Shopping Local: Etain Boutique, Portland Maine

Let’s talk about bras!

I’ve struggled with bras for years, ever since I grew out of the standard size range of 34C that I could fit into during high school and the beginning of college. I’ve had my heart broken by more than my fair share of bras – bras that were just too small in the cup, too big in the band, underwire that poked and bruised, clasps that chafed – you name it.

I’ve tried twice to be fitted by Victoria’s Secret. The first time, they were close…. sort of. They placed me in a 34DD bra that was fairly comfortable but after about a year it became apparent that the cups were just too big for me. I went back recently and tried a 34D instead, and it was way too small, I asked for help and was told that yes, that particular kind ran very small. I then tried the new t-shirt bra and ended up in a 34D in that particular style, which was still confusing, but oh well. I happily bought it thinking I had found my dream bra, but after wearing it during an 8 hour shift I came home with bruises from the underwire and chafing from where the straps can be detached and turned into a halter style bra. I also had issues with the straps not staying in place and the band riding up. I had already spent $40 on this thing so I really didn’t want to give up on it, nor could I afford to… so I bought moleskin to help the underwire issue and soldiered on, vowing to never by a bra from Victoria’s Secret again.

Today was finally the day that I found my dream bra. Recently a couple specialty lingerie boutique’s have popped up in Portland, and after some unsuccessful thrift shopping I decided on a whim to check out Etain Boutique. I’ve walked by several times but never had enough time to actually go in and check it out. I was pretty nervous to go in because I had no idea what their prices would be like and figured that I’d have to be willing to plunk down $150+ on a bra there.

I walked in and was greeted by Mackenzie, I chatted briefly with her about how I’ve been meaning to stop by to get my bra situation under control and she told me that she’d be happy to do a fitting with me right then or at a later time if it was convenient for me today. I decided what-the-hell, let’s do this!

She asked me what size I’ve been wearing recently, and then measured me. She told me she wanted me to try a 32 band size (WHAT!?) and then we’d work on narrowing in on the cup size. She brought in the first bra to try, told me the proper way to put it on (lean over to make sure the underwire is properly placed, then clasp, then slip the straps up), and helped adjust it. I had already “known” that you’re supposed to wear your bra band fairly low, but she showed me just how low it really ought to be and adjusted the straps from there. I’m not gonna lie, a 32 band is pretty damn tight, be she assured me that from the moment you put a bra on it’s going to start stretching and loosening, and that the band is where the  majority of support is meant to come from. I put my tank top back on over the bra and was FLOORED. I looked about 10lbs lighter and my boobs looked… quite frankly incredible. I took a look at the tag to see the size and was floored again – the bra was a 32FF and it fit perfectly. And then the price… $50. Only $50, for this, the most perfect brassiere to ever grace my chest. Considering that most of the options at Victoria’s Secret are also at the $40-$50 range and are of much lower quality and don’t even fit, it felt like the biggest bargain of all time.

I tried on my old bra for comparison and realized just how bad it truly was. Tried the new one back on, hopped up and down a few times and was pleased to see that the band and straps stayed solidly in place. I feel like I’ve seen the light!

I cannot recommend strongly enough how important it is to get a proper bra fitting from a professional lingerie store that isn’t going to lie and try to force you into a particular size just so you buy a bra from them. This is a garment you wear almost every day, it should fit and make you look and feel great!

For anyone local to Portland or who is visiting, I heartily recommend Etain Boutique. You can find them at 646 Congress Street, they are open Tuesday-Saturday 11am-6pm, and Sunday 12pm-4pm. You deserve it!