My mom and I recently took a road trip across Texas and Missouri, and we decided to stop and visit a bunch of bra stores along the way. We went to seven different stores in three cities. It was wild! I am going to do reviews of all the stores, but for now I just want to reflect on what I learned about the world of curvy girl lingerie in general.
The strangest thing I noticed is how unequal access to good bras is. Like, wow. And the weird part is that I don’t know why some cities have several wonderful shops and other have none. There are busty ladies everywhere! I don’t get it! I would understand if large cities had better selection, but that is simply not the case. Dallas is over twice the size of St Louis, but the latter has much better bra stores! Why? No clue!
I did, however, obtain a better understanding of the different types of bra stores that serve boobalicious ladies. All the stores I visited could be easily divided into old faithful bra stores and boutiques.
Old Faithful Bra Stores
Until this trip, I had no real historical perspective on bra stores. I’m young, so I just assumed that bras had been the same for a really long time. It was good to have my mom around. She set me straight. Turns out, the idea that women need or deserve pretty bras is a totally new concept. For most of history, bras were primarily functional, not fashion. This is where you get the old faithful bra store. These places have been around forever! For decades they have been providing specialty lingerie for women who needed something a little extra to keep their breasts in place. Often there was only one per city, and they got used to a total monopoly.
But then things changed. Now, all the ladies with small cup sizes are buying pretty bras for cheap at Victoria’s Secret, and the more curvy among us are jealous. Super jealous! Pair that with a population boom of millennials (More Americans are 23 than any other age!) who were raised with this expectation that they need beautiful bras, and you get a bunch of busty ladies demanding more from their bra stores. Some of the old faithfuls are rising to the challenge, but others are not.
On this trip I shopped at Three different old faithful stores. The one that did the best job of adjusting to my needs was Petticoat Fair in Austin, Texas. Their approach is very individualized. You only see the bras they think you would like, and they have a good selection of pretty styles. I never felt pressured to be happy with an ugly bra. I have never seen another store that was so welcoming to women of all ages.
The other stores I went to either had a very limited selection, or were plain unhelpful. I think this is driven by the fact that these old faithful stores now earn most of their money from selling super expensive mastectomy bras. Which is awesome! Breast cancer survivors deserve great bras! But that means they put less of a focus on serving those of us who’s bosoms are overflowing. It will be interesting to see how these stores do over time. I suspect that new stores will take over the non-medical bra business, and that many of the old faithful will become exclusively mastectomy bra stores.
What stores will take over, you ask?
These tiny specialty shops always look so cute, I just want to buy everything! But I usually enter boutiques under the assumptions that nothing they carry will fit over my humongous chest. However, there seems to be a new trend of boutique lingerie stores that carry an incredible selection of bra sizes. Yay! It is a dream come true!
What is great about boutiques is that they find a niche. That is great if you are their clientele, but it may mean that some boutiques are uninviting, or don’t carry your style. Two of the boutiques I went to in St. Louis were aimed more at younger women, and carried modestly priced bras (well, modest for bras in a G cup) in a wide variety of beautiful styles. I will review them both soon, but if you are in the area, I highly suggest that you stop by Sugar Magnolia and Marie Angelique. I also went to Clair de Lune, which is a very elegant boutique. The St. Louis location is new, but they have an older branch in Kansas City. This is a great bra store for older ladies, or very wealthy ladies. They carry some of the most expensive and luxurious brands I have ever seen, which is great if that is what you are looking for. It is a good store, but not for me. I felt out of place, and the sales people treated me rudely. Even though I did really like their bras, I will not be going back.
The other issue with boutiques is that their business is built more on their ability to provide beautiful bras than their ability to fit you perfectly. All the stores in St. Louis really knew what they were doing, but that isn’t always the case. In Dallas, I went to a little store called Trousseau and had the absolute worst bra fitting experience of my life. It was totally dehumanizing, and then they tried to sell me a bunch of bras that obviously did not fit me. But the worst part is that this store has by far the best publicity of any that I visited. There are many, many articles touting them as the best bra fitters in Dallas. And they were so awful! I can’t believe it.
If you have a favorite bra store, or have had a really terrible experience, tell me all about it in the comments!