Today we’re talking about returns. And boobs.
I’m surprised that returns don’t get talked about more often in slow fashion spaces. The carbon footprint associated with making a return is significant, and yet people are returning their purchases more than ever. Obviously, the convenience of online shopping and the success of online-only clothing retailers plays a big role in this – it’s hard to know if something is going to look good on you when you can’t physically touch it and try it on in the store, especially if your body type is not well represented on the company’s website and social media.
But the struggle to find the right size really only scratches the surface of the huge number of returns that people make every day. For a lot of people, the initial purchase is so non-committal that they fully expect to return much of what they buy. Watching “haul” videos on YouTube provides a pretty horrifying glimpse into this buy-try-return culture that is so commonplace that even proponents of slow and ethical fashion participate in it.
The most sustainable way to shop online is to choose pieces that you’re 99% confident about keeping in your wardrobe, that way, they’re only taking one road trip across the country in a gas guzzling truck (or series of trucks, more likely). I’m not always perfect at this, but I do try really hard not to make purchases that I think I might send back. I know my measurements, I always, always check the sizing guide, and I try to read as many reviews and find as many photos as possible before buying something. When I have the opportunity to try gifted items, I do basically the same thing.
But it really wasn’t meant to be with this bra.
Everlane released its line of recycled Nylon ReNew “Barely There” bras earlier this month, and I knew that I wanted one as soon as I saw it on the Coming Soon page. I’ve been searching for a good, skin-toned bra to replace my current one for months, and this really looked like it could be “the one.” I like bras that are soft and not stiff in any way, and that don’t have any padding, so the invisible line intrigued me. The bra also goes for a cool $25, which is about all I can realistically pay for a bra right now on my current budget. More sustainable, luxurious products are out there, I know, but the reality is that sometimes financial decisions take priority over sustainability.
(Peep my friend Leah’s recent post for some thoughts on ecological issues associated with recycled polyester)
I should have known when I reviewed the size chart that the ReNew bra wasn’t going to be a winner. I wear a size 32D bra, and there wasn’t any size on the chart that matched up. The small is listed as being appropriate for sizes 34A, 32C, and 34B, and the medium for sizes 34B, 36A, and 34C. D cups don’t even come into play until the size large, and the band was obviously going to be too big for me past a medium.
I went with the medium, thinking that would give me big enough cups and not too-tight of a band. Welp. That’s pretty much the exact opposite of what I got.
The band was really loose, and the cups did that thing where they sort of dig into your boob and make a weird bulge that is super visible through your shirt. For a “barely there” bra, it was VERY there.
There were some really nice things about this bra, though. As the website promises, it is super soft. The straps are adjustable and comfortable, and the seams are basically invisible aside from the unfortunate bulge situation. I like this style of bra a lot because it feels really supportive. I really do wish this one had worked out for me. Everlane, this is my plea to you to please consider adding a wider range of sizes to your bra collections.
p.s. I bought this bra myself with my own money. I am an Everlane affiliate and frequently receive gifted items, but I am also an Everlane addict and frequently buy stuff myself.
My favorite bra is not made ethically or sustainably, but I probably will buy another one because it’s just really good. The Love by Gap plunge bra is so pretty, comfortable, and supportive. I own two in the lacy style, and they recently added a “mesh” version that I think will work better under more sheer tops. It comes in a ton of colors and a better range of sizes, and the price point is very doable for me (between $19-$30, depending on the colorway).
I’m trying to be a little less harsh on myself for making occasional fast fashion purchases, returns, etc., but there is part of me that feels like I AM PERSONALLY DESTROYING THE EARTH when I do. I wonder a lot if the other choices I make in my daily life (like not eating meat and using public transportation) offset the impact of my Amazon bathing suit or my Target leggings or my plastic-packaged convenience foods (I don’t know how to quit you, pop-tarts). There’s probably no good answer to that. My impact on the planet is a lot more complex than just saying I didn’t eat a hamburger this week so it’s fine if I return this bra to the store. We’ve all just gotta make the best choices we can whenever we’re in the position to make them.
This post contains affiliate links.