If you are a man or a crazy person you should probably skip this post. I’m not trying to be shocking or graphic; it’s just that most of my readers wear bras and probably yours is the wrong size. This is really a public service announcement.
I love Jen from Cake Wrecks. Last week on her other blog, Epbot, she wrote all about how she got sucked into the crazy world of bra-sizing and how she figured out she had been wearing the wrong size of bra. As I was reading this I thought, “well, I always check my measurements so surely I’m not one of the 80% of American women who wear the wrong size of bra.” No, that could never be! But then my complacent life in bra-world was turned upside-down by finding out the proper way to measure yourself for a bra: Bending over. Say what???
Here’s something else you probably didn’t know: the band of your bra (the part under your boobs that wraps around your chest/back) is supposed to do 90% of the lifting. The straps are responsible for only 10%. Shocking, I know! Which means that the band is supposed to be snug. Really snug.
There is a whole giant forum on Reddit that will blow your mind. You need to go read the bra fitting guide here. Really. Go read it. I’ll wait. According to the bra fitting guide, the bras I had been wearing were a size too big in the band and three cup sizes too small. I shan’t get into numbers, but I was extremely stunned.
I spent the next hour or so perusing online bra choices in my splashy new size. After being completely overwhelmed I decided to find a really good bra store and see what reality had to say. It’s one thing for a computer to tell me what my bra size is, but another one to actually try one on. (And by the way, Victoria’s Secret is a joke. They have no idea how to find your correct size. They give their employees a brochure on how to measure people. That’s it. Nordstrom is a step up but their bra selection is pretty limited.)
Luckily for me there is a store in Austin called Petticoat Fair and it is the most phenomenal shop. They carry every brand of bra from around the world and help you find exactly the right ones. I showed up first thing in the morning and was met by Lea who was super sweet and helpful. I came wearing my current (non-fitting) bra and a thin t-shirt. Lea measured me (fully clothed) several different ways and brought me a bunch of bras to try on. She stepped out of the changing room every time I tried on a new bra. The whole thing was very discreet and there was no staring at my boobs. If you’ve never wanted to be fit for bras because you’re modest and shy, you have nothing to worry about.
Here’s how bra fitting has always gone for me in the past: I choose some bras that look cute/ won’t be too obnoxious under a t-shirt. I go into the dressing room and try them on. I stare at myself and think, “well, I guess that fits” and then buy whatever is cheapest. Some bras fit better than others but mostly I have never thought that much about it.
So here I was with Lea. She handed me the first bra (which was actually the same size the aforementioned bra guide said I would be) and it seemed to fit pretty well. Lea came into my dressing room and adjusted the straps and had me lean over and shimmy the girls into place. And then she announced that the band size was too big. So she came back with more bras for me to try on. We repeated the try-on drill about 15 times. After I put on each bra Lea would come in and give me her verdict. You guys, this was amazing! Finally I was able to try something on and know for sure if it fit properly! No more guessing at sizes. Lea also was great because she knew which bras ran big or small and exactly which ones fit my needs as far as styles and colors I was looking for.
By the end of an hour I had eight bras that I absolutely loved that made my chest look fantastic. I’m not exactly a small-busted girl and I never would have been able to find the right sizes at Kohl’s, where I usually shop for bras. (Here’s something interesting that Leah told me: D cups are a pretty average size. We tend to imagine a D-sized bra as being huge, with a DD being stripper-sized. But they aren’t that big.) After all was said and done, I ended up in a bra that was two band sizes smaller and four cups sizes bigger than the bra I had been wearing. Isn’t that crazy???
Here’s the sad thing: good bras are expensive. I honestly have never paid more than $25 for a bra ever. I checked out the bras on the Petticoat Fair website before I went in so I wasn’t dying of sticker shock. Each of the bras I liked was over $60. That seems kind of appalling, since it’s not a whole lot of fabric. But you aren’t paying for fabric; you’re paying for something that is going to keep your breasts perky and feeling good. A good bra will make your chest look fantastic and you will feel amazing.
In the end I wanted to hug Leah. But I didn’t because she had just seen a lot of me that most people don’t see and I thought that would be awkward. But I did buy two everyday bras and a sports bra. And now I feel like a Bravangelist that needs to spread the word that, yes, you too are probably wearing a bra that’s the wrong size.
P.S. I wish like anything I had known about a place like this when I’d been nursing. I got mastitis a total of nine times and I’m convinced it was because of poorly-fitting bras.