Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Proper Fit

(Public Service Warning--for my two male readers, go ahead and invite your wives to read this post, but it probably won't hold much interest for you... I certainly don't mind if you read it, but it's one of those extra-girly sorts of posts, so proceed at your own risk. ☺ )

Over Christmas break I had a professional bra fitting.

Can I just say wow, and I wish I'd done it years ago?!

For the last *ahem* years I've always carefully followed the measuring directions, and for all these years I've been getting bras that more or less fit...some more, some less... Two bras of the same size would fit differently, and I had a hard time judging how well a particular style might fit until I actually tried it on. The problem is that I wore a size that is not carried on most store racks--I have a small band but a large cup and it's difficult to find a bra in my size, let alone enough options to be able to choose the one that fits the best. For most of my life I have bought bras via catalogs because that was the only place I could find my size, and as I said, some fit, but some did not. The problem with catalog ordering of course is that if you decide to send back the bra, then you have to wait weeks to get a new one, not to mention that the new one may or may not fit any better...

Four years ago I went to Victoria's Secret and had a bra fitting there, and they told me that I had been wearing the correct size all along (but gave me some help with finding styles/fabric types that would be better for my particular breast shape). I was so proud of myself, look, I've been wearing the right size all along... They say that 80% of women wear the wrong bra size, but look at me, I wasn't one of them!

Except that I was.

I was resigned to the idea that no busty lady bra fits the way that the smaller size bras fit on the models in the pictures. I was resigned to the idea that bras simply aren't comfortable if you're busty. I accepted that busty ladies just can't get anything that really supports or really stops the bounce...

I was wrong.

In the last few months I've been introduced to a few things by a few friends. They pointed me to places like this (photos) and this (photos) and this (good explanations but no photos) which illustrate what a bad fitting bra looks like...and I realized that I had multiple symptoms of bad-fitting-bra syndrome.
Then they sent me here, and said to try fitting method 2. You see, the method that many of us have been using for measuring was developed in a time when bras were made of stiff fabrics (rather than the stretchy ones we have now). The method simply isn't accurate anymore. The correct method is to measure your ribcage under your bust, and then use that number (add 1 if it's odd), but do not add 4-5 inches! Then lean over so that your torso is parallel to the floor, and measure around your unrestrained breasts and see how far they hang. Then take the difference between those two measurements. When I re-measured with this new method, "my size" went down two band sizes and up five (five!) cup sizes.Yes, I had a small band and large cup to begin with: now that status was exponentially increased.
At this site you begin by entering the current bra size you wear, and then answer some questions about fit (where the underwire lies, how far the band pulls out, etc), and it will tell you what your correct size should be. The answer it gave me was the same as the measuring method on that last site.

Fantasie bra "jana" goes up to K cups

So then I found a boutique that actually carried my size. (It's hard to find places that carry J cups, but they do exist. Larger than G is pretty much only made in Europe so you'll have to find a place that imports. Use the methods above to get a good estimate of your size and then find a boutique that says they have that size...don't risk doing a fitting at a place that doesn't carry your size!!!)
These import stores will be expensive. There's no way around that. I tried on six different bras in my size (yes, those two sites above had given me the correct size). I also tried on a few that were one band size or cup size over, just to make sure. Of the six, only one really fit well. Even among bras from the same company, different styles fit differently. I confess this made me a little nervous about ordering additional bras online... and it's definitely a reason to get a proper in-person fitting.

I paid $68 for that bra that fit. (Yes this means I'm still wearing some that don't fit right because buying new bras is going to take a little time to afford...). $60-70+ is a pretty common price for these imported bras, however if you're a really busty person you're going to run into that same price range in most places online as well (and there will be shipping to boot). So you might as well go to a brick and mortar store where you can try things on.

Places that are good for fittings: Nordstroms, Dillards, and import boutiques.
Places that are not good for fittings: anyplace with a limited size range in stock (including Victoria Secret). Basically if they don't carry bands from 28-48, and cups from A-J (or at least A-G if you're not so busty), then don't waste your time there.

Always remember:
If anything gapes, or pokes, or bulges, then it's not a good bra for you. Period. Try a different one. Bra shopping may not seem like fun, but having the right bra can make you so much more comfortable that it's worth it to get a good one.
Finally, because I know not everyone is willing to pay those prices, and I know that not everyone HAS to pay those prices because not everyone has the sizing issues that I do, I will mention some places I like to actually buy bras. It's true, they are online/catalog sources, so yes, there is that risk of ordering a bra that doesn't fit well and needing to exchange it. However, at least for me, having a professional in-person fitting has taught me what features and fabrics to look for, as well as obviously what my correct size is. So I hope in the future I will have a lot more 'hits' and a lot fewer 'misses' even with catalog ordering. Because it's awfully hard to find my size on the rack, and when I do there aren't many choices and/or they're really expensive.

  • HerRoom has an excellent style guide section where you can enter information about your breast shape and size (there are drawings, not photos to refer to) and it will give you recommendations about what styles will suit you. They also have a full range of sizes, including those good import brands. Fantasie is the brand of the bra that I liked best at the boutique. (This blog post also has some guides of what styles suit what shapes, including photos comparing.)
  • Marks and Spencer is a UK store (as opposed to a US Store with european brands). You will pay a bit in shipping, however the bra prices are significantly lower than most of the import places I've seen ($30-40 rather than $60+). So in the long run I think the prices are better. They make their own products, rather than carrying other brands, however their quality is highly recommended and I plan to try them out. If you buy internationally, be sure to check the size correlations, because US sizing and UK or French sizing are all different! More info on that here.
  • OneHanesPlace is an outlet catalog--wide selection of name brand regular bras, very good prices, up to DD and some F
  • Lane Bryant's Cacique line of bras have some nice larger cups (although they don't go into bands smaller than 36). In bands over 40 they go up to J, though the smaller band sizes stop at G. They also routinely run "buy 2 get 2 free" sales, bringing the average price per bra down to $20 or so (if you buy 4). They carry a really wide variety of colors and styles though, which can be nice for someone wanting to stay away from the 'granny bra' look.
  • Birth&Baby nursing bras (I posted about them here). Also, this site has some additional info on getting a proper size nursing bra (and has some brand recommendations).
There are several more sites out there that carry the size range imports, such as Fig Leaves or Bravissimo, however I have not checked them out yet.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Rising Water

This morning I was browsing pinterest and this photo caught my eye:

It got me to thinking about rocks; specifically about wet rocks...

More than once I've sat on the shore of a body of water and noticed how different a rock can look when it's wet as compared to when it's dry.

In every case, the change I have observed is that the wet rock is prettier. Its natural features of stripes or speckles or color variation (or even just its natural color) are enhanced and given definition by the presence of water.

When they are dry, the rocks all look more or less alike, but when they are wet they are unique.

My husband found a large pretty stone in a river last summer and wanted to bring it home for our garden, but once it dried out it became quite dull. He has actually decided that he'd like to put some kind of lacquer on it so that it will maintain its 'wet' look even when not submerged. Because it's a better or more appealing rock when it is paired with water.

Water is, in many senses, the antithesis of stone. Stone is simple, solid, stable, and more or less immoveable. Water is fluid and flowing, changeable, and sensitive to its surroundings.

The only way for a rock to maintain the beauty of the water is for it to be submersed repeatedly or at length. In other words, it is immersion in opposition that creates the beauty.

In longer spans of time water can change rock even more, by shaping and smoothing it through gradual erosion. I realize the metaphor here isn't perfect, but I did at least want to give a nod to the idea that it's not just about beauty or definition.

The point is that opposition, though unpleasant or even painful in the moment, can be beneficial or improving in the longer run. It can show us the best version of ourselves. It pushes us through the changes that refine us.

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