Friday, May 14, 2010

Bra Has Fit in Dressing Room

Or, What I didn't know about getting the right bra size.

Now and then I enjoy an online chat with my sisters. A recent one turned into a deep-and-meaningful about brassieres, and Sarah and I laughed so hard our tummies ached. I was telling a story that I'm sure many of you will relate to, so here it is again for your benefit.

Sarah and I were swapping vital statistics to assist with wardrobe-sharing urges now that our sizes are similar (which they most certainly weren't during the teens and early twenties), and Sarah felt the need to check that I understood what the letter and numeral designations on bra tags mean.

"The letter is for the bust size. The number is for the frame size," she said.

I admitted, "I reached my 21st birthday and didn't know about cup size." Readers, please understand that I was a homeschooler in a small rural town who pretty much raised herself where girly matters are concerned.

The story begins with a list I compiled in response to friends and family members wondering what to get for the big event. I called it My Exotic Desires list. On the list distributed to female friends was: Luscious underwear, i.e. Bendon.

Urban dwellers Monique and Stacey phoned my mother to ask what bra size I wore, so she sneaked into my bedroom to peek in my top drawer. She pulled out a bra and told the girls what they needed to know. Unfortunately, I didn't wear that bra because it was too big.

Don't take the word of a tag! Get the garment properly fitted.

The girls bought me a luscious, lacey Bendon thing with puff pads, beautifully exotic compared to my heretofore cheap and simple under things. The girls did insist at the time that I should tell them if it didn't fit so they could get a replacement, but I didn't know enough to be able to figure out that it didn't fit. I thought it would do.

I started on the tightest hook, so after a few launderings my whole world shifted when I shrugged, and the puff pads were never puffy enough to get rid of the puckering in the lace. I felt way less than exotic and another bra was retired to Unwearableland.

I was well into my 20s before I got up the courage to accept the assistance of a trained whosimawhatsit in my cubicle at Farmers* and let her find me the right fit. I was so relieved that I did.

*Farmers is a department store.

Actually, I hadn't known that Farmers offered such a service. I didn't know the girls attendant on the dressing rooms did more than take what you didn't want and hang it back up. I think a girl did ask me once if I wanted any help - - - - HORRORS, NO!!! But this lady inserted herself behind my curtain before I could say no, and soon I had the missing keys to my exotic experience.

To demonstrate what she showed me, let's try on a bra sized 14B.

Fasten the bra on the middle hook, allowing for the bra to stretch or for you to gain weight. If it's tight around your torso rather than firm, try a size 16. If it's loose, try a size 12.

Once the hooks are secured, lean forward slightly and gently lift the top of each breast so it fits properly into the cup. When you stand upright, if the cup fabric is puckered, you need to try an A cup. If your breast is bulging out of the cup, you need to try a C cup.

Tighten the straps until firm, not digging into your shoulders. It's not unusual for your two sides to differ from each other. I.e. you may need to tighten one strap more than the other.

Check that when you move your arms forward and across your body that the edge of the cup doesn't rub or pinch at your armpit. If it does, you may need a shallower cup.

Underwire bras need additional attention to cup setting. Shrug and breath deeply. Check the comfort of the cup connector tab and that you're not being poked by the underwires either in the centre or the outside of the cups. If you're wide-set, you may need a loose cup connector tab (usually a short strip of ribbon) rather than the more common fixed cup setting. Choose an underwire style with a width that matches yours.

Each time you put on your bra, check that the fit is still appropriate. Laundering and wear stretch the delicate fabric and alter strap length. Your comfort and health is paramount, so pay attention to your body's needs and the condition of your underwear.

After all this, did you know you don't HAVE to wear a bra? That doing so can in fact be a serious health issue? I was astonished some years ago when a health professional advised me against wearing one. I tried it out, and my comfort and peace of mind were manifoldly increased.

Check this out:

In the 7 or so years that I haven't worn a standard bra, I've found other options to maintain modesty and a smooth shape, especially under knit fabrics. The end of the bra-free article (above link) includes a list of such options.

Next week: brassiere laundering and storage tips.

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