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Simply Ill Fitting

June 12, 2011

It’s taken me quite a while to write this post, because I wanted to place an order with Simply Yours first, so I would be able to talk about their positive aspects as well as their size chart. I haven’t been able to get hold of anything lately due to lack of funds, but whenever I have ordered from Simply Yours in the past, it has always been a pleasure. They are one of my favourite ‘Plus Size’ companies, and the two models I recognise best; Erika Elfwencrona and Laura Catterall, are not only curvy, but simply stunning as well. They are a friendly and helpful company and I would always recommend them.

However, I, as well as many other lingerie bloggers, do take issue with their sizing chart. They recently wrote a blog post which was a reply to queries on their fitting method of adding 4 inches. The post is called ‘Bra Fitting Blog Post Reply’, and you can read it by clicking here.

Simply Yours Sizing Chart

Above is a Simply Yours sizing chart (inside the catalogue) that was posted to me, along with a free measuring tape. They use the outdated method of adding 4 inches on to your underbust measurement to get your correct band size. This actually comes from back in the 50s where the ideal hourglass measurements were 36-24-36, so inches would be added to the band size as ‘vanity sizing’. Not only that, but the materials used in the 50s were much firmer, stiffer and less pliable than they are today – meaning there would be no wiggle room if you did have a size that was too tight. This is no longer the case nowadays; stretchy material is used for everyday bra bands in order to give maximum comfort and support.
I normally measure 31″ underbust, which means according to the Simply Yours size chart, I would be advised to wear a 36 band size. The size I actually wear currently is 32G or 30GG; here I want to demonstrate why that is in fact the correct band size for someone of my measurements, and why I don’t believe that adding 4 inches is appropriate.

Measuring Underbust - Wearing Freya 'Mischa' 32G

Today, as you can see from the picture above, I measure closer to 30″ underbust – this does however vary for me depending on time of day/month, but I generally measure between 30-31″ at all times.
(I also measure 39 over bust, and generally I wear a 32G in most bras, but a tape measure is not always going to be accurate for every person. For example, even if you had those exact same measurements, it’s still possible to be a slightly different cup size, because it really depends how your breasts are shaped as well, and what feels comfortable for you).

First I’m going to demonstrate a 36 band bra (please excuse the blurry first picture).

36F

36F

A 36F equals the same cup volume as a 32G. As you can see, I can easily pull it out more than a handful from my chest, and it is very clear that the bra is not supporting my breasts at all, and frankly, not doing me any favours.

This next bra is a 34FF (again, the same cup volume as a 32G).

34FF

Now, while it’s not as loose as the 36, it’s still not supporting my breasts as much as it should be – 80% of the support comes from your bra band, so it really does need to be tight to keep your breasts properly supported. Otherwise, you will find that the shoulder straps are doing most of the lifting, and you will most likely end up with a lot of pain. Again, I can pull the band away from my chest much more than is necessary, and when I used to wear this bra, it would constantly ride up my back.

Here is a 32G. Almost perfect size.

32G

As you can see, the centre gore is flat against my chest, there is no gaping in the middle, my breasts are properly supported AND lifted, and the back does not ride up.  The back band looks almost spot on.
In reality, I am wearing this bra on the tightest hook, as is often the case if you are an intbetween size (like my 31″), then you never know whether you will need a 30 or a 32, and in this case, 30 would’ve been a better fit – particularly as I measure 30″ today rather than the usual 31″.
The reason for this, is that you should always start wearing you bra on the loosest hook. Over time they will stretch with wear, so you will need to tighten it up by moving on to the furthest hooks. This way your bra will last much longer, and who doesn’t want that?!

Just for comparison, here is my 30G Carly Deco bra.

Freya 'Carly' - 30G

The deco bras do come up smaller in the band and cup than other Freya bras, which is why I chose a 30 rather than 32, and a G rather than a GG. Although, as I say, all my bras are a mixture between 30 and 32 because really it depends on the brand, and what feels comfortable for you.
As you can see, I can still fit the recommended two fingers perfectly under my bra band – this is how you know you’re wearing the correct fitting bra, (and NOT by being able to pull the band 2 inches from your ribcage as Simply Yours suggests – that would be too loose).

What surprises me most about the Simply Yours size chart, is that they say it is a general guide. But why make it TWO sizes (4 inches) above your underbust measurement? Surely just one will suffice as a guide?
Their answer is that “the underband numbers don’t directly relate to your body measurement” – so I decided to test this. Now bear with me…

Freya 'Arabella' 32 - Band Measurement

Here I measured my Freya Arabella bra, which is a 32 band (it’s important to note that I only purchased this bra a month ago, so it’s NOT a well worn loose one).
Now lying flat, of course the band doesn’t measure 32 inches, because the band is made of stretchy material in order to support your breasts. Upon stretching it out, you can see it does in fact measure 32. Might I also add, that to take this picture and attempt to stretch the bra, I was using my knee and right hand, which means the bra wasn’t even stretched out as much as it could be – this particular bra probably stretches to at least 33, or 34 inches. This makes the point made by Simply Yours, null and void in my opinion.

Too many women in the world are known to be wearing a band size too big for them, in the fight to stop this, Simply Yours are not doing their part. If I were clueless about band sizes, and looked at their chart, I would still be walking around in a bra two band sizes too big. What they fail to remember, is that as a well known professional and popular company, women will believe what they have to say; I know two years ago I would have.

In any case, it is important to add that I am only criticising their fitting methods, not Simply Yours in general. I do value them as a company, and continue to be a loyal customer.

If you want to be fitted correctly, and don’t fancy the idea of trying it yourself, my recommendation would be to book a bra fitting at a Bravissimo store – they always do a great job.

For more opinions on why not to add 4 inches, check out the lovely Georgina Horne’s fitting video here.
Not to mention, Becky Williams at Bust’s for Justice post about it here.
And, last but not least, Cheryl Warner at Invest in your Chest here.

Love

Sophia xxx

35 comments

  1. great post & examples!! I’m not sure how these companies can deny such proof! I know a huge problem is that a lot of women just don’t know how a well fitting bra is supposed to feel. They follow these “guides” and end up in something that is not fully comfortable, but think it is the size they should be wearing, because that is what the guide (or the fitter using the add inches method) told them. I heard a fitter in Nordstroms tell a client, ‘the reason your band is riding up is because the cup size is too small, so we need to put you in a larger cup!” No doubt that the cup size was too small, but if the band is riding up, it is an issue with the band being too large! but she was going off of her measurements + inches method & would not deviate from that number!

    More women need to be educated on how a bra should really fit and, most importantly FEEL when it is properly fitted! Most of us who now go off the theory of ribcage measurement= band measurement have not gotten here for any other reason besides the fact that we have tried it the ‘tradtional way’ for YEARS and have bands ride up, straps dig in, & no support at all! We have tried each way, and have decided that the traditional way DOES NOT WORK! this is soley from personal trial and error!

    anyway, i’m jumping off of my soap box for now. I hope anyone that has read Sophia’s blog here & had any doubts about the ‘traditional method’ being the wrong method will try it the other way (because there is ALWAYS another way) and see which works for your own best supporting needs.


    • Thanks Laura, and well said!
      I agree, these days now that I know my size, I don’t do much measuring, I go by the fit and feel. The only times my measuring tape comes out again is if I lose/gain weight and need to find a new constant to stick to.
      It makes me so sad that fitters still use these outdated methods and women all over the place become unhappy with their breasts because they find them difficult to manage in their ill-fitting bras. Hopefully we can start to change this and get the message out there! x


  2. I ACTUALLY LOVE YOU THIS IS SO AMAZING AND WELL DONE!!! Wow!!!! Also I love that first bra x


    • Thank you lovely!! xxx :D


  3. Great post! I find it amusing that they state the “add 4 inches” method is the “industry standard” that everyone uses to fit bras, and then in almost the same breath state that most women are wearing the wrong size. If most women are using the “industry standard” to find their bra size and most women are wearing the wrong size, then that would seem to indicate that the “industry standard” is incorrect…


    • You’re exactly right Allie. If so many women ARE wearing the wrong size, there’s obviously a reason for that!! Thanks for your comment :) x


  4. As a Bra Fitter i dont use the tape as i find it helps due to all of us being diferent shapes etc. some Ladies have a bony rib cage some have a bit more flesh on them so the same measurement would actually need a different size then if a lady has a high bust she can measure 2 cup sizes biger .Until you start trying bras on you cant tell . Isabel Body Talk


    • Hi Isabel, yes I agree a tape can’t always be entirely accurate. As I mentioned in another comment, I don’t use a tape measure myself, unless there has been some noticeable weight loss/gain, and am unsure of my measurements. However, for women who are less familiar with bra measuring techniques, I do find a tape measure is a good place to start, unless you are a professional bra fitter of course :)


  5. [...] Simply Yours have been rattling some cages (including my own) with their sizing chart and bra measuring advice; recommending customers to use the dreaded ‘plus four’ method when buying their bras. A heated discussion with bosom buddy Beckie Williams over at Busts 4 Justice, sparked her own post about the issue, Georgina over on the Fuller Figure Fuller Bust blog posted her own response and Sophia Jenner also had a few feathers to spit on her blog. [...]


  6. [...] few of my blogging friends have written their own posts in relation to this debate. Sophia explains: ‘They use the outdated method of adding 4 inches on to your underbust measurement [...]


  7. I hate to rain on this parade but my underbust measure is 30.3″
    In Freya I wear a 32″ back, but in panache I needed a 34″ back because 32″ was painfully tight.
    In Ewa Michalak bras I also need a 34″ band, even one of the two bras I ordered where too tight in a 34″, a 36″ would have been a must in that one.

    So it is wrong to say never add 4″ to your measurement, just as it is wrong to say always add 4″. It depends on the bra. Simple as that


    • It does indeed depend on the person, and I do think Ewa Michalak bras are much tighter than usual (I found the 32 very tight), but in my experience, for the majority of the time, adding 4 inches doesn’t work. There are my pictures and Georgina’s video that show it, but it’s obviously not going to be the same for every single person.


  8. Hi Sophia,
    I’m an italian girl :)
    I happened to see your blog and I would love to ask your advice.
    I hope it possible! Sorry for my language, but I can’t speak English very well :)
    I bought a deco strapless bra by Freya in size 38G (the one that was recommended to me), but the cups are large and also underbust. But usually I use size 38 G for Fantasie bras.
    Maybe I was wrong ever before! : – /
    In your opinion, what size should I choose me instead?
    My measurements are: waist 82 cm, breast 107 cm, 86 cm underbust, hips 99 cm.
    How do I determine the cup? I do not know! Will you give me a hand?
    Thank you so much!
    True


    • Hi True,
      Don’t worry I completely understand about the cup sizes. In the Freya Deco bra, the cup and the band size is always a little bit looser than other brands. I am a 32G in Fantasie, and 30G in the Deco. So whatever size you would normally take, you will probably need a smaller size in the Deco.
      From the measurements you gave me, I think that in general (even with fantasie) a 38 band would maybe be too big. Does it ride up your back sometimes? I would recommend trying 36G and 34GG or even a 34H and see which one fits you best. Do you have a shop nearby you can try a few on? Sometimes bra fitters are not always accurate when guessing the size – I can only guess, you will have to decide which feels the most comfortable for you.
      I am about to write a bra fitting post in about 15 minutes. So, I will send you a link to it, and maybe you can see if you are definitely wearing the correct size.
      I hope this helps you a little.


      • Dear Sophia,
        thanks a lot for the kind reply! :-)
        Unfortunately I bought this bra online, because in my city do not sell bras with cups that big. :-(
        In particular, I ordered the model Moulded Strapless Bra Freya Deco. The band 38 is a little big, because they are thinner in the chest, so I’m holding all my G cup bras with a needle and cotton in the band and now they dress me perfectly.
        I have to return this bra and ask for the smallest size, but an operator of call centers recommend me the 36 FF, another the 34 FF, and another 36 G, etc…
        I am very confused and I don’t know what to do! I would like to avoid return back again many times the bra :-(
        Sophie, if you have an email address I can send you a couple of photos to show you how I go wrong this bra, so maybe you understand better. Sorry still trouble, but I would be so grateful to you aid. :-)
        Thanks a lot


      • True, I’ve written a post on bra fitting. Take a look and see if any of it helps.

        http://sophiajenner.wordpress.com/2011/06/18/are-you-wearing-the-correct-bra-size/

        I think you should try a 36FF a 34G and a 34GG – I think by the sounds of it, that the 34G or 34GG will fit you best. If there’s anyway you can place an order and buy maybe 2 or 3 sizes? Then perhaps you can send back the ones that don’t fit.

        This here is the most accurate bra size calculator I have come across, put your measurements in, and see what it comes up with :)

        http://www.curvesandcorsets.com/uk_files/BraSizingCalculator.htm


  9. > This actually comes from back in the 50s where the ideal hourglass measurements were 36-24-36, so inches would be added to the band size as ‘vanity sizing’.

    This is interesting! Do you have any literature “proof” for that, something that can be cited in a scientific text or on wikipedia?


    • Hi, thanks for your comment.
      Yes, there’s lots of info about it online, it’s also on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brassiere_measurement
      If you read the section called ‘Measurement method origins’, you’ll find some general info on it there.
      Sophia


      • Hi, Sophia,

        sadly the wikipedia article simply claimes
        “many bra manufacturers arbitrarily add four, five or even six inches to the band size,[97][98] sometimes referred to as vanity sizing. The wearer mistakenly believes she is wearing a smaller sized bra band”
        there is no historical context, that this was meant to make the woman believe that she is wearing a smaller (?, isn’t actually larger if you are wearing a 34 although you measure 30?) size.

        The “origin” section say “Prior to the widespread use of bras, the undergarment of choice … was a corset. … manufacturers used a calculation called hip spring”, where hip spring is the difference between hip and waist measurement. I do not understand how that helps to understand the +4 method.

        Do you have any further references for the vanity sizing theory?

        Thank you!


  10. I posted the wikipedia article, as you had asked if it was on there. It’s not my prime source of information. It’s quite general, as I mentioned before, and just gives a points about it. If you fancy doing a little research you can easily find out much more about the ‘plus 4′ method – if it’s something that interests you.
    I’ve read about it in so many contexts and so many places, that I will need to go back and search again to find you links to the articles. If you can’t find any, let me know, and I’ll try and link the ones I’ve read to you.

    Beckie Williams over at Busts 4 Justice has just managed to get Playtex to remove their plus 4 online calculator, as people are beginning to realise it doesn’t work – a great feat in the war against 4.


    • Hi, Sophia,

      sorry, English is a foreign language for me. I was asking for references that would fulfill wikipedias criteria, not for the wikipedia article. I am sorry that!

      I am very interested in bra sizing systems and I have read a great deal about it. But I never came across vanity sizing or any facts that the sizing system is related to corset sizes. So, if you have something, I would love to read it :-)

      Sunflower


      • Hi Sunflower,

        That’s not a problem, don’t worry.
        I have read quite a few articles, but this woman had a lot of interesting things to say about how the adding inches method arose:

        http://www.tomima.com/2008/12/09/european-bra-size-versus-american-bra-size-whats-the-difference/

        “The numbers used today for our bra band size (e.g. 34, 38 etc.) were devised shortly after WWII. Back then, women with the measurements of 36-24-36 were determined to be the ideal hourglass silhouette of the day. But, since the band size represents a woman’s underbust measurement, the true measurement would be something more like a 28 or 32. Now, this is where marketing came in. The industry decided to have the bra band sizes sound more appealing to women. So, they took the underbust measurement, added 4-5 inches to it, and came up with the band sizes that we use today. ”

        In the article it sounds like she’s implying that the 4-5 inches adding is possibly correct, but I and other bloggers have discovered (by measuring them as you have seen in my blog post) that this is actually incorrect. The reason is because bras stretch out to be your correct underbust measurement – today much softer stretchier material is used, and therein is where the main problem lies.

        As I say, there is more info around. Perhaps when I have a bit more free time I can send you some links.
        I hope this helps a bit.

        Sophia


  11. Hi, Sophia.

    Thank you for the link!

    “In the article it sounds like she’s implying that the 4-5 inches adding is possibly correct, but I and other bloggers have discovered (by measuring them as you have seen in my blog post) that this is actually incorrect.”

    I agree completely with you, that the measurement as advised by simply yours (and others) does not help to find a bra that fits. But my view of the whole thing is slightly different: I am German, and in Germany there is a DIN norm that states, that a bra that fits a woman that measures 75cm underbust and 90cm bust should be labelled “75B” (34B). The DIN norm is not a law, but comes very close to a legal regulation of the market. Nearly every manufacturer claims, that he is obeying the rules written in the DIN norms.
    So I think that not the method is wrong, but the manufacturers are putting the wrong labels into their bras (or do not know how a bra should fit – I fear this is true).

    This situation is different in the UK and the US, because you do not have an “official” +4 rule.

    Women in the German forum busenfreundinnen.net (that helps people to find a bra that fits) tend to use a underbust measurement as tightly as possible (you will need both hands to pull at the tape!). They then apply the DIN norm (more or less) to that measurement (equivalent to the +4 rule). This also works.

    But there is a tendency that their recommendation gives slightly larger band sizes than seems to be the opinion in the UK. They had been using smaller bands some years ago, but felt that this was distorting the bra too much and thus reducing the support of the bra and making the cups flatter.

    But in the end, every woman has to decide for herself which bra (size) feels comfortable and gives sufficient support. Numbers can’t tell you that :-)


    • Yes I think you’re right. I have a few German and European friends and they’ve said the same thing. The way they label the bras, and in fact the bra sizing system is definitely not the best in the UK, and possibly worse in the US where they have DDD then DDDD and even DDDDD.

      The standard rule for fitters in the UK is to add between 4-5 inches on top of the underbust measurement. I have a friend who works at Marks & Spencer, and when she was trained as a fitter, they told her she must use the ‘plus 4 inches’ method. Thankfully she doesn’t, but it’s terrible that a lot of lingerie and department stores train them this way.

      As you say, it’s important that each woman wears the size that feels right for them. :)


  12. Hello, I have a 31″ under bust too with a 39″ over bust. Calculators are putting me at a 32FF or 32G. What is your over bust? Help i have zero bras that fit.


    • Hi Ana, I have the same measurements as you, I am also 39 overbust. This does generally mean either 32FF or 32G. I wear a 32G, but it’s whatever feels comfortable for you, and it also depends how your breasts are shaped, whether they are full on the top or the bottom, wide-set or close-set etc – it’s difficult to give you an accurate answer online.
      Is there a store you can get to so you can try some on? If not, maybe you can order both a 32FF and 32G from somewhere online like Brastop, and return the one that doesn’t fit. Remember that the sizing is different in each brand. If you are thinking of getting a particular bra, and you’re unsure what the fit is like, please feel free to ask me, and I’ll let you know if I’ve tried it. I’ve tried a lot of brands, so it’s possible I might have. For example Freya/Fantasie unpadded bras are looser in the band than Curvy Kate and Panache unpadded bras (on the whole, but not always). I hope this helps!


  13. And notice how wearing too large a band (like in your 34FF and 36F) also makes the cups seem too big. So many women who have that issue think that they need to go smaller in the cup, when it’s actually the band that’s too big. As a small busted gal, I am all too familiar with that issue.


    • Hi Zoe, yes you’re exactly right. It’s really important that lingerie companies tell us this kind of information in their fitting guides and videos, but unfortunately most of them don’t.


  14. So much conflicting information from different fitting experts.


  15. Hello :) Im 15 and I measure 37/38 on my chest and 31 underneathe my bust. I wear size 32g bras. Bra calculators put me as a 36DD. :’) my 32G bra fits awesomley. However a 32\G in lasenza is too small or too small in the cup and too big in the band/straps. help? Im considering trying a 30H or 30GG when I get the chance x


    • Hiya hun, it sounds like 32G is probably your ‘usual’ size, but depending on the brand it will vary. La Senza bra bands are notoriously tight, whereas if you had a freya bra (which generally run loose), you might find you need something smaller like a 30GG. The best thing to do is trial and error. I think Debenhams has quite a nice selection of Freya and Fantasie bras – you’ll probably find a deco bra there where you will almost certainly need a 30GG, but if you can get to one and try some stuff on, it will probably help. Don’t be worried about having a drawer full of lots of different sizes because you must remember each brand is different.
      Alternatively, if you feel up to getting fitted, maybe go to a bravissimo store – they have a really great selection of stuff there, but sometimes it can be a bit pricey. Avoid M&S and La Senza for fitting though, as they often get it wrong. Hope this helps! x


  16. Hi Sophia!
    Awesome blog — I’ve linked to it on my post “Why don’t we have metric boobs in the UK” – hope that’s cool

    http://neilmossey.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/why-dont-we-have-metric-boobs-in-uk.html
    NEILX


    • Hi Neil, thanks for linking :)
      Sophia


  17. Hey my measurements are close to yours 31 and half underbust and 39 overbust. I have a 32g in a dkny bra seems good but wish straps were not as strechy. I have one 32ddd the back seems a little tight. Should I get a bra extender because 32 a little snug in some bras. 34 I have to have completly adjustable straps. 34ddd fits good on middle hook when new. My breast are close together and I have a hard time with gores lying flat. Any styles u recommend would be appreciated.


    • The problem is that different bras, styles, and brands all fit differently. A 32 can be loose in one brand and tight in another. I would suggest a brand like Freya to start off with. Their bras are looser in the band so you would be better in a 32 not 34 band. I would say either 32FF or 32G depending on the style.



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