I bought my first bra when I was 11 years old. Right around the time when the 'jiggly twins' (as I nicknamed them) decided to make a special guest appearance while I danced my one-two-threes in the primary school PE hall. Since then, we have had a fraught and turbulent relationship.
I have really big boobs. And I don’t mean in a really endearing 32DD kind of way. I mean in a 34H kind of sorcery. For visual assistance purposes, the cup smothers my face. One is much bigger than the other, and if that distorted gravity does any more damage, they will both be well on their way south to Australia by the year's end.
Once a year, I like to take them out on their annual shopping trip, which we all despise. I cry, they cry, the fitter cries. Collectively, we would make a terrific reality TV show. You see, bra shopping is like going to the dentist. You know you have to do it, but you try to prolong the inevitability of a visit for as long as you can. Right until your tooth falls out, or in my case, one of my breasts hits the floor.
So for the good of floors and my back, I decided to traipse about Dublin city to find the best places and bras that would do my bigger bust some well-deserved justice. Here are my top finds:
My first port of call was the Grafton street institution, Brown Thomas. The range for bigger cup sizes is not the largest here, but what is there is fantastic. The lovely Karen was my bra guru and provided me with my first shocker of the day. She told me I was a 34H and not the 38G that I had been so wrongly fitted as before. She explained to me that the bigger the boob, the tighter the back has to be. I was measuring between a 34 and 36 back and Karen assured me that choosing the smaller size would benefit me more in terms of support and longevity. Bras always tend to loosen after the first 3-4 wears. The Fantasie ‘Jacqueline’ Full Cup Bra was the one that Karen hoisted me into. The full cup gave a more rounded shape and this particular bra had extra side support that prevented any overspill. Instantly, my shoulders became narrower and my waist appeared. Karen explained that because the bra I had been wearing was too big, my entire top half appeared bigger in size due to lack of support.
Second on my list was Susan Hunter, which is situated in the Westbury Mall but could easily locate itself along the streets of Paris. They cater for cup sizes A-J and back size 30”-46”. The lingerie is on the more expensive side but the range is excellent, as is the service. Us women know that bra shopping is awkward at the best of times, but the lovely girl in Susan Hunter was utterly fantastic and I was put at ease instantly. She advised me that different bras will suit different breast types. What I discovered is that a more triangle shape will give a pointier finish and the more rounded and softer shapes will give that rounded look and provide more stable support. In total, I tried on 10 different options before I found the perfect fit, and that was the Prima Donna Madison Full Cup Wire Bra. The jiggly twins felt instantly lifted and the thicker straps made me feel supported and secure. I was a size 36I in this style of bra as the fit is generally smaller.
Arnotts certainly has the widest range of bras in Dublin at the moment, and their fitting service is second to none. I had Henrietta, who was an absolute pro. She is one of those women who have no qualms about breasts whatsoever. She went straight to the point and knew exactly what I needed. She took one look at me and knew I was a 34H, and subsequently provided me with one of the best bras I have ever tried on. Balcony bras were something I have always avoided as a bigger busted lady. It always seemed like the boobs were trying to make a quick escape out of the bra. However, the Panache Balcony Tango bra changed my thinking. My boobs were lifted and supported. I looked neat, had a waist and the bra looked pretty unlike the industrialized bras I was used to. I felt fantastic. The Tango bra was €46 and as there is more stretch in this particular bra, I sized down to a 32H.
Peaches and Cream
Peaches and Cream is located on South King Street and owner Sinead is an absolute bra guru. Once again, she took one look at my bust and knew my exact size. I loved that a tank top was provided in each dressing room so that you can really see what your chest looks like under clothes. Some bras look great on their own but when placed under our everyday wear they look disastrous. I explained to her that I needed lift, structure, and support. The Fantasie Smooth bra is designed to give a smooth shape under fitted outerwear. Sinead warned me that I might be susceptible to a fright at the lift that it gives. And I was just that. My boobs had been lifted to space but in the best possible way. Sinead explained that I had been wearing my bra too low on my waist, thus giving the saggy appearance. She added that boobs have to be manoeuvred into a bra and straps have to be pulled up an inch. These are pointers that I never knew. Not only did I find a great bra, but I also received an informal tutorial on how to actually put a bra on. The Fantasie Smooth T-Shirt Bra retails at €50 and is worth the price tag.
After my lingerie filled excursion, I now have two top tips for any fellow ladies in need of a bra refresh: get fitted and shop around. Finding the right bra is like finding the perfect dress. Some styles will suit you and some won’t. But eventually, after a lot of sweating, tugging, and pinching, you will find the perfect fit and feel amazing.