Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Curvy Kate: Portia and Angel bras

Bear with me on lack of pictures/crappy pictures for current posts... as mentioned on Twitter, I just have a halfway broken camera and a cell phone to work with currently :P

The other two Curvy Kate bras I received in my last package besides the Tease Me were the Portia and the Angel bras, both in a 28GG. I decided to wear each one while making notes on them (which proved surprisingly difficult, as you'll note in a moment).

Bra Log 12/18/11
Portia Bra:
Bra very VERY tight, so much so that it prompted me to buy an extender and try it that way. Center gore stabbing painfully. Cup fabric cutting into breasts, very noticeable quadboob (on the left, my bigger side, especially). This effect a bit more pronounced without the extender. Cups comes up a little high on the armpits and are rubbing there, and cup wires don't go back far enough to encase all breast tissue on the side. Red indentation left where center gore was stabbing. Did I mention wearing it is painful? I couldn't wait to take it off.
Besides all of that, I liked the overall front shape that it gives (ignoring the quadboob, etc)

Angel Bra:
Band feels a bit on the tight side. Cup fabric comes up high under the armpit and is rubbing. Slight quadboob effect for left side. The shape feels too "spread out", and the cups aren't as uplifting as I like. Not a good look.

Despite the pain I endured with wearing the Portia, I'd be willing to give it another try in a different size because I liked the overall shape it was giving (and it was cute!). I'm assuming the band felt so tight mostly because the cups were too small. I'm guessing if the bra were going to work for me, a 28HH might be my go-to (up 2 cup sizes from my "usual").

I had heard good things about the Angel, but I don't think it's a bra for me. I might try it again if I was in a store with a wide variety of sizes, but I don't think I would order it again just based on the shape it gives me (spread out, doesn't feel terribly supportive). You can see from the links above that even on the models, the Angel bra seems to give a more "spread out" and lower shape than the Portia. The Angel may work much better for someone with a different shape and preferences than me.

So far with Curvy Kate bras, I've learned that I would seem to need a 26J in one (Tease Me), a 28HH in another (Portia), and I don't like the third (Angel). I'm surprised at the seeming disparity between what my size seems to be for these bras and what my size is for other bras. I need to try on more Curvy Kate bras before I come to any solid conclusions, but right now I'm feeling like their sizing between styles is not at all consistent. I decided to line up my 28GG purchases to compare bands and take a look at the difference in lengths:

(from top - Panache Tango II Plunge, Curvy Kate Portia, CK Angel, CK Tease Me)

I'm rather astounded at the differences in band length between these bras, which are all labeled as a 28GG - and three of them are the same brand! Why such difference?

Curvy Kate, I haven't given up on you yet, but I'll be proceeding with caution. I know some people love Curvy Kate, so it may just be that it's another brand that doesn't work well for my shape...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Curvy Kate, why do you Tease Me?

I recently received my Brastop order of 4 different bras (3 Curvy Kate, one Panache), so more reviews will be coming after this!

After hearing so much about Curvy Kate's Tease Me bra (and the similar Thrill Me and Tempt Me of their Showgirl range), I knew I wanted to try it out for myself. I was able to quickly try the Thrill Me bra when I was in the UK earlier this year without success (the band was too loose and the cup shape wasn't ideal), but I had higher hopes for the Tease Me, which I ordered my usual 28GG as well as a 28H.

...Alas, my hopes were dashed. The bra was oh-so-comfortable and I loved the shape, but the band was too stretchy and loose even on the tightest hook. Also, the cups of the 28H were too small, especially when the band was pulled tight.

Tease Me in 28H
I've read that most people need to go down a back size and up a cup size or two for this bra, but unfortunately sizing down isn't possible for anyone who wears a 28 band. I'm guessing I would need a 26HH or 26J in this bra for it to fit really well, which seems very far off of what I "should" be or am in other bras.

Panche Tango II Plunge vs CK Tease Me, both in 28GG - the Tease Me band is also stretchier.
The most frustrating part for me is that the Tease Me is one of those bras that almost fits if I tighten it up all the way. It feels very comfortable, but even on the tightest hook the wires shifted around a bit, and I get the quadboob effect (I realize that this is supposed to be a cleavagey bra, but there was obviously an issue of cups being too small). If someone had given it to me, I would probably have kept it, even though I knew I would only get a few wears out of it before the band loosened up too much.

What it looks like under a shirt, for those curious. Yay quadboob!

Curvy Kate, I love that you offer so many band and cup sizes in all of your bras, but why, oh why, must the bands run so big on this line of bras? It's difficult enough to find larger cup sizes in a 28 band, so it's disappointing when the "must go down one band size" rule applies to a particular bra.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In Bra-related News....

Great news for those of us who may need a band sizes smaller than 28 - it seems to be confirmed through their respective Facebook pages that both Panache and The Big Bra Bar.com will be offering a 26-band bra in the near future! The Big Bra Bar will be piloting a set in a 26 back in March 2012, and Panache is planning to offer 26 bands in select styles in their Spring 2013 collection. According to Butterfly Collection, Panache plans to offer the 26 bands in at least some Cleo bras.

If you or someone you know needs or wants to try a 26-band bra, be sure to support these two companies as they come out with the new size! They're certainly taking a risk by offering a bra out of the "usual" market, but I give them a lot of kudos and credit for listening to their customers and offering what so many people have been requesting. I look forward to seeing and hearing about the new sizes!

In other news, Curvy Kate will be offering a moulded bra up to a J-cup in Fall 2012. This is awesome for ladies in bigger cup sizes who struggle to find any kind of padded or moulded bra in their size, although I do hope that they'll be able to offer up to a K cup like most of their other bras sometime in the future as well.

A few other good bra-related links to check out:
Fuller Figure Fuller Bust recently did a "high street bra fitting challenge" - check it out! I'm always somewhat appalled at how ostensibly "good" bra stores fit (or don't fit) women (see also my own Victoria's Secret experiment). Also, check out her post on the lack of smaller band sizes offered in stores and why they're needed.

Linda's Unhooked has a helpful post about the importance of budgeting and caring for good bras.

This is a great post from The Butterfly Collection that goes along nicely with my previous post and addresses misconceptions about the fear many women have of being a D+ cup.

Pairing with the above post is this one from Hourglassy, which addresses the issue of younger girls with larger busts and the difficulties they face (something I was quite familiar with).

New bra-review posts coming sometime soon...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fitting: why it matters to me

I was 19 when I first started trying to figure out my correct bra size. Not long into my quest, I'd occasionally I'd have friends ask things like, "Why does it matter? Why can't you be okay with the "sister size" thing, or something "close enough"?" As the search got more and more frustrating, I started to ask myself the same questions. Why wasn't what I was wearing "good enough"? What made me so special that I had to have a very well-fitting bra? (how strange, to want to have clothes that fit well...)

But I was even more frustrated with not knowing how bra sizes worked, with squeezing into the same two 36DD bras that I'd had since I was 15, with wondering why nothing seemed to fit me. I had been seriously contemplating breast reduction surgery since I was 16. So I kept on looking and researching, not even trusting fitters, determined to figure out for myself what no one had taught me. I didn't know why everything I tried seemed both too small and yet too loose, why bra sizes didn't seem to go above DD, what the numbers and letters really meant. I researched, was introduced to Paul Taylor's webcomic about a busty girl heroine, joined a livejournal community for smaller girls with larger busts, and tried on lots of bras - a task I had learned to loathe over the years.

And then I had my epiphany moment when I tried on a 30G bra at Nordstrom (no one had fitted me into it; I had measured myself and guessed through trial and error, then had it checked by a fitter). And I almost cried.

It didn't hurt. It didn't ride up or down. It didn't flatten or squish me. It didn't feel wrong. It had underwires, something I thought I could never wear. It was even... pretty.

I spent $80 on that Fantasie bra that day. I would've spent $300.

And then, in the weeks and months following, I did cry. Not so much for everything that didn't work, but because I had found something that did. I wasn't a freak. There were other people like me. I phased out my trial-and-error bras, the 34F's that were closer but not quite there. I learned what a correctly-fitting bra should look and feel like.

And, the best thing of all, the thing that even now, three years later, I sometimes forget: the upper back pain disappeared. The lower back pain disappeared. The shoulder pain disappeared. I had lived with the pain and discomfort for so long that I had just accepted it as part of me. When it was gone, I felt so free I could've shouted and danced (I probably did). I only remember it now when I wear or try on a bra that isn't my size or isn't the right fit. It doesn't take long to be reminded. But now, instead of accepting the pain, I know it's the bra, and not me. Because there's nothing wrong with me.

The main throwback to all those years of wearing poorly-fitting, sports-bra, "minimizer" bras is that I still slump, I still curl in my shoulders. It's hard for me to remember to stand up straight and proud, hard for my body to remember to stop compensating for back pain.

So I turn back to humor to keep from berating myself for slouching - these two comic panels have always stood out to me for that:

Bikini power! :D

My size has changed a bit since that period several years ago (I'll post on bra fitting while going through weight fluctuation sometime in the future), but the principles remain the same. I'm not a freak. The clothes are the problem, not me. I don't have to be in pain.

That's what I want everyone to know about themselves.

Oh, and thanks, Paul Taylor. For helping me learn that.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

And what if your bra size doesn't exist (yet)?

A quick rant: I may find it hard - nay, at times extremely difficult - to find bras in a 28 band (and a larger cup). I admit it was with some despair that I came to terms with the fact that I needed a 28 instead of a 30 band, effectively cutting down my options to online-only shopping and fewer choices.

However, sometimes even 28-bands are too loose for me. And more and more, I keep hearing about (and seeing) girls who need bands that are smaller than 28s. They need 26 and 24 bands (like Brittney from Thin and Curvy) or even smaller. However, there just aren't really any options for girls like this. Those needing a 26 band can try custom-ordering from Ewa Michalak, a Polish website, but these custom bras can't be returned, so the purchaser must guess at their size and hope their money on the bras and shipping isn't wasted. Many girls who need a sub-28 band don't see going through this somewhat difficult and expensive process as a feasible option. Therefore, they either remain frustrated with 28-band bras that are "close" to fitting right, but cause pain because they're not quite there, or they make do with loosely-fitting and unsupportive larger band sizes (30,32,even 34). How can good bra companies advocate the  "correct" way to fit yourself without offering options for everyone? It doesn't seem quite right.

I keep hearing rumors that Panache might be coming out with a 26 band bra, and I'm really hoping that they follow up on this (and that it covers a wide range of cup sizes!). How amazing would it be to have a bra available in your size, for the first time, to purchase directly from the main big-bra websites without having to custom order??

Bra companies, don't leave us out. Don't restrict us to one or two bras. Give us options! Give all of us the opportunity to wear the size we need!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Shut out

If you're an "odd" bra size, you're probably used to feeling left out. Maybe you've given up expecting to find your size in stores at all. If everyone was wearing the correct bra size, I think this would be a more common problem... after all, there are somewhere in the range of 96 possible bra size combinations for any given bra (and that's just for back sizes 28-38, in cups A-K)! And yet, even some of the most inclusive bras at Victoria's Secret, Target, and regular department stores only carry around 19 sizes (with band sizes under 32, cups under B, and cups over D-DD usually left out). Even stores with an extensive range like Nordstrom carry around 45 sizes tops, with many of those sizes only having one option, and still whole sections of the population are left out. More commonly, only sizes 34A, 34B, 34C, 36B, 36C, and 36D (a mere 6 sizes!) are offered in many stores. That's quite a significant difference from 96, and helps explain why VS and other stores use incorrect fitting methods to make sure their customers buy something rather than being correctly fitted into something that they don't carry. Surely they realize that there's more than 6-19 types of boobs/bodies/figures out there?

However, even the big-name big-bra brands aren't immune to a lack of inclusiveness. Even the ever-popular Freya, Fantasie, and Panache often seen to be stopping short. If you do a search on Freya's website, the choices go drastically down the higher your cup size goes, especially in a 28 band. For example, a search for 28FF presents you with 23 available options. A search for 28GG gives you 11 options. Selecting 28HH gives you 5.

A few examples that leave me feeling "left out":

Freya Lacey

Love the look of this bra, and it goes at least up to a JJ cup...  in every band size except for 28, where it stops at a G cup.

Freya Faye

I applaud you, Freya - the Faye bra goes all the way up to a J in a 28 band, excluding only JJ and K cups. However, as is the case with many bras, the style/cut changes when the bra is over a G cup. I was able to try on this bra at Bravissimo. A 28G was nice and tight in the band and too small in the cup. A 28GG, however, was FAR too big in the band and loose in the cup. It felt like a completely different bra! Cue disappointment and frustration.

Freya Nieve Longline Bra

Yum! However, this longline version has a rather disappointingly small range of sizes. The regular balcony version has a much wider range, the same as the Faye, so I guess there's still hope for me there, unless the style changes drastically in GG+ cups like the Faye.

Bras I Hate made some interesting points about Freya as a brand. I have to say, I tend to agree with the fact that Freya seems to work best for boobs around the DD-F or G cup range, but doesn't fare as well above this, or for those under a 30 band. Possibly this has to do with the cut/style changing for GG+ and under 30 bands (still not quite sure why that happens). I've been thinking for the past few months about moving on from my fixation with Freya. I realized that I keep wishing/thinking/hoping/expecting that Freyas will somehow work for me, if only I could find one in my size that didn't change drastically when going from a G to a GG cup.

If I move away from Freya as I have from most Panache (wires too wide for me) and Fantasie (cup shape not ideal for me, and I don't know of any 28 bands), where does this leave me? I keep hearing praises of Ewa Michalak, and I've decided that the next bra order I make will be from there. There's some brands I haven't explored much, like Curvy Kate. And I'll keep a lookout for Cleo bras that are similar to the Poppy, like the Juna bra.

With 96+ size options, and many stores only choosing to carry less than 20 of them, it's no wonder so many people have misconceptions about bra sizes and how bras should fit. I think companies are getting more aware of the need for more options as more and more people find out their correct bra size, so here's hoping that stores will slowly but surely begin to stock more sizes and offer better fitting advice!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cleo Poppy Bra Review

In September, I got my first "new" bra in a long time - the Cleo Poppy bra (from a Bravissimo store, no less!). I usually steer away from Panache/Cleo bras, so I was surprised that I loved the fit when I tried it on. The shape is great, although I must admit I still slightly prefer the Deco. The Poppy band runs tighter than a Freya, which is good for me since even the 28 bands in Freya are sometimes too loose for me. The cups also seem to run a bit small, so if you fluctuate between two sizes, I would go with the larger one.

I definitely recommend the Poppy bra, especially if you don't generally wear Cleo bras, you find that Freya bras or other brands are a bit loose in the band for you, you wear a 28GG or H (as these can be particularly hard to find in general; however, it does stop at an H cup), you want to try or you know you like half-cup bras, and/or you want something fun but also comfortable and practical! My only complaint would be that the lace on top doesn't always lie flat, especially on one side, but that's fairly minor. The bra is also very comfortable (probably my number one criteria).

I would include a picture of it, but sadly my camera has basically died. Hopefully I'll be getting a new one in the next month or so, because lack of a camera is really proving to add to my lack of motivation to blog.

In other news, I finally took the plunge and got 13 inches of my hair cut off in October. I was able to donate the proceeds from the haircut to Breast Cancer research, donate my hair to Locks of Love, and got an awesome punk-pixie cut to boot! I'll have to get pictures of that as well when my lack of camera is resolved.

If I find other reviews of the Cleo Poppy Bra, I'll be sure to link back to them in this post. Let me know if you try it out, and what you think! It's inspired me to give Panache and Cleo by Panache bras another chance.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cream teas

Cream tea: Tea served with a scone that's topped with butter, jam, and clotted cream. I make scones at home from time to time, but as clotted cream is pretty much impossible to get in the States, I was excited to have cream tea in the UK whenever an occasion arose.

Cream Tea #1: Patisserie Valerie in Stratford-Upon-Avon (right across from Shakespeare's birthplace)

Cream Tea #2: Patisserie Valerie in London
(I was sick, hence the lemon in the tea)

Cream Tea #3: Tea Shop in the Tower of London

Cream Tea #4: Taken to-go at Heathrow Airport (my camera had died by this point)

I discovered that I prefer the combination of a warm scone (pronounced "scuhne" not "scohne"), raspberry jam, and fresh cream over a not-warmed scone, strawberry jam, and packaged cream. However, that's really just little details. I loved that you always got the jam or marmalade in little glass jars. I loved the little personal tea kettle you sometimes get. I loved the decadence of the butter and jam and cream together, and the fact that it's common knowledge that a scone must be dressed up in this way, and always paired with tea.

I miss cream tea.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Summer Science Fiction!

Summer is a great time for some Science Fiction reading, don't you think?

These are some of the books I've read or am reading for a summer course (20th Century Science Fiction). I've always been a lover of the Science Fiction genre, but it's nice to have a very specific slice to be reading and studying (we're also [re]reading Ender's Game and Fahrenheit 451, but I didn't feel like taking a picture of my old ratty copies). It's also interesting to compare the mostly American stories to some late 1960's Russian Science Fiction that I read last month (June was also my "read as much by Nabokov as I could" month).

And now, in regards to the Steampunk edge of Sciencey Fiction...
Hacker got me the set of the first 9 volumes in the Girl Genius series for my birthday!
(isn't it glorious?)
We've been reading through them together at night. It's a great series - I highly recommend it. I'll probably be heading to my friendly semi-local comic shop to pick up the recently-released Volume 10 sometime in the foreseeable future.

How about you - are you doing some serious (or not so serious) summer reading?

[ETA: if the whole Steampunk thing intrigues you [and you're into cosplay, sewing, and/or dressing - howdoyousay - uniquely]... check out this video by the Threadbanger crew]

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hourglass shapes and Curvy women

Fashion-associated terms have always confused me. The media delights in assigning all women into a few specific categories - pear, triangle, apple, hourglass, rectangle - and then telling them what they look good in based on their shape.

image from thebarbertoo.com
One of the terms in particular has always confused me: "hourglass figure." Most of us can immediately conjure up an image of what a woman with an "hourglass figure" looks like - generally the media portrays this as a woman (often a larger woman) with very defined bust, waist, and hips.

But what exactly is the definition of an hourglass figure? Wisegeek gives an interesting and specific definition: "In a woman with a true hourglass figure, the measurements of hips and bust are essentially the same, and the waist measurement is equal to less than 75% of either the hip or bust measurement. The result is a very curvy figure which emphasizes broad hips and large breasts."

I found other definitions as well, from "waist must be about 9 inches less in measurement than the bust" to "shoulders and hips are the same width" to several (differing) specific measurements (40-30-40, 36-24-36).According to the first definition at least, it doesn't matter what your overall weight is, as long as your hips and bust are about the same measurement, and your waist measures 3/4 of that. By at least the first two definitions, I fit into the category of an "hourglass figure," my waist measuring less than 75% of either my waist or bustline and being at least 9" less than either of those measurements.

However... this still confuses me. I never really felt that I was an hourglass figure. I started doing some research, and I noticed that there seem to be several, slightly differing "looks" that are presented as being hourglass shaped. But looking at all the images in articles about fashion, the vast majority seem to be of heavier or larger women - for example, here and here. Even of the examples aren't of women who are on the heavier side, they're almost always shown as having very defined/larger hips. I definitely don't have stellar hips that could stop traffic. They're just... normal.

Both of the example links above present several choices to a woman and tell her that she must be one of these shapes - pick one so we can work with you. What if you don't look like any of those women in the pictures? (And what's with the monikers - what woman wants to say, "Honey, I just found out I'm Tube-shaped!") And why do articles like these (especially the last one) assume that you hate so many things about your body? Why must women forever define themselves as a "banana" or a "brick"?

Image courtesy of popularandposh.com
More confusion ensued with more research. The woman above, for example, does not look like she has at least a 9 inch difference between her waist and bust or hip measurements. Another site I found describes "hourglass" women as "may be fuller-figured" (another euphemism for larger) and having "fleshy" arms. Has "hourglass figure" become another word like "curvy" in that it implies having defined bust and hips, but has come to generally be used as a nicer way of saying "larger women"? I think of myself as "curvy," but I learned early on that the "curvy" sections of stores or websites contain clothes exclusively for plus-sized women. Are stores saying that only plus-sized women are curvy?

Can you be thin or slender and still be "curvy"? I would say definitely. Can you be thin and still be an "hourglass figure"? By definition, at least, it seems so, although I'm not sure I will ever really associate myself with being an "hourglass" shape, if only because of the confusing (and often conflicting) portrayal of what an hourglass shaped woman really is. Even if I fit the strict definition, it doesn't really seem that hourglass+thin are really "supposed" to go together.

I had always hoped that in my search to understand exactly what each shape and label meant I would finally find out what I was - dare I say, who I was - and settle comfortably into a preset shape that had clothing rules and regulations to follow. But I've come to realize that we don't all fit so nicely into molds. And the molds that stores and the media present us with are often misleading, conflicting, and wrong. And you know what? I think all body shapes and types are beautiful. I don't think we need to be told what we should and shouldn't like about ourselves.

I'm not quite sure what label I fit into. But I have my own words that I like to use to describe me - busty, curvy, thin, short, broad-shouldered, round-faced, leggy, sturdy. I'm a mix of apparent contrasts, according to what the stores tell me. But maybe - just maybe - I like it that way. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

So you want to try Kefir?

Ever heard of Kefir? It's basically "fermented" or "cultured" milk - think of it as kind of a super-yogurt (another cultured milk product). I started drinking it a couple of weeks ago for the health benefits. I admit I was kind of scared when I was standing in the refrigerated section of the local organic store; I was afraid kefir would taste as strange as it sounded. In faith, I reached out, grabbed a bottle, and took it home to try it.

And you know what? It wasn't that bad. It tastes like tangy, slightly sour yogurt, and it's very slightly bubbly(the label says "effervescent"). I started out with trying Lifeway brand's Blueberry and then Strawberry flavored "smoothies," then moved on to the regular plain drink.

If you're interested in trying kefir, I would recommend starting out with a flavored drink before jumping right into plain kefir - it helped me transition into the overall taste. I now can say I honestly like kefir (especially the flavored kind - yummy!), and I'm going to branch out to trying other brands next shopping trip.

Also (at least in the brand pictured), the flavored kefir doesn't contain any unnatural dyes. For the Strawberry and Blueberry flavors, only additional ingredients besides what's in the plain kefir are organic cane juice, strawberry or blueberry concentrate juice, and red beet juice (plus the ubiquitous "natural flavors").  The flavored kefir has 20 grams of sugar and 20 grams carbohydrates per serving, as opposed to 12 grams of sugar and 12 grams carbohydrates for the plain.

If you're looking to branch out from plain old yogurt, you should try kefir!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bra Roulette

So, you've tried everywhere. And not just Vicky's, Freddie's, or even Nordie's - you've even gone to the "specialty shops." Yet, those perfectly-fitting bras remain elusive. What's a girl to do?

Well, lovies, you have three options, depending on your funds:
1. Beg free bras off of friends
2. Scour the internet for cheap bras
3. Buy new bras from fancy European websites

No option is perfect. Option 1 only works if you have friends that are about the same size as you (and are willing to part with their probably hard-won lingerie).

Option 3 is the ideal option for getting nice bras, but only works if you have sufficient funds (at least a few hundred $$) and patience.
For example, say I found two bras I liked online that I decided I would try. The first is $54.44 (weird amounts happen when you convert from British currency), and the second is $51.14.

Now, if I just got one of each that would be $105.58, plus around $14 shipping, giving a grand total of about $119.88. But wait! I have no idea exactly how these bras fit. They might run large or small - the Cleo brand (the $51.14 one) is known to run small, but you never know. So I would need to order a few different sizes to be sure I got one that would fit. Otherwise I would have to gamble on one size, and then pay for shipping both ways to exchange it if it didn't fit.  $14+ shipping adds up fast.
Since the Cleo bra doesn't have a wide variety close to my size range, I would only have to order, say, 3 different sizes to see if one worked for me; same with the Freya bra. So now we're up to:
(51.14)3 + (54.44)3 + 14(at least) = 153.42 + 163.32 + 14 = $330.74.

Thus, if I wanted to get these two bras, I would have to have about $350 free to do so. I would get refunds for all the bras I returned (so, if one of each kind fit, I would get a refund of $211.16, but I would have to pay for shipping to send back the bras).
To top it all off, if none of the bras ended up working, I would get a refund for the cost of the bras themselves after I sent them all back, but I would have to have paid probably $30+ for just shipping, plus there's the wasted time and effort and having over $300 in limbo.
On the other hand, if you find a new bra online that you know fits you, then you only have to pay for the cost of the bra plus shipping, so you'll only be paying in the $50-$90 range without having to worry about refunds, exchanges, and all that.

*phew* On to Option 2! Well, if you don't have friends with excess bras in your size and you don't have hundreds just waiting to be spent, then you get to work with this option, or what I like to call Bra Roulette. This involves scouring sites like ebay and/or secret underground online communities. Often you'll be able to find bras on ebay for $30 or much less, and if you're part of a small online community, you may even score free bras (making this very similar to Option 1, except you don't really know the people and you pay shipping). This option allows you to get a whole bunch of bras for the same cost (or less) as one brand spankin' new bra. Thus, even if you bought 10 bras from various places online and only one works, you've only paid $40 total and thus you still got a deal. Plus, you have a much better chance of getting at least one bra that works.

My recent and much-put-off Bra Roulette gained me 6 bras for the total cost of $36 (shipping included) - so $6 a bra (plus I have one more in the mail that I'll just pay shipping for, adding about $2 to the total cost and driving the price down to $5.40 a bra).
Of the so-far 5 that I've gotten:
-2 are the wrong size (I can pass them off to a friend - yay option number 1!)
-2 are the wrong shape (Not sure what I will do with these yet, besides not wear them)
-1 works after a little modification (repairing a tear and taking in the band)
-1 fits perfectly

Thus, I've gained 2 bras for $18 each, plus several bras to give away or exchange, plus more knowledge of different brands and how they fit. $36 for 2 bras is a heck of a lot better than $120 for 2 bras.

I want to say this has never happened...

Now I'm curious, where and how do you get your bras? Maybe there are still better ways.