Loyal Reader Lady Mary asked me if I had any bargain hunting tips. Look, we all know how important our bras are, especially once we find the right size, because then we realize how fabulous we look and feel, and then we want all the bras ever. We know we should keep our lingerie wardrobe in tip-top shape. Trouble is, underthings are not cheap. They shouldn’t be, because you’ll wear them every day and you want them built to last, but still. Some of us have bills to pay and cat food to buy, so what do you do when your wallet is pinched, and that beloved bra finally wears out, or your size changes, as it is wont to do?
Quick shout-out to Treacle at The Lingerie Addict, who posts some great and truly comprehensive round-ups of online and in-store discounts and sales on a weekly basis. She covers everything from online sample sales to small independent labels. (Also, y’all should read her blog. It’s awesome)
Brief broken-record mention of Bravissimo, where full-bust customers can occasionally find a good bargain in the sale section, especially if the currency conversion works in your favor (cough not lately cough).
Otherwise, I’ve had great success here:
Yes, eBay! I promise, it’s not that weird buying your underwear/swimwear here. Most lingerie sellers on eBay aren’t re-selling previously worn items, but are instead selling out-of-season or overstock styles. In the past I’ve had great luck entering [Brand name]+[bra size] in the search box and seeing what comes up. Make sure you look at your international search results as well. I’ve gotten some lovely bras that were originally $50-60 for around 50% off, even with shipping from the UK, and you can frequently track down the matching accessories for a steal as well. Obviously, the caveat here is that you most likely won’t be able to return. But if you have a beloved favorite that’s finally worn out, or you want a new color of a style you’ve worn before, it’s a pretty safe bet for a great deal. As always with eBay, check the seller’s profile and feedback, check their shipping rates, and read the description carefully to avoid any heartache.
Figleaves not only carries their in-house lingerie, swim, maternity, and nightwear lines– Midnight Grace, Just Peachy, Sophina, and Figleaves Intimates (sizes range from 32A-38D, 30D-38G), all of which carry price tags on the lower end of mid-range ($27-50 per bra), but they also consistently run seasonal sales, individual brand promotions, online customer discounts, and a year-round “Designer Outlet”, where out-of-season styles linger, just waiting for buyers. I once got a sassy red bra-and-underwear set for around $16. Figleaves is also easy to shop, as there is a dedicated mail center in the U.S., so you never have to worry about high shipping fees or customs/duties, but you can still purchase your favorite UK designers. I tend to “window shop” online, by which I mean I’ll log in to the site, add a bunch of things that catch my eye to my shopping cart, and return at a later date to decide if I want to buy anything. Figleaves has taken to sending me 20% off codes whenever stuff lingers in my shopping basket, in an attempt to seduce me into purchasing. Well-played, Figleaves, because it usually works.
So, look, I get these daily emails, because once in a blue moon I need to buy a wedding present, or I can get a cat bed or something, but most days I just skip them without reading them. I wear an unusual bra size, an unusual shoe size, and an unusual dress size, so it’s rare that I’m tempted to buy anything for myself. HOWEVER, for those who do fall into more small-to-average size ranges, some really beautiful, occasionally high-end lingerie pops up for fractions of the original price: La Perla, Kiki de Montparnasse, the Lake and Stars (GREAT for small-bust customers), Hanky Panky, Elle MacPherson, Le Mystère, Cosabella, etc. Bras, suspenders, ruffled knickers, flowing robes, chemises, the works. If your brand shows up on one of these sites, you can be in for huge savings. In addition, local lingerie shops sometimes use Groupon and other city-centered deal sites, so it can be a good idea to monitor those as well. Townshop in New York City had a deal on Groupon once that was something like $50 for $100 worth of lingerie and swimwear. Constant vigilence!
I still remember when Amazon mostly meant books. Now I get my Cherry M&Ms fix from them. You can find ANYTHING on Amazon. As with eBay I just enter [Brand name] + [bra size] in the search window. The nice thing about Amazon is so many department stores and online retailers are vendors there, like Macy’s, Dillard’s, Herroom, BareNecessities, et al., so it’s a bit of a time saver, as you don’t have to scour each store’s website; they’re all collected there for you. You can occasionally find really good deals on out-of-season styles and colors, and the return policy is usually better than eBay.
In terms of general bargain-hunting, if you find a brand that really suits you and consistently stocks your size, it’s a good idea to keep on eye on the seasons. It’s tempting to buy new styles as they come out because they are pretty and shiny and new, but you should probably keep an eye instead on the styles from 6 months ago, which are more likely to go on sale to make way for the upcoming season. Even googling a brand and style name + your bra size can uncover some great online stockists who might be clearing out inventory. Always use a bit of reasonable caution online, check return policies and shipping costs, and ensure you have a secure connection before entering any payment information.
Finally, go local! It takes some work, it’s true, but investigate shops in your area. If you find a store you like that offers good fittings, it can’t hurt to ask them about seasonal sales. Get on a mailing list or stop by occasionally. There’s a good chance you’ll stumble across some great bras that have been marked down to clear out old stock.
Readers, a lot of y’all are proving yourselves incredibly knowledgeable about good fit, and also about what styles you like! Any one have any tricks of the trade to share?
UPDATE: I knew I’d forget things:
1) Stores like Loehmann’s, Century21, Filene’s Basement, and Nordstrom Rack frequently have some excellent finds in their lingerie departments, even some full-bust lines (although rarely).
2) Asos: Asos is still fairly new to the US, and they list their bra sizes weirdly, especially if you know your UK size, so it takes some figuring out. But there are some great finds on mid-price to high-end lingerie, and they offer free shipping and free returns all the time.