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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
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.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

    £18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

    Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

    £40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

    £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

    £20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

    Day In a Page

    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory