The Miracle of a Bra Fitting

by Nanette on July 27, 2011

in Girl Talk, Style & Beauty

Recently I saw a couple photos of myself and the first thing I noticed was, Damn! I need to get new bras STAT!

I’d been thinking about this for a while, particularly after having endured a pregnancy, 13 months of nursing and some gradual weight loss. It was time for me to get some professional help.

I haven’t had much luck at the popular, pink-slathered lingerie shop, particularly because availability in my larger sizes always seemed limited. They also insisted on measuring me over my shirt, which didn’t seem the most accurate to me.

I had researched some local boutiques that had great reviews, but decided to take some friends’ advice and try out my local Nordstrom during its big sale.

Swanky department stores intimidate me a bit, so I was happily surprised when I found a friendly sales associate in the lingerie department who was happy to help me in my quest for quality support. She guided me to the fitting rooms, and had me remove my shirt. She measured around my torso to determine what size band I’d need, and then made an educated guess at my cup sizes. I suppose when you become an expert at those types of fittings, it’s not too difficult to estimate those sizes. She left the room to grab the two sizes she thought would work best for me.

I spent my time getting the bras on and off with my back to the sales gal, per her instructions. She’d unhitch the back, hand me a bra to try on, have me loop my arms through so she could close and adjust the hooks and straps in the back as needed.

Then I turned around and she’d adjust the “girls” in the front. It turns out that most women can’t really just put on a bra and go — there should be a little adjusting involved each time you put on a bra.

Between the two bras she brought back for me, we both agreed on which of the two sizes that was working best for me. It supported me, showed off my waist more by lifting my breasts up, and just generally was an instant difference.

She grabbed half a dozen other styles, and as she helped me try them on, I finally thought to ask, “What size are these?”

Her response? 36DDD. I gasped when she told me.

What had I been wearing when I walked in? 40DD. She gasped when I told her.

I was way off.

Throughout the entire fitting, she gave me tips on how to take care of my bras (hand wash, or wash on delicate in a mesh lingerie bag with each of the bras hooked close, and only with something gentle like Dreft, not the Woolite I use, which she said breaks down the elasticity of the bras), how often to wash (after 3-4 wears, more often if you tend to sweat more), how many bras a gal should have in a collection (3-4 is a good start, but try to work up to 6-8), and how often to replace them (every 6-9 months).

I texted my husband to warn him that I was going to have to spend some dough on some new bras. Thankfully he understood. “I support boob support,” he said.

While he supported my quest for support, he saw the scope of his investment when I came home and tried on some of the three new bras I bought. He noticed a significant difference right away.

BeforeAfter

I’m a bra-fitting convert, and I’ll never go this long in the wrong size again. I was even able to find the elusive strapless bra, and have been living in maxi dresses ever since.

I know plenty of women who have no problem sizing themselves, and they find perfectly fine bras that work for them at Target. I am, sadly, not one of them, as you may have noticed in my “before” pic. I need professionals to help me navigate the sea of sizes, brands and styles.

Most department stores, and I’d venture to guess most of the boutique places across the country, don’t charge to get fitted. Go in with a budget in mind, if any, and stick to that, but don’t feel pressured to buy anything. You may see for yourself, though, that a little pro help goes a long way in showcasing your curves.

Greis July 27, 2011 at 7:06 am

I ventured out to Nordstrom this past weekend for my fitting. Suprisingly I was wearing the correct size, 36B. Thank goodness for sales and pretty bras!

Crystal July 27, 2011 at 7:22 am

I can ONLY get bras from Lane Bryant…and its difficult. 36 band is too small, 38 is too big. I have to settle for a 38DDD…unless I get one custom made, nothing will ever fit perfectly. If I go bra shopping it lasts for a minimum of 2 hours. I’m glad you found a great fit

Erin @ One Particular Kitchen July 27, 2011 at 7:41 am

Your boobs look 20 years younger! That’s awesome!

Amber July 27, 2011 at 8:04 am

WOW! What a difference.

I am totally guilty of wearing ill-fitting bras. Put me in a lingerie store and I will find the most uncomfortable bra they make and wear it every day for two years. That picture has me convinced to ask for support in finding…support.

Daisy July 27, 2011 at 8:27 am

I try to get refitted every 3-4 years seeing as how weight and size changes or at least shifts over time. I was pretty bummed out that me new size was…wait for it…..34 G.

I mean what am I supposed to do with THAT?

I’m considering loaning my new lingerie out to farmers to carry watermelons in from the fields with.

That said I did a little cheating by going up a band size (36) and dropping down a cup size (ok fine a few) so I could by the Spanx bra which is SO COMFY I WANT TO WEAR IT ALL THE TIME. The fit expert agreed I could get away with this if I wore it paired up with a tank top that has a built in bra shelf, but even I have to agree that the other purchase, my properly fitted 34 G boulder holder has an amazing fit.

Katie July 27, 2011 at 10:15 am

Um, yeaah… I was refitted and they said ‘oh your size is right but this thing is beyond worn out!’. Then, I bought a bra and when I double checked the size, the ones that actually fit best (amazingly!) were a 32E. Excuse me, what? When did I go up in the alphabet? WHY? I was hoping she made an error, but no.

Didi August 2, 2011 at 9:47 pm

I feel your pain. I, too, am a G cup, and sometimes an H if it is a molded cup. Do you KNOW how hard it is to find an H?

Brandy July 27, 2011 at 8:28 am

My boobs are HUGE (think around a 36J or K) and I find it SO difficult to find bras. Honestly, I usually buy a band that is WAY too big but with cups that fit and then just sew the band, which is NOT a good solution. I am going to have to bite the bullet and head an hour away to a Nordstrom. Oh and keep my fingers crossed they carry GIANT cup sizes. LOL.

Daisy July 27, 2011 at 8:31 am

Le Mystere (carried at Nordstrom) has an incredible range of sizes and runs a little big so I bet you can find something!

Kassia July 27, 2011 at 9:30 am

I’m a 38h and found awesome bras at Lane Bryant! Totally worth the trip! And each bra was only 44dollars. Which in this size range is crazy cheap!

Sam July 29, 2011 at 1:44 pm

As another 36J (or JJ, depending on brand) I have to recommend bravissimo.com. Yes, it’s British, and you have to pay attention to size differences between US and UK. BUT THEY FIT. I even have a sports bra that keeps the girls in check, and who would have thought that THAT would ever happen?

Colleen July 27, 2011 at 9:23 am

Looks like I need to take a trip to Nordstrom.

Nona July 27, 2011 at 9:44 am

Holy perky boobs, Batgirl. You look amazing. Now I want to shopping for new lingerie.

Allie July 27, 2011 at 10:10 am

Hooray for professional bra fittings! What a transformation, looks amazing! You know I too was wearing the wrong size, getting fitted was so eye-opening and I never knew that bras could be so comfortable (the too large band I think was the problem digging into my armpits).

Katie July 27, 2011 at 10:18 am

I found going to a specialty bra shop was the best. And most comfortable for me, since other places I felt uneasy or unsure. The place I went to was fantastic and fit me perfectly. They work for anything from mastectomy patients, to larger, hard to find bras.

Now I need to go back and get a strapless, and someday hopefully a smaller bra size. :P I get my sports bras ONLY from a company that will go by bra sizing and not S/M/L (Moving Comfort!). But I definitely don’t have enough bras or replace mine often enough since they are so freaking expensive.

Amy July 27, 2011 at 10:32 am

Better fitting bras also help your midsection look better. If your boobs are sitting on your belly, it draws attention to your belly. If the boobs are properly lifted and supported, there is space between them and your belly. My trainer taught me that. She would stand behind me in the gym mirror and pull my bra straps up to show how much better my boobs and belly looked., She convinced me to seek out better fitting bras.

Lisa July 27, 2011 at 11:09 am

Most women wear a band size that is too big. For YEARS, I was wearing 36DDDs – the biggest I could find in regular stores – and was constantly tugging on the back and moving my boobs around to avoid quadro-boob.

Then I discovered the now-defunct Dee’s Plus-Sized Bras.org and she showed me a new way to measure. Turns out I was a 32J. She also had links to UK stores (for some reason, the UK understands better than the US that “big cups” doesn’t always mean “big back”) and conversion tables. I could buy 32Gs from Bravissimo.com, and STILL pay — even with shipping — less than I was paying at Dillards or Nordstrom for 36DDDs Wacoals. It was a godsend.

But then I had a reduction, and now I can buy my bras at VS. :)

Jessica V. July 27, 2011 at 11:17 am

Oh – you look great! I love Nordies for bra sizing…the girls at V.S. really never seemed to understand how to actually size me. Like you, they did it over my shirt and the bras were always around 2 inches too big in the band, and then they’d claim that whatever size actually did fit me was a sister size to whatever they had recommended. Which, if bras were designed to be worn over a ski parka, might have been accurate. But no.

Anyway, I found a great line through Nordstrom that I really liked and that carried my size (36E!), and then found the line online via barenecessities.com, which carries more styles from my brand (Freya) than they do in stores. I’ve been thinking lately that I need to get resized, as one of my regular bras isn’t fitting right and needs to be replaced. Nordstrom…here I come!

Ramona July 27, 2011 at 11:22 am

That’s a wonderful difference, no doubt about it. I am a small size and most of the time it’s difficult to find something fit. But having an assistant that knows her stuff this well is amazing. I’d surely need to find some of their stores and get specialized help, since I never buy the right thing. Congratulations for the ‘prey’, lovely stuff, that’s for sure.

megan July 27, 2011 at 11:26 am

I wear a 38G and I get refitted every two years but I never buy from the store I get fitted at (either a department store or specialty boutique) because I always order from bravissimo.com they specialize in bras for people over a D cup and boy do they nail it! I think a well fitting bra is an investment in me. A cheap shirt looks better if the “girls” are in the right place so I choose to splurge on bras and save on clothes.

Liz July 27, 2011 at 11:46 am

I started getting fitted at Nordstrom years ago after an episode at VS where the salesgirl very bluntly told me that “we have nothing her for you.” I was surprised to find, just like you, that I was nowhere near the correct size. I ended up being a 34F (sometimes G, depending on the bra). Since most regular stores don’t even carry above a DDD, I knew I was in trouble. Those that did carry the F’s & G’s only started them at 36 around, which was too big for me.

I now go once or twice a year to “invest” in good bras from Nordstrom. I even found great nursing bras there after both of my girls were born that actually fit me properly. I recently put a comment about this in another blog and someone responded telling me to go the Nordstrom rack after you’ve been fitted cause they generally have the same selection for much less. I haven’t made it there yet, but I plan to soon. I also am going to check out the bravissimo.com site that a couple of people recommended above. It’s refreshing to see so many people have the same problem as me!

Charisse July 27, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Fittings are where it’s at. Just so you know, Frederick’s has bras up to 42F, which helps my 38F sized boobs. And they do amazing fittings. And they are super supportive and sexy. I used to go to a place in Dallas called the Maddox shop to get fitted but they are pretty much all old grandma looking bras – and I was only 16 at the time. Not what you want to be wearing to feel sexy. But yeah….a correctly fitting bra makes a WORLD of difference. Not only in the looks of the girls but in the way you feel that you look. Gives you much more confidence when the girls look good!

Steph July 27, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Correct fitting bra’s =Total WIN!

I lucked out at a boxing day sale at Addition Elle (Lane Bryant for the Americans) and got the most kick ass bra ever at a steal! I’m also apparently 2 cups sizes down the alphabet when I shop there YAY!

I’m eagerly awaiting another sale so I can buy more because the one bra that I bought is so epic that I wish I could wear it every day!

Kate July 27, 2011 at 7:12 pm

ugh, I hate bra shopping! I just got 2 new ones about 4 months ago and the lady who measured me who was a ‘bra expert’ made me go down a cup size and band size because she convinced me that my old bra was the problem…turned out later on that she was. I was measured above my winter sweater (store policy)…looks like I am going to track down a Nordstrom ASAP!

Rosstwinmom July 28, 2011 at 12:58 am

I had the same experience. After birthing twins, my boobs retreated inside my chest cavity. I chose to get new boobs. Then, after the awful pink store did nothing to help show off the new purchase, I also went to Nordstrom on advice from my plastic surgeon.

So worth it! My husband also was okay with the price because what man doesn’t want his wife’s boobs looking and feeling great?

My new problem is that we just moved to Poland, and I have no access to good bras. I am eagerly awaiting our trip home to Texas in December to stock up again.

MariaH. December 12, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Poland is bra heaven. It has got more bra manufacturers than any other European country and more bra stores carrying larger sizes than the UK. I know of people in the USA, Canada, Australia and UK who are ordering Polish bras from Polish online shops bc they are cheaper and have better quality. Look up the following resources/websites: Stanikomania, Lobby Biuściastych, Biuściasta mapa świata, BiuBiu, Ewa Michalak.

Jenn August 10, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Where’d you look for reviews for bra fittings? Yelp?
Seems like who you go to is the most important thing (I was just reading this blog post about it that seemed to involve lots of “shopping” around: http://aemayer.com/blog/2011/08/bra-fittings )

Brooke August 19, 2011 at 11:00 am

Hey, Rosstwinmom! I sincerely hope you read this – I stumbled across this blog looking for bras in my size online (30D! from 36A! and by God it’s a miracle!) and have JUST been reading aout how Poland has become one of the world’s leaders in bra manufacture and sales – second only to establisehd fashion capitals like France and Italy. I hope this helps you find a shop that helps.

http://venusianglow.blogspot.com/2011/07/in-which-i-get-brafitted-in-krakow.html
http://bfcidade.wordpress.com/2010/05/17/its-impossible-a-story-of-biubiu/ (Polish shop – translated into English)
http://stanikowamapa.prv.pl/ (bra world map!)

Good luck and I’m jealous – hope you enjoy Poland.

-Brooke

alex d September 27, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Hey guys i just wanted to share my story with you. I have been buying bras over the internet for years now. I am the kind of person that hates shopping in stores for bras, so i found the perfect place to get any size, style and color of any bra you want. Leonisa offers a wide variety of bras and panties. You should check it out. I hope my story will help some of you that know what i am talking about.

Danielle November 16, 2011 at 2:00 am

May I ask, what brand of bra are you wearing in the after pic?

MariaH. December 12, 2011 at 11:52 pm

I can totally relate to what you wrote.

I was stuck in 44DD’s and 46D’s without wires for a very long time in my life bc that was all I could find. I hated underwires bc they were simply uncomfortable, digging into my breasts from the sides. I went without a bra as often as I could bc my bras gave me pain and made me feel squished in.

After stumbling upon online bra fitting guides like Venusianglow, using bratabase and writing on the lifejournal-community bustingout plus a lot of trial and error trying on around 200 bras in a large variety of sizes in store and after ordering online I ended up with a 40K (US) in Goddess and a 40H (UK) in Panache and Elomi. Suddenly underwires are comfy! What is even better, I actually got a waist! I now order all my bras online, simply bc the next store that actually stocks my size is 450 miles away.

Mindy December 7, 2012 at 10:37 am

I am so jealous!!!! I have no bra stores where I live… in a beautiful little town outside of Yellowstone in WY, but while I can buy any mode of art, NO BRAS. I have traveled to Billings MT and still no bras!

I measured a few years back at Nordtroms (when I lived in Northern VA) and was a size… get this… 32K! lol I had another baby and have floated around with my weight (thyroid issues). I really don’t know what size to get since I h=know have to become an internet shopper.

I was wearing a 36DDD because that’s the largest cup I can get witht he smallest band that will remotely fit. What is wrong with America? why can I not purchase a realistic size at a regular store. We all know that we need a full alphabet in the ligerie department. I have no Lane Bryant, no Nordstroms within 8 hours. I may have to take a trip to see my sister and go bra shopping.

I’d love to shop online, but without a reliable starting point… you know? just fenting in turns out. Great blog! love the girls in the after shot. TOTALLY agree with the value of the investment.
Later!

Mindy December 7, 2012 at 10:39 am

I should have spell checked… lol

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