Tuesday, 4 June 2013


What do you do when your boobs don't match?

Well, first off, stop giving yourself a hard time because most of us have "odd" boobs. They're sisters rather than twins and they're rarely identical!

If you have uneven or asymmetric breasts you may have considered or even tried padding the smaller side. But, a couple of clever tricks could save the day and make life easier....

You do not always necessarily have to pad the smaller cup to balance the bra out. Differences of a couple of cup sizes can be balanced out, but the trick is to choose styles that can disguise it well.

The hardest styles to get working tend to be soft, balconettes that slope rather than sit almost horizontally across the top of the cup. The shape of these mean that if you have uneven boobs the bra will tend to wrinkle and bag at the top where the strap joins.

To balance the smaller side, hoick the smaller breast diagonally towards the top and centre of the cup, as if trying to pull it towards a pendant on your necklace, whilst simultaneously pulling the bottom of the cup in the opposite direction. Try to push any excess fabric towards your body with your fingertips while you are holding your breast on your chin out of the way. In many cases, the material at the bottom of the cup will gather/pucker allowing the breast to sit on it when you let go, thus filling the top of the cup like the fuller side. The empty part of the cup is now at the bottom and so will not show once you are dressed.

Adjusting the straps can also give you a little more room to manoeuvre - keeping the strap on the smaller side shorter can make that cup a little smaller, and vica versa for the larger breast.
Cleo Juna and many slightly padded half cup styles are often good for such disguise. They're also great for loss of volume post weight loss/breastfeeding. Pull the smaller breast forward as before, but in a more horizontal direction away from the armpit.

T-shirt styles that work include Freya Deco, Bravissimo Purity and the Panache Porcelain. These styles are not all so good at gathering under the cup because of the foam, but look fine once dressed.

Fuller cup styles are good, particularly Panache Andorra and Melody full cup. Fantasie side support styles such as Elodie, and non padded Cleo styles such as Meg and Marcie sit particularly well if you need a deeper cup.
Newer Panache styles that are performing spectacularly are the Jasmine and Idina, as they have some stretch lace on the upper part of the cup.

Overall, aim to start off fitting the larger side as closely as possible without any overflow, then fine tune. Firmness in the band is essential to avoid slipping about within the cups - so no sizing up to try and dodge backfat!

Nearly every woman has an obvious size difference but with these tricks it is rare to actually need a filler. If you have a very noticeable difference and feel you need it then still use the tricks above so you are padding as lightly as possible which will be much more comfortable. Some companies like Ewa Michalak produce bras with removable pads designed to help even things up.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

A double review - Ann Summer and SimplyBe fitting FAIL

Ann Summers

I approached the lady at the counter asking if they could fit me for a bra. She was very nice and polite, led me to the changing rooms where I undressed my top half down to my bra. I was wearing, at the time a 36E. I showed the lady how the band was too big by pulling it away from my body very easily. I also showed her how I had overspill on the cups. She got out her tape measure to take measurements and declared me to be a 40C. When I questioned this, partly down to the size I was already wearing and also because I have recently dropped a dress size, she responded by telling me that the band on my current bra was clearly too small and that the cups were far too big which was why they were digging in and overspilling. I was very dissatisfied with the service she offered as self measurements put me at around a 34F/FF

Simply Be

In much the same manner, I approached the girl at the counter asking for a fitting. She took me to the fitting rooms and once I was ready, she came in and declared my bra that I was wearing to be the wrong size. She said it was clearly too small in the band and that it was a good job I had come for a fitting as did I know that most UK women are wearing the wrong bra size? As with the Ann Summers sales assistant, I showed her how easily I could pull my current bra from my body and how I had overspill on the cups. In the same vein as the AS sales assistant, she also declared my current bra to be too small in the band and too big in the cup. Once the tape measure came out, she also declared me to be a 40C but proceeded to tell me that their store did nothing in my size and that I would be better off trying other stores in order to find a bra that 'fit correctly'. She did tell me that a 40 back may prove hard to find in a non specialist shop as a 40 back was larger than most Uk women would need. I felt this was rude and unprofessional. I was rather upset by this attitude, especially when I told her about taking my own measurements. She scoffed and told me not to follow advice from the internet and that she was an expert and should be trusted.

Bra Guru Comments

Dire service at both of these companies. I'm not sure what is worse - "you're getting overspill because your cups are too big" or " you can pull the band away so it must be too small." This shows that, even worse than just being trained to add 4/5" these are fitters who have no idea what a good bra should look like.

But the final nail in the coffin for SimplyBe is making rude comments about customers being larger than average. In a retailer which specialises in size 14+ telling a woman who measures around 34" underbust that she is too big for a non-specialist bra is APPALLING! Bra fitting is a very personal experience where you are stripped to your bra in front of a stranger. Any negative comments about her shape or size are simply not acceptable. Based on what we know about this reviewer, she probably needs a 34FF. 

Saturday, 9 March 2013

M&S Truro...the trend continues

"I went for my fitting and had a very nice fitter who I'll call Faith. To start she asked me what size bra I was currently wearing, how long I've been breastfeeding and how long I plan to continue. My answers were 36 J, 9 months and a long time yet. She then told me that the highest cup size they do is H so she may not be able to sort me out but that she will do her best. I was advised that I need to be in non wired bras as I could change size with the breastfeeding.

She measured my underboob but didn't pull the tape particularly tight and then went to get some bras for me to try. I was pleasantly surprised that she didn't measure the overboob as I was expecting her to.

Faith returned with a 38G and a 40G. The only reason she brought a 38 was because I said I was currently wearing a 36. She apologised and explained that although they do up to a H cup, they don't currently have any in stock for me to try. I was asked if I wanted to put the bra on myself or if I wanted her to assist and fit it to me. As I'd never been asked this before, I said I would have her help to see exactly what this entailed. Basically this means facing away from her and she puts it in front of me to put my arms though and boobs in the cup. After pulling the band down to be horizontal and adjusting the straps she said it wasn't a bad fit but it was digging in a bit so she suggested trying the 40 because that is what I measured as. The 40G was too big in the cup so she went to get a 40F. This ended up being a different bra and the cup really gaped. Each bra I tried, I was asked to lift my arms up to check that the band wasn't moving.

Faith apologised again at this point for the lack of stock currently and suggested that I am between 40F and 40G and that I could order some in to try.

I was told to do the bra up on either the loosest or the next set of hooks in to allow me to tighten the bra if I lose weight. "

So, shall we sum up where this experience went wrong? Yet again sounds like a very pleasant fitter but....

-nothing available above a G cup (which isn't even a G really as M&S don't seem to do FF)
-a 36 back put in a 40
-if the band "digs" you need a bigger band (erm, no, look at the backfat blog page)
-you mustn't wear wires if you are breastfeeding (they're fine if they fit properly actually!)
-no scooping
- told to use loosest hooks in case of weight loss (no, it's because bras stretch!)
- a new bra should NOT be on the middle hook (recurring M&S theme this one)

Friday, 8 March 2013

La Senza fitting review

Today I visited La Senza (Plymouth). Wow, what a lot of neon and padding. Most of the rails seemed to only contain 34Bs so I asked the assistant what cup size they went up to. She (let’s stick with the ‘J’ theme and call her Julia) informed me that they stock up to an E cup and asked me if I thought I might be bigger than that. I played a little dumb and as I was wearing my 32G (band fits like a small 30!) Ewa Michalak Karmelki said that I wasn’t sure of size as this was a ‘foreign bra’.

Julie kindly offered me a fitting to see if I could possibly fit into their range. I was asked to remove my top (so far so good, as I had heard stories about people being measured over their clothes) and then she took my under bust measurement. She held the tape fairly tightly (much more so than in M&S) and I could see it was at 30”. However, she then turned to a chart on the wall and proclaimed that I fell between sizes and that I was a 36D or 36DD. I felt the bra gloom descend upon me.

Julia bought me a Cotton Lightly Lined Plunge in white in 36DD to try. It was absolutely massive in the back, just as bad as in M&S which surprised me a little as I’d heard that La Senza bras came up very small in the band. Obviously, the cups didn’t really cover me at all and I had some cracking overspill. Julie came back in and asked me how I felt. I said that the back was very loose (it was really riding up) and the cups were too small (bulging and centre gore not sitting flat). To give Julie her due she said that I could try a 34E but that the cup would still be too small. She very kindly suggested that I try HoF or Debenhams for a bigger range of sizes.

Julia was very pleasant and helpful and to be fair she agreed that the cup was too small for me. However, I didn’t really get the feeling she knew much about smaller band sizes and how they should fit properly. Logically, I don’t know how she could have any experience in good fitting as their size charts are totally skewing everything.

If La Senza stopped adding inches and stocked an realistic size range (e.g. 26A – 38G) they could be a really good source of bras for the younger customer. Adding inches is preventing them from offering what could be a great service. Their staff are extremely pleasant and are being let down by bad training and wrong information.

Marks and Spencer strike again

And, in another "isolated incident" it's another epic fail from Marks and Sparks!

A 30HH goes in....

I went to the fitting room and asked if it was possible to be fitted for a bra. The helpful and friendly lady on the desk said that the fitter was with a customer but I should wait in the cubicle, strip down to my bra and she would send her in. First fail! I waited for a good ten minutes sat in my bra. I heard another customer come in after me who was also waiting.

When the fitter arrived she did not introduce herself or apologise for the wait. She looked critically at my bra (I was wearing a Panache Tango 32H, slightly big in the back but otherwise a good fit). She told me that the red marks caused by the band were a bad sign and meant the wire was digging in, and I should not wear an underwired bra until my skin had recovered. I said that I felt that my breasts were too big to wear a non-wired bra and so she agreed I could try underwired.

She then measured me. She measured around my ribs, but clearly didn’t pull the tape measure tight as she declared me a 38” band. 38”! I measure 31 inches around my ribs. Apparently M&S don’t add five, they add seven!

The bra fitter went on to do the cup by eye. She advised me to try a 38DD or E. She then went off to measure the other customer leaving me to get dressed and find my own bras. I asked if she would come and look at the fit when I found one and she agreed.

I found a very pretty bra from the Limited Collection in both sizes and took it to the fitting room. The bra fitter was still there and she advised me to start with the E. I put it on and let’s start with the positive, the cup was not a bad fit. The band was completely hopeless and I could have put a friend in it with me. However, the front view was initially not bad.

The assistant came in and had a good look. She checked along the top of the cups where there was a small bit of gaping and said this was down to the shoulder straps. She paid a lot of attention to these and explained that I should grab each one with the opposite thumb, and that my thumb should move freely under the strap but not be able to pull it away. She adjusted the straps just so and told me that they should sit just inside my shoulder bone as if they did not, the top of the cup would rub.

All of this took a good five minutes and not once did she check the band size. Given that I had told her I needed to be fitted because I had lost weight, and I had gone in wearing a 32, 38 was insane. I asked if the band was ok and she said it was ‘a good fit’. I asked if it mattered what hook it was fastened on (I had put it on the tightest) and she said it should be the middle one, but didn’t really matter. She then waffled about the wires and how they should not be close to your skin (??). I asked where the bulk of the support came from in a bra and she said the wires, and again confirmed that 38E was the size for me.

I also heard her fitting the poor girl who came in after me (about a size 12, and noticeable breasts) in a 36B. Wrong again!

This was really the worst kind of fitting because the bra didn’t look tooooo bad, and if I didn’t know what kind of support you can get from a properly fitting back I would have thought it must be the right size. The fitter talked a lot about technical sounding things to do with the shoulder straps but didn’t do the basics like check the band fit or make sure the wires sat flat (which of course they did not), or even ask if it was comfortable. It was also pretty disappointing to have to dress and fetch my own bras, and to wait a while with no apology. And this adding inches business is nonsense!

Another isolated incident?

Mothercare fitting review

Now, if there is one time in their life when it's especially important for a woman to be wearing a good bra, it's when they are pregnant or breastfeeding, right? Expanding, sore boobs and a back that is already taking the strain for a growing bump mean it's really important to have great support. So, time to check out Mothercare...here's our review:

The shop was quiet and as I looked at the bra display I was approached by a friendly lady and asked if I needed any help. I said that I was interested in a fitting for a maternity bra and she asked now far along I was. I said nine weeks and she said I was likely to grow again, probably around twelve weeks, but she was happy to fit me now and if I had changed size I could come back. I said I had heard that I should not wear wired bras during pregnancy and asked why this was. The assistant explained this was because as I changed size they were likely to dig in and be uncomfortable.

I was asked to go into the changing room and strip down to my bra. I spotted a fitting guide on the wall including ‘add four and five’ guidance and my heart sank! The very helpful assistant measured around my ribcage and declared me a 36 back size. I measure 31 inches so I presume she added five. At least she pulled the tape tight! She then measured over my boobs and declared me a 36C. I was wearing a Panache 32H which was slightly too big in the back but other than that a good fit so 36C was quite a change!

I was brought a ‘support bra’ in a 36C to try. Oh my word, it wasn’t pretty. I could have got both hands under the band and I had boob escaping from top, sides and bottom. Amazingly it wasn’t that uncomfortable thanks to the sheer stretchy uselessness of the bra! The assistant agreed that it was too small in the cup (ya think??) and brought me a 36D. There was hardly any difference and she then advised me to go straight for an E.

Well the 36E was an improvement in that it did cover most of my breasts. The band was very loose of course. I asked the assistant what she thought of the band fit and she put two fingers under it and declared it fine, although she also said she would be happy to bring me a 38 if I was finding it uncomfortable! I said the bra did not feel as supportive as the one I had been wearing and we agreed that it was probably because it wasn’t underwired. In fact the bra made no difference to my boobs at all- I may as well not have been wearing one.

I said that I would take the assistant’s advice and come back after 12 weeks in case I grew again. She said not to worry as they went ‘right up to a 42’ and had all back sizes available ‘even up to G’. I didn’t bother pointing out that I was wearing a H and ‘up to a G’ was not going to cut it.

I must say the assistant who fitted me was absolutely LOVELY and couldn’t do enough for me. She didn’t give me any hard sell and she made me feel comfortable in an intimate situation. She admitted at the start that she hadn’t done a fitting for a while, which didn’t fill me with confidence, but she did her best. She was just using outdated methods and clearly didn’t know what to look for to get a good fit.

Mothercare- not recommended!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Bad bras - a real pain in the neck!

Bad bras - a real pain in the neck!

..and the back, arms, ribs, shoulders and boobs for that matter!

There's no denying that changing from the wrong bra to a bra which fits you perfectly can make you look a whole lot better - perky, uplifted, slimmer, younger...choose your happy boob description. But, when the topic of bad bras comes up many people have a "so what?" attitude. So what if retailers are fitting women in the wrong bra - it's just an item of clothing? A case of vanity - right? 

Well, no, it's not.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the sartorial benefits of a good bra. But it's not the only reason for this campaign. Bad bras hurt - sometimes a lot. Over the last few months I have helped a lot of women find their real bra size, and the problems they report from bad bras are awful. 

Here's one lady's story:
"I had an appointment with a physio for my back pain this week and was told that my badly fitting bras had caused poor posture which had caused my problems. The difference now that the bras fit and are not constantly pulling my shoulders down and forward is life changing! I have parathesia (numbness), neck pain, headaches, back pain. The neck pain was so severe it was causing vertigo and vision issues. The shoulder straps digging in caused me to hunch my shoulders so much that I have given myself a shelf where my neck and back meet. As a consequence I was only moving half my neck which was causing such bad neck and shoulder pain that I have spent most of the past year on strong pain killers. I also had bras that rubbed so much that caused bleeding. All professionally fitted sad

A better fitting bra has taken the weight of my shoulders. It's only been a month, but I can exercise again, my back pain is improving and I'm able to start retraining my posture so that eventually I will hopefully be completely pain free eventually. I'm also not longer desperate to take my bra off as soon as I can, or covered in deep red welts.

It is so so much better... it's not even been a whole month since I got the bras that fit- in fact it's only been a fortnight! I just cannot imagine how I lived with it before." 

Back pain is a huge problem. The British Chiropractic Association found that 47% of women have suffered from back pain which they attributed directly to the weight of their breasts. They go on to explain "Bras are like
suspension bridges, you need a well engineered bra so your shoulders don’t take all of the
strain and end up doing all of the work; spreading the load is important. Bras that don’t fit
will affect the shoulders and chest and may cause back pain as you get older. It is so
important to make sure a bra gives you enough support as possible."
The support from a bra needs to come from the back - and that means a firm, well fitting band which 
does not ride up and can support the weight of your breasts. Take a look at our fitting guide for help 
on getting this right. 
When your bra is too big at the back your shoulders take the strain. You end up tightening the straps 
more and more to get support, which then makes the straps dig in. The straps hurt, and you end up 
hunching your shoulders to try and make it hurt less. Suddenly, you have a bad posture, your shoulders 
hurt and now your back is joining the pain party too.  Your neck may well pop in to say hello as well. 

Of course, it's not just the back pain. Women often say they hate their bras. Digging in, rubbing, 
itching,blisters, even bleeding have been reported...from bras which retailers have fitted. Your bra 
shouldn't be wriggling around and moving. If it does, you end up with sore patches as it rubs against
the skin. Too small a cup size means the wire ends up sitting on soft breast tissue which is very tender. 
So it digs in, and you end up with incredibly sore bits. 

I've also seen ladies with huge deep grooves in their shoulders which stay for hours after their bra 
comes off. 

For some women, bad bras can be a source of headaches - overtightened shoulder straps dig in and 
press on delicate nerves leading to nasty headaches.

This just isn't right.

And don't forget about breastfeeding. A lot of retailers will tell pregnant women to never wear an underwire because it's "dangerous" but in a well fitting bra, it's not. However, when any bra fits poorly - especially when the cup is too small - then that puts pressure on the tender breast tissue, can block ducts and lead to mastitis. If you are pregnant or feeding it's really important to make sure that your bra fits. If you wear wires, it needs to sit outside the breast tissue, and if you are wearing softcups make sure it is big enough and isn't just squashing/compressing you.

We need better bras. We need proper fittings. And we need the 
retailers to get this right

Monday, 4 March 2013

Back fat

An embarrassing topic...it's backfat

We've helped a lot of ladies find their true bra size, but one issue always crops up when we are trying to explain the need for a smaller backsize. Backfat. 

We've all experienced it - you think you look great then catch a glimpse of your rear view in a mirror and, wowser, where did that backfat come from?!? It must mean my bra doesn't fit...it's digging in...I better buy a bigger bandsize right?

WRONG! You probably need a smaller band!!!

How can you possibly need a smaller band when you have fat overspilling or underspilling at the back?!

A good bra doesn't just support your front - it supports your back too. And a well fitting bra will make that evil backfat look smaller, not bigger. Once you have your size right - check out our fitting guide - and have "scooped" like we describe, then your backfat will look better than it did in that bra that was too big in the back. And your front will too!

Retailers are getting this wrong. Marks and Spencer told both of us we couldn't possibly need a smaller back when we had back spill issues. So, here's some rather embarrassing photographic evidence (I'm no skinny minnie!) that bigger back does not equal less backfat!

A 36F - the size Marks and Spencer claim I should wear - that's pretty grim right?
This is a 30HH bra that has stretched quite a bit (so it's fitting like a 32)
A 30 which fits pretty well - I have my hands on my hips hence odd shape at top!

As you can see, the bigger band doesn't make the backfat better - it makes it worse. And that's a bra 3 band sizes bigger than I need, so it's seriously loose. 

So don't be scared to try a bra that doesn't add inches. 



Saturday, 2 March 2013

Marks and Spencer bra fitting review - how not to do it

A Tale of Two Cities - Marks and Spencer Bra Fitting Review

Those of you who have made your way here from the Mumsnet Threads or Twitter will know that the poor fitting service at Marks and Sparks has been a bit of a recurring theme. We decided to "tweet" them about it on Thursday, and received a response suggesting it was an isolated incident. So...mystery shop time. One big boobed girl in Plymouth, one in Edinburgh. Opposite ends of the country, but two very similar  tales.

First up, it's Plymouth:

 I went to Marks at 14:30 and booked an appointment for 16:00. They were obviously very busy and there were at least four sets of teens waiting to be fitted. I went back at 15:55 and was greeted by my fitter (let's call her Janet). I must say that she was extremely nice, very polite and friendly throughout. TBH I felt a little guilty for trying to catch her out as she seemed to be doing her best to help me find a good bra.

Ok, she asked me to remove my top and told me that they measure for the band size and then do the cup by eye. For one fleeting moment I started to think that maybe Janet might come up with the goods. In addition, I was wearing my Cleo Juna in a 30G which is probably the best fitting bra I own. I had thought that by wearing that she'd see what a well-fitting bra looked like on me. Ah, no, it was not to be. She brandished her tape measure and proclaimed me to measure 36. She held the tape measure so loosely I didn't actually feel it! Janet then said she thought I was probably a 36D or DD and after asking me about styles (I said that I'd like something that I could wear for work that wasn't too old fashioned) she returned with a Striped Non-Padded bra in a 36DD.

Dear lord. Where to start? Ok, the back was massive so I did it up on the tightest hooks. I could pull the bra out a long, long way. I had major back fat and underarm bulge and some moderate overspill. What was worse was that the bra didn't actually do anything. My boobs stayed in exactly the same position as they had been in without a bra. Janet came in and checked the fit and said the back should be done up on the middle hook (deduct another point) and then asked me how it felt. I said that the back felt very loose but she said that there was no way I could wear a tighter band and she was actually wondering if I should have a 38. I pointed out that the centre gore wasn't lying flat (it was at least 1.5" away from my body) but she pressed it and said that it was lying flat and was a perfect fit.
I said I'd like to try some different styles and Janet then brought me a black plunge style in a sort of soft feel fabric (I can't find it on-line unfortunately) in a 36DD. Oh dear god. Now, me and plunges, we just don't get on so I knew this would be a disaster. I had about 6 boobs, the centre gore was nowhere near my body and the band was up around my shoulders. To give Janet her due she immediately said that perhaps a plunge style wasn't a good choice for me.

Next up was the Rosie for Autograph French Designed Rose Lace Padded DD-G Bra)in a 36DD. Well, I don't quite know where to start. All the same issues as with the first bra plus gaping at the top of the cup. Again, Janet insisted that back was too tight even when I said (again) that it felt very loose and that I felt a bit droopy. There was absolutely no uplift and I feel the band starting to move and rub.

Finally, I tried the Rosie for Autograph Damask Rose Print Padded Plunge A-DD Bra with Silk  in a 36D (Janet's suggestion as the other Rosie bra had been too big in the cup in the DD.) Again, all the same issues, plus this time the wires at the front were sitting about three inches below my boobs. She proclaimed it a great fit.
I'd had enough by this time so said that I'd stick with the first and last bras. Janet very kindly showed me where the matching pants were.

So, the verdict. Sadly, despite a great manner and an obvious desire to help, Janet didn't seem to know anything about what a good fitting bra should look like or feel like. Interestingly she kept checking the fit from the side and the back as well as the front to see how the wires and the back lay. I don't know how she didn't notice that the wires didn't go far enough back or that the bands were too high. When she looked at me side on she didn't seem to notice the overspill in the cups either. I think the Marks and Spencer fitters are assuming people's bands are too tight because they have back fat. I certainly had loads of it in all these bras and I'm sure that's why she insisted they weren't too loose) but have none at all in my 30G/GGs. Until the fitters understand this issue, there is no hope!
I am not only depressed but actually feel quite sad and angry for all those poor women who were badly fitted today at this and other branches.

Next up, Edinburgh

I measured myself before I went out today - I measure 30.5" underneath, and 42" over in the bra I was wearing. A 30HH.

I nipped in to my local Marks and Spencer (Edinburgh Princes Street, a very large store) and requested a fitting. I was advised the next available time was in an hour, which was fine, I had a wander around while I waited then took a seat in the fitting rooms.

Whilst I was waiting I saw the bra fitter and I'm afraid I knew it was going to be grim. She was an extremely well-endowed lady, and her own bra was awful. This did not bode well for her bra knowledge. I also heard her fit another woman who I would estimate was around a 32 back, in a 38. Uh oh....
Anyway...my  turn!

She took me in to a cubicle which had a curtained off section and asked me to strip off the top half down to my bra. I went in wearing a lovely new Ewa Michalak bra which fits like a glove, so she should have been able to see what a good bra looked like. Out came the measuring tape, she measured underbust and I was duly informed that I was "measuring at a 36" and that I was "probably an F or G cup". Now, knowing the M and S sizing system as I do I had picked one of these up, so we tried it on. I decided to play fair, so I put it on and let it ride right up at the back. It was AWFUL - I would say the back was at close to a 45 degree angle from where it belonged, and that's before i actually moved around. I tried to snap a pic and have drawn over the faint mark from where my own bra sat:

Sorry for poor quality but you get the drift...the back's way up
The bra did cover my breast, but it just sat there, absolutely no lift at all. My breasts were no higher than they were naked. I could pull the centre of this bra out at least 6 inches from my body.

There is no way you should be able to do this on a bra that fits

The fitter looked at it, said the cup looked great but the back was "maybe a little loose" and she would try me in a 34G because "if she went down a back she would have to go up a cup" and trotted out to get a 34G.

This was even worse. The back fat, oh dear lord the backfat. I have NO backfat in a bra that fits. She looked at it again, said the cup was "a tad gapey but ok", tightened the straps right up and said that the back was "much better"...then asked what I thought.

I decided to give her one more chance, and said that I thought the back was much too loose. This was when Plymouth's thoughts were confirmed as she indicated the massive backfat and said this was "overspill" and I couldn't possibly go down a band size. She also said I should be wearing it on the middle hook...

At this point, I thanked her, got dressed and left. Sadly she was with another customer as I would have loved to ask her what she thought of my properly fitting bra and explain. Alas, not this time. 

I was really really disappointed in this fitting. Woman around the UK trust this company to fit their bras, and they are getting it so very wrong. This isn't one size out - this is dramatically wrong. The bra I was in would have caused me pain as the shoulder straps dug in. A high street institution like Marks and Spencer should be one we can put our faith in, and given their response to our initial tweets I wanted to be wrong.

I wasn't.

We told M&S about how wrong they are getting it - have a look at @bra_guru on twitter and some posts on their facebook. They continue to insist that our bad fittings are "isolated incidents" even though thousands of women are reporting the same story, there online size chart ADDS INCHES, their youtube video on how to fit a bra ADDS INCHES and all their fitter ADD INCHES. And they are coming out worst in our poll, too.

Bravissimo are doing it right, but a lot of ladies are scared to go there because they think their boobs aren't big enough and fear being "laughed out of the shop". They are also still a relatively small chain. There is a real gap in the market for a major retailer who can sell and fit bras across the whole size range to start doing this right. So, come on M&S...we'll help you!

Bra Advertising

Bra Advertising...The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Many of the ladies I have helped haven't realised their bras are "bad". Apart from seriously bad fitting advice, a big part of this is bad advertising of bras. How are we supposed to know what a good bra looks like, when retailers stick pictures all over the web of bras which fit ATROCIOUSLY?!

First up...the GOOD!

There are a few retailers who are getting it spot on, and consistently showing images of bras which fit beautifully. Unsurprisingly, Bravissimo is right at the forefront of this...here are a few of their images showing happy boobs in good bras:
The lovely Gingham Posie...fits snuggly, totally encases breast. No Overspill, No escaping armpits......

The Paradiso Plume - big bras don't have to be boring!

The stunning Satine...you can have cleavage without wearing a bra that is too small!

There are other retailers getting this right...Leia and Brastop for example. Sadly...there are more getting it very wrong...

Look at the arch on this...the back should sit horizontally! This is a Freya active which starts at a 28, so there is no excuse for it being this bad

Look at how the centre of the bra is lifting away from the chest. This is a sign that the cup is too small (I suspect a side view of this would reveal major quad boob!)

This is much too small in the cup...see the soft tissue above the left hand side of the bra...That's breast, it goes in the bra!

This bra is lifting right off her chest in the centre...it's probably too small in the cup and too big in the back
Another dodgy central gore...it should sit flat against the chest

These images of the Curvy Kate Smoothie really don't show it at its best. The cups are gaping at the outside edged, it's giving no lift and is probably far too big in the back - it's also fastened on the tightest hook.
This picture of the Curvy Kate Tease me doesn't show it well - it's a great plunge which gives awesome cleavage, when it fits. It's much too big in the cup for this model - look at the gap you can see at the edge of the left cup

A new addition - this one's so bad that even the bra is frowning!

Is this a bra...cos it isn't holding anything up!!

If I cross my arms, maybe nobody will notice this doesn't lift my boobs at all?

Yup, this central gore is definitely sitting flat between the boobs....erm....

Come on - the wires is clearly sitting on her right boob. GIVE HER A BIGGER CUP!

These are only a very small selection of the bra crimes out there. M&S frequently show bras where the back is far too big (look at the images of their "Rosie" range, which starts at a 32. No chance is Miss Huntington-Whiteley actually a 32 back. Boux Avenue show some images on their website which look great from the front, but show backs which are too big and fastened on the tightest hook. They helpfully advise which size their models are wearing, but unfortunately they are wrong!

Who is else getting it wrong - and who is showing how a bra should look?

Friday, 1 March 2013

Bra fitting

Bra Fitting
Let’s talk boobs

Most of us need to wear a bra, at least sometimes. But lots of women I speak to complain about how much they hate bras - they don’t find them comfortable at all. Many seek out the advice of a “professional bra fitter” in the hope of finding a better fit. Sadly this often doesn’t help.
There are a few shops out there who are doing it right - Bravissimo, Rigby and Peller, Leia etc. But there are a lot more who are doing it wrong. Marks and Spencer, BHS, AnnSummers, La Senza and many others are on the bad fitters list. If you have had a fitting from any of them, or followed almost any online size chart, then chances are you are in the wrong bra. If you recognise any of the symptoms below then you probably need a new bra. 


  • Your bra rides up at the back - it should sit horizontally
  • You have to tighten the straps a lot to keep the bra up

  • Your bra straps fall down (off the shoulder)
  • Your shoulder straps dig in and leave nasty red marks or grooves
  • You sometimes bulge over your bra (the 4-boob look)
  • If you lift your arms, your bra moves up (sometimes letting you slip out from underneath)
  • You have “armpit fat” - there is bulging over the sides of your bra cups.
  • The middle of your bra (the “central gore”) does not sit flat against your chest - it should sit flat in between your boobs
  • The wires dig and cut in - anywhere
  • You suffer from back  or neck pain
  • Your bra slips down, leaving empty space at the bottom of the cup
  • You are a size 8 and wearing a 34 band…it’s possible, but it’s unlikely!

These are all signs of an unhappy bra. 

The reason for this is an old fitting method where they take your back measurement and add 4-5 inches to get the back size. This results in an unsupportive and often painful bra, normally much too big in the back and too small in the cup. 


Firstly, you can’t get your exact size from a measuring tape. You can get a pretty good guide (particularly when it comes to the back size) but you need to know what to look for to get it perfect. First off - getting your “starting size”; you can measure wearing a bra, but only if the bra already fits well. So I am going to tell you how to do it braless.

1.     Measure underneath your bust, firmly, in inches. The tape measure should be pretty tight. Do this one standing up

2.     Bend over so your boobs are hanging down at 90 degrees and measure round the widest part - like this picture but make sure you are on the fullest part.

The underbust measurement is the band size*. If you are an odd number you will want to try the size either side to be sure, but as a rule of thumb most people fit better if they round down. So, if you measure 31”, you could try a 30 and a 32 back, but chances are the 30 will be better. 

*there are a couple of exceptions to this rule. If you are very very slender and have no “padding” around your ribs then you may find it necessary to try one back size higher. Conversely, if you are “squidgy of torso” then you may need a smaller back size than you actually measure as the bra needs a relatively firm surface to sit on. So if this is you don’t be scared to try 1-2 back sizes smaller than you measure. 

To test if the band fits:
Put the bra on back to front so the cups are at the back. When new this should be on the loosest hook as bras stretch with age. The band should feel snug, and you should be able to fit a couple of fingers under it, but that’s about all. If you can’t breathe try a size up,  but most of the support comes from the band so we are aiming for firm. The reason for  trying it back to front, is that even if the back is correct, if the cup is far too small it can trick you in to thinking the band is too small - the cups try  to steal the fabric!

Now, working out the cup size:
Most UK manufacturers Bra-lphabet goes A,B,C,D,DD,E,F,FF,G,GG,H,HH,J,JJ,K,KK,L…..there is also the AA, which is smaller than an A. For each inch difference between your band size and your overbust measurement, you get a cup (starting at A) - so somebody measuring 30” underneath and 40” over would start at a 30GG. I would normally suggest trying AT LEAST 1 cup size either side of this to be sure. Now, if you have always been fitted the “old way” you will probably be in shock right now, as you’ve probably gone down 2-3 back sizes, and up several 

Once you have the band right, time to test the cups. Here is what to do:
Lean forward, drop your breasts in to the cups and do the bra up at the back. Now, take your right hand, put it round inside the left cup, all the way round under your armpit, and scoop all the soft tissue and flesh in to the cup. You might not know it, but all that soft tissue under your armpit is breast, and it needs to be in the cup. Now, repeat on the other side. The wire should totally encase your soft breast tissue, and you should have no overspill or wrinkling in the cups. The central gore should sit flat in between your boobs. 

I am going to put up another post later showing good and bad bra fits.