The intelligent consumer: If the cup fits wear it

Margaret Ann Miles can't see why D-cups should be denied black lace bustiers. Annalisa Barbieri reports

It was a terrifically good ham sandwich and most welcome, packed with a shiny apple in a paper bag. But the offer of a Penguin biscuit was refused. After hours of talking about bras, of feeling qualities of lace, discussing underwiring, thermals, stockings, and good, old-fashioned stays, I was hungry and Margaret Ann, the "underpinnings lady" made sure I didn't go home with a rumbling tummy.

Margaret Ann makes a lot of women happy. Working mostly from home by appointment, she deals in every possible type of underwear, swimwear, nightwear and hosiery in just about any size, sourced from all over the world - from the modern and gorgeous, through serious corsetry, to mastectomy and nursing. Brands include Fantasie, Rigby and Peller, Anita, Jonathan Aston, Felina, Pastunette, Silhouette, Prima Donna, Goddess and, just launched, her own label, which is also available mail order. Oh God, I could go on, but there's not that much space here.

Although Margaret Ann can, and does, cater for the first bra teenager, it is the women who are "too big" to find what they want in conventional stores that invariably seek her out and find they smile again. Despite mankind being able to construct bridges spanning large expanses of water, somehow bras in anything over an E cup are still considered "specialist". When you can find them (and it is getting better, although slowly) it's usually only in white - as though black or, heaven forbid, red, is too naughty for big girls. It's different at Margaret Ann's.

In her living room in the Wiltshire countryside, Margaret Ann welcomes her clients. You go in, have a cup of tea, talk, then go to what she calls her "glory hole", select and try on. "I like to give new clients not less than an hour and a half," she explains. Every size she can get a bra, basque, swimsuit or whatever in is kept in stock, maybe not in every colour, but she can get it, ringing the manufacturer or agent direct. There is no pressure to buy and there is no one else there, save for the two of you. This privacy and discretion is especially important for the post- mastectomy women who form part of her clientele. Margaret Ann is trained not only in bra fitting, but also mastectomy fitting. She can get pockets fitted into certain types of "normal" bras and swimsuits so that the prosthesis can fit into it. That way a woman can have more choice, and carry on wearing her favourite bathing costume or bra. "They end up comfortable, happy and mentally secure - and that's what it's all about."

Margaret Ann Miles was born in Oxford into an army family, one of four daughters, both sets of twins. "I had a very academic background and I wanted to go into fashion at an early age but wasn't allowed to. I was given the choice of being a nurse, a teacher or going into the armed services." She became a teacher, got married at 22 and moved to Wiltshire. Nine years ago, she decided to set up the business. "I wasn't trying to compete with the big stores. I wanted to cater to the niche that wasn't catered for, especially not in 1989 - the very big-busted ladies," she explains.

While a teacher, Margaret Ann spent a lot of time with the less able children. "I had a terrible stammer as a child and I know what it's like to have a problem. And so it was with the business. It was the people with problems, either through size or post-surgical, that I wanted to provide for." Being well endowed herself, she knew the difficulties women had finding pretty, proper-fitting bras.

To complement the appointment service, Margaret Ann launched a mail- order catalogue last October. She used a plus-size model in it but the response was negative, which is why the newly released catalogue features a size 12 model. The garments in the catalogue are superb. Black basques (sadly only up to a D cup - because of the support needed, you generally don't get basques above an E cup) with exquisite lace, none of that scratchy rubbish. Cami tops, French knickers, teddies... all in gorgeous silk with proper, posh, lacy trim, high-quality polysatin and good old cotton.

As well as the Margaret Ann own label, there are designs by a few, select others. Sizes will range from six to 30, with the bespoke option (which will cost extra because a pattern needs to be cut) available on some garments if the standard sizes don't fit. "I've tried to take the personal service into the mail order so if there's a query on sizing or fabrics, or colours, I'll still be on the end of the telephone."

For a catalogue or an appointment call Margaret Ann Miles on 01985 840520.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

    Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

    Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

    £15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

    Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

    Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Day In a Page

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links