When denocte first asked me to write this guest posted I was thrilled that I had another venue to rant (er, I mean share) about the bra situation here in Brazil. However, I was a bit nervous because that meant actually going around looking for bras here. Considering that I wear about a UK 28J, I really didn't know what to expect!
Before I get into my shopping trip, I want tell you a bit about Brazil first. We have the 6th largest economy (probably we'll be the 5th before too long here) and it's really a country that's going through some major growing pains. On one hand, it's wasn't that long ago when inflation was so bad that the second you got your paycheck, you'd run to the grocery store to buy your months worth of groceries because you wouldn't be able to afford them by the end of the month. Now 20 some odd years later all the business investors from around the world are coming here because we never experienced the housing crash that has so strongly affected both N. America and Europe. Oil was recently found in Rio de Janeiro and we're also expecting both the Olympics and the World Cup in the next few years.
That's not even mentioning the mass amount of tourism we get for the beautiful beaches and this guy:
There's a lot to love about the country and in many ways it's amazing living in a country with so much movement. You can see the push for more public transportation, the push to weed out the corruption from the government, and the push for including new industries in a safe way that won't overload the economy but still allow for the tremendous growth that we're seeing. But, like I said before, there are the growing pains. Often you see this when it comes to bureaucracy where there's a law that just doesn't make sense in the current economy but you still have to follow it or, and this is what I'm interested in, how behind the times the clothing industry seems to be.
I've waxed on to great lengths on my own blog about the bra sizes here in Brazil. Essentially, cup sizes don't exist here (I know of only three brands that carry bras in cup sizes Hope, Liz, and now Sloggi and they all stop somewhere between D-F... although Liz is now expanding to a G cup). Instead there's an assumption that everyone is a B cup and they just increase the band. So a size 36=28B, 40=30B, 42=32B, 44=34B, 46=36B, 48=38B, 50=40B etc. (36 is the smallest that I've seen so I'm assuming it's about a 28 band but I don't have a 28B around to compare and the size charts are all messed up because some add 4" and some don't). Almost all stores have horrible pictures of very ill-fitting bras in their advertisements (see here and here). So that's the situation here, now on to my shopping adventure. I went to 5 stores, although in two I didn't try on bras because it was so hopeless, but I did get pictures when I could. :)
Marisa was my first stop and it certainly had the largest selection with everything from bikinis to basques.
However, it only sold bras according to Brazilian bra sizes, so you can just imagine what a disaster it was. Here's me attempting a 46:
The cups were WAY too small for me and as you can see the back was absolutely massive, yikes! There were no bra fitters around, just a couple of women at the cash register so no clue what size they would've recommended! Also, the quality was extremely low. Some bras just had one row of hooks and the bands were extremely thin and made of even stretchier material than I'm used to. I quickly moved on.
I have to give Meia de Seda major props for customer service. The attendant was extremely nice and helpful. She gave one look at me in put me in a 46 +6. The cups were more generous, yet, I was still spilling all over the place and the band wasn't as bad (but still significantly too loose). She then moved me into a 48. It was a sort of OK fit in the cups but the band was all the way up to my armpits! So she said that I was a 46 around the underbust and a 48 in the cups, but they didn't have anything to offer me. I have to give her credit for admitting they didn't have my size but there was no checking of the band (which I could've easily fit multiple hands underneath), and there was no comment on how I put on the bra (remembering to scoop all the breast tissue into the cups and trying on the band on the loosest hook first). One of the bras she brought me at the end was GORGEOUS and like I said she was extremely friendly but it's a shame about their selection/lack of knowledge. I didn't get a chance to get any pictures because of the attendant.
Here the bra knowledge was hands down the best but still there was a lot that was missing. Again the fitter was amazingly nice and put me at ease immediately. She even talked to my daughter a bit, who was tagging along. Now, Hope DOES actually carry different cup sizes (going there it looks like they go up to a DD) and it's the brand that Gisele Bundchen is constantly advertising for. Immediately, the fitter explained about the different cup sizes and kept checking in and bringing new bras for me to try. Unfortunately, she never explained how to put on the bra properly (on the loosest hook/scooping all your breast tissue into the cups) and she never checked the band to see how loose it was. She did notice that my back was very small and even commented on that, so I appreciated her noticing that and keeping it in mind. In the end she put me in a 42DD. Eye-balling it, I'd say it looked like a 32FF, possibly G. My breast tissue was enclosed in the cups around the bottom but the band was still too loose and it was a plunge so I had some spillage towards the middle and slight quadraboob. The bra itself was definitely the best quality of all the other bras I tried on and the price reflected it (R$90~$50 USD). It wouldn't be a bad option for someone with less extreme proportions compared to myself but I'd suggest going in knowing your specific size because, like I said, the fit advice wasn't the best.
Like Marisa, C&A didn't have cup sizes and after seeing this mannequin I didn't even bother (oh, and you can't really see it in the picture but part of her breasts are hanging out the bottom). They also don't have any fitters there.
Lojas Americans is pretty similar to Target, Walmart, etc. They actually have probably the most diverse/widest selection and carry the largest number of brands but there are no fitter and no place to try anything on. They carry both bras with cups (from Hope, Liz, and Sloggi) and ones with Brazilian sizes too. Being that they don't have changing rooms I wasn't able to try anything on.
Overall I do have hope that there'll be improvements here in Brazil. Like I said both the fitters really had great personalities, put me at ease and listened to my needs. They just did not have the proper knowledge, which is something that could be fixed with training. However, there has to be a lot of re-education here in Brazil when it comes to fit and why properly fitting bras are important. Of the brands i tried, Hope is probably the most likely candidate for that but they need to expand their size range and train their fitters better on how to check that the bra band is tight enough and how to put on bras correctly. I know some are against using a measuring tape (and I agree with not being too reliant on them) but I think, at least in terms of getting the band measure correct, it would really help out Brazilians.
Because bra knowledge is considerably behind the US (and light years behind the UK and Poland), measuring at least the underbust and going from there would give a better starting point. Especially because often cups can appear like they "fit" when the band is much too big. Now, since going on this shopping trip I have found encouraging news that Liz is expanding their size range to G cups. Additionally, there is a boutique in some of the higher end shopping malls called Loungerie that carries Waocal bras. I haven't had a chance to go there but plan on doing that soon!
Edit: June has added her Review to her Blog now!