Look out Playtex: we declare war on plus-four…

Playtex get it wrongI have been a proud 28GG/30G bust for about three years now. These three years have been the most comfortable and most active of my LSB (life since boobs). Where before I wouldn’t so much as look at a flight of stairs quickly for fear of tenderising my ungainly breasts or of one of my nipples attempting escape, I now run, cycle, dance, swim and bound about a three storey apartment without giving my once disobedient cleavage a second thought. It is this liberation, this empowerment, that more than anything lets me know each day that I am now wearing the right sized bra.

So why are Playtex telling me that I am a 34D?

My mistake, they not telling me I am a 34D: they are ‘suggesting’ I am a 34D. 34D is a ‘rough guide’, and I will only know for sure ‘by getting professionally fitted in store and by trying different styles’.

Enough is enough. The recent backlash against Simply Yours has spawned whole blog rolls of posts, arguments and comments about why the plus-four method fails women of all shapes and sizes. It is – much like the Playtex fitting app that uses it – completely hopeless. Using the plus-four method as a rough guide to bra fitting is like giving someone a ‘Rough Guide to South America’ and a plane ticket to Germany.

I have championed Playtex and their use of Ruth Langsford as an ambassador before, and am – as I was with Simply Yours – profoundly disappointed that a company which sells itself as being understanding and celebrative of its customers seems intent on denying the women it professes to champion the right to a good – even life-improving – fit. I refuse to accept the ‘just a guide’ excuse any more: the guide is misleading and irresponsible, and is a key reason that so many women without time, access, knowledge or confidence to seek out (or indeed recognise) a good fit are missing out.

Simply Yours were quick to comment on our post, and claim to already be rethinking the way they advise on size as a result of the backlash. So Busts 4 Justice challenges Playtex – and every other company using inaccurate rough guides to fill out their websites and sell women lingerie that simply won’t fit them – to immediately retract their advice and replace it with a guide that works to the raw underbust measurement as a starting point, and places ultimate importance on recognising good fit, whatever the label.

And fellow bloggers and agitators: you know what to do. Write, blog, comment. Let’s fight until every woman knows just how liberating a good fit can be. We all deserve more than plus-four. Retailers: it’s time for a change.

Send your challenge to Playtex here:

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37 Responses to Look out Playtex: we declare war on plus-four…

  1. sophiajenner says:

    Well said Beckie – I was outraged too, it told me I was a 36D, which is vastly different from the 30GG/32G that I do wear. I really wish these companies would make more of an effort to change their size guide. Even plus 2 would be an improvement from plus 4. x

    • Totally. Start with the underbust, then add two if you need to for comfort etc. Totally illogical to start so far away from the true measurement when the damn things are made from stretchy material! x

  2. gemdotcom says:

    I had the same issue with Marks & Spencer. I went into the store and the woman tried measuring me as a 36DD. I was furious, I told the woman that a 34 is too big for me, but she insisted I tried them on. Even though I proved her exceedingly wrong by fitting into the 32G I was still shocked to be treated this way. How can Playtex be doing this as well? You cannot be properly measured through a screen so this whole process is ridiculously odd.

    • Thanks for the comment Gem. The worst thing about it is not so much how common these terrible plus-four experiences I hear, but how many I haven’t heard yet… It took me ten years to refit away from the method (for the last years I was convinced my fit was wrong, but never made time to go to Bravissimo because every single internet search assured me I was measuring myself right). There must be hundreds of thousands of women putting up with poor fit and all of the discomfort that brings for that same reason. How can these companies recommend it – even with the flakiest protests of ‘guidance’ – in good conscience? It is a total failure of their customers and shows them up as not being the fit experts they’d like us to believe them to be x

  3. Cha says:

    I love that Playtex even say, “Most women wear the wrong size. Are you one of them?” Well, you can be if you follow their advice. My 28FFs are a suggested 32D according to them.
    I too have had trouble with Marks & Spencer, albeit a while ago, but I didn’t go back. They suggested that for a 30 back I should visit the children’s department..yes..really!
    It’s so good to see someone finally fighting cause, and I must say that this has to be the best analogy of all time, “Using the plus-four method as a rough guide to bra fitting is like giving someone a ‘Rough Guide to South America’ and a plane ticket to Germany.” xx

    • Thank you Cha! I’m glad it’s resonating with so many people – I’m so sick of seeing women struggling with their bras, knowing full well they are the victims of terrible advice from people they trusted (and essentially paid, if it was through a high street store) to help them find the right size. Three years ago I believed that boobs escaping bras every time I moved a single muscle was an annoying but inevitable consequence of hitting puberty, and I hated the curves that were making my life (especially the summer – how terrible the summer is in a badly fitted bra) so uncomfortable. Hopefully if we can apply enough pressure, Playtex will be forced to listen. And children’s department for a 30 back! Man alive. That is classic Marks and Spencer. How do they come up with this stuff?! x

    • Zoggi says:

      The idea that a 30 back is a children’s size is so nonsensical! At the age of 12 I was a 32A, now at 26 I’m a 30E. I am actually smaller around my back than I was at the age of 12, but obviously taller and curvier, so nobody in their right mind would think I look like a 12 year old. I think that proves that the band size is just that – the size of the band. It doesn’t mean you’re skinny or petite or underdeveloped, it just means you have a small ribcage.

      • Cha says:

        I know! Lucky as a relatively self assured 20 year old I laughed at the idea of the shopping in the children’s department, and I didn’t let it upset me too much. However, I think it could have had a massively negative impact on someone a little more shy, and less sure of their size. It once again enforces the idea that plus 4 must be correct, if they are suggesting 30 back sizes for children. Goodness knows what’s they’d say to the 28 back bras I now wear…newborn department? Wearing the right size bra is empowering for women, doesn’t everyone deserve that? x

  4. Bratabase says:

    Their math reveals that they do add 5″ (13cm actually) to your ribcage measurement. And their calculator will only calculate cups up to FF.

    Here the dirty details: http://bratabase.com/blog/2011/jun/21/war-on-4-164/ 😀

  5. playtex team says:

    Hello Ladies,
    We at Playtex are sorry to hear that some of you have experienced problems with our Find Your Fit online tool.
    Our online fitting tool is intended as a guide only. While we believe that in most cases it gives the best possible online fitting, it cannot and is not meant to replace a one-to-one fitting, which we would always recommend over an online fitting.
    The good news is that our in-house fitter Emma provides training on how to fit Playtex bras to leading department stores throughout the UK, so you can be sure you’re in trusted hands when you go for a fitting. We would always encourage you to do a one-to-one fitting.
    In the meantime we take on board all your comments regarding our online fitting tool, and have arranged to speak to our fitting and website teams to discuss how we can address these issues and make it clearer that the online tool is meant as a guide only. We will be sure to keep you updated on any improvements and changes we decide to make.
    Thank you for getting in touch. We always appreciate receiving feedback from our customers, it shows you feel as passionately about our brand and bras as we do.

  6. Neenah says:

    Well … at least there IS mass-produced bras for those of you with rigcages 28″ and above to be able to wear band size equal to your uderbust measurement. Yes, it’s irritating to meet again and again the bra-*fitter*s who try to fit what they have rather than what you need. Though as long as there are bras of suitable sizes it’s a question of proper training for resellers staff. Not an easy task, but not impossible either. But someone with 24-25″ ribcage coupled with *standart* 35-36″ overbust doesn’t even have a chance to be sent to children’s department because what they usually say “Oh, dear, such sizes do not exist!” is a truth actually. Sigh …

    • So frustrating for you! Have you tried Ewa Michalak? Also, have you spoken to Brittany at thinandcurvy.com? She is similarly proportioned to you. She could help, or you could join forces to campaign! x

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  8. I am 48inches around and 35 under, Playtex only let me go down to being 36.6 under and declared me a 42FF. Sod off.

  9. I believe that a lot of this ‘add 4-6 inch’ nonsense came from way back when there were far fewer bra sizes made. What do you do when someone doesn’t wear a size that you make? You shoehorn them into sizes you DO have.

    A woman who is an actual 36C (supposedly the ‘average’ size) can find her size well enough via trial and error. What do you do with a 30H when the biggest cup you have is a ‘D’ or ‘DD’? You use the biggest cup you have and find the band size that will actually allow you to clasp it in the back. Eventually someone comes up with the bright idea of adding inches to the band measurement to find the ‘right’ size. Manufacturers are happy enough with this and eventually perpetuate it, as do many bra shops. After all, the fewer sizes you have to make and/or stock, the easier it is to maintain inventory levels.

    Many bra manufacturers still have very limited size ranges (see Leading Lady, for example). When we started in this business just over 10 years ago, the cup sizes available (especially in the US) mostly topped out at a ‘G’. We had to start ordering from British companies to fill the huge need we found for women with larger cups.

    • Spot on -thank you for commenting. You’re so right: it’s a relic from an era where there was no choice. Now we have more choice and more opportunities to get a life-enhancing fit, but it seems as if behind-the-curve companies have more interest in keeping their customers in their narrow size selection whatever the fit. Not the way to create loyal, vocal, and life-long customers…

  10. gemdotcom says:

    I received a reply from Playtex!! 🙂

    Dear Gemma

    We’re sorry to hear that you have experienced problems with our Find Your Fit online tool at http://www.playtex.co.uk.

    Our online fitting tool is intended as a guide only. While we believe that in most cases it gives the best possible online fitting, it cannot and is not meant to replace a one-to-one fitting, which we would always recommend over an online fitting.

    The good news is that our in-house fitter Emma provides training on how to fit Playtex bras to leading department stores throughout the UK, so you can be sure you’re in trusted hands when you go for a fitting. We would always encourage you to do a one-to-one fitting if possible.

    We’ll make sure your comments are passed on to our fitting and website teams, so that they can look into addressing them.

    Thank you for getting in touch. We always appreciate receiving feedback from our customers, it shows you feel as passionately about our brand and bras as we do.

    Yours sincerely
    Claire, Playtex

    Thoughts?

    • Zoggi says:

      Hmm.. a bit disappointing to see the same standard response, but at least they are hearing views from more people. Hopefully adding all our voices will help to make them realise it’s not an issue that’s just going to go away…

  11. Pingback: Well played: Playtex remove plus-four app | Busts 4 Justice

  12. MariaH. says:

    One more fitting advice that deserves scorn:

    No freaking way that plastic busts she uses is a 32 B. if you look closer she actually holds her fingers between the plastic and the tape to get at 27 inches. Adding 4 and rounding up to the next even number she arrives at 32. Yikes, 26 or 28 would be more like it, making that plastic bust model a 28 FF or 26 G.

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  17. pearlessence says:

    Where do you find 28/30 sizes? I was always under the impression that 32 was the smallest size, so that I must be a 32/34. However, I just measured and it seems like the circumference under my bust is something like 28-29 inches… doesn’t that mean that 32 is too big for me? It would explain why strapless bras never stay up. Ever.

    • It could well be! Loads
      Of brands are moving into the 28 back market – check out Freya, Panache, Curvy Kate and Ewa Michalak for a range of options. Finding them depends on where you are. If you’re lucky enough to be in the UK, you can usually find 28 backs in all good department stores or in Bravissimo. In the other places you may be stuck with mail order or boutiques. If you let me know where you are I’ll try and find you some options in your area.

      • pearlessence says:

        Unfortunately, I’m in Canada – and I have no idea where to start 😦 I used to shop at La Senza, which was the only lingerie store I really knew of until Victoria’s Secret recently moved North from the US. I’ve never heard of any of the brands you mentioned! But I’ve definitely never seen anything under a 32 – unless, I guess, it’s from a kid’s store? Which I’ve never ventured into.

      • Get in touch with Claire at Butterfly Collection: http://blog.butterflycollection.ca/ – she’s lovely, helpful and -most importantly- based in Canada! She also does Skype fittings if she’s not in your area, and understands that a 28/30 back doesn’t mean you should be shopping for lingerie in a kids’ store. Let me know how you get on! 🙂

      • pearlessence says:

        Thanks for the referral. I’m a little intimidated though, the blog seems to be geared toward bustier women (I see D-K cups and I am positive I am nowhere near that haha). I guess I will just have to contact her and see how it goes…!

      • Don’t be intimidated, she’s lovely and great with all shapes. And remember – cup size is relative, so a 28D = a 30C = 32B = 34A: you might be nearer to her size range than you think 🙂

      • pearlessence says:

        Haha I would have imagined! Thank you so much for the reassurance and help – now I can’t wait to see whether or not I’ve been buying the right sizes… Just thinking of all that money wasted on countless bras over the years is making me a bit cross >=[

      • I hear you! At least once you’ve found that perfect fit your bras will last much longer and support you better. Although personally, I do find launching campaigns against the companies who kept me throwing money away on 34E bras for years very cathartic… 🙂

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