Hazel-Anne M. Johnson, Ph.D., 38, is a professor and the director of a university undergraduate program, a mom of two toddlers, deeply involved in community activism and a CrossFit devotee. She’s been going to the intense workout for the past 5 years and can do a headstand or deadlift 150 pounds like it’s the easiest thing in the world. “It’s the most inspiring workout I’ve ever done,” she says. “I actually enjoy burpees.”
In other words, Hazel-Anne is basically Superwoman, and finding time for herself is her Kryptonite. She tries to get to CrossFit three or four times a week—a lofty goal even with a less intimidating schedule: “My mission is to figure out how to carve out me-time despite an ever-busy agenda.”
So you can pretty much guess where bra shopping ranks on Hazel-Anne’s priority list. “I don’t like shopping, and I’ve been pregnant or nursing for over three years, so I’m at a loss when it comes to understanding what my bra size is at this point. When I saw some of your swimwear makeovers on Bare it All this past summer, I was intrigued by the women’s transformations.” That’s where the Bare Necessities Bra Fit Experts come into play. Hazel-Anne wanted to experience the same revelation with her bras, especially her sports bras.
The last time Hazel-Anne got professionally fitted, it was for a nursing bra. She’s in the process of weaning and getting back into a fitness groove, which is to say, her weight fluctuates. Maternity bras are comfy but not supportive enough; her old Chantelles are beautiful but big; all have seen better days: “The sizes are all over the place. I looked down in a meeting the other day, and my underwire had popped out of my bra as if to say, ‘Don’t forget about me!’”
At that moment, it clicked: “I don’t want to wait a year for a new bra. Life will always be hectic. If not now, when?”
Hazel-Anne called Bra Fit Expert Mette for her fit consult. She measured 34” in the band and 42” in the bust, putting her squarely at a 34H (US sizing) or a 34FF (UK sizing). “Oh my goodness! I’ve never heard any of these letters before. Wow!” said Hazel-Anne, audibly processing.
“Getting the numbers is just the first step,” said Mette. Breast shape is also a factor when it comes to fit.
“Let’s say this about my breasts: I have clearly had children,” said Hazel-Anne. “They don’t stand up, and there is a gap in between, but they’re still full-ish.”
In thinking about her wish list, Hazel-Anne told Mette, “I don’t need any padding help,” so they narrowed the field to unlined bras and three- or four-part-cups, a new term for Hazel-Anne.
“They have no padding whatsoever but because they have that hand-sewn cup, they give so much support and lift and will make your breasts look like when you were younger,” Mette explained, to which Hazel-Anne offered a resounding, “Yes, please!”
Mette pointed Hazel-Anne to the Panache Jasmine Balconette from personal experience: “My breasts have never looked rounder, fuller or prettier than they do in this bra. The wonderful thing is that this bra has stretch lace at the top. Most women have one breast that’s bigger than the other, so it’s perfect because it tightens and stretches to make them look even. I’ll send you out a few sizes so you can find the one that fits your figure best. We’ll go one up in the band and one down in the cup until you’re comfortable. For you, I’ll stick to Panache, Chantelle, Freya and Fantasie; I think you’ll get the most out of them.”
A personal bra shopper to handle figuring out the right sizes and styles for her? Hazel-Anne was all in.
Mette sent Hazel-Anne the Panache Jasmine, Andorra and Ultimate Maximum Control sports bra, the number one best-selling bra here at Bare Necessities, period, end of story. “It happens to run snug and most women end up sizing up in the band or in the cup,” Mette noted. (To her surprise, Hazel-Anne defied this rule; you might, too—contact a Bra Fit Expert to help get it right.)
“It’s a sports bra that you put on like a regular bra? That’s refreshing. Some of my sports bras feel like straightjackets. It’s more of a workout to put it on than the workout I’m actually doing!” said Hazel-Anne.
“Yes, and it has a J-hook, too, so you can turn it into a racerback. It’s definitely armor, and it’s really going to protect your breast tissue while you’re exercising,” said Mette. Hazel-Anne was intrigued: Her old sports bras “don’t covert to compliment a racerback shirt, and they’re not very fun.” The cosmic print she picked is nothing if not fun.
They reviewed the Fit 5 and made plans to touch base in a few days.
“I feel like a kid on Christmas morning,” said Hazel-Anne. “Yay, my bras are coming!”
Ultimately, Hazel-Anne tried on the Panache sports bra in a 34F, 36F and a 36FF, and the Jasmine and the Andorra in a 34FF and a 36F. She also tried the Fantasie Rebecca Lace in a 34G (“it fit fine, but I prefer more of a plunge in front”) and the Freya Fancies Plunge Balcony (“pretty bra, but I need more support”). She squeezed in try-ons at home between commitments—meetings, rallies, workouts and then some.
On arrival, Panache Jasmine in 34FF was a hit: “It has a great fit in front, and I love how it lifts my breasts.” Panache Andorra, also in 34FF, was “perfect—I love it.” In the sports bra, she took a 34F: “I absolutely love the bra. It’s on FIRE!” Its encapsulation-style underwire cups gave her lift and definition that, even on its best day, her old pull-on bra never had.
“I love the three of them! Apparently, I’m a fan of Panache. Where have you been all my life?!” Hazel-Anne raved.
With a phone call, an email, and two rounds of try-ons, Hazel-Anne had slayed the beast otherwise known as bra shopping, something she’d been putting off for years. “I can’t thank you enough for this awesome experience,” she told Mette. “It’s funny because I always thought that all I ever wanted was T-shirt bras. They’re smooth, they’re easy, it was all Victoria’s Secret had. But once you introduced me to three- and four-part sewn cups, everything changed. I didn’t realize my breasts could look this firm and fabulous.”
Hazel-Anne loved the beauty and strength of her two new bras for day, but it was the sports bra that gave her the biggest boost, mentally and physically.
“A lot of people who do CrossFit strip down to do it. That’s never been me because I didn’t feel confident enough in my bras or in my body before,” she says. “I can be one of those people now. In this bra, I feel confident enough to go for it.”
For a bra revelation of your own, call or chat with a Bra Fit Expert at 877-728-9272 (select option 4) or barenecessities.com.
Brooke is the editor of this here blog. In a previous life, she was an editor at Good Housekeeping and O, The Oprah Magazine. Brooke has written for Glamour, Travel+Leisure, New York Magazine and more. She’s into concerts, travel and her exceptionally adorable daughter and husband.