Like most of you, I'd rather cut off my arm than go bra shopping. Trying on six trillion sizes and styles, just to find a plain black t-shirt bra that actually fits me is my idea of hell. I just want something that makes my boobs look good and is cute! Why is that so hard?
But, for some reason, it has been — until now.
Rigby & Peller holds a Royal Warrant of Appointment in the UK — which means their bras are fit for a queen. And I mean that quite literally; THE Queen of England is fitted for her underthings by R&P's owner, June Kenton — and they've also worked with other members of the royal family, including Princess Diana and our girl Kate Middleton.
And now, American queens can get the same treatment. I was invited to their brand new store on Fifth Avenue for the ULTIMATE in royal bra fittings.
And it. Was. AMAZING. It seriously changed the way that I think about bras (and gave me a really serious boob-education). Here's everything that happened, and all the brilliant tricks I learned.
To begin with: EVERYTHING in the store is gorgeous — and size-inclusive.
Rigby & Peller carries bras in A to J cups, with band sizes from 30 to 46. Because every body is a little bit different, they pride themselves on carrying HUNDREDS of bra sizes.
I met with Morgan, one of R&P's incredible lingerie stylists, for a seriously ~luxurybitch~ fitting. Morgan, who trained in the art of bra fitting for three months, is warm, funny, incredibly knowledgeable, and soothing — everything you want in someone who is about to see you naked and vulnerable.
Because, make no mistake — I was nervous about this.
I stripped down, put on a silk robe, and prepared to get to it.
Morgan didn't whip out a cold measuring tape to size me — she literally looked at me in my bra, and knew not only the size I was currently wearing (32C), but the sizes I should be wearing.
Yeah, I said sizes, plural. Turns out that the reason 85% of women settle for wearing the wrong size bra is that sizes vary CRAZILY from label to label — and sometimes even by style. "Bra sizes are made up, and they don't matter," Morgan told me.
And the proof is in what I ended up wearing; I tried on eight different bras and wore six completely different sizes. They all fit perfectly, but I NEVER would have been able to pick them out on my own.
There are six ways to know whether a bra truly fits you.
I thought I knew how to tell that my bra fit. I've been wearing them for a million years; how would I NOT, right?
I was wrong. So, so wrong. Turns out I have NO IDEA what a correctly fitting bra feels like — so Morgan gave me an education. There are six areas of "fit" that you should look for in an amazing bra:
1. BAND: According to Morgan, your bra's band provides 95% of the support for your bra. It should feel like “a firm hug,” but not cut into you. At first you should wear it on the loosest hook — moving in as you wear the bra and the elastic stretches. It should also ride low down on your back, which surprised me. Here's an illustration showing EXACTLY how low it should go.
2. UNDERWIRE: The outer edges of the underwire — where the wire meets the band — should sit firmly on the muscle of your ribcage, not on top of your breast tissue.
3. STRAPS: Again, these should fit firmly, but not hurt you. “Some people like these really tight, some people like them loose,” Morgan told me. She also told me that you should be able to slip two fingers underneath the strap at your shoulders — then adjust for individual comfort.
4. CUP: No matter the style, the cup of your bra should not cut into your boobs. EVER.
5. GORE: This is the part in the front where the cups “meet.” It should sit flat on your chest, or as flat as it possibly can. As long as it’s not sticking straight up, Morgan told me, it’s fine.
6. COMFORT: “I can tell you all day about how bras are TECHNICALLY supposed to fit,” said Morgan. “But if you’re clawing to get out of it, it’s not for you.” The bras that work for the Queen probably wouldn’t work for me (and vice-versa) — and the only way you’re going to know is to try them on.
With her royal guidance, I put on the best fitting bra I have ever worn IN MY LIFE.
This is the Jane bra by Marie Jo ($129, Rigby and Peller). It has a little light padding for uplift, not mattress-like giganticness, fit wonderfully, and looked GORGEOUS — in and out of my t-shirt. It felt so good that I did a happy dance in the changing room, then immediately stopped, because What Would Kate Middleton Do?
And just to demonstrate that size doesn't matter, I am wearing a 30D. You can see my boobs in profile; IN NO UNIVERSE would I have picked a D-cup out for myself. Expert help, guys. Crucial.
I also learned a crazy trick for white shirts.
First: please enjoy this photo of me looking bonkers. I really want you guys to experience my full range of bra-emotions.
Second: like me, you’ve probably thought that if you’re wearing a white shirt, your only bra option is beige, skin-toned madness.
This is incorrect; it turns out that RED vanishes under white. “Women come in and are looking for nude-beige, but that’s not fun,” says Morgan. “That's all well and good, but no woman feels their sexiest in beige. This is a little magic trick that lets you have more fun.”
For my fair skin tone, Morgan brought me a BRIGHT red bra, and a white tank top.
This is another bra by Marie Jo called the Amy in scarlet ($129, Rigby & Peller). I was VERY skeptical that this extremely bright color would vanish under a thin, white shirt.
Is this the secret to Kate Middleton's magical ability to wear white shirts without visible bra lines? I feel like I've cracked some kind of royal code here.
And this trick works on EVERY skin tone — you just have to find the right red.
“Brighter reds work on lighter skin tones,” said Morgan. “Darker reds, like oxblood or burgundy shades, work on deeper skin tones.”
If you're looking for a red bra to wear under a white top, I recommend taking the shirt along with you when you try them on. That way you'll know for sure that it works with your wardrobe.
In the course of my two hour fitting, I tried on bras in every color, style, and size — bras I never would have known to try out on my own.
OK, I'll level with you: I was nervous going in to this appointment. If you're not actually the Queen, being fitted for bras seems like a nerve-wracking experience. But it doesn't have to be; and this experience went a long way in making me feel more comfortable in my own skin (and underwear).
EVERYONE deserves underwear that fits incredibly, supports you, and makes you feel beautiful, which is something that Morgan — and the Rigby & Peller staff — really embody. "We are gonna take the time, and we are gonna make sure you are happy and you feel great," said Morgan. "If you walk out of here in something that feels amazing, that’s what we really want."
Not only do I look amazing, I also *feel* amazing.
Now that I have bras that fit me properly, my chest looks better. My clothes fit properly. I feel more confident, and perhaps most importantly, my back hurts less. YEAH. Turns out that wearing the wrong bras was giving me a LOT of back pain — pain that's now a thing of the past.
I may not be the Queen. But I definitely have royal boobs now.