Tuesday, 24 February 2009

A Big Boob!

Ladies, we have to talk.
This is important.
It could change your life!
This is a subject which is close to my heart in more ways than one!

Yesterday, after a full weekend in the garden, basking in the gorgeous, positively balmy weather, getting sorted for the coming growing season, I sat down to do some blog hopping but was waylaid by a sewing website describing how to sew your own bra. I like the idea of making a bra, and knowing the intimate details of how one is constructed will help my corsetry skills no end. BUT, for a long time I have been horrified at the traditional method of measuring one's assets because it just doesn't work whichever way you look at it. It's a crime against womanhood if you ask me.

This is not a case of divide and conquer. It is a matter of taking things in hand and getting to grips with the situation and it just so happens that I am a perfect example of how this traditional method does not work.

For many years I was often reduced to tears of frustration and hopelessness when shopping for underwear or swimwear. Using the traditional method rendered my search for the perfect fit utterly impossible.

Why? I'll show you.

These instructions are the same as you will find anywhere on the web, and also the method employed by Marks and Spencer and other lingerie fitting rooms countrywide.

The instructions say

"Taking exact measurements is the first step in making a bra that fits. You'll need to calculate your bra-band size and your cup size by measuring around the rib cage and full bust, wearing your best-fitting bra. (Large-busted women especially need support for accurate measurements.)"

I say:

Taking exact measurements is very very important. But this must be done WITHOUT a bra on in the first instance. How is it possible to take a measurement around your underbust area when there is a bra band or a couple of wires in the way?

The instructions say:

"Using a full-length mirror, measure around the rib cage, making sure the tape is level around the body and pulling it snug. To this measurement, add either 4 or 5 in. to get an even number. Example: if the snug rib cage is 29 in., add 5 for a total of 34 in. This is the bra-band size."

I say:

WHY add 4 or 5 inches to the underbust measurement? What you measure is what you are. You would not add this much in such an indiscriminate way if you were dressmaking.

The instructions say:

"Next, measure the bust around the fullest part, again keeping the tape level, but this time don't pull it snug"

I say:

Right .. this is where you DO need to be wearing a bra - just to keep them upright while you measure.

The instructions say:

"To determine the cup size, subtract the bra-band size from the full-bust measurement. The difference, in inches, tells you the cup size: 1 in. for A, 2 for B, 3 for C, 4 for D, 5 for DD (or E), 6 for DDD (or F), and 7 in. for FF. For example, if your bra band is 36 in. and the full bust 38 in., the cup size is B; you'll make a size 36B."

I say:

Riddlemeree! This is nonsense and un-neccessary mathematics! Why make things complicated and invent measurements?

Using this method, see what happens with my measurements:

Underbust: 30" (what I measure) + 4" (to get an even number) = 34 inches.
Full bust: 34"

Can you spot the boob already?

There is no differential which means I have a concave bust. Or in bra speak, I am a size 30AA.

This is me ladies!

Do they LOOK as if they are non existant?!

A size 34AA bra on me, covers about about as much as these do !

Is it any wonder I couldn't find a bra to fit and left all the lovely ladies at M&S completely perplexed while I quietly despaired every time they brought me a different bra having at once deviated from the inadequate formula they were using, included more than a touch of their own guesswork and been lost for words when each and every suggestion failed miserably and left me bulging in all the wrong places!

A badly fitting bra will give you no support, bad cleavage, and a bra strap which rides up your back in a most unsightly way as the weight at the front pulls it down. It will adversely affect your posture and your confidence - especially if you fit into the category of "fuller bust".

Luckily a couple of years ago, my Sister-in-Law started working for a relatively new company which has thankfully revolutionised this silly fitting method. She told me one day that as someone who is a size 8-10, my bra size should be no bigger than 30 inches because that is what I should measure around my ribcage. A bra band should be like a corset - ie; tight, so that the support comes from underneath and the strain on shoulders is minimised. She herself as a size 12, wears a size 32 bra. She then estimated with absolute conviction, despite my goggle eyes, that I would be an E or F cup, so still unbelieving, I booked myself an appointment at the shop she managed the very next day and tried on a couple of these new sized bras. She was absolutely spot on! I was a size 30E and my boobs never felt better! What's more than that, my bust must have heaved a huge sigh of relief because since wearing a correctly fitting bra, I have gained a cup size and am now an F! I mentioned this to my expert SiL - she said it was a common occurence amongst Bravissimo girls! Bust enhancement without the surgery or the huge bill! ... Now what could be better than that!?

So here's the rub. If you are a D cup or more, go to Bravissimo. If you are not quite a D, measure your rib cage, try bra's with that size band, and increase the cup size as necessary. Remember that smaller band = bigger cup size and vice versa.

I know that many of you reading this will already know this marvelous secret! But if you struggle with uncomfortable lingerie, try this whatever size you think you are, and trust me. It works!


Anonymous said...

Try getting correct measurements on implants. It's almost impossible.
Lovely post♥

Billie Jane said...

I wonder does this work for flat chested girls too? both my daughters are of the stick insect variety and can not find bra's to fit... the rib cage measurement is in general the same as across the bust area. After embarrassing visits to a lingerie shop where they were offerred training bra's, both girls have taken to wearing vests!! I would so love to get something nice for them to wear under evening clothes. What do you think?

Joleo said...

Not that I need any extra boobage, but I will head along there. I have occasionally chanced upon a good fitting bra but they seem to vary from one brand to another.

jellybelly*jellybrain said...

People - Never go to Marks and Spencers to be measured! By all means, buy your bras there, but get your assets measured elsewhere!
For years I coveted wearing a proper underwired bra that was comfortable and didn't dig in each time I sat down. M&S had me as a 38a. I went to an old-fashioned department store where they sold triumph and cross-you-heart bras, bit the bullet, bared all to a wee slip of a girl and got me actual size : 36D I tried on an underwired bra, and my oh my, I walked with my back straight. My boobs were separated and lifted. I had cleevage. I have never looked back!

Miss T said...

I love the tassels, will they feature on the finished bra? xx

Pink Feather Paradise said...

I have been struggling to buy my daughters first bra, she is 11 and almost as tall as me (I am 5'10") so I measured her as explained in the traditional fashion and it worked out that she was a 38B, no way! but I duly went out and bought one and it was too big.... I went out and bought the same size different make and that was better.... I bought her a sloggi sports bra vest and she prefers that to them all!

I myself am still wearing maternity bras (Danny is 3!) as I get so depressed every time I go out and try to work out what size I am, and then I only find that the stores in town don't go big enough in their ranges!

I am off to Bravissimo, and bravo to you for helping back ache ridden women everywhere!

XX Alex

twiggypeasticks said...

Very timely post, I'm on a new bra hunt and will get myself off to Bravissimo. I've tried flippin everyone and as I have erm rather an ample bosom find it impossible to get a bra that fits correctly, throw in the fact I'm also a bit wonky and I'm sure you get the picture ;)
Twiggy x

Moogsmum said...

Great post Julia! It would explain perfectly why I can never quite get the right bra at M&S!!


Vonnie said...

I LOVE Bravissimo! After my first fitting I actually hugged my fitter - M&S, John Lewis and Mothercare had me fitted into a 40C nursing bra which left my knockers in my armpits and me feeling like a whale. Bravissimo called me a 36G and I finally had boozums! Two of, therein! Which pointed up the way! Ah, life was joyful once again :D

Daisie said...

Oh, it makes such a welcome change for someone else to be banging on about breasts!! It is usually me!!
I too am a bravissimo girl, gotta love those ladies, I had been wearing an awful 40 dd or e for years and stumbled across a branch about seven years ago. I now wear a 34jj and my breasts have never looked so bloddy marvelous!
Hope, thanks to you, more ladies go and love their breasts and boycot M&S and burn their tape measures!!

Kitty said...

Yep, makes sense to me. I'm sure I'm wearing the wrong size - need to go down a band size and up a cup size or two I reckon! x

Fancy Elastic said...

ha ha! Brilliant post Ms Marmalade... I wear stretchy vests myself, only when i was maternal did I have the joy of fancy underwear... And I've always wanted a bullet bra like in the last pic.
Pointy... I want them to be pointy!!!


Veronica Darling... said...

Love it! I'm going to come back and read this again over and over!

And may I please say 'Mad Cans' about your own picture? (And that's a compliment in my world!)

summerfete said...

hey this post is just what I needed and exactly what Ive been thinking about this week.

Why is it so hard to find a comfy bra?

I used to be '34B'. But I think I could be a D or even DD.

I will remeasure myself and see, as the double boob look is getting annoying!!


Primrose Corner said...

Brilliant post. Maybe that's why I hate bras so much 'cos they're so uncomfortable. Perhaps I need to try again...

jennyflower said...

As a magnificent HH er I am a firm Bravissmo fan. When I have phoned them they have been superbly helpfull even talking about how far the wires will come up into my armpits, which I hate! If in doubt I try it on and jump!

Dragonfly said...

Fab post! I'm in the trial and error camp, personally, but may have cracked it...at last!

Gina said...

I wore the wrong size for years until one helpful assistant "measurered" me by sight and I finally found a comfortable fit. Great post!

Anonymous said...

Wow... and humanity thinks it was tricky to get a person to the moon. Astoundingly complex procedures are involved in wearing female undergarments!

Joanna said...

i discovered bravissimo four years ago and would never NEVER buy anywhere else. I also get my swimwear there and fitted shirts. I was measured a 38E in M&S and i am a 34g, sometimes a 32GG. They dont use tape measures. Marvellous. I lost half a stone in looks instantly

Ruth said...

They don't seem to bother with tape measures at Bravissimo they look at you and make an educated guess and start from there. They are very knowledgeable about which bra will be best for you. As usual that restricts the bras I am "allowed" but at least they fit. I went from a 38 or 40DD in "normal" shops to a 34H at Bravissimo. At least the number is small and heh don't people pay to have melons surgically implanted!!

A Bun Can Dance said...

Dear Julia
I was browsing your blog and found this link to bra fitting. And like most other commentators on this post - I hate the whole bra fitting experience - well actually I hate bras! But I am going now to find my tape measure and measure my rib cage as you suggest.... I know there's a bra out there somewhere which can fit me comfortably!!!!!!!
Denise x

A Bun Can Dance said...

Back again!
Just to let you know, I now have bras which fit me and it seems I really do have a bosom!!!! Thanks for your great post as it inspired me to go forth and find a bra which fits - and in a size I never would have imagined - but for once my bra stays put, doesn't hurt and the boobs are pert as can be!
Thank you!!!!
Denise x

dressesatno9 said...

Julia, that made me smile and boy have I need to today!
Lovely blog, I adore this vintage stuff!!

Linda xxxx