Last week, I found myself sitting in my bra on Zoom. I was in the living room of my Brooklyn, New York apartment (don’t worry, my blinds were drawn). I was wearing one of my favorite bras, a red number I had bought myself from Bravissimo in Solihull, my husband’s hometown in England, several years ago, which felt like a lifetime ago.
I have some serious bra shopping baggage, to say the least. It started off in middle school in the early 2000s, with the realization that the bras in the popular mall stores no longer fit my too-large breasts. I felt devastated, like my body had betrayed me. My friends had the pick of everything from lacy to sporty in every color of the rainbow. I envied them their multitude of cute choices.
As for me, my mom dragged me to the only place that sold bras that fit me, the old lady bra store where everything was the color of blah and the sales attendants barged into the dressing room while I was still half naked. My only options were ugly and joyless, with straps the width of seatbelts. I mourned my fate—so young and faced with a lifetime of old lady bras! As I grew up, I found some better options, but they were few and far between and I had to shell out the big (big!) bucks to find bras I didn’t hate.
Six years ago, I fell in love with a wonderful British man. On our first trip back home to see his family, he mentioned I might want to check out a store called Bravissimo. I’m not exaggerating when I say Bravissimo changed my life.
It was a revelation — a whole store of pretty, reasonably priced, non-stodgy bras for big-boobed people like me. They had time for a fitting during my first visit, and the fitter was patient, kind, and incredibly helpful. A proper fitted bra makes a world of difference. I was shocked at my size: 34HH (like my initials.) Popular culture will have you think bra sizesend at DD. My clothes draped better; I stood up straighter.
I left with a whole bag of bras and other goodies I felt genuinely excited to wear. I was nearly 30 years old and had never had such a positive bra shopping experience in my life.
Now, every trip to the UK means a trip to Bravissimo. A year ago, that was a different kind of trip. I had just started my third trimester of pregnancy, and so I scheduled another fitting. Bodies and breasts are living things, constantly changing. I went home with a suitcase full of comfy sleep bras and nursing bras for the months ahead, excited about how my life was about to change.
Then, two big things happened at exactly the same time: 1 I had a baby, a beautiful girl named Simone, and 2 The Covid-19 pandemic shut down the whole world.
Before Christmas, we decided to take a trip to Solihull. It was a decision we didn’t take lightly, but Simone was eight months old and still hadn’t met her grandparents. It felt important to visit. We took every precaution, got tested, quarantined, and even bought Simone a baby face shield (we had zero luck getting her to cooperate with that!).
Soon after we arrived in the UK, a new Covid strain was discovered. The country went into lockdown. It looked like this time, we wouldn’t get to see friends in London or spend a weekend in the countryside like we had hoped. I wouldn’t get a new fitting at Bravissimo, either.
Which is how I ended up back at home in Brooklyn, in quarantine, Zooming in my bra. Outside, the city was covered insnow. I had been meaning to go for another fitting since my body felt newly different, post-baby. I am still nursing, but only once a day. My bras didn’t fit quite right.
A virtual bra fitting makes so much sense for this crazy time. Mila, the shop manager of the Soho store, showed me around the place via her phone. (I can’t wait to visit in-person, one day soon, fingers crossed.) She took a look at my bra, having me turn around so she could see how the band sat against my back. The band fit great, but my cup size was a little big. She suggested I try 34H, one cup size smaller, and took me around the shop so I could see different styles and colors.
Bravissimo fits by eye, rather than tape measures, and they listen to customers to discover a feel-good fit rather than what a tape tells them. This all translates surprisingly well over video chat. Mila helped me figure out exactly what it is I wanted, which turns out was two things: a sexy cheetah-print bra called the Sara that is soft as pajamas (plus the matching undies because you only live once), and the sporty black Arla bra with orange trim that is already in very heavy rotation. Turns out Mila was right about the 34H. The bras fit beautifully.
I’m fantasizing about a time in the not-too-distant future where I’ll have a girls’ day out in Soho. We’ll get fitted for like-a-glove bras at Bravissimo and go out for a leisurely brunch, replete with cappuccinos and cocktails. We’ll laugh and laugh, and there might be some tears, too, because what a year it’s been.