Monday, April 14, 2014

It's Better Not to Wear a Bra than Wear the Wrong Bra

Choosing not to wear a bra is a conscious decision and while it may be uncommon amongst full bust women it's still a choice that many make for aesthetic, comfort or health reasons. Choosing to wear the wrong bra is a less conscious decision. It's less of a choice and more of a last resort born out of a western norm of wearing bras and a lack of choice born out of most women only having access to 32+ A-D bras. Besides it being uncommon for busty women to go braless there are also some physical and health concerns about being busty and braless.

Lots of people think that women who don't wear a bra are doing themselves damage but there is actually very little data on whether low impact daily activities actually cause damage to your breasts and skin. Many women simply don't see going braless as an option because it's too painful to be unsupported (the larger your bust, the greater the gravitational pull on the ligaments in your breasts and this can be very painful). There is more information about the impact of not wearing a bra when working out. I wouldn't recommend that anyone works out without a bra because the impact on the ligaments and milk ducts inside your breasts can cause strain that is painful.

There is a potential rash/irritation hazard to your skin when not wearing a bra because moisture can get trapped between your breasts and your torso and prevent air circulating, especially if you're sat for long periods. Some women finding nipple chafing too painful to go without bras and don't like adhesive covers. On the whole though there is very little evidence that going braless is bad for your health (breast sag is primarily dictated by your genes, diet and skin care - for example, over exposure to the sun can cause your skin to become thinner and sag). On the flip side, there is a wealth of evidence about the damage a badly fitting bra can do to your health.

The most common mistake with bra fit is wearing a bra that is too big for you in the band and too small in the cup. A band that's too big for you can cause shoulder and neck pain, back ache, headaches, shoulder dents, chafing, skin irritations and bruising. Wearing a cup that's too small means that your breast tissue is often squished against other skin tissue which traps moisture (a perfect breeding ground for bacteria rashes) and prevents air circulating around your skin - all skin prefers to breathe.

When I see women wearing the wrong bra it breaks my heart because I know that it's not a choice, it's a last resort that's not empowering or comfortable. When I see a woman choosing not to wear a bra I see a conscious decision that is far better for your health than subjecting your breasts to the problems caused by the wrong cup, band and style. This is why the conversation about bra fit outside of the A-D paradigm is so important because millions of women still don't know they don't have to resign themselves to painful fit and they don't have to abandon bras, they can choose to be comfortable and happy in their bras with the right size and fit. xx

Monday, April 7, 2014

Features to Look for in Spring Bras

As the weather starts to get warmer our wardrobes become lighter in colour and fabric weights and the cuts of our clothing change too. Tops and dresses with lower necklines and/or sleeveless designs can require different bras to the ones we can wear under the thicker fabrics and longer sleeves of winter. Besides the design of the bra the weight of the fabric is something to consider so that you stay comfortable as the weather heats up.

Fishnet by Claudette has bold coral straps as well as a lower neckline making it a great style for spring and summer

As your sleeveless clothing comes out of hibernation there are two schools of thought on bra straps. Out-of-Sight to give a neat finish or Bold and Beautiful straps with bright colours and interesting textures that are meant to be seen. Exposing a well worn beige strap that's seen better days can make your otherwise polished outfit look a bit dingy so opt for something with a bit more attitude.

The V back on Basic Beauty keeps your straps out of sight on sleeveless tops

If you want the out of sight option then look for bras with straps set closer together like Basic Beauty by Wacoal or Enchanted by Freya. Some basic bra styles also have a J hook in the back which allows you to turn the bra into a racer back which is ideal under vests and T backs.

Lots of spring styles have lower necklines and you may find that the full coverage bra you've relied on all winter is a bit too much coverage under your beautiful new spring dress. Look for styles that have a medium to short gore as this is a good indication of how much cup coverage you'll get.

A plunge style like Neve by Cleo (above) will give you maximum V but you can also get a lower neckline with medium to firm coverage with styles like Idina by Panache and Dessous by Claudette.

Etta by Elomi (arriving in June) has some fantastic spring features like the J hook and lower gore

Etta by Elomi (that arrives in June) not only has the J hook mentioned above it also has a shorter gore compared to other Elomi styles.

Lots of women won't be affected by the weight of fabric in their bras, however, for some the warmer months leave them sweating and uncomfortable in bras that don't breathe well. If you rely on molded bras then this can be a problem in spring and summer. Lots of molded styles have very tight weaves because the firmness of the cups contributes to the support of the bra. This can be a sweaty nightmare for women who heat up easily.

If you like molded cups then look for spacer bras (like Profile Perfect) that are more breathable than tight weave molds
If you can't give up your molded styles then look for spacer bras, like Profile Perfect by Fayreform, that are made from a breathable weave that has air pockets in the fabric to keep you cool. This fabric also wicks moisture away from your skin like a sports bra.

Lucy is a fantastic mesh bra that breathes easily and keeps breasts cool in warmer months

Mesh bras are a great lightweight option for the warmer months as air passes easily through the fabric keeping your breasts cool. Lucy by Cleo is still our best-selling mesh bra, especially the white version for warmer days.

The last, but most important, feature to get right is your fit. Make sure your bra wire sits flush against your breast root so that you don't get skin on skin folds where bacteria can cause rashes and irritations. Ensure your band is stable so that your bra can't ride up your back and chafe against you. A well fitting bra is the best way to staying cool and comfortable all year round. xx

Monday, March 31, 2014

Why My Daughters Won't Have My Maternity Bra Nightmares

This week's blog is a guest post from one of our customers who found her best bra fit in her 50s and has become a Bra Fit Evangelist. In her guest post she highlights the physical and emotional difference between her maternity bra shopping experience in the 1970s and the choices available to her daughters today.

"When I was pregnant in the 70s I was looking forward to everything that came with pregnancy. Buying things for the baby and maternity clothes for me to proudly show off my ‘bump’ and of course I’d need to get some bras for my larger pregnancy boobs. Getting things for the baby was exciting and fun but shopping for maternity clothes and bras was a wasteland for busty Moms-to-be.

I had always been busty and as a teenager had my fair share of doom and gloom in the fitting room. Bras over a D cup were hard to find in the 1960s but I naively thought that my pregnancy bra choices would be better. Surely there would be bigger cups available for pregnant and nursing Moms.

I was so sad to discover that there was only white or beige in one basic style (if you can call it a style) with almost industrial cups and straps and the cups still didn’t go above a D, they just got bigger in the band. I used to call them my ‘parachutes’ as they felt worthy of army manoeuvres. At only 23 years of age I was wearing bras that an 80 year old would find uninspiring. To accommodate my cup volume I had to wear a 42E and it made me feel huge, ancient and uncomfortable. Knowing what I do now I should have been in a 34GG or even a 32H.
A nursing/maternity bra like Sophie is essential in small bands and large cup volumes for busty women
With an ever changing body and serious breast weight the 42E bras did nothing to support me and so my pregnancies became times that I struggled most with my breasts. Pregnancy is such a special time and there are so many new things happening to you that you need and DESERVE bras that fit you and support you. You don’t want to be distracted by straps digging in and a sore neck when there are so many more amazing things happening like your baby’s first movements.

Happily for my daughters, there is now a wealth of choice in maternity/nursing lingerie. Smaller bands and cups up to a K add over 100 sizes than were available during my pregnancies. The band support is so important so it makes me really happy to know that busty Moms today don’t have to compromise on band support in order to get the cup volume. I wish I’d had beautiful choices because on those days when you are exhausted from sleep deprivation and constant feeding it would make a big difference to your self-esteem to know your boobs are encased in something comfortable and beautiful."

Monday, March 24, 2014

Weight Loss and Bra Fit

Whether you are deliberately losing weight or have experienced weight loss through a life experience like surgery or bereavement, the change in your bra size and fit can be very noticeable. Lots of people think their boobs will change size when they lose weight but there are lots of other things that can happen.

How each of us loses or gains weight is predominantly determined by our genes. The kind of exercises you do and your diet can make some difference but the biggest factor is your genetics. With this in mind there are no rules as to how you will lose weight or how your bra fit will change.

How to make your band last longer during weight loss

Using a bra extender on a smaller band can make your bras last longer if you're losing weight from your torso (Panache Sports Bra shown)
Some women will lose weight from their torso (back and stomach fat) and this changes their band size. Wearing a supportive band size is essential, especially if you are losing weight as part of a health plan over a long period of time. You can find bra extenders very useful during weight loss so that you can buy a band size that's a little snug initially but use the extenders to give you a comfortable fit for a longer period of time. This way you don't have to compromise on a supportive fit or comfort and your dollar goes further.

Losing from the band but not the cup
Losing weight from your torso does not necessarily mean that you will lose weight from your breasts. I know this might seem crazy to some people but it's very common that you can find your old bras still fit you in the cups but are too big in the band. To accommodate this change you need to go up a cup letter for every band size you have come down.

For example, if your best fit was a 34F (also known as a 34DDD) and your cups still fit but you now measure a 31 around your ribcage you need to try a 32FF (one band size down and one cup letter up) or a 30G (two band sizes down and 2 cup letters up). It can seem counter-intuitive when losing weight to find that your cup letter has gone up but remember that the letter refers to the difference between your band circumference and bust circumference. When you lose weight from your band but your bust volume stays the same it means the difference between these two measurements has increased which is why your cup letter goes up.
Losing from the cups but not the band
Similarly, you can lose volume from your breasts but find that your band size stays the same. This is an easy change to make in your size as you need to try smaller cup letters on the same band size.

Losing weight from both band and cups
If you lose weight from your torso and breasts then you need a smaller band and cup so a service like our Free Size Consultation can help you figure out which size is right for you.

Other weight loss fit factors
There are a couple of other factors you should know about breasts and weight loss. Losing fat can change the density of your breasts so where you might have had some upper breast tissue you can find that this has gone and you need to look for bras better for shallower breasts. Weight loss can also make stretch marks on your breasts more visible as the skin becomes less taut. This can also leave you with softer breast tissue than before so you might want to know about bra fit tips for soft breasts.

Bra investment during weight loss
I know lots of women find it hard to justify investment in well-fitting bras when they don't know how long the size will fit them. If you are losing weight over a long period of time then wearing well-fitting bras will not only support your bust but it will stop other issues arising, like back pain and headaches. If you have suddenly lost weight that has affected your bra size you may put the weight back on quickly and get back into your regular sizes, but equally you might be at your smaller size for a while. You don't need to buy lots of new bras in the smaller size, one or two will do, but the correct support will make you physically more comfortable while you're recovering. xx

Monday, March 17, 2014

Explained: Straps on 28 Bands, Cross Grading and the Lack of 26 Bands

Following on from last week' post, today I'm answering more of the questions posed via our Facebook and Twitter pages. 

The thing I don't understand about bras is... Why there aren't more plunge bras or bras with short gores in my size! 

This is a great question and one I get asked about a lot. Lots of plunge bras stop around a G/GG/H in 28-38 bands. Over that size you really struggle to find plunge styles and this has a lot to do with the mechanics of creating a plunge bra for heavy or voluminous breasts. 

Plunge bras don't work for a lot of women (women with soft or center heavy breasts find plunge style don't give enough support or cause a lot of spilling). This is because with such a short gore and acutely angled cups, plunge styles have to rely on the sides and band to give lift and support. If you need support at the center then a plunge style will never work.

Plunge styles over an H cup (US J cup) are usually seamed bras because the seams contribute to supporting the breasts in a way molded cups can't. You can find non-plunge styles with a shorter gore but there definitely needs to be more options for H+ women who need a shorter gore.

Sizes sizes are cups that have the same volume (approximately) but different band lengths, e.g. 28G, 30FF and 32F are sister sizes.

The thing I don't understand about bras is... The fact that a 28G and a 32F have the same wire width, like seriously I'm not as wide as someone who wears a 32 so my wires should be narrower.

This is a great point about cross grading sizes. By that I mean that the proportions of a woman with a smaller band can be very different from those of a woman with a larger band. However, this can also be affected by wire shape. It might be that the 28G styles you're trying on have wider wires than you need and on a woman with a wide 28G breast shape it would work well. Some brands and styles use narrower wires than others.

Wire shape and length has been one of the biggest topics of the last 18 months and I think we'll start to see another shift in wire shapes from manufacturers in the next 5 years. 

The thing I don't understand about bras is... Why no manufacturer makes 26 bands. 

You and me both! We've carried 28 and 30 bands for years now and we carry on buying them because we have hundreds of clients who need these band lengths. And yet, many of our reps tell us that very few of their customers (boutiques/stores) buy 28 bands because they don't have any customers who fit them. The fact that few boutiques carry 28 bands translates into lower sales in those sizes so manufacturers don't prioritize shorter bands.

I think a lot of boutiques don't fit bands correctly (hence the reason so many women are in the wrong size because stores put them in a bra with a band that's too big for them). If fitters had a better understanding of how bands should fit then there would be a great demand for short bands and the need for 26 and 24 bands would become more apparent.  

I really like that the Dessous style by Claudette has closer set straps so the fit is better for 28 bands
The thing I don't understand about bras is... Why are shoulder straps so wide on 28 bands.

Another great question! Are you sure you lot haven't been rifling through my bra wish list!? What I wrote above about the slow take up rate of 28 bands by stores and boutiques has a direct bearing on your question. Because 28 bands are hard to justify from a sales point of view for a manufacturer (to give you an idea, manufacturers sell about thirty 34 bands for every 28 band ordered) there is less budget to diversify the styles that are available in a 28 band.

For example, if you are a 34 band you can find bras that are full cup, plunge, balconette, tear drop shaped, smooth, seamed, close straps, far straps, convertible and longline because there are thousands of orders from stores for these sizes so brands can afford to diversify the styles they offer in a 34 band because demand is proven.

If more stores bought 28 bands then manufacturers would see a proven market and would invest in diversifying their styles. It's completely crazy that 28 bands tend to be on styles with straps not positioned for narrower shoulders. I think Claudette's Dessous is one of the few styles that truly accounts for the shoulder fit of a 28 band client.

The thing I don't understand about bras is... Why the wire is always a finger or two width below my breast

This is usually one, or a combination of, three things: Wearing your band too low, or cups with wires that are too narrow for you and your torso shape. Because each of these is a blog topic unto itself I recommend clicking on each of the links to find out the cause of your bras sitting low on your body.

The thing I don't understand about bras is... No matter how many I have, I always NEED MORE

Because bras that fit are not only comfortable but they're a joy to put on and look at! If you need more bras because they never seem to fit you then that's a bad thing but if you always need more bras because there are so many great ones out there then you're my perfect customer! xx