I’m going to try something a little different for this post. I recently got back from a visit Spain, and while I visit the country fairly often, until now I’ve never had a chance to go bra or lingerie shopping when I’ve been there as my itinerary is usually packed, which is another way of saying that I hardly ever get a moment to myself to just go browsing for pretty things. This time I managed to sneak away for a couple hours to see what I could find.
In this post, I’ll introduce two “high street” retailers in Spain and give you a peek inside the shops. I was in the market for some bralettes and activewear on my shopping trip, so I’ll include mini reviews of the ones I tried on.
Brief notes on lingerie shopping in Spain
In comparison to say, France, where there’s a lingerie boutique in every street that boasts a wide range of band and cup sizes proudly in the window (brands like Empreinte, Aubade, PrimaDonna, Lejaby, Simone Perele…), most Spanish stores seem stuck in the 32-40 A-D matrix. There might be 1 or 2 specialist fuller bust boutiques scattered around if you look hard enough. Indeed, there are some notable exceptions in cities like Barcelona and Madrid (e.g. Lottie Lenceria). I simply didn’t have enough time to track them down. In my two weeks in Spain, I only saw one boutique that sold “larger cups sizes” up to EU J cup and I believe started at a 32-band. For Spain, that’s not too shabby.
One last caveat: I thought that I would be staying in Spain for up to a year. This was meant to be the first in a series of posts where I would do the rounds at high street chains, local boutiques and department stores like El Corte Inglés, and ultimately write about bra fitting and lingerie across the board. Oh, the ambition. Never mind that this post has been delayed by well over a month already. Unfortunately, my stay in Spain was cut short. I barely got a tan, let alone time to find all the bras. This post will have to suffice with what I managed to fit in (no pun intended) during my brief stay.
The first store I visited was Women’s Secret (written women’secret on all the signage?). Reminds us of someone named Victoria, no? I wasn’t really expecting to find my size inside, but I’m always hopeful that maybe a 32DD will appear and I can work with it. Plus I spied some lacy looking things from the window and had to look because I love lace bralettes and they were having a sale.
Let’s take a look inside.
My first impression was that everything was super dainty and pretty. Definitely not the hyper-sexy VS vibe. Pink, cream, white, beige, black and navy were the predominate shades, with a touch of coral thrown in. The bras were mostly what I would describe as “basics” (molded plunges with little or no trimmings), with a few lacy wireless options. They also sell a range of nightwear, pajamas, robes, chemises, slippers and accessories. Most of the sleepwear and footwear items are either cartoony (including characters like Snoopy) or girly, and didn’t really grab me. The name of the shop and the bras didn’t really suggest that young girls were the target shopper, and IMO there are more youthful styles than all solid colors, but I guess this shop is nonetheless marketed at a younger clientele. It’s hard to say because I feel like a simple pink or navy plunge bra or a strapless beige bra might be a staple for any age. The closest I can think of is Aerie, but with even less “edge”.
As I took a closer look at the shelves, nearly every bra had a “B” tag hanging from it, with a few “C”s here and there. I honestly didn’t pick up right away that those tags were referring to cup sizes because they didn’t have a number next to it. I quickly ascertained that their size range is something like 30-40 A-D. That’s right, four cup sizes across 6 band sizes. And a lot of the stuff on the rack during my visit apparently only came in one cup size: B. I have to admit that even after being scarred by VS growing up, I wasn’t fully prepared for that.
Literally nothing in there could possibly contain my boobs and I’m only a 28F. I’m pretty sure that the wireless lace bralette I had been eyeing from the window trembled in fear when I considered trying it on. I couldn’t find a 34D to squeeze into (because naturally that style only comes in a B cup, right?), so it had a lucky escape.
Was I otherwise impressed with Women’s Secret? The store itself was nicely arranged and inviting. The color palette was simple, but pleasant. While the t-shirt type bras looked like your run-of-the-mill basics, there was plenty to mix and match throughout the store. The aesthetic at Women’s Secret ranges from perfectly adorable to everyday basics. Their prices are very reasonable (pretty much everything is within the €10-40 range) and multibuy sales abound. Because they cater to such a restricted, smaller-bust size range, their designs can have all the on-trend non-functional features that make my squishy non-self-supporting boobs cry, like strappy backs and lace-up fronts and deep plunges and the like.
My guess is that regular fans reading this are probably not in the size range offered by this brand, but you never know. Not every store can or needs to carry 28-50 A-K cups, but let’s be real: the size selection here is so poor that hardly any of the models on the homepage are wearing a bra that actually fits them. The gores are floating so far away into the distance that someone should call the Spanish coast guard.
I had a quick look at a tiny rack of sportswear in case they had some cute leggings or basic sports bras in S/M/L so I could get myself to try something on. Shortly after, I shuffled back out to the street feeling a little sad at being sized out. I mean, I’m pretty used to it, but then again I rarely shop in brick & mortar stores for that reason. That said, I’d definitely go back to check out their satin PJs, bodysuits, and maybe squeeze into a wireless crop top or something.
To reiterate, there’s a place in the market for every size range. Just because they don’t cater to my size, doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with what they’re selling. They don’t market themselves as a smaller bust shop, but that’s what it is, so if that works for you, check them out!
Not in Spain? Check out their website, which ships to most EU countries (including the UK).
Not to be disheartened, I moved onward to Oysho which was a few doors down.
I had passed by an Oysho window in two different towns and each time I liked the look of the sportswear in the display. It was pretty hot in Spain and I was tempted to get a basic, light support bra in favor of my rather sweaty Panache Sports bra for day hiking and the like.
When I got inside, I found another shop full of items with a very palatable aesthetic. Yes, my lingerie draw is full of bold colors and lace and prints, but I love me some simple sophistication, too. There were lots of navy, white and off-whites, rosey pinks and neutral blacks and beiges again. The designs were perhaps a tad more mature than at Women’s Secret, in the sense that the added details on some items were lacy or mesh overlays, with velvet accents, delicate floral prints, embroidery, and just an overall more elegant feel while only a tad more expensive comparing like for like.
I found a lot of styles that I really liked, even if again I was sized out or they just didn’t have enough support for my boobs, but that’s a problem I get on high streets everywhere. Out of the two stores, Oysho is more likely to have something that is right in my aesthetic and might actually fit in their S/M/L sizing range. So, speaking of sizes, did I mention that their bras only come in 80-100 (UK30-38) B-C? Yeah.
Again, they obviously cater to the need for basics/neutrals and everything can be mixed and matched throughout the store. Yet the designs are just a step ahead in terms of detail and little elegant touches. Here’s a selection of some of my favorite looks.
With the size range being so limited, I was again disappointed that I couldn’t try more things on. For example, the velvet bralette at the bottom left was very cute in person. I was expecting S/M/L sizing because it’s wireless, but it comes only in sizes 32-38B (yes, one cup size across 4 bands) and costs €26/£20. To be clear, I’m trying not to impose my fuller bust needs on the rest of the universe because all sizes are equally valid and need options. But a bra that comes in only 4 sizes in a high street store marketing to all women? Meh. Oysho, you can do better.
Oysho bralette mini reviews
Moving on, I did try on some stuff at Oysho. First, I chose two lacy bralettes. At UK 28F/30E, I find size M bralettes to be my best off-the-rack option. Ideally I need a size S band with a size M-L cup, but sometimes M is a good overall compromise since I’m willing to sacrifice some fit aspects for a comfy lounge bra.
Although I was hoping for a lightly lined bralette, the non-padded options I saw didn’t look like an adequate size match for me. I decided to try something that I thought would have a bit more coverage and shaping. I normally try to avoid deep plunges because of my soft, close-set boobs, but that is pretty much all they had.
The ones I picked were just called Bralette and Lace Bralette. Naming products isn’t a strong point. Here are the stock photos:
The first one (left) I tried in black, but the one on the right comes in a variety of different colors like pink, olive green and gray. I chose the gray. I didn’t have the highest expectations given that the neckline is so low with little coverage at the center. The straps are also quite thin, but they are fully adjustable. You can’t tell so much in the stock photos, but they are lightly foam padded. The padding is actually quite rigid in that the cups don’t collapse or fold easily. Also, the padding feels more substantial on the body than when it’s hanging on the rack, forcing my boobs to conform to it like a molded bra.
Apologies for the lack of front views on these fit photos. The bralettes really lacked the center coverage as well as support that I would need to pull off this look. Plus I have had some creepers recently that have made me questions whether I want to include fit photos in future posts at all. I hope you’ll understand.
This angled view is the best I could do to show some approximation of how they look when fitting okay, given that both of these bralettes were a poor fit on me. I need to unpack this a little bit, though, because I don’t think it’s fair to hold bralettes to the same standards as underwired bras when it comes to “fit”.
One reason they didn’t work for me is that I am petite. The cups were too tall and too wide set for my frame. It was therefore a body incompatibility as much as a bra size thing; and I do believe that this style would be much more forgiving for someone with firmer or more self-supporting tissue and certainly the Medium is more adequately sized for a ~32E-34DD. As predicted, the plunging necklines couldn’t contain my center fullness.
The band on the black bralette was loose, but in a comfortable, acceptable-for-lounging sort of way. However, being short with pendulous breasts requiring lift, I had to tighten the thin shoulder straps nearly as far as they would go. Combined with the cups being so tall, they kind of just swallowed up my chest, but above the apex they were empty and if I moved too quickly, my boobs spilled out of the middle.
What I disliked the most about the black one was that the molded cups defaulted to a very east-west position. The cup apices were nearly below my armpits. It added bulk and made me feel wide, which I didn’t expect from a bralette. On the plus side, I think the detail on the band is really nice.
I was expecting the gray bralette to be basically the same. However, the band on that one was extremely loose on me. It literally wasn’t even touching my body. The cups gave a better profile that was less east-west, but again I had zero support. The cups were really tall, reaching just shy of my collar bone, and the top half of each cup was empty space. I had to tighten the straps all the way to approximate some sort of lift. Again, self-supporting breasts or firmer tissue will fare better here. And it is probably more designed for a 34-36 band, in which case I am sure the fit proportions would improve dramatically. A size small wouldn’t have contained my boobs at all, unfortunately.
Oysho activewear: leggings mini review
I ended up not trying on the sports bra that got me in the door: a jungle print racerback sports bra with a mesh overlay. It looked super cute on the mannequin, but I could tell the M would be too loose in the band and the S probably too small in the cup. On closer inspection, the interior of the bra also had no separation of cups. It’s just a standard compression bra. Since my boobs have a tendency to slip to the center, I didn’t bother trying it. Given that old season Panache Sports bras can be found on sale at around the same price, the only reason to go for this bra is the fun print and to get the matching outfit.
I did try on some leggings and I have to say that the activewear range is where I was most impressed with the quality from Oysho. Design-wise, they have just a little bit of a unique flare from the usual, like tops with a bold overlay and punchy abstract prints. Similar items at places like Victoria’s Secret or Lululemon would cost much more. Most pieces coordinate well together within and across their collections. Another bonus is that you can see the items on a range of skin tones on their website, which is nice. (Body types, not so much.)
I was super happy to find that the leggings are made really well. When I buy serious workout clothes that I’m going to wear a lot, I don’t want them to be flimsy. The leggings are made from a thick, smooth material with a sleek, sporty finish perfect for minimizing friction. I felt right away like they would hold up for a long time.
In terms of sizing, the size M leggings fit very snugly on my legs and butt (as per the stock photos), but the waist was too big and gaped a lot. I’m used to the legs being a little baggy on me when I size up to a M for comfort, so that was surprising. Another feature that I don’t see often with leggings was a drawstring at the waist. A lot of their leggings have this. I prefer flat seams and a low profile waistband to the added bulk of a drawstring tucked in there. The drawstring should have helped with the waist being loose, but it didn’t improve the comfort for me. To be fair, being hourglassy and petite with thicker legs and curvy hips, waist gap is a regular problem for me with pants. I’d gladly shop for workout clothes at Oysho again to find a better fit.
Oysho also has an international website (no shipping available for USA).
Remains of the day
After Women’s Secret and Oysho, I had a wander around and popped into a few different clothing stores and boutiques. Lots of strappy triangle bralettes, but nothing especially noteworthy. I also discovered a tiny Intimissimi, the Italian lingerie store that is part of the same group as Calzedonia. Again there were tiny lacy things galore. I knew I was out of their size range for bras, but did want to have a look at their sleepwear. Unfortunately I got there just as they were about to close for 3 hours (!) for lunch. Spain, remember?
I took a diversion to browse the local fruit and veg market before going back to work. Then, well into the 3-hour siesta, I stumbled upon this local boutique advertising cup sizes up to J! There was plenty of swimwear in the window. Alas, they were closed.
I’m sad that I didn’t get to stay in Spain longer. That said, I had a fun time “high street” shopping and bra-hunting. There weren’t any show-stopping pieces to swoon over, but, on the plus side, there are some glimmers of fuller bust sizes to be found if you search them out. For that reason, I’m still going to consider this post a Part I of a series that I intend to finish up the next time I’m in Spain.
This post was admittedly a bit long, even by my standards. Let me know in the comments if you like this kind of shopping post and would read more summaries from my travels!
For an even more comprehensive guide to high street lingerie in Spain, check out this post over at Esty Lingerie, one of my favorite blogs.