Plus Size Bra Shopping: The Good and The Bad of Lane Bryant

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A current item on Lane Bryant’s website.

Lane Bryant’s Cacique line of undergarments is a mainstay amongst plus size shoppers. They’ve largely been unchallenged as a primary source of bras in particular because they are the most well known and universally available. My first fully fledged bra came from Lane Bryant many many years ago and I remained a loyal customer through significant changes in band and cup size. Now, at a 44/46 DD, I continue to shop there, and I’m not entirely sure why.



Over the years, despite the fact that Lane Bryant could be considered an institution in the realm of plus size bra shopping, I’ve become extremely disillusioned with the Cacique brand. It took some time on my part, but I’ve nailed down the things that present the most problems for me.

ad for a 2012 sale

Ad for a sale in 2012.

2016

The same bra sold, unchanged, in 2016.

The styles have largely remained the same. Cacique hasn’t followed many of the trends and the vast majority of bras remain the same from season to season with minor changes in color or print. The exception to this rule seems to be the brand’s undying devotion to all things cage bra and strappy detail, which isn’t entirely unappealing, but it would be nice to see more diversity in the brand’s offerings. I rarely see any innovation in construction or styles outside of back smoothing or cooling technology.

Lane Bryant has the potential to offer plus size customers, especially those in higher band sizes that are frequently ignored even by full bust lines, stylish designs in new shapes that reflect the shifting nature of the lingerie industry. But rather than make advancements on the actual style or primary function of a bra, the brand has instead decided to mostly focus on making plus sized bra shoppers minimize their back fat. 

torrid bralette

One of Torrid’s many plus-size bralettes.

sporty underwear

Calvin Klein Brief and Bra set, a sporty style nigh-impossible to find in plus.

For example, Cacique could easily introduce a bralette, a style that is becoming increasingly available in plus sizes. Cacique could seize the opportunity to introduce trends that are almost impossible to find in plus, like sportier styles. The failure to innovate results in a lack of new and exciting options every season.

Frequent lack of availability in larger band sizes. My primary reason for sticking with Cacique for as long as I have is a simple one. A 46 band isn’t the most widely available, even among lines that are considered plus-sized bra lines. I admit, part of Cacique’s appeal is the relative breadth of selection, especially when compared to other retailers.

For example, filtering the results at Macy’s to show bras only in a 46 band size takes me from almost 900 bras to 20. The same filter at Nordstrom takes me from 915 options to 7. Amazon’s vast selection of over 2,000 bras goes to 118. A 46DD filter at Kohl’s takes me from 927 to 106 options and the same filter at target takes me from just over 1,000 options to 21. Even Torrid’s selection is cut nearly in half once the 46DD filter is applied. 

macys

Highly representative of the level of availability and aesthetic of wider band options, not only at Macys, but many retailers.

120 out of 135

When filtered by band size on Lane Bryant’s website, 120 out of 135 total options come up as available in a 46 band.

Most frustratingly, almost all of the bras available in this size at every retailer are the same type of neutral, full coverage bra that is incredibly unappealing, especially held up against bras in smaller band sizes. Lane Bryant offers several, but not all, of their bras in this band size. Unfortunately, this size is frequently sold out. I’m unsure why this happens as I check the website often and newer items are often completely unavailable in a 46DD. I also notice that only the most basic styles are available in the 50 band size.

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One example of an inaccurate result when filtering by size.

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A newly available bra not available in larger band sizes that displays as a filtered result for a 46 band.

Poor website design. Lane Bryant’s website is frequently buggy and most annoyingly of all, the search by size function consistently produces results that aren’t available in the size I searched for. I’m not interested in viewing bras that aren’t available in my size. 

Questionable quality. The bras don’t seem to hold up well and while they aren’t the most expensive items, I have reasonable expectations that a bra that starts at $50.00 should hold up at least a few months. I consistently have issues with straps breaking and foam cups becoming misshapen, even with hand washing. I could very easily recommend a bra, albeit one with a smaller size range, that’s just as good as anything I’ve purchased from Cacique for roughly half the price.

Online Shopping Required. I don’t particularly love that I have to shop for bras online, but apparently, I’m sized out of the in-store experience, even at Lane Bryant. I’ve been told at multiple locations that band sizes over a 44 are generally not sold in stores. While I’m readily aware of what may be best business practices, it isn’t exactly ideal to be sized out of a specialty store that’s intended to serve you.

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Image from Lane Bryant’s Cacique line.

Questionable Advertising. This last negative point is purely subjective, but I’m absolutely put off by Lane Bryant’s advertising choices. The #ImNoAngel, #PlusIsEqual and #ThisBody campaigns are clearly the result of mining the same radical fat activism they once mocked.  Their insistence on co-opting and watering down the work of radical fat activists to celebrate a very specific and narrow representation of “real women” (ugh) is incredibly disappointing.

Much has been written about brands capitalizing on a watered down body positivity rhetoric and Lane Bryant, especially in it’s handling of their bra ads are one of the worst offenders. Additionally, I fail to understand Lane Bryant’s refusal to diversify their model selections. All of Lane Bryant’s models are women who represent a very narrow representation of plus size bodies. Seeing bras on women who are larger than a 14 or aren’t hourglass or pear shape would be more meaningful and in-line with their seeming desire to change the narrative around plus size bodies.

Regardless of how you feel about Aerie’s actions elsewhere, they’ve made strides in hiring models that come closer to representing the full spectrum of the brand’s available sizing. Lane Bryant has publicly bristled at inquiries about the refusal to represent their full size chart in editorial campaigns and product shots. Additionally, almost every model currently wearing a Cacique bra is either white or a very light skinned/white passing woman of color. The brand’s social media also seems to present a slight fixation on prioritizing the “voices” of their models, rather than a celebration of their actual customers.

While this may seem overwhelmingly negative, I can admit that Cacique has done a few things correctly and it does give hope.

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Cacique’s Strapless Bra in French Almond

brownbra

Photo taken in store

More than one “nude.” I was recently in a store picking up a few pairs of high-waisted briefs (I do wish there were more of these in addition to the many bikinis and hipsters), and I saw a brown strapless bra and matching knicker alongside what is traditionally sold as “nude” in Lane Bryant. I appreciate even the slightest acknowledgement that there are many colors of skin in need of flesh-toned underwear.

Band sizing. Although I take issue with the actual availability of the larger band sizes, I do appreciate that Cacique carries band sizes up to 50. There’s a great deal of focus on larger cup sizes, and that is an important issue, but I think it’s important to realize there’s not enough available on the larger end of the spectrum in the context of band sizes.

wirefreebra

The author in a rare find at Cacique – A stylish wire-free bra.

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A fun geometric lace bra & knicker set from Cacique.

The occasional find. The vast majority of the offerings are uninspired, but there are definitely a few standout items. I appreciate the unlined sheer cup bras and the more stylish wire-free options. This longline bra is an example of an item that feels really fresh and fun. I also snapped up several pairs of these briefs.

Overall, I’m incredibly disappointed in what Lane Bryant is doing, especially with the Cacique line, but I’m simultaneously appreciative that this has forced me to seek out new options that are more pleasing for me as a consumer. I’m so excited to share the new options I’ll be exploring as a regular columnist for The Lingerie Addict. I’ll definitely be sharing the ups and downs of venturing outside my comfort zone from a shopping and style perspective as well as highlighting some of the amazing options that are available.

What do you think of Lane Bryant? Are you pleased with their product offerings and marketing choices? What, if anything, do you think Cacique needs to do to change?

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19 Comments on this post

  1. Nikki says:

    I haven’t been able to buy a Cacique bra in years. I wear a 48C. They OCCASIONALLY have a black bra or “nude” bra in my size. OCCASIONALLY. But I already have 3 black bras that I like significantly better from Torrid. So I shrug and resume browsing Torrid’s website. Don’t want my money, Lane Bryant? I won’t bother.

  2. Jen says:

    I agree about the bras but I have a bigger great with the undies it seems like they have really gone down hill and quality over the last year I buy a pair and within days it starts to fray on the seams and they’re too expensive for that to happen

  3. Jacqueline says:

    I so agree with you! I’m glad I have some place to go for plus bras but they cater to the smaller plusses, and that is frustrating. I want matching bras and panties, but the bigger you get the more neutral they move you. Why would they think that because you are a DDD you only want nude, full coverage granny bras?!

  4. Mandy Flatman says:

    Well ladies I have been struggling with bras myself. I’m a 42 H and Lane Bryant selection is slim for my size. If I can find one I like it a boring color. I want sassy! My biggest complaint is the underwrites never hold up. They always snap on me. I’ve been stabbed many times. I never dry my bras but they still seem to break. ( what are they made out of ? Pipe cleaners) . They definitely need to redo the construction on them. I wish we could be on a consulting panel. Real woman with real bra problems!

    • mh says:

      Mandy, in my experience the most common reason why wires snap is when the person inside the bra is wearing a less than ideal size, usually too small. An acquaintance of mine used to wear 42F and the wires constantly snapped on her, turns out she needs UK 42HH in Elomi or Panache Sculptresse or US 42L in Goddess and Elila. She had not had a wire break since making the switch in sizes. My educated guess says you are probably closer to a UK 42J/JJ or US 42M/N or thereabouts. Check out Goddess, Elomi, Panache Sculptresse, PourMoi?, Silhouette and Ewa Michalak.

  5. Gail says:

    I’m highly disappointed that they changed their strapless bra set. They added padding-as a I’m a 38dd… I don’t need extra padding. They got rid of the 6-in-1-bra which was my favorite. I had to spend hours trying on every bra type. I picked one and then get home and wore for one day of work. I was constantly have Quatro boob and the straps would never stay in place. So done with LB for everything…

  6. Tara says:

    Staying with the “questionable advertising” theme here, did anyone else notice that the red bra pictured with “poor website design” is called “Chinese red”??? I’m not trying to derail the main topic of Cacique quality, but oh my god, you really cannot escape Orientalist fetishization anywhere in lingerie, can you?

  7. Camielle says:

    I’ve sworn by Cacique bras for years but this year I was really pissed off come Semi-Annual sale. I had the benefit of living in Columbus, OH (where Lane Bryant is headquartered), and I NEVER had issues finding anything in their Easton store. Now that I’ve moved to a different store (less than 1/4 the size of the one I’m used to shopping in), I can never find anything. I could barely find anything online that I liked and when I did, I had to search separately for matching panties. I eventually gave up, super frustrated. I NEED new bras, I’ve had these over 3 years, but I’m so irritated. I’m going to try a few of the other sites you listed and see if that works out.

  8. Amber Hagemann says:

    Can’t agree more. I used to love buying their bras. Now even with hand washing they don’t seem to last more than six months. The straps have gotten so skinny they are so uncomfortable. I cringe at the thought of looking for a new company for bras. So dissapointed.

  9. Kristie says:

    I totally agree with you. I’m a 50 band and the only cacique bras I can find are full coverage basic nude or black. That being said, I decided this year that I’m done with LB. Yhey don’t represent what I stand for and when I very casually mentioned in one of their FB posts that I’d love to see more body diversity in their ads, their social medial person got very passive aggressive with me. With more and more plus sized options, I’d rather do the work and find brands I believe in than stay loyal to a brand that certainly does not think of me when advertising or stocking their stores.

  10. S. Johnson says:

    Completely agree. I am a 46 maybe even a 48 now B or C I struggle to find my size anywhere but Lane Byrant. I would like to be able to find cute bras and lingerie elsewhere.

  11. DDtop says:

    Hi As a guy that’s grown! i found many in those sizes as was 46D now 42G/44F cup but i never buy store bra’s stick to main brands as store ones are made to a price!(normally cheap)Look up Elomi/Goddess do those sizes and fit well but also Premier brands like Empreinte and Prima Donna do large sizes plus you have the power in your pocket as they understand $/£’s so if you don’t buy they have to change or go bust!
    I buy quality for support(get painful/sore) found many that work for me as having P tumor plus Fibro causes issues if not looked after.
    Elomi Kate/Caitlyn or EL3911 are good in those sizes both have others off that style like Raquel etc mind if was in Uk could sort you a shed load out in 44/46 D/DD/E many not worn or only tried on even.
    Learn’t a lot about bra’s/fits/styles etc over the last few years mind Asperger’s gives you a great in sight to things.
    Im on twitter too DDtopX

  12. jess says:

    They’ve never carried my cup size, so while I do buy their panties, I have never been able to buy their bras, which is differently frustrating.

  13. Constance Briggs says:

    I too have recently shopped the Caique line with Lane Bryant and overall I am disappointed in the limitations in styles and sizes as 46DD I rely upon LB for nice sexy bras that provide coverage and lift and lately it seems I can only get one or the other not both in the LB selections

  14. Constance Pearce says:

    I agree with what you wrote. I am disappointed in the style choices for women my size which is also sized out in the store. I just find that hard to believe that it’s not profitable enough for in store.

  15. MM says:

    I have to stand up for LB bras.
    I ONLY and ONLY purchase my bras from them ,despite of the price which gets pretty high when I don’t have a coupon.
    However. I wear these bras for years.
    I only can buy 100% cotton and can not stand the wide bands in between cups,also I need the support … The only brand carries cotton bras like that is LB.
    I’m very happy with this brand and that they are reliable and keeping “my bras” on the shelves.
    I have tried many other brand and none are as comfy as these. So with that,find your own store ,own style. I’m sure it’s out there. It might not be at LB but it worth to try.

  16. Thursday says:

    This article is really quite timely as it was only the other day that I was thinking I haven’t purchased a Cacique bra for quite some time. I have come to the conclusion that it’s due to the lack of options in my size – as a 40B, I was constantly being disappointed that pretty much only two core styles were ever offered, and rarely even in a new colourway. If I’m looking for anything other than a thickly padded t-shirt bra, I won’t get it from them. And the shoddy size filter function only compounds the problem – why show me a bunch of more interesting styles that don’t come in my size? It definitely contributed to me no longer shopping with them. I also found that as an overseas shopper, when I tried to shop directly with Lane Bryant, the prices I was forced to pay were exorbitantly higher than the exchange rate should have dictated. Definitely something untoward happening there.
    I’ve pretty much replaced Cacique with Marks & Spencer as my go-to brand – while my options are still mostly basic, at least there’s the occasional unpadded or unusual style. Cacique would never have offered a style this interesting in my size! https://www.marksandspencerlondon.com/au/placement-embroidered-padded-balcony-bra-b-d-with-cool-comfort%E2%84%A2-technology/p/P22441759.html?dwvar_P22441759_color=F4

  17. Lissa says:

    My biggest frustration with Lane Bryant’s bras is that no matter how many times I am sized in the store the 44DD bras never fit properly. Cups are too small, wires dig into the sides of my breasts. Then I change band widths and cup sizes and cannot find a comfortable, flattering fit and without proper support, the straps dig into my shoulders. I’ve given up on them all together.

  18. Donette cardinal says:

    I think they are missing the mark on smaller chested plus size women as well. I am a 42A maybe B. They do not carry an A so I get a B and can only full 1/2 the cup. I have tried extenders and regular sized bras, I just find them uncomfortable.

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