Sweets Goes Shopping: Saks

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!”

Saks logo black

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.

Freya Deco Strapless

“Deco” Strapless bra by Freya. Available in sizes 28 D-G, 30 D-GG, 32-36 B-GG, 38 B-G (UK)

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.

Freya Gem Half Cup

“Gem” by Freya. Available in sizes 28 D-F, 30-38 B-F (UK)

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.

Chantelle Sexy Convertible Push Up Bra

Chantelle Sexy Convertible Push Up Bra. Available in sizes 30-38 B-G (French cup sizes. G is equivalent to a DDDD/UK F)

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.

Huit Arpege Sunflower

“Arpege” by Huit in Sunflower. Available in sizes 32-38 B-E.

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.

10 Comments on Sweets Goes Shopping: Saks

  1. thelingerielesbian
    July 29, 2013 at 8:34 am (7 years ago)

    I want to go! It’s shameful that I’ve never been…

    Reply
    • Sweets
      July 29, 2013 at 9:37 am (7 years ago)

      I will say that I noticed a big change between this trip and the last time I was there. They’re carrying wider size ranges and more interesting inventory, and of course I can’t wait for them to start carrying Huit!

      Reply
      • thelingerielesbian
        July 29, 2013 at 10:40 am (7 years ago)

        Awesome! I will definitely recommend to people who want a nice department store to shop at (aka, my grandmother)

        Reply
  2. Darlene
    July 29, 2013 at 1:47 pm (7 years ago)

    This is great to know. i had a good experience with a fitter there back in 2008–my first introduction to the Fantasie 4520.

    Reply
    • Sweets
      July 29, 2013 at 2:16 pm (7 years ago)

      Oh good! Yes, we were very impressed. I’d love to see more G+ options trickle into department stores, but on the whole Saks was a wonderful experience, from the service to the products to the large, well-lit dressing rooms.

      Reply
  3. lil
    December 5, 2013 at 3:50 pm (7 years ago)

    I love their lingerie department, it is so pretty. I needed a beautiful strapless bra and was fitted and was given a DD by the sales associate (I asked her if it was too big since there was room and she said i needed to LIFT) I don’t have that much to lift but my back is broad and have back/side fat (gained a whole boat load of weight)
    I’m uncomfortable with the DD should I try a D instead??

    Reply
    • Sweets
      December 5, 2013 at 4:14 pm (7 years ago)

      Hi Lil! I’m glad you found something pretty at Saks. It’s a little tricky to confirm a bra size over the internet, so let me ask a few questions first.

      First of all, when the sales associate said to LIFT, I suspect what she meant was that you wanted to make sure that all of your breast tissue was scooped into the cup so that the underwires lie flat against your sternum/ribs all the way around your body. You don’t want to feel like the wires are sitting on breast tissue, particularly in a strapless bra– your ribs don’t squish, so if the bra sits on them it will stay still, but breast tissue is soft, so if the wires sit on that the bra will shift around– make sense? You also don’t want to feel like there’s any space between the bra and your body at any point along the band or wires. Hold onto the underwire with one hand and gently reach the other hand into the cup to lift your breast. You should be able to position the wire right up against the point beneath your breast where breast tissue meets your chest wall. Make sure you’ve also scooped your breast tissue from the sides of your body under your arms into the cup too, so that the outer parts of the underwire rest on your ribcage. You may find that where there was room in the cup before, once you’ve made sure all of your breast tissue is in the cup that extra room disappears. If you HAVE carefully “scooped” your boobs into the cups, and that extra room is still there, maybe give the smaller cup size a try. I know “DD” seems very big to some people, but cup sizes are all relative to band size– very slim or petite women can wear DD+ cup sizes, and full-figure women can wear A-D sizes, and vice versa. Don’t worry too much about the numbers and letters on the tag: try to think about fit and shape instead.

      Speaking of shape, we can also get “space” in the cups of strapless bras when the cups’ shape doesn’t quite match our body’s shape, or because there aren’t any shoulder straps “pulling” the top of the cup back towards our body. Is your bra molded (no seams, made out of a foam-type material)? Molded cups can be a tricky fit, because even if you get the “right” size, you may have trouble finding the fit you love. It might be worth finding a few different styles of strapless bra and trying on a few sizes of each, until you hit the size/shape combination that suits you best.

      Next thing: when you say you’re uncomfortable, how so? Do you feel unsupported? Does the band feel too tight or too loose? In a well-fitting bra you may find the band firmer than you’re used to, particularly in a strapless bra, since the band is the only thing holding it up! Bear in mind that a new bra will never be as firm or snug as it is on the first day you buy it. After a few wears it will “relax” and start to fit your body better. Do you think you might be more comfortable investing in a band extender for the first few wears? I do this sometimes when my band feels a bit too snug, but the next size up would be too big. I find that after a few wears and a wash, the bra feels “broken in” and I can wear it comfortably without the extender.

      Finally, a lot of strapless bras have silicon “sticky” strips in them to help grip the skin. Some women with sensitive skin find the silicon strips very uncomfortable. You might do well to seek out a different style if that’s the case.

      I hope that helps! Please let me know if you still have questions, or feel free to email sweetnothingnyc[at]gmail[dot]com.

      Reply
      • lil
        December 5, 2013 at 4:46 pm (7 years ago)

        Hi Sweets!
        Thanks for taking the time to respond.
        Yes, there is the silicone strip, it is a wacoal strapless bustier bra.
        The fitter put the underwire right up under my breast and was telling me to scoop from all sides and yes she did say my current underwire bra didn’t fit well, sitting too far from my underarm and side breast tissues.
        I don’t have tissue on the top of my breast, it’s sort of flat (or maybe I’ve been wearing
        the wrong bra forever!!!) and my straps are always slipping (don’t have nice shoulders to keep them in place). Ok, enough about me and my body errors.
        Do you think I should go back and check out a smaller cup?

        Reply
        • Sweets
          December 5, 2013 at 5:03 pm (7 years ago)

          I’d say why not go back and try on some more? Wacoal makes great bras, as does Le Mystere, but you might also check out some full-bust options like Freya and Fantasie, both of which make great strapless bras and are available at Saks. Especially since it sounds like you’re maybe starting to really explore a new fit, I always say try on as many as you can find! Try on all the things! Get to know what YOU like and what suits YOU. Also, please hear me on this: your lovely body does not have errors! We are all built so, so, so differently from one to another, in terms of size, shape, muscularity, height– all sorts of things. One bra may fit one person really well, but it might not fit the next five women who try it on. Try not to beat yourself up if it takes a while to find a bra you really feel great about. It takes me months to find the right cut of jeans, and I’m super-picky about how my shoes fit, so why shouldn’t my boobs get the same level of attention? 🙂 One more thing– slipping straps are generally a sign of one of three things: narrow, sloping shoulders (which you said you may have, in which case, consider seeking out a bra with convertible straps), wide-set straps (like on a classic balconette bra, in which case, seek out a bra with what’s called a “leotard” back and straps that are set closer together), or, finally, a too-big band. If you’ve been wearing, say, a 36D, but now you find you may need a 34DD, you may find your straps stay on your shoulders better in the new size because the band isn’t riding up in the back and loosening them. Good luck, and have fun shopping!

          Reply
          • lil
            December 5, 2013 at 5:11 pm (7 years ago)

            Thanks for all your suggestion and expertise! I’m heading up to Saks again on Saturday, I will see about the other brands and will ask the sales person to measure me again. Expect to hear from me next week! Wish me luck. (p.s. I love my body but I’m sure not the poster female they have on all the catalogues and billboards!!!)

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