Conversations While Bra Shopping
Just for fun, here are some typical (okay, maybe extra ridiculous but only slightly) conversations that women can have with sales clerks when shopping locally for bras.
#1 (small band, large cup): Staff member (or "bra consultant" or whatever it is they're called these days) says,
"Hi I'm soooo sorry we don't carry your size. You should be wearing a 28X which does not exist. Thanks so much for shopping with us! Here, try on a 32DD."
Result: it doesn't fit but she buys it anyway, out of discouragement and shame. She gives it to a friend who actually does wear that size.
#2 (plus-sized): Staff member says,
"Oh gosh I'm sure you have a rough time finding bras huh sweetie. Well.... let's see, we have this one (pulls out a hideous matronly contraption in puke beige) but we really don't have many sizes of it in stock soooo.... have you tried Lane Bryant?"
Result: she rolls her eyes and leaves empty-handed, not wanting to go anywhere near the vomit-colored monstrosity.
#3 (petite, small-breasted): "Awww hi honey let me show you our best-selling 32A bra, it has bunnies on it. So cute!"
Result: she wistfully eyes the racks of sophisticated grown-up bras in bigger sizes, and then goes to buy a bralette in a store that doesn't specialize in lingerie.
#4 (non-white, looking for a bra to match her skin): "So you want... nude? You're in luck, we have two different nude colors available! One of them should be close enough, right?"
Result: she gives up on that mission and ends up with yet another purple bra, which is pretty but under a white top it just looks... well, purple.
#6 (trans-feminine): "Um. Sir are you sure you're in the right store?"
Result: she says she is there shopping for her daughter. Then she leaves and when she gets home, looks up "bras after implants" because she has the surgery scheduled and isn't sure what to expect.
So, let's address each of these concerns briefly.
#1 needs a size that is only carried by certain brands, many of which are not available in local stores. She can search online for the following brands which are known for making bras that successfully fit small band/large cup sizes: Panache, Freya, Ewa Michalak, Curvy Kate, Elomi, Affinitas Parfait, and more.
#2 will often have trouble finding her size in mainstream lingerie stores (ahem Victoria's Secret, guess what: many women are larger than a 38 band and/or DD cup). However, if she visits a boutique with knowledge and experience regarding plus-size bras and lingerie, she will usually be able to find a size that works. All lingerie stores should be familiar with all sizes, and stock a respectably wide variety of them... but unfortunately this is not always the case. Some online stores will allow you to order, try on, and return as many times as you need to -- with free shipping both ways. When shopping online, make sure to choose one of the stores that provides this.
#3 has a similar predicament to #2, except that instead of being directed to a plus-size-only store, she is often told to try on bras for teenagers. If both her cup and band size are small (28-30, A-C), then she can find stylish and flattering adult bras at stores like Lula Lu, The Little Bra Company, Itty Bitty Bra, and Pepper.
#4 constantly sees bras labeled "nude" that look nothing like the color of her skin. Lingerie brand Nubian Skin is taking on this problem by providing a line of bras and underwear in a range of non-Caucasian skin tones, so she should definitely check them out. Makeup for a wide variety of skin colors exists, and so should bras.
And finally, #5. If she is pre-op or electing not to have surgery, the trans woman can find solutions among brands made for breast cancer survivors. She can also seek out breast forms online, which are often available for purchase in combination with pocket bras to wear them in. Amazon actually has a decent selection of choices available. If she is looking for bras to wear post-surgery, there is a line of bras made specifically for women who have recently had breast augmentation (implants): the Rosa Faia line, by Anita Care.