Friday, December 5, 2008

Totally copying a totally rad post...

...from Ms. Ameri-awesome tetetetigi over at motown throwdown. Tetetetigi is bra-girl extraordinare over at Macy's in St. Paul and wrote up a thing or two about bra fitting that every woman should read, in my humble opinion. It will totally make you want to go out and buy a bra today, and when do you ever want to do that? Seriously folks, it's that good. Make sure you make it to the very end.

A little while back, I promised to include tips on how to measure oneself for a bra and other bra-fitting tips. As I’m stuck at home with a nasty sore throat and fever, and as classes ended yesterday (woo!), I have time now to be thorough about it. First, a tutorial on how to measure yourself. Ideally, you should have someone helping you, but you can do this on your own.

Measuring Yourself:

1) Make sure you are wearing a bra. You’ll need it as a guideline for the measuring tape.

2) Take your measuring tape and first wrap it straight around your back right under your bustline. This measurement will help you figure out your band size according to this formula

a. If you measure under 30 inches around, add 4-5 inches to your total (to the closest even # -- so if you measure 27 inches, go to 32. If you measure 30, your band size is 34)

b. If you measure between 31-36 inches, add 2-3 inches to your total (so if you measure 32, your band size is 34, if you measure 33, your band size is 36)

c. If you measure 37+, add 0-1 inch to your total, depending on if you are at an even number or not.

3) Take the measuring tape and bring it straight around your back over the fullest part of your bust, probably right over your nipples for most women. This measurement will help you figure out your cup size. Subtract your band size from this measurement and use the difference to figure out your cup size according to this formula:

a. 1 in. – A

b. 2 in. – B

c. 3 in. – C

d. 4 in. – D

e. 5 in – DD

f. 6 in – DDD (E)

g. 7 in – F

h. 8 in – G

So, if you measured 34 inches under your bust (making your band size a 36), and you measure 41 inches around the fullest part of your bust, you are a 36DD. In my case, I measure 40 inches under my bust (thanks, mesomorphic frame!) and 46 inches around the fullest part of my bust, so I’m a 40DDD. (At the rehearsal dinner for my brother’s wedding, my sister-in-law’s step-grandma made a comment to me, while I was holding my niece, that babies probably liked being held by me because of my “large, comforting chest.” I laughed really hard about it later on with my mom).

Swing sizing: Note that the measurement you get is just a guide to shopping. If you try on a bra and it doesn’t seem to fit correctly, swing-size it by going up a cup size and down a band size, or up a band size and down a cup size. So, say you’re a 36D, and the cup on a bra feels fine but the band feels tight – try a 38C.

What to look for:

1) Cups should not pucker (too large) or cut into breast tissue (too small)

2) Center of bra should hug close to ribcage

3) Bra should feel snug but comfortable.

4) Underwire should rest comfortably against ribcage and should not move independent of your body – test this by moving your arms up and down.

5) Straps should be tight but not too tight – you should be able to move one finger comfortably under each strap

6) Try on bra on second hook, and you should be able to pull the back part of bra about ½ inch before you feel some tension.

Myths about Bra Fitting:

Myth 1: The straps are for support, ergo, strapless bras offer no support.

Fact: No support should come from the straps. All support comes from the band and the underwire of a bra. Straps hold the cups in place against your chest, and offer a little extra “lift,” but no support. This is why you need to make sure your band size is accurate and snug, and also why you should consider underwire if you wear a D-cup and up. I see little old ladies who have been relying on straps for support for YEARS and they all have something in common – little dents in their shoulders. Wear the wrong bra, and your BONE STRUCTURE WILL CHANGE. Strapless bras can be quite comfy, actually – just go down a band-size for extra support. I have a great strapless bra in a 38.

Myth 2: If I have a roll of back-fat, I should switch to a larger band size

Fact: Back-fat exists, and there’s nothing you can really do to get rid of all of it. If you are not happy with how a bra makes your back or sides look, get a wider band, not a larger band. The more vertical hooks on a bra, the smaller the appearance of back-fat will be. You’ll get better support as a bonus, you’ll stand straighter, and you’ll look taller. See, back-fat is giving you better posture! Love your back-fat. It’s a part of you, it wants to be your friend.

Myth 3: Padded bras are only for women with small chests

Fact: Most “padded” bras are actually “contour” bras that have no actual padding. And anyone can wear a contour bra. Contour bras are fucking sexy. Give that shit a try, man.

Myth 4: No bra in the world can fit me

Fact: I once did a fitting for a woman who had a weird bone protrusion between her breasts, enough that it looked like a third breast. Guess what? We found her a bra. So clearly, your case is not hopeless.

Bras to Consider Trying:

Small-Chested (A-B) – First of all, you are in vogue. Most clothing is geared towards smaller-chests these days. A push-up bra works with what you’ve got and can give the illusion of a larger chest. A bralet gives you the support you need, is comfortable for every-day wear, and allows you to wear a lot. A bandeau bra is a wire-free strapless bra that offers you enough support and lets you wear skimpier tops. Brands to look for: Calvin Klein, Wacoal, Jezebel, Luleh, Maidenform, Warners, Jockey, Barely There.

Medium-Chested (C-D): You have the most options, you lucky bitch. Try everything. Buy fashion bras like whoa. You should consider owning every kind of bra in the world. But I would say try: A plunge bra for low-cut tops, a contour strapless for certain dresses, and a convertible bra for most everything else. And try on the fashion bras. They are made for you. Brands to look for: Calvin Klein, DKNY, Wacoal, Jezebel, Vanity Fair, Luleh, Maidenform, Warners.

Large Chested: (DD+): You may think you need cranes and scaffolding and unsexy bras for your boobs, but you are wrong. Don’t limit yourself to grandma’s Playtex bras. The right bra can make you a fucking bombshell, sister. You are not exempt from sexy lace. You are not exempt from colors. You are not exempt from contour and push-up bras. You should actually try them on and see how great they make your tits look. I’m for serious here. I AM ONE OF YOU. Now, you may think you need a minimizer, but you may not – get a good-fitting bra and you’ll look “proportional.” Minimizers reduce projection, but they can also squish the shit out of you and give you weird flat boobs. Try a balconette: it gives you a very modest cleave, but holds you up impressively, and creates a sexy line. Look for a soft-cup strapless bra with an underwire – something that will hold you in place and keep you comfy. Some brands make a “push-up” bra for larger chests – and design it so that it’s a minimal amount of padding in the right place for push-up. Try ‘em out. Brands to look for: Calvin Klein’s “Seductive Comfort” line (geared towards larger chests), Wacoal, La Mystiere, Felina, Olga’s Christina, Lilyette, Bali’s “Amazing Lift” bra (the only Bali bra I like), Cacique (especially good for 38+ band sizes, and very good at making COLORFUL SEXY BRAS in LARGE SIZES seriously what did I do before I met you, Cacique?), Lunaire. ALSO: for great selections of full-figure lingerie.

Final words of encouragement:

Bra shopping scares a lot of people because they have this idea that it’s only for Victoria Secret’s models. But you should not aspire to be one of these models-sexy, you should aspire to be you-sexy. Block these images from your mind when you try on bras. Shop with someone who makes you feel good about yourself – your best friend, for instance. Don’t be afraid to ask a salesperson for advice – technically, we’re supposed to be trained to be sensitive and supportive (Also, don’t be afraid to complain if you get shitty treatment). And most of us are not going to be horrified by any body-type, honestly. I’ve seen and helped thin women, fat women, women who have just given birth, women who have lost a lot of weight all of a sudden, women who have gained weight, women who have odd body quirks, old women, young women, middle-aged women... and so forth. And you know what? No one looks grotesque to me. No one. No, not even you. You want to know why? Because for the longest time, I thought the most grotesque body in the world was the one I’m walking around in everyday. And then I started seeing women regularly in their bras, and seeing a lot of body-types, and hearing them all say the same thing – “My body is so bad. It’s so awful.” And… not so much. Everyone thinks their own body is gross, but it’s just a body. It was after working as a bra girl that I realized that I’m probably not grotesque because, well, as far as I can tell, everyone thinks their body is grotesque – but they’re all wrong. So, I figured I was probably wrong too, and that’s when I began noticing that I was just fine. And so are you.
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