Monday, August 26, 2013

What Are Shallow Breasts?

You may have read the term 'shallow breasts' but be unsure what it means or if you have them. Lots of women with shallow breasts will look like they have smaller breasts than they actually do which can make finding your size quite tricky. Here are some of the features of shallow breasts:

1) Your breast tissue starts high on your chest (at your collarbone in some cases).

2) Even though your breast tissue extends over a long and/or wide area of your chest it isn't very full so doesn't protrude very far forward.

3) You find that you can't fill the horizontal depth of lots of cups but at the same time the top of the cup cuts into you and gives you quadraboob.

If these three things describe your breasts then you probably have shallow breasts. This means that your breast tissue volume is spread out over a larger area but doesn't have a lot of horizontal depth which makes it hard to fill out a lot of bra cup shapes.

Shallow breasts come in the following combinations:
* Evenly spaced shallow breasts with a narrow root (so you need narrow wires with a shallow friendly cup and medium to wide gore)

* Wide spaced shallow breasts with a narrow root (so you need narrow wires with a shallow friendly cup and wide gore) 

* Close set shallow breasts with a narrow root (so you need narrow wires with a shallow friendly cup and narrow gore - you may need to add inches to your band size) 

* Evenly spaced shallow breasts with a wide root (so you need wide wires with a shallow friendly cup and medium to wide gore) 

* Wide spaced shallow breasts with a wide root (so you need wide wires with a shallow friendly cup and wide gore)

* Close set shallow breasts with a wide root (so you need wide wires with a shallow friendly cup and narrow gore)
This gallery of shallow breasts from Venusian Glow is really useful for illustrating what shallow breasts look like. (Warning: Some images are not safe for work).
Style Features for Shallow Breasts
Shallow breasts often need the height of a larger cup without the forward projection and roundness of lots of styles. The cups shape is everything for women with shallow breasts to find their best size and fit.

Shallow breasts require support and fullness at the bottom and a tall cup (so that the edges don't dig into the soft upper breast tissue) that doesn't have a lot of curvature to it. Some teardrop shapes work well with shallow breasts. Lots of women also find that true balconette styles (like Medina) with vertical seams work well because the fullest part of the bust sits in the cup then the upper soft tissue isn't bisected by the cup. Stretch lace is a great friend to shallow breasts because it doesn't bisect the tissue and gives a smooth look.

It's common for women with shallow breasts to have tried multiple different sizes but may have missed trying on cup shapes that work with their breasts. It's worth trying a size you've tried before in a shallow-friendly cup shape.

Shallow Friendly Bras
Lucy works for medium to close-set shallow breasts
Claudette Dessous range is a phenomenal choice for shallow medium to wide root breasts

Idina Plunge has a stretch cup that is great for wide root shallow breasts average to narrow set

Andorra is a stretch lace bra good for wide, shallow breasts

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Diversity in Lingerie - Diversity in Life

On Tuesday August 21st 2013 June, from Braless in Brasil, launched a campaign called #DiversityinLingerie. Posting a picture of herself in her beautiful post-babies--over 30--a life fully led--stretch marks--and--skin glory June reminds us that we don't see enough physical diversity in lingerie. This means lingerie brands, catwalk shows and retailers don't use a diverse range of models to promote and demonstrate their styles which means millions of women are not represented in an industry for women. We are gradually seeing more plus size models as part of mainstream lingerie marketing but what about women of colour, varying abilities, gender, stretch marks/scars, tattoos, amputees, heights?

I'm not qualified to speak on most of these subjects, however, trail blazers like The Lingerie Addict and The Lingerie Lesbian are creating forums in which women can learn, empathize and be empowered. By challenging preconceptions and highlighting pioneering brands like Kiss Me Deadly and Chrysalis Lingerie, these bloggers aim to make diversity in lingerie a reality. This is not going to be an overnight achievement and from consumer expectations to marketing execution there is a long way to go to bring about true diversity in lingerie promotion.

I wanted to contribute to this conversation about what Diversity in Lingerie means to me. My primary interest as both a bra fitter and blogger is understanding a busty woman's relationship with her body/breasts and giving her the knowledge to feel confident, beautiful and peaceful. What I've come to know is that the diversity of women's relationships with lingerie is vast. How women identify with lingerie, how they use it, what they want from it, how it makes them feel, these are the diversities that I am keenly focused on. 

I am 100% behind the purpose to encourage more physical representation and diversity in lingerie promotion. I would add to this that I would love to see more diversity in the portrayal of women's relationships with lingerie (I elaborated on this in a recent article for The Lingerie Addict). The majority of advertising and marketing we see around lingerie positions it as a delicacy, a thing to be enjoyed in isolation, but lingerie is for life! Lingerie is not an option for some, it's essential for many women to lead their lives confidently and comfortably.

I would love to see a greater diversity in the portrayal of life in lingerie. Here of some of my clients' relationships with lingerie:

1) Roller Derby girls who want bold patterns in designs that can withstand extreme sports.
2) Post-surgery women (some of whom are facing months of recovery) who want more sizes and variation in post operative bras.
3) Nursing Moms who are learning how to fend off social commentary, gain confidence in their new role and body as well as physically manage the rigors of breastfeeding.
4) Professional sports women who are defying the big boob stereotypes and sexism they encounter to pursue their profession with breast support and confidence.
5) Emergency workers who need extreme support during their days but want the diversity of colour and design that lesser impact bras take for granted.
6) Women over 75 with heavy busts whose bone density has changed considerably. Their desire for elegant and beautiful lingerie has not changed but the design and support of their bras is very different from a 22 year old's.

The #DiversityinLingerie campaign is insightful, powerful and inspiring and I hope you take time to read some, if not all, of these posts. Women are as diverse in nature and purpose as we are in looks and physicality. Our diversity is fascinating and beautiful and we can learn a great deal from it. xx

Braless in Brasil
The Breast Life
The Lingerie Addict
Thin and Curvy
Bras and Body Image
Les Gros Bonnets
Wide Curves
Fussy Busty
Under the Unders
Curvy Wordy
The Absurd Curvy Nerd
The Full Figured Chest
Muscular Hourglass

Monday, August 19, 2013

How Torso Shape Affects Bra Fit

Your rib cage shape can make a big difference to your bra fit. Regardless of your dress size the dimensions of your torso can alter which kinds of bras fit you best. Here is a simple guide to some of the variations in rib cage shape and how they affect bra fit.
This is the most common torso shape and not to be confused with whether your overall figure is straight or curvy. On a straight torso your bra will sit evenly across all the hooks at the back. If you have a straight and narrow torso then look for bras with narrow wires.

If you have a straight and wide torso and your breasts are wide across your body then you probably need bras with wide wires. If you have a wide, straight torso (often referred to as a broad back) and your breasts are close set or narrow then you may need to add inches to your band size and reduce your cup letter.
When your rib cage is dramatically smaller at the underbust than the overbust measurement it can affect the way your bra sits. Lots of women find bras with fewer hooks at the back (2 rather than 3 or 4) sit better. It's quite possible that you need to go up a band size to accommodate the widening of your rib cage across the wider part of your rib cage. A common alteration for flared rib cages is to bend the wires under the armpit away from the body.
Often referred to as barrel chests, this rounding of the ribcage means that you need a lot of band and potentially not a lot of cup so you may need to add inches to your band for comfort. This also works for women with curved spines due to health or posture issues. If you have a narrow and round torso then you will most likely need narrow wires which can accommodate a lot of bust in a small width.

If you have a wide, round torso then you'll need to asses whether your breasts need wide or narrow wires. Again you might need to add inches to the band but this also depends largely on whether you have a squidgy torso. A lot of women with rounded torsos find that they need to bend their wires both around the ribs and away from the sternum so that the wires follow the curvature of their rib cage.

It's important to remember that no one piece of bra information is gospel, so many other factors can affect your fit but this is a general guide to understanding how the shape and contours of your torso can change your bra fit. xx

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bra Fit and Digestive Issues

Digestive image courtesy of DocStoc
Thousands of women suffer from digestive issues. Conditions including food allergies, acid reflux, and irritable bowel syndrome can be exacerbated by your bra fit. As these digestive issues are so common I wanted to explain the causes and the solutions I recommend for my clients.

The Right Band
The band of your bra passes directly around your stomach and upper duodenum (the beginning of your small intestine responsible for breaking down food). The pressure from your band can cause your digestive issue to flare up. It's tempting to think that the only solution is to wear a looser band, but that may not be your only solution.
Profile Perfect is a bandless bra as there is no material below the wire
It's a good idea to wear the loosest band size you can without compromising your fit, but wearing a band that is too loose will cause other issues so don't go too loose. Look for bandless bras; these are bras that don't have an extra strip of fabric below the wires. Minimizing how much fabric goes around your body will reduce the area of pressure on your digestive system. This simple style alteration can make a big difference to some sufferers.

The Right Gore
Your gore puts pressure on your sternum (or breast bone) which in turn can put pressure on your esophagus (the organ through which your food travels to your stomach). To relieve the pressure on your esophagus you can also try a looser band, however, it's also worth experimenting with different gore heights.
A lower gore, like this one on Idina can relieve digestive discomfort for some women
Some women find that wearing a short gore (like plunge styles) relieves the pressure on their esophagus. Other women find that wearing a tall gore spreads the pressure over a larger area and that is more comfortable. It's also possible to bend the wires at your gore away from the body so that the pressure is relieved (this requires a bit of effort but is very effective).

Wirefree Bras
You condition may be such that any wire pressure is going to aggrivate your condition so you need to wear a wire free bra. Wirefree styles can be hard to find in GG+ cups but you can find nursing bras that will give you support without wires. You will have a different shape without the wires but the benefit to your health is worth it.

Medical Attention
If you try different bra styles and sizes and still have unmanageable digestive issues you must seek medical attention.

I hope these tips can help you find a more comfortable fit so that your bra support isn't at the expense of your digestive comfort! xx

Monday, August 5, 2013

What You Must Do Before You Can Tell if a Bra Fits

There are three things you should do when you put on a brand new bra BEFORE you can accurately tell if that bra fits you. If you have been wearing a badly fitting bra for a long time then a well-fitting new bra can feel very alien. Here are three things to do before you can tell if a brand new bra fits:

1. The Hooks
When you put on a new bra it MUST fit comfortably and firmly on the loosest set of hooks (number 1 in the picture above). This is essential if you want to get your money's worth out of the bra. Every bra stretches out over time because elastic is perishable so your body heat will continue to stretch out the bra until it is too big for you in the band. By starting on the loosest hooks it ensures that you can switch the tighter hooks as the band stretches.

2. The Straps
You must adjust the straps when you put on a brand new bra. If the straps are too short the whole bra will feel very tight and awkward. If the straps are too long then the cups will bag and gape at the front. Adjust the straps so that they are proportional to your torso length. If you have one breast smaller than the other you will need to shorten the strap on your smaller side to even out your cup fit.

3. Scoop Your Boobs
A well-fitting bra should be snug to your body so it's important to ensure you don't have any breast tissue trapped between your wires and your body. Always use the opposite hand to breast (so right hand scoops left breast) and reach inside your cup and lift your breast up from the bottom of your cup then release it. Scoop the tissue away from the side of your bra then release. Finally, smooth your breast tissue AWAY from the centre gore ensuring that your nipple falls in a natural position.

Now that you have done these three things you will be able to assess whether your brand new bra is right for you in the band and cups. xx