Hi. I’m here to add yet another voice to the mix in bra and lingerie blogging, and since there’s no dearth of voices already, I want to open by discussing why.
Thea thriving bra-fitting online community is concentrated primarily on under-served size ranges — not just because there are far more women than widely assumed by industry in these size ranges, which is true, but because these women are so ill served that they are desperate. For their own sakes, they are compelled to figure out solutions because — particularly for the small-band large-bust segment — failure is not an option: the lack of a bra that fits can entail major quality of life, health and daily living disadvantages. Because the present state of the marketplace and the culture makes finding a bra that fits extremely difficult for, say, a 28H, success entails becoming educated and expert enough that a high proportion of these women turn into bloggers, educators and opinion leaders, and I mean “opinion leaders” quite seriously–they represent the leading edge on fundamental improvements under way in fitting theory and practice, with the anglophone epicenter of the field presently at the ABraThatFits Reddit.
Parallel to the fit-o-sphere, there’s also a robust fashion lingerie blogging community that is not or not primarily concerned with matters of fit. They are frequently friendly and sympathetic to the plight of women outside the fashion lingerie market’s preferred demographic. But essentially they’re not fit bloggers. They’re concerned with style, fashion movements and trends, beauty and aesthetics, originality and creative. The uber-superstar here, for me, is TheLingerieAddict. You can start just with her blog and fall down a whole gorgeous fascinating rabbit hole of swooningly beautiful and/or fierce.
And most of this stuff barely intersects at all with the full-bust fitting world. Blogging that takes a strong, foregrounding interest in both fit and fashion is sparse. Right now the outstanding player is Miss Underpinnings, who presently enjoys a much deserved and swiftly rising level of success. And it isn’t hard to see why. It comes down to what Wide Curves has brilliantly formulated as the hierarchy of lingerie, riffing off Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:
As a 32G, not gonna lie, my basic fit needs are remarkably well catered for. I’m not going to say I’ve had a blissful mindless life of easy privilege, because I haven’t. I spent many years in ill-fitting horrible bras accumulating rage and chronic muscle spasm issues before I found my way to good fitting advice and discovered the major UK brands that cater to my range. I’ve faced some unusual challenges around fit, on top of the usual hurdles blocking one’s way into even a moderately full-bust size in the U.S., and I have self-educated considerably as a result. I am not a fitting expert, but I have something to say about fit, or at least questions of legitimate interest to bring to the podium. And we need that. Oh, do we still need it. The U.S. is on the brink of an explosion in understanding and awareness, and a consequent sharp rise in consumer expectations, and it all can’t come too fast or get enough done quickly enough. But me? Pretty much, I got mine. I don’t have a life-ruining bust size — I don’t have to get my clothes from Pepperberry or Urkiye, I don’t have to order my bras from Poland, I don’t get harrassed or stereotyped at the office, I’m really kind of ordinary. And my ordinariness, my relative size privilege, puts me in a position to wonder what might be reasonable to expect above basic needs. We must insist on the minimum of a bra that fits, yes, but must we be satisfied only with the minimum? Having successfully navigated the shoals imposed by bad fitting culture, in firm possession of the ability to procure a bra that fits, I’m now eyeing the upper levels of that hierarchy of needs pyramid.
TL;DR: I want to go shopping.
But I am stymied, people. I am met with a wall of NOPE. I have options, yes, but choices, not so much. Workaday brands have been joined in force in recent years by the jaunty young flirts led by Freya and Cleo, so if you are a no-nonsense utility bra buyer or a roller derby manic pixie dream girl aspirant — not that there’s anything wrong with either of those! — then you’re cool. For DD to F, aesthetic and creative variety is starting to emerge outside of that space: you can get sophisticated and elegant, and if you’re determined you can find the very occasional something different. To G or GG, there are sparser beauty options and there are no players left at all in edgy or androgynous or architectural or seriously sexy. Past GG, I’m pretty sure, it’s the Sahara. And, frankly, most of the really good stuff mostly still comes in B and C and that’s it.
Here we are, INUNDATED with fierce lingerie — fall 2013 and spring 2014 are the biggest tidal wave of lace and silk and sheer and bondage-inspired fashion EVAR, people are basically doing cage bras as outerwear this season, and I’m talking every price point, not just the super expensive underwear for Wall St tycoons niche or the platinum pop star stage-supplier niche. And here I am, not rich-rich, but with New York City interests and resources, and not even in a hard-to-find size. And I cannot buy a cage bra to save my life. Not one single solitary cage bra. There are some workarounds, but basically, I got beans. And I’m not the only frustrated one. Here is a spot-on Two Cakes On a Plate rant from earlier this month, for instance. And Miss Underpinnings has been taking some temperature checks on unmet needs this month and been practically drowned in wails of yearning from full-busters for something in the strappy cage and harness aesthetic … of which, more anon.
So I get it. I really, really get it that fit comes first. (There are 28Js starving out there, missy! How dare you complain that the bra that fits you is in Pepto-pink cupcake print? You just clean your plate and say thank you and be grateful we let you out of the beige orthopedic minimizer penalty box.) But maybe we shouldn’t settle, you know? Maybe the marketplace has evolved to the point it’s time for the full-bust segment to move up on that Maslow needs pyramid. Maybe it’s not fussy or selfish to start raising our expectations. If by expanding and raising the volume of our collective voice to challenge calcified mindsets and realign objectives, we can help accelerate this market evolution, I am all for it, and I don’t see why the positive changes can’t encompass fashion as well as fit. It could create an even bigger growth engine for the industry than fit alone.
At a minimum, I can get a few raves and rants out of my system and amuse and interest someone maybe. It’s the internet and soapboxes are cheap. Upcoming: brand overviews, specific bra reviews, drooling raves for lingerie I can’t have, advocacy, situation analyses, future-state scenario planning for the industry, and so much more. I have a demanding day job, but what the hell.