I have had my lingerie business for quite a few years. So you would think I’d know a little something about building a lingerie wardrobe. Truth is, I didn’t know as much as I thought.
I started my business basically out of necessity. I have a full bust, 34HH. I know that number may sound made up, but it isn’t. When I first started The Pink Duchess, the options for pretty bras in my size weren’t readily available. Like most women, I wasn’t aware of how to correctly find my size. If my breasts were jumping out, I automatically went up a cup. This was my standard way of finding my size. WRONG.
I met with a vendor and she schooled me on how to find my size. [Visit the Fitting Room @ThePinkDuchess. com, for tips on how to find your size.] Funny thing is, my mother had bought me a bra that she thought was pretty…nude lace. However, I thought it wasn’t my size. So I never wore it. After meeting with my vendor and learning how to find my size, I tried on the bra and was shocked. It fit perfectly. Okay, it was still a little big in the band, but the cup was spot on.
Fast forwarding, I attended a lingerie trade show in Las Vegas and had the privilege of attending “Bra Fitting” School. The two-day course was a lot more thorough than the quick lesson I got from my vendor. In this class, I learned there are a lot more variables to keep in mind when finding your perfect fit.
I’m short waisted, which I didn’t know plays a part in what style of bra will work for me. That means some styles dig into my arm pit. I also sit up higher. Consequently, some balconette or push up bras will make it appear as though my breasts are at my chin. So all those years when I was just going up a size, I should have been examining a few other things as well.
I had the privilege of attending a lingerie trade show in Paris. Heretofore, I’d been attending US trade shows, and occasionally purchasing a few international pieces. However, this was a completely different experience. When I planned the trip, I also knew I wanted to experience lingerie shopping like a French woman. I’ve read stories about how shopping for lingerie in France is unlike shopping for it any place else.
My mother and I went to the lingerie department at Le Bon Marche and I.D. Sarrieri. Time didn’t permit us to visit more lingerie stores in Paris. I was surprised, because when I told the sales woman my size, she wasn’t surprised. Unlike sales women in US department stores. The sales woman told me to wait and she went to get another sales woman, Georgia, who helped me. When I told Georgia my size, she said, “That is mine as well. Come with me.”
I followed my new friend Georgia to a sea of beautiful bras and knickers in my size. I was happy and sad. Happy, that Georgia was familiar with my size, eager to help me, and they stocked my size. I was sad because there wasn’t much left in my size.
This is where the French lingerie shopping experience comes in to play. Although I had told Georgia my size, she re-measured me. Then she pulled an assortment of bras in my base size as well as my sister size. I thought I was going to be left on my own to try the bras. No. In France, the sales women are right in there with you. They help you adjust and tweak the bra to find the perfect fit.
One of the funniest moments was when she tried to put me in a bra with a larger band and it was too big. In some styles, I can wear a 36 band and decrease my cup to a GG. However, Georgia tried to put me in a 38G and it was too big! We both laughed. I have an upper belly, a small back, and a full bust. Oh, I forgot to mention that from the first time I discovered my correct size up to this point, I had lost thirty pounds. So I went from a 38G to my current size 34HH.
Bra Fitter Georgia was surprised at how small my back was. I have to give her credit for not giving up. When it was all said and done, I ended up with a beautiful black lace Empreinte bra in my sister size 36G. I’ve worn this brand before and I like the fit. Once Georgia finished with me, she took my mother through the process. She’s a cup smaller than I am, so she had a few more options. She ended up with a beautiful bra and knicker set in plum with root beer colored lace and beading.
I thought I was going to have to settle for just a bra. On my way to the register, Georgia handed me a matching pair of knickers. That was so French. I looked around and do not recall seeing a rack of orphaned knickers. I did however, see lots of beautiful lingerie… pajamas, robes, chemise, camisoles, tap pants, hosiery, slips, you name it.
When we went to I.D. Sarrieri, it was the same.
This time, we were in a dedicated lingerie boutique. I was blown away at all the beautiful things. I kept in mind my education about only buying and wearing coordinating or matching lingerie. The knickers I fell in love with didn’t have coordinating bras in my size. However, the sales woman stressed the same shopping mantra, coordinate.
My next trip to Paris, I plan to spend one day just shopping for lingerie.
This is an excerpt from "Building Your Dream Lingerie Wardrobe"