I know, it sounds shocking. Surely the trusted fitters in the stores with the majority market-share should be dishing out accurate information - To make sure their customers have the best-fitting bras around?
To put this to the test, the Curvy Kate team headed to one large US high street retailer to get a bra fitting. I (Chantelle, Curvy Kate's Bra Whisperer) usually wears a 30HH so thought it would be a good test. The results were...well? You might want to keep scrolling.
First up the retailer in question grabbed a tape measure to determine my size. Before I knew it the tape was around me on top of my clothes and my lined Smoothie Soul Bra - If I wasn't already confused by that, the fact the fitter measured my 'band measurement' by wrapping the tape around my back and round the front, over the top of my boobs confused me even more!!
Apparently my new band measurement was... 36" 😖
Next up we had to determine my cup size. The fitter did this by measuring around the fullest part of my breasts (again over my clothes and bra) and counted the difference between my 'band' measurement and my bust measurement.
New Bra size: 36DD.
So how did this size look on me?
In the image above, the bra may appear to fit me however the back band was so large that the wires weren't sitting flat against my body and the cups were not properly encasing my boobs. Equalling zero support for me and the girls.
As you can see here, the breast tissue under my arm was not being supported by or encased in the cup and the front shows breast tissue that could easily escape and cause the dreaded 'quad-boob'.
The back band is the biggest giveaway that this bra doesn't fit me. It is riding up due to the fact that it is too large. This happens when the weight of the breasts pull on the straps lifting the back up. Just look at the pink line which illustrates where a correctly fitting bra should sit.
So why did the store get it so wrong?
They measured me while I still wore my clothing and bra.
They measure above my breasts to get my back size.
They measured around my bust to determine my cup size.
They gave me a bra that was 7 cup sizes too small and 3 back sizes too big.
They told me to wear my bra on the middle hook.
They gave me a wide selection of bras to try without giving advice on what would work best for my breast type.
They didn't show me the right way to put on the bra with the all important Scoop and Swoop.
How bra fittings should be carried out:
Bra fittings should be carried out either without a bra or with a thin, unlined bra on.
Curvy Kate don't use measuring tapes but if you do want to measure your back band this is done by measuring around the rib-cage, in a horizontal line, where your bra back band should sit. Whatever you measure is your band size. If you measure an odd number such as 31" then you can try a 30 or a 32 back and see which is most comfortable. Remember all bras have stretch in the back band!
Measuring cup sizes is highly inaccurate as every woman's breasts are different. Some are firmer, some are softer, some are more projected, one is often bigger than the other and some sit lower down. All of these factors, plus many more, can change how breasts fill cups and therefore one method shouldn't be used for all. We recommend finding your back size and then using trial and error to find the correct cup size.
The bra in the images and video below clearly did not fit. The fitter should have known that having a back band so large means minimal support for the bust and added pressure on your shoulders.
All bras should be worn on the loosest hook when first purchased. Your bra should be snug so it stretches with wash and wear but you can continue to tighten it. It gives your bra a longer life span!
The fitter gave me 6 different styles to try - none of which were explained to me. As the 'experts' this retailer should be helping the individual to find what works best for their specific needs.
Lastly your bra fitter should show you how to properly adjust your bust in the bra using the Scoop and Swoop technique to ensure a perfect fit.
Overall Bra fitting is a very personal, intimate and individual thing. All women and their breasts are different so bra fitting should be about what works for their unique shape, it's not about fitting everyone in the same definitive way with a very 'One Size Fits Several' approach. It seems this retailer isn't seeing beyond the biggest size they carry - a 40DDD (UK size 40E/F).
At Curvy Kate we believe that Bra fit education is the answer to lowering the number of women settling for the wrong bra - knowing the facts for yourself! We want you to know what a correctly fitting bra looks like and feels like on your bust so that when you go for fittings you're able to know where they might be going wrong.
For more advice on how a properly fitting bra looks and on finding the perfect fit for yourself, follow our step by step guide video below or head to our Curvy Kate Fitting Room for more tips and tricks.
We also know there are some amazing bra fitters out there who work tirelessly with each customer they see, from small independents to stores such a Bravissimo. Hopefully with the tips above you'll go for your next bra fitting feeling more confident and understanding more about the correct fit. For a full list of Curvy Kate stockists visit this page.
If you've had an interesting bra experience we'd love to hear - tweet us @curvykate.