As I said in my previous post, the US is really in dire need of a bra fit make over. A Bra Revolution, or BRAvolution, if you will. And not just for larger cup sizes, either. Smaller chested women are wearing bras that don't fit too. It frustrates and saddens me when a smaller chested woman tells me that it doesn't matter if her bra fits- because she is too small for it to make a difference. It does make a difference for you too! I'm not just talking about what size you get to tell people you are (because it will change), but having better lift and coverage will keep your girls looking perky for longer. Even smaller breasts suffer the dreaded tissue migration over time.
So how and why does the method I am imploring you to use differ from the way any store would do it?
When you go to a store for a fitting, they will measure you around your ribcage just under your bust, or as Victoria's Secret does- ABOVE the breasts?!, (except for Intimacy, but I'll discuss them later). They get a number (lets use 30). Then, they add on 4-6 inches (Nordstrom's adds 2). So, if you were shopping at good ol' VS, they would suggest a 34 or 36 band for you. Then, they measure you across the fullest part of your bust (lets say 36). They would then take the bust measurement, and subtract the new band size (we will say 34 for today) which gives us the number 2, which then corresponds to a cup size: A,B. In VS land, you would go home with a 34B, and a bra that will ride up your back and barely touch your body.
But WHY do they add inches on? When bras were first introduced as something more then a couple of hankies tied together, they were mostly made of cotton. I'm sure we all have right now, in our heads, an image of the stiff, white, cotton bras that our mothers used to tell us about. The point is, there wasn't much stretch to the material, so they added inches in. Bras these days are made out of much more elastic material. They are made to stretch around and hug your body.
Lets try a bra fitting without adding in those inches and see what we come up with. Measure around your ribcage, right under your bust (never measure OVER your bust, unless you are planning on wearing the bra upside down...? The band will sit under your boobs, so we will measure where the band sits). Make sure you measure level all the way around. We will use the same number 30 from before, but this time it will be our band size. Then measure (level all the way around) your bust. Again, we get 36. Subtract the bust number from the band number- we get 6. Again, each number corresponds to a cup size: A,B,C,D,DD,E. 30E verses 34B!
Again, this is a starting point. All bras are made with tighter or looser bands, bigger or smaller cups for the same sizes. It really is trial and error.
So why don't stores measure like this? One issue is the product line just isn't there. And they don't want to spend millions making new bra sizes. People are still buying sizes that don't fit, but are widely available, so the companies are still making money. Why change? Another reason, which I have discussed at length with Nordstrom's Fit Coordinator, is that they think that smaller chested women would not be comfortable wearing bras that fit snugly. They fear that there isn't enough breast tissue to make it comfortable (but having a bra that shifts around all day, rubbing up on the body causing irritation is MORE comfortable?). Being large chested, like myself, they know that a snug band will help support the large chest, so it makes more sense to them. I say- Boobs are Boobs and should be supported equally, whether large or small.
I have re-fit a handful of VS 34B's into 28/30 DD/E's and they really cannot be any happier with their bras. They will never go back to their old size, because even though they may have a smaller chest, they still love the support that a snug band offers. They love that their bra doesn't ride up their backs, that their straps aren't always falling down, that their center gore stays where is it supposed to stay. They also love their new size, and explaining all about the BRAvolution when someone tells them that they can't possibly be a DD. They can, they are, and they are more comfortable for it! We say "cup size" like each letter is the same size cup, no matter the band size. This isn't true. Each cup letter varies in size, depending on the band. A 30DD is much smaller physically in the cup than a 36DD.
If you plan on going with this method (you can thank me later ;) ), I will give you one warning. Going from a 34/36 back to a 30 (or the like) will feel very different. At first, you may feel like it is way too tight. But remember, you have been wearing bras that had virtually NO contact with your body. I suggest for the newbies, invest in a bra band extender. It is relatively cheap to buy and is essentially just an extra hook set for your bra. It will allow you to get a bra in your true size, but also give you the benefit of easing into wearing a more snug band. It usually takes four or five wears to get used to something more snug. Most people can't go from a 36 to a 30 straight away. But once you get used to it, you really won't go back!
So to re-cap, don't add inches onto your ribcage measurement. Use your ribcage measurement AS your band size (if you measure in-between band sizes, 27,29,31,33,35,37,39, try bands in the sizes above and below your measurement. Each bra will have a different stretch to the band).
Oh, and I almost forgot to get back to Intimacy! They are a boutique lingerie store in the US, and they don't use measuring tape at all. They fit completely on the rules of good fit. My one gripe with them is that they still don't carry much under a 32 band. They have an alteration program there, so they will take a 32 band and alter it down to fit. But this also has an effect of distorting the wires in the cups a bit, so I'd rather just get my size to begin with. I'd rather use alterations to have them take my worn & stretched out bands back to their original size. ;)