Posts Tagged ‘underbust’

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What to do with that ever expanding bust?

January 25, 2013

Being big busted, or even just an awkward bra size can be a nightmare. We all know this, we have all dealt with the trial and error of finding that perfectly well-fitting bra, but what do you do when your bust hasn’t stopped growing yet?

There are many reasons why breasts continue to grow, or start growing all over again. These reasons are numerous and include things such as; pregnancy, weight fluctuations, age (both younger or older), hormones, diet, or even just that time-of-the-month.
The fastest growing of these is usually pregnancy – it can be quite an overwhelming situation, and you may end up living in the biggest bra you own, afraid to buy anything new because it won’t fit you a few months down the line.

So, what can you do to deal with this constant growth? Well, I’ve put together a few solutions that may be of some use. Sure you’ve gotta ride out these hormones, but you shouldn’t have to be uncomfortable whilst doing it.

Before we get on to the bras, let’s talk about nightwear and around-the-house wear. You may remember a post I wrote a few years ago about Hot Weather and Big Bras, and in this I very briefly mentioned some of the M&S Secret Support tops. Well I’m pleased to say they are still around and still as useful as ever. While they are generally ‘inside’ tops, perhaps a little too free flowing to be worn in public, they are certainly good enough for the home. Having said that, they have now produced a version which has a bra clasp underneath, which actually is good enough to wear in public! They are fairly similar to Bravissimo’s supported cami tops, but an awful lot more affordable.

The M&S tops are listed as size DD-G; I know what you’re thinking, that doesn’t sound very big. True, it’s not huge, but it will also depend on the clothing size you pair it with. A size 10 DD-G is going to be at the smaller end, the equivalent of a 30-band perhaps, but if you’re concerned about comfort more than looks, a looser top in a 12, 14, 16 or whatever size you choose, will give you a much more adequate bosom space. Of course if you do happen to be pregnant, then this is a wonderful solution for you, as you will need to be buying a bigger clothing size to make space for that bump anyway!

So, here are the M&S tops:

Secret Support DD-G V-Neck Stretch Camisole

M&S Secret Support Stretch Camisole

M&S Secret Support Stretch Camisole

I can say from experience that this is a lovely and very comfortable top. It keeps you supported and in place, and it’s great to sleep in. Unfortunately it only comes in white, which is slightly boring and also makes it a little see-through. But as I mentioned before, this is more of an around-the-house top in any case.

Secret Support Cotton Rich DD-G Bra Vest

M&S Secret Support Bra Vest

M&S Secret Support Bra Vest

This is the top with the bra clasp at the back, which makes it fully usable to wear in public, but not so comfortable for sleeping. Fortunately it also comes in black as well as white this time. I found that a size 14 DD-G was very comfortable, not too loose, and fits my currently 32H chest. In fact, there is even a fair bit of room to grow in there!

And lastly..

Limited Collection Secret Support Modal Rich Floral Lace DD-G Vest

M&S Secret Support Lace Vest

M&S Secret Support Lace Vest

Well, this one is fairly indecent for the bigger bust, but nice to look at. I have this also in a 14 DD-G, and it is particularly low cut. By far my least favourite of the three, but it is still comfortable, and still great for sleeping in.

So, on to the bras. What exactly do you do when you don’t even know your size anymore?

The first thing to do is to try and re-establish your bra size. Ok, they may not stay that size for long, but you need to have a starting point. If you are comfortable being professionally fitted, try Bravissimo or Leia Lingerie, as they are some of the few shops likely to fit you into your correct size. If you’re not comfortable with that, here’s how to work it out yourself.

Image from All Sports

Image from All Sports

Measure under your bust, this is your band size. If you are inbetween sizes, say 33 underbust, try both a 32 and a 34 band and see which fits you best. Next, measure your overbust (around the middle of your breasts) – the easiest way to do this is to lean over forwards. This is the more difficult measurement to take, what with breasts flopping about all over the place, so don’t assume it will be 100% accurate.
For example, if your underbust measures 32 and your overbust measures 42, that is a difference of 10. So, count 10 bra size letters. 1: A, 2: B, 3: C, 4: D, 5: DD, 6: E, 7: F, 8: FF, 9: G, 10: GG and so on. Match that with your underbust measurement.

You would then have a starting point size of 32GG – this does not necessarily mean that is your exact bra size, but you can be sure that if it isn’t, your size will be very close by. The next step is trial and error with different brands and styles of bras, not much fun but worth it once you find one that fits the best.
There are of course lots of criticisms of using the tape measure, mainly because measurements do not set your bra size in stone – breast shape and comfort play important roles too. However, the quickly and constantly growing breast often has to be measured – it’s the one time when you may struggle to keep up with your body.

One of the must-have bras for growing breasts, is a sports bra. Usually they are very boring and no fun, but perhaps you will change your mind when you see this one.

The Panache sports bra:

Panache Sports Bra

Panache Sports Bra

I have this in the purple-blue-grey combination, but I’m very excited to purchase the pink version. Plus, if you buy the pink sports bra, Panache donates 10% of the profit to the charity Coppafeel, who try to raise awareness about breast cancer.

Panache Sports Bra - Pink

Panache Sports Bra – Pink

I found the band true to size, and the cups fortunately run a little big. It is an underwired bra, but weirdly (to me) it does not really ‘feel’ underwired. If you are actually using it for sport, it has that brilliant racerback clasp option, which makes the bra even more firm and supportive if that’s what you’re after. When I used it for sports I much preferred it in the racerback style, but now that I’m using it to keep my growing breasts under control, it’s useful to have the standard option too. It is without a doubt, the most comfortable sports bra I have ever owned – just wonderful. I recommend it for everyone.

Image from Threads Magazine

Image from Threads Magazine

If you happen to be a whiz with a needle and thread or a sewing machine, you may be able to get some good bargains on bras, both in stores or on places like ebay. Looking for a 32HH, but can only find a 36G? Then grab one for cheap and turn it into the 32HH you need. Having the skill to alter a band can be a lifesaver, but remember you can also pop to a local seamstress (sometimes a dry cleaner’s as well) and ask them to alter it for you. This can become especially necessary if you get to JJ/K/KK and so on, when bras your size become increasingly difficult to get hold of, not to mention expensive.

If you are still eager to buy the same bras you’ve always loved, and not let breast growth or pregnancy get in the way of those pesky sizes or wires, you may want to think about the purchases you make. So you’re a 34J and you want to buy a bra that will fit you right now? Good idea, but while you’re there, why not buy a 34JJ as well to save you some time? With my breast growth I have been doubling up on my purchases. I buy bras less often, but when I do, I grab an extra bra one cup size up to make sure I have something to wear for next month.

One last thing would be to head on over to Ewa Michalak’s website. If you don’t see your bra size listed, sometimes they can custom make one in your size, so it’s always worth asking. This becomes especially useful when you are out-sizing most other brands.

Bust increase doesn’t have to turn into an ‘attack of the giant breast’ horror movie, even though it may feel that way. Just try and put your comfort first, and make sure to have a few fall back staple items to get you through each month. Remember to keep an eye out for any bra swap/sell groups online, and always keep one eye on ebay in case any great bargains pop up. If you are going through pregnancy breast growth, and perhaps have friends that have been through it too, make sure to ask them what sort of ideas they came up with, they may surprise you with some great growth solutions!

Love

Sophia xxx

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Are you wearing the correct bra size?

June 18, 2011

Most ladies are already aware that it is really important to make sure you wear the correct bra size – however, this does not mean everyone necessarily is.
Wearing the wrong size can damage your back and posture, it can change the shape of your breasts, not to mention make you look bigger than you really are (and I don’t just mean around your bust…)

Bravissimo Campaign

80% of women are wearing the incorrect bra size, and it’s not even necessarily their fault.
DD+ sizes just are not talked about in the media. They are largely ignored, and sometimes considered ridiculously ‘big’ sizes because they haven’t been openly discussed; people are not quite aware of how common these sizes really are.
I know a few years ago, I myself wouldn’t have even thought that there was anything beyond an E cup – that was the biggest I had come across. I didn’t have busty friends, or female family members to ask, and there was no one to tell me that the 34DD I was wearing was completely wrong for me in every way.

One day I got so fed up of being in pain, and feeling uncomfortable in my bras, that I agreed to a fitting at La Senza. The woman there was quite hard on me for wearing a bra that was “so clearly the wrong size”, going on to say that my breasts were becoming deformed because of all the ‘sideboob’ squishing out – she wasn’t wrong, but she wasn’t nice about it either!
She decided (without a measuring tape) that I was a 34F and that’s what I should wear from then on. So, I did.

Wrong.

I was probably a 32FF at the time. The problem is, that if a professional bra fitter tells you “this is your size” and you don’t know any better, then that’s what you will wear.
Nowadays, I know immediately if my breasts are changing and whether I need to increase/decrease my bra size; I’m currently a 30GG-32G, and so clued up about my sizing, I wonder how on earth I didn’t see it all through my teens and early 20s.

So, I thought I’d give a few tips on how a correctly fitting bra should look, and what to avoid.

First of all, tape measures are unreliable. BUT, if you have no clue where to start, I would recommend using one just to measure your underbust. Say for example you measure 31″ underbust; that gives a pretty good indication that you should try both a 30 band and a 32 band, and see which one fits you the best. It is important to note that both band size and cup size can vary depending on which brand you wear. As for finding the right cup size, try a few around what you already wear, and you may discover that some seem far more comfortable than others.
When you become familiar with your size and shape, you will probably have no real use for a tape measure. You will know instantly by the fit and feel whether a bra is right or wrong for you.

I will be using this gorgeous Curvy Kate bra as my ‘correct’ example of how a bra should fit. It’s new, today, this is the first time I have worn it. I measure 30.5″ underbust, and this is a 32G. Remember, it’s important to try a few of the closest band sizes to your measurements to find the best one.

Curvy Kate ‘Emily’ Flame – 32G

The first thing to remember is that you should always start off using the loosest hook. Bras loosen with wear and age, so you need those other two sets of hooks to be able to tighten it up over time. Otherwise, within a few months your bra will become useless and unsupportive.

Horizontal bra band – doesn’t ride up your back, fully supportive

You should comfortably be able to fit two fingers underneath the band; any looser and it will be too big, any tighter and it will be too small. If you stand side-on, the band should run horizontally around your chest, and not ride up at the back.

Check that two fingers can fit comfortably under your bra band

The band is 80% of the support for your breasts, this means the straps should not be tight on your shoulders. Again, you should be able to fit two fingers under the shoulder straps – they should not be digging in or causing you pain.

Enough space for two fingers to fit under your shoulder straps

The centre gore (which is the join piece in the middle of your bra), should lie flat against your chest, and not pull away from it at any point. If it does pull away, then you need a bigger cup size.

The centre gore should lie flat against your chest

The cups should fully encase your breasts, and there should be NO overspill on top, (creating the four boob effect), or round the sides (giving you the ‘sideboob’ effect). Most women will have one breast slightly larger than the other, like me.
If this is the case, it’s best to make sure the bra fits your biggest breast, not the smallest. If you have a noticeable difference that you’re not comfortable with, there are lots of breast fillet products that can placed inside the cup to even them out.

Your breasts should be fully encased in the cup, with no overspill on top or around the sides

What to avoid:

These are the same sort of examples, but wearing the ‘wrong’ bra, to show you what it shouldn’t look like.

If your back band is riding up all the time – this means you need a smaller band size, and you current one is not supportive enough; your shoulders will be feeling the effects.

Band riding up indicates you need a smaller band size

If the band feels tight instead, and is causing you pain – this means you need to try a bigger band size.

If the centre gore pulls away from your chest, then you will need to go up a cup size so it lies flat.

Centre gore pulling away – bigger cup size needed

The same goes for breast over spill on the top (or underneath) of the bra, and also what I like to call ‘sideboob’, where breast tissue spills out of the sides of your bra – this again means your cup size is too small.

Over spill and ‘sideboob’ indicate a bigger cup size is needed

If instead, you find you have excess material in the cups – this means you need a smaller cup size.

Don’t forget, when you put a bra on, you should ‘arrange’ your breasts inside them so they are properly encased. This is the best way to tell if a bra fits you or not.

The most common mistake is wearing a band size too big, and a cup size too small.
If you have just discovered you are wearing the incorrect band size, and you need to downsize, remember that you must increase your cup size too. For example, if you have been wearing a 34DD that’s too big in the band, you would be a 32E or a 30F. Even then, if your original 34DD was small in the cup, you may still need to go up a few more cup sizes, and vice versa.

If you want to get measured professionally, I would recommend heading into a Bravissimo store – they are the most accurate fitters I have come across.
If you also want to buy a new bra to try some alternative sizes, I recommend having a browse on Brastop, they do some great deals on gorgeous Lingerie.

If you want to check your measurements online, the most accurate bra calculator I have come across is here: Butterfly Collection Bra Size Calculator
It may not be perfectly accurate, it was for me, but of course it depends on the person. Give it a try anyway.

If you have any questions, or concerns that I haven’t addressed here, please feel free to ask me. Between me and my blogging bra friends, we can probably work out what the issue is.

Love

Sophia xxx

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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