What happens when a bra fitting experience turns in to a daily nightmare?
I was recently fitted in a specialty store from my old size of 36B into a 32D. I was informed that I was wearing a hilariously incorrect size and learned the swoop and scoop (not generally taught to smaller busted women, in my experience). I tried on a bunch of bras ranging from 34C-32DD, and the fitter said the 32D was the best size for me.
Here’s the problem: it’s incredibly uncomfortable. The fitter explained that the smaller band may take a little getting used to but I want to rip this bra off my body every time I put it on. The wires don’t appear to be sitting on top of breast tissue, but they dig in and I can feel them all day. The cups will occasionally move out of place, if for example I reach both hands up above my head, but are impossible to move back without grabbing the cups with my hands and hauling them back down. I have red marks around my torso, chest and shoulders when I take the bra off and my breasts feel tender. I feel like I suddenly have all these problems I’ve heard women with large breasts complain about, but it’s ridiculous because I’m small enough that I don’t even need to wear a bra.
I know it sounds like the obvious answer is a smaller band and a bigger cup, but the one I bought is so tight and uncomfortable I’m terrified to go any smaller in the band. It’s not a cheap bra either, it’s a Marie Jo. My underbust measures 31″ with the tape measure pulled tight, 32″ comfortably, and over bust is 36.5″. How do I get justice for my bust?
Thanks for your e-mail – and sorry to hear your bust appears to be suffering an injustice at the hands of a zealous bra fitter!
While I do know that many women, especially those with heavier breasts, benefit from wearing tighter bras and the method promoted by your fitter – your fitter seems to have forgotten a massively important part of her job: measurements are only one part of the puzzle, and the only ‘right’ bra is the one that the wearer loves.
It’s true that tighter bras do take some getting used to, but usually that means a couple of days before you forget it’s there totally from one end of the day to the next. From your description, it seems clear that your bra is far too tight. While red marks in themselves aren’t anything to worry about (think about when you take your tights off), pain is – and you don’t have to suffer it because a fitter tells you it’s right!
This could be down to a few things. Firstly, your Marie Jo could run very tight in the band, in which case 32D may indeed work for you in other brands. Secondly, your body type might just not get on with tighter bands. This is often the case with muscular body types, and also women with prominent ribs – in which case you could try sister size 34C for a better match. Ultimately, all three bra sizes – 32D, 34C and your old 36B have the same equivalent volume – it’s about what gives you the support you want and the comfort you need.
Assuming you don’t want to go back to the torture dungeon, here are some things to look out for when trying on bras yourself.
1: Sizing (unfortunately) is not standardized. A 32D in Marie Jo may not fit the same as a 32D in, say, Freya. Always take multiple sizes in to the changing room and don’t be afraid to veer from your ‘starter size’ if the fits not right. Most women have multiple sizes in their lingerie draw.
2: After ‘swooping and scooping’, adjust the straps to fit. They should not slip, but they should never be tight or dig in to your shoulders at all – it sounds as if you may have your Marie Jo straps pulled far too tight (or, if you are tall, the Marie Jo straps may be far too short). This could explain why your cups have been moving up so much (and staying there!).
3: Check the band. It should be horizontal and remain so as you move around. It should be firm but not uncomfortable. You should be able to get two fingers under the clasp and pull away an inch quite comfortably. The centre gore at the front should sit flat against the body – it sitting away could mean your cups are too small and/or your band is too loose.
4: Check the cups. The wire should track along underneath where your breast meets your torso, and it should not sit on the breast tissue anywhere. Cups should sit smoothly at the top of the breast, and not dig in (too small) nor pucker/gape (too big).
When trying alternate sizes, when going up a band size always go down a cup size (and vice versa) to get equivalent volume.
I hope this helps you navigate your way to the right bra. Remember, ultimately finding the right bra comes down to your preference and what personally feels right for you while giving you the support you want.
Good luck, and let me know how you get on!
Love from B4J x