August 8th, 2009 • Comments: 0 • by Wendy • GeneralResources

Why are 80% of Women Wearing the Wrong Bra Size?


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When I see a woman that is clearly wearing a) the WRONG bra size or b) a bra that should have been incinerated years ago, I have to admit, I visibly CRINGE!

Why do women do this to themselves, and to "their girls"?  WHY ARE 80% OF WOMEN WEARING THE WRONG BRA SIZE?

I think a big chunk of the reason is that women buy bras from stores where, if you can actually find a person to help you, said person knows NOTHING about fitting a bra.  Ladies, you are NOT saving any money buying cheap, crappy bras!  Well, maybe you "think" you are if you wear them until the spandex is completely rotten and your puppies are hanging down to your belly button (sorry for that visual), but you're not.

I am a firm believer in the mantra that you get what you pay for.  If you buy a bra from a department store for $25, $35 or even $45, that is what you will get - an ill-fitting $25, $35 or $45 bra.  Now if you go to a specialty boutique and get professionally fitted for a bra, you will probably spend around $100, but it will FIT YOU and last two, three, even four times longer!  You do the math!Chantelle

For example, the last bras I purchased were from La Jolie Madame in Pacific Centre in downtown Vancouver.  La Jolie Madame have been in business for 25 years and the owner and staff will not sell you a bra without properly fitting you.  They carry bras sized from 32A to 46H and feature Vancouver's best selection of the finest European labels like Chantelle and La Perla (drool) that are drop-dead gorgeous (see pics to the right and below)!  You will just LOVE slinging your bosoms into these delectable pieces of art every morning!  And I don't know about you, but wearing a really stunning piece of lingerie under my clothes - as my little secret - makes me feel faaaahbulous!  And yes these are my "everyday" bras.  I deserve it and so do you!

It's not just about looking and feeling great either (although that is VERY important to us women)!  There are health problems associated with wearing the wrong bra size.  According to this article, it can harm the actual breast tissue, cause poor posture and produce neck and back pain.  And this article talks about how effective breast support can relieve the pain associated with sports, PMS and hormone problems.  I found this point to be particularly interesting:  those "compression-type" sports bras are not the ticket after all.  You are better off with a bra that encapsulates the breast like the Playtex Cross Your Heart designs.  Who Knew?  And to think I ran a couple of 1/2 marathons wearing my compression sports bra.  (oops!)

Another great place to shop in Vancouver is Diane's Lingerie, a fixture on South Granville for over 25 years.  Owner Diane Thomson describes her store as "your gateway to BC's greatest selection of quality bras and beautiful lingerie."  Diane's carries sizes 32AA to 56JJ (wow!)  She also states in her Bra Fit FAQ that women should be fitted twice a year for a bra and that throughout your lifetime you will wear six different bra sizes!  Weight gain, weight loss, puberty, gravity, pregnancy - all these things will affect your bra size on an ongoing basis.  You also won't necessarily wear the same size in different styles of bras either - balconette (my personal fave), push-up, strapless, demi cup, full cup, halters, minimizers, the list goes on.  Colour and brand can also make a difference!  So don't make the mistake of finally getting professionally fitted and think that you are going to be a "36C" until the end of time.

While I have mentioned only Vancouver stores in this post, most cities will have at least one bra/lingerie boutique that has staff trained to provide a professional fitting.  Look in your local Yellow Pages under "Bras" or of course, online.

ChantelleIt was over 4 years ago that I last visited La Jolie Madame (I think I'm going through withdrawal).  I bought 4 bras and I admit, dropped a few bills.  BUT they are just starting to wear out NOW.  Say it with me... YOU DO THE MATH!

Now, there is a commitment when you buy high-end bras - you must take care of them (don't worry - you will WANT to take care of them because they are so beautiful).  I hand-wash the really fancy lace ones (well I soak them in the sink - pretty effortless) and others go into mesh lingerie bags before going into my washing machine on the gentle cycle.  I use "Zero" or a comparable fine-washables soap (make sure the soap you choose is spandex friendly) whether I am washing in the sink or the machine.  But they NEVER and I mean NEVER go in the dryer.  EVER!

It is no coincidence that bras are referred to as FOUNDATION GARMENTS.  What is a foundation?  According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, a foundation is "an underlying base or support; especially the whole masonry substructure of a building".  Also "a body or ground upon which something is built up or overlaid".

In other words, get a well-fitting bra or your clothes and your boobs will fall down - and it won't be pretty.before and after a properly-fitting bra

In a properly-fitted bra, you will look thinner, taller and your cupcakes will look perkier.  And for those well-endowed ladies out there, you won't have backaches or grooves in your shoulders anymore.  In fact, if you can "feel" your bra when you are wearing it, you are wearing the wrong size.  Other signs of an ill-fitting bra are:

  • the back rides up
  • the straps dig into your shoulders
  • you have red marks on your body after you take it off
  • you tug at your bra throughout the day
  • you have bulges at the tops and sides of the cups
  • you have bulges on your back

So what does this have to do with breastfeeding?  Well if there is ONE TIME in your life that you should get properly fitted and spend some extra dough on a bra, it is when you are pregnant and/or nursing!

Another reason that I am writing this post (other than my inherent desire to accost people in public and drag them off to get properly fitted for a bra) is because of our product - PumpEase™ hands-free pumping supports.  Our size charts tell our customers to choose their PumpEase™ size based on their maternity or nursing bra size.  Considering the "80% statistic", this can be challenging at times.  Having said that, we get very few returns for sizing because we encourage our customers to contact us for help if they are unsure of what size to buy.

Still, it would be sooo much easier if there was a Bra Police that enforced the "Professional Fitting Before Purchase" law across the land.  Then I would see perky boobs everywhere and that would make me a very happy camper!

Have you ever been professionally fitted for a bra?  Were you surprised at what size you actually turned out to be?  Leave a comment below and tell us about it!

{Photo credit: Hotmilk Lingerie}

{Photo credit: The Bra Lady}

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Kathy says:

fantastic article Wendy! Thanks

Posted on August 8, 2009

Wendy Armbruster Bell says:

I'm glad you enjoyed it Kathy!

Posted on August 8, 2009

Elizabeth Curtis says:

Here is a BAD fitting story--After reading all the things about how necessary it is to get fitted properly for a bra after childbirth and a couple of weeks bf-ing, I went to a Motherhood Maternity (US, don't know if they have them in Canada). I asked to be fitted. They saleslady basically told me that they did not do fittings--they weren't necessary. Just buy the size I had been before pregnancy, and the bras would give as needed. NOT!!! I went ahead and took the time to take a range of band and cup sizes to the fitting room, and tried them on over and over till I got the fit I was happy with, personally. Oh--and it was really good that I had Lilypadz (silicon breast pads that stick on to your breast) on--my milk was coming in fast and furious those days, and all that trying on would have been impossible to do if I had been leaking all over the place. I was NOT impressed with that maternity chain, because of that experience.

Posted on August 8, 2009

Elizabeth Curtis says:

Can't resist one more comment--Thanks so much Wendy, for your excellent range of sizes. I was already well-endowed, but this time around I have twins, and my DD cups turned into H's. It was so nice to have the properly sized PumpEase while exclusively pumping for my preemies! (It would have been so depressing to have the PumpEase not work, and be too skinny. One's body image is tender enough, immediately post-partum!)

And while I am at it, another reason 80% of women wear the wrong bra size is that the common A-C and maybe D cup sizing does not fit every woman. Many women really need a smaller band and a larger cup in order to be properly fitted. Mass merchants, and even lingerie stores, such as VS, do not carry larger sizes. Especially nursing sizes. OK, Victoria's Secret does not carry any nursing stuff. I scoured sites such as JC Penney, and pretty much, if you were larger than a DD, you were stuck with using the wrong size.

I tapped a mom I know has been a J-cup (professional fitting), and asked her where she got her bras. So--I used Breakout Bras.com. They really worked with me--free shipping even, to get the right size bra. I tried four sizes (two shipments) and found just what I needed for this stage. Thanks Anita brand for realizing people need the right size bras, regardless of size!

Posted on August 8, 2009

Wendy Armbruster Bell says:

Thanks for the comments Elizabeth. Motherhood Maternity is part of the Destination Maternity and A Pea in the Pod chain of stores and yes, they do have stores (and now an online store) in Canada.

I am also very happy that your PumpEase fit and helps you pump for your twins. That is wonderful.

With respect to your comment about mass merchants not having the correct size. Are you talking just about a size range that isn't broad enough or about band/cup sizes that maybe aren't the norm being unavailable (like a 32H for example). If the latter, then I think specialty boutiques, rather than mass merchants, address these less popular sizes.

I am going to checkout Breakout Bras. Sounds like a great place!

Personally, I find it very difficult to buy bras online and almost never go that route (unless I am buying a duplicate of a bra that I already know fits). There are just too many variables to get a bra that fits correctly.

Thanks again for commenting!

Posted on August 8, 2009

Elizabeth Curtis says:

Wendy--I think it is a bit of both problems--a size range that is not broad enough is probably more common than band/cup sizes that are not the norm (like my 34J friend). I personally am a 42H right now. While H may sound huge, it is not like I am that disproportionate--H means that the largest point of my breasts is nine inches larger than under my breasts. At 42 inches, having B or C breasts would look rather flat. :-)

Specialty boutiques are really nice when you live near one. I used to live in Sao Paulo, Brazil, but I lived for a time in the boondocks of Wisconsin lumber country for ten years. Of course I could have gone to Chicago or Milwaukee, but who wants to blow a few hours like that when they get to the big city, with a baby in tow? And with gas prices the way they are, online is actually not that bad of an option. This summer I have noticed a LOT of free shipping offers from many retailers, which makes it an even better deal if you live far from civilization!

Posted on August 10, 2009

Wendy Armbruster Bell says:

Elizabeth. Those are good points - all of them.

And if the online retailer is offering free shipping then the returns/exchanges (if needed) aren't really an issue. It's been a while since I bought a bra online - perhaps it's time I tried again :-)

Posted on August 10, 2009

Judy @ MommyNewsBlog says:

Great article, Wendy. I sell nursing bras, so I have seen moms who have had poor fittings. I try to give "fit" advice on my site for each bra (because they all run differently - even if you have had a proper fitting). I also have written a post on how to fit yourself - which you can see here: http://mommynewsblog.com/how-to-measure-yourself-for-a-nursing-bra/ - and two more posts on this topic can be seen here: http://mommynewsblog.com/category/breastfeeding-info-tips/clothing-accessories/nursing-bras-tops/

Posted on August 10, 2009

Wendy Armbruster Bell says:

Thanks for the comment Judy and certainly for the additional resources as well!

Posted on August 10, 2009

Amy says:

"your cupcakes will look perkier"

Posted on December 30, 2010

Wendy Armbruster Bell says:

I just stumbled upon this cheeky video about getting professionally fit for a bra (via HOTmilk Lingerie). Enjoy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADE6xnFg1a4

Posted on February 28, 2011

Anne says:

The only time I ever had a bra fitting in my life was at Victoria's Secret when I was 16 she told me and I quote, "I can tell just by looking at you, you're a D." I about cried I was so sad when she said that I didn't want to be a D at all. Now I am 28 and I can't even shop at that store. =( Anyway I am now I THINK a 44D; thats the size of the bra i just looked at OUCH!

Posted on March 14, 2011