Category Archives: Bra fitting know-how

Bra-fitting blogs and communities, part 5

If you have been following the articles about bra fitting blogs and communities you may start to get an impression that this subject is popular only in Poland… It’s not entirely true… There are communities and blogs that you can join or read if you don’t speak Polish. I have to admit though, that several of them were set up by Polish women;)

Those of you who know German can check out: http://busenfreundinnen.net/ a forum about bra fitting for small and big breasted women. One of the mods of this forum, Aqua (ja_joanna on the Polish forum) says: “A lot of German women are very sceptical about tight bands and migration of boobs. But there are quite some who don’t believe at first, but they still try it and find out it works. Then they come back to the forum to admit it” The other one, Nirmena (aadrianka on the Polish forum) says:” The forum of Busenfreundinnen is growing very fast. We get a lot of thank you emails and post, which is very nice. We have a few very nice girls who learned how to advice about bra fitting and now help with moderating the forum”. My German is not really very good, I would rather say it’s very basic, so I don’t really follow what goes on on there, however I would like to thank you girls for linking to my blog:)

Another place which used to be a bra -desert is Czech but thanks to Vsechno o podprsenkach and Busthalter women there can also find out what a correct size of bra can do for their breasts. The lobbying even spread to Lithuania with the blog of Iskirpte. Those who speak French can check out http://bramania.wordpress.com/un-vrai-soutien-pour-tes-seins/ where Polish lobbyists compiled and translated the basic rules of bra fitting.

 If you speak English only, there are also quite a lot of places you can visit. I suppose you have heard about Busts 4 Justice, a group of dissatisfied costumers who demand that Marks and Spencer should level the prices of G+ bras to the ones with smaller cup. Other ones in English that are worth visiting are: Breasttalk.co.uk , Busting out, Thirty-two-D, Boobius Maximus and Knickersblog, the blog of eternal voyager on xanga.com as well as 80B doesnt’ exist at http://80bmyth.blogspot.com/

How does it sound to you? It seems that there are quite a lot of us even though I didn’t really mention everyody and every blog or community on the subject. What’s more, with time you can only expect more to appear. I know there are women who know their correct bra size and happen to live in Italy or Hungary who plan to popularize this subject there too…

Bra fitting blogs and communities, part 4

I was silent for a while though my original intention was to post a note every week… Almost 3 weeks have passed since I published the last article… Sorry for that, it’s just my laziness (and addiction to Plants versus Zombies) <oops> I needed a kick to get down to work;)  So, today I’d like to continue introducing Polish blogs about bra fitting.

The first one, 35plus ( http://35plus.blox.pl/html ), the one that you can see in the blogroll is written by anna-pia who writes for women over 35 years old who had children, nursed and their breasts are not in tiptop form anymore. What you can find there are opinions and reviews of bras that are best for women of this age. Another blog with reviews of bras is http://nathd.blox.pl/html , Nathd writes also about shopping for bras in different shops.

If you want to find out if a given bra is comfortable or not you should check out  http://wygodne.eu.org/blog/  (Comfortable and uncomfortable bras). The authors describe in a very detailed way bras that were impossible to wear for them for various and multiple reasons such as rough fabrics or too long underwires etc.  http://www.biuperfekcja.pl/ (Boobperfection), a blog of ava.adore affirms cone shaped breasts but you can also find reviews of different brands of lingerie as well as advice about bra-fiiting (btw, this is something that you find virtually on every blog about bras written by Lobby Biusciastych users).

Owners of small breasts (but not only) may find reading “Small cup – oasis of small breasts” http://smallcup.blox.pl/html  and “Stanikowy Matrix” (Bra matrix)  http://b75.blox.pl/htmlboth entertaining and educational. Ametyst89 and Katinkova, authors of these blogs, fight with stereotypes that are usually associated with small breasted women. One of these stereotypes says that they should only wear push-up bras otherwise they will have no breasts visible at all.

Even teenagers write blogs about bras and brafitting. Wera9954 is the author of Stanikologia (Bralogy) http://stanikologia.blox.pl/html  trying to convince her peers (and whoever unaware reading her blog) to start wearing a correct size of a bra and also warning of consequences of wearing a bad one (a note: how to get yourself spaniel ears shaped boobs in 3 years).

Owners of lingerie shops write blogs too, an example can be http://onlyher.blox.pl/html, a blog of Agugabi – owner of onlyher.pl. The most of the contents of her blog though, are “technical” descriptions of bras that are available in her shop. What I mean by technical description is: the length and width of the U, the height and width of the centre gore, the depth of cups, the length of underband – unstretched and stretched to the maximum. These are very important details as all bras (even ones that are declared to be the same size) are different, as they are made of different fabrics, have different elasticity etc etc

These are definitely not all Polish blogs about bras and brafitting – there seemed to be almost an explosion of them recently. That is why I’d like to ask those who were not mentioned above to write about their blogs in the comments though. The authors of the blogs I wrote about can add something too, especially if they feel dissatisfied with my descriptions.

Bra fitting blogs and communities, part 3

 Having written about two main bra-fitting forums and the blog of Stanikomania I would like to continue introducing blogs related with this subject. Today it’s the turn of Balkonetka, “a place for happy breasts”, a blog set up by Mauzonka in March 2008. Balkonetka is a blog about lingerie. As Mauzonka says, she writes about types and cuts of bras – which are better or worse fitting, brands that are worth noticing (meaning with full range of sizes and the bras that are nice looking, well-constructed and good quality), places where you can buy nice lingerie etc etc. There’s also a seperate category on the blog about “Celebrities’ bra sins” – as you can guess, the articles there deal with pop and movie stars that don’t know how to properly dress their assets no matter big or small… Another thing that you can find on Balkonetka is a bra – search engine – Brafinity, which helps you find a given bra on British E-bay and Brastop. The latest initiative Mauzonka’s launching on the blog, is a survey for the Best Polish Online Lingerie Shop, Best Polish Lingerie Shop and Best Foreign Lingerie Shop.

Last spring Balkonetka gained new functionalities. First of all, you can log on to it and set up your profile with an avatar, signature and size. You also get your “drawer” where you can put photographs of lingerie (btw, some readers already demand a “wardrobe” saying a drawer is too small…). Why such a function? The readers of Balkonetka put photographs of themselves in various bras asking about opinion, if just bought bras are well fitting or not, like for example here: http://balkonetka.pl/katalog/bra/fauve-nicole-nior – this girl is not sure if the bra fits well , and the advice she gets suggest to try putting on the bra slightly higher or trying a different band size or also another cut of bra. Other photographs are there to show how a bra really looks on a woman’s body as photographs of lingerie in online shops are heavily retouched with graphic programs – example: http://balkonetka.pl/katalog/bra/panache-masquerade-annalise . There are also photographs of clothes that fit well curvy women – meaning they have enough space for breast but at the same time they are not baggy at the waist, just like this dress from a Polish brand of Biubiu: http://balkonetka.pl/katalog/bra/biubiu-szara-eminencja-40bbb Another “category” are photos showing badly fitted bras, which serve kind of “educational” function: http://balkonetka.pl/katalog/bra/model-wstawiony-w-celach-naukowych The moment I’m writing this, the gallery of bras already has 216 pages , hosting more than 2000 photographs of bras and curvilicious clothes – so you can see how popular it is.

One more functionality that Balkonetka gained last spring is a forum where readers can discuss lingerie and other subjects. And the latest subforum – Bra Swap – where readers can sell bras that don’t fit them anymore, or ones that turned out to be unfitting from the very start.

To sum it up, Balkonetka can be the second most popular blog about bra fitting in Poland with its 15800 visits a month. I can only wish it more popularity and more readers (the same to myself;) )

Bra-fitting communities, part 1

  Lingerie, bras and bra-fitting may seem a not very serious subject to write a blog about. However there are already a lot of communities and blogs about it. In most of previous articles I was mentioning Lobby Biusciastych (Big-Boobed Women’s Lobby), Stanikomania and Balkonetka , and they are not the only ones. There are much more… I would like to start introducing online brafitting communities with Polish Lobby Biusciastych (Big-Boobed Women’s Lobby) and a sister forum – Lobby Malobiusciastych ( Small-Boobed Women’s Lobby).

Big Boobed Women’s Lobby was set up by butters77 in 2005. Its main function was to help big boobed women find nice and well-fitted bras. At the beginning participants of the forum were sharing information about shops where they could find nice bras with cups bigger than D. But lack of full range of sizes in shops wasn’t the only problem the forum was trying to deal with. It was also incompetance (and arrogance) of shop assistants who were saying that “sizes bigger than D don’t exist” or “if you want an F cup you can only get 90F”. What do you think were the results of such an approach? “Apart from having to wear unfitting and uncomfortable bras for years, a lot of women were forced into believing that their breasts were “abnormal”, “overgrown” ,“outsized” as they didn’t fit into “standard”… This was what the Lobby wanted to fight with, these stereotypes stating that a big breasted woman is always fat or that cups F, G or H are gigantic or push-up bras are the best for small breasted women.” says butters77.

 It soon turned out that there are quite a lot of big-boobed women… What’s more, it turned out that small boobed women also have problems with well-fitting bras, so the Lobby started to be a place of exchanging information about bra fitting as such. However, later on it started to be apparent that small breast have slightly different needs than big breasts. Cuts of bras that were good for big breasts were not always perfect for small breasts etc. That’s when Small-Boobed Women’s Lobby was created, 3 years after the creation of Big Boobed Women’s Lobby.

That was a few words about history. Now let’s talk about numbers:

  • – 4 years from the start the forum already reached 200000 posts, the younger forum is close to 50000;
  • – the thread “what bra size should I wear” where experienced brafitters advice “novices” has its 43 part, each part  having 500 posts, the forum for small breasted women has 14 of them;
  • – there’s a thread listing all bra manufecturers were users share their experiences of wearing particular bras;
  • – there are threads about good “real” lingerie stores and online shopping;

The participants of the forum “lobby around” spreading the knowledge about brafitting anywhere they can – female relatives, friends, etc. They also do it in a more “organised” way at bra fitting events in shops, schools, local community centres etc.

What’s more, the forum started to be noticed by press and media. So far there have been more than 40 articles in the press and TV or radio appearances where the subject of bra-fitting, the Lobby and other brafitting blogs showed up. The topic of bra fitting has been appearing repeatedly in women’s magazines too. Polish bra manufecturers noticed the force of the Lobby either – more and more of them are widening their range of sizes by introducing small bands like 60 and 65, and also cups bigger than D… reaching up even to something as “exotic” as cup J and higher… (remember though that continental J is much smaller than British J cup). There are more and more lingerie shops offering full range of sizes too. Last year especially there was a real “explosion”of them. More than 20 new shops, both real and online were set up, apart from that ones that already existed which opened new branches. If you didn’t check out a bra-map of the world, do it now and see how many there are… Despite all these positive changes there’s still a lot of ignorance and some women still have a terrible time buying bras in quite a lot of shops. However, remember that 4 years ago there was almost nothing in Poland… Well, maybe two brands…

Different sizing systems

If you have been reading this blog as well as the contents of all the links that I provided (Stanikomania etc) you may start to feel a bit lost – so many different sizes, with some that sound “cosmic” just like 32J – what the heck is 32? And why such a “big” letter? Well let’s have a closer look at this jungle of sizes.

There are several sizing systems that are used around the world: continental (European), British, French, American, even the Australians have one of their own.

Let’s start with continental system used by European manufacturers (although most of them lack small underband/big cup combinations). In this system the number in size corresponds to your measurement under-bust rounded to the nearest five multiple. At least this is the theory. In practice, underbands are so elastic that you should be taking a band 5 to 10cm smaller than your actual under-bust measurement. Cup sizes are marked by single letters and grow every 2 cm.

Band sizes are: 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 95  ,90, 95 (every 5cm)

Cup sizes are: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K etc (every 2cm)

For example a person wearing 75G has breasts that are by 2cm smaller than a person wearing 75H.

British system

According to kasica (from Stanikomania) it’s a favourite sizing system of all bramaniacs. Why? Mainly because most of British brands that are using it produce bras in all possible band/cup combinations. It’s also quite logical and easy to recalculate into European sizing.

The digits used in this system correspond to our under-bust measurement in inches – at least they do more or less. The classic theory claimed that to calculate your British band size you had to add 4 or 5 to your under-bust measurement. This might have worked in the past when bras were made of un-elastic fabrics, but now bras are so stretchy that in most cases you can forget about this rule and try a bra with the band much closer to your actual frame measurement. What you have to know is that continental:

60 = British 28

65 = British 30

70 = British 32

75 = British 34

80 = British 36 etc

So, you see, band sizes go up every 2 inches (5cm) – just like in the continental system.

British cups start at AA and grow every 2,5cm (an inch). Somebody that wears 34F is 2,5cm smaller around boobs that a person wearing 34FF. Yes, British system uses double letters, it’s not a “half-size” as some people may think.

Cups in the British system are as follows: AA, B, C, D, DD, E, F, FF, G, GG, H, HH, J, JJ, K. There’s no double for E and I/II are missing – they just don’t exist.

The only point where these two system actually meet is D cup – in both of them this a cup that is designed for a person with 19cm difference between a band and measurement around breasts.

French system.

It’s a mutation of continental one, the cups are the same (theoretically), the numbers are different. To calculate your French band size you need to add 15 to the continental band size you wear. So if you wear a 70 – it means it’s a French 85, a continental 75 is a French 90 etc…

American system

It’s a mutation of the British system, digits are the same – 32, 34 etc (they don’t produce 28 and 30) and cups end at D – probably due to an advanced case of letterphobia… You just have D, then DD, DDD, DDDD….. it’s just ridiculous. As if calling the cups with multiple D letters would make them be smaller than F or G or H etc.

If anybody actually makes bigger cups, sometimes they name them FF, G, GG  or G, I, J – it’s a bit of a mess, really.

Here, a digression – some of you may associate American bras with Victoria’s Secret… Well, before I found out about real brafitting rules I thought Victoria’s Secret was a paradise. But after I discovered my real size and comfort it gives I know I will never buy anything from them again. They don’t really have all range of sizes (even though they claim they do), the quality is really low – these bras are terribly stretchy and unsupportive, they also get damaged fast when you wash them… Frankly speaking it’s a crap that is nicely packed into a shiny pink gift bag .

One thing I would like to point out here is that different bra makers around the world don’t really put much effort into recalculating bra sizes from one system to another. So just be careful and don’t trust the labels when you see for example: EU 80F, UK 36F.  In this case only the numbers are right. You remember that continental cups sizes grow every 2cm and British ones every 2,5cm and have double letters? So how come EU 80F and UK 36F be the same??? (according to the label). But in reality, a continental 80F is for a person who has 103cm around breast and a British 36F is for somebody measuring there106,5 cm. This mistake can be also found on British bras. I’m just holding one of mine in my hand. The label says: UK 32G, EU 70G, FR 85G – which again is not true. British 32G will fit a person  that measures 101,5 cm around breasts, while continental 70G will be ok for 95cm.

I used kasica’s article about different systems.

How to calculate your size?

You already know how a bra should fit, you have knowledge about different bra sizing systems. Now, at last, it’s time to learn how to calculate your bra size.

  1. Take a measuring tape into your hand
  2. Measure your frame  under-bust, horizontally – attention, the tape has to be tight – exhale and squeeze it a bit. (don’t worry, your bra band is much more elastic than the tape)
  3. Measure yourself around breast – loosely, don’t squeeze this time. You can take the measurement in a bra and without it. Then consider the bigger number.

Ok. What did you get? For example: under- bust:70cm, around breasts – 95cm…

If you have 70cm under-bust, most probably you will need a 65(30) underband.

Why so small number? Remember that the bra band will stretch, all of them do, some more some less. Remember rule number one for bra fitting??? 85% support of the bra comes from the horizontal underband… This is why it’s necessary to go down on it. Sometimes it’s only 5cm – if a bra underband is quite tight, sometimes you need to deduct more – up to 10cm if a bra underband is stretchy.

Now cup size is a difference between measurement around breast and the band. Take a look into the British size chart (it’s in the links). You look for the row with 65 – British 30 and then you look for a column with number that corresponds to your measurement around breasts, for 95cm it will be something between cups FF and G –so 30FF/30G is what you should try. If you look for a continental size, then it would be 65I or 65J.

Surprised with the letter you got? You are probably  thinking: “What will I put into this huge G? I havent’t got so big tits!” Or I have no tits at all” Well, you’re not the first nor the last to react like that;) Remember what I said about cups – they are NOT the same with different underbands. Compare for example cups in 70B, 75B, 80B, 85B etc – you will see the difference between them. In the same way 30FF or 30G are  NOT big. I hope you read kasica’s articles from Stanikomania – you can clearly see it there. Moreover, if you put on the bra correctly it may even turn out that the cups are too small…

The 65FF or 65F should be fitting you snugly when you fasten it on first loosest hooks, you will use the middle ones and the tightest ones after some time when the bra streatches.

What else should I mention here? Well, for a start we recommend soft bras, forget about padding. Padded bras are much more difficult to fit than soft ones, when you try on a soft bra it’s easier for you to see if everything is ok with the cup, if you like the shape it gives your breast, padded cups somehow force your breasts into certain shape…

Ok, this is the theory which seems simple enough. Unfortunately practice is not so easy – “applied bralogy” is not an exact science. It’s mainly due to the fact that all of us are differently built. Two women with the same measurements can end up with two completely different bra sizes and vice versa, the same size can be worn by women with different measurements.

Why? First of all, our bodies have different compliance to “squeezing”. Those of us who have thicker “thermo-isolation” 😉 usually can be “squeezed” more than those who are very thin or muscular. Bear in mind that choosing a fitting size is not a competition in fastening “the tightest band possible” – if you try you won’t be able to breathe and do everyday stuff. A bra isn’t supposed to be a torture device, but a comfortable piece of clothing for your boobs.  Also, if you take a too tight band it can simply stretch on you and  pull the underwires to the back and you’ll end up with your boobs under your armpits again…

The second reason why the size chart may not give you 100% fitting size can be your wider back – those with it will need a smaller cup. Another group of women that will need smaller cups are the ones with soft and limp breasts. Finally, all bras are different. Some are more stretchy, some are like “boa constrictors”. Some have cups that are slightly bigger that the size implies, some have smaller ones… Unfortunately this can happen even with the same model, brand and size but – different color. For example,  Freya Arabella is very famous for its stretchiness and also has bigger cups than the actual size implies – in this case you can even downsize more on the band but consider slightly smaller cups…

At the moment you can only check out what  is best for you by trying on several models in neighboring sizes. So, the hypothetical 30FF and 30G, but you can also try 30F and 30GG – then you simply send back the ones that don’t fit.

This is also why I wrote articles about how a bra should fit you – you just have to know these rules, because the size you get from here is just a starting point. You may end up with different size for every brand and model you try on… I wear sizes from 30GG to 32G or 32GG or 32H depending on properties of a given model.

An important thing – if you calculate your right size and you get a bra that fits you well, don’t buy too many of them. Your dimensions will change… All this flesh that used to be pushed out under your armpits will simply come back to where it belongs – it means you end up with bigger boobs and sometimes smaller measurement under-bust… Ladies, it’s true… A lot of women from our Polish bra fitting communities confirm this, and even if nothing changes in actual dimensions, your boobs get much nicer shape.

So for a start, buy one or two bras just to cover your every day needs. Time for a shopping spree will come later.

How to put on a bra correctly?

Ok, you already know how a bra should and shouldn’t fit you. Now I want to describe how to put it on correctly, not just squeeze your breasts into the cups (that are usually to small).

Ladies, don’t laugh? It may seem stupid, but it’s quite a serious matter.

Only putting it on correctly can show you if a given size is good for you or not. Take a look at this pair of photographs from Polish blog Stanikomania by kasica_k (www.stanikomania.blox.pl

 hot to put onjpg

Both photographs show a girl wearing exactly the same size, continental 70A. However, there’s a difference.  On the right photograph the bra is put on correctly which clearly shows that it’s too small – you can see the bulging even through her clothes. Quoting from another Kasica_k’s article: “We think that putting a bra means fastening the hooks and putting on straps. And if our breasts don’t look like flattened pancakes, we don’t have to look for them in the cups or they don’t fall completely out of them, we think it’s ok”. Well, it’s not

Putting on a bra is not putting it on your breasts. It’s the opposite – you have to put your breasts into it, exactly into the cups. There are a lot of instructions how to do it online, but the most important thing is to make the bra fit you correctly and support your breasts, or to recognize a wrong size.

Here’s the way that Kasica and other Polish bra fitters came up with (it’s based on the one made by the British online lingerie store: www.figleaves.com)

  1. Bend down. Adjust the straps to the maximum length and fasten the underband (if you can’t do it on the back, do it on the front and turn it around without straining it too much). Put on the straps on your shoulders.
  2. Straight up. Make sure the bra is not too low, the underwires should be on your ribcage just under your breasts. Now, an important thing –  put your right hand into the left cup and gather all the breast tissue from under your armpit (and even your back) into the cup, at the same time hold the left underwire with your left hand. Repeat the procedure on the other side.
  3. Make sure the underband is horizontal. Hold both underwires with your hands, bend down a bit and gently shake the bra to allow your breasts to lie comfortably in the cups. Straight up.
  4. Adjust the straps. You may need to slide them down to do it. They should support your breast slightly without putting too much pressure on the shoulders.

 Did you try with your bras??? What was the result???

 One more important thing, imagine you try on a bra for the first time, in a changing room in a lingerie store or at home (in case you bought a bra online), you followed this 4step procedure and everything seems fine, the bra fits correctly. Hurray!!!   Wait a moment! Remember it has to fit you correctly all day, not only when you remain straight in front of your mirror.

Give it a crash test: jump around a bit, bend down and straight up, raise your arms – just do some “gymnastics”.  Does the bra still fit? If it does, lucky you, you have a good bra. If not, well, you have to exchange it and try another size.

Of course you don’t need to do the whole procedure every time you put on a bra – especially if it’s a one you already use.

Remember that those of us who maltreated their breasts with very incorrect sizes may have a lot of this breast tissue that “escaped” from its rightful place – it just needs to be “convinced” to come back. That’s why this gathering movement from the second step is so important. Do it and your breasts will reward you – they will  get  much better shape, they may also become slightly bigger, your measurement under breast may become narrower…. There are a lot of women in Polish bra fitting online communities that experienced this phenomenon after changing from incorrect size to a good one. We call it  “migration”. Just have a look at this article from Stanikomania: http://stanikomania.blox.pl/strony/howtolookgood.html   Scroll it down till the last paragraphs. The photos there show this positive change. But don’t exaggerate with this gathering movement, not everything under your armpits is “boobs on the run”, don’t stretch this delicate skin too much.

I used fragments of Kasica_k’s note from Stanikomania “Jak zalozyc stanik”