How to Buy Bras Internationally (When You Live in the US)
More US consumers are choosing to buy bras internationally than ever before. A few years ago, buying bras from around the world online was mostly something people talked about in the full bust bra fit community. Certain Polish companies were the only choices for the more extreme end of the small band/large cup spectrum, and lots of full busted shoppers just liked the international options better. As the internet becomes more of a shopping resource and more communities pop up dedicated to bras, even once-reticent customers are beginning to explore international brands.
Despite these resources, buying a gorgeous bra from another country can still be a scary and confusing process. How do you figure out sizing? What is VAT? What if it doesn't fit? How do you pay if they don't take Paypal? Today I'm going to give you some tips and tricks to navigate buying bras internationally, as well as some resources and communities that you should check out if you want to start the process.
Some Things To Know Before You Buy:
Your size in both inches and cm:
You may know your basic bra size (make sure you know it in both US and UK sizes) but make sure you also know your measurements in both inches and centimeters as well. This will be critical if you want to buy matching panties, but can also be helpful if you have to ask questions about sizing.
Not everyone speaks English, so keep your questions short and simple:
If you do want to ask questions before you get ready to purchase something, many companies will work with you. Be aware that most company workers in non-English speaking companies don't have fluent English language skills, so keep your emails restricted to something Google can translate easily. When in doubt, send measurements in centimeters rather than inches.
Find Out How To Pay:
Some companies do sell to the US, but either aren't e-commerce equipped outside Europe or only use a payment service like DotPay. Lots of these companies will sell you a bra, but you'll need to email them first so they can arrange a separate Paypal invoice instead of going through their website.
Use Online Communities to Figure Out Sizing:
We'll touch on this in more detail in the resources section, but I wanted to make a note of it here too. Like other bra brands, no two international brands size the same way. Search Google for brand reviews and sizing notes and check the various communities listed at the end of this section to learn more about each company's sizing.
Where To Go For More Information and Sizing Help:
There are honestly tons of communities out there now that can help with this, but here are two of the easiest places to start:
The Money Stuff:
US-Based Buyers Don't Pay VAT:
VAT is simply a sales tax that the end buyer pays. In Europe, it's built into the price of the item. If you're a US buyer, it doesn't apply to you. This means your bra is actually cheaper than the listed price (unless a site has e-commerce and specifically lists both VAT and non-VAT prices, but that's rare), so yay! Make sure you get an itemized listing of the fees you're paying, as some international companies have charged a hidden combination of VAT + Paypal fees + shipping to US-based customers.
Customs Fees Start Around $200:
It's common to band together with other lingerie lovers to save money on shipping, but be aware that any order over about $200 can be subject to customs fees. Depending on how much you order, that can negate any savings you'd get on a group order. When in doubt, split up any orders over $200 to avoid customs fees (even if you're ordering as part of a group).
If This All Seems Scary and Complicated And You Want To Buy an International Bra in the US:
International Bras Are More Expensive Once They're Imported:
Don't expect that gorgeous $40 bra you see listed on a Polish site to cost the same once it's imported to a US retailer. Paying higher prices in the US can also mean the ability to return a bra easily if it doesn't fit, so depending on your priorities it can be worth it.
Try At A Lower Price Point Through A Swap/Sell Community:
Lots of people find selling bras in swap/sell communities easier than paying to return them, so you may be able to snag a great bra in your size brand new. If you're willing to take a slightly used bra, you can pay a much lower price to try one out in your size so you don't have to take chances on that international order.
Some US Retailers Are Selling International Brands Now
While it's still hard to access international bra brands in the US, it's no longer impossible. Here are a list of my favorite places to check, as well as the brands they specialize in.
- A Sophisticated Pair: Comexim, both basics and fashion bras.
- Zulily: Kris Line
- Wellfitting: Comexim
- Brastop (UK site): Sells a wide range of international brands, as well as loungewear and swimwear by the same companies.
Do you feel ready to buy an international bra now? Have you bought one in the past? Do you have any tips to add to this list?