How Do You Deal With Your Bra Buying Issues?
Five friends chat about their very different bra buying issues, which brands they avoid and which brands help…
Comic strip bras win every time!
Breasts are everywhere, all sizes and shapes and each with their own supportive needs. Most likely, you’re wearing some support yourself right now, but are you getting exactly what you need? I spoke to a group of women ranged from the petite to the well-endowed. Reanne, Daisy, Lauren and Sian all know the frustration of getting the right-sized bra. Here are their stories:
Bra Size: Usually a 32B
Problems When Buying: I’m actually a very common size in bra shops and lucky enough to take advantage of sales to keep the costs of my bras down. I didn’t wear wired bras for the longest time – and the moment I did the comfort level was through the roof! I still remember how much I loved my first.
When I first started wearing bras, I overestimated the size of my torso, so I wore a 34 until my friend (who was a dressmaker) forcibly re-measured me. I also grew slowly from an A through to a B in uni and some bra shapes that were once flattering became very… unsupportive.
Favourite Shops and Brands: M&S are a firm favourite with me these days. It’s one of the few shops that doesn’t use aggressive padding. When I shop in M&S I feel like they’re saying “B cup? We can work with that”, whereas everywhere else says “B cup? We can fix that!” That said, I’ve got to look around for the cute and snazzy bras, there’s a lot of beige there!
I love going somewhere where I can get the choice of padded or non-padded. Some tops and dresses look better when I wear a padded bra but most of the time I just want to be comfortable in my own size.
Brands I Avoid: I used to love La Senza and Anne Summers but the quality just isn’t there anymore. Plus everything is pink and I don’t like pink underwear. Primark bras lose all their shape after a single wash in my experience.
Bra Size: 30DD (usually)
Problems When Buying: Finding a DD sized bra when your torso size is more likely to be found in the children’s section of the underwear department is a challenge in itself. More than once a shop assistant will ask what size bra I’m looking for and, when I tell them, will assume I’ve either underestimated my band size or over estimated my cup size… until they get me in the fitting room and realise I am just a slim girl with a proportionally large cup size. If the shop does happen to stock my size (Marks and Spencer have been fairly reliable for this) nearly all the choices will be white, beige or perhaps a navy blue if I’m lucky.
If I happen to want a non-wired bra (I find the wired bras dig into my ribs and feel uncomfortable because I’m pretty bony, unless they’re really good quality) I’ll have almost no choice at all, probably two different styles or colours. Admittedly, I might have more luck if I lived in a bigger city with more choice, but I don’t know.
Favourite Shops and Brands: I’m going to come right out and say it now, I have little to no idea about bra brands or anything like that. My choice of shop generally comes down to “where can I go that stocks my size and isn’t trying to make me look like a G-cup?” M&S have been pretty good, but the colour range is pretty limited.
I used to go to Debenhams, but they seem to have reduced their range of stock so now are a no-go most of the time. However, recently I was introduced to a website called Lingerie by Victoria and it only took me a few moments of browsing to realise they had 25 different 30DD bras! I have never seen that many different kinds of bra in my size, in one place and with a range of colours and styles, ever. They even had a cute cornflower blue one!
Brands I Avoid: Any shop selling cheap bras I tend to avoid, as they likely won’t last any time at all or will offer no support. Not to say I want bras to be expensive, but I understand I’m getting what I pay for with a bra. I tend to avoid Ann Summers and similar shops as well; I tried on some lingerie in there and while some were good, others felt as though they were trying to push my breasts up into my face. Not really for my comfort, hmm?
Bra Size: 32F
Problems When Buying: None of the really interesting stuff comes in my cup size. Most of the designs I like only go up to a D or a DD cup. As I dress in fairly colourful clothes, I’d like underwear that reflects my personality. Pretty underwear is a confidence booster – an invisible secret that puts a swing in my step on dull days (not to mention that one wants to look presentable for one’s paramours!). A lot of the “bigger-bust” stuff comes in uninspiring blacks, whites and “flesh tones” (And while we’re on the subject, I understand that those hideous beige bras serve a purpose – they are supposed to appear invisible under a white shirt, where a white bra would stand out. But in mainstream UK shops I only ever see nude bras designed for caucasian skin tones. What’s with that?). There are a few companies (mail-order and online mostly) that cater to my size and have interesting fabrics, but a lot of the designs I see in-store are frumpy.
We then come to the problem of price. I do not understand why companies feel it reasonable to put a mark-up on bigger bras from the same range. A 32F does not use more fabric that a 36C (as far as I can tell with the naked eye), and even if it did, placing a financial penalty on cup-size seems grossly unfair.
Favourite Shops and Brands: Bravissimo and Freya. And an honourable mention to Pepperberry (a sister brand to Bravissimo) for creating well-fitting shirts for us bigger-boobed girls!
The best bras I ever had were from Victoria’s Secret in America – they’re hard to acquire in Blighty sadly, but ever so comfy. Attractive too.
Brands I Avoid: La Senza – I’ve gone for several fittings here in the past, and always ending up with torturously uncomfortable bras. The staff really seemed more concerned with making a sale than ensuring a proper fit, and I would leave with cruel and unusual lingerie: the underwiring bit into my breast tissue, the band was constrictive and the shoulder straps were too weak to give Thelma & Louise the lift they needed. Unless I pulled the straps painfully tight, the girls were gonna crash and burn. And the resulting silhouhette was bizarre – I looked like I had to perfectly spherical balls stuck to my chest, like a badly designed comic-book superheroine.
Bra Size: 38F
Problems When Buying: One issue I remember is being mismeasured by an attendant in a shop. The size she gave me was so obviously wrong but when I questioned her she kept saying “That’s what it says on the chart”. I could only follow her advice so far, when I looked at the bras that were in “my size” they looked more like nipple tassles!
Sometimes it feels like my bra size may as well not exist, and when I do find those that stock my size the nice-looking underwear always seems to cost so much…
Favourite Shops and Brands: I would say Ann Summers and Bravissimo. Worth the money and I can normally find a nice range of bras there. I find that Primark bras are okay for everyday wear.
Brands I Avoid: I don’t buy bras from BHS as I have in the past and the underwire kept breaking. I also found their sizing to be all over the place.
Bra Size: 32HH
Problems When Buying: When I lived in the South West, I would almost guarantee having to order in a bra even if they stocked styles that go to my size, which was a real pain in the neck. Swimwear is also an issue – if I don’t buy fitted, then more often than not the ‘support’ band on a one-piece won’t contain them all if I do anything remotely strenuous.
I hate buying clothes that are too big for my body so they’ll fit my breasts but end up making me look frumpy. If I wear shirts then either the buttons gape or they just don’t do up all all.
Favourite Shops and Brands: I love Bravissimo and they’re most certainly one of my favourites to shop with. Their fitting method is excellent and they don’t just depend on a tape measure. A friend of mine recently was measured as a 42B by a tape measure and it was easy to see just from looking that there was no chance she was 42 back or a B cup. Fixing women into one measurement taken from a tape measure can sometimes end in some very uncomfortable bras!
As I said at the beginning, breasts come in all different shapes and sizes. Much of the information here is utterly different from woman to woman, which is the point of this whole article. I may loathe one brand but it might be the dream-fit for my friend. Neither of us are wrong; boobs refuse to work with such objective labels.
So if you’re chatting with a friend and you discover that your opinions on M&S or Ann Summers are diametrically opposed, always consider their comfort and your own may require entirely different structures.