Gossard’s amazing scientific methods once again prove nothing.

This just in from Gossard. I’ll leave you to pick through this and my reply. It’s frustrating to say the least (I don’t get paid for this, ya know?) – but there it is. Stubborn, uncontrolled, and flawed – this is our cat, and we need a new way to skin it.

So if you too would like to conduct your own highly scientific bra calculator experiment, visit your local Gossard stockist and compare the two methods yourself. Either post your results here, or e-mail them to me at busts4justice@gmail.com. I’ll be collating the findings and presenting them back.

Hi Beckie,

Yesterday we had two models come into the office for a general fit.  The first was the model we used last time.  First off I would like to confirm that the last time we used this model we should have used the 32G, as you suggested, rather than the 32FF that we tried. 

So, the model measured 31.5 inches under band and 42 inches over bust. This meant that we measured her as a 36F (which is also what our fitting calculator measures her at).  The model prefers to wear 34FF as she prefers a snug fit.  This time we asked our model to try the 32G, however the bra was digging in significantly around the back and the underarm area.  Our model said it felt as though the bra would snap and that she couldn’t breathe, and would not feel comfortable wearing this.  The model also commented that she believed the garment would leave lasting marks.  In addition, when the model wore her fitted t-shirt on top you could see where the bra was digging in, creating visible bulges! 

If we use the +0 method the model would be a 32 back, and assuming that you are measuring the cup by calculating the difference between cup and band (you weren’t clear on this) then she would be a H cup = 32H.  Gossard’s sizes go up to a G cup, which means we would have to work towards the largest cross grade that we carry, which would be a 36G.  When wearing the 36G it was clear that the bra was too big for the model.  As the model was used to wear a tighter fit she felt as thought the 36back and the G cup was too large, however we could not reduce to a 34 back as we do not stock 34GG. 

The second model measures 32 under band and 43 over band.  The Gossard bra calculator estimates that she would wear a 36FF. Our model in fact wears a 36G, which is an excellent starting point considering we do not guarantee the accuracy of the calculator on sizes above DD.   

 Using the +0 method the model would be a 32 under band and a J cup (again, which Gossard do not stock).  The nearest size on the cross grade would be a 38G, which as we saw when the first model went up back sizes, does not offer support. 

The experiment shows that Gossard, and the standard way of measuring, is in fact closer to the actual bra size than the +0 method.  In the first instance Gossard (and the calculator) measure the model exactly as she is, where as the +0 method is off by two cup sizes.  In the latter model Gossard was one cup size larger in measurement then what she wears – which, as stated before, is a brilliant result considering it is hard to use formula to calculate sizes above DD.  The +0 method was once again two cup sizes different, showing that the +4/5 method is in fact a better starting point for measuring women’s bra sizes. 

Gossard understands that the +0 method is difficult to test in larger sizes as we do not stock sizes above G cups, meaning the theory unfortunately becomes redundant once you start cross grading sizes.  We would like to thank you for bringing this alternative way of measuring to our attention, however after testing both theories we are more than satisfied with our measuring system and will be continuing to use it.

I know, kids. I know. This was all I had the energy for:

Thanks for the e-mail. As ensuring Gossard customers get the best fit, support and service is not my job, I’m not going to spend too long on this message.

What I will say, however, is that I would never recommend cross-grading like that: you cross grade to find the perfect fit, not to find a size on sale (of course a 38G did not fit that woman – it may well be the same ‘volume’ but it is not the same bra. Why should a woman have to compromise on fit because you don’t carry her size?). If you don’t carry a woman’s size, be honest about it. Much better to send her elsewhere than sell her a bra she’ll hate. Unless that’s your business model – it may very well be. However, we must discount her results entirely.

And as for the first woman, it’s also worth pointing out that you measured her as a 42 overbust this time, but a 40 overbust the last time. Which is either a dramatic hormonal flux, or indicative of inconsistencies within the experiment (and indeed, measuring in this way at all! That’s why the visual prompts are so vital). Given that she was happiest in her 34FF (equivalent to a 32G), I’m going to put money on that original measurement being closer to correct. But we can agree to disagree there.

Inconsistencies aside for a moment, all we have proved is that – for this particular woman – +2 is the best fit in that bra that she tried (and I’m not surprised – in my experience Gossard bras are snug). If we conducted the same experiment using me and another brand, say, Curvy Kate; you could be ‘more than satisfied’ that -2 is the best starting point. The whole point for using +0 is that it is neutral – you are not sending anyone in one way or the other. It’s starting point that actually starts at the start.

Vitally, this experiment also proved that that calculator alone does not provide accurate fitting advice. So I would once again urge you to look at the visual advice you give (both with your fitting advice and with your models) to ensure you’re giving women the right cues. At the absolute core of the technique I recommend is logical and clear fitting education (above any calculator). We can disagree on starting points, but we cannot disagree that Gossard is lacking on that front.

While a sample of one I’m afraid is not enough to convince me that the calculator has merit, I’m happy to defer that you know your own products. In fact, myself and a number of other lingerie bloggers (including Fuller Figure Fuller Bust and Invest in your Chest) are very much looking forward to continue to review Gossard products – following your fitting advice to the letter, of course.

Best wishes, and have a lovely weekend.

Busts 4 Justice

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30 Responses to Gossard’s amazing scientific methods once again prove nothing.

  1. spacelibS says:

    I’ve never tried an online calculator before until Gossard’s after reading your post. Hmmm, it says I need a 36FF, I wear a 30J or a 32HH. Fail

  2. XLhourglass says:

    It’s amazing how they have yet to actually try to find sizes according to +0 method. “Conveniently” they have never managed to put the suggest bra size on their model. It almost hurt reading their mail. I am considering joining in on writing up a review based on their methods, though I fear it may not be completely accurate (and contrary to them, I would actually strive to do an honest attempt to do it their way!), as my measurements of 33.5 and 46.5 puts me just out of their range, even when using +4.

  3. Stacy says:

    That just gave me a headache.

    And Gossard tells me my 34.5 inch underbust and 43 overbust (a 34GG) should wear a 40D. Um. That would be laughably bad. But obviously it must be right, because I’m not over a DD, right???

  4. Lillefix says:

    Gossard, your method is excelent for keeping women inside of your size range, and out of a well fitting bra (apart from those few individuals for which +4 works). It’s really great to give customers bad fitting advice because if you’re lucky they might not get educated about brafitting elsewhere, and not realize what a bad fit is, and keep comming back eventhough they should really be wearing a 32J. You should realize that many women would be much more fond of brashopping if they actually fit the bras they buy well. Why else are we commenting so much on it? Fit is really important to us.
    You did NOT test the method, +0 has never as far as I’ve heard said that you should keep going up band sizes untill you find a cup that fits, no matter how many band sizes that has to be. Clearly your size range is not big enough to test it with the models you chose. One of the reasons for +0 is so that women will stop buying bigger bands than they should, and try instead the bands that are not so far from their ribcage meassurment and see if those might not proove to give better support and lift. And find a brand that offers a big enough cup for them, in those band sizes.
    I also would like to mention that a band can feel much tighter when the cups are too small, than it would if the cups where right. So a 32 band could still be correct for your first model, the test you performed doesn’t show.
    It’s important to look for fit signs such as bulging as you mention, and to try many sizes around the one +0 suggests and judge the fit visually and by feeling, but in your test there could be other reasons for the signs than that the model need +4.
    And, when a band is too loose, the cups may seem bigger than they do in a sister size with a smaller band. In a band that fits tight, the cups sit closer to your, and so they seem smaller. So for the second model the sister size with the smaller band, might have fitted much better also in the cup, the test you did doesn’t show. It offered no support because the band was too loose, exactly what +0 wants to prevent.

  5. When ever I hear that a woman has put on a bra and they can’t breath, I just think yeah right. Currently My measurements are 52/37 I wear a 36K on average because it easier to get than a 38KK right now. I did try a 34L I saw on ebay a few month ago it was $20 tax and shipping included. So it didn’t fit the cups were too small but back seemed to fit well. I could breath just fine lol.

    It sounds like Gossard is committed to their size range and missing a great opportunity in moving their brand forward. Why they won’t use many models. I think 20-50 would be more appropriate. And in more sizes. Of course they don’t want to spend the time or the money to disprove one lone blogger no matter how large a following she might have.

    Perhaps there should be a Gossard project like the 30 band project.

    • malica says:

      If underwire is too narrow, then it feels like you can’t breath in then damn thing (because you are trying not to, it’s too painful for your breasts).

  6. Anna says:

    The Gossard calculator recommended I try a 32D… I wear a 30F. Fail! That being said, my underbust measurement is 26.5″, or 25.5″ if I pull hard enough to snap the measuring tape. I am most comfortable wearing on-the-tight-side 30s or loose 28s (Freya, I’m looking at you). So the +0 method isn’t the best for me either… maybe this is because I have a bony ribcage?

    • A lot of bony women can find that (no natural cushion). But it’s worth saying that this is not about saying everyone must be +0. I am +1, -1, sometimes +2. The reason I like +0 as a starting place is that it allows you to find the fit right for you without automatically setting a precedent that you must add inches. Arbitrariness stinks! x

      • Laura P says:

        it could also be the center gore that is more painful than the band itself? i’m a 28H/HH and find that a higher center gore really bothers me.

      • Audrey says:

        It’s not just the central gore, though I’ve met a bra or two that jabbed me viciously in the sternum (bra manufacturers – why??). I find that most (non-Freya) 28s are uncomfortably tight around the whole ribcage. I also notice the wires getting weirdly distended (getting pulled out of shape, the ends further around my frame) compared to the sister size in 30. I was perplexed about this for a while, but I’ve been professionally fit into 30s on enough occasions now that I’ve accepted myself as an anomaly.

  7. Sweets says:

    Ugh, fitting women into the sizes in stock rather into the sizes that fit properly drives me insane. There’s a very lovely, very small boutique near my office, and I used to duck in occasionally. They recently drastically reduced their size orders, and when I went in the last time I was told they didn’t have any UK 34Gs, but “I looked like I could fit in a 36DD”. I can’t recommend that store anymore after that experience. There should be a responsibility to the woman first and foremost, not to the brand/store. I’d been wanting to try a Gossard bra for a while, but now my only inclination to do so is to prove how inaccurate their fit “calculator” is.

    • I had a store that I went to that had GG+ and for some reason they stopped selling DD+. At least they had the good sense to say they did offer anything higher and that’s that. They went out of business a few months later.

  8. Penny says:

    Wait, did they even get the second model to try another size? Or just ask what size she wears? Given how accurate size worn is as a way of judging correct size, that definitely deserves the Godzilla facepalm.

  9. helen says:

    Here’s another problem with arbitrary “cross-sizing” with +4 as a start point. Say, you measured 30 underbust, 37 overbust, and so in reality wore (very) approximately, a 30F. If you were measured with +4 method, that would indicate a 34C. Cross-size down past 32D, you reach 30DD… which would fit terribly.

  10. Laura P says:

    the bottom line is that they don’t want to increase their product range to even be able to begin to measure differently. As for the second model measuring 32 and 36G is her size because that’s what she wears, but the 38 offers no support? I’m sorry, but the 36 offers no support either. I’d put money on it that Model Two, if Gossard made a 34GG would be more comfortable in that size. I wonder if they’ve ever tried their method of sizing, and then did something crazy like see if the bra band stays put if the straps are down. Doubtful! Furthermore, their calculator puts model one in a 36, but she prefers a 34- and yet they pat themselves on the back for it because it is just one size off from what she wears. Well, then lets pat ourselves on the back as well, because, afterall, 34 is only one size off 32! We all know bras vary by brand and style!! I find most women are the most comfortable in a bra that is within 2 inches of their natural measurment- of course this is because sizes vary.

  11. TheCurvyPear says:

    Irritating. Just irritating. I have plans on going around to various store in my area pretending I know nothing about bra fitting and reporting on my findings. I don’t have high hopes!

  12. Their email makes me think they have no idea how bra bands work. If their models measure 32 inches under the bust, how likely is it that they will fit bra bands that are four or six inches bigger?

    And…what? “She measured as a 32J so we put her in a 38G which didn’t fit so HAHA you’re wrong.” How does that many any sense?!

  13. Neenah says:

    I wonder, did they pay attention that first model wear the bra PROPERLY? I mean band placed in the right (parallel to the floor, not too high, not too low) way; scoop the whole breast tissue into the cups (including from underarms and even back – hello, migration!); loosen or tighten the straps if neccessary etc.? Or they just looked for things that prove their point and nevermind anything that might contradict it?

    And was the bra in question actually compatible with her shape at all?

    Because the fit issues described with 32G does not neccessarily meant wrong size, but rather wrong placement (breast tissue was not scooped into the cups = underarm fat, straps too tight + band sitting too high on the back = digging in) and wrong bra (first thoughts – underwire too narrow, cups too shallow) which can be kinda masqued with bigger band of the same bra.

    By the way, they told nothing about did they try the SAME bra model in different sizes or they used bra A size X, bra B size Y and so on?

    And I wonder also, did anyone ever told their models that underarm and back fat could be result of wrong sized bra? That this fat is not “created” by the “too small” band, but pops out from long time wearing the band-too-big-cups-too-small? That if they continue to wear wrong sized bra those fat cushions will only grow bigger? And, finally, that the right sized bra can SOLVE this problem within a few months completely? Somehow I doubt that there would be any “yes” given as answer.

  14. You are my heroine. The magnitude of this arrogance is astounding. This ‘experiment’ is an insult to women’s health, comfort and confidence. Thank you for continually leading the march against this industry level betrayal. xx

  15. helen says:

    Okay, here’s another thought… cross-grading is incompatible with any tape-measure method. Here’s the Maths (trust me on this, I have a degree in Scientific Method ^_^)

    Tape-measure +4 methods assign one cup size per inch of difference between band size and bust measurement. It assumes that the relationship between breast volumes follows a 1:1 ratio between the change in band inches and the change in cup size.

    If X measured 30 underbust, 37 bust, she would be given a 34 band, then the difference of 3 inches indicates a C cup. So 34C.
    If Y measured 28 underbust, 37 bust, she would be given a 32 band, with the difference of 5 inches indicating a DD cup. So 32DD
    If Z measured 26 underbust, 37 bust, she would be given a 30 band, with the difference of 7 inches indicating an F cup. So 30F.

    All of these women are probably now the wrong bra, but cross-grading will not help them: Cross-grading assumes that the relationship between comparable breast volumes follows a 2:1 ratio between the change in band inches and the change in cup size. It’s easy to miss this – the simple mantra of “go down one back size, go up one cup size” belies the fact that band sizes actually represent multiples of two inches. So the mantra should be “go down two band inches, go up one cup size”.

    If Miss X decides her 34C doesn’t fit, and is advised to cross-grade until the back is tight enough, she will try a 32D, then a 30DD.

    Given her measurements, the 30DD probably won’t fit her either.

    If she was fitted instead from a +0 basis, she would have a 30 band, and the difference of 7 would suggest an F cup. A 30F will probably be a much better fit. (And anyone who has tried to fit F cup boobs into a DD bra will know that it is probably the least amount of fun you can have with no clothes on.)

    Advocates of the 0+ basis will probably value signs of good fit over algorithmic methods, but it’s important to remember that BOTH measuring systems, +4 and +0, assume a 1:1 ratio between difference in band inches and cup sizes. Cross-grading assumes a 2:1 ratio between band inches and cup sizes. To switch between the two systems is methodologically incongruous.

    Perhaps they sound like strong words to be used in the context of bra fitting, but if the systems don’t work, there is no sense in using them. Cross-grading becomes meaningless after a point… a 28GG may be the “sister size” to a 38B, but think of the boobs that would be comfortably supported in those bras. Even if the underwires are the same size, the depth and construction of the cups would be totally different. And the assertion that the sizes are in some way comparable still tells the wearers absolutely nothing about what constitutes a decent and supportive fit.

    It makes me wonder why Gossard cling so desperately to their methods, and argue so vehemently against the +0 basis. Every woman would be much better off if all talk of numbers and systems was scrapped entirely, and replaced with clear and honest advice about how a bra should fit.

    Heh, this post was rather longer than I first intended but I think it’s important to examine these arguments objectively. It’s easy to read the response from Gossard and go “Ergh, what nonsense!” but without understanding exactly why it is nonsense, any counter-arguments could end up being ill-founded and ineffective.

  16. I say abolish the shite bra calculators and instead just have fitting videos and tips.
    Ann Summers have a shite calculator and when I commented on it I was promised a reply. I got a reply saying someone else would get back to me. They never did.

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  20. Be fair ladies, it is not just Gossard. I spent weeks trawling different clothing catalogues, websites, online and paper bra size calculators, submitted myself to a number of bra fittings by ‘professionals’ and came to the conclusion that there are an enormous variety of methods out there. Some good, some bad and some plain ugly. I came to the conclusion that old fashioned calculations are not much use other than mere guides. For Gossard to admit that their own size guide is not guaranteed above a DD is a joke and verging on insulting to the bigger boobed market.

    Someone also pointed out to me that the poor sizing guides are perpetuated by old fashioned stores to help them sell cross sized bras because they do not carry broad enough ranges or carry sufficient stock of large cup sizes. Better to sell something than nothing, eh? Cynical yes, but once you start thinking about it……

    Little wonder that the internet stores are taking more and more trade off these dinosaurs.

    It is anecdotal only but if we think it is bad in the UK, it seems to be worse in the States. I know the readership here is more enlightened so I think many of you will have drawn the same conclusion I did.

  21. Felicia says:

    It told me I’d need a 36B. I’m a 30e. *facepalm*

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  23. Louise Ord says:

    Oh my. I’m a 34C apparently… I’m actually a 30E (by trial and error, of course. Awkward. I mean, sometimes I wish I was a 34C so I could fit into the pretty little bras that are always in stock, but no. That’s poor fitting.

  24. Heather says:

    I always get a kick out of these bra calculators. I wear a 30F, as my underbust measurement is 31″ but my breast volume is a lot more forward than it is wide, so I need to go for the tighter band size and larger cup to get the gore to lay flat against my chest and get the proper support. Putting in my measurements (using a 30″ instead of 31″ as that measurement gives me a “This size is not currently available within our range” message) churns out a shocking 34B! I haven’t worn a 34B since I was a horribly misguided 12 year old who probably should have been wearing a 28D or 28E (very early development). Just for fun, I decided to try one of my old 34C bras, which, according to Gossard, should be way too big for me, but shockingly, the band rides up, the gore and underwire doesn’t come near my chest, and the straps dig painfully into my shoulders as they try to support all of the weight. But by Gossard logic, this must mean I just need a smaller cup size. Silly me.

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