Monday, April 30, 2012

The Misadventures of Plus Four

This fitter is wearing a white coat and smiling, she must know what she's doing...that or she's thinking "Sucker!"
Before elastic became a major part of bra manufacturing the bra fitting advice was 'add 4 or 5 inches to your underbust measurement to find your band size.' This Plus Four Method never works for women over a D cup. Plus Four only works for some women under a D cup (women with very close-set breasts or an athletic frame can benefit from the plus four method).

Unfortunately Plus Four comes in very handy for unscrupulous boutiques and brands (Playtex I'm looking at you) who use it to put large breasted women into bras with huge, unsupportive bands and smaller cups. Because cups are relative to their bands (for example, a DD cup on a 38 band has more volume than a DD cup on a 30 band) you need D-K cups in order to give enough cup coverage on a smaller band. Just increasing the band size to get more cup volume is the Worst Kind of Fitting Betrayal. For more information on how to measure yourself at home, click here.

I see images like this all the time and it's just bunkum! Measure your band size where the band lies, around your ribs.
To try and legitimize this dangerous and outdated form of measuring (adding inches to your band size was necessary for breathing in the 1930s and 40s when lingerie was made with whalebones!) some clever marketing bod came up with the idea of measuring right underneath your armpits and OVER your chest to find your band size (like measurement 1 on the diagram above). Common sense tells you this is as bonkers as measuring your feet to find your hat size!!

This kind of lazy bra fitting promotion is usually coupled with daft suggestions like 'exhale and pull the tape measure really tight' or 'form a loosish gap over your bust measurement'. This kind of advice is needlessly complicated and it drives me up the wall, so I've come up with my own version of how to put plus four to use... introducing The Misadventures of Plus Four!! xx

View the larger image on our website

12 comments:

  1. I love the comic!
    I agree that it doesn't work above a D cup. However, it also makes no sense for women that have a bust-underbust difference that's the same as or less than the number of inches you add to your band size. Adding 4, 5, or 6 inches means that someone who's actually a D, DD, or even E cup will get a zero or negative number to use to calculate cup size. What cup size is equivalent to 0 or -2? I have no clue.

    So in addition to not working above a D cup, it also doesn't work below D/DD/E.

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    1. Thanks for commenting :) There are specific cases where women need to add inches to their band size, but they almost all happen for women under a D cup. A zero difference is the same as a AA cup, a market that has as many problems finding lingerie (something every woman is entitled to whatever her size) as full bust and plus size women. The reason they need to add inches is due to the position of the breast tissue on their body. This is something I'm going to explain more fully in a blog soon.

      If you imagine that your band has to travel far enough around your body to meet your breasts then imagine a woman with very narrow breasts (close set breasts in the middle of the torso rather than starting nearer the armpit) and you have a physique that relies on a longer band to meet the breast tissue. As I said before though, this is a rare, but it does happen. xx

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    2. Women with a bust difference of 0-4 inches still need support, however. This measuring system doesn't even acknowledge anybody with less than a 4 inch difference (the equivalent to a D cup by +0 standards).
      This system would perhaps work best for people who have between a 5-8 inch bust-underbust difference (A-D cups by +4 methods, DD-FF by +0 methods).
      Also, that's interesting how the position of breast tissue affects band size. I look forward to reading your blog post about this topic.

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  2. The comic is great! :D

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    1. It's one of my favourite pieces we've done :)

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  3. Awesome well done! Christine

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  4. Claire, this is educational and funny — I love the combo! Interesting that the bra cups are too small even in the diagram (the one showing how to take overbust measurement).

    I'm also curious about the problem Curves Uncovered pointed out. I've heard some small-busted women complaining that apparently they have concave breasts according to some "bra fitters". How are these women supposed to find their cup size?

    @Curves Uncovered: The difference between my underbust and full-bust is 7 inches and I assure you, the +4 method doesn't work for me ;)

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    1. I'm not knowledgeable enough about small bra fit to comment on the concave issue (it's never something we come across in the full bust world).

      I would suggest that's a good question for Amanda at 32AA Bra http://32aabra.com/contact/

      I'm glad you like the post Scarlet xx

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    2. Yes, it's another set of fit problems altogether, isn't it? I've come across Amanda's blog and will definitely ask her about it sometime in the future.

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  5. Hey, I'm a little late to the conversation but I had a question. My underbust measurement is 28 inches, and my overbust is 37 inches. When I get measured I am told that I am a 32DD or 32 DDD. However, that is with the +4 to the band size system. Would my actual size be a 28FF or 28G? Would that fit better?
    Thanks, Hannah

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    1. Hi Hannah, never too late to this conversation! If the cups fit you on a 32DDD then it's worth trying a 30FF and a 28G because they have the same cup volume. Having said that I think you might notice that you need more cup volume when your band is supportive (a loose band can hid that your cup volume is too small). Based solely on your measurements I would try a 28GG or a 30G xx

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