A new study by the rather awesome Department of Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Portsmouth “has confirmed that the traditional method of bra fitting is not accurate when compared to published best-fit criteria”.
In the first scientific study of it’s kind, by comparing the ‘traditional’ +4 method practiced by most high-street stores and websites to a ‘professional’ fitting method based on identifying good fit through a sequence of criteria (e.g center band sitting on sternum, cups fully encasing the breast tissue, etc), the study found that:
“The best-fit size determined by the professional bra fitting criteria was, on average, one cup size larger and one band size smaller than the bra size determined by the traditional bra fitting method.”
“Due to the relationship between band and cup size, determined by the cross-grading method, wearing a bra with a loose under band may mean that the cup size is too small. This is supported by the results of this study as the traditional method of bra fitting underestimated cup size in 84% of women.”
Perhaps no surprise there. Other interesting findings suggested that:
“the larger the band size measured, the greater the difference between the best-fit band size and the traditional band size. This suggests that the larger the woman’s band size (as assessed using professional bra fitting criteria), the more erroneous the traditional method became.”
“this study found no relationship between age and fit method, suggesting that women of all ages should be encouraged to use professional bra fitting criteria.”
In conclusion, as well as accepting that more research needed to be done in to understanding the consequences of wearing poorly fitting lingerie, the study emphasises the importance of replacing the traditional fitting method with the professional one in all instances, and (most importantly) giving women the tools and information they need to recognise a professional fit for themselves.
“Women are therefore urged to ensure they are wearing a bra with a firm under band, and that if they decrease their band size then they may need to increase their cup size. It is important that women realise there may be discrepancies in bra sizing between manufacturers and that their body shape may influence bra fit. A woman’s breasts will change size and shape throughout the menstrual cycle and throughout the life cycle, so frequent evaluation of bra fit is necessary.”
Whilst admitting that getting standardised sizing across all brands would be impossible, by providing women with visual aids, and education on the ‘cross-grading’ of sizes it is possible to raise awareness and improve women’s ability to recognise good fit regardless of traditional fitting advice.
“There is scope to utilise the professional bra fitting criteria within educational material to achieve this aim, perhaps as part of display material in changing cubicles at retail outlets or delivered to school-age children so knowledge of bra fitting is gained at an early age. […]
“Women should subjectively assess their own bra fit using professional bra fitting criteria. Larger-breasted women in particular should be wary of using the traditional method of bra fitting to dictate absolute bra size, due to greater inaccuracies in band size as this measure increases. More education is needed so that women can accurately assess their own bra fit. This study recommends that women follow professional bra fitting criteria for appropriate bra fit.”
Amen to that.
This is a great boost for the War on Plus Four and its battle against arbitrary fit calculators and their irresponsible fitting advice – and while something tells me it won’t change much in the minds of Victoria’s Secret et al, it will be interesting to see if by sharing the study we can get more women thinking twice about the bad fit they’ve always accepted to be theirs.
Because as the study says, education really is our best weapon against companies still trying to fit our boobs in to as few sizes as possible, regardless of our comfort or happiness. So if you do one thing today, pass the good fit message on.