My mum complains that every time I go to the mall I have to visit the bras. It's true; I live in hope that every time I visit there will be a new bra for me to try on and possibly fit. Gaining weight and now fitting fairly comfortably into a 10F (UK32F) has been great, because it now means that I actually fit into the bras offered by Bras N Things and Bendon - hypothetically, anyway. They have 10F bras, but whether they fit me or not is always a toss up.
Yesterday after work I felt like trying some bras on, so I toddled off to Bras N Things in Riccarton mall. Bras N Things is probably comparable to Victoria's Secret in the US, with half the store being filled with bras with so much padding there's no room for boobs, and lots of thongs. Fortunately for me, about a third of the store (in Riccarton) is full of bras for bigger busted girls. I think most of the bras in Bras N Things are quite pretty, though mostly of a much poorer quality than I'm used to.
Having tried on many bras at Bras N Things over the past several months, I now feel comfortable in giving a bit of information on them. Only for the bigger busted ladies, of course. I don't even bother looking at the bras in the front of the store, because I outgrew them when I was 13 (not to mention I cannot stand pushup bras, and that's all they are). For the "bigger bust" the brands are mostly Killer Kurves, Short Stories, Annalise and I think they have a couple of bras in different brands, but their website doesn't list brands very well. I know they have a plus size brand with the only non-padded bras in the store, but since I don't fit it I've never thought to look at what brand it is and unfortunately can't comment on the fit.
Some Bras N Things brands
Short Stories - I've found that the Short Stories bras tend to run big in the back and small in the cup. They usually have super stretchy bands, which are not good for proper support. I own a gorgeous 8E bra in this brand that I cannot wear, because the 8 feels more like a 12 and the E only works if I don't actually scoop myself into the cups, which is no good! The quality of Short Stories seems a little poor, but I haven't been able to wear one long enough to test it.
Annalise - Annalise is advertised as being for bigger busted women and goes up to a G cup. NZ/Aussie sizing seems to be a mix of US/UK, going A B C D DD E F G, so their G is the equivalent of a UK FF. That explains why I cannot fit any 8s in store, because the Riccarton store doesn't stock G cups. Anyway, I find Annalise bras to run quite tight in the back and small in the cup mostly, but I have a weird problem with them where no matter how tight the bra is, the centre gore will not sit against my ribcage. It's always at least a centimetre away, and I don't know why. I thought it might be because of cups being too small, but I tried a 10F balconette (which I could barely do up) and the cups were plenty big enough and yet the gore didn't touch. The 12E, however, was huge in the back. It's like all their 10s are actually 8s - I usually can't even do up their 8s. The Annalise bras look nice and the quality seems ok, but I have never been able to find one that has a centre gore sitting flat and the bands are always too tight or way too loose. I have to try every Annalise bra I come across because their sizing is just so inconsistent.
Killer Kurves - This has been the greatest surprise to me. This brand only came out recently and at first the back bands were way too loose. I think the cups were ok, but without a firm enough band it didn't matter. I've only seen a couple of 10s in store, with mostly 12s and 14s. The 10s were way too loose. Last night however, I decided to try them anyway (hope springs eternal) and I found that although the 10s were still a mite loose (I seem to be a size 9, though cheaper brands often run looser than good quality ones so I can get away with 10s in the better brands) they were tight enough that I actually considered buying two 10F bras. Considering I have been visiting Bras N Things on probably a fortnightly basis for about 6 or 7 months since I discovered how bras were meant to fit and had never found a bra that fit me, finding two in one go from the same brand was quite exciting - especially since the two bras were constructed differently, not just the same style in two colours. The quality of Killer Kurves is a little poorer than I'd like, but I'd have to buy one to find out.
The reason I didn't buy a bra last night was that like in other places, Bras N Things have much more expensive big boob bras. I glanced at the little boob bras as I walked past and saw that many of them were on sale for $10. The ones I tried on were all $60 or more. That is a huge difference, and that's more than I'm willing to pay for a bra that I'm not certain is good quality and great fit.
I didn't get a fitting last night because I get uncomfortable about pretending I don't know what I'm talking about (though it's totally necessary when researching fitting ability) but I did get the resident shop assistant to check up on me occasionally. She mentioned that she thought one Annalise bra was too tight because it was cutting in to my back (it definitely was, but the size up could fit at least a fist between my back and its band) and when she checked another bra, she told me she actually thought the band was too loose. That's a good sign! She checked my straps (by barely touching them) and the cups, though she did not tell me what she was looking for. She did tell me that it was important to fasten my bra on the loosest hook, but when I mentioned that the Annalise bras didn't sit flat in the centre gore, she said it didn't really matter. Overall, I don't think I would've gotten a great bra from a fitting with her, but I definitely think she would've been more likely to put me in a 10E than a 12D, which is my "measured +4" size.
I intend to keep visiting Bras N Things and I will hopefully be able to gather more information about their fitting and bras and so on.