From: Currently Berlin, originally a small village in Germany’s Midwest, but I spent 9 months in Canada
One thing I like about myself: My sense of humor
One thing I don't like about myself: My sublime talent to procrastinate
My favorite bra or bra brand is: Ewa Michalak and Cleo
I would love to own this bra: A beige strapless
Why I turned out to be a fan of fitted bras: Having a semi-public meltdown while shopping for swimwear at H&M will do that to you
Facts about the City
Population: 2,6 Million
What I like about this City: the diversity of its people and their energy
What I don't like about this City: public transit
Toronto is Canada’s biggest city and the Greater Toronto Area is home to over 6 Million people, or about 17% of the Canadian population. You’d expect that such a big city has a host of possibilities to shop for bras, but that is not entirely true.
While I love Canada, it is not exactly a bra lovers’ first destination. It’s pretty comparable to Germany. Big department stores such as The Bay don’t sell any of the brands that cater to those beyond a G and/or below a 32 (US/CAN system, FF UK system) and even if they do they only have Wacoal and Triumph.
Canada’s version of Victoria’s Secret, LaSenza produces only till a DD cup. According to a very apologetic sales clerk they used to have Es but LaSenza terminated the size because it wasn’t profitable. It is often said that their bands run small, but I tried 8-10 and only one was snugger than the Cleo I wore.
However, Torontonians must not fret as I, in the name of science (*cough*), went on a shopping trip and found some little gems. I checked out 3 stores that offer a wide range of sizes: Change, Tryst and Secrets from Your Sister.
First up was Scandinavian chain store Change, because I needed a multiway bra and I like their slim center gores. The fitting experience wasn’t great. While the sales woman put me in the right cup, she tried to convince me to buy a 28 band, although it was clearly digging in. Additionally, she did not check if the wires hugged my boobs and if the center gore aligned itself with my sternum. However, the bras are much cheaper (35-45 CAD) compared to what you have to pay in other stores. Their Yonge location (TTC Eglington West) is much nicer (and cleaner) than the one on Queen West.
Two stores that I full-heartedly recommend are Tryst and Secrets from Your Sister. Mind you, neither is perfect, but I had some of the best fitting experiences ever there (and yes, I have been to Bravissimo). I cannot speak to their absolute size range, but was assured that they could order any size for me, when I asked about people needing a very large cup or a small band. The atmosphere was really relaxed and the interior of SfYS is quite stunning. Both fitters were able to almost fit me into the right size right away, were very pleasant and not afraid to give me a hands on experience ;) Their customer service is excellent and both can order your size, if they don’t have it on hand. There were a few things that bugged me, though. The Tryst lady sold me a 32 Freya which I had to close on the middle hook. However, they offer to take the band in for you if it is too loose after a few washes. The fitter at SfYS made me try on several Freya Balconettes and Full Cups also my boobs (full-on-top) are not compatible. Also, she told me, Cleo is low quality. I guess you have to tell people that if you sell Empreinte and the likes. This brings me to another point that you have to keep in mind if you shop in Canada. There is such a thing as the ‘Canadian Premium’. A Freya will set you back at least 90 CAD (88 $) and then you still have to add tax (5-15%, depending on the province).
If you don’t want to pay that you can, of course, order online. Most big UK-based etailers ship to Canada for about 8 CAD and breakoutbras.com offers free shipping. The problem is returning the stuff that doesn’t fit, shipping from Canada to the US and especially Europe is really expensive. If it is only 2-3 bras you are better of selling them via ebay, craigslist, at a flee market or a cloth swap.
Fortunately, there is one Canadian-based e-retailer, the wonderful Claire and her team from Butterfly Collection. She even offers fittings via Skype, which is a pretty outstanding idea. They also sell Cleo and a very friendly sales representative told me they think about possibilities to bring Ewa to Canada, which of course is a huge plus in my book. They also do special orders if your size is not available.
Canada in under one minute