Monday, September 24, 2012

The Women Who Need to Add Inches to their Bra Band



As regular readers will know, the Plus Four Method (adding inches to your band size) is the epidemic causing so many women to be in the wrong bra size. Given my dedication to eliminating the ubiquitous Plus FourMethod you may be surprised that today’s post is about the women who NEED to add inches to their band size for good fit. 

There are two groups of women who need to add inches: Those with little flesh around their ribcage or who have a muscular ribcage and women who have small, close-set breasts.

Small, close-set breasts don't apply to my customers because we only sell D-K cup bras. But some women with AA-C cups will have breasts in a position that means they need to add inches. Most women, and almost every woman with a D+ chest, will find that their breast tissue begins right at their armpit and ends somewhere around their sternum. 

Like almost every D+ woman the breast tissue on our lovely 30FF model Victoria, begins right next to her armpit
Why women with small, close-set breasts need to add inches
For some women, however, their breast tissue doesn't begin at their armpit, it begins further into their chest (usually parallel with their ears rather than their outer collarbone). These women need a longer band to literally reach where their breast tissue begins.
You can see that the breast tissue on this model starts about two inches away from her armpit.
It's the space between your breast tissue beginning at your armpit and starting farther into your chest that dictates if you need to add inches. If the woman in the image above didn't add inches to her band then her cup would start too close to her armpit where she doesn't have breast tissue. If your breasts start about 2 inches in from each armpit that's 4 inches extra that have to be added to the total circumference of the bra band.

This image of Scarlett Johansson and Christina Hendricks illustrates the different band lengths needed for woman with small close-set breasts and women with full cups. 


Despite the fact that Christina is wearing an horrendously ill-fitting garment you can see that her breast tissue actually begins right next to her armpit so her band doesn't need to be so long, she needs more cup and less band. On the other side Scarlett Johansson's breast tissue doesn't start until much farther into her body so she needs a longer band that will reach her breasts.

Women with skinny or muscular ribcages
In a recent post I wrote about how women with squidgy torsos need tighter bands to get great breast lift and support. One reader asked “I’d love to see a follow up post about bands for women with very little body fat around their torso because that too is difficult.” 

Body fat creates a natural cushioning between your ribs and your bra band (or more specifically your cup wires) which makes everything sit comfortably. If you're skinny and/or you're particularly muscular around your ribs then the lack of body fat can make your bra painful. If you're busty with a skinny/muscular ribcage then you need a tight band to support the weight of your breasts but you don't want to be in pain with your band 'clicking' against your ribs.

Here are some tips:
1) Increase your band size by one size (if you usually wear a 28 but find you get painful clicking try a 30 band and come down one cup size). If the compromise in lift and stability is too great then this isn't a good enough solution for you, but for many, wearing one band size bigger is a more comfortable fit.

2) Look for bras with deeper bands. When you band is deeper the weight of your breasts is spread over a greater area. This means the bra can't click against your ribs so longline bras are ideal.

3) If all else fails it's worth investing in the oh-so-sexy bra liners. These are usually marketed to absorb breast sweat, however, they're ideal for giving some extra cushioning between your bra and your ribs.

No Hard and Fast Rules
I say to my customers that I can give you all the science in the world about how your bra fits and why but the most important thing is that you feel comfortable. If your bra is comfortable and you are happy that is the most important thing. I hope these tips shed some light on why some women need to add inches where others need to deduct inches from their band size. xx

23 comments:

  1. I'm not so sure about this one. I see breast tissue on Scarlett near her ribcage, not encased in the bra. I think the angle that she is laying which makes it appear that her breasts start farther in, but I don't think it actually does.

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    1. Hi Laura - The angle of the photos could be a little misleading, however, the premise of the article is borne out to a degree by that photo. My main objective for the post was to explain that not all boobs start in the same place, however, most busty women have a significant amount of breast tissue under or next to their armpit and so need shorter bands. Hope that helps to clarify, I didn't intend the article to be specifically about Scarlett Johannson or Christina Hendricks, the image is simply there to try and contextualize.

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    2. I agree. Scarlette wasn't a good example because her breasts are larger and wider than that!

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  2. yay, kudos for this post.
    I know how hard it can be to adress this in the whole war on plus four world!
    I so much appreciate this post, I could really hug you right now ;)

    Me too, I'm one of those women who is adding inches for a perfect fit. (I'm a 30C/D with a 68cm underbust)
    I recently wrote a 3 part series about fitting bras for smaller busts on my blog, feel free to check it out if you want to :)

    xoxo denocte

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    1. Love your article on what all women can look for when shopping for a bra http://www.kurvendiskussionen.at/node/162ssionen.at

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  3. I'm so glad you wrote this! I'm one of those women with the skinny ribcage and ample breasts. I'm a 30H and my ribcage is all skin and bone. I think it's important to say that there might be a misconception that this only applies to really obviously skinny women. The rest of my body has a reasonable amount of padding - I'm a (UK) size 12 with very curvy hips and only 5ft so I don't look skinny overall, it's just that there's hardly any fat on my ribcage.
    My ribcage measures 29.5 inches. 28 bands are agony to wear, 32 bands don't give me enough support, so I wear a 30 band but I do find that I get dark red marks and indentations from my band and by the end of the day I feel a little uncomfortable. I know that red marks are normal but mine are quite dramatic. I still prefer to wear a 30 band because I love the support - I really hate to jiggle around.
    Recently though I've compromised by buying a few bras in both a 30 and a 32. I wear the 30 while I'm out and about and I want the support and then change into the 32 when I get home or for more casual days. Works quite well.

    Any advice gratefully received!

    At the moment I'm on a quest for a sleep bra and I know I could never sleep in a 30 band!

    I'd never heard of the bra liners, I'm going to investigate that - thanks!

    Mary xxx

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    1. Hello Mary - Thank you for making such a great point that having a skinny ribcage doesn't necessarily mean you're skinny all over. I think the bra liners could be a great option for you but it's also worth looking for longline bras so that the weight of your breasts is dispersed over a greater area.

      We are still on the lookout for good (and affordable) D-K sleep bras. As soon as we have a good option for you it will appear in the blog.

      Thank you for sharing your story xx

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    2. I'd love to try a longline. I was so disappointed that Freya's beautiful longlines only go up to a G cup (I'm an H). Does anyone know of a longline bra in a 30H? Mary

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    3. Try this review http://brasihate.blogspot.ca/2012/02/cleo-sadie-longline-review.html

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    4. Have you tried using a band extender to wear a 30 band as a 31 band? I have the same problem with support vs. comfort straddling the line between 30 and 32, so I've made a couple of extenders from the snipped-off eye sections of older bras. (You can also purchase them commercially.) Today is the first day I'm wearing one; so far, it seems to be working out OK. I figure that since bras stretch out over time and wearing, I'll eventually be able to wear my new 30 bands without the extender, but for now it helps.

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    5. I've had the same exact experience with band sizes. I measure about 29 inches, and too have very little fat on my ribcage (but definitely have some elsewhere). You are describing my life. So glad I'm not the only one. I'm curious about longline bras because I keep hearing them recommended like this, but I also have the problem of even the tiniest bit of lace below the underwire being bent up permanently by my ribs when I'm sitting or slouching. I can't figure out how this wouldn't be a problem for a longline.

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    6. A longline bra comes below your ribcage so that your ribs aren't working against the bra forcing the bottom to curl up. Hope that helps xx

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  4. I love this post. When helping ladies with implants it is something that is a big struggle. Many ladies with implants find that their breast (even the natural tissue) sits very far forward on the ribcage, something that is impossible to fit in a larger band smaller cup combination. Even if they find the band size that correlates to their ribcage to be a great fit they may find themselves sizing up in the band and down in the cups to reduce the width to something more comfortable.
    I've done it both ways. When I was a 26G I wore 30F bras because some felt firm enough in the band and the wires were not so wide. Before pregnancy when I was a 26HH I wore a 28H on the tightest hooks because I needed the support, but I had incredibly wide wires.
    There is a delicate balance between getting the best fit and getting the most comfort. I always tell ladies that if the bra is a perfect fit but isn't comfortable that it just won't work. No one wants to wear a bra that isn't comfortable. I've learned through pregnancy that small bits of fit and support can be sacrificed for comfort.

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    1. You are SO right BBR! I would love to say that every woman can have a perfect fit and total comfort, but the reality is that some women will only ever get that from a tailored bra. Off the rack bras can be a balancing act between fit, support and comfort.

      The shape, location and density of your breasts contribute a great deal to bra fit. More blog posts in there! xx

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  5. This is the first time that sister sizing--having 40Fs and 36Hs and 34Gs that all fit--has made total sense to me! The more of my circumference is made up of breast tissue, the more I should trade band inches in for cup inches. Great explanation!

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    1. You've got it! Once the mathematics of bras makes sense you can find bra shopping much easier :) Glad you found the post useful xx

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  6. My ribcage measures 27 inches under my boobs so I don't really have a possibility to try out anything smaller:) I'm very skinny so I'm OK with 28, I just avoid the loose ones. I hate when bra goes up on my back but also I don't want to wear a string all day, so I like those wider bands that D+ brands have. They're not that wide in my size (28E) and they give so much comfort. Also I need a room for breathing. Those are the things that I always think of when I try on a new bra. I'm not able to stretch out a bra no matter how many times I wear it and wash it. I use bra bags and then throw bras to the drying machine, I know everyone washes their bras using their hands and let them dry by themselves but me:) But they do last very long time even with such a treatment. I can only recall a couple bras that I had to wear on tighter hook after some time. I'd say if you're skinny and have a stable weight don't buy anything that's too tight. It's not gonna stretch and you'll think how uncomfortable you are all day. Also don't buy anything one size too loose-even though you have an excuse to eat twice as much you know that you're not gonna gain enough weight so a bra will fit. Once I managed to gain 10 pounds (took me 3 years, lost it at least 3 times faster I don't know when and how). Yeah, I wore pants one size bigger and some blouses were too tight for my liking but I still needed 28 band.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story. If you do need to buy a bigger band size (so that you get a deeper band) and need to tighten it then Curvy Wordy just did a good review on the Rixie Clip which shortens bands http://www.curvywordy.com/2012/09/rixie-clip-bra-band-tightener.html

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  7. Love this post! I'm also one of those women who needs to add inches, and I think it's important to talk about how every body type isn't the same and there are no hard and fast rules for every single woman.

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    1. The most important thing is getting to know your boobs and understanding why your bras fit you so you can always buy bras that make you look and feel great. Thanks for commenting Cora :) xx

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    2. Hi I have something similar to this, my ribcage is also 29.5 inches and I am 35 inches in the bustline, will my right size be a 32 dd cup, because the bra fitter in NYC told me that would be. I was wondering because that will make me a 6 inch difference between my breast and I tried on a 32 dd and it fits so much better than I was trying on a 34 b. On the 34 b I was filling the cup, but the band was a little loose in the back, so I was always lifting a little . So I am just wondering if that is my correct size, because a 32 dd does feels a lot better.

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    3. Hello - I recommend emailing our size consultants with this question because they'll need a bit more information to help you. A good place to start is our Free Bra Size Consultation

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  8. This is a good article and explains the trouble I had when my bust size increased with weight gain.
    I used to be a 32C, but countless times the fitters tried to put me in 30 or even 28 bands as at the time my underbust measured 28". I had no padding at all, and the result was a few purchases of bras too painful to wear all because the women were trying to tell me that the plus 4 rule was bad.
    Then I gained weight on medication. I am now a 32FF/G. But on the way to increasing sizes I noticed that a DD in an A-DD range would fit me comfortably, but if I tried a DD bra of the same "style" but from the DD+ range (this was from M&S) the DD would suddenly be far too shallow in the cup and the cup would come round under my armpits! I didn't even change the band size. I spent a couple of years in those horrid stretchy bra things (like the ahh bra/genie bra, but cheaper) because I just could not find a bra for my increased cup size which did not come too far around the sides.

    Turns out that I have VERY close set boobs. I have killer cleavage without wearing a bra. The closest fit I have found today is the Bravissimo Satine bras, but they still seem to assume a little bit more space between the breasts than I have so I get less cleavage in the plunge bras than I have without a bra on at all. I was recommended a 32G, but the cup on that is too broad. So I have since sized down to a 32FF and the wire now sits comfortably in front of my armpit. I just don't have bust tissue there unless I wear a bra which smooshes my boobs round the sides. The 32G did that which wasn't pleasant, the 32FF thankfully less so, and now I've found a new Debenhams Gorgeous bra in the right plunge shape (they stopped selling the right shape a year or so ago because "plunge styles aren't in fashion right now"), my cleavage is back where it should be in a 32FF from them.
    The fitter at Bravissimo did initially try me in a 30 band (the same as my underbust measurement now) but that was too uncomfortable. She also tried me in a 34 just in case, but that gave no support at all. So I'm now in the plus 2" category.
    I find it interesting that despite weight gain, the band size which has been the most comfortable for me has always been a 32 band. When I was thinner I needed the plus 4. Now with weight gain I only need plus 2.

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