Saturday, 8 September 2012

Bra fitting on a fat body

Recently, I have become aware that bra fitting is not just that – it can be very different from body to body. Eliza at bratabase recently made a post about “Bra fittingfor the overweight or pendulous”, and we have both talked of bra fitting for the overweight on several occasions at bratabase, as have others (if you are not on bratabase yet, sign up! :D It’s a great resource!) 

I also noticed that Georgina also addressed some fit issues that will be different from body to body: One is straps digging in, as she says: “the straps should take 20% of your breast weight and 20% of my breast weight is a hell of a lot!” And also, squishy shoulders will be squished, even if it was a light weight that they carried.  She also addresses back-fat, which is quite relevant – even for someone as smooth as her. I am not that smooth, so now I will address back fat and bands from my point of view: 

So, I want to talk about something that has been a problem for me a lot here in my bra journey. Band. A lot of bra fitting just doesn’t seem to work for me. For example, the difference between a tight, snug or loose measurement is not so clear defined. Part of the reason for that may be that for a lot of women, it doesn’t actually make that much of a difference. If they land on an uneven number, they can just round up or down depending on if the measurement was loose or tight. But for me, and many bigger ladies, I am sure, the difference is between 28.5” and 35.5”. That could mean 5 different band sizes! So what to do? I usually put down 33.5” as my measurement, because that is what I get if I measure just about as tight sock or panties, which is probably a good reference. And it can’t be said enough, bras should be determined of fit, not just the numbers. So on we go to look at how a band is supposed to fit:

 Here the problem starts: My back will never look like that. A band will never fit like that on me. Bra advice tells us “the band should lie flat on your back”, but what if my back is just no flat? It is difficult to see on a soft back, how a band doing any work could possibly not dig in. 

^These are lableld as too tight bands, because they dig in, and create those bulges. But again, a lot of plus size women will always have bulges, it’s not the bras fault, and a looser band certainly wont make it any better. When ever I naively walk up to a fitter, they often tell me that I need a much larger band, because “oh, isn’t it painful when it is digging in that much?” and they’ll say that even if I am wearing loose, loose bands. What they don’t seem to realize is, that those bulges aren’t bra-bulges, they are the natrual shape of a body with rolls. But I bet there aren’t many of those in bra-school.

Another very important thing about how a band looks on a larger women, is also the fact that a lot of weight is put on the band: On a slim woman, a too loose band with a lot of weight on, would probably fall down, if not held up by the straps. On a woman with a belly, or a stubborn underbust roll like me, the bra cannot fall down, and instead “rests” on the top of the belly, and will then look like it is strained on the body, because there is put so much preasure on it from the weight, rather than by the tightness.

And now I’ll show you why I always look like my band is digging in. I have to say, I didn’t think I would volentarily have pictures of my rolls anywhere, but hey, in the name of bra education (of which I care very much), here we go.  First up is how I look without a bra: You can clearly see what I mean about “bra bulges” with no bra! And also forementioned underbust roll. Next up is how 36, 34 and 32 bands look on me, both without the strain of weight, and with it. So here we go:
No bra
36 band with my boobs lifted, so no weight is putting pressure on the band

36 band with weight on
34 band with boobs lifted, so no weight is putting pressure on band

34 band with weight on
32 band with my boobs lifted, so not weight is putting pressure on band

32 band with weight on

For the 36band, at the front, you can really see the difference between having weight on the band or not: Again, because the band is not giving any support, all the weight is put on my roll – this really makes it look like it is very very tight at the front, even though the oppesite is the case.
On the 34band it is clear how the band riding up slightly, means that it sits exactly at the my back roll, making it look like it digs in – and this is even exagerated when the weight is put on. So here it is easy to imagine, that a smaller band that doesn’t ride up, will actually eliminate some of the bra-bulges!
Also on the 32band, you see that when the weight is put on, everything just get’s more squished, but much less than with the 36 for example. What is interesting, is that there is no more back fat than there was with the 36 or no bra: So it is a myth that the tightness of the band causes the back fat.
So, what is the conclusion? The look of the right fit can be very different for fat women vs slim women, so we can’t always rely on those handy fit-pictures and advice. Fitters, or people who fit themselves, must learn to know what is supporting, rather than what matches the picture, because fact is, if you look nothing like the picture to start with, a bra cannot make it match up. Look for wide, firm bands, with wide elastic at the edges. And notice how much difference there is whether your weigh it down or not – I think that can be a good trick.

I can also tell you, that just yesterday, I wore my Ewa Michalak Onyks without the straps, and the mark from the band would make it seem it was much much tighter than normally - so I guess this proves my theory that weight, not tightness, can put a lot of strain on the band, making it look like it is tight.

All in all, I know this was not a too long post word-wise, but I hope the pictures speak for themselves, and can give a more size-varied view of bra fitting :D

Next post will probably be about bratabase and a few words about my recent order (very few words, because it is not too fair to properly review a bra that I got in the wrong size)

Tuesday, 4 September 2012


At 02:00am, I hit one thousand views on my blog! Thanks to all who have read what I had to say, I hope it was useful to you :)

Sunday, 2 September 2012

My bra journey: Shape!

I've hinted at my bra journey earlier, but to give you an idea:

I don't really know when I got breasts, though I think it was earlier than my peers: I remember my mom begged me to wear bras, and I despised them!
2004: I have a vague memory of talking bras with a friend when I was 12-13 and I said I was a C, even though my friends guessed me to be a D. I came to identify with being big busted.
2006: I was distraught when I lost 24kg when I was around 14-15 and my boobs went, so I padded my bras like crazy, though I quickly stopped as I was found out, so instead I just stopped to think of boobs.
2008: When I was 16, I moved to US, and when shopping with a relative, I said I found it hard to shop for tops, because I often ended up looking flat chested. This made my relative laugh and say it would take an illusionist for me to look flat chested. So off to get 38DD's at Victoria's Secret. This was probably the worst time for my boobs: I was very physical active at that time, and my back was killing me. I was so ashamed that I had to wear a sports bra for even light activity, and I was restrained from a lot of things because of bra discomfort.
2009: When I moved back to Denmark, my VS bra was literally falling to pieces (as pictured: yes, that is yarn and a key-chain I had used to stick it back together. And the lines at the band is where the hem is supposed to be),

so I reluctantly went to a very good fitter, who showed me how to put on a bra etc, all sorts of good things that changed my "bra experience" But when it came to the size she proclaimed me: "32GG?! You must have lost your mind!", I said, and walked out with a 38DD
2010: My 38DD's needed replacement (also, weight gain), and this time I dared to try some other sizes. Ended up with 36E's (didn't understand sister sizes, so in my world, this was up a cup)
2011: Bras needed replacement again(more weight gain). This time I went for 36FF (this is the highest size you can find in Denmark, except at Change Lingerie) and 36G (Change Lingerie). Started to think of myself as "busty".
2012: With my new status as busty, I wanted more bras. So I went out and got some 34F's and 36FF's. I wanted strapless clothing like I had seen on the blogs, and in early March, I asked a question on Y!A about strapless bras in what I thought was my size. Angela from there, linked me to reviews done by FullerFigureFullerBust, and I learned many new things about bras (UK sizing was a very important step in my epiphany!) . This was also at the same time where Change Lingerie dared to offer EU K-cups (UK H-cups). Went and got a 34H and 36GG, as pictured (Note, these pictures are taken on the day I got them, so this is what I was fitted to, and I thought was a good fit):

I signed up for Bratabase, and in April I placed my first order online, 34HH's, 34H's, 36GG and 36H's, from Curvy Kate. I tried the 34HH  Daily Boost, and it seemed too small, and I was mortified and amused. Kept the Thrill Me in 36GG  and Tease Me  in 34H. (it is so weird to see my old reviews, and see just how clueless I was of how a good fit should be!)

And from then on, I have studied bras so much, and I have placed many orders, and returned almost everything. I still need to find better bras, but my current best bras are two plunges in  34JJ's and a balcony in 36H from Ewa Michalak and Masquarade Rhea Bra in 36H. I still need to learn a lot about bras and my breasts, before I can get the right fit (which is hard with breast re-migration and weight changes!), but here is the newest step for me:

I have realised what my shape is! For a long time, I thought I was "full on top", because in too small bras, or push ups, my breasts would easily be pushed up to my collarbones. Now I think that has more to do with the placement of my bust: It is pretty high up. Also, because I have fat everywhere on my body, my collarbone area also has a layer of fat, so when my breasts were pushed up, they would also push together all the fat on my upper-chest, making it seem like I had that high of a cleavage.
No, I believe I have "full on bottom"-breasts. I have to give BrasIHate a lot of credit when it comes to figuring the importance of your breast shape. She has full on top breasts, and I soon realised that bras that were excellent on her, were shite on me (Masquerade Rhea, for example), and that the issues she seemed to have never bothered me.
Another thing that made me think of that my breasts probably aren't full on top, was the fact that I never got this look:

That "crease" at the top of the boob. I've seen skinny women, and fat women, small busted and large busted ladies with it, so that led me to think it is a question of shape, rather than size and body. Whereas I always just have that "sloping" curve going down to my boob. Even if I wear a too small push up bra, that sloped curve is just moved up.
Most of all, what made me realise that I was full on bottom, was look at the fit issued such shape would cause, and realising that is exactly what I experience with every single bra I've failed with:

On picture 1, you see my breast shape (pretty accurately, actually). On picture 2, you can see how that is just not compatible with the bra. And on picture 3 and 4 you see the most common outcomes this causes:
Picture 3 shows the very common "Orange in a glass" effect: The bottom of your breast is too large (could be both width and forward volume), and cannot settle in the bottom of the cup. This forces the bra to sit a bit lower, so the bottom if not filled, but the top may seem right or create a bit of overspill, because part of the cup is now not in use, and therefore too small. As seen here in my Ewa Michalak in 36H, and the previously reviewed Moulin Rouge:

Picture 4 is one I haven't heard talked much about, but one I suffer from a lot! It is often in the combination of a big band, I believe. The large bottom of the breast, forces the bra to be tipped over, allowing a bit more room for the breast to settle. This of course messes up the fit of the cup. It means the centre gore cannot lay flat, as it is tipped away, and so is the rest of the cup. This means that there will actually be a lot of gaping at the top of the cups as well: The smaller upper part of the breast is already having a hard time filling the top, and when it is tipped away, there is no contact. This can of course be very confusing, because a centre gore sticking out is usually a sign of a too small cup, but the cups can gape so much, making us think it is too big! Also, the sides may rest a bit on tissue too, because they can't reach all the way back when the bra is pushed away. Here it is shown in my Masquerade 36H and Ewa Michalak 34JJ: (I also experience that the bra seem to "collapse" under my heavy breasts, further seeming to tipping over the bra) (apologies for lousy pictures, it is rather difficult to show on photos)

Also, a picture of the Ewa Michalak when it was new, so the band was tighter, and my boobs were smaller:

Here it is also clear, that I have much more volume on bottom than on top: My heavy breasts weigh the bra down, but my top-shallowness makes the top section sort of close on top of my breasts.

So, now that we have found the root of the problem, what can be done? I don't know. I will try to look for bras that look too have more space at the bottom, maybe like this wide-bottomed wire from Gok Wan, as reviewed at FulleFigureFullerBust. (If you scroll down to Geroginas friend in the bra, from the side) You can see that the wire almost has a corner, because it is pretty much as wide at the bottom, as on top. Most bras have more round shape of the wire, so it is significantly narrower at the bottom. This only comes up to a G-cup, so I am out of luck, but if any full on bottom ladies fits that range, maybe you could try it out, and tell me if I am correct in my guess that this would be a good wire shape?

I read a lot of places, that you should look for bras that are more closed at the top, to fit the bottom heavy shape (so often those with an upper section with perhaps a ribbon on top), but, if you are like me, you want those open top bras! And I believe it can be done.
I have tried the Tease Me, The Demi Diva (as I also discussed in another post) and the Rococo Charm, which will all give a similar shape to the Masquerade Rhea bra, but are more fit for bottom heavy breasts, I believe (though they are limited in cup sizes: The Demi Diva and Rococo Charm come up to HH, and the Tease Me comes in sister sizes of a 30J). Here is a little sketch comparing their shapes to the Rhea bra: (rhea in blue, the others in purple):

On the Rhea bra, the top of the cup is the fullest part of the curve, and if you try to draw a circle following the silhouette of the bra, you'll see that the fullest part is yet to come: This is why it is good for full on top breasts. On the other silhouette, if you follow the curve, the fullest part is in the bra, just as would be the case with bottom heavy breasts. Unfortunately, I don't fit any of these bras I've just suggested, but now I know what to look for! And I hope you do too.

At Bratabase, you can search by tag, and find some bras that have fit others with the shape you searched for. I can't seem to search more than one shape at a time, so it is a bit tedious work to cross reference the results of "Full on bottom", "close boobs" and "high on chest", while also finding some that come in the right size, but I have just made a big order of bras, and I hope I can soon post some recommendations for you with similar breasts on this blog!
Also, when I get these bras, I will post on the next big fit issue I have: Bands! So look out for that! ;)