I’ve written a lot about in-store bra shopping experiences, like here, when I wrote about all I wanted a lingerie shopping/fitting experience to be, here, when I wrote about what a customer can do to have the best experience possible, and here, when I wrote about some not-so-great experiences I had while taking a friend wedding dress/lingerie shopping. As part of my work towards my FabFit Academy certification and in the fittings I’ve conducted since, I’ve tried to … well, not to put too fine a point on it, but I’ve tried to advise my clients that we may not find the perfect solution in one store. We may have to go to several, and they may not all be wonderful, and we may have to turn to the internet to find exactly what we need. I don’t want to say that I’ve tried to lower expectations, but I have tried to avoid hyping up the experience in manner of the “You WILL find your MAGICAL NEW BRA SIZE and your LIFE will then be PERFECT and all your problems will be OVER” narrative that sometimes crops up when it comes to bra fitting. I try to frame a bra shopping trip as “hey, let’s talk about bras! We’ll try some on, and we’ll discuss what’s out there and figure out what shapes and sizes you may like, and if you buy a bra, then great!”
When one of my dear friends asked for help getting a strapless bra and having her fit checked, I eagerly agreed (I mean, we also went to brunch and did a lot of shopping and talked about men. I wasn’t gonna say no anyway). When she asked where we were going to start our shopping trip, I hesitated. My friend is very slender, with an itty bitty waist, Titian coloring, and a pretty hourglass figure. I was almost positive she was going to find a good fit in 30 bands, possibly even 28s, in the D+ size range. My go-to department store in the city only stocks 32 bands and up, so I was worried about finding a physical store that carried styles to fit her at all, let alone a strapless bra. After some quick Googling, I suggested we meet at Saks and then work our way around Manhattan.
When I first moved to the city about six years ago, the New York department stores were pretty grim, from a size point of view. You were lucky to find any styles available over a D, let alone pretty ones. However, just as the number of full-bust, full-figure, and small-bust brands has increased dramatically over the last few years, so has the inventory of some of the department stores. At Saks, I spotted the ever-present Chantelle and Wacoal, of course, but we also found strong showings of Freya, Fantasie, Fauve, and Elomi [note: some of the bras we tried aren’t available on the Saks website, so inventory may be decided on a store-by-store basis]. Not only that, but when I found a rack of Freya Deco Strapless bras, the first two I grabbed were in size 30E, the exact size I was hoping to try for my friend.
Not only did we find her a strapless bra, which was the goal of the shopping trip, but she was able to try on around a dozen different bras, of varying shapes and styles. Even better than the selection, though, was the service we received. Sara Renstrom is one of Saks’ Eveden brand ambassadors, and she offered wonderful fit and style advice. I’m very familiar with the English full-bust offerings, particular those who make my size, but I don’t have much experience with Chantelle, for example, as I don’t wear it. Sara was able to take a look at the bras my friend had picked out, get a sense of her size, fit, and personal style, and suggest other bras on the floor we’d overlooked. My friend left with a strapless bra (Deco), a seam-free molded bra (Rebecca by Fantasie), and a sexier, more special-occasion bra (Chantelle Convertible Push-Up Bra), as well as recommendations for other styles to try, like Freya’s Gem Half-Cup, which wasn’t available in store in a 28F.
In addition to these full-bust offerings, Saks’ lingerie department is quite large compared to some others around the city, stocking some department store classics like Wacoal, Hanky Panky, and Cosabella alongside beautiful lingerie, loungewear, and nightwear from Natori, Scandale, La Perla, Wolford, Fauve, and other higher-end offerings. Sara and her colleagues know their products backwards and forwards, and Sara spoke with great enthusiasm and pride about how the department has changed in the last few years. She even let it slip that the NYC Saks plans to stock Huit, beginning in about two months! I’m thrilled to hear this; not only does Huit offer some amazing, comfortable lingerie for smaller to average busts, but the brand feels like such a good fit for Saks. Chic, very French, and playfully sexy and stylish, I think Huit will hold a lot of appeal for the Saks customer.
I feel confident recommending Saks to women who wear bras in a 30-40 A-G (UK) size range. I tend to be wary, or even a little defensive, when I go into lingerie stores and lingerie departments, simply because I’ve received bad service, terrible fit advice, or faced dismal inventory in the past. Further, I never know if the store’s employee is a good fitter, and therefore I usually prefer to help myself. Sara was polite, helpful without being pushy, knowledgeable, supportive, encouraging, and enthusiastic. We left Saks happy and impressed, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for the store in terms of size ranges and inventory.