March 21, 2014

Overheard in a Fitting Room

I wish I could be a fly on the wall in a bra fitting room. Don’t get the wrong idea about me, but I would love to hear what women really say (or think) when trying on bras in the dressing room. Given that 7 out of 10 women are wearing the wrong size bra, I expect I might hear something like this when women are asked about their bra size:
  • I’m pretty sure this is the size I take
  • There is nothing available in my size, so this one will have to do
  • The smaller bras are soooo much cuter
  • I have “always” worn this size
  • I wear this size in a *** bra
  • I don’t want to look bigger than I am
  • I don’t want an “old lady” bra

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Let’s look at each in turn and smash the fitting room voices once and for all.

1. I’m pretty sure this is the size I take…
If you’ve never been measured, how do you know what size you really are? Are you guilty of trying on the ones that “look right”, pick the lesser of two evils, and you are outta there? If so, you may be guilty of the most common mistake women make when bra shopping. They buy the band too big and the cups too small. In other words, instead of buying a 34D, women will buy a 36C or even a 38B. The band, being too large for your body will tend to ride up, which will in turn cause your cups to droop in the front. Nobody wants droopy boobs. The elastic that goes around the body needs to have some tension on it in order to hold the cups where they belong. Even with the band being correct, however, we often buy cups too small.

2. There is nothing available in my size, so this one will have to do…
Probably nothing is more frustrating for a woman with money to spend on a bra not to find one! If you are a D cup or larger, a lot of stores don’t consider you the “bread-and-butter” sizes, which are the least number of sizes that make them the most money. I don’t begrudge the stores making money, but Puhlease….at least review your customer demographics and service her. Too many stores think that 34B is the “average” size. C’mon guys…it hasn’t been that since Twiggy was top model. The average bra size for ages 20-30 is 36C and for ages 30-40 is 36D. The average for the over 40 crowd (yes, those boomers) is now 38D.

3. The smaller bras are soooo much cuter…
Of course, they are cuter. So are size 6 dresses, and size 2 pants. There’s something about diminutive sizes that makes our hearts go all a-flutter. Reality check - if the bra does not completely cover the breast mound and sit against the chest wall - the cup does not fit. No amount of cuteness will change its size. Leaving it the bottom drawer for 6 months will not bring the bra to its senses either. Ditto for panties.

4. I have “always” worn this size…
Most women might get fitted when they first go for a bra in their teen years, and they might not get fitted again until menopause. That’s a lot of years between bra fittings! Lots of things can affect the fit of your bra and the size of your breasts, including weight gain, weight loss, illness, hormonal changes, pregnancy and lactation, the hormones in the food we eat, as well as the universal affect of Gravity. Unless you live in a weightless atmosphere ( “to the Moon, Alice”) gravity will always affect the breasts, and not in a good way, either. If you are stuck on a particular “number”, get over it. Your breasts are bigger now.

5. I wear this size in a *** bra…
Just because you wear a 36C in a Playtex, doesn’t mean that you will always wear a 36C in every other brand. In fact, I can wear in almost every brand,  a 36D, yet in the Wonderbra brand, I wear a 36C. And yes, they both fit! Each bra company has their own sizing standards. And yes, sometimes within the same company, sizes will be different as well. I talked to the head of design recently of {un-named company} and their company uses 6 different vendors to design and supply their extensive line. All companies are to design for …guess what…a 34B and grade up from there. But all 6 companies are not using the same fit model! I examined the measurements of one of them, and according to her measurements, she should be a 34C. If a company grades up from this incorrect starting point, even a small distortion of size will cause a huge fitting error at the top end of the size range.

6. I don’t want an “old lady” bra…
Sigh….Not all the larger sizes scream “nursing home”. In fact, several companies such as Rigby & Peller have created a delightful line of bras in fuller cup sizes, and theirs are anything but dreary. Think European laces and really, really pretty style lines. If all you see in your size are too plain for your taste, why not try making your own? Then you have the world of fabrics at your beck and call, and any wild & crazy thing you choose to do with them, is yours to sew up. I’ve had students do lime green and navy bras, lace cups with colourful fabric underneath and wild prints that only a mother could love. It’s all about personal expression.

7. I don’t want to look bigger than I am…
Oh, for Heaven’s sake! Do you actually think you will look bigger because your bra fits? Do you think you appear smaller squashed into those bra cups like a sausage into a casing? Listen to me…you will look smaller, thinner and more uplifted if you wear a bra that fits. Breasts that fit into the cups are not sitting on the chest. Sagging breasts can “frump-ify” you very quickly. Make sure your cups contain your breasts. You will walk more upright, and appear slimmer at the same time. Just ask Oprah. She did a whole show on the before and after effects of a good bra. And remember, as you curse your current size - when you were 12 or so, you probably wished for your breasts to gro
w. You should have been careful what you wished for!

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