Undressed to Impress

Marks and Sparks Parisian style

I’ve been wanting to visit the new Marks & Spencer store on the Champs-Elysée since it’s recent opening but, as much as I wanted my fix of English food, I didn’t fancy being trampled in the chaos of crazed expats and curious locals in order to get it. I assumed by now the excitement would have died down a little and I might be able to step inside the door of the disappointingly small-looking store with relative ease.

Marks & Spencer Champs-Elysée

It was still surprisingly busy for a Thursday morning (only an hour after opening!) and I had to elbow my way through the crowds to get to the tiny food ‘hall’. I felt a bizarre sense of happiness to see shelves full of spongy bread rolls, cheddar cheese and Percy Pigs, although this was shortly replaced by dismay at the inflated prices: 2.19 for four English muffins! Oh well, I can be enjoying 12 for £1 from good old Asda in just over a week.

Not wanting to feel like my trip was a complete waste of time, I decided to check out the large lingerie section. I don’t shop in M&S for lingerie and haven’t for years as I find their sizing inconsistent and their small-back-large-cup offerings severely limited. Although they stock my size it’s usually only in a handful of styles and they never seem to have many (sometimes any) 28 backs in stock in stores. In addition, M&S seem to want to confuse bra-sizing matters somewhat as even though they sell DDs and GGs they don’t sell FFs. Well, they do, but they’re not called FFs, they’re called Gs. I have absolutely no idea why they do this and presumably this means their GGs are actually Gs. Anyone else put off yet?

I was curious to see whether the store would have any 28 or 30 backs in stock as they are practically non-existent in this country and I’m looked at like a complete freak if I dare to ask for a 75H (the French equivalent of a 28FF) in a lingerie store. I thought I was off to a good start when I saw a size conversion chart which included these sizes, but it quickly became apparent it was not to be. There was not a single 28 or 30 back in the whole range, despite many styles clearly advertising on their hangers that they were available in these sizes.

To further add to my woes, I was very impressed by many of the styles and was keen to try them. I even saw some gorgeous longline bras, but they were in awfully limited size ranges – their D+ offerings were 30-38 D-DD! I decided to try on a couple of other styles I knew did come in my size in a sister size just to get an idea of whether they’d be worth hunting down in UK stores while I’m back for Christmas.

Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera on me and my phone’s camera didn’t like the changing room light levels so I don’t have any pictures to show you except those from the M&S website, with a model who you may also have seen on the Figleaves site.
The design of this bra looks perfect for a Christmas party: smooth, moulded black satin cups are covered with sequins and finished off with a small bow in the centre. Best of all, it’s only £18 so there’ll be lots of change left over for the LBD to go on top!

I tried this bra in a 32F as it looked to me like the same cut as the one bra I own from M&S (review to come just as soon as I find my camera), which I found to be painfully tight in a 28 band and too small in the (G) cup. The 32F was a good fit, with the cups fitting perfectly and giving a good shape with a nice amount of cleavage. The band fit well on the tightest hook, so I think a 30G would be perfect. Definitely one to go up in the band with while keeping the same cup size. However, if you really need a 26 band then this would be a good one to try in a 28. The only major downside of this bra for me was that the straps are not fully adjustable and I could see myself having problems getting them short enough.

The second bra I tried was the black version of this gorgeous turquoise number. It’s from the Autograph collection, so a little more pricey at £22 – although this is still a great price for a larger bra. The bra contains 30% silk so it’s very soft to the touch and it comes in four different colours.

I tried this one in a 32E and I wasn’t a fan at all. The cups were on the large side and it felt like they just sat on me without providing any uplift. I had no cleavage whatsoever but an OK profile and it looked fine under clothing. Unfortunately this bra had an enormous band. I didn’t have a tape measure on me to check but the 32 felt more like a 36 and I could pull it far away from my back. Starting at a 30 (which probably feels like a 34), this is definitely not one for small-backed ladies. A big disappointment because I love the colour!

Whilst you should always try on a bra before buying if you have the chance, I feel this especially applies to M&S with their all over the place sizing and confusing cup letters. With some gorgeous pieces in this Christmas it’s definitely worth a look if you have the time!


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