The Basics of Fit: Bras

I am passionate about well fit clothing. As a curvy lady, that means I must also be knowledgeable of the important role undergarments play in being well dressed. When I was growing up my Mother worked at in the lingerie section of NORDSTROM, fitting women for their perfect bra-mate.

Even with the unforgettable image of my 5 year old sister wearing my Mother’s work shirt that read, “9 out of 10 Women Wear the Wrong Size Bra” I still walked around in a hot pink Victoria’s Secret 34 C cup for two years. When it finally wore out I decided to return to the department store where my mother had worked and see if I needed a new size.

I was a 19 year old ex-ballet dancer, and my breasts had developed suddenly during my freshman year of college. I had known that my only bra was not an ideal fit, but I wasn’t prepared for what happened in that dressing room stall. The attendant rolled up her measuring tape and kindly informed me that I was a 30DDD. Since this is such a rare size, they only had one option for me to purchase at that time. It was an $80 Chantelle in light pink with monstrously huge cups and far-reaching underwires.

I was mortified. How could I have a mother who knew so much about these things and still be so ill-informed myself? I rode the bus home, totally broke from the purchase of a freakish and expensive bra, and cried.

Five years later I still have that first Chantelle bra. I actually grew to love it for its fit and versatility (though I still enjoy breaking free from its grip the moment I return home from work). I now have a decent collection of lovely bras, all of which make me feel special and comfortable in my shape.

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  • Green nylon Champion Sports Bra purchased at Target. Worn for light exercise or under baggy shirts during “that time of the month.” It really doesn’t fit me that well, but it was a bargain at $14!
  • White cotton no-name dance bra purchased at The Leotard. Worn for intensive exercise or dance. The cup is made up of two sections sewn with a vertical seam, and the gather in the middle creates a perfect fit. The criss-cross straps are pretty as well as functional, providing maximum support.
  • White lace Wacoal size 32D. This bra does not have underwire and so provides less lift, but the seaming and triple-clasp in back allow for a comfortable fit. Worn under T-Shirts and clothing will less structure.
  • Nude DKNY size 32DD. Racer-back style with front-clasp closure and underwire. Worn with racer-back tops.
  • Pink Chantelle size 30DDD. Underwire with double-clasp back closure. Worn with structured dresses for maximum “hourglass” shape.
  • Black lace Wacoal size 32DDD. Underwire with triple-back closure. Worn under form-fitting tops and dresses to show off my true-size with extra lift and support.
  • Black lace Felina size 32D. Underwire with double-back closure. Date-night bra!
I am being honest about my bra collection here, and I will admit that these bras are not my ideal fit. The 30DDD Chantelle was great when I was 19, but I recently lost some weight and it is now too big.

I was just resized as a 28DDD (F). Ack! And you thought your size was hard to accomodate? Girlfriend, if I can be at peace with my 28F self than you can be too 😉 My style options are practically zero, though I was lucky to find that Chantelle’s new C Chic bra runs small in the waistband and I can pull off a 30DD (E).

3 Important Bra Facts:

– A bra should always fit you on the largest closure. The reason there are 3 different sets of clasps is so you can gradually fit the bra tighter as the fabric stretches out over time. You never want to buy a bra that only fits on the smallest closure, as it will not fit you after a month of wash and wear.

– You should never wear the same bra two days in a row. You should have at least 3 bras that fit to keep a decent rotation, and five is ideal. This is because the elastic in the waistband needs a chance to shrink back down, or it will become very stretched out very quickly.

– When you go up in a band size, you need to go down in the cup size and vice versa. Example: If you’re fit as a 34DD but find a style of bra that runs tight in the waistband, try it on in a 32DDD (F).

Do not be discouraged if you can’t find anything you like at your lingerie shop! As I said, my a collection that took me five years to build and it is still for perfect. I only go to the lingerie section when I am prepared to hunt down at least ten options, to try them all on and consider the comfort aspect, to put a shirt on over top to analyze the cup shape, and to finally end up with maybe one that is worth buying.

Also, do not be afraid to ask for help! I like to get re-measured every so often just to ensure that I’m making the right purchases. If you’ve been buying the same size for over three years, chances are it’s no longer the best fit for you. It can be a hard truth to deal with, as it was for me at first. But when you end up with the best possible foundation you’ll inevitably feel better about your body and your clothes!

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