For as long as I can remember, I’ve had this want, well, rather a need to learn things, I find myself constantly muttering “But… why is it/does it/doesn’t it…?” over so many topics, sure, it sometimes gets me into hot water as it seems that not everyone is appreciative of my inquisitive, yet logical questioning, but many creators and creatives are the same, we dont just accept that ‘that’s how things are’ we want to know WHY its that way, is there a way to change it, make it better, improve it.
Earlier on in my blog I spoke about how this very trait brought me into the world of corset making, how many OTR corsets didnt fit me properly (being short and chunky) how it wasn’t fair that I should have to conform to the clothes on offer, rather than the other way round. How my wedding evening was spent bathing an open wound, and sporting a rather impressive set of bruised ribs on honeymoon caused by snapped a bone & sub-par metalwork used in a cheap corset. My now husband muttered those 6 words “You could make a better one…” and thus the seed was sown. 4 years on, many books, tuition courses and interactions with other corset makers and I now offer out my services.
That same inquisitive nature of mine has struck again, this time, my frustration lies with bra’s, and I’m not alone, apparently 76% of women wear the wrong size bra, with reasons ranging from deliberately buying a bra too small thinking it’ll give their smaller boobs a better lift, through to people who believe their boobs are so big, that there surely isn’t a store that will sell one big enough. One anonymous friend (please dont hurt me) said that her bra shopping consisted of “going into <insert shop name here> and buying the biggest one they have.
My own personal experiences have been less than positive, with one notable time where, determined to get one that fitted and didnt leave my boobs wobbling around like half set jelly, I booked a fitting with a ‘professional bra fitter’ at a large well known department store. The ‘fitter’ measured me, added the time old +4 (which has its roots in the 1950’s vanity sizing and the fact that the stretchy materials we use in today’s bra’s simply were not available 65 years ago) and came out with a size (46B) and the minute she said it i knew it was wrong, but I went along, as you do. Unsurprisingly, the bra was ludicrously large, I could have used it as a makeshift slingshot – whilst i was wearing it – needless to say the fitter was not impressed at my humorous quips, and went back to get another size, this time coming back with a 36C – again, I knew this wouldn’t fit, I’d put on a few stone since I was that exact size a decade ago, needless to say when this too didn’t fit with the opposite issue – I’d managed to acquire 2 more sets of boobs in as many minutes, 2 under my armpits and 2 on my back – this time, the fitter was determined to put me in my place: “If you just lost a stone your bra’s would fit so much better!” How mortified was I? How dare I not conform to a piece of clothing? God forbid that I question her ability as a bra fitter, who cannot fit a bra.
I pushed this incident to the back of my mind until it came to THAT time again, it was time to buy some more bra’s, I *thought* my bra fitted OK until I started reading up on it, I was dreading that sizing minefield again, how would I know what size I was? clearly I couldn’t trust the only bra fitter in my area for miles, and so I joined a few Bra Making groups on social media, Well, I’d had this same dilemma with corsetry, so why not bras? and so it started, I started asking questions, reading articles, realising that the +4 method that is often used simply isn’t applicable to a lot of women today. there’s a great article here by Fuller Figure Fuller Bust, but essentially:
- The materials used in 1950’s were quite rigid, and not stretchy like what is available today (Spandex wasn’t invented by Du Pont until 1958, and wasn’t introduced into clothing until 1962).
- Fuller figures, combined with elastics might not need an extra 4″ of give in a bra that’s added onto the band size ‘by default’.
- Slimmer & more athletic figures conversely might actually need those extra 4″ of give, as having such a rigid bra might feel very uncomfortable.
I wont even go into the mathematics of it all! It’ll only serve to confuse, and I dont want to pretend that I know THAT much about bra fitting at this point, because I really dont, and this post is more about a regular gal, giving her experience and opinion, but suffice to say whilst the media tell us about how bad it is to wear an ill-fitting bra, the importance of comfort and fit, they then demonstrate this with a poorly fitted bra in so many cases? How are us mere mortals supposed to know what fits us when we get all these mixed messages? When the majority of everything we see/told is also wrong? When those same media outlets then release video’s like this one The History of the Bra – Styles From Every Era where practically every bra the model wears was badly fitted. What I would suggest is to measure yourself, and go shopping, try on several sizes, push misconceptions aside (as I did today) I am of the ‘fuller’ figured, so I looked at both bands in a 38 (my actual UB measurement) and those in a 42 (the +4 method), I swept aside cup size assumptions (me, and E cup? get away!!) and did as an experienced bra fitter friend I spoke with told me to, start at the 38 and go up the cup sizes if the band is comfortable. I’ve actually found that by doing this I’ve struck gold (well, for this particular brand anyway) and found my perfect bra in a DD cup… I’m pretty thrilled!
Which brings me onto the next chapter of the bra journey, now that I have information to hand, Ive bought patterning books, Ive got links to Bra making sites, I might well be looking into making my own bras! how fabulous would that be? to be able to have those skills? and hey, to be able to make a bra & pants that go perfectly with an underbust corset? after all, we all love a bit of Matchy Matchy!