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Old 01-19-2008, 04:32 PM   #1
Beauty, Brawn and Brains!
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Default Bra Shopping (or the Mysterious Bra Math)

I thought I would share my bra shopping story with you since I am sure you can relate.

I wore my first bra when I was in third grade. I never had a "training bra" I jumped right into cup sizes. I think my first bra was a B cup. Most of my life I've had problems finding a bra that fits. I know I am not the only one. I know there's a million women out there with the same problem. Bra sizes are complicated and since my mother was an A cup, I didn't have a lot of formal education in bra fitting. However, I thought I was pretty good at finding a bra that fit well.

Bra sizing is a complex mathematical formula but most women just go in and try on bras until one fits. I usually buy my bras at Lane Bryant because they're consistent and they don't cost an arm and a leg. However, since my recent weight loss, I thought it was time for a new bra and a friend of mine brought up this place called, The Enchantress in San Diego. Basically, it's a dedicated bra shop.

The shop was chocked full of bras and a woman named Christine asked me if she could help me.

"Um. I'm looking for a bra."

"Okay. What size are you wearing now?"

I hesitated a second because I know my bra isn't a great fit, "It's a 46DDD. But it's a little too big."

She asks if she can feel the back of the band under my shirt. No problem. She makes a determination, "You've been buying bras too big because you can't find a cup size that fits. You're a 38."

"No, not possible."

"Yes. 38. Let me show you."

She whips out a bra, "Put this on over your shirt."

I do. The band fits fine.

"That's a 38. Let me grab a few cup sizes."

We try on bra after bra. She refuses to tell me the cup size, just makes me try them on. She teaches me a few things about fit (like the little flower in the middle should lie against your chest) and tells me about the shop. They don't work on commission. They won't put you in a bra that doesn't fit. They won't let you buy a bra that you haven't tried on. She's adamant that I should try on every bra for the rest of my life because every color, style and designer will be different.

Finally we settle on a bra that fits great but is a bit too girly. That's okay.

And it's not cheap. I pay a whopping $68 for my bra. But the difference is amazing.

So what's the vedict? I went from a 46DDD to a 38HH (or L in US sizes). That's just insane.

It makes me wonder, who else is wearing a bra they shouldn't be?
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Old 01-19-2008, 04:38 PM   #2
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I was! My best friend took me to her bra store to be resized a couple of years ago. I wasn't even close! They did the same thing, had me try on bras until we found the right size. Personally, I had no idea that your underwires should be under your armpits - but that's where the breast tissue starts. I ended up going from about a 40C to a 38DD. It's a little depressing to find out your real bra size, but SO comfortable once you're in the right size. I don't understand how I tolerated all those ill-fitting bras.

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Old 01-19-2008, 04:42 PM   #3
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Hah I just try bras on until I get one that fits properly. I make sure the middle bit sits correctly and the lower band goes around my ribcage as it were. Just today I went bra shopping (again argh!) and am now sitting nicely in a 34f Was a 40g so getting there slowly.

Have tried being fitted professionally but quite frankly they're all godawful at doing it around here!

"It's more stressful to continue being fat than to stop overeating."

No longer obese just overweight ... next stop - 68kg for 'healthy weight range'
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Old 01-19-2008, 04:57 PM   #4
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I used the bra math used by several companies, including VS.

Step One: Band Size

Using a soft tape-measure, measure around the ribcage directly under the bust. The tape should rest on the lower band of your bra. Be sure the tape is snug, smooth across the back and level with the front.

Add 5 to this measurement to obtain your band size.

For example, if your ribcage measurement is 29" + (5) = 34" band size. If the resulting band size is an odd number like 33", you can usually go to the next even band size (34"), but you may also want to try the next lower band size (32").

Step Two: Cup Size

Measure completely around the bust at the fullest point, holding the tape measure straight but not tight. The difference between this measurement and your BAND size is your cup size. Each inch of difference is equal to one cup size. For example, if your band size is 34" and your bust measurement is 35", you wear an "A" cup.
if the difference is:
less than 1 inch = AA cup
1 inch = A cup
2 inches = B cup
3 inches = C cup
4 inches = D cup
5 inches = DD cup
I am wearing 38B comfortably as I type this. Maybe a bit high/tight in the back shoulder blade.

However, using the math above:
Under my chest/ribcage: 36" (means I need a 41" band)
Chest: 41" (41" band and 41" chest = 0 difference in inches)

Correct Bra Size should be: 41AA

Try finding one of THOSE! And imagine the horror I had being a B all my life, to see I am a AA.
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Old 01-19-2008, 04:58 PM   #5
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OH, I would so pay top dollar for a bra that fit right. I know I am in the wrong bra size. I actually have a problem buying myself stuff...yes even a bra. Sadly and ashamed to say I have had most of my bras for 7 or eight years. I have one that I bought 2 years ago. My DH got me two for Christmas because he was tired of seeing the dingy, over sized bras. I want to purchase a few good ones when I make a significant weight loss. I just started but funny enough that is the first thing that is going away. I am okay with it because they are just so heavy.

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Old 01-19-2008, 06:20 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Leia View Post
I used the bra math used by several companies, including VS.

I am wearing 38B comfortably as I type this. Maybe a bit high/tight in the back shoulder blade.

However, using the math above:
Under my chest/ribcage: 36" (means I need a 41" band)
Chest: 41" (41" band and 41" chest = 0 difference in inches)

Correct Bra Size should be: 41AA

Try finding one of THOSE! And imagine the horror I had being a B all my life, to see I am a AA.
My ribcage is 36", I added 5 to that and got 42" rounded up. The fullest part of my bust was 41", so a negative number. How does that work out?

Right now I'm in a 38D, and having no pain or issues with my bra at all. I was fitted at a La Senza Store in the UK for it. Most stores wont even bother with bands above 40" here, and cup sizes less than a D are way too restricting for me, and actually push my breasts down instead of lifting them up.

I think that method is untrustworthy to say the least.

I just bought my new bras in over 4 years the other week. I am so glad I have them now. My back feels so much better with the support I've gotten. I was also given a tip that women should buy new bras every 6 months. Due to washing and wearing, the bras get stretched out and your size could also fluctuate with every 5lbs gained/lost as well!

I like to go in for a regular fitting session, just to keep track of my size.
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Old 01-19-2008, 07:16 PM   #7
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I tried on a Playtex 18 hour for fun - it had no underwire so i thought the gals would be around my knees, but i wanted something comfy for around the house...lo and behold the gals were up HIGHER than before, and the yummy cushy straps mean no pain alllll day! yay!!!

I love that TLC show "What Not to Wear" when they finally get the right bra - it changes the shape of clothes, how you stand, everything!

all hail the good fitting bra! eheheheh

Started: 323
Now: 171 - nope, 165 now!
NOPE -- 162 now! Holy crap i've lost a PERSON!
Goal: 160

"People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily." - Zig Ziglar
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Old 01-19-2008, 08:01 PM   #8
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Trinny And Susannah

The link above has an image of where to measure on ones body for the method where you measure and add inches. You have to measure at the bottom of your ribcage, really. I went a vertebrae or two up because my tummy is slightly larger than the rest of my torso. I came out at 34", so add 4" and that's a 38" band. Then around the bust I measured 41", so 3 cup sizes up from A, that's a D.

All of that work to find out I'd been in the correct size anyways :P
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Old 01-19-2008, 09:18 PM   #9
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I used to sell bra's and never told people the band size or the cup size - people don't really like certain numbers or letters for that matter! I got "fitted" for a bra once, and bought it, well the next morning I put it on, was doing my hair and lifted my arms to blow dry, and out pops my boobs from underneath! Thank goodness I didn't leave the house!

I also agree about trying every single bra on! I have a white bra thats a 38DDD and a Black one in the same style in a 38D. Big difference!


November Goal: 2.5 down / 2.5 to go!
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Old 01-20-2008, 12:31 PM   #10
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A good-fitting bra does make an amazing difference in the way you look and also the way you feel. I go to Nordstroms every six months to get fitted because I find that weight lifting is changing things for me even if I don't lose weight. A fitter will also tell you how to put on the bra correctly, which is a little weird and something I hesitate to do in the locker room. I also paid $68 for a new bra, but it was well worth the money, IMHO.

The grand essentials of happiness are something to do, something to love and something to hope for - A. K. Chalmers.
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Old 01-20-2008, 04:24 PM   #11
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Do I ever feel your pain, Jessica! I don't even know what size I am, and I've yet to find someone to fit me that leads me to buy uncomfortable, expensive bras. That's great you found someone to help you find a good one, even if it was more than you'd want to spend. In my opinion, it's a totally worthwhile investment.

I range from a DDD to sometimes an F. Even more fun is buying sports bras. When I was smaller (just in general, not in boobage) I would wear a really supportive regular bra, and a sports bra over it.. but that doesn't work anymore.
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Old 01-20-2008, 04:58 PM   #12
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OK, I've just gotta laugh... to find my cup size I have to "measure completely around the bust at the fullest point." And just where the heck would that be? I'll be 53 in a few weeks and I've been fat nearly all my adult life. So over the years, things have move south considerably. I think "the fullest point" would be somewhere near my hips, and I'm pretty sure they don't want me measuring there. There's gotta be a better way to determine cup size for those of us who are walking around with Inspector Gadget's "ExtenderBoobs."

All of that being said, I do think it's a great idea to have my bra professionally fitted, even if it does cost a bit more. After all, I'm willing to pay a bit more for comfortable shoes, right? I have been noticing that each day I can't wait to whip my bra off - and that's probably a sign of poor fit. I'll look into finding a "foundation shop" in my rural little corner of VT. It'll be a challenge, but there's gotta be such a store around here somewhere. Thanks for the suggestion.
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Old 01-20-2008, 06:03 PM   #13
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I don't care how professional they are, I'm not comfortable displaying the girls in front of any stranger that doesn't have an MD or an RN after their name. The formulas never seem to work for me so I just spent half a day in Macy's just trying on a million bras till I found The One.

The weight loss has dropped me from a tight 42 to a comfortable 36.

If you ever get a chance to try a Wacoal bra, go for it. All of a sudden I felt like I knew what a bra was supposed to feel like.

Current Weight: 144 lbs.
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Old 01-31-2008, 02:55 AM   #14
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i found this post just after i posted a thread on how i went bra shopping at target and it as a disaster! then my totaly awsome partner ordered me some online...the funny part was that the weight loss i just had (10lbs) appears to have taken place in my boobs lol! oh well, next time we will get a smaller cup. im just thankful i can get rid of some of the old dingy bras i have been dragging around for fear of never finding another that fits around my rib cage!

Having a bad day on a diet and giving up is liking saying "I tripped on a stair, I might as well just throw myself down the rest of them".
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Old 01-31-2008, 07:30 AM   #15
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Oh god "SHOPPING FOR A BRA" pain. I'm about coming up on this time, probably past time really :-/ ... and I'm just dreading it. Although it sounds like your experience was amazing, Jessica. *jealous* >_< Maybe it'd be worth it to find someone who is actually interested in helping me find the best fitting bra.

Why can woman-things be easy??? Pants, bras... pretty soon I'm going to need a tailoring degree just to find socks.

*deep breath* Okay I'm better now
~Made of star stuff~
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