You’ve already read the blog about how I found it difficult to get back into a Kayak because my boobs kept getting in the way. But that’s not the only problem I’ve had with having big boobs.
My country wants me to go braless
Take for instance the fact that bras my size are not manufactured in Spain, Italy or India. How is that possible, you say? I have no idea either. All I know is that bra manufacturers in Italy, India and Spain are under the mistaken impression that women with band sizes of 30 or 32 cannot have cup sizes bigger than J or K. It’s just too disproportionate for their thinking.
So what do I do? What I’ve always done. Buy bras in the UK or France. Now this is no small feat. I don’t have the funds to travel abroad regularly just to buy bras. So taking into account various modes of transport, it’s economical to have friends or family bring the bras over when they visit me. And worst comes to worst, have the necessary bras couriered over to me. Now anyone who’s busty knows that the bigger the cup sizes you want for smaller bands, the more exorbitant the bra prices. But add the cost of the courier to that, and I’d probably have been able to take a weekend getaway for the price of 3 bras.
And then this summer the government decided that no, a weekend getaway was not enough. It needed to be the cost of a mini vacation. So what do they do? On a random inspection of the courier parcel of my bras, the Customs department decide to slap me with a luxury tax, because you know bras are not a necessity, they’re a luxury. How awesome can they be? Oh, and while we’re at it, why don’t we charge her a luxury tax on the courier as well? All for the good of the country, isn’t it? Or do they really want me to go braless?
Okay, enough of me and my peaks. Did you hear about Kate’s Sexy Gold?
Sexy Gold in Singapore
It’s a real pain trying to buy swimsuits abroad when you’ve got a larger than average chest. A few years ago, we were in Thailand and my swimsuit fell apart. Salt water will do that eventually. We were in a tropical country, with more than its fair share of beaches, so I didn’t think it would be a big issue to find a new one.
In one of the beach resorts, I browsed some swimsuit shops to try and find something nice. Everything was tiny. Everything! There was nothing at all that would even vaguely fit. It was all quite disheartening.
Eventually, a shop assistant shouted “We have big size” at me as I looked in. “Big size” was labelled XXXXL. Awesome for my self-confidence! I chose a couple of possibilities and took them to the changing room to try on.
Too small! Even so-called XXXXL was too small for my boobs.
The very helpful shop assistant decided to help me out, and started collecting her suggestions for me to try on.
One of them was a bikini so small that the entire thing, top and bottoms, wouldn’t have fit over one of my breasts without risking arrest.
Another was gold, and had ‘SEXY’ across the top in big metal letters.
I’m not sure what kind of impression I was giving to this shop assistant, but she wasn’t the best judge of my size, or style.
Kris, meanwhile, was sat in the shop, literally crying with laughter after inappropriate swimsuit after inappropriate swimsuit was brought to me.
After a while of this, I made my excuses and escaped the shop. I later found a swimsuit that didn’t require me to expose most of my chest to the world in an Australian branch of a shop in Singapore.
I buy all my swimsuits in the UK now.
While Karin found something on the other side of the planet, literally.
To make peace with your breasts travel to Colombia
I have always struggled with finding my bra size in my home-country; somehow, most of the girls in Slovakia are skinny and the choice in the clothes stores reflects it. However, when I moved to Bogotá, Colombia, I was surprised to see a whole different trend!
The ideal of beauty there dictates to have big boobs and many women get plastic surgery done to achieve them.
While I was a bit shocked when I heard women with perfect bodies dream aloud about bigger cups, it also meant I was finally able to shop for bikinis in my actual size that wouldn´t squeeze my breasts or make them spill in weird formations.
I moved to (far more comfortable) sports bras since then, but sincerely, if you wish to get a good choice when looking for a bikini top, take a trip to Colombia. Along with all the natural wonders you will see, you will hopefully also make peace with the size of your breasts.
And then there was Naomi who actually found one of the right size in Spain. Read on!
Buying a bathing suit in Spain
I was looking out of the airplane window, thinking of my upcoming 10 days in Andalusia and I smiled. I would have such a great time with all the things I already planned. Food tours, cycling tours and of course, a visit to the Hammam! All of a sudden I sat up right in my chair and I’m sure my eyes bulged in my head. The hammam! I forgot to pack my bikini!
How on earth am I ever going to find something to wear to the hammam when I already have so much trouble finding something that fits me when I have all the time in the world to find it at home?
Once I landed and found myself some Wi-Fi, I immediately turned to the internet and googled large size bikini stores in Spain. I found a few but didn’t have time to go shopping in Malaga. Once I got to Ronda, I walked through the streets and found a sports wear store. I decided to give it a try and see what they have.
I managed to find the swimwear department and looking through the rack. The sizing was a bit different and all bathing suits looked hideous. In despair I looked around and the sales lady came over. She asked me in super fluid Spanish what I was looking for and if I needed help. Or at least, that is what I think she asked. I know a little bit of Spanish and when people speak slowly, I can manage with the usual conversation but this was a bit out of my league.
But I managed to say something like that I would go to the hammam and forgot my bikini and wanted a cheap solution. I gestured at my chest to indicate where the problem usually lies and she nodded. She showed me 3 bathing suits, all under 25€ and all hideous. She said something like, they are cheap, you’ll only wear them once and the hammam is very dark.
I tried them on and they were all so uncomfortable. A bit tight and looked horrible. But the cheapest one did cover my boobs enough to not feel too naked. The sales lady repeated through the curtain that I’d only wear it once and it was cheap. I saw what she meant. I settled for a bathing suit that was €9,95 and once I paid, the sales lady also recommended me a great tapas restaurant for locals.
Together with buying a bathing suit in a foreign country and having great tapas, I had a great evening in Ronda, Spain! Who would have imagined?!
Guess where Darcy found something that held the girls in place?
Swimsuit heaven in Juan-les-Pins
Ever since they showed up, my boobs have been a pain. Finding bras the right size, hunting for tops that didn’t look slutty, and especially swimsuit shopping have always been nightmares. Not only does the average bikini make me feel super exposed, but it also is a huge challenge to find anything that actually holds the girls where I’d like them to sit. While traveling in the French Riviera, though, I finally managed to find a bikini I loved, due to a combination of fortunate circumstances, including:
One – I was skinnier than I’d been in a long time, thanks to lots of walking in New York and generally being too stressed to eat in grad school;
Two – I was in France, where pretty much every woman on the beach was walking around in a teeny tiny bikini, regardless of size;
Three – The first thing the French shop owner asked me was my bra size.
This last one shouldn’t really be a revolutionary idea, but for some reason it is. In the world of swimwear, why do we so infrequently care to consult our actual bra size? After she asked, I hesitated, assuming she’d have nothing in my 32DDD. In my mind, French women are all fashionably thin despite eating bread all day, so I thought she’d laugh and turn me away.
Instead, she pulled out a whole box of swimsuit tops that would fit me and support my breasts with underwires! (Cue the fanfare!) I’d never seen anything so beautiful! I tried on suit after suit, feeling my confidence grow with every bikini top that lifted my boobs to where they really should have been all along. I would’ve bought them all if they hadn’t been over 100 euros each. Still, the one that I did get still makes me feel like a million bucks. Turns out, if you’re struggling through bathing suit boob hell, you just have to fly to France and stumble into a random store in Juan-les-Pins to find the perfect suit for you.
And then there was Sarah and her Prima Donnas.
Singaporean Prima Donna
I have a love-hate relationship with my big boobs. I love them, but I hate that I have to spend so much time and energy and money shopping specifically for them. And doing so while my husband and I were traveling around the world for a year was challenging. I’m a 34G and while bras have become less of an issue for me over the years, regular clothing can still be tough, and bathing suits are in a horrific class of their own. Southeast Asia was particularly difficult. I accidentally shrunk some of our clothes in the wash in Malaysia and – after failing in the women’s stores – ended up buying a men’s shirt as a replacement. And in Thailand, my sadness knew no end when I couldn’t squeeze into any of those fun elephant t-shirts they sell at all the markets.
But tragedy truly befell me when my (years-old) bathing suit fell apart in Singapore. I shed a tear as I bid it farewell and wondered what on earth I was going to do for the rest of the trip when it would be summer and we would be in Europe.
Looking online, I happily learned that the brand that makes my bras – Prima Donna – had recently started making bathing suits. One tankini in particular caught my eye. But given our travel schedule and the fact that bathing suits are a must-try-on item, I didn’t order anything.
Then one day I was walking around the neighborhood where we were staying in Rotterdam and I saw a lovely specialty bra shop with bathing suits in the window. I got closer and realized they had my brand! I hurried in and tried on pretty much everything in the store but nothing worked.
I was feeling a bit defeated when the sales lady brought out the exact suit I had seen online. And it fit. It was fate! The store didn’t take credit cards, however, so I relieved my husband of all of his cash (to his utter shock at how much these things cost!) and bought it with glee. And I may have returned a few days later (after another trip to the bank) to restock my bra collection. I actually live in Rotterdam now and it’s such a comfort to know that there’s a store nearby with everything I need.
And sometimes you just need a Goddess!
Finding a Goddess
I always wanted big boobs…until I actually got them. I am sitting at a 14 JJ right now and thinking about one of my bras breaking brings me out in a cold sweat. I live 1 hour away from the only bra shop in the state that stocks my bras, and it takes them three months to be able to get them shipped all the way from the UK. Most of my friends tell me I am being too fussy about the brand but I can tell you it’s not called the Goddess bra for nothing ladies. (Plus most of my friends are part of the itty bitty titty committee and can pop into any shop and buy 5 at a time. I need to re-mortgage the house for that!)
Why don’t you just buy them online you say? Because the last one I bought was a 14HH and I have another that is a 14J, mine just like to do whatever they like regardless of what the cost will be. I pay around $90AUD for each one, each one I have to try on first as there is no guarantee that they will fit. I have spent years with my boobs bulging out of my bra or under wires scrapping my skin because I have been fitted incorrectly. (One shop in a nearby town had me 4 sizes too small so they could keep selling me bras. They were only lasting 3-4 months each)
I now have 5 on the go. 2 for work which are older and not so nice anymore (if I need to I use one of these to go swimming in in the summer), 1 really nice one for going out and 2 everyday ones. The Goddess comes in so many colours and patterns that I can never pick a favourite so I just order one and hope they can get it because there is no guarantee.
We plan on long term travel at the start of next year so I have ordered 6 in. Some are due in August and some in November. I am hoping that I can get at least 2 that fit and that I will have a couple of these ones left so I can ration them out while we travel. But just to be on the safe side Mark (my long suffering bra finding husband) has looked up stores that stock the Goddess around the places we are travelling and has put them ‘on the map’.
Buying a Swimsuit in Greece
There is a perfect swim suit waiting for me at a post office in Sofia, which I’ll be picking up soon. However, I ordered it a month before my vacation in Greece because I knew that it would be a nightmare finding a suit that wasn’t just a tent made out of water-proof material this side of the Atlantic. Google is no help, because so many stores that have plus size sections online don’t have them in stores, and getting anything delivered is such a nightmare, either to my base in Sofia or on the road. Shopping in Bulgaria had produced nothing good, and the suit I’d ordered showed as being physically in Sofia but wasn’t going to be released to me for another week. That’s how I ended up on a plane to Greece with a beach villa booked and no bathing suit.
In Athens, I started panicking. The beach was only three days away, and I didn’t want to swim in my bra and undies or a t-shirt. I was going to a villa with eleven (much skinnier and smaller chested) friends. Luckily the bathing suit gods smiled down upon me, and I happened to stroll past a Mark & Spencers which had suits exactly my size and smaller. Seriously, one more centimeter and they would not have fit. Once I had suits in my size in front of me, I had to do something that every curvy girl hates – try on suits while my skinny friend wandered the store politely. Not relegated to one or two stores per European city, she didn’t need to scour every item in the store to decide if it was a good fit or not. I miss having these kind of options in an actual store.
I tried on about twelve suits, which ran the gamut from super cute to sexy to making me look like the Michelin tire guy. Of course, even as a plus size woman, I’ve found that traveling has given me a much healthier body image than I had living in the states. I just wish that there was a Torrid or even a Lane Bryant nearby. If I hadn’t wandered down that exact street, I don’t know what I would have done, end even then is was a battle of trying on every single suit in my size to find one I didn’t hate. By the end I was a sweaty dressing room monster. Thanks goodness I found something not heinous though, otherwise I would have missed visiting Seitan Limania, which is probably the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen in real life.
Coincidentally, a week later a friend made fun of shopping at Mark & Spencers in Greece, saying something like why would anyone shop there in Greece when it’s not local and they can go there at home. Little did she know that it was my godsend.
And sometimes shopping at home turns out to be the best thing, doesn’t it?
Shopping for the big girls
Having always been a ‘big girl’ buying bras has been a lifelong challenge, I have never been able to just walk into a department store and get a decent fitting bra. This meant always paying top dollar in small bra boutiques who never seemed to keep stocking the same style, so next visit meant going through the whole process again never sure if they would be comfortable or really fit as well.
Over the years this has improved in Australia, especially locally, as we have a good bra shop that keeps stocking my favourite style. However, nothing prepared me for trying to buy decent large sized bras in another country and how much of an adventure that would become. The first challenge is actually finding a shop that stocks larger sizes, in Asia this is impossible. Then the actual sizings are all different around the world, so even when you think you have hit the jackpot you discover after getting into the change room it is the wrong size and you need to start the process again. However, the biggest challenge for me is when you do not speak the local language this leads to a lot of time being spent using sign language, which we discovered while in Lisbon in Portugal.
I was well overdue to replace my bras and while on a walking tour had spotted a bra shop with larger sizes in the window. Retracing our footsteps we found the shop again however, the ladies spoke no English so using a mixture of sign language, flashing my bra to show the syle and very basic English/Portuguese we got the message across. The biggest challenge though, was while I was getting a huge variety of beautiful bras that fitted they were way too expensive. I finally managed to explain I did not want to spend 90 Euros and finally got a selection of one that was within my price range. I walked away appreciating how much easier it was to go shopping at home and hoped never to have to go through it all again.
Do you or does anyone you know have difficulties buying bras or swimsuits? What’s your boob travel tale?