I remember my first bra. Well, technically it wasn’t my first bra at all. It was a 26AA pass-me-down from my elder sister. So it was her first bra. I never did get measured. I don’t know where my methodology came from but I believed as I grew up (and out) the cup letters and the numbers in front of them rose too, every couple of years. By the time I reached university I was wearing a self-prescribed 36C. It didn’t fit but I didn’t know that until through work I visited the magical Rigby and Peller bra fitters in London. Expertly sized up by an eagle-eyed fitterer, I left the proud owner of a new 32EE bra and happily flung my ill-fitting nightmare away. It was quite transforming to suddenly be so well uplifted. I had always tried to hide my sizeable curves away but wearing the right bra made them suddenly look smaller. Yay.
London is a little far to go for a remeasure now I am in Edinburgh. So I was delighted to discover the amazing Odyssey Boutique and Sarah Connelly the owner. Odyssey is a lingerie go-to store that is all about making buying lingerie the best experience possible. It’s all try and buy but no snooty noses if it doesn’t work out.
Here Sarah tells us about her Facebook bra fitting event and this month’s bra amnesty that will have you pounds up with more support.
Briefly, what’s your background and why did you launch Odyssey? My original lifeplan was to be a Graphic Designer; I studied Illustration followed by Print Management before landing in Project Management in creative agencies. But it just wasn’t me; a suffered hugely from ‘square-peg-round-hole’ syndrome and just knew my heart was in fashion retail. I’d always had a thing for lingerie & swimwear and it was while I was enjoying some time out in a cool spa in San Francisco that the idea for Odyssey came to me. I wanted to create a cool place for stylish women to find the designer lingerie and swimwear normally only featured in magazines. At that stage I had no experience of the intimates industry and it took another five years to build the experience and expertise before making Odyssey
So what are the signs that your bra is not fitting? 80 per cent of women are wearing the wrong bra size. There are many, many ways a bra can be ill fitting. If the underwire digs in or doesn’t sit flat against the ribs (which, as there’s a surprising amount of breast under the arm, is very difficult to see yourself); if the back band rides up or can be pulled out with ease; if there’s gaping or bulging at the cup – these are all signs of a badly fitting bra. Your lingerie should not feel like a torture device either. You should not experience any rubbing, jiggling, digging or discomfort. It really does take getting into a perfect bra to understand what it should feel like. I can literally see those epiphanies happen in my fitting rooms and it is the single biggest pleasure of my job.
What is the most common mistake women make when buying a bra? Guessing their own size. Most girls are fitted by their mums as they reach first-bra stage; usually in the classic 34A. Then, as her breast size increases she’ll naturally reach for a 34B and increase the cup size as her body develops. Or, if the back feels snug she’ll move to a 36. But bra fitting just doesn’t work this way.
You’re also holding a bra amnesty – what’s this all about? The Bra Amnesty was launched to encourage women to get properly fitted and donate their ill-fitting bras to charity. I’m not sure I’ll collect a tonne, but last year over 190 bras were donated and I’m hoping to beat 200 this year. Breast cancer sadly touches so many and as a fitting expert I support Against Breast Cancer to encourage as many women as possible to wear properly fitted bras for the best possible breast health and comfort.
People might think your store is out of their reach price wise, can you give me a starting price? My top selling, hands-down-everybody-loves-it bra is £77 so if you’re a matching sets girl I’d say around £120 for a bra and knicker. I also have bras that start from the £40 mark and fittings are free. A recent client left this review which I think says it perfectly…”well it’s not cheap: probably the most I have spent on underwear in my life. However if you count up the hundreds of pounds I have spent over the years on the multitude of varying sized bras in my wardrobe that don’t fit me!! It’s a great investment!”
And if a woman were to have a perfect bra wardrobe what would be in it? A smooth bra in both nude and black, and a strapless bra are essentials. After that go wild. Wear bright and beautiful colours and fancy fabrics every day; don’t keep them for ‘best’. No one can tell you’ve got a neon pink and leopard print affair on unless you tell them. If your lingerie fits perfectly you can wear it beneath almost anything. And I can’t tell you what great lingerie does for the psyche. You’ll have to try it to find out.