I am certain that bad fitting advice issued by irresponsible bra brands is responsible for every single ill fitting bra and every minute of bra-wearing misery known to women. Which is why from Playtex to Gossard to (now) Curvy Kate on New Look – I spend so much time and energy battling against misleading, incomplete and downright bad fitting advice from lingerie websites. Of course, there is no substitute for a good fit from a good fitter – but in a reality where many women prefer or can only get their fitting advice online instead of in a respectable fitting room, and where sadly some fitters aren’t totally reliable themselves, what can a brand do to ensure women have the tools they need to find a bra they can actually love? Somewhere between terrible bra size calculators and boutqiue lingerie fitting services, is there a third way?
In an ideal world, of course, we’d have the technology to turn your webcam on right now (hello!) and map your exact shape and measurements before issuing you with a bra size guide you could trust. But sadly, along with my teleport and robot companion, this doesn’t exist yet. So we must make the best of what we have: brains, the internet, and lingerie brand websites. Dear bra bands the world over: here’s how to do it better (until the future arrives).
1: First things first: get it right!
I am staggered that certain lingerie companies don’t seem to give a damn about showing what their bras look like properly fitted. All too often, bra merchandisers seem only too happy to sign off on absurdly squished boobs, rogue wires or other fit faux pas, or try and mask the problem by airbrushing the poor women two dimensional.
It’s simple. Get the fit right in the pictures, and not only does your product look more desirable and less like something used to torture confessions from witches, but it helps women understand what they’re aspiring to and find that fit that they will love, tell people about, and buy again and again. If you care about your customers loving your product, lead by example.
2: Now let’s get to business: the visual guide
This is essential – and if you’ve been showing off your wares on poorly fitted models for years you owe it to your customers (and future brand ambassadors if you get this right) to show them how it should be done.
By calling out common bra bugbears like the dreaded quadraboob, shoulder-slicing straps, sagging cups, poking wires or wriggling back bands, you have the opportunity to help women discover how to correct their fit and understand why it’s not working in the first place. Bravissimo (above) have one of the best examples of this around: read it and be inspired.
FREE TOP TIP! Certain fit barbarians won’t even have to pay for new “wrong” photos – just use the horrendous examples you’ve been modelling for years! Huzzah!
3: Give them a starting point.
This is the most controversial part of the guide, but one I know many brands – especially ones selling online – feel is needed. To clarify: this shouldn’t exist if point two isn’t in place and if the number and letter it provides doesn’t scream STARTING POINT! before sending them back to point two to work out the details.
I (and science!) believe that most women are not best served by the +4/5/6″ fitting method. What your ideal bra band size will be depends on everything from your physique, your shape, your age, and even the brand or style of bra you’re trying. However, in the interests of neutrality if you’re going to give women a starting point, it should just be that – the underbust measurement +0 inches. One woman may need to +4, another may even need to -4 – the key allowing that journey to start at a starting point – not halfway down a road that may be the wrong direction.
This is not [nor has it ever been - check out the manifesto here] about replacing one arbitrary calculator with another, but about enabling women to start their fitting journey in a more helpful place. A numerical guide should only exist in tandem with the visual – and with clear instructions to take this starting point and apply the checks rigorously to find that perfect fit.
A perfect fitting bra can be life changing, and all lingerie brands owe it to the women who support their businesses to help them find that perfect match. Getting the advice you give right isn’t a huge investment, and it’s one worth making. Women who love their fit love their lingerie – and are loyal to the brands that make it. This isn’t just about doing right by your customers. This is investing in your brand for the future.