Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Store Review: The Enchantress

This past week, after seeing on their website that they offered 28-band bras, I decided to make a trek out to The Enchantress bra boutique.

True to the website, this cute little store offered many choices in Freya, Panache, Fantasie, Hotmilk, and several other well-known brands. I eagerly browsed the racks, noticing many sizes offered that I had never seen before in U.S. stores (like 28E and 28DD!). However, my excitement waned a bit when one of the ladies working there told me that she didn't think they had any 28GG's. I was disappointed, but I must admit that this wasn't entirely their fault. They did stock many Freya choices, and many of those particular bras did only go up to 28G (but up to GG+ in other band sizes), if they came in a 28 band at all. I must credit the store, then, for stocking all or most of the size choices for many of the lines that they did carry (unlike Nordstrom, who I've never seen carry 28 bands, even though they carry lines that come in that size).

Despite the lack of 28GG+ bras, I decided to make the most of my visit by trying on the luscious red Freya Deco in a 28G (too small in the cup) and a 30G (too small in the cup, too big in the band). The shop didn't have a 30GG in the red Deco, but they pulled a 30GG for me in a similar Freya Ashlee, which turned out to also be too small in the cup and too big in the band (surprising, as a regular 30GG Deco I had tried a few weeks before at Nordstrom seemed to fit well in the cups. Maybe the Ashlee runs smaller than the Deco in the cup?).

Things went a little downhill after that. The lady who had been helping me (I believe she was the owner) instructed the other worker/fitter to "find her some 30H's." Neither the Ashlee or the Deco comes in an H cup, but the second fitter brought me some mesh-cup Freya and Fantasie bras in a 30GG, which, as I expected, were too big in the cup for me (plunge bras like the Deco tend to run smaller in the cup), and I was fastening up the back all the way as I had been doing with the Decos. The fitter then somehow became convinced that I must be a 30G or 30FF, or perhaps even an F or DDD (what.). She then proceeded to move rapid-pace, bringing in handfuls of bras and almost throwing them onto me. I barely had time to notice which bras I was trying on and didn't feel I could evaluate their fit at all well with her standing there and declaring they were "perfectly" fitting or not and then rushing me to try on more. I found myself not wanting to try on any more bras, but feeling almost powerless to escape! Of the ones I can remember that I tried (and I tried on several besides these), I was given:

Freya Daphne in a 30G - band much too loose (and the cups would be too small if the band tight enough), and I didn't like the color anyway. I tried this on before the fitter came back. This bra doesn't come in a 28 band at all and only goes up to a G cup.

Panache Tango II in a 30GG and 30G - nothing new here, as I've owned several colors of this same bra in a 30G before. I currently own a 28GG that's too small in the cup and possibly the band. I was hoping to try this bra in a 28H, but apparently they didn't have it (or I was never offered it).

Freya Beau (I'm fairly sure) in a 30G - band loose, cups seemed to fit mostly okay, though a little sagging because of the loose band. The 30G was declared "perfect" by the fitter and she wanted me to buy it. In addition to the band feeling too loose, the shape was a tad pointy for my taste (I'm very anti-pointy, and this shape may have been fixed if I wore it in a 28GG). I did like the color and would be willing to try it out in a different size.
This bra does come in a 28 band and up to an H cup, but apparently the store did not carry it in a 28, or if they did, I was never offered it.

The last bra I was in was a 30FF Fantasie Esme, which she was declaring a "perfect" fit. I wasn't sure how to tell her what I was thinking. The band only felt okay only because the cups were too small and flattening my breasts - I felt smooshed. The shape was a flattened, spread-out shape, which I don't prefer. I didn't want to buy the bra, but I felt that she was pressuring me to do so. I also felt she had been rushing me through trying on a bunch of bras and thus I felt obligated to buy something.

Nearer to the beginning, I had fastened one (30G, I think) bra all the way up as I usually do automatically with 30 bands, and when she came in, she said, "No, no, you need to have it fastened on the loosest. Always the loosest. It can't be too tight or otherwise you'll get marks" as she moved the hooks to loosest setting. It's true that a bra should fit well on the loosest hook, but I feel she should have perhaps considered that the band might be too big if I was able to fasten it all the way up straight away. I tried to say something to that effect, and noted that I always get marks from all my clothing anyway and that I usually wear 28 bands, but I found it hard to explain anything (there was a bit of a language barrier, so that probably didn't help), and I didn't feel she was really listening. With a different bra, I tried to show her why I felt the band was too loose (by putting my fingers under the center gore), but she merely pulled on the back band (which I would be able to fit my hand under) and declared, "No, see, this is perfect."

Now, I do realize that "reverse letter phobia" (wearing too-small backs with too-big cups rather than the usual problem of too-large backs and too-small cups) can be a problem if we're not careful, and I hope I would be the first to acknowledge if I needed a bigger band in a particular bra, but I didn't feel that this was the case for the bras I was trying on, especially since I could tighten up bands all the way provided that the cups were big enough

In the end, I ended up buying (read: felt guilted into buying) a Panache Tango II in a 30G - a "safe" choice for my desperate-for-bras current state, since I had owned several before. Overall, through the last half of my time there, I felt very rushed and flustered. I didn't feel that the fitter was listening to me, and they didn't really carry my exact size range (though they had several things that were "close"). When bra shopping, I prefer to go at my own pace, take my time to evaluate each choice, and not feel forced to try on bras that a fitter brings me. I declined to try the several of the same bras in different colors and a 32DDD bra that the fitter brought me, and she seemed disappointed that I did so. I felt like she was trying to get me into as small of a cup as possible by increasing the band. I don't want a bra that's a "sister size" or "kind of close," though - I want a bra that will fit well! I also had wanted to spend more time looking through swimwear and other bras that they had (as well as what looked like a good selection of lingerie-care type items), but by the time I got out of the fitting room, I was so flustered that I was just ready to leave. I'm not a very assertive person by nature, so perhaps a less shy person could've saved herself a lot of trouble in the beginning by simply telling the fitter that they didn't really need the help, but I never brought myself to do it! I also felt that, while the first lady/owner listened to me and what I felt I needed, the second fitter ignored what I had to say and made her own conclusions.

However, despite my not-so-great experience with the one fitter, I would still recommend the shop for anyone in the area who may need a size that even Nordstrom doesn't carry (particularly the 30 band and 28D-G group, as 30-28 bands are VERY difficult to find in-store in the U.S.). The selection overall was really the best I've ever seen in a U.S. store, the atmosphere was pleasant, the workers had a helpful attitude in general, and overall I think it would've been a good experience apart from the second fitter. Since The Enchantress started out as a bridal lingerie-type store, they had a good selection of strapless bras and bustiers for wedding gowns. I wished I'd known about the shop back when I was looking everywhere for a bustier that was at all close to my size for my wedding dress!

Have you ever been to a bra boutique shop? What was your experience like? As this was really the only boutique shop I've ever been to that stocked anything close to my size, I'm curious!


  1. Such a great post! I've found myself in similar situations many times. I've felt that I can do a better fitting myself but as the fitter has been so keen on selling me a bra and claiming that it fits perfectly, I've ended up buying many cups too small, expensive lingerie.

    As for the reverse letter phobia, I'm not sure it even exists. If the bra is comfortable, can there even be a too tight band? Of course, something that is uncomfortable is a too tight band but I'm not sure there are many women who wear those.

    All in all, I'm happy that you have a bit more range in the "small" (which actually even isn't that small) band range in the U.S. :-)

    1. Yes, the pressuring done by fitters is really terrible sometimes! I feel like I should be more assertive, but then think I shouldn't *have* to be assertive and argue with fitters...

      "Reverse letter phobia" is an interesting subject... it's definitely not as common as wearing too big band/too small cups, but there is the potential for it to be a problem if you're forcing yourself into a bra that has a too small band/too big cup and not realizing it. Usually if you can hook the bra comfortably, then the band isn't too small, but it's a problem if the band digs in, causes pain, can't be hooked easily at all, or causes the cup not to fit right. The cup fit needs to be looked at as well as the band fit! If the cup seems to be stretched to the sides too much (compensating for the too-small band) or has certain other issues, it may be that going up a band sizes is necessary.

      I think I had this experience once back several years ago when I was wearing a 30G and tried a 28H - I could get it on, but the cups were spread out to compensate for the too-small band, making the cups look too small.It was confusing, but now I know that the band being too small even though I could hook it on was the main problem. I think some other bloggers (like druber&drunter, who had a comment about it in my last post) may know a bit more about this than I do!

    2. I'm more likely to get a band that's too tight than the other way around because now that I've enjoyed a tight band, I'm terrified of getting bras that are comfy to start with and rapidly become uselessly stretched. My band measurement is 29, so I usually go for 30s, even though sometimes I wonder if I'm going too tight. All the 32s I've ever owned have been too big though.

      I didn't know about the cup distorting when the back is too small. I am going to check my bras for that!

    3. Kiwi, if your band measurement is 29, I wouldn't think a 30 would be too tight! Some people with a 29 measurement even need 28 bands - it depends on your shape/build. :)
      I totally understand about bras getting stretched out - I hate getting a bra that fits perfectly for about a month at most, and then I'm wearing it on the tightest hook!

  2. The Taylor and Ashlee do run a cup size smaller than the Deco. Actually the common conclusion that I've heard is that Deco runs a cup size bigger than most bras, while Taylor and Ashlee are more true to size. I find this to be true (I can wear a Deco in an unheard of 30GG when normally I would need a HH in a 30 band) but it sounds like it works out differently for you as you mentioned the Deco runs smaller than unpadded styles.

    The boutique I used to go to, Zoe and Co, in Concord, NH and Westerly, RI, is awesome. They don't have bras out in the front of the store, they fit you and then bring you everything they have in your size plus things that run big/small that they think might fit you. They leave you alone to try on everything you like the look of, and come back occasionally to ask how you are getting on. They usually like to check the fit of a bra before they let you buy it but they aren't too pushy, plus they always put you in a fitting room next to your friends! I love them.

    Sadly, last time I was there the only thing they had in a 28HH was a Tango full-cup in nude, which, vomit. I'm hoping it's gotten better in the year I've been out of the states, I will try to go there again when I get back--but the selection was always awesome in a 30 band, plus either way the service is just stellar. I never felt pressured to buy anything but I never went there and didn't WANT to buy something (except the last time, with the nude full-cup, blecgh).

    1. Aha, I had a feeling that the Ashlee and Taylor definitely seemed to run smaller - good to have this confirmed!

      It's really hard for me to judge these things sometimes as it's really random and quick whenever I do get to try on bras close to my size in stores. The 30GG Deco I tried on in a Nordstrom did really seem to fit well in the cups, though it is hard for me to tell how the cups fit in bras when the band is so large for me (I wish I could try it in a 28H!); however, I know that the lacy-mesh type bras in Freya are too large for me in a 30GG (but too small in the cup in a 28GG). My breasts are bottom-heavy, so this may account for the different experience I get as opposed to yours?

      I feel I would've gotten a lot more useful info from this trip if only I'd been able to keep on the bras for longer and evaluate their fit better, and try them in more sizes! :P Sounds like the shop you have experience with is a winner, especially in regards to 30 bands. I really do like being mostly left alone, with an occasional check-up if I need it!

    2. I also have heard that Ashlee and Taylor are true to size while the Deco runs larger. But hey, all boobs are different. With Freya, the bras (besides the Deco) often are too restrictive for me on top and it looks like they are too small although they are just not compatible with my boobs.

      My first visit to a specialized store was a total disappointment. The fitter (the owner) looked me over and declared I should try a 70C. At that time I was a 30FF, but didn't know. She was so surprised when I spilled over the cup. And I ended up buying a far from perfect 75D, I think.

    3. Next time when I'm not being so rushed, I'll try to take better notes/pictures so I can remember exactly how everything's fitting! I do think I definitely prefer plunge-type bras, as they seem easier for me to fit well in.

      Wow, that's pretty bad - you'd think that a "specialty" store would do a much better job of fitting than that!

    4. My Freya Deco is a 28FF and is almost too big in the cup, while I am a 30FF verging on a 30G (which are incredibly rare in Christchurch). I will definitely say that it runs big in the cup and in the band.

      It annoys me when stores that specialise in bras get it so wrong.

    5. I definitely agree that the Deco runs big in the band, I'm just not sure if it runs big in the cup for me. I know that a 28G is too small in the cup, at least, and the past few times I've been able to try a 30G, it's been too small too. Again, I really wish they had 28GG and H so I could get a better idea! I love the Deco to death, I just wish it came in my exact size, whatever it is in that bra :(

  3. Hi! Thanks for asking me to give my take on this!
    In my two NYC shops, I train my fitters to walk that thin line between being the expert and listening to what the customer needs. You'll never gain a customer's trust by thrusting bras at her and forcing her to do things "your way". I encourage customers to keep an open mind and listen to the advice that I have, but to stay honest with me re: how the bra feels.
    Sometimes... the customer doesn't know best. But hey, in the end, she has to wear that bra. It's very important to me that women leave wearing the RIGHT size. But I'd never force someone to wear something that didn't feel and look great. And you should NEVER feel obligated to buy something that wasn't great. Sure, it can take some getting used to if you're wearing the right size for the first time, but something that is just plain wrong or not what you were looking for? No way.
    Linda the Bra Lady

    1. Thanks for your input, Linda! I've almost always felt that I've known more than many bra fitters I've come across, which probably means that I just haven't come across a whole lot of good ones! I think the key thing is, like you said, that there needs to be listening on both sides (between the fitter and customer), and sadly, I didn't really get that experience with this particular boutique.
      Thanks for doing what you do! x

  4. Yep, definitely had this experience. I shudder to think about it. ;) I suppose that's one advantage of living so far away from bras that even remotely fit me, I always to get be my own fitter and don't have to deal with any pressure to buy. But, oh man, what I wouldn't give to actually try on bras in person! I have to say, though, I can be quite assertive so I'm not sure how well that fitter and I would have gotten along (especially in the rare chances that I actually get to speak in my native language, I'm less assertive in Portuguese for sure). :D

    1. June, what's funny is I think the fitter was from Brazil! You probably would've gotten on better than me - I'm not at all assertive :B

    2. Oh man, that explains a lot. Here customer service is quite different. You seriously just get swamped in clothes and are definitely meant to feel guilty if you don't buy something! Sometimes I just want to look around...

    3. Yeah, be careful if you ever decide to go to China, Christine. My very first day there I was...manipulated into buying a watch that broke within half an hour! Salespeople in China are so pushy that a few times we had people literally hold on to our arms so we couldn't leave! Fortunately for me, learning to say no to them helped me say no over here.

      Never, ever feel guilty about not buying something if you haven't promised to buy it. They're there to help you, not the other way around. Trying something on is not a contract to buy it - sometimes I go to shops with no intention of spending money at all! I just want to try stuff on.

      June - the only word you need to be assertive is no! That's what I've found, anyway (in China all I knew was "no" and "it's too expensive" so I'd just repeat those two phrases as I was running away xD).

  5. Just something to clarify: The 30G Panache Tango Plunge that I felt obligated to buy wasn't a *badly* fitting bra, persay. The cups actually fit pretty well - it's just that I can fasten the band up all the way on the new bra, and I know from experience that the band on this bra stretches out fairly quickly, thus it won't be very supportive for me for long. Also, the fitter was pressuring me to buy the 30FF Fantasie bra (which I did feel was a not-well fitting bra), and I picked the Panache over that one.

    I am a bit confused over the fact that the 28GG bra I have in the Tango Plunge is too small in the cup when the 30G fits in the cup... maybe the bra style changes slightly in a GG cup or a 28 back?

    1. The 28GG is too small probably because you shoud go up TWO cups when going one band size down. Somehow the one-cup-up just seems to work well on many cases, but from what I've gathered you in reality get the same volume by going two cups up instead of one. I wrote about this approach here: http://branightmares.blogspot.com/2012/02/rintaliivien-rinnakkaiskoot-sister.html

      I hope this helps something. I don't understand anything about the mathematical sizing of bras but I think that this is good to know.

    2. I think you have a point (and that's one reason I was so hoping to find a 28H of that bra to try!).. I also think that a tighter band means there's less room for error, in a way, if that makes sense... the 30G band may not be tight enough to show any bulges/overflow, but the 28GG band is. Plus the bras are shaped a little differently, I think. The wires of the 28GG seem to be not as wide as the 30G. I was thinking of doing a post showing the differences just one size makes in the same style of bra (the Tango 28GG and 30G).

  6. Oh, Christine! I just read this post and so sympathize with your experience. I tried a store in Brooklyn recently and was fitted into a 40DD, and I BOUGHT it! Partly it's because I wanted to conduct a review of this store and felt I shouldn't waste the fitter's time. Also, since it was review, I didn't insist on the smaller bands/larger cups I could see they had because I wanted a true experience of how she would fit someone who wasn't as familiar with bras. But your experience sounds terrible!

    I've encountered owners who are better fitters than their assistants, and sometimes I try to get the owner involved in the conversation, i.e., "How do YOU think this looks?", etc. Usually the owner can't resist taking over!

  7. The Enchantress is one of my bra shopping haunts. They have helped me transition slowly from a 38F to 36FF to 34G to 34FF to 34F and now I need a 32 whatever. I even know which fitter helped you. I have found that all their saleswoman (not the owner) can become overwhelming in what becomes their personal quest to find a bra for you. Still, the Enchantress has been a better experience than Soma (who chose to ignore me without asking the size I was seeking), and Intimacy (NEVER EVER will I ever again enter that store). Given a choice, I would rather have an over eager helper than a snotty or disdainful one. I have watched the owner of The Enchantress patiently guide women to the correct bra size even though they are insisting they wear a 40D when they really are a 36FF.

    Christine, Do you live in San Diego? If so there are two more shops in the area that carry large cup sized bras although I do not know if they carry band sizes below 30.

    1. I actually found the owner very helpful, but it was just the other fitter who I had issue with - I do tend to get overwhelmed and feel pressured more easily than some! I think the Enchantress is a good store and I definitely would take a friend there, but perhaps I would arm myself for preparing to explain that no, I do not need 32 bands :P

      I am in the Southern CA area and would love to hear more recommendations - if not for myself, then for friends! :)

    2. Sorry, never knew you commented on my post. I guess one must subscribe to the post in order to see future comments.

      The two additional lingerie shops that carry at least up to G cup bras are Kapreeza in San Diego's Little Italy and Intriguing in Carlsbad.

      Kapreeza carries lingerie and bras from France, Poland, and Latvia, plus swimwear from Italy. Not surprisingly, the owner is from Latvia. Her web site states that she carries down to a 30 band. Nothing is manufactured in China and everything she carries is exquisite. I have purchased a number of bras from her.

      Intriguing is supposed to be moving and planned to relocate across the road from the Carlsbad Outlet Mall but they do not answer their phone so who knows what is happening. The owner is British and has been in the business for over 30 years. Unfortunately she uses that crazy antiquated way to measure and I had to argue my way into a 32 band from the 36 she insisted I should wear. That said, she carries beautiful lingerie with most bras made in Germany and France with other lingerie made in the USA and Italy. I tried on a lot of bras but my preference is for balcony style and she had only full cup bras in G.

      Both Intriguing and Kapreeza carry lingerie and bra lines that are higher end than those at the Enchantress because their policy is to not sell China made products. Ultimately, it all depends on what you want or need, right?