“ Find more than lingerie; night wear, swim wear, bridal wear and hoisery. „
As someone who suffers with a back problem following a non-fault car accident over 6 years ago, I am forever reading articles that offer me advice to help manage my pain. During one of my many sessions of physiotherapy immediately following the accident, I was advised of the importance of being measured for a new bra, particularly as those that are ill-fitting can often cause back problems. I followed the advice I was given at the time by heading for Marks and Spencer. However, I was becoming increasingly frustrated by their lack of choice in respect of pretty bras and following a recommendation by a friend earlier this year, I visited a Leia Boutique in Cardiff.
WHY SHOULD I HAVE A BRA FITTING?
There are various articles floating around the internet where it is estimated that up to 80% of women are not wearing the correct size bra. Consequently, there are a number of associated problems and according to the British School of Osteopathy this can result with stress being placed on the bones and muscles, which can subsequently lead to breathing difficulties. In addition, wearing an ill fitting bra can cause significant back pain, as I learned that the trapezius muscle, which connects the shoulder to the neck, can become tight, as it is works hard to take the weight of the breasts. Consequently, shoulder, back and neck pain can occur.
An ill-fitting bra can cause extreme discomfort and often welts will appear in the shoulders, which will become sore due to the straps digging into the skin as they cannot support the weight of the breasts. Extra boob syndrome, as I like to call it reminds me of a work colleague of mine from years ago who was rather a large lady who had additional boobs sprouting from every direction! In addition, a bra that is too tight can cause skin problems due to the hooks digging in at the back or the strap rising up the back. I have also found that my bra size changes from one brand to the next with different fabrics making a huge difference. Being fitted for a bra is free, takes just minutes and can make you feel much more comfortable and confident, so let me tell you about my experience with visiting the Leia Boutique in Cardiff.
VISITING THE LEIA BOUTIQUE
The outside of the boutique was visually appealing and the first point I noticed when walking inside was that there was plenty of room to browse and whilst the boutique wasn't huge, there was a huge choice of lingerie on display without there being any clutter. A point I favour in respect of lingerie is that my bras and briefs are matching and there were so many choices. The boutique offers sufficient lighting and there is no blasting music, which is a big grumble of mine and will prevent me from stepping inside a store. I was approached by a friendly member of staff within seconds of entering the boutique and was given a warm welcome. I advised that I had received a recommendation from a friend and required a bra fitting and I was ushered to the back of the boutique into a sufficiently sized changing cubicle, which housed a long mirror on the rear wall. As there was no door with my only privacy being a curtain, I was initially a little apprehensive about stripping off my clothes, particularly as there was a visitor's chair situated directly outside. As my husband decided to sit on the chair this wasn't an issue for me, but I must admit that I would be a little concerned if I was visiting the boutique on my own. I would point out at this stage of my review that all staff members at the Leia Boutique are female.
The assistant asked me a few questions such as the bra size I was wearing at that time and my preferred styles and she requested I remove my top so that she could take a look at the fitting of the bra that I was wearing. I was surprised that a tape measure wasn't used and that the assistant calculated my size solely by sight. A few different sizes were suggested and the assistant disappeared from the cubicle for a few minutes and returned with a small selection. She then advised me to remove my bra, which further surprised me a little, particularly as she was still in the cubicle and when I have been fitted in other stores the assistant had left the cubicle and passed the bras around a partially opened door. However, I cannot admit to being deterred by this at all. I tried on the first bra, but the sizing wasn't quite right, but the second bra fitted perfectly and I was amazed at how the assistant had got it right simply by looking at me wearing my current bra.
She made a few alterations to the bra that fitted me where she moved the straps so that it offered a comfortable fit and she advised me to replace my top to look at my appearance. I was well impressed with her choice of bra and I handed her those that I wished to purchase and she left the cubicle to enable me to get dressed and to prepare my items. When I arrived at the counter my bras were neatly packed in tissue paper and as bags in Wales are subject to a 5p levy there was no pretty boutique bag for me. As Leia operate a rewards scheme I was presented with a card, which received a stamp for every £30 I had spent and when I reach 9 stamps I am entitled to choose a free bra regardless of price. In addition, Leia presented me with a card, which entitles me to receive a £10 gift voucher if I recommend a friend to one of the high street boutiques. I was advised that if I required a bra and they didn't have my size in stock they would order it for me, which would involve a 7 - 10 working day wait.
The bra could either be sent to my home for a £3 postage and packing charge or I could pick up from the boutique free of charge. I simply cannot fault the customer service and the bra fitting experience. The assistant was attentive and answered any questions that I asked and I left the boutique feeling like a valued customer, which is something that is very much missing from many of the high street stores today. I have returned to the boutique on a further occasion and have experienced the same level of customer service and would definitely recommend. Whilst I have not made purchases from any of these areas I would advise that the boutique offers a wide range of lingerie for nursing mothers, swimwear and for brides. The bra sizes range from 28" to 48" with cup sizes ranging from A to JJ with briefs ranging from small to extra large.
MY ON-LINE EXPERIENCE
Whilst I make many online purchases these days, particularly as I find it far more convenient than visiting the high street, I wouldn't previously have opted to purchase lingerie. However, after studying the frequently asked questions section including the returns policy where I learned that I could return any unworn item free of charge using the returns label that would accompany my items I decided to go ahead. If I open a website and find it difficult to read or start to struggle with navigation I immediately close it down and proceed no further. However, my initial impressions were good as the home page was visually appealing and offered an easy to read good size text. Navigation was simple and the pages uploaded extremely quickly, so there was no impatient waiting for the pages to appear. The colourful images of all the items are of a high quality and enabled me to fully see the lingerie to enable me to make an informed choice. The site offers an array of filters to enable a more detailed search to be carried out, eg I was able to select the category bras, size and colour, so all that were available to be were on just a few screens. Each of the items are accompanied by full descriptions as opposed to just a few lines of text and it is evident that careful consideration has been put into the website to make it as user friendly as possible.
I regularly search the outlet section, which offers up to 70% discount on many products and I recently purchased some bras at a fabulous price. However, the items sell out very quickly, so I have found that there's no time to dither and if I see something I like I need to purchase it straight away. Communication is of a high quality as is the entire ordering process as there are clear directions on how to place an order and the various methods of secure payment. The entire ordering process takes me just a few minutes and within seconds I receive an automated email thanking me for my purchase together with a breakdown of the items I have ordered. There is a small charge for delivery on purchases under £75 and if my memory serves me correct I paid around £3. My first purchase was made at 9.45 pm on a Sunday and I was absolutely amazed to receive an email the following morning advising that my items had been despatched. I would point out that all items are sent first class recorded delivery, which could be an issue for some people, particularly if they are not at home during the day and their sorting office is not particularly local.
When arriving home from work on the following Tuesday I was amazed to discover that my husband had signed for my package and once again I was thrilled with the high standard of customer service. I cannot fault their delivery process and I had honestly not expected to receive my items so soon, particularly as I had placed my order on a Sunday night. I have since made one further online order and received the same high standard of service and I would not hesitate in making a recommendation. The only downside with ordering online is that you do not receive any loyalty stamps, which is a little disappointing although Leia are currently looking into this matter. I cannot speak of my experience with contacting customer services or the returns process as I have not needed to use either. However, judging by my experience so far, I would not anticipate there being any problems.
Whilst I feel that the starting price of around £24 for bras is reasonable, the briefs range from £13.50, which I think is a little excessive. My purchases have resulted in me paying around £33 for a bra, which despite being expensive, I am receiving value for money as the items are made to such a high standard and provide me with the appropriate level of support.
WHAT DID I THINK OF THE LINGERIE?
I am absolutely delighted with all of my purchases, which are made to a high quality standard and despite having numerous hand washes they look as good now as the day I purchased them. I would point out that I wash my bras by hand as despite labels advising not to place in the washing machine, I have ignored this instruction in the past, which resulted in the underwire coming loose and wedging itself in the drum. I have purchased some very pretty bras; one of which has a little pearl hanging from the centre and it still remains perfectly intact. The lingerie is extremely comfortable and fits perfectly and I cannot every see me making purchases elsewhere now that I have discovered Leia.
WHERE CAN I FIND A LEIA BOUTIQUE?
According to the website there are only three Leia Boutiques situated around the country - The Hayes, Cardiff, Upper Guide Hall, Bluewater and Spurriergate, York.
I cannot recommend Leia highly enough and for the reasons discussed above, they receive a five star rating from me.
I hope you found my review useful and thanks for reading.
Leia is a lingerie store that is available both online at www.leialingerie.com or at 6 retail outlets in the UK (including an outlet store).
The store specializes in lingerie, underwear, hosiery, bridalwear and swimwear. The store offers a range of cup sizes (A to K) and back sizes (28 inches to 48 inches) for underwear.
Swimwear is available all year round up to HH cups. The bikini tops, tankini tops and bottoms are all sized separately to ensure a good fit.
The site and store offer a range of brands.
I have visited the store in Bluewater on several occasions. The staff are extremely helpful and are all trained to measure to make sure that you purchase the correct size. The staff have a lot of experience and in many cases are able to determine sizes by eye.
Once fitted you are given a card with your correct size, so you can remember your size for future reference.
The store offers a loyalty card, giving a stamp for each £30 spent. Although that sounds a lot and the bras are more expensive than somewhere like M&S or La Senza, the fit and support of the bras are far better for bigger boobs!
Unworn bras can be returned within 28 days for store credit.
Standard delivery on the website costs £3 (3 to 5 working days delivery) or next day for £6. Orders over £100 are delivered free of charge (standard rate). The online service is equally as good as the store service, however I much prefer going into the store to ensure I get the right fit and correct bra.
Overall I would definitely recommend using this store for lingerie purchases. The staff are very knowledgeable and friendly.