“As your Irish nanna would say, ‘A good-looking person looks good in anything,’” said hubby Patrick, as I tried on an evening gown for an upcoming wedding.
“Assuming her bra fits properly,” I countered. “I’ve always bought the inexpensive ones, but they’re not doing the job anymore.”
“I authorize you to spend as much money as you like in that area,” he grinned.
So, I got some professional help, starting with Jenni, saleslady at Enchantress in Mission Valley (619-294-4544; getbras.com). “If your bra is resting on your shoulders, then it’s not fitting well,” she explained. “A lot of gapping or spilling over — what we call ‘quad-boob,’ where it looks like four boobs — that proves it’s the wrong bra.
“You want the support to be coming from the band,” she continued. “So if you are on the tightest hook and it’s still rising up in the back, then you are not in a tight-enough band. It’s tough for some girls to find bras because they have a much bigger cup. A lot of places only carry up to a triple D. So, girls will go up in the band to try to get the cup to fit, but the band is the important part of the bra. When you lose that support around the band, you don’t get a good-fitting bra. We carry bras all the way to a size L. And with the band size, we carry from a 28 to a 54.”
Jenni mentioned a few of the brands Enchantress carries: Fantasie, Freya, Elomi, Panache, Goddess, Felina, Anita.... “It just depends on what you need, style-wise — the comfort level, if it has to be a smooth cup, if you want it to cut a certain way or work with a certain top or dress. Bras here average from about $30 to $70.”
With proper care, your underclothing should last from six months to a year. “Depending on how often you switch them out and how well you’re taking care of them,” she explained. “If you’re wearing a K cup, you’re going to need a few more bras than other girls.”
No machine washing or dryer for the bras, Jenni warned. “Hand wash and hang out to dry. And no Woolite — it’s hard on the elastic. We sell a soap called Forever New Fabric Wash [$15 for 32 ounces]. It’s a powder, been around forever, very good stuff. There’s another one called Soak [$16 for 14 ounces] — you just soak the bra for half an hour and pull it out. You don’t have to rinse anything. It’s concentrated, so it lasts a long time.”
“According to studies, about 85 percent of women are wearing the wrong-sized bra,” said Austin, fitter for Intimacy in Fashion Valley (619-894-8835; myintimacy.com). Bra fitting “is not huge here in America, so it’s hard to find the right-sized bra. Most women have to compromise, going with this size band or that size cup, just to get it to go around the breast. Europeans specialize in it; they invented the bra. We carry all European bras, over 90 sizes.”
What’s a sign that the bra is ill-fitting?
“The band rising up in the back. The shoulder straps should not be digging into the shoulders, nor should the shoulder straps be falling down. The band should be lower, at least level with the bottom of the underwire on the front.
“What kind of sets us apart from other stores,” Austin continued, “is that we don’t use measuring tapes. Measuring tapes don’t tell the whole story. Just like with shoes and clothes, vendors run differently. So we use the bras as the measuring tools. We can look at a woman and tell what she’s going to be.
“You should not be wearing the same bra two days in a row, or at least not make a habit of it,” Austin warned. “The elastic is going to stretch out faster. The average bra on the market is going to last you maybe a year. A European bra, because it has a lot more material engineered into it, will last three to four years.”
I pressed Austin for a few best-selling product lines. “Prima Donna is a company from Belgium. And Empreinte, one of our vendors from France. Our average bra starts at about $110. They are definitely pricier, but they last longer and are more comfortable.”