Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A Funny Thing Happened in Debenhams...

For my UK readers, it won’t be a shock to learn that you can buy bras above a D-cup in almost any high street store. Most department stores and lingerie stores seem to go up to F, G, or even beyond. But for my US readers, it’s probably more shocking to learn that you CAN buy anything above a D cup in anything other than a specialty store. True, Nordstrom does offer the odd Freya or Panache bra, so I like to believe that it is getting better, but there’s still a long way to go. Nordstrom’s website certainly doesn’t make it easy for me to even figure out what sizes they offer--they allow you to search bras by style, color, price, and brand, but NOT by size!


The US is still miles behind the UK in terms of mainstream availability of “uncommon” sizes—which are really very commonly needed. Victoria’s Secret gets a lot of flack, which they deserve, for putting their models in ill-fitting bras and fitting people very poorly, but it’s not only them—it’s cultural. “DD” is still used as a synonym for “huge boobs”. That seems so laughable to me, knowing that even my J-cups are big but not absurd, and DD is really a fairly average size.

So coming from the US, it’s been a really novel experience to be able to simply stroll into a department store and find GG, H, HH, and J cups on the racks. Of course, having the double curse of a cup size AND a band size on the borderline of where most companies stop making bras, I still can’t find much in stores in my preferred size of 28J, but there are plenty of 30H or 30HH bras to try on for a laugh and to get a closer look at the style. That’s what I did in Debenhams recently. The visit in general was a mixed bag, as I’ll describe below, but since I’ve only been in the UK for a few months, I was still so dazed to even find these sizes in a mainstream store that I found myself wanting to rave about the experience.

The negative aspects of my visit to Debenhams:
The bigger cup sizes are all spirited away in a small room that is actually up a small flight of stairs from the normal lingerie department. It was reasonably well-marked, but I might not have thought to look for it if I hadn’t read Invest In Your Chest’s post mentioning that Debenhams had expanded their sizes.
The two salesladies in this room, who were behind the desk chatting, didn’t offer to fit me or help me find anything. When I asked to try on some bras I’d grabbed for myself, one of them said “Oh, I didn’t even see you there!” This despite the fact that the room is pretty small and I’d been moving all over it and making quite a racket knocking all the bras off the hooks as I pulled out sizes from the back. Even after seeing me, they didn’t offer to fit me. I didn't think to ask, so I don't know if they would have done the fitting properly--a project for another day!

The positive aspects:
They had a good selection of bras in a variety of sizes, particularly Freya bras. They even had a small sale section of past-season bras for pretty good bargains.
They also have their own range, Gorgeous by Debenhams, and I decided to try on a convertible multiway plunge even though the biggest size I could find was a 32G. To my very great surprise, this bra was a pretty good fit on me!

I would obviously have preferred a tighter band, but it definitely felt more like a 30 than a 32. It was also REALLY low-plunging, which could be great for certain clothes, and the straps converted to halter style or criss-cross. I’ve literally never tried on a convertible bra since my 34DD days and I was really tickled to find something that more or less fit. I wouldn't consider this a great bra for me (though if they made it in a 28 band and higher cup sizes it would be GENIUS) but it is the best option I have ever found to wear under criss-cross or halter neck clothing. It even gave a reasonably nice shape from the side!

The best part was this bra was on sale for £8. It’s still up on their website here if anyone is interested! I normally would never recommend buying a bra in a "sister size", but since the band runs a little small and it is SO HARD to find halter necks for big boobs, this could be a good option for some people.

Unfortunately, this Gorgeous by Debenhams multiway bra was the only passable item I tried on. All of the Freya bras, even the ones that technically fitted me, looked terrible. Next up—reviews of these bras! In the meantime, for more high street bra fitting fun, check out Fuller Figure Fuller Bust’s hilarious and depressing post here!


  1. Nordstrom here is a LITTLE better than most places, but not if you have a small band and a large bust. I personally found that if you have a big band and a big cup, you are better off in shopping than someone with a small band and a big cup.

    Nordstrom in Houston seldom stocks anything above a G cup, and last time I went, all they had above G were Wacoal and Chantelle bras, and those just flatten me out hideously.

  2. Hey, I love your blog! I'm working a post right now about the psychological limitations of bra sizing in the US, i.e. the myth that there are no sizes beyond a DD.

    Nordstrom's website does have a way to search for size, but it's a little tricky. From the menu you showed above, you have to click Item Type then Bras. From there, they do offer a drop down menu with size options. From my own experience, they don't have a complete size range in their stores (the last time I went I tried on a FF when I'm a G), but they do offer free shipping and returns. They also don't stock ANY 28" bands or J/K cups sadly.

  3. Mycurves, thanks for the info on Nordstrom. It occurs to me too, doesn't Lane Bryant make some bigger cup sizes too? Forgot about that one.

    Cecelarue, thanks! Sounds like a good post, I will check out your blog.

  4. Lane Bryant makes bigger cups but they don't have band sizes below 36 :( I used to buy bras there when I was a higher band size, their bras were actually pretty good, and cheap too. When I was wire-free, I found very good, comfortable, supportive bras there, and when I went back to underwires I bought a bra there too.

    I still buy underpants at LB, they are my favorite place to get boy shorts and thongs that really fit my wide hips and big butt. They have a really cute panty selection, too, and good prices.

    I enjoy your blog so much, Hater :) You're hilarious.

  5. On Nordstrom, you can search my size once you select the category. So, for example, if you'd selected 'Item Type' (bras), on the next page, you'd be able to select your size.

    The page you've shown up above is the front page for everything lingerie-related (camis, chemises, panties, shapewear, etc.) so I can understand why they didn't make bra sizes visible until further in the selection process.

  6. I totally agree with you on the whole buying bras is a fun novelty when you are visiting the UK from the USA. I am a 30G, and on my last visit to the UK I got such a thrill out of going into stores and being able to get my size! It was a truly amazing experience that I will never forget. Sad really as I shouldn't have to travel quite so far to do it, or put "Debenhams" on my list of tourist attractions, but I did and it was great. Too bad my first three trips to the UK were ten years ago and I didn't know diddly squat about bras then!

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