The Perfect Fit: Why the UK Should Have Industry Standard Fitting Advice, by Susannah Perez
There’s a scenario that most women have been through. You’ve trawled the high street up and down to find a lingerie department with a decent size range and not too much beige. Somehow, in a whirl of perfume, lace and neon panties, you end up standing in a badly lit fitting room, topless, while a lady with four boobs and too much fake tan wraps a tape measure around you and proudly proclaims that you’re a 38DD. When you’re a size 10.
Now, the ladies that frequent Busts 4 Justice would simply turn around and walk on out of there – clearly this so-called ‘fitter’ has no idea how a bra should actually fit. But what if you’re one of the many women out there who isn’t sure how a bra should fit anyway?
Most would take the advice of this apparent professional, potentially spending a lot of money on bras that they deem uncomfortable torture devices, because everyone’s bras are painful, right? It’s just something that women on a whole have to put up with. And most of these ladies will never know that the reason they’re always uncomfortable is simply because they’re wearing the wrong size.
This is why we need industry standard fitting advice.
Your Health and Your Bra
It’s not just discomfort that women get from wearing the wrong sized bra – this discomfort can actually be a precursor to health problems from mastalgia, to frequent headaches and migraines, to severe neck and shoulder pain due to strain put on the trapezius muscle, to chronic back pain. These conditions can be debilitating, and add hugely to healthcare costs – whether it’s regularly needing to buy ibuprofen or Deep Heat, or receiving physiotherapy on the NHS.
When you’re fitted, you’re essentially getting health advice. Think about it this way: you’d expect the girl manning the Pharmacy counter in Boots, your masseuse, and the personal trainer you sometimes fork out for at the gym to all be properly trained with sound, medical advice that is beneficial to you. You’d expect them to have had extensive training, and there to be a national source for this training – so no matter if you bought your ibuprofen from Boots, Superdrug or Lloyds, you would always be given the same correct advice about its use.
So why should your bra fitter be any different? They’re providing you with advice that can seriously affect your health if wrong.
Fitting Training Today
The amount of fitting training, and what the ‘proper’ way to fit is, is currently completely dictated by the store or company itself. They have complete free reign to decide how a woman should be measured, whether it results in a truly correctly fitting and comfortable bra or not. Also, the extent of fitting training in most high-street stores is generally completely inadequate, usually amounting to under an hour of ‘you measure here and here, add four, and then work out the cup.’
Unfortunately, many shops also unofficially train on cross-grading and encourage their staff to fit women within the store’s size range to make a sale, even if the result is a bra that does not remotely fit.
My Fitting Dream
Can you imagine walking into any lingerie store or department, knowing that if you choose to get fitted in there you’ll receive a comprehensive service and either walk out with a perfectly fitting bra, or a recommendation on where to go so you can get your size?
If industry standard fitting advice was introduced, this dream could become a reality. It could result in a world where all stores fit women by a set of guidelines that cut out inaccurate practises, like the +4 method and measuring over the bust for an under bust measurement, and promote visual assessment over what a tape measure says. A world where a two-day training course is mandatory for every bra fitter, examining every aspect of a fit, from fitting a first bra, to tacking issues caused by wearing the wrong fit for a long time.
That world would be a perfect one!
A Shove in the Right Direction
If an industry standard was introduced, it would also help cut down on the extent of variation between sizes in stores – not completely, but it would help form a solid idea that a 34 back bra should actually measure 34 inches and fit a 34 inch under bust. This could potentially make online shopping for lingerie a darn side easier too.
It might also help to expand the size ranges offered in high street stores, and convince lingerie companies that women don’t just come in a 32A to a 38DD – we’re everything from a 24AAA to a 28K to a 46F and everywhere under and over and in between. Women are not standard, but standard fitting advice would help highlight that.
What do you think? An underwired utopia, impossible dream, or recipe for total and utter disaster? Let us know below…