrom in town has one in my size so we’ll see how it fits me. There is no 30GG so if the 32G doesn’t fit, I’ll have to try another bra. Panache has fit me before in the size I assumed I was so that might be a good omen. Here’s another post from the Butterfly Collection blog on how to put on your bra so you can see if it fits right or not. Don’t skip the scooping.

My problem now is that I don’t rotate my bras the way I should. I know I should but I don’t throw money at bras. Maybe if I can trace the Patsy, I can make a couple duplicates and then I’ll have a decent rotation.

How many bras do you currently rotate between? How often do you go bra shopping? Or is it just too depressing not finding something that fits? Any bra patterns you would recommend or are interested in trying?

58 thoughts on “Buying a RTW Bra for my Birthday

  1. susanmacnab says:

    34F here. I shop at Brachic, an independent shop in Ottawa. I always get a fitting. They actually go into the room with you and put the bra on you! It costs more but I know that I’m never leaving with something that doesn’t fit correctly. Most of my collection is Empreinte and Freya. I have maybe 4 that are rather new and another 4 that should probably be thrown out due to having stretched out of shape over the years.
    Happy birthday and congrats on the weightloss – even if it wasn’t “happy” weightloss.

    • Leila says:

      Thank you!

      Oh, I would love to have an indie shop that did fittings. Oh, Ottawa, you rock! I just checked out some of the Empreinte bras online. Wow! Those are gorgeous! I still keep a bra for when I’m sick or for laundry day. πŸ™‚

  2. Bird and Bicycle says:

    For the freya, I think the lace only curves more because your photo angle looks more straight on perspective and the model’s photograph is slightly tilted and under her, showing the curve of her breast a bit more.

    After reading this post and knowing my own body frame (for science 38D, normal and easy to find lucky me!) I can understand why fit for clothes and bras is so important to you. I have always been “big boned” and had my win challenges, but I am learning a lot about fit by reading this!

    To answer your questions I recently bought some bras at the beginning of summer. With very wide bands claiming they were for “smoothing” out the flesh for shirts and whatnot. They are super comfy and from target and not super pricy. I only have three total, and hope to have around 7 so I can rotate more often. I hate hand washing clothes and like to avoid it. πŸ™‚

    • Leila says:

      I think you’re right about the Freya. The angles are different, for sure. Thanks for commenting…for science! I now have 1 bra that fits and one that is too big. I gave another that used to fit to my younger sister but she needs an extender for the back for it to fit right now. I don’t know what to do with this bra that is too big.

  3. RankkaApina says:

    Thanks for sharing! I’m 28F-30E, and I’m having a hard time even finding band sizes that small (Mostly I’m 28F) and if I do, then the cup size is like A or AA or last time I looked: nothing at all as they were padded cups for teenagers… Thanks for the link for Butterfly collection, I might try them, since the shipping fee seems reasonable. But this is the main reason I need to learn to sew my bras: then I can always get one that fits when I need it.

    • Leila says:

      I feel for you. Have you tried I’ve heard good things about them. and they’re in UK so maybe better on the shipping? But Butterfly collection would be good, too. You can totally make your own bras. I still need to keep fiddling with fit but I’m getting close.

      • RankkaApina says:

        Thanks! That looks amazing too! Until now, most of the UK ones I’ve found only deliver in UK, but this is great. See: sharing is great πŸ™‚

  4. theseedsof3 says:

    I went through what you’re doing now a few months ago. My problem also includes that I a have a short torso above the bewbs as well as below. So, if I wear a full size bra it comes up to my chin, ha! I finally found Chantelle 3641 ( Technically, it’s a plunge underwire, but since I’m petite in the shoulders and upper torso it fits me like a full coverge bra. It puts everything where it goes and holds it all there, ignoring the fact that I am edging closer to 40 and breastfed two kiddos. 3-part cups are very important to me, as well as the smaller band, larger cup philosophy. I was wearing a 38C, but now I wear a 34 DDD/E. Good bras are a splurge and I initially bought only 2. But, I wanted them to last, so I bought 3 more so I could rotate.

    • Leila says:

      That’s a cute bra! Good bras are a splurge for me, too. And while I wish breastfeeding had been the cause of my bewbs going south, they’ve really always been this way. In some ways, I’m just not shocked by them. hehe I really need more well fitting bras like this one I just got.

  5. Andrea says:

    I can relate on many levels! You are looking great with your weight loss. My breasts did not shrink much with my loss either. I also have had to give up gluten (actually I gave up all grains and sugar). I hope you’re feeling better soon.
    I just made The Shelley Bra by Beverly Johnson. Check it out on my blog. It’s a fabulous pattern, I think you’ll love it! It has a side power bar for busty women. You may not find it in your exact size, as I did not, so you’ll have to make a larger size and decrease the band size. The folks at BMS are very helpful in all regards. Good luck!
    Oh, btw, I am 34 or 36 G or GG in UK sizing, such as Elomi. My favorite bras in my current sizing have been Elomi’s. From my experience, I recommend at your cup size that you go with a bra that has an under bust band, and stay away from those that do not. I find no band = less support.

    • Leila says:

      Thanks. I hope to feel better soon, too. It’s just gonna be a bit of a process.

      Your Shelley bra looks good! I like that pattern. I’ve only been using my UK size since those are the bras I buy. In Nordstrom, they put the UK size and say it’s the same as the US size. smh.

      thanks for the tip on the band vs no band.

      • Leila says:

        I kept trying to get my younger sister to go to Nordstrom but she kept going to Lane Bryant and getting these ill fitting things. I sent her a bra that doesn’t fit me anymore and now she’s totally converted to the small back/big cup. yay!

  6. Kirsty says:

    I recently discovered my real bra size is 34GG – I was squeezing myself into 36DDs before that. Yeah. Not sure how that was working. I’m losing weight, though, and I’m already on the second hook of my new bras. I’ve got two Freyas (Morning Meadow and Secret Garden) and one Cleo (Lucy). My boobs are definitely full on bottom and quite soft – any suggestions for what else I can try? The Lucy fits really well and I love the shape, but because I’m short the wires under my arms come up quite high and are a bit irritating.

    • Leila says:

      Yeah, seriously. I don’t know how I squeezed into that crazy old size. No clue! The thing with weight loss is that our expensive bras end up not getting used. What are you gonna do with them? I don’t know what to do with mine. I’m also full on bottom and very soft. The nice thing about the softness is that you can basically move them anyway you choose. ha! You might like the bras I chose. They lift my soft ones and because of the shape- especially the Patsy- keeps them in place with no jiggling.The wires on the Patsy aren’t super high. I have the Jude t-shirt bra in a larger size and those underwires would kill you.

      • Kirsty says:

        I’ll keep an eye out for the Patsy, then! Did you get the plunge or the half-cup? I’ve only had my new bras for about a month, so I might try and sell some (they weren’t cheap!) But if no one wants them, I might donate them to a women’s shelter or something like that. Thanks for the advice!

      • Andrea says:

        I keep some old bras because I keep thinking I’ll re-use the findings, bows, etc, or use the cups in a bathing suit. In reality they collect dust. Yay for converting your sis. I love bra talk, a subject near and dear to my heart!

      • Leila says:

        I did rip apart a bra for parts. I also bought a bunch of underwires but I don’t know if they’re too wide on me now. The annoyance is having to remember how I even figured out what size wires to get in the first place. eh, I’m just being lazy.

    • Andrea says:

      Kirsty and Leila, I’d like to recommend Elomi’s Caitlyn bra – it’s not the super prettiest, but it’s a great bra with side support. I just purchased the Elomi Isis Swim top – the absolute *best* and most supportive swim bra top I’ve owned to date. Expensive but worth it. Also, Panache makes, IMO, the best exercise bra out there for busty ladies, and it looks good. I have been unable to achieve enough support with Freya, although they do make some pretty bras. Oh, one more thing. Elomi makes a fantastic large cup size strapless. My daughter (a DDD) has two and loves to wear them. I took her to Nordstrom’s in 8th grade to get fitted in a strapless. She was so happy to find one that fit, and was supportive & comfy, that she cried!

      • Leila says:

        What a sweet story with your daughter. It makes all the difference, doesn’t it? I’m so happy you could find something for her.

        I love the side support bras and hey, if they support and all, what are you gonna do. One of my favorites has been Panache’s Andorra. Such a great fit. I’m gonna have to try to fit it again.

  7. Aidolem says:

    I went until my late 20’s wearing the wrong size, and it wasn’t until after DD1 that I went to a bra bar and got fit by a professional. What a huge difference it made to all my clothes, never mind posture and comfort. I currently wear a 36DD or 36E, although I’m very short-waisted, and the 36E’s always cut into my underamrs. I went on a shopping spree (love pretty lacy French lingerie) a few years ago and currently rotate about 10 bras. I have 2 fave molded cup bras (Fantasie 4510) that get regular use (probably need to be replaced after a couple year’s wear at this point), but I have found several brands that make pretty bras that fit well. My SIL, who is comparable in size, loves anything Freya because they fit well and have a pleasing silhouette.

  8. Janet says:

    I buy a decent bra ($125.00) about once a year. I have one really good bra and the other 3 or just OK. I have one really good sports bra, Shock Absorber. I wish I bought 2 good bras a year….hey, why not?….Prima Donna 34E

  9. Brooke says:

    There is nothing more frustrating and depressing than bra shopping no matter what your size! I usually put it off until I am desperate for a new one. I’m a 32A (I did once find a 30B, but I rarely see anything smaller than 32 band in stores).

    I don’t think it’s easy for any woman (who knows how a bra is supposed to fit) to find bras because brands and styles are so different. For years, I was plagued with the brands I liked discontinuing my size/style. I recently discovered Aerie (American Eagle’s lingerie store) and they have a few styles that are perfect for me – it’s the first time in my life that I actually have color options (besides white, black or nude) AND matching panties!

    You are most definitely correct that you should be able to use the outer hook when you first get the bra because the band does stretch out, which requires you to move in a notch after a while. If you have to use the most inner hook on a new bra, you probably need a smaller band size.

    I love the bra you got! So cute! And it’s a great fit! It’s so nice to see someone who isn’t stuck on a size label when bra shopping – correct fit is so much easier to achieve when you don’t get stuck on size. =)

    I always try on a t-shirt over a bra to double check the fit when I’m bra shopping. It’s amazing how some bras will look cute and then look completely different after you put a tee over them.

    • Leila says:

      I love this reply! Brooke, I just love you!! You are always there to back me up and remind me that size does not matter. Fit matters. I think of proportions rather than size which I think is what’s helping me fit clothes, too.

      I did try on my t-shirt over the bra I got. It looked great! I love this bra…and all of the ones I linked to but the one I got fit the best. I don’t buy bras that give me boob spillage. No siree.

      I’m so glad you found a bra that fits you perfectly! I hope you got a ton of them! πŸ™‚ I just took a peek at! I love the colors. They’re awesome! What a great line!

  10. Heather Bee (@KnitNBee) says:

    Right now I “think” I’m wearing the right bra size US 34DDD, still haven’t figured out if the UK equivalent for that is a E or an F. (Can’t we have standardized sizes people!!) It’s kind of an odd size but Felina makes a couple nice styles in that size range. My favorite is the Marielle Full Busted Underwire Bra and I have it in several colors. It doesn’t lift but I think it makes the girls look nice under tops. I also like Whimsy Barbados Demi Bra, it’s more of a full coverage bra but the wide strap makes the girls feel comfy.

    • Leila says:

      yeah, bra companies aren’t standardized at all and the materials they use…sheesh. some back bands are made of what seems to be the stretchiest fabric on earth, so yeah, it’ll “fit” lots of women but give no support. I’m glad you’ve found a good bra you like! That’s all that matters. My girls are so happy with me right now.

  11. Vicki Kate says:

    Oh dear me I so relate to this! My bewebs have their own post code! I use bravissimo in the UK as they’re the only place I can get bras that fit. My bewbs are close together so I need a very narrow bridge which usually means a plunge style which limits me even further, sigh. Freya and Panache are my go to brands as they can accomodate the volume with a narrow gap between them!

    • Leila says:

      lol! Yeah, I’m pretty sure mine do, too. I’ve heard great things about Bravissimo. So jealous. Each of my bewbs looks like they’re trying to hug my arms, so definitely wide set. πŸ™‚ I am starting to like plunges a lot but only in the right size. One of my last good bras before this one was a Panache. I liked the fit.

  12. StephC says:

    Zomg buddy, I just went bra shopping yesterday! Was very scientific about it, trying on about 30 before I settled on a 12 F… (30 F?) And then got two, they feel sooo good!

    I never heard of the brand, it’s evolve or something like that. I tried on some Freya but didn’t dig the designs much… The ones I got are a little on the “full coverage” end if the spectrum, I’m thinking about doing a little surgery to make them into balconette… πŸ™‚

    • Leila says:

      I bet you were scientific! You’re good about that. I loved this balconette I got in Colombia before we moved to the U.S. and then my bewbs exploded and I couldn’t find any that fit so I’m super excited to find some that fit and aren’t nude, black or white.

  13. K-Line says:

    Great post! A couple of questions / thoughts: Is your Patsy actually tacking at the gore (it’s hard to tell). I’m sure it is – but just want to confirm. BTW, as you may know, when Freya goes up to a G cup, they start to modify the lines of the bras, in their opinion (but contrary to many others’ opinions) to get the proper structure for heavier breasts. That’s why the curve is diff on the model’s bra and the gore is lower. The Cleo Bella, which I just bought (and posted a review of recently) is a very snug fit in the band and it’s not as deep in the cups as some other similar Cleos (though it isn’t shallow by any stretch). If your boobs are deep, and I think they are, then I’d go up a back and a cup size…

    • Leila says:

      I was wondering about the shape changes on the G and up cups. Thanks for clearing that up. I thought it was just camera angles. Yeah, I have deep boobs, definitely. I’ll have to try it in a 34GG. Thanks for the imput. I’m heading over to soak in your blog some more. oh and yeah, I’m tacking in the one I’m wearing.

  14. K-Line says:

    Oh, and I forgot to say how great you look in the new bra! I’m not a bra-modeler on my blog but I really appreciate seeing lovely bras on real people whose bodies look something like mine!

  15. CGCouture says:

    I actually tried on that exact bra you bought and hated it because the straps started in my armpits. (Though I noticed that they definitely sit farther out on your shoulders than the model.) It’s amazing how different people can wear different things, even in similar sizes isn’t it? So glad you found some that fit, I’m still stuck wearing ones that kill my armpits because they simply sit too wide for me, so I really hate bra shopping (and bra wearing, which is why I don’t wear them as much as I probably should–since we’re oversharing). πŸ˜‰

    • Leila says:

      that’s so true about how bras fit differently on different people. Amazing. I appreciate the overshare. I like swinging free myself, too.

  16. Ginny says:

    Happy birthday Leila (it was also my birthday this past weekend :D)! I’ve been wearing a 32G and have found that a few styles of Wacoal bras currently fit me well. I consider them to be moderately priced and have 7 in rotation. Since I live in a remote area, bra shopping entails ordering gobs of bras online, then sending back the rejects — but, yay for the internet option!

    I spent most of my life (just turned 56) wearing ill-fitting bras due to my HUGE bewbs — I’ve had them surgically reduced so can now at least find bras that fit. I don’t find bra shopping as awful I it used to be — both because I’m smaller bewbed than before, and it’s much easier to find larger cup sizes now than it was in the last century!

    The Shelley bra pattern is my favorite! I made a 32G (though I shortened the band by an inch, so 31G?) and it fits really well and I wear it a lot — plus it’s just so much fun to sew!

    • Leila says:

      Happy Birthday, Ginny! I hope you had a great one! And wait, we’re the same bra size, too? I have bought several wacoal bras over the years. They’re very comfortable. I have to try the “buy a ton of bras online and then return what doesn’t fit”. I think that would be a good option for me, too. In town I can only find so many in my size so I end up settling.

      My sister is several cups larger than I am and is 5’1″ and she wears ill fitting bras. Her poor back…but she won’t try on bras with a smaller back and bigger cup. πŸ™‚ oh well.

      I really need to try the Shelley bra pattern.

    • ThreadTime says:

      I have been playing with a couple bra patterns (not many out there for bustier girls). So glad to see your recommendation. I just purchased the Shelley and will be giving it a try.

      • Leila says:

        Let me know how you find it. I haven’t tried the Shelley out but I do hear that it’s a nice pattern. Tho, really, a nice pattern is well, nice, but it’ll depend on the shape of the breast.

      • ThreadTime says:

        I’ll be sure to let you know. I’ve just ordered the ‘Tyler’ blouse from (new pattern company) and already have the FBA planned. It would be fun if it wasn’t such an almighty pain.

  17. QueenHoneyB says:

    I need more bras too. I am wearing oooooooold bras that don’t fit, are full of holes, and should have been thrown away years ago. Why? Because it’s so hot here I NEED to have 4-6 bras to rotate, I have to wear nursing bras right now, and one of the only stores that I can find a decent size at (Marks & Spencers currently) doesn’t always have something taht fits me. So I have 2 of their bras that fit ok (34F) but I tried them on when I was 8 months pregnant, so they may not be the optimal size. And the other four bras are as good as garbage. Whenever I have told people (family, close friends) my bra size,they never believe me. Perhaps I am squishing into too small of a bra or something, I don’t know, but I don’t look as big as I am apparently. I’ve always hated bra shopping. It’s hard enough in the US to find a size that fits me. Here in Malaysia it is next to impossible!!

    • Leila says:

      Oh I had the worst bras when i was nursing. Everything fluctuates so much. One day the bra would fit but if one of my kids didn’t nurse enough I’d be spilling over. I bet it’s harder in Malaysia.

    • Leila says:

      sorry your comment got eaten. I didn’t see it on my end. blah. but hey! thanks for that link! I’d heard there was a place like this in Chicago and now I can go to another of their shops that is closer to my inlaws house. Thank you! Thank you!!

  18. Robin says:

    OMG! I’m seriously getting an education here– great post, and awesome comments! I’m currently rotating 2 bras– a Chantelle 3781 and a Fantasie Rebecca, both in 36F. I’m loving the Chantelle, but the Fantasie is just okay for me. Based on all I’ve read above, I should definitely go down a band size. And two is definitely NOT enough. I think it is time to go shopping. Thanks so much!

    • Leila says:

      yeah, the comments on this one are superb. Try the smaller back and let me know what you think. I love the smaller back, personally, but I know it’s not to everyone’s liking. I’m glad you liked this post.

  19. ThreadTime says:

    I feel wrong to be enjoying your pain…just know it’s a kindred sister here. I was a 32 for most of my ‘bra’ life and always on the larger side. I hit my 50’s now and am in a 34GG…tight fit and with right boob spillage! I’m beyond sick of it, let me tell you!

    I buy all of my bras at BareNecessities (online). I have no one nearby selling my size. Bare Necessities has done a good job for me and always accept returns of bad fits.

    I will have to start following you to see how you sew for yourself. Creating an accurate FBA is giving me fits. I can’t tell you how many (bad fitting) muslins I have worked on.

    • Leila says:

      I’m glad I’m not alone. πŸ™‚ I really want to try BareNecessities. I’ve heard great things about them. I’ll be posting more FBA stuff soon since I’ve got several projects lined up.

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