Why I shop for bras online (and you should, too!)

This is a bit of a continuation of my last post on why I shop for clothing online. I’ve actually been shopping for bras online for far longer than I have clothing (no surprise!) for several reasons – and I think that nearly all of my reasons for choosing to buy my bras online can apply to most others.

Choices Available
I’ll admit, what first drove me to shop for bras online was sheer necessity, plain and simple. Back when I was a 30G, I could find a few, expensive choices in certain stores and cities only. Now that I’m a 28H/HH, it’s virtually impossible for me to buy bras in-store. Thus, I have no choice if I want bras – I have to purchase them online.

And I’m not alone in this. In the U.S. at least, if you wear a bra size that’s:
-Below a 30-32 band
-Above a 40 band, and /or
-Above a G cup,
you’re pretty much going to have to order online. There’s really no way around it unless you’re extremely lucky and happen to live near one of the rare, really great boutiques that offer a large range of sizes (and even then, you may want to order online from time to time just for variety). In some areas, you’ll be stuck ordering online if you’re outside of an even smaller range, usually 34-38 A-DD (15, count ’em, 15 sizes).

Since a fairly large percentage of women wear or should be wearing below a 32 band, and a large percentage of women need to wear above a DD cup [remember, all “DD” means is “about 5 inches of difference between underbust and bust measurement”], this means in turn that a large percentage of women will, like me, need to order online to obtain their correct size. I know this isn’t fair. We all want to be able to just go into a store and buy things that fit well! Unfortunately, this really, honestly will be very difficult or impossible for many of us. The lack of sizes stocked is the store’s problem, not a problem with us or our bodies; still, the fact remains that many women really just are not going to get many (or any) options from their local department stores, and there are a lot of really great online stores that offer a very wide range of sizes.

And, if you are lucky enough to fit into the ranges that your local stores carry, you still will get more choice on brands, styles, colors, etc online. You may wear a 32D and have several choices at your local Nordstrom, but then find that once you need a strapless or nursing bra, the choices are much diminished. You might want a certain color that isn’t offered in store. You may want to try out a brand that isn’t stocked in the U.S. A quick online search will generally turn up what you’re looking for pretty quickly.

Even when I was a size that could sometimes be found in Nordstrom or the odd boutique, I would usually have to make a special trip – sometimes on the order of 2-3 hours away – just to try on a bra or two. And then I would have to deal with the (usually misinformed) fitters. Shopping online can save a lot of time and frustration. (Also, as several of my friends with young children pointed out, it’s much less of a hassle to be able to shop online from home than to have to keep any eye on a baby or wrangle a rambunctious toddler when attempting to try on bras.)

One big qualm women have about shopping for bras online is – just like with clothing – the inability to try things on. I definitely understand this, and it’s a valid concern. However – many of us won’t really have a choice. We’ll either have to settle with poorly-fitting, painful, unsupportive bras that are available locally, or we can order some bras online, armed with the best estimate of our correct size and the reviews and advice that can be found online for most brands (and many specific bras). If we happen to order the incorrect sizes, it’s not much of a hassle to simply send it back for a refund or exchange. In the end, with a little more research and effort, we’ll have exactly what we need – we won’t have to settle for what may be very limited local choices.

[Note – I think it’s great to buy locally, and if you live by a store that stocks your size, you should certainly try on sizes there and buy bras from them. In this post, though, I’m mainly speaking to the many, many women who simply don’t have the choices available to them, or who want to branch out a bit from their current in-store options]

Just like with buying clothes online, some women are scared off because they think that shopping online is always expensive. Not true! I spend far less on bras ordering online than I ever have in-store.

Take one example – you can easily go into a higher-end store like Intimacy or Nordstrom (stores that actually sell a decent range of sizes) and see bras ranging in price from $75-$120 (and higher). Just a quick look at some of the online shops, however, turns up quite a range of (new!) bras in the $30-$50 range, and sometimes dipping to the deeply-discounted $20 range. Yes, you’ll still usually be paying more for a good, well-constructed, well-fitting bra than you would an ill-fitting, cheaply-constructed Walmart bra. But the well-constructed, somewhat pricier bra will more than pay for itself in terms of longevity, comfort, and fit. And, it’s a bit of a separate subject, but you can find great deals on gently-used and even new bras on places like ebay, Bratabase, and swap/sell groups.

Final Thoughts
So, in a perfect world, would I prefer to be able to buy bras and clothing in store? Sure! However, due to better prices, better selection, time saved, and convenience, online shopping definitely trumps a store experience for me.

How about you? Do you shop online for bras? What are some of your reasons for shopping online (or not)?