How I Shop For Bras, Part I: The Research

How I Shop For Bras, Part I: The Research

   Shopping for bras isn't exactly a piece of cake. So I wanted to share a little bit about how I do it, and I hope that you will share your own tips in the comments!

   Sometimes I know exactly what I want, like the Panache Sports in the next size. Sometimes I spot a gorgeous bra that I covet but I don't know whether it will work for me (and which size I should order it in). At other times I just need something, like a bikini or a black T-shirt bra, and I have to sift through all the available options.

What are my options?

   I often start my search with Ewa Michalak, simply because all their bras are based on a couple of different cuts. I know that anything in the PL, CHP and CH will work for me. Now, lets say Ewa Michalak doesn't have what I want, and I have to continue my search elsewhere.
   First, I go to big online bra stores with a good search interface (lets you sort bras by size, type, brand colour, etc) and look through the options available. Some of the sites I like are Herroom, Figleaves, Bravissimo, BrasandHoney, and google shopping. Ebay throws up lots of interesting older models. Given my bra size and my taste, it often turns out that I don't have so many options after all. I also search for my sister-size, because there are much more options out there in 30 bands than in 28 bands. I note them all down, still ignoring the price at this point. This is because prices can vary a lot for store to store!

Real looks

    I always look for unedited non-studio photos of lingerie when shopping. First, I want to see how the colours look without professional lighting (for example the red Panache Veronica Bikini looks pinkish on catalogue photos but true red on "real" ones also catalogue photos don't register the fact that the blue version is a bit sparkly). Also, these photos give me a clue as to how high or low the bra / bikini / bottoms are, what kind of fabric has been used, etc. If I'm lucky I might find a photo of the piece being worn by a non-model, which gives a lot of clues of how the piece will look on me.
    Ebay is an amazing source for simple, unedited shots. Don't forget to check the "worldwide" option for even more hits! I also look for photos on google image search, often using the search terms "Parfait Charlotte + review" or "Masquerade Persia + blog" to get more non-catalogue photos.
   Another great way to get a feel for the bra are videos. There are a couple of websites out there which feature videos of products, like Asos. Then there are fashion show videos, you need to search for "Panache S/S 2014" for example. Then there are video reviews on youtube, very few, but still worth the search.

Fit research

    Does the bra run small or big in the cup or band? Are the underwires narrow or broad? All of this information is often somewhere out there, I just need to find it. Bratabase is a great source for both photos and fit information. So is Balkonetka. I always look for reviews in sizes close to mine (if I can find them), since there is often a big difference between the fit of the same bra model in a smaller cup size as compared to a much bigger cup size. The third great source of fit informations are blogs, I just google "Panache Lucille + blog review".
   Then there are of course reviews on websites. The problem here is that I never know if the reviewer is wearing the correct size, still these reviews can be valuable if you haven't found anything on blogs or Bratabase. Not all sites have them, try Bravissimo, Amazon (both US and UK), Herroom, Freshpair, Nordstrom.
   Didn't find anything yet? Try searching or posting on r/ABraThatFits or the Bratabase forum.

   Next Monday I'll be talking about the actual buying: new vs second-hand, choosing stores, comparing prices, and shipping costs.

   How do you do your research prior to bra shopping? Do you have favourite online stores, blogs or other resources that you rely on?

Sharing is caring!