Friday, July 29, 2011

A DD Is Not As Big As You Think

During my vacation, I gave a bunch of fittings to a family. In total, 3 pre-teens, 2 teens, and 4 women. I must say here that my good friend Alison was wearing the right size. Yay! Her bra was starting to wear out but still fit her very well. 

So, I gave the girls fittings. They were all wearing at least 1 band size too big, and at least 1 was wearing too small of a cup. 

The oldest of the girls measured at a 34DD. She seemed a little horrified at that. But actually, she was very proportionate. She had just enough hip to balance out the bust. 

So when did a DD become "OMG freaking HUGE" instead of just 5 inches? What's that? Yeah. A DD cup is a difference of 5 inches. That's not even half a foot. 

So this post was inspired by that beaufitul, tall, 15-year-old 34DD.  I want her to know that her size isn't huge, it isn't even that big or uncommon. I want her to know that, with the right bra, her breasts will be comfortable, which in turn will make her comfortable with them. If she's not constantly readjusting her bra, she won't draw undue attention to her chest. And, if she is comfortable, it's easier to be confident, which is truly beautiful. 

The right bra will show off her slender, long waist. It will keep her breasts contained and secure (no wardrobe malfunctions). She won't have to worry about embarrassing bulges or uncomfortable poking. And my dearest hope is that she will never hate her breasts the way I once did. 

I hated these horrible things attached to me that caused nothing buy pain and embarrassment. And then I found a comfortable bra in the correct size. My breasts weren't painful anymore. They didn't embarrass me. In fact, I am quite proud of my breasts now. I love my 34Gs (in UK sizing, 34I according to most US size charts). I hope that this gorgeous teenager can learn to love her body as it is. I hope that, with the right bra, she won't be so conscience of her breasts, and will let her talent and intellect shine. And she is a very smart, very talented young woman. Besides, not constantly worrying about your boobs will make anyone's day a little easier. 

So next time you fall into the "OMG they are so HUGE" frame of mind, stop and count to 5. If they're a DD/E. 5 inches isn't that big. Especially next to me ;)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sports Bras

Oh, sports bras. I had a request for a sports bra post.

Sports bras are a world of their own. Many even use a S/M/L sizing. And it's very hard to find sports bras for anything higher than a DD cup.

There are 2 kinds of sports bras. I have both. Both kinds use compression to control breast movement. It's how the approach compression that makes them different.

A Compression bra is what we usually think of, the one that gives the horrid uni-boob look and just smooshes everything down. Compression has it's place when done correctly. One company I highly recommend that uses this is Enell. I wear an Enell bra for running. It's not the prettiest, but I don't care much about pretty when I'm working out. I just want to lose the bounce.

The other type is an Encapsulated bra. This means each breast is compressed separately. You'll see this much more in the higher cup sizes, and often with an underwire. (Underwires in sports bras are personal preference. I personally refuse to have an underwire in my sports bra.) My encapsulated sports bra is from Freya Active. Some "encapsulated" bras really make you wonder if they are truly working with your breasts individually, or just trying to have less of a uni-boob look.

As for sizing and fit, this is where sports bras are special. A sports bra just fits differently. The band should definitely be snug, but not to the point of pinching or cutting off blood flow. The cup(s) should firmly hold your breasts. You may find that you have to go up a band size in some sports bras, because companies know the bra should fit snuggly (and make them too snug). I actually tend to get compression bras a cup size or two smaller than I measure, which really smooshes those puppies down. I'm comfortable doing this, but I wouldn't recommend it for everyone.

When shopping for sports bras, you first need to think about what activities you want the bra for. I use my Freya Active for walking, bike riding, and other low-impact activities. My Enell is for running and other high impact activities. Just like the activity, your sports bra is low, medium, or high impact. Low impact means it won't give as much support and bounce-reduction, while high impact means lots of support and bounce-reduction. You may find it easier to have different sports bras for different activities, like I did. Some bras won't specify their impact level, but take a good look at the material and structure, and I bet you can figure it out.

So try on a sports bra, and once it's on, jump around, move around, bend, twist, go crazy in that dressing room. If you want to run in your bra, run in place. If you want to do yoga, do a few moves (and make sure you don't fall out).

Another aspect of sports bras is their lack of adjustability. (Is that a word? I'll have to look it up.) As I'm sure you know, most sports bras we know are a pull-on style. There are more and more styles now that offer adjustable straps or even adjustable hook closures. This is another reason to TRY IT ON. Make sure it's going to fit before you drop the money.

As for brands and where to shop? Hell, they're everywhere! I've heard good things about the Champion sports bras at Target for women up to a DD cup. I have shopped in a Title Nine store and found decent bras at good prices. Title Nine also has barbell ratings for their bras, to tell you their impact rating, and has more options for bigger chests. There are lots of places to find sports bras. You'll find lycra/cotton blends, bras with molded cups, moisture wicking, and all kinds of new techy things in today's sports bras. You have to find what works for you.

I hope this helps. Sports bras can be tricky. I'm currently debating whether to get another Enell or try the ShockAbsorber brand, which I would have to order online.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Go Fit Yourself

I can't believe it, but I never did a post about how to find your size! Holy crap something must be wrong with me. So, here's the article I wrote about it. It's online somewhere but not published anywhere. Oh, and my fit tips are for underwires. A soft cup bra will not sit flat against the chest in the center. Enjoy!

How to Fit Yourself in a Bra

Most women have seen the articles, websites, advice, tips, etc. on how to fit a bra and how a bra should fit. I know, it can be confusing. You may be like I was, thinking some of those bra "tips" are more myth than fact. I was wrong, and now I want to keep other women from making the same fitting mistakes I did.


Let's start with how to find your size. You can find the same advice all over the internet, with one variance - the band measurement.

First, you will need some tools - a soft tape measure (not the metal kind you use in the garage), your most comfortable bra, a pad and paper, and a friend. You can do this on your own, but having a friend makes it easier and can give more accurate measurements.

Step 1 - Wearing your comfy bra, take your band measurement. The tape measure should lie flat against your ribcage, just under your breasts where the band is. This is where your friend comes in. She (or he) can see the numbers better and make sure the tape is horizontal around your torso. Write down your measurement.

Now this is where different sites and people will differ. Some say to add 3 inches, or even 5 inches to the measurement you just got around your torso. I say, take the number you have. If it's an odd number, round up. There is no need to add inches to get your band size. For example, I measure a 33 around my rib cage, and wear a 34 band.

Step 2 - Time to measure your bust. This is the hardest part to do on your own. The tape measure should rest on the fullest part of your bust, over the bra. This is often right over the nipples. Again, it should stay horizontal around your torso. Write down your measurement. To continue my example, my bust measurement is about 43 inches.

Step 3 - Time for math. Subtract your band number from your bust number. This will tell you your general cup size. It's pretty simple. For each inch difference, you go up a cup size. Start at A for 1 inch. My bust measurement, 43, minus my band measurement of 34, is a difference of 9 inches.

Now it gets tricky. You may look at a size chart on a website and say, "Wow, a 9 inch difference is an I/DDDDDD/G/H/FF cup!" Different sites cater to different brands, and there is no standard. US brands offten can't seem to get past the letter D. They will just add more Ds to make bigger sizes. Some European brands just follow a nice straight alphabet. In the UK, they have a different chart: A, B, C, D, DD, E, F, FF, G, GG, H, HH, and on from there. That is, most UK brands.

You see, there is no standard for labeling bra sizes. According to the UK cup sizes, I am a G cup. This holds true for most UK brands.

Let's try another. Say we have a young woman who measures a 32 band and 36 bust. With a difference of 4 inches, this puts her at a D cup. A nice round D that has the same place on all cup charts.


We got a base size to start with. That's right, you went through all that measuring and math and confusion for a starting point. Not all bras are the same. Since I make such a great example, let's continue. I wear my measured size, 34G, in my favorite UK brand. In other brands I wear a 34H (they didn't have the GG), or a 34FF. Bands can also differ sometimes, depending on brand and material. Strapless bras are often made with sturdier fabrics, and you may find yourself going up a band size. It can be frustrating, but I highly recommend trying on a bra before purchase. Most store clerks are familiar with the products they carry and can help you find a decent fit.

What about sports bras? We'll save that for another time. They can be an entirely different story with factors such as fabric, level of support, and compression versus separation.


Now that you are in the dressing room, how do you know if the bra actually fits? Fortunately, I've never seen anyone disagree on these points. First and foremost, the bra should be comfortable. Never settle for an uncomfortable bra, no matter how pretty it is.

The band should fit snuggly, and rest horizontally around your torso. If the band starts to ride up in the back, it's too big. If the band pinches, it's too small. You should be able to easily slide 1 or 2 fingers under the band. Remember that 90% of your support comes from the band, so it needs to fit, preferrably on the loosest hook.

The cups should do as their name says, cup the breast. Once you have the bra on, lean forward and wiggle the bra into place. You may need to actually lift the breast into the cup - just scoop up the breast in one hand and set it into the cup. Now test it. Bounce, jump, and jiggle. Lift up your arms. Do you see breast peeking out anywhere? Check the sides, the tops, and under the band. If you see breast peeking out, go up a cup size. If you see wrinkling fabric, loose fabric, any extra fabric, try going down a cup size.

The straps are only 10% of your support. If they fall off your shoulder, tighten them. These shouldn't pinch or put undo pressure on your shoulders.

The center of the bra, where the cups meet, should rest flat against your chest. I used to think this was just a myth until I started wearing a G cup. A little bit of space, about 1 finger, is ok, but the center should touch your chest. If the center is farther away from your chest, you need a larger cup size.


Women should not be afraid to get a professional fitting. They may know some tips or tricks that you haven't learned yet. Some department stores have fitters in their lingerie departments. You can also now host your own bra party in your home. Have your girlfriends over, take turns being professionally fitted, and even order bras from someone who knows how to fit you into the brands they are selling.

There are many online sites selling bras as well, but be careful of their return policies. Many people will order a couple sizes and try to return the ones that don't fit, so make sure you fully understand the return policy before ordering, or you could be stuck wtih the same bra in multiple sizes.

If you are having trouble finding your size in stores, don't give up! This is also where a professional can help. Ask around, look online, and you will find your size. Please, do not settle for the wrong size of bra! Your chest will thank you.