Instagram convinced me to buy this bra—here’s what happened
With ThirdLove's 'perfect fit' guarantee and legions of happy customers, I had high hopes.
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Anyone who wears a bra knows the pain of trying to find one that's the right fit for your body, style, and budget. As a former women’s magazine editor, I've covered the search professionally. I know that too many people wear ill-fitting bras, squeezing and adjusting themselves into the only sizes available or affordable. Personally, I’ve been assessed by multiple professional bra fitters, and been told, yup, I was wearing the wrong size (32C), and that my true, more atypical one (30D) was only available in high-priced luxury brands—conveniently sold in their shops and never at my beloved Marshall’s. At some point, I gave up trying to find a “real” bra (e.g., one with hooks and underwires) that fit and felt good, instead opting to wear pullover sports-bra-like bralettes. As a result, the items in my dresser are more comfortable and affordable, but never quite as pretty or fun.
So when I started to notice ThirdLove ads populating my social media accounts, with promises of “beauty meets comfort” and a fit guarantee, I was intrigued. Sure, the bras come at a premium-to-me price—most styles start at $68 each—but the company has a 60-day return policy, even on bras you've worn and washed. Seemed like it was worth a try.
What makes ThirdLove's bras different?
The main claim the company makes is its wider-than-most size range and commitment to helping customers find a perfect fit. Typically, bras come in band sizes from about 32 to 40, and cups from A to E. ThirdLove makes band sizes ranging from 30 to 48 and A to I, with some half-cup sizes (from A½ to E½) interspersed among band sizes 30 to 40. From a manufacturing standpoint, the offerings make sense: Band size and cup size is inversely proportional, so a 34B would have the same cups as a 32C and a 36A. But to the same point, not all combinations are available—far from it. By my perusal, cup size I only comes in 38 band size, for example (again, that would be an H cup in band size 40, a G in 42, an F in 44, all of which they also offer). The The same missing sizes occur on the smaller end, too: There's no 30A, 30B, or 32A, and while it suggests 28 as a possible band size when you do the survey, ThirdLove doesn't currently make size 28. When you search by the outlier sizes on both ends of the spectrum, its seamless lounge bra—a soft-cup pullover bra—comes up, which, to me, doesn't count.
Still, the offerings are much broader than many bra companies, and the return and exchange policy is generous: On regular purchases, you have 60 days (including wearing and washing) to decide if a bra works for you. If it doesn't, they'll send you a free shipping label and donate the worn bras to charity. ThirdLove also offer "try before you buy" in which you pay $5 shipping and get 30 days' trial before the balance is due. By my analysis, that program is only worth it if you want one bra (which wouldn't meet the $75 for free shipping so that would cost you $5 anyway) and you don't want to float the $68 on your credit card while you give it a go—and you don't mind being out $5 if it doesn't work for you. My conclusion: Buy two (which triggered a $15 bulk discount—bonus!) and return or exchange whatever didn't work out.
What’s it like to order a ThirdLove bra?
Rather than relying on customer-taken measurements (which could be fraught with user error), ThirdLove determines your ideal bra size and style based on a survey of about a dozen questions. It asks about your current bra brand, size, and fit to determine if you’re wearing the right size—the company even offers half-cup in-between sizes in many of its bras—and has you compare your breast shape and location to artist renderings to ascertain your best ThirdLove bra style.
Size-wise, those pro fitters were on the mark for me and, being side set, the quiz results recommended I try the 24/7 Classic Contour Plunge Bra. Because of my now years-long aversion to underwire, I opted to give the 24/7 Seamless Stripe Wireless Bra a try, too, though it was not a style suggested for my body type. Total cost of my order (should I love and keep my selections): $121, or $68 each, less $15 with a current promotion for buying two bras at once.
Are ThirdLove bras good quality?
The box containing my bras arrived via Fed Ex in just a couple of days, and I tore into it right away. The bras tucked within the crisp tissue paper seemed well-sewn, comprised of a smooth, silky-feeling microfiber fabric, and thin, supple, memory foam-lined cups—a great start. The mesh overlay on the plunge bra made it appear fancier than the plainer wireless bra, but even the nicest-looking wirefree bras still kind of look like sports bras and this one is no different. As the plunge style was ThirdLove’s primary recommendation for me, I plucked it from the box and put it on.
Do ThirdLove bras fit?
The next thing I noticed in the box: ThirdLove bras come with instructions! The hangtag on my 24/7 Classic Contour Plunge Bra bra told me how to put it on, so I dutifully clipped it around me on the loosest hook. Indeed, the band felt snug but not binding on that notch—so far, so good.
Next, I “gather[ed] each breast into the cups,” and this is where things started to go, er, haywire. While overall the cups fit with no gapping (to indicate they were too large) or double-bubbling (too small), the underwires felt very narrow, width-wise. Within minutes, the outer edges dented into the sides of my breasts. Removing the small cutlet pushup pads, which took up some space in the cups, didn’t seem to remedy the problem. The breast shape this bra created also struck me as odd: Before I removed the pads, you could see their outline through my tank top, creating an under-breast bulge that looked unnatural to me. Without the pads, the cup shape under my shirt looked pointier than I’d like, which I attributed to the too-narrow wires that prevented my breasts from settling into the cups—in fact, after wearing the bra for a few hours, the cup material had noticeable creases above the wires where it had crunched down to support me.
The 24/7 Seamless Stripe Wireless Bra fared better, fit-wise, if only because, without wire, its cups are more amorphous and forgiving. My main complaint, with regard to the fit, was how much body real estate the bra covered. There’s so much bra that the edges peeked out on the sides under my tank top. I noticed the cup material here, too, tended to crunch down on top of itself under my breasts, but I didn’t find this to be uncomfortable. On account of the more forgiving fit, I wondered if going down a cup size might solve both problems.
Does ThirdLove have good customer service?
Because I was not “100% happy” with my selections, I took to the website to chat with a “fit stylist.” (The company also offers customer service phone numbers to call or text and an email address to write to, if you prefer.)
I explained the issues clearly (or so I thought), but the customer service rep still had to go through her scripted list of questions to determine first if I had the right size. Once she was confident the fit was not the problem with the plunge bra (though I thought maybe the narrow underwire could be a fit issue), she suggested I try an alternative style, the 24/7 Classic T-Shirt Bra. She asserted that the size wasn’t the issue with the wireless bra, either, but as she was going to ship me a new bra anyway, I requested the next cup size down of that one be sent my way, too.
Upon completion of the chat, a return label for the no-good bras and shipping confirmation of the new ones arrived in my email. Speaking of, email is probably my own major complaint about working with the company: In 28 days, I received 30 marketing emails alone—not including the ones related to my orders. But all told, yes, I’d say ThirdLove has great customer service.
Are ThirdLove bras comfortable?
As you might guess, the plunge bra was not comfortable for me, and I got some angry dents from those ill-fitting underwires.
The replacement 24/7 Classic T-Shirt Bra fit me much better—its wires curve out more widely—and I found it comfortable enough for a day’s wear, though I wouldn’t want to have it on “24/7” (but who wears wires to bed anyway?). This bra is a balconette style, so the straps are quite wide-set, which is great under a shirt with a scoop or square neckline, but no bueno under my tank top, where the crinkly bra straps landed further out on my shoulders than the tank straps could cover. The bra itself would show as well under a low V-neck.
The wireless bra, however, passed my comfort test with flying colors and felt soft enough to sleep in, if you do that sort of thing. Its soft microfiber material is lined with the thinnest memory foam I’ve ever seen, just enough to provide a smooth shape and conceal nipple show-through. It would be great under everything from a thin cotton T-shirt to a bulky sweater—just not under a tank top, unless you’re going for the “yes, I’m wearing a bra” look.
Are ThirdLove bras worth it?
Based on the above, you can probably guess my answer. I tend to be frugal (ah, Marshall’s), though I am willing to pay for quality when it matters—and a really great bra would qualify. For nearly $70 each, these bras set a high value bar for me and they just didn’t clear it.
Still, if even a fraction of their thousands of positive customer reviews are to be believed, ThirdLove bras have some very enthusiastic fans. (Seriously: The T-shirt bra boasts a 4.5-star rating out of 36,798 reviews, as of this writing.) And with that generous return policy, you don’t have much to lose if you want to give ThirdLove a try yourself.
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.