Monday, December 7, 2015

How to Change the Lingerie Industry

There are undoubtedly bra styles missing across every size and shape range. I've written about the full bust bras I wish were available and there are lots of people who need sizes and styles not readily available. I recently saw an online petition asking full bust brands like Panache and Bravissimo to manufacture 24 and 26 band sizes. Small band sizes are desperately needed for so many people, especially young girls who need bra support from an early age.

Unfortunately, petitioning manufactures for change is not going to bring about lasting and effective change. Why? Because manufacturers rely on retailers to buy sizes that they make and retailers will only buy sizes if their customers spend money on those sizes and consumers can only demand those sizes when they're educated about bra fit. This is a vicious cycle that can only be tackled with education and consumer dollars.

If anyone measures over your boobs like this then run for the hills, they have no idea what they're doing.

Five years ago when I started writing about bra fit the majority of retailers were still trotting out the +4 method of bra fitting which doesn't work for most women. Since then there has definitely been a shift in more retailers educating themselves about the availability of 28-32 band sizes and cup volumes over a DD. But (and it's a big but) there are still thousands of stores in North America that don't carry bands below a 34 or 32 band and don't carry cup volumes over a DD cup. These stores will still fit women into bras that basically don't fit them. These stores will NEVER buy a 24 or 26 band to sell in their store until a shift happens in their customer demand which prompts them to get better educated about bra fit and sizes. I know it's backwards that the 'professionals' need to be incentivized to be better, but that's the reality.

I would hazard a guess that most women in North America don't know that they should be wearing a band size close to their ribcage measurement or that cup letters over a DD exist and would give them a better fit. Butterfly Collection has been part of the wave of bra educators dedicated to bringing bra size liberation and education to women in North America along with groups like Reddit's abrathatfits, online services like Bratabase and bloggers like Sweet Nothings. This movement is really only in its infancy compared to decades of unchallenged bra fitting techniques that have left generations of women in the wrong fit. Educating consumers about the bra fit they need and deserve is the first step in bringing about the change in demand that uneducated bra retailers need in order to change their buying habits.

If a store's customers never know that they need a wider range of sizes then they'll never ask for them, the store will never order them and the manufacturer will never be able to produce them.

In order to bring about real change in the lingerie industry I think we need to apply more pressure to the retailers than to the manufacturers. If you are an educated bra consumer who wants change then speak to the retailers you deal with and tell them about the size you need. Then tell your friends to demand better service from their bra retailers if they're being given poor service (telltale signs of bad retailers can be found here). We have to stop spending money on bras that don't fit us in order to prompt retailer awareness and urgency.

Change is definitely possible but I think we have to affect that change at a more grassroots level of the bra industry. The consumer has ultimate power once they know what bras are best for them. When I first started blogging a large and well established retailers got in touch with me to say that I should stop giving out free fitting advice because only bra fitters should have that knowledge. I wholeheartedly disagreed because keeping consumers in the dark about their own bra fit is what allows lazy retailers to get away with selling a fraction of bra sizes. Let's not allow that to continue for another generation. xx

Monday, November 9, 2015

Taking Time to Overcome Letter Phobia

I can measure almost anyone for a bra and tell them technically what bra sizes and styles they should wear to get a text book healthy fit. The reality is that the technical aspect of fitting means nothing if someone is not mentally ready for a new bra size, especially if the thought of a cup letter over a D makes them recoil.

I've written before about Letter Phobia (here and here) and how it's a very real block that keeps women from even trying on a bra in a size that distresses/worries/upsets them.

I have some clients who spent years in bras that made them uncomfortable, unhappy and self conscious but then finally took the courageous step of facing their letter phobia. I say courageous because letter phobia is the result of layers of dialogue that tell us boobs are wrong, big boobs only translate to sex, cup sizes over a D are for exhibitionists, big boobs and intelligence don't co-exist etc. It's brave to take a step out of that quagmire of ignorance that gets heaped on women from commercials, movies, ads, TV, blog comment sections (AKA the Devil's diary, whichever you prefer) and trust that you could find empowerment on the other side.

A recently new client told me this week that she was disgusted the first time she saw our website because we were trying to normalize big boobs and that went against everything she had learned at home, through her social groups and through the media. Over a period of three years she had read my blog posts and started to wonder whether she was being kept in a cycle of shame about her body and breasts without really knowing it. In September she purchased her first bra in a cup letter that would have been unthinkable to her just a year earlier. This week she wanted to let me know that the difference in her health, posture and self-worth has transformed in just 2 short months. So much so that she has made a verbal promise to her daughter that she will always give her physical and emotional access to bras that fit her.

When you work so much by yourself it's hard to know sometimes if you're making a difference so this woman's story meant an awful lot to me. I would love to think that fewer women of future generations will have to wade through the emotional mud before they feel empowered and deserving enough of a well-fitting bra. It's not just about getting the best bra fit, it's about freeing up the mental capacity of a remarkable gender to apply their time to something other than ensuring their bodies conform to an arbitrary social preference.

Getting over letter phobia does not happen over night but it can happen and the results can be so much more than just getting the right bra. Be kind to those women you know who are afraid to try a cup letter over a D and be there with helpful resources when they're ready to face their letter phobia.xx

Monday, October 19, 2015

Bras Missing from the Full Bust Market

Almost every week I have to tell someone that the bra they need simply doesn't exist. It's awful to have to tell someone that but the reality is that the full bust market does not yet have a full compliment of styles compared to the A-D mainstream sizes. Here are some of the bras that are missing from the full bust market.

Plunge Bras Over an H Cup
The versatility of a plunge bra is something a lot of H+ cup women would like but that's not the key reason I'd love to see an H+ cup plunge bra. Lots of my clients have a protruding or concave breastbone that makes medium to tall gores difficult to wear. H+ cup bras tend to have quite tall gores and this makes sense because you're trying to support a 10 inch circumference difference between the ribcage and the fullest part of the bust so you want good scaffolding! However, if that gore creates too much pressure on a protruding sternum or can't take to a concave one then the fit is lost.

There is the germination of H+ plunge bras appearing in Freya's Deco Vibe GG cups and Panache's new fashion style Fontaine. However, there is enormous scope for more styles that offer support with strong seaming and fabrics while offering the flexibility of a lower gore.

A Variety of Wire Lengths
Full bust manufacturers tend to get stuck in a wire length rut. It makes sense from a manufacturing point of view because it's expensive to change production settings for the wire length, however, brands are missing out on a ready and willing audience. Panache is a prime example of a brand that could quickly rack up more clients if it offered a variety of wire lengths. So many of our clients love the designs, Cleo in particular, but the wires are just too long for their breast height or torso length. They're ready and willing to part with their dollars but can't because Panache doesn't offer enough wire lengths.

One of the most overlooked sectors of our clientele is the short busty woman. She's generally under 5ft 3" with a 32H+ bust and most of the bras available in her size come with incredibly long wires. Just knocking off an inch or so from those wire lengths or offering a short wires version would result in a swathe of new customers.

Strapless Bras Over an H Cup
Again it would be nice to have more strapless options over an H cup but currently there is only Curvy Kate's Luxe bra widely available and if Curvy Kate's wire width doesn't work for you then you don't really have anywhere else to look.

More Gore Width Options
Large breasts come in many shapes and sizes and sit in a variety of different positions on the body. If your breasts sit far apart then you need a bra with a wide gore. If they sit close together then you need a narrow gore. Currently the narrowest gore options also live on bras with long wires so if you have a narrow bust and high breast root it's tricky to find a fit. More gore width options within a brand would cast their customer net that little bit wider.

If you have a full bust bra that you simply cannot find or a fit feature that seems to be completely missing then please share it in the comments. xx

Monday, October 5, 2015

Bra Fact and Bra Fiction Quiz

In five years of talking about bras I've had to debunk my fair share of bra myths. There is a lot of great bra information out there but there is also a lot of bra nonsense that is keeping hundreds of thousands of women from their best fit. How many of these bra 'facts' are actually rubbish and which are the real deal? (I'll post the answers in the comments in a couple of days!) xx

1) Your bra band should be parallel with the ground

2) It's normal to get some back fat with a well-fitting bra

3) After you measure round your ribcage you should add 4 inches to find your band size

4) Not all bras in your size will fit you

5) Straps falling off your shoulders is a normal part of wearing bras

6) You should be able to lift the band away from your body so you can see the bottom of your breasts

7) The direction of the seams on a cup changes the shape of the look of your bust

8) The gore should lie flat against your body between your boobs

9) If your bra leaves red marks on your body it's the wrong size

10) Wearing a bra at night stops your boobs sagging

There are many, many more but if you can sort the fact from the fiction in this list then you've got a great handle on your bra fit! xx

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Day in The Life of a Badly Fitting Bra

You'd be forgiven for thinking that your bra is out to get you as it pinches and pokes you and leaves your breasts in free fall. But in reality the reason your bra hurts you is that it's desperately trying to fit and it just can't. To give you an idea of what happens when you put on an ill-fitting bra here's a short day in the life of that bra...

Beginning of the Day...
Bra: "OK everyone, it's a new day and today we're going to keep her boobs in one place. Is everyone with me? Straps, Band, Cups, are we ready?"

All: "Yes(ish)!"

Bra: "Band, can I get an elastic report?"

Band: "Elastic cooled to room temperature but stretch damage at 90%. I'm reporting majority of elastic fibers broken or maxed out, Commander."

Bra: "Let's put that 10% of working elastic to the test then Band. Engage band support. Straps, status report."

Straps: "We are reading a 75% degrading of our surface resistance. Likelihood of sliders loosing grip at 80%, Commander."

Bra: "I don't want any slacking on this watch so keep those straps in place soldier. Cups, what's the situation with you?"

Cups: "We appear to have sustained some damage during the last aquatic drill, Commander. We are reporting some increased volume and weakening of the surface tension."

Bra: "I need you to hold it together cups, stand fast. OK, this is it. All stations engage support."

Not Long Later That Same Day...
Bra: "All stations we are loosing support integrity; immediate emergency reports."

Band: "Elastic has heated up to body temperature and we're loosing tension at a rapid rate. We are reporting a 15 degrees increase in altitude up the spine."

Straps: "We also detect the increase in altitude, Commander, and can no longer maintain strap stability. We have lost functionality in the right strap. Strap down, I repeat, strap down."

Cups: "We are loosing altitude, Commander. We are reporting major tissue spillage in left cup and wire malfunction at the gore. We appear to have increased tissue pressure at the sternum. Please advise next steps."

Bra: "All stations, we appear to be having a catastrophic function failure. Advise one of us learns how to write a note for her to get a bra fitting and put us out of our misery."

So the next time you find yourself cursing your bra spare a thought for how hard it's trying to contain your breasts against all odds. If you don't know where to start figuring out what size and style features you need in a bra then our Free Size Consultation is a great place to start. xx

Monday, August 17, 2015

Our 5 Most Useful Posts of All Time

We've had lots of new customers, blog readers and newsletter subscribers lately and many of them are at the beginning of their bra journey. To make it easier to find your best fit I've put together our top 5 most useful blogs that have helped thousands of women.

Basics about Bands
Your band is the most crucial part of your bra. It should do most of the work in lifting and supporting your bust so if your band is wrong a whole heap of problems can arise, and they do!

This blog video explains why a band that's too big for you causes problems like straps digging and slipping and cups spilling. Watch the video here

Cup Letters Mean Nothing Without The Band Size
This is at the crux of understanding bra sizes. The fact that a 36G is a whole cup volume bigger than a 34G because the band is longer is something that most women don't know. If you've been wearing a 38C that rides up like mad so you tried a 32C and the band was crazy tight and you were spilling out everywhere it was because the 32C is THREE cup volumes smaller than the 38C.

Not All D Cups Are The Same is our most read post because it explains and shows how cups and bands relate to one another. Read the post here.

How Can I Be an 34FF and a 32G?
One you understand that cups get bigger as the band gets longer you start to realize that cup letters mean nothing without their band size. Your bra size is actually a cup volume, not a cup letter. Sister Sizing explains how the same cup volume has different sizes depending on the band length. It's really useful to know your sister sizes. For example, if you know that a 32G is your best starting size but you read that a bra you love runs really tight in the band so you need to go up a band size, you'll know that your sister size is a 34FF so that's the size to order to offset the tight band.

What Sister Sizes Look Like is our post that shows you what the same cup volume looks like on different band lengths. Read the post here.

Height and Bra Fit

Something that few fitters will explain to you is that your height can play a huge part in which bras will fit you best. If you are under 5ft 5" then this post is well worth a read!

Getting Your Mind Into The Right Bra
Once you've read up on all the 'science' of a well fitting bra the prospect of changing bra size and style can be daunting. You can never get the right physical fit until you are emotionally ready for a good fit.
The Mental Leap from the Wrong Bra to the Right Bra is a guide to help you work out what's keeping you from better bra fit and to help you take your time. Read the post here.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Transitioning Back from Nursing to Regular Bras

In the early weeks and months of breastfeeding your nursing bra clips are up and down like a jack-in-a-box. As the baby starts to eat solids the prospect of getting back into regular bras becomes a possibility. Evelynne is now 14 months old and eating solids like a boxer in training. She still finds time to fit in a few breastfeeds in the day but not enough to warrant being in a nursing bra all day. Now that I don't need to be so available to her I have started transitioning back into regular bras and discovered that's harder than I thought.

Body Shock Post Nursing
When Evelynne was about 8 months I really missed regular bras. I had great nursing bras but the shape they all give you is pretty similar and you don't get the same lift as you do with a wired bra. When I realized I could start wearing wired bras again I was really excited to get back into my Panache Jasmine and Cleo Lucy bras because they're my favourite shapes. Unfortunately this wasn't to be.

My size had barely changed from my pre-pregnancy size. I was a 32GG before Evelynne and I was now a 34GG, so up just one band size and one cup volume. I tried a 34GG in Lucy and it was too much of a shock to my system to have such a long wire and rigid support again after 12 months of wire-free, relaxed support.  This body shock happens a lot for women who have spent their whole lives in the wrong bra. They know they are uncomfortable and their straps hurt in the wrong bra but once they put on a band that is actually supportive it's too different from the loose fit they're used to and it can put off a lot of people from persevering with a better fit. I knew that the shock meant I needed to take smaller steps back into wired bras.

Related Article: What to expect when you start wearing the right size bra

Baby Steps Back into Wired Bras
I had to start experimenting with new styles to help me find my way back to wired bras. I have never been a big fan of smooth cup bras because I don't like the shape they give me as much as a seamed cup shape, but I discovered that soft smooth cups (so no rigid molded cups) were very comfortable, especially as I am still nursing so still a little sensitive.  I also found that even though I can wear pretty long wires I was more comfortable in a shorter wire. A shorter wire meant less pressure around my torso (and less support in my case) but it proved to be a good middle ground between no wire and long wires.

Short wired, smooth cups are bras that I've never regularly worn but they have given me back more lift, a different shape from nursing bras and the body confidence to start wearing a firmer band again.

Here are the bras that are rehabilitating me back into wired bras!

Verailles by Lunaire
Short wires, scooped straps and smooth cups made Versailles a great post nursing bra.

This bra is pretty firm in the band so I tried a 36G (the equivalent cup volume of a 34GG) and was very pleasantly surprised at the comfort and support. I particularly like that the straps scoop in on the shoulders so this bra is invisible under a tank top. Shop Here

Basic Beauty by Wacoal
Smooth cups, lots of support and scooped straps were my favourite post-nursing features on Basic Beauty
The cups are made of a double lined material which adds support without irritation your nipples. The cups come up pretty high but this gives a fantastic support. Again the straps scoop in on the shoulders on this one so it's been useful in the summer with strapless tops. Shop Here

Etta by Elomi
I love the short gore on Etta and the seams hit me in the right place post-nursing
I needed something with a shorter gore than Versailles and Basic Beauty so I tried Etta and it was ideal. The wires are probably a little short on me (I have a tall bust) but the shape and comfort made up for that. The placement of the seams didn't irritate me and it's so nice to be back in a seamed, wired bra. Shop Here

I plan to get back into Jasmine and Lucy eventually and my transition bras are helping me get there. Having and nursing a baby is such a huge change for your body that I guess it's no surprise that your body needs time to transition back into pre-baby bras. xx

Monday, July 6, 2015

5 Things You Shouldn't Say To A Busty Woman
If you have a large bust then at some time in your life chances are someone has commented on them, maybe passed judgement on them or asked you about them. This happens to a lot of women regardless of their bust size but for women with larger breasts these questions can be frequent, repetitive, boring and upsetting. Here are 5 things that you should never say to a busty woman:

"You're so lucky!"
We don't know how to respond to this. "Sure, I love that my genetics gave me lucky big boobs." Are we lucky that our breasts attract a lot of sexual harassment and judgement? Are we lucky that it's hard to find clothes and bras that fit? Are we lucky that large breasts can be hot and painful and cumbersome? This can be a very confusing statement for someone who doesn't like their large bust and even if we're completely happy with our breasts they still require effort so please don't tell us we're lucky.

"Oh, your poor back!"
Millions of women with large breasts don't have back pain so don't assume that we do as though our breasts are a problem. Most women find that with proper bra fit (which invariably means firm band and smooth cups) that they don't get any back pain.

"Can I touch them?"
No. No you can't. I am always amazed by this one. Touching another person's body, any part of their body, is at their invitation and consent. Just because large breasts may be a novelty to you does not mean our breasts are an amusement

"I'd hate to have breasts that big"
Well then, lucky for you that you don't. This kind of unwarranted comment is such an insult. You don't have to like or want larger breasts but you also don't have to share your opinion with other people, especially those people who have larger breasts and may actually like their body. Say this to someone who is struggling with their body image and you've inflicted a really painful and damaging blow so just don't say it.

"How do you sleep/run/swim/lie down/function with those things?"
My first instinct is "None of your business" unless it's someone struggling to come to accept and manage their own large bust. Every person has their own physical story and manages their life accordingly. Large breasts can require some management for how you lie down and run etc, but how each person manages that is their own business and does not need to be explained to others.

Even if you know someone really well asking these kinds of questions or making these remarks can leave a person feeling self-conscious. Every woman is SO much more than her breasts so don't reduce someone to this one physical feature with irrelevant, invasive and stupid boob comments. xx

Monday, June 22, 2015

How To Survive a Bra Shopping Trip to the Mall

A couple of weeks ago I shared an article from Buzzfeed about one woman's trip to the mall to find a bra. She visited 6 stores and was given 8 different sizes to try on. The article is a brilliant example of how confusing and misleading bra shopping can be. I felt so sorry for Kristin as she was put in size after size without being offered any explanation as to why some styles fit her better than others. Kristin has a tall shallow bust and needs a fitter who can explain which features to look for in a bra (besides size) to get a great fit.

Naturally I think online bra shopping is a great option (especially with us!) but I also want to arm you with the survival skills you need for a bra shopping trip to the mall. You need to be prepared because in some stores you're going to find poor fit advice and a sales hungry, rather than fit focused, sales person.

If your fitter measures over the top of your breasts then you know it's a bad fitting!

There are a few things you should expect from a fitting:
  1. You should expect to have a friendly, respectful and courteous fitter who listens to you.
  2. Some fitters will not use a tape measure and as long as you end up liking the bra and fit then that's OK but the very act of not using a tape measure does not make a fitter right.
  3. If your fitter does use a tape measure then she should stand behind you and take your measurements with your bra on but your top off. If you are anxious about taking off your top then make sure you wear a fine material (like a t-shirt) so that your measurements aren't distorted by a heavy fabric.
  4. Your fitter should measure around your ribcage (where your band sits) and around the fullest part of your bust over the nipples. If your fitter measures over the top of your breasts, under your armpits, then leave the fitting because they don't know what they're doing.
Survival Skills
You can learn a lot from a good bra fitter but it's also good to be on your guard ready to spot a bad fitter. After putting you in a bra the fitter should adjust your straps for you and ensure your breasts are settled correctly in the cups by pulling slightly on the tops of the cups and possibly asking you to move your breasts. Once this is done a good fitter will ask you how the bra feels. A good fitter knows that a bra has to feel right to the client.

The empty cup at the bottom of Kristin's cups is caused by the wires being too long for her breast height

There are lots of nuances to bra fit but there are 3 really obvious fit signs you can learn to make sure you're not being cornered into a bra that's not right for you:
  1. The band should feel secure and not easily pulled away from the body more than an inch. It can feel snug, that's natural for a new bra, but it shouldn't be painful.
  2. The cups should not wrinkle, gape or have breast tissue spilling out of the front, sides or worst of all there should not be breast tissue below the band.
  3. If you can see flat empty cup underneath your breasts (like the image above from the Buzzfeed article) but the cups look to fit nicely at the top, then the wires of the bra are too long and this style will not work for you. Ask your fitter for styles with shorter wires.
Don't Be Afraid To Give Feedback
Bras and bra fitting can be intimidating and it's easy to assume that your bra fitter knows best but they can only do their best if you give them honest feedback so tell your fitter what you think of the fit. You can learn more about your fit from a great fitter but ultimately you need to be happy and comfortable in the fit so your opinion really matters! xx

Monday, June 8, 2015

I Wish I Could Stop These 3 Bra Worries

There are 3 big bra fit worries that cause women to make bad bra fit choices. I wish I could stop the worry because a lot of the time it stems from how we think other people see us which shouldn't be the reason we make choices. Hopefully one day most women won't worry about the size, shape or sheer presence of their breasts. Until then I want to share why trying to 'cover up' your breast worries with these 3 bad fit choices doesn't help you at all.

1) Wearing a loose bra band because you're worried about back fat and think a loose band makes it less noticeable.

I'm afraid the loose band only rides up your back and takes any excess skin and fat with it.

In a well-fitting bra the excess fat bulges around the back of your armpit where you can see it. In a loose band the fat either gets pulled up between your shoulder blades or pushed down towards the middle of your back where you can't necessarily see it. The big difference is that now the bra is also putting a huge strain on the nerves and muscles in your neck which can cause trapped nerves, headaches and pain.

Related Article: Bra Fit and Back Fat

Your health and comfort are so much better in a well-fitting bra. I know I'm not going to convince everyone that the fat you can see just doesn't matter (it doesn't!) so if it really bothers you you can smooth it out with deep band or shapewear.

The fat is there no matter what band you wear but not wearing a supportive bra because you're worried about back fat is ultimately a disservice to your physical and mental well-being.

2) Wearing cups and/or a band that's too big so that your boobs don't look as big.

Boobs size is all relative. Your breasts may seem huge to you but are average size, even small, to someone else. Your breasts may seem huge to you because of the stereotypes someone else's ignorance has drummed into you. Your breasts may be huge... AND THAT'S OK!

One thing is for sure, when you wear a bra that's too big in the band and/or cups then your breasts will look larger than they are. This is because the breast tissue spreads wide across your body so appear to take up more surface area. By getting your breasts into a smaller, narrower wire your breasts won't look as big so it's worth getting your size checked with a free bra size consultation.

Image has been airbrushed around the nipple at the model's request

3) Wearing smooth cup bras because you worry that someone will see the seams of your bra through your clothing.

This is something I've written about a lot because seam fear, especially in North America, is keeping women from the support they need. Smooth bras don't work for everyone because some breast shapes and weights need the support and shaping of seams to get the healthiest and most comfortable fit.

If you worry about seams then I urge you to read these two articles and give a seamed bra another chance!

Sorry to Break it to You but People Know You're Wearing a Bra
Smooth Cup Bras: Fit, Health and Body Shame

I'd love everyone to have a happy and comfortable relationship with their bras. Working through your bra worries is an important part of better, happier bra fit xx

Monday, May 25, 2015

How Long Does it Take to Move Migrated Breast Tissue?

One of the most common side effects of wearing the wrong bra size (or style) for a long period of time is migrated breast tissue. Migrated breast tissue is fatty breast tissue that gets displaced from the main mass of fatty breast tissue into the area around your armpit. This is usually caused by the edge of a cup that is too small or positioned in the wrong place due to a band that rides up and tilts the cups forward. The edge of a cup that's in the wrong place bisects the breast tissue forcing some fatty tissue outside the cup into your armpit.

You can move this tissue back into your cup by getting good bra fit which essentially stops the pressure that bisects your breast tissue. The time it takes to move tissue back into your cups depends on a few things:
    1. How much tissue has been displaced
    2. How long the tissue has been displaced
    3. The density of the breast tissue
1. It's not uncommon for a cup size or more of tissue to be displaced. I have helped a lot of Butterfly Collection clients move their migrated breast tissue back into their cups and on average a cup of displaced tissue takes 6-12 months to migrate back into the cup.

2. If your breast tissue has been displaced for 15+ years it can take longer for the tissue to be repositioned back into the cup. The skin that bisects the main breast tissue mass and the displaced tissue can become toughened from the daily pressure of an ill fitting bra. In a well-fitting bra the pressure is relieved and over time the bisect tissue will soften and the tissue migration back into the cup can begin. My clients with 15+ years of migrated tissue find that it takes about 18 months to migrate tissue back into the cups.

3. In my experience dense breast tissue migrates back into the cup faster than soft breast tissue. I have tried to find the medical reason for this but as of yet I'm still not 100% sure why. I'm assuming that the connective tissue between the fat cells are closer together so as one cell is moved back into the cup the adjoining cells follow on quickly. As the fat cells in soft breast tissue are farther apart this may explain why migrating soft breast tissue back into the cups takes a little longer.

If you are attempting to migrate tissue back into your cups then remember to be prepared for an increase in cup volume or a change in breast shape. It's probably a good idea to invest in just two or three well-fitting bras while you migrate your breast tissue and wait to assess any size or shape change before going to town on an array of lovely well-fitting bras! xx

Monday, May 11, 2015

Smooth Cup Bras: Fit, Health and Body Shame

Whether you call them smooth cup bras, t-shirt bras or molded bras the result is the same; a smooth, seamless look under clothing. This look can be really sleek and stylish but the smooth bra can also be a curse. In today's special we're going to look at the different kinds of smooth cup bra, whether they're right for you, and how smooth cups are part of the body shame problem. 

Deco Vibe (left) is a fixed smooth cup. Versailles (right) is a soft smooth cup.

Fixed or Soft
The most prolific smooth cup bra is a fixed molded bra, one that keeps its shape even when it's not on your body. There is also a soft smooth cup option. The cups are still smooth but the material isn't rigid like a fixed cup. Fixed cup smooth bras tend to have a little padding to them because the material has to be thick enough to hold its shape. Soft smooth cup bras tend to be made of lighter material. There's also a halfway option which is the spacer bra. Spacer bra cups are less rigid than a fixed cup but not as lightweight as a soft smooth cup.

Spacer bras, like Profile Perfect, are less rigid than fixed cups and breathable

A fixed smooth cup gives a predictable shape, disguises nipples and evens out the appearance of asymmetrical breasts. The downside is that if your breasts don't closely match the pre-fixed shape of the cup you're going to get gaping which can lead to compromised support and chafing. A soft smooth cup can be adapted more easily to accommodate the natural shape of your breasts (by adjusting the straps) but can't disguise nipples as easily because the fabric is thinner.

Support and Health
A well-fitting smooth bra can give you great support but for a lot of women smooth cup support isn't enough and that's because smooth cup bras don't have seams. Seams are like boob scaffolding. In a smooth cup your breast tissue floods the cup shape, which is usually round and wide or round and plunged. In a seamed bra the seams direct the breast tissue up, forward or wide depending on the angle of the seams. Very heavy breasts need excellent support to lift the tissue up and away from the body (this is good for your health as it stops heat and sweat getting trapped between your breasts and body which can cause rashes and irritations).

This is why seamless bras aren't generally available over a 36GG, because breast volumes over this simply couldn't be supported by a seamless bra.

Full bust bra seams not only help with upward lift of your bust but they also reinforce the strength of the cup which reduces bounce which in turn reduces the impact stress across your whole bra. This lessens the strain on your back and neck.  If you have heavy breasts then look for a soft smooth cup bra with double lined cups because the additional material will provide some of the cup reinforcement that reduces stress. Basic Beauty from Wacoal is a very supportive double-layered t-shirt bra.

Women with shallow breasts or hollowing at the armpit will almost certainly be faced with empty cup space in a smooth cup bra, especially a fixed smooth cup. Sometimes you can come down a cup size to offset the gaping but this doesn't always work. For example, Deco by Freya, which is their signature style, is pretty tall in the cups so no matter how much you come down in volume the cups still gape on a shallow bust because the cups always come up higher than your breast tissue. If you have shallow breasts then you're best option is to go with a soft smooth cup bra option from brands like Fantasie (Echo Lace) or Parfait (Jeanie) that make shorter cups.

Body Shaming
If bras were fruit then the smooth cup bra is like strawberries. So good to look at, easy to eat and gives thousands of people allergic reactions! But imagine if those people who are allergic to strawberries were made to feel that they had to eat strawberries in order to fit in because strawberries are the only acceptable fruit in North America? Smooth bras are not right for everyone but lots of women wear them because they feel that their breasts would be 'too obvious' or 'inappropriate' in anything other than a smooth bra. This is when smooth bras become a real problem.

Because of the high-visibility of brands like Victoria's Secret and La Senza who trade almost exclusively in smooth cup bras, it has become default that breasts should be rounded, smooth, nipple free and 'modest'. The idea that seams bring attention to your breasts is holding some women prisoner in smooth cup bras.

I have lost count of the number of emails I've had from women who are terrified to wear anything other than a smooth bra for fear of their boobs looking too big or obvious or inappropriate. Thankfully I've also lost count of the number of women we've helped break free from their smooth dependence and embrace different styles.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't wear smooth cup bras but I am saying that you shouldn't wear them to keep other people happy or to conform to what social convention says your breasts should look like. Smooth cup bras should be one arrow in your quiver of bra styles and support. They are one look that you can choose to wear, or choose NOT to wear. xx

Monday, April 20, 2015

Who Knew Breastfeeding Could Make Your Feet Hurt?

I used to blog every week before becoming a Mummy but now I'm only blogging when enough of my braincells club together for a sentence. There's no doubt that running a business and being a full time parent is a form of elective insanity but here I am almost 11 months in and Butterfly Collection is thriving, the baby's still alive and most days I'm dressed by 3pm!

Before having Evelynne I had helped a lot of women find comfortable, well-fitting nursing bras. I understood the biology of breast size fluctuation, heightened skin and nipple sensitivity, mastitis and leakage but I had to experience the true mysteries and secrets of breastfeeding for myself.

I love this series of doodles by Lucy Scott
1) Breastfeeding made my feet hurt. That was not something we covered in our pre-natal classes! It took me ages to work out that it was the way I was breastfeeding that was making my feet hurt. I didn't purchase a nursing chair so I've been using the armchair in our living room. Evelynne is a small baby and my torso is long so I have to lift her a long way up to feed. I use a feeding pillow but I still need to lift my knees up to get her to the right height. I've basically been on tiptoes every few hours for almost a year, no wonder my feet hurt! If I could go back I'd invest in a breastfeeding chair (low rise) to save my aching feet.

2) I imagined that breastfeeding would be this peaceful, gentle time but Evelynne had other ideas. Since being just weeks old her favourite thing to do whilst feeding is to bounce her legs up and down, frequently kicking me in the head. As she got stronger she became very adept at trying to back-flip off her feeding pillow mid-boob!

3) When Mr Butterfly and I attended our prenatal class there was a demonstration of breastfeeding the baby in a sling. In theory you can breastfeed on the go. Fast forward 4 months and I've got two large breasts and a 6lb baby stuffed in a sling and the baby was definitely outnumbered! Trying to latch her without my GGs engulfing her entire head was impossible - no feed and go for this busty Mummy!

4) I had zero volume change during pregnancy and breastfeeding which completely threw me. I'd had clients who went up 3 cup volumes in their first trimester so I was prepared for a change to my 32GG pre-pregnancy size. I had to switch to a 34G, which is the same volume as a 32GG but on a longer band, because I just couldn't wear my band as tight anymore but the rite of passage size increase never happened and it made me wonder whether my milk would come in. Evelynne was a little early and I was induced so my milk needed a little encouragement with a breast pump. I rented a hospital grade pump and I'm so glad I did because I really don't like pumping so at least the hospital grade pump made the whole thing faster (I rented from London Drugs).

5) I've been really fortunate that I haven't had painful nipples from breastfeeding. Evelynne latches well and even with the emergence of teeth her latch is still comfortable. However, I didn't account for "boobs meet razor sharp baby talons". Keeping a baby's nails short can be tricky and they seem to go from manageable to machete-like over night! Every now and then my boobs look like they've had a run in with a tiny Edward Scissorhands. A little antiseptic cream helped the angriest scratches.

The unexpected acrobatics and physical injuries have only added to the incredibly journey that has been breastfeeding. I feel incredibly lucky that I've been able to experience breastfeeding, mini-Wolverine scratches 'n' all! xx

Monday, March 16, 2015

Understanding Gynecomastia: Supporting Breast Tissue in Men

Image courtesy of, a great resource for men with gynecomastia

I have written hundreds of blogs about breast and bra related issues for women. This week is the first time I'm writing about a male breast issue. In the last month I have been corresponding with two men who both have gynecomastia. Gynecomastia is a condition that causes excessive breast tissue growth in men. It is far more common than we realize largely because there are still huge social barriers for men to talk about vulnerabilities or concerns, especially one that is so female-centric, so many men don't know it is a common condition. The first email I received about gynecomastia explained that there is very little information and support out there for men with gynecomastia so would I consider writing a blog with helpful information that could be a resource. I am very pleased to be able to help.

What Causes Gynecomastia?
The growth of excess breast tissue in men is caused by a hormonal imbalance. This imbalance can be caused by a number of things: puberty, illness, medications, aging and environmental factors. Gynecomastia is not of itself a harmful condition but you should always consult your doctor if you have sudden or prolonged breast tissue growth to check your overall health. There are 4 levels of severity in breast tissue enlargement:

Image courtesy of

For a huge number of men gynecomastia is a temporary condition that rights itself as the body restores the hormonal balance. For others though, especially those whose gynecomastia has been triggered by ongoing medications, the condition is prolonged and or permanent.

How Do You Treat Gynecomastia?
Once your doctor confirms a diagnosis of gynecomastia they will be in the best position to assess whether it's likely a temporary condition that will pass with improved health or at the end of a course of medication. If the gynecomastia is more permanent then there is no physical need to have the breast tissue removed (unless, in some cases, if the condition is accompanied by pain in the breast tissue). There is some pharmaceutical treatment available, however, it's not recommended in each case and the success rates are not guaranteed.

You may elect to have surgery to remove the tissue but it's worth bearing in mind that this is not covered by medical insurance as it is considered a cosmetic procedure. There are also risks associated with surgery that should be considered: loss of sensation, asymmetry, infection, hematoma and scarring. Elective surgery has become increasingly common with over 10,000 elective surgeries being performed each year in the US alone so your doctor will be able to give you more information about the surgery options where you live.

If there's no medical reason to have surgery and you don't elect to have it then you can live perfectly healthily with gynecomastia.

How Do You Support Breast Tissue?
Lots of men choose not to use any support garments for their gynecomastia but this can be painful. A lot of women will tell you that going braless isn't an option for them because the movement impact is too painful, this can happen for men too as the physiology is largely the same.

Finding a bra that will not only support you but give you the shape you want can be hard enough for women; for men there is an extra layer of social ignorance about the condition that can make it really tough. There are some compression garments designed for men (mostly post surgical but they can also be worn for daily wear) but these aren't readily available and can be expensive. As one of the men I've been consulting with explained to me, getting bra fit help can be hard. He shared with me his experiences of trying to get fitting help from a mainstream lingerie store and it was heartbreaking.

"In my early 60s my testosterone levels took a very sudden dive and over 6 months I developed significant breast tissue. I had to get some support because the pulling on my chest was really painful. My wife came with me to a local lingerie store and I nervously began to explain that I was in need of support . It wasn't said but the assistant treated me like my inquiry about bra support was sordid or perverted. She was dismissive and wouldn't give me a fitting. My wife was so upset which made me mad and we both left feeling humiliated. Gynecomastia made me feel really alone so to find out I couldn't ask for help with dignity made me feel worse. I found advice on reddit from other men in exactly the same boat; in need of bras for support, not for fashion or fetish purposes. Ultimately the online bra community gave me support, answers and advice about how to find a bra that fits."

I have always said that everyone deserves to be fitted with dignity and respect and this extends to every sex and gender. With that in mind I have been educating myself as much as possible in the last month about bra fit for men with gynecomastia. I will be completely honest and say that I don't have anywhere near as much experience with bra fit for men as I do for full busted women but I hope these fit points will be helpful for those men trying to find support.

Bra Fit Tips for Men with Gynecomastia
There are a couple of generalized physiological points to bear in mind when fitting a bra for the male body (please note that these are very general points just worth bearing in mind, the male body is as diverse in shape and size as the female body).

* A lot of men have more muscular chests because higher testosterone levels in men builds more muscle in men than in women.  The additional muscle can make the chest broader so bras with wide wires are more comfortable if you have a wide chest and breast root.

* While male and female skeletons are incredibly similar, male bones grow for longer which can make them wider and more angular. This can change the shape of the ribcage to be more triangular or flared. Flared ribcages can be tricky to fit because the band needs to be smaller at the bottom and wider at the top. This post about torso shape can help you if you have a flared ribcage.

* Wire free bras can be a great option for men with gynecomastia, especially if the breast root is very wide and a wide enough wire cannot be easily found. Lots of men appear to have had success with wire free sports bras because the support level is good and the coverage is wide and tall.

* A more angular ribcage can mean a more protruding sternum so men with gynecomastia can find a more comfortable fit in bras with a lower gore (the centre part of the bra between the cups).

* The distribution of breast tissue tends to be wide in men (I've tried to find any physiological reason for this but as of yet, no answers). When you wear a bra with a supportive side panel (a vertical panel that forces the breast tissue forward) wide breast tissue becomes narrower with more projection. This shape will work for some men and not others.

* Bras with a horizontal seam straight across the nipple will give less projection and follow the shape of wide breast tissue. This gives lift and stability without projection. Here are some examples of bras with horizontal seams.

* One of the men I was consulting with said he has always been self conscious about wearing a bra and it is very important to him that the bras are not obvious under clothing. Compression garments and compression sports bras are a good solution for those men who want discreet support as these can look like a regular under vest.

While this is in no way a comprehensive guide to gynecomastia, I hope it adds to the helpful information available to men navigating this condition. If you have experience of either having gynecomasita or fitting men with gynecomastia then we would love to read your comments. Thank you to the two men who were generous with their time and brave with their candour. xx

Monday, March 2, 2015

Sensitive Skin and Bra Fit

I have sensitive skin on my face and my eyes puff up to the size of two squidgy golf balls if they get a whiff of a chemical they don't like. Luckily for me there is a lot of hypoallergenic makeup on the market so I can still wear mascara without the risk of leaving the house looking like a panda bear who's been in a fight. If you have sensitive skin on your body then bras can bring you out in an array of blotches, hives and rashes that are painful and upsetting. Unfortunately there aren't an array of hypoallergenic bras on the market, especially in DD+, so you have to find other ways to get an irritation free fit.

It's worth noting that problems caused by sensitive skin are different from skin irritations caused by bad bra fit. If you are wearing an ill-fitting bra then you can get rashes and broken skin as your bra rubs against you and punishes your skin. This article helps you understand how to stop your bra attacking your skin!

You may be sensitive to synthetic materials or metal so having a synthetic-material-bound-wire wrapped around your body poses a big problem. If you can find an all cotton bra they tend to be unwired and most likely a nursing bra. If you don't want to sacrifice the support of a wire then you need a barrier between you and the bra.

Bra Liners

Bra liners are usually made of 100% unbleached cotton. They sit between the band of your bra and your skin because the band is where the greatest pressure is exerted by your bra. Bra liners are not the sexiest things you've ever seen in your life but they are indispensable for thousands of women with sensitive skin because they can continue to wear off the rack bras in comfort.

Extremely sensitive skin can't be in contact at all with synthetic materials, elastic and metal and in this case custom made cotton bras or going braless are the only solutions. One of my clients wears a Cake Cotton Candy bra underneath all her bras to prevent breakouts.

Scentless SOAK

One of the biggest enemies of sensitive skin is starch and unfortunately almost all new bras bras are sprayed with starch because it helps the bra keep its shape during transit and display. One wash can leave starch on the bra so it's really important to soak your bra in scent-free detergent and gently massage the bra so that the starch washes off. It's worth doing this a couple of times before wearing the bra for a long time. We love Canadian, rinse-free lingerie wash SOAK because it's so easy to use and their Scentless wash is completely skin friendly.

In a perfect world there would be pure cotton bras made with BPA free plastic wires but until then we need to find ways to get the best support possible without provoking an allergic reaction xx

Monday, February 16, 2015

Features of Full Support Bras

'Full Support' is often used to describe a bra, but what does this really mean? The way a bra is constructed and the materials it is made of change how much support that particular bra will give you. Bras range in support from light to sports level because we use lingerie for everything from aesthetic boudoir pieces to intense workouts.

If you have a heavy bust then your everyday activities probably need a lot of support. Women in very physically demanding jobs sometimes wear sports bras for work but that's not for everyone. You can get a lot of support from everyday bras if you know what to look for in a Full Support Bra.

There are some common features in Full Support Bras:

1: Lois by Fantasie 2: Profile Perfect by Fayreform 3: Tango by Panache 4: Profile Perfect by Fayreform 5: Basic Beauty by Wacoal
1) Cups that go all the way around your breasts [image: Lois by Fantasie]. Full cups that encircle your breasts ensure there is a downward force that keeps your breast tissue in place as you move. A bra that exposes the upper part of your bust is versatile for your wardrobe but won't give you the same level of support as full cups.

2) Elasticated edging on the cups. [image: Profile Perfect by Fayreform] Full cups that have elasticated edges enhance your support level. The elastic gives you a comfortable fit but it also adds a layer of resistance that increases support.

3) Wide straps. [image: Tango by Panache] Full support is all about minimizing bounce and impact when you move about. Wide straps absorb more impact so that you stay comfortable during your busy days. Lots of wide straps also have a layer of foam cushioning at the shoulder for comfort and support.

4) Deep bands: the more hooks the better. [image: Profile Perfect by Fayreform] The taller your band is the more impact it will absorb. A bra with a deep band can be the most important feature for a really heavy bust.

5) Materials that don't stretch easily. [image: Basic Beauty by Wacoal] A cup that's made of a non-stretchy material will give you more support because the cup itself resists bounce.  Some bras are made of soft stretchier material but have a double layer of that material to give you the benefit of a stretchy fabric's comfort and fit with the support of the thickness.

Choosing bras with two or more of these features will give you a full support fit so you can get on with your busy days in comfort. xx

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Empowering Websites for Girls

A big part of my job is helping women identify and let go of the big boob baggage they've been carrying around for years. Bullying at school, shaming within the family and teen self esteem issues can all leave women carrying around self-doubt and insecurity for decades. Great adult confidence starts with experiencing diverse and empowering toys, stories, adventures and mentors as a child.

Here are some of my favourite websites with resources to help you raise or encourage a girl in your life...
Books, Toys and Entertainment


International Projects

Career Help and Inspiration 

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Right Bra Fit Isn't About Your Body

A bra that fits you correctly will stay in place, lift your girls and stop spillage. So good fit is the most important thing about finding a well-fitting bra right? Wrong. I have no doubt that the most important thing about good bra fit is emotional.

Bad bra fit can have dreadful physical effects but the emotional damage can spill into every aspect of your life. Do any of these sound familiar?

"I avoid working out or running with my kids because my breasts bounce too much and I feel embarrassed."

"I choose baggy clothes so that you can't see my bust."

"My back hurts so much that some days I can't work or see friends or run errands."

"I can't face going bra shopping because nothing fits me and the sales assistants make me feel huge."

Helping my clients overcome these emotional hurdles is why I teach them about good bra fit. Besides giving you the support to run around after your kids, or join a sports team, or choose the clothes you want to wear, a bra that fits you means you can STOP thinking about your breasts. It's the greatest freedom we can give our clients is to stop worrying and thinking about their bust. If you're well supported and given the emotional support to feel comfortable in your body then you are free to think about other things and that's fantastic.

My greatest achievements since starting Butterfly Collection are the women who tell me that they used to worry about their bust at work, in public, when socializing or with family but that they just don't think about it anymore. They just get on living their life more fully because they have the physical and emotional support of a good bra and, dare I say, an understanding company.

If you have put off getting the right bra fit then I want you to think about what it would be like to live a life without worrying about your breasts and maybe that will help you take the first step in your better bra life xx

Monday, January 12, 2015

How to Measure Your Bra Fit at Home

We are getting right back to basics today and talking about how to measure yourself for a bra. Knowing how to measure yourself is a really handy skill and for many women it's essential. If you live a long way from a lingerie store that has skilled staff or if you find it physically or emotionally difficult to be fitted at a store then measuring yourself at home is necessary.

I'm going to keep this really simple today but I want you to remember that the numbers are only a starting point in finding your fit. The shape, density and position of your breasts can all play a part in the size that's best for you.

Once you're familiar with the basics of measuring yourself for a bra then it's worth checking out these blog posts:

Soft Breast Tissue and Bra Fit
Shallow Breasts and Bra Fit (you can see our shallow friendly bras here)
Torso Shape and Bra Fit
Breast Roots and Bra fit (you can see our high set breast friendly bras here)
How Height Can Affect Bra Fit (you can see our short torso friendly bras here)

Here are a few things you might have read elsewhere that you won't find in our measuring advice:
  • We don't recommend measuring without wearing a bra because the density of your breasts can affect the measurements.
  • We don't recommend adding inches to your measurement results.
  • We don't recommend exhaling and pulling the tape measure tightly (you usually find this advice in techniques that add inches)
  • We don't recommend measuring with clothes over the top of your bra because this skews the results.

So having said all of that let's get started on how to measure yourself at home for a bra.

Standing in front of a mirror put on your best fitting bra (avoid padded, sports, minimizer and molded bras). The mirror is to help you see your bra fit around your body.

Don't worry if you know the bra doesn't fit you correctly you can adjust it so that it fits you better for the duration of the measuring. Adjust the band so that it's as firm as possible and level with the ground while you do the measurements. Scoop as much of your breast tissue into the cups as possible then take your measurements.

Measure around your ribcage using a fabric tape measure. The tape measure should lie flat against your body. There's no need to pull the tape measure tightly or to exhale.

Make sure the tape measure is level with the floor all the way around your ribcage because this is where the band should sit on your body when your bra fits you correctly. Write down your first measurement in inches. No need to round up or down.

Pass the tape measure around the fullest part of your breasts (over your nipples), again ensuring that it is level all the way around. Write down the size in inches. Don't round up or down.

Now that you've done all the measuring it's time to work out your best starting bra size.

Let's start with your band size. Your ribcage measurement is your band size. If you measure an uneven number round up one inch to get your band size. For example if you measured 31 then your band size would be a 32.

You don't need to round up your ribcage measurement when working out your cup size below; use the exact ribcage measurement.

Now to find your cup size. Subtract your first measurement (the one around your ribcage) from the second measurement (the one around the fullest part of your bust). For example:

Step 3 Measurement (fullest part of your bust) = 39


Step 2 Measurement (around your ribcage) = 31

DIFFERENCE = 8 inches

Compare your Difference Number to this table to find your cup size (we recommend knowing your UK size as most full bust brands are British):

Difference in Inches 4 5 6 7  8 9  10   11  12  13  14
UK Sizes DD E F  FF  G  GG  H  HH  J JJ K
North American Sizes D DD DDD G  H I J K  L M N

NB: Lots of charts show a UK DD to be the same as a North American DD and a UK E to be the same as a US DDD but we simply haven't found this to be true. Of the styles we carry a UK DD cup is the same as a North American D cup.

A Difference Number of 8 equals a UK G cup (the equivalent of a North American brand's H cup). Put your band size and cup size together, in this example a 32G. You now have your best starting bra size!

For many women this process will give them a bra size that works for them in most styles and brands. However, you know your comfort best and so you might find that you prefer a looser or a tighter band. You can use our cup volume blog post to work out how to adjust your bra size for a tighter or looser fit.

I hope this post helps you get a good start on your bra fit for this year. Our Free Size Consultation is a great follow up to knowing your measurements. Great bra fit means you can get on with life more comfortably and confidently! xx

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