Your Guide to Perfect Bra Fit – Victoria’s Secret, Simone Perele, Bloomingdale’s, and More!

February 5, 2018

I put off getting properly fitted for a bra for an embarrassingly long time. Like a longggg time. Like I should’ve been wearing a bra by 13, but I didn’t start wearing one until 16 and when I did, I just kind of picked a size I *thought* was correct. Did my bra fit? No, definitely not. How did I come to this incorrect size? A combination of my dress size, and the numerous guides online on how to “measure yourself” for your bra size. Here’s the truth: you can’t properly measure yourself for your bra size.  You can try, but because your arms and shoulders are moving up and down and your ribs are expanding and contracting, it’s just not going to be all that accurate.

 

I would still be wearing the incorrect bra size had I not been at a Victoria’s Secret with a sales associate that was adamant I was wearing the wrong size. She insisted on sizing me properly, and of course, she was correctly. I came to discover that I was wearing a bra that was incredibly uncomfortable because it was too small. I really thought bras were that uncomfortable because that’s all I knew. Your bra size can vary between brands and in some cases, between fitters. Curious and wanting to find my true bra size, I set out across NYC to visit several different lingerie stores and boutiques to figure it out.

1. Victoria’s Secret – 34th St Herald Square

Victoria’s Secret is easily the most widely known name when it comes to lingerie for the average woman. Mid-range prices, decent lace, embellishment, and color options, and different styles. Bralettes, no lining, light lining, pushup, extreme pushup, and pushup so extreme that they just straight up call it “add two cups,” Victoria’s Secret has it all.

I had never bothered getting properly fit at a Victoria’s Secret in Minnesota {where I grew up} because quite frankly, I’ve never once received really good customer service there. Sometimes when I stepped into a Minnesota VS I wouldn’t even be greeted, and frequently I found myself running around the entire store, chasing down associates just to find someone to unlock a fitting room for me, much less to actually help me find a bra. I went to the Herald Square store simply to pick up one item, however that quickly turned into the most stressful two hour long Victoria’s Secret shopping experience that I’ve ever had. Even though Herald Square is the biggest Victoria’s Secret store {they have three floors}, they also have the best customer service I’ve received at a Victoria’s Secret Store. When I made it to the fitting room, the attendant asked what size I was wearing, and when I responded with “32B,” she took one look at me and said “nope, you’re actually a 32D.” She did properly measure me with her measuring tape, however her initial guess was dead on.

Everything I tried on in the new size fit perfectly. I noticed that I was MUCH more comfortable. I have a history of back problems, and my back immediately started feeling better with the new size. I could tell the difference when I changed back into the smaller bra I came into the store in. The associate helping me had to stay in the fitting rooms, so she wrote down my size and style preference and called another associate to walk me through the three level store and help me find the bras I tried on in the fitting room that I like. When Victoria’s Secret fits bras, they don’t pull actual bras they’re selling in the store for you. Instead, they have one of every type of bra they sell in each size in the fitting room for you to try. When you decide which styles and size works best, you have to go out into the store to find that bra.

I do think the Herald Square store is an exception. I’ve gone to four Minnesota stores, two Washington D.C. stores, a Miami store, a Tampa store, and the flagship Victoria’s Secret as well as the Flatiron NYC stores and have never once received service even close to what I was treated to at Herald Square. At those stores I got the same unattached, barely existent service. I’m guessing that part of the reason the customer service there was an exception was due to the store being so large. Larger store in a touristy area = higher sales = more payroll for more employees. I do make it a point now to go to the Herald Square store when I need something from VS, it’s just worth it!

The only catch is that Victoria’s Secret is known for their vanity sizing. It’s not uncommon for people to take a larger bra size in a Victoria’s Secret bra than they would in another brand. With this in mind, I went on to try out several other stores and figure it out.

 

2. Journelle – 14 E 17th St

Journelle isn’t just a lingerie boutique, but is also a luxury lingerie brand. Their designs come at the lower end of the luxury lingerie price scale, however they are still beautiful. Journelle’s multi-designer boutique has everything from everyday basics, to luxe laces. Besides the Journelle collection, other designers I spotted included Bluebella, Simone Perele {a personal favorite}, Bordelle {incredibly gorgeous, also incredibly expensive. Think $400 a bra}, and Dita von Teese, as well as many others. Journelle’s approach to bra fitting was fairly simple. It basically consisted of first trying the size you were currently wearing, then sizing up and down as needed. It was much less casual than Victoria’s Secret’s tape measure method. What the ladies at Journelle did know, was how each bra they had fit. One in particular I tried on, I asked for both a 32D and a 34C. The associate was able to tell me that the bra I asked for had a much better fit with a smaller band, and she was right.  That being said, however, the Bluebella bra I asked for in a 32D was slightly too large in the cups. The rest of the 32D’s I tried fit perfectly in other brands, so that’s likely more reflective on the Bluebella sizing than it is Journelle’s ability to fit a bra. Although my numerical bra size was the same at Journelle, the alpha size was different. At Victoria’s Secret, I took a small in bralettes. At Journelle, in this bra I tried on, a small was slightly too big and an extra small was slightly too small. If the extra small was even the slightest amount smaller in the cups, it would’ve been cutting into me. The small would gape and was just a little too loose overall in the cups. If I had to pick, the XS was probably the closer fit.The sales associate helping me explained that she normally just barely took a small in the Journelle bralettes, even though she was a 34E.

With Journelle’s price point, I can’t say that I was honestly all that impressed with their bra fitting.* Journelle’s bra prices and designers range from the higher side of Victoria’s Secret {$58} to the equivalent of an evening gown {$400}. The majority of  Journelle’s stock falls between $58 and $200. They did have some of my favorite lingerie designers, however Journelle also carried some designers that made beautiful bras, but with uncomfortable materials. Whether or not that’s worth the price tag, is up to you.

*I would like to note that even though I wasn’t impressed with Journelle’s bra fitting, their sales associates are really fun and very friendly. Customer service there is wonderful and attentive, their bra expertise just seems to need a little education.

Found at Journelle. Left to right: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

3. La Petite Coquette – 51 University Place #4

La Petite Coquette is hands-down the best lingerie boutique in NYC. Very rarely can I say that I have a good customer service experience in a store, but the customer service at LPC is amazing! I had the pleasure of being fit by the store’s owner, Rebecca, who picked out several styles that I immediately loved. You can tell that the ladies at La Petite Coquette know what they’re doing. No measuring tapes like Victoria’s Secret, no guessing games like Journelle. Rebecca took one look at me and even though I was in a sweater, could tell exactly what size I was with just a hand motion down my sternum and on my sides. A 32D was correct. I also tried on an alpha size bra, in which I was also a solid small. Both of these were on par with my Victoria’s Secret sizes. LPC stocks luxury brands such as Simon Perele and Chantelle, however also carries harder to find luxury brands such as Chantal Thomass and Aubade. The stock at La Petite Coquette is unique and curated. You’ll find a few bras at $60 or so, however overall, the prices come closer to $100-$200. Unlike Journelle, everything at LPC is comfortable and high quality, in addition to flattering and gorgeous.

The incredible customer service and beautifully made lingerie makes La Petite Coquette worth it. They are slightly more expensive than Journelle, however LPC is a much more personalized and involved experience. Plus, I’m all for a bra fitting experience that doesn’t require me to stand around getting measured in nearly nothing with my arms held out to the side.

 

4. Bloomingdale’s Flagship – 59th St and Lexington

I usually love Bloomingdale’s. Really, I do. Ask anybody, I’ve spent hours perusing the Bloomingdale’s flagship store on 59th and Lex. While I love Bloomingdale’s, I don’t love their lingerie department. While yes, they do carry Agent Provacateur, one of the most coveted names in lingerie; Simon Perele, For Love and Lemons, and others, their staff just isn’t that attentive when it comes to bra fit. Agent Provacateur has their own store within the department, and to their credit, the ladies that work in the AP section are helpful and attentive. They’re not Rebecca from LPC, but they’ll make sure you find what you’re looking for. They kind of have to be when you’re selling bras that range upwards of $1,000. The Bloomingdale’s approach to bra fit was a combination of LPC and Journelle’s. I told the fitter my bra size, I tried on a few, she checked them and agreed. It was simple, but overall uninvolved. I was checked on in the dressing room maybe once, and overall it felt like I was swimming in a sea of bras alone. This was honestly kind of overwhelming when Bloomingdale’s carries such a wide variety of designers and prices. Lower end lingerie brands such as Calvin Klein were amongst luxury brands like Simone Perele. Not to mention the wild card designers such as For Love and Lemons and the Kendall + Kylie collection. It would have been helpful to have a more attentive sales associate to suggest bras that worked for my body shape, style, and price point. The 32D bras I tried on did fit. I tried on a few For Love and Lemons bralettes, however they fit unlike anything else I tried on. I tried both extra small and small, however the extra small was wayyy too small. I know that extra small typically isn’t the size for a 32D, but it was really closer to a double extra small. The small was the correct size, however it was unflattering and uncomfortable. I was thoroughly disappoint as FLL is known for their unique “skivvies” {as they call them}. The quality just wasn’t there, the material was itchy, and compared to everything else I tried on, the sizing was just bizarre. There was a clear jump in size from extra small to small. The extra small was extremely small, the small was almost too big. I thought that maybe it was just me, but I brought it up to my lingerie lover friend, who confirmed my doubts about the brand. Unfortunately I couldn’t have someone pull something similar for me, because the lingerie sales associates just weren’t customer service focused.

 

5. Brooklyn Fox Lingerie – 200 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg

Brooklyn Fox’s approach to bra fit was relatively close to Victoria’s Secret’s. They did ask what size I was wearing, however measured to double check. Brooklyn Fox is also a luxury lingerie boutique, carrying stock that is relatively similar to Journelle’s. Unlike Journelle, Brooklyn Fox also carries smaller brands made and designed in Brooklyn, which I love {shop small y’all}. The ladies at Brooklyn Fox emphasized sister sizes. To find your sister sizes, go a band size up and a cup size down, or a band size down and a cup size up. If your size is a 32B, your sister sizes are a 34A and a 30C. Sometimes sister sizes can fit better than the originally measured size, depending on the style and cut of the bra, which is why it’s helpful to try them on. The bra fit specialist helping me at Brooklyn Fox felt as if a 32D was the correct size, however preferred to put me in a 34C and in some cases, a 34B almost fit better. I tried on three Simone Perele bras amongst others. One was a 34B, one a 34C, and one a 32D. Out of them, the 34B was definitely the tightest, but all of the bras fit, even though they were different sizes. I did really enjoy my experience at Brooklyn Fox. It felt as if the sales associates there were genuinely interested in making sure I was wearing the correct size, and bringing me other options.

 

Key Tips to Finding the Perfect Bra

  • Try a lot of different brands. Whether that’s a mixture of luxury, mid-range, and inexpensive; or just different brands in one price range. Each brand fits slightly differently, so don’t limit yourself to just one!
  • Try different styles within each brand. Balconette, t-shirt, push-up, lightly lined, full coverage, demi, they’re all different, and each type is best suited for different figures.
  • Go off instinct. If something feels downright uncomfortable, don’t buy it. You’re the one that has to wear it!
  • Know your sister sizes. Some bras fit better in them than your original size, so don’t be afraid to try both sizes on.

The Verdict

The world of bra fit seems to almost be comparable to the structure of an atom. Most lingerie brands have bras in which you’ll wear the same size as the other and have them fit, however there are a few outliers surrounding that concentrated center that fit completely differently. What became increasingly apparent across all stores and brands was that the alpha sizes were the real outliers. Some smalls fit to a t, others a little bit big, and some a little bit small. My best explanation to this is simply that sizes such as extra small, small. medium, etc. aren’t as precise as 32B, 32D, 36F, you get the idea.

Yes, it’s easy to go to Victoria’s Secret for moderately priced lingerie that fits okay. It might not hold up incredibly well and it might not be the best materials, but it is pretty, even if everyone and their mother has it. Keep in mind that Victoria’s Secret does use some sweatshop labor, which keeps the price of their lingerie down. Victoria’s Secret also carries a relatively limited selection of sizes. The luxury boutiques, and even Bloomingdale’s, are more likely to carry an extended range of sizes. For a quality bra that fits perfectly and is comfortable, and gorgeous, I highly recommend making your way to a luxury boutique such as La Petite Coquette. Yes, the price point is slightly higher, however for the unparalleled customer service, expertise bra fit advice, and quality bras, it’s worth it for a few special additions to your lingerie drawer.

The best advice I can give you when it comes to finding the perfect bra is simply to go and get fit at a few different spots. Try on a myriad of styles and be open to suggestion from the bra fit experts working there to find what works best for you! That is what they’re there for, after all. I did notice that while Victoria’s Secret focused heavily on pushup bras, I saw very few if any at Journelle, Brooklyn Fox Lingerie, and La Petite Coquette. Even though they don’t focus on the pushup bras, Journelle and La Petite Coquette both carry bras that will look and make you feel fantastic, even without the extra boost.

 

Below I’ve linked nearly every single bra I tried on in this multi-week long process to find the perfect bra {there’s a few no longer available, and a few that really are just *that* difficult to find online}. For me, that’s this Chantal Thomass {I love everything she does}, this Simone Perele, and on the lower end, this Victoria’s Secret bra {which I ended up getting a few colors in}.

 

xx,

E

 

25 responses to “Your Guide to Perfect Bra Fit – Victoria’s Secret, Simone Perele, Bloomingdale’s, and More!”

  1. This is SOOOOO good! I always find myself struggling to find the “perfect” bra fit without trying it on from store to store, because the sizing is always slightly different. What an awesome guide — Thank you so much for sharing! You’re a life saver!

  2. Megan B says:

    This is so great! Last time I was measured I was surprised to find I was a totally different measurement than I thought –– but I’ve got to keep this in mind!

  3. Bonnie says:

    The struggle is real! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Dana Gutkowski says:

    AH! The perfect bra! One of life’s big mysteries! Thank you for these great tips! I definitely love the suggestion of trying different brands. That is key! All brands definitely fit differently! Excellent guide!

    • Eva Phan says:

      Thank you so much, Dana! It does seem like quite the mystery, but hopefully some of these tips demystified it a little bit!

  5. I’m almost 27 and I’ve never been properly measured for a bra! Think you’ve inspired me to bite the bullet and get it done properly instead of guessing!

  6. Patricia says:

    What a wonderful guide! I don’t believe I have ever had a bra fitting, and honestly I don’t really shop at places that offer one (the online world), but I am going to try to meander up to the mall and check out the Victoria’s Secret. I am now curious about what size they would say I am.

    • Eva Phan says:

      I highly recommend it! Keep in mind that sometimes VS fits a size larger than other stores because some people claim their bras run smaller than the industry standard. Through my experience, I was about the same size VS fit me for across all stores, but if there’s a department store or a lingerie boutique at the mall you’re going to, I’d recommend being fit there as well!

  7. Autumn says:

    This is great information since the store that I used to go to is no longer in business. A great fitting bra can change your whole attitude in addition to the way you look.

  8. Elizabeth O says:

    LOVE this post, so informative for people struggling to find a bra. I am a firm believer in trying on a bra, they all fit so differently!

  9. Alicia says:

    I am very small and have a hard time finding bras to fit me. I wish I had so many stores near me to get a proper fitting. I’ve resorted to buying online – which usually results in lots of returns.

    • Eva Phan says:

      My friend is the exact same way! The specialized lingerie boutiques tend to carry an extended range of sizes that span smaller and larger than the mainstream sizes. If you are shopping online, try Journelle, they carry smaller sizes + their lingerie is still pretty!

  10. Ann Snook says:

    I’ve never gone for a proper bra fitting but I definitely need to! Thanks for sharing your experiences and tips.

  11. Esme Sy says:

    I sometimes have problems going for my gut when choosing the perfect fit, only for a pair to feel uncomfortable after a few tries. But having all of these options up there sounds like a wonderful “problem” for me!, can’t wait to browse and shop!

  12. Lisa Rios says:

    It can be SO difficult sometime to find the right bra. Thank you for the helpful pointers!

  13. sian ryan says:

    oh my goodness, the struggle is real. The amount of times I have been measured wrong in different shops and department stores, i swear my bras are all different sizes!

  14. I’ve heard the Nordstrom here where I live has great fit service. I have found a couple brands from True & Co online and stick with them.

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