Monday, July 30, 2012

Breaking the 34 Band Barrier

Back in October I wrote a piece about how social stereotypes and lack of choice keep women from accepting and embracing cup sizes over a D cup. The idea of being 'big in the cup' is just too daunting for some women but for some reason the opposite applies to band sizes. We don't want to be small in the band. Why?

I find it a very odd contradiction that it's not OK to be big in the bust but it's more than OK to be big in the band. I don't know how many women are shopping for dresses and saying "this size 16 really swamps me but I should probably wear this rather than a well-fitting size 10". After our piece in the Huffington Post went out last week we have been inundated with Size Consultation Requests and a whopping 95% of the women were wearing a band size that was between 3 and 10 inches too big for them. This problem is so epidemic is got me wondering why we're so keen to be in bigger band sizes.

The most common band sizes available in stores is 34 and 36 (thanks to the Plus Four Method). If these are the most commonly available sizes then we get conditioned into believing that anything not readily available must be abnormal or specialist. You see commercials for Victoria's Secret with supermodels who are apparently all 34 bands, because that's the most common size they sell, and you tell yourself you're not slimmer than them so you can't possibly be a 32, 30 or 28 band. Unfortunately many Victoria's Secret models are wearing bras that don't fit them (every one above is wearing a cup that is too small and/or a band that is too big) so the foundation of the sizing is completely misleading.

I know that making the mental leap to being a 32GG is tough when you've spent your life in an agonizing but familiar 38DDD, but it really is essential for your physical and mental well-being. I would like you to take one step on the road to that better bra right now. You don't have to worry about cup sizes but I want you to find a tape measure, wrap it around your ribcage under your bust so that it's parallel with the floor all around your body then note the measurement in inches. If you are wearing a bra that is more than two inches bigger than this measurement then you need to reconsider your bra size (as always this applies to busty women, this doesn't work for all small busted ladies). That's all right now, just find out whether you are in a band that is good or bad for you.

Three telltale signs that your band is too big:
1) Your straps dig into your shoulders
3) Your straps slip off your shoulders
3) You band rides up your back and you have to pull your bra back into place

You can literally drop a couple of band sizes in seconds and discover that your figure is far more amazing than you thought so what do you have to lose? xx

Monday, July 23, 2012

Who Uses Skype Bra Fittings?

Today's post may seem like shameless self-promotion but after 18 months of doing Skype Fittings I've realized that these fittings are more than just convenient, they're a lifeline for many women. I started offering Skype fittings a few months after starting Butterfly Collection for a few reasons:

1) Living 4000 miles away from my family I rely on Skype to stay connected and decided that this amazing tool could keep me connected with women across North America.
2) Canada and the US are enormous countries with many women living in remote areas with no accessible lingerie store - I wanted them to have access to a service and knowledge beyond that available on our website.
3) Many women simply can't go into a boutique for physical or emotional reasons.

Over the numerous Skype fittings I've done a few common themes have cropped up with the women I have helped and I think they will resonate with many of you. Here are some of the most common reasons my clients use our Skype fitting service:

The Embarrassment Factor
Because we only sell D-K cup bras most of our customers consider themselves to be busty and some of them have discovered that boutiques simply don't cater for busty women. At the worst end of the scale some women have been turned away from stores being told that they should consider a breast reduction or have been poorly fitted into a bra with a smaller cup and a larger band simply to make a sale. At best women are turned away from a boutique because they don't cater for cups over a G or even in some case, over a D.

Lots of our customers tell us how embarrassing it is to be told your breasts are 'too big', or how infuriating it is to be dismissed by a fitter who says you simply need a 38DD when you know you really need a 32G.

By the time some of our clients have found us they had simply given up on the idea that there were any bras out there that would fit them. Many were resigned to the idea that they would never do sport or wear pretty bras or would be out of pain. The mental relief of having their breast and bra concerns listened to and being given options in the right sizes is visible on their faces. One woman wrote to me after her Skype session and receiving her order to say, "I was on the brink of booking a breast-reduction consultation because I was so unhappy with my breasts and lack of support. After wearing the correct bras for just one week I feel like I have my life back."
The Physical Factor
We fit a lot of women who physically can't get to a store. One of my favourites is a 32HH customer in the North West Territories of Canada whose Butterfly Collection bras are flown in by helicopter because the nearest town with a boutique is 1000 miles away!! She is able to Skype because they have incredible satellite internet so I could do a personal fitting for a woman who lives in a community of just 400 people.

Besides the geographical impossibilities of physically getting to a store I have several clients who are housebound or have limited mobility. For these women getting to a store would be hard enough but getting the actual fitting would be virtually impossible because they need more space than is available in a changing room. My clients with severe joint and muscle diseases or injuries are able to have a fitting from the comfort of their home with the help of a family member, friend or carer who can do the necessary measurements with my help. Being in familiar, safe and comfortable surroundings takes away the stress of going to a store and allows bra shopping to be fun rather than distressing. A mother of a severely handicapped daughter told me that she just didn't know where to begin getting her daughter fitted because a store would be too unsettling and taking her clothes off in front of a stranger simply wouldn't happen. Getting her daughter into the right bras is one of the most rewarding moments for Butterfly Collection so far.
The Emotional Factor
For lots of women the idea of having someone else fit them or to have to get even partially undressed in front of a stranger is very distressing. As I've written about a lot, big boobs are 20% physical and 80% emotional. What I mean is, lots of busty women have been taught to be ashamed of their breasts and/or to hide them. My clients who have an emotional road to travel in understanding, accepting and celebrating their breasts are amongst my bravest clients.

Many of them simply can't cope anymore with being so physically uncomfortable and use the Skype fitting to get help measuring themselves (some on camera and many off camera) so they can determine which size they should be wearing. Often these clients have never been able to express how they feel about their bodies and I always feel very privileged that they choose to share their stories with me. Knowing you're not a freak, you're not alone and you have nothing to be ashamed of is more important than how utterly fabulous you look in a well fitting bra.

I wanted to share these experiences with you because I know that so many women (even those with access to great boutiques) struggle with the idea of getting a bra fitting and wearing the correct bra and I want you to know you're not alone. Every single woman deserves to be able to have an enjoyable (or at least stress-free) bra shopping experience and I am so thrilled that Butterfly Collection's Skype fittings have brought happiness, freedom and peace of mind to so many women across North America. xx

Monday, July 16, 2012

How Your Posture Affects Your Bra Fit

Image from Ghetto Nurd website
Large breasts are heavy, very heavy. Imagine carrying a couple of bags of sugar around your neck all day and you get the idea. This weight can impact on your neck, upper spine, lower back and shoulders. The most common posture issues are curvature of the spine, hunched shoulders and back pain. Besides potentially giving you physical pain, bad posture can affect the way your bra fits you (even a correctly sized bra) and consequently, how you feel about your shape.
When the Lingerie Addict tried on a pair of weighted 34HH breasts she was amazed how heavy they were. Photo: taken by Darlene at Hourglassy
The Emotional Causes of Bad Posture
The most common posture issue for busty women is hunched shoulders and this is the direct result of physically hiding your breasts. You see it all the time; huddles of teenage girls with rounded shoulders and folded arms. Of course it's an awkward time being a busty teenager but if no-one bolsters your confidence and teaches you to be proud of your body then the shoulder-hunched-arm-cross can plight your life forever.
Every day I see adult women who are visibly ill-at-ease with their breasts. They stand and walk in such a way that says 'don't look at me, I'm ashamed of my bust.' I want to run up and hug these women, whisk them off for a cup of tea and a bra fitting. Is it worth risking your health and happiness for the sake of worrying about what other people think about your bust? The small-minded idiots who would judge you for your bra size aren't in physical pain because of their ignorance, why on earth should you be? 

If you have rounded shoulders then your straps can't lie flat against your chest causing your bra to stand away from your body. This can cause your breasts to bounce up and down in their cups as the strap can't keep them locked down. I see lots of women default to hunched shoulders when they try on bras. When I realign their posture they can see the difference in fit instantaneously.

It can be incredibly hard to re-train your mind as well as your body, but it is possible. You should try to roll your shoulders back in small rotations every day. A little tip I like is to put a red sticker on your computer (one of the culprits for our declining posture) then every time you become aware of the sticker relax your shoulders, and make 10 small, slow backward rotations (make sure not to stretch you neck back, keep your chin down). Over time you can improve your overall posture by moving your shoulders farther back.

Back and Neck
Your head should be aligned over the thickest part of your spine so that the weight is distributed evenly down your spine. When your boobs pull your whole body forward your head can move farther forward causing the upper part of your spine to work extra hard as it tries to pull your head back into place. This strain on your upper back causes curvature of your upper spine which affects your height as well as disrupting the blood-flow and nerve message around your upper body.

Physically pulling your head in (tuck your chin in and down as you do so to ensure you don't strain your neck) will align your head and spine. You need to wear a correctly fitting bra (by this I mean a snug band!!) so that the weight of your breasts is transferred from your neck and upper back to your mid and lower back which is much stronger. Click here for some posture improving exercises.

Wear the Right Bra
It can never be said enough, wearing correctly fitting bras is so important for your physical and emotional health. In case you don't know if your bra fits, here are the 5 tell tale signs:

1) All of your breast tissue should sit inside your cups (this includes the breast tissue at the side under your armpit) without any gaping.

2) You should be able to get just two fingers under your band. If your band is too loose your bra is completely redundant and probably doing you more harm than good.

3) The centre part of your bra (the gore) should lie flat against your body.

4) Your straps should NOT dig into your shoulders.

5) Your band should be level with the ground at the front AND at the back of your body.

The way you feel about your bust (and your figure in general) is absolutely apparent in your posture. If you think that you should be ashamed of your figure, then you will stand that way. If you feel proud to be busty and healthy then your stance reflects it. Feeling better in your body and your bra starts in your head so I highly recommend reading this post to start piecing together what's holding you back from your embracing your shape and standing with shoulders back xx

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Holly Jackson: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Wires and Love Panache

If you'd asked me a month ago, I would have told you I hated Panache. I'd purchased two of their bras back in February at full price in a New York lingerie boutique after being fitted into them and later discarded them in the back of my drawer. They were a black Tango and a Fern bra and the only way to describe them was dreadful. They poked into my arms, they gaped in weird places and they practically came up to my chin. The shape they gave me was nice, but rounded breasts aren't worth pain and agony.
Panache Superbras, like the Tango here, have longer wires which can be problematic for shorter women

I talked (well, whined) to Claire about this after I got them and she pointed out the obvious: I was probably wearing the wrong size. She also mentioned that I should try Panache's Cleo bras, since they tended to have shorter wires. I filed this away for the future, but it was only after being refitted with a great fitter that Claire's theory was confirmed: I was either a 32H or an HH, not a 34J like my Tango bras were.

Lucy comes out in a seasonal colour twice a year
My Lucy bra fits perfectly in a 32HH and I love the bright colors. I'm now on the hunt for a yellow version to go with my purple one. It's definitely higher cut than some of my bras, but not to the point where I feel like my grandmother or that I can't wear v-neck t-shirts with it. It's the perfect bra for when I want tons of support without sacrificing style.

My Chloe is a tiny bit smaller in the cup, but still fits nicely. It's got a gorgeous liberty style print along with a darling bow and button detail on the gore. The fabric and pattern is perfect for summer!

If you've had problems with high wires in Panache bras in the past, don't give up! Make sure you're wearing the right size by scheduling a Skype fitting with Claire and try out the Cleo line. I've fallen in love with Panache as a result of trying it and completely understand why their bras are so highly recommended now.

Note from Butterfly Collection: We have new Cleo styles arriving in Fall 2012

Monday, July 9, 2012

Customer Experience: I've Stopped Being Ashamed of my Chest

This week I'm handing you over to my wonderful sister-in-law who has very kindly written about her experience of having her first bra fitting. I can tell you what a difference the right bra will make, but nothing is as good as hearing a first hand account of going from limp, uninspiring, badly-fitting bras to a joyful over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder like the Sunshine Yellow Lucy bra above...

Fear of the Unknown
I had barely finished expressing my dread for an impending bra shopping expedition when Mrs. Butterfly flicked her head towards the back room and asked, “Do you want to pop around for a quick fitting?” I got the distinct impression that she had been waiting for the first possible opportunity to get her tape measure around me! I didn’t know what to expect because I’ve never been fitted for a bra before, however had I known the outcome, I would have sought her counsel a very long time ago.

Boob Hiding Tactics
I realize now that from the onset of my very early developing years to my fitting with Mrs. Butterfly, I never got past the awkward teenage stage where all you want to do is pretend your breasts don’t exist. I have spent the last twenty years of my life trying to hide my boobs.

A grey hoodie goes a long way to hiding your shape

I'd hunched, covered my chest with strategically placed scarves, I wore bulky sweaters in the sweltering heat of Australian summers and basically did anything I could think of to hide myself however possible. I spent a lot of time wishing that I didn’t have boobs, which is a great shame for a woman. One fitting with Claire at Butterfly Collection changed everything!

I didn't know my boobs until now
At first I was anxious about taking my top off in front of someone but Claire’s professionalism put me at ease in seconds and the actual measuring was the work of a few moments. She handed me a bra to try on, and nothing about the way I carry myself has been the same since.

When I clasped on my first bra, that actually fit me the way a bra is supposed to fit, I had an epiphany!  I didn’t hate my boobs! I just hated my boobs in the wrong bra!  When I shopped for bras by myself I set myself an imaginary size threshold that I would refuse to cross because then I would be admitting how big my boobs were. I thought that by wearing a bra with a smaller letter cup my boobs would look smaller (this doesn't work obviously!).  So imagine my surprise to find that in the correct bra, my boobs actually looked smaller!

My outfit with new bra from Butterfly Collection at the wedding of Mr and Mrs Butterfly!

I purchased three bras from Butterfly Collection after my fitting and have little doubt that before too long I will probably have more bras than Butterfly Collection's stock room. My new found bra enthusiasm is about more than just the comfort of wearing the right bra. It’s about how the right bra makes me look and the changes I feel, which then changes how I carry myself and how others see me.  Because of Claire, I am sure people think that I have grown an extra three inches since I am walking with a much straighter back these days.

If you have ever felt the way that I have about your large boobs, and you are on the fence about reaching out to Butterfly Collection because of any level of embarrassment or shame you think you might have, then I implore you to just bite the bullet and do it before you have the chance to talk yourself out of it.  You have nothing to lose but ill-fitting bras and reasons to hide.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bloomers for the 21st Century!

I have all sorts of different knickers for different occasions and outfits. I felt like I had things pretty much covered until I wore Undersummers. When I took them out of the beautiful bright yellow packaging my first reaction was "Wow, those are epic!" I very quickly realized that these substantial undies would actually make a couple of outfits much easier to wear.

It may not be cool to say but I like to wear slips and petticoats because of their femininity and lovely silky feel. Under lots of fabrics an underskirt is easy to wear and keep the skirt or dress from bunching up or clinging to you. However, under a couple of my wrap dresses my slips and petticoats conspire with the dress to create a death-grip around my waist and thighs. I've never been able to work out why it happens but some outfits simply don't like having another layer underneath. Unfortunately these are usually my dresses that need an extra layer underneath because they're finer, more see-through materials. This is where Undersummers shine.

The shortlettes feel like a pair of knickers (giant knickers admittedly, but knickers all the same) but behave like a slip. The silky material prevents your clothes clinging to you and the short design ensures your 'slip' stays in place all day because it can't bunch up.

I tried the bridal white shortletttes and had planned to wear them with my cream Reiss dress, however, the scalloped hem was too short for the Undersummers. I tried them again with my knee-length white skirt, long white skirt and wrap black and white dress - all three were a hit. The shortlettes are a little on the long side (or my skirts are a little on the short side!) but with the garments they suited, my Undersummers have been wonderful.

Here are my favourite things about these modern day bloomers:

1) They give you the seamless look of shapewear without the constriction
2) They have a cotton gusset so they're as comfortable as regular underwear
3) At $35 they are affordable
4) There are lots of colours and patterns to choose from
5) There are sizes to suit lots of different shapes from Kids to 5-6XL

I'm yet to try out the camisoles so I can't comment yet on the fit for larger busts. I'm seriously tempted by the hot pink so expect a follow up post! xx

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Guide to Bra Bloggers on Facebook

Continuing our series on Lingerie and Facebook, today I'm sharing with you some of my favourite Bra Bloggers' Facebook Pages. Facebook is an easy way to see which Bra Bloggers have something new on their blog, which lingerie they are reviewing and to read other readers' lingerie questions.

Small bands, big cups, geeky fun and testing out fashion for busty, slender women

Undercover Lingerista
Lingerie and swimwear news from across the world mixed in with some fab photography

Fuller Figure Fuller Bust
The bonkers, beautiful and no-nonsense world of Georgina Horne's Fuller Figure, Fuller Bust

The Lingerie Addict
As the name suggests this Facebook page is perfect for any lingerie lover! Photography of every conceivable kind of lingerie as well as reviews, sales and breaking news

Full Figured Chest
A kaleidoscope of lingerie brands from across the globe with a focus on bigger cups. Photography, reviews and news. A must for all lingerie retailers and brands

Thin and Curvy
Focus on 24-28 backs and bigger cup bras. Fashion tips and style suggestions for full busted, slim women

Miss Underpinnings
Personal journey of finding bigger cup, small band bras.

Braless in Brasil
The heartfelt, intelligent and humorous journey of an American trying to tame her big boobs in Brasil

Elisabeth Dale's The Breast Life
You will find easy to understand information about breast health, fitting and breast-feeding as well as personal stories from women of all sizes and experiences

By Baby's Rules
Small band, big cup trials and tests. A personal and passionate search for the perfect bras

Busts 4 Justice
Her header image is Wonder Woman - what else do you need to know!? (She's also the oracle on all things Bra Justice)

Invest in Your Chest
I love this Facebook page it feels like how your best friend would talk to you about your bras, with humour, sincerity and a push in the right direction

Why these Pages are Important to Me
As a lingerie retailer it's so important for me to listen to the problems that women face when looking for lingerie. From wires and gores to designs and availability women are talking about all their loves and loathes. It's a great way for me to listen, respond and make sure Butterfly Collection offers the best products and services.

We address all of these issues on Butterfly Collection's Facebook page as well as sharing Mr Butterfly's beautiful Bra Proverbs! xx