There has been a bit of hoopla this week because an established and respected bra fitter has condemned 'modern' bra sizes as being Vanity Sized. This statement has provoked strong reactions on both sides of the argument - those who say 'yes, bras are vanity sized' and 'no, there is no such thing'.
When I read an isolated statement like "modern bra sizes are a scam" it makes my heart sink a little because I know that thousands of women will read that and feel worried or confused because they don't have a wider understanding of bras, fitting and design. I spend my life submerged in the science, beauty, emotion and practicality of bras so when I read anything about bras I have a wealth of knowledge and experience to bring to the topic; most women don't have this luxury.
Because Butterfly Collection is an online boutique I spend a vast amount of time online and know that while the Internet is a blessing in furthering bra education it can also be a curse because we're bombarded with fragments of information - try conveying the intracacies of bra fitting in 140 characters! Truncating details about bra fitting into a soundbite, tweet or Facebook update takes a great deal of context away from the information and I think this can harm the pursuit of better bra knowledge.
I have concerns about the condemnation of modern bra sizes as being vanity sized because the statement doesn't account for the following facts:
- Very few 'Full Bust Bras' (bras with 28-38 band sizes and D-K cup sizes) existed before the 1990s.
- In the last twenty years almost NO pre-1990s brands have grown to include D+ cups in 28-32 bands (Playtex, Warners and Maidenform are a few examples of companies who have not added full bust sizes to their repertoire) so I'm not exactly sure who the boutique is referring to when saying that bras that used to be labeled as a 36D are now labeled as a 32G.
- In 1958 the invention of Lycra completely revolutionized the design and fit of a bra and yet many companies were still using the 1930s sizing method. The modern garments were completely unrecognizable from the 1930s bras.
- The Plus Four Method was used across the board in England and North America, a system devised for old elastic and boned bras. Modern bras do not need inches to be added to the band to compensate for basic things like breathing!
Bra sizes will never be an exact science because we ladies are unique and infinitely diverse. Bra sizes are a starting point to learn more about your fit and I think the advances and increase in 28-38 D-K bra sizes are a great step forward in good bra fit.
At the very core of my professional ethos is giving women the tools to understand their breasts. I think as professionals we have a duty to give women all the facts so they are empowered not afraid. I know that the boutique at the center of this storm is deeply committed to good bra fit and that a media snippet can be taken hugely out of context. However, I have to come down on the side that says, "No, I don't believe modern bra sizes are a scam, I think they are the beginning of a desperately needed bra revolution that acknowledges there are hundreds of different bra sizes." xx
Response from the boutique