As many of you know, I work individually with women who are sick to death of feeling confused and overwhelmed by the tricky task of bra shopping. For each woman seeking help, my main goals are:
- Get her questions answered.
- Take the pressure off by offering reassurance, respect and encouragement.
- Provide her with at least one bra that fits well, is comfortable enough to wear regularly, and makes her feel beautiful.
By the time I connect with my clients, many have already spent quite a bit of time and effort searching for the right bra. These are smart, savvy women who have done enough research that they end up teaching me new things about bras and lingerie, even as they reach out for my assistance. I am gradually building a substantial knowledge base that continues to grow every time I take on a new client.
That’s why I don’t consider myself a bra expert. I think I’m more of an enthusiast. It feels wonderful to me when I am able to help other size AA/A/B women like myself discover lingerie that truly fits and flatters the small-breasted figure, whether petite or average. Once you feel comfortable in your own skin and start to really see how beautiful you are in your skivvies, I feel like I’ve done my job right.
The Oprah Phenomenon
Thanks to Oprah, it is now widely understood that a professional bra fitting is usually required in order to get the correct size. I certainly appreciate Oprah’s efforts to educate America about bras, and I share her belief in the value of expert assistance. However, the fitting process doesn’t always work the way it is supposed to.
What follows is an example, used with the client’s permission, of how and why professional bra fittings can fail.
Prior to contacting me, Kendra F. was fitted at a well-known lingerie catalog store. They measured her at a 34A, but the bra clearly didn’t fit. Her breasts were spilling over the cups, and the 34 band was too loose in back.
Next she tried a 34B. This was not much better; she felt as if the band was floating on her, and the cups were too large.
Why didn’t the salespeople have her try on a 32B? One possible reason is that this company’s bra fitting method uses the overbust measurement to determine band size. Kendra is fuller and wider across the chest than the typical A/B cup figure, but she is slender with a narrow back.
Based on her proportions, I decided to use Kendra’s underbust measurement to calculate her band size. The result was a more accurate estimate of 30-32.
Cup sizing was a bit more of a challenge. Kendra told me she thought her bust was larger than an A cup, but not quite a full B. She knows her body very well, and everything she said turned out to be correct — so for me, it was just a matter of selecting the brands and styles that would fit her best.
We experimented a bit, and ultimately she said that she would probably need more coverage than what you get from the typical demi or plunge bra. She was quite right about this.
Take one: fail.
The first two bras I sent her to try on were plunge contour styles. I’ve had lots of success with these on my smaller AA/A clients, but neither was a good fit on Kendra. She had similar problems with both: the wires did not extend far enough at the sides to contain her breasts completely, and the cups were too small (one was a Natori 32A; the other was a very petite 32B from The Little Bra Company).
Take two: success!
This time I sent Kendra one 32B Calvin Klein full-coverage underwire bra that has been popular with several other clients, and one wire-free “Just a Kiss” bra in size 32A by French brand Huit.
Like many French bras, the Huit runs large in the cup. This is a supremely attractive, comfortable and streamlined everyday bra. I’d wear it myself, except the 32A comes nowhere close to fitting my itty bitties. It has no contour layer, but it does feature subtle side boning and structured cups for support and shaping.
Kendra and I are still working together, and to my delight she has fallen in love with the Wacoal B-Smooth bralette. I appreciate her gracious response to my request for permission to feature her story here. She not only gave the okay for me to use her real first name, but also said she would be open to answering questions from readers.
I’d say that’s pretty freaking nice of her. Kendra, thanks so much. I hope we keep in touch even after all of your lingerie needs have been met.
And now, let the discussion begin!
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