For curvy girls like me, a good bra is your best friend. It supports you through good (outfits) and bad, but a bad bra can be your worst enemy. From back pain, to lumpy and bumpy outlines in clothes, the dreaded ‘quadruple boob’, I even once spoke to someone who was convinced they needed a boob job until the cosmetic surgeon explained she was just wearing the wrong size bra at her consultation!
Lately, my bras have been veering towards ‘enemy’ territory. I’ve put on some weight since I was last fitted a couple of years ago and the band of my bra was beginning to feel decidedly uncomfortable – I’d sized my band up to a 36 from a 34, but was still getting a lot of digging in, and by the end of the day it would often feel like my bra was trying to cut me in half (especially if it was strapless!) So, when I was invited along to Bravissimo for a fitting as part of their #AmazingYou campaign, I replied with a ‘yes’ very quickly!
So, off I went to the Solihull Branch (fingers crossed for a Bravissimo in Birmingham city centre again soon!) and met with my expert fitter Nathalie, who explained that they don’t use tape measures to fit, instead showing you by sight and by feel how a bra should fit properly, which helps you to buy the right size in future. The fitting rooms were bright and spacious, and there was a robe provided for your modesty!
I explained my bra woes, and basically said that I knew I was wearing far too small a band size as it was digging in so much, had already sized up to a 36, but needed to find out just how big I needed to go.
Imagine my surprise when Nathalie quickly ran a finger under the band of my bra and said ‘Nope, that’s not the problem!’
The problem? Not, the band, but my cup size! I’d originally been wearing a 34D for the past few years, but then when sizing up had hovered between a 36D and (I’m now red faced just saying it) 36C. My actual size? 36E. Oops. That’s 2-3 whole cup sizes bigger.
Nathalie explained that the reason that my bras were digging in at the side is that the wire of the cup should sit comfortably behind the breast tissue under your arm. Because my cups were so small they were sitting much further forward than this and a) digging in to my boobs, and b) pulling the sides of the bra forward & tight, creating the bunching up effect that I was having problems with (and here it was just me thinking that the band was sinking unavoidably into my back fat!!)
Once I had a bra on in the right size the difference was amazing. My girls looked far perkier – they sat far higher in fact, which Natalie pointed out would also relieve the digging in and redness I was getting under my breasts from my bra band. More comfortable, and looking better under clothes? Win.
My next mission for Nathalie was the Plunge bra – I’d pretty much given up on wearing them as I always fell out the middle of them, and plumped for balconette styles instead. She explained that different shapes of breast work better with different shapes of bra (which makes sense really – just like body shape and clothing!), so for example I am better in a balconette or half cup style rather than a full cup (which just goes a bit baggy at the top on me!) but she said that there was no reason that I couldn’t find the right plunge for me. The key was a slightly more substantial gore (this is the part that joins the two cups) rather than just a bit of string (!) and, in my case, actually sizing up a cup (yup, I’d now worked my way from a C/D to an F!) to make sure my boobs had plenty of room and weren’t tempted to spill out of the middle. She then introduced me to the Satine plunge bra, and va-va-voom, I was won over, and it just had to come home with me! (And I’m pretty sure I’ll be investing in some of the other gorgeous colours too!)
I also got the opportunity to have a quick try of the Pepperberry clothing range. I tend to avoid anything button-through as it just gapes on the bust, and generally go for fabrics for some stretch in them to accommodate my waist to bust/hip ratio. Nathalie found me a pretty blouse to pop on as an example, and yup, you guessed it, no gaping! The Pepperberry range allows you to buy for not only your clothing size, but also your bust size, so a 16 Really/Super Curvy worked really well for me. Although I think I’m not really a blouse girl, I’ll definitely be checking out their pretty range of dresses in the future!
The only slight issue I had was that I would have loved to buy matching knickers for my bra, but I found that the vast majority of the knickers in Bravissimo were very low cut, hitting me just below my tummy which I find quite unflattering. I was quite surprised at this as the brand is aimed at D cup and above, I’m sure I can’t be the only curvy girl shopping there who would love a higher waisted knicker for a bit more coverage? (Especially as so many of their bras have a lovely vintage style!)
Here are a few more of the bra fitting top tips I picked up on my trip…
- The gore (part of the bra where the cups meat) should sit flat against your torso
- You should be able to do a bra up on its widest clasp when you buy it, and then do it up tighter as it stretches with wear over time
- A regularly worn bra will last around 6 months before losing its shape / support
- You should have a bra fitting every 6 months as a ‘check up’
- Just like clothes where you can be a 12 in one shop and a 16 in another, different brands and fabrics will come up in slightly different sizes, so be prepared to try on and tweak your size accordingly
Thanks to Bravissimo for inviting me along!
(You can also watch me chatting about my Bravissimo experience and get a look at the store in my weekly vlog!)
Disclosure, I was invited along to Bravissimo for a free fitting as part of their Amazing You Campaign, but bought the bra with my own money.