Article by Secrets of Paris contributor Yvonne Shao
It has recently come to our attention here at Secrets of Paris that some of our more buxom sisters feel slighted by the Paris bra industry. Lingerie stores are as ubiquitous as rats in the City of Light, but they usually only stock the most common sizes, which around here seem to be 30A all the way up through 30B.
Do you pass by Princesse Tam Tam and think, “I wore that size in fourth grade?” Do the sales ladies in Etam glance at your chest and shake their heads? Did you laugh bitterly at the Undiz Freeboobs! campaign? If so, we have help for you.
We busty women are beautiful and glamorous and frisky, but current styles do not let our assets shine through. Those flowy tops with skinny jeans make us look like the triangle woman on the bathroom door sign. Bulky sweaters bring to mind a bag of marbles. Overalls are out of the question. Oh, how we miss the days of Jane Austen’s empire dresses, when the only body parts that showed were pretty faces and sumptuous décolletage! Now, we have fashion challenges like button gap and back fat. But do not despair! Help is on the way.
Let’s get one thing straight before we bury our faces in this issue. If you have not had a recent bra fitting, that is the first step. Age, childbirth, nursing, menopause, weight change, or watching a George Clooney movie can affect breast size. Seek professional help and go to a small boutique. They are your best bet for a personalized fitting. The big department stores have your size and may also be able to help you. If they have time.
Here are our current favorite lingerie shops for brick house women:
BHV (right outside Metro Hotel de Ville, 4th) has attentive staff and cup sizes up to G, but they do not usually offer fittings. Chantelle and Simon Perle are the favored brands. They have many styles and colors, of course with the matching underwear–what do you think this is, Omaha? If you know your size, take several bras in the cabine and try them on. The sales lady might come by to see how you are doing and give her opinion.
Two pros of shopping at the BHV lingerie department are that the toilettes and Starbucks are on the same floor. Normally, we do not promote Starbucks with so many delicious cafes in Paris, but sometimes shopping for personal items is hard and you might need a little pick-me-up. We won’t tell.
Galeries Lafayette (outside Metro Chaussée d’Antin La Fayette, 9th) does have a few options for those who need sizes up to an F cup. The Aubade, Chantelle, and Prima Donna boutiques within Galeries Lafayette have pleasant sales staff, but do not offer fittings. The Aubade lady did helpfully place her hands on both sides of our left breast to get a better idea of our size, then put us in a cabine with a bra of our choosing and came back to check on us later. She assured us the fit was perfect but was not amused when we declined to purchase. Just like at BHV, if you know your size and are willing to take six bras in the cabine with you to find just the right one, Galeries Lafayette can help you.
The lovely glass-domed restaurant on the same floor as the lingerie department might be the place to go for something soothing after your bra shopping experience.
Passé Simple (62 Rue d’Amsterdam, Metro Liège, 9th) is the place to go for large sizes. They have cup sizes up to O. Yes, you heard me, O! As in OMG. The Big O. They have friendly, helpful staff and a multitude of bras, underwear, swimwear, and even corsets. The shop is bright and colorful, and there are no granny panties in sight. There is no shame at Passé Simple, only joie de vivre. If your size comes late in the alphabet, drop in. You won’t regret your visit.
Claire de Lune (119 Bis Rue Ordener, Metro Jules Joffrin, 18th) is our favorite place in Paris to go for bras with small bandwidth and large cups. The bra whisperers who work there will listen to your woes, escort you into a cabine, examine your current bra status while making little tsk-tsk noises, and commence bringing you one stunning style after another. Your fitting expert will wear soft, warm gloves while hoisting your girls into position, adjusting your straps, and reassuring you of your magnificence. She always asks before entering your cabin. She is always discreet and professional. She considers the back of the bra to be as important as the front, because that’s where the support happens. (We did not know that.) You will leave the shop with a little pink bag full of hopes and dreams, strutting the sidewalk like it’s a runway. You are a goddess.
Claire de Lune’s brand of choice for larger cup sizes is Prima Donna. They also have sleepwear, loungewear, hosiery, and swimwear. We are seriously considering this snakeskin bikini.
So do not despair, doubly-blessed women! We at Secrets of Paris will share our ample-sized bra shopping secrets with you. You’ll be fine.
Yvonne Shao is an American living in Paris. She blogs at Escaping the Empty Nest