It’s a girl thing

I know that there are at least a couple of men who regularly take a look at my blog and in the interests of equality I have to say that you are most welcome to continue reading this post, indeed it may even interest you, but I’m just warning you – it’s a very girly subject and I don’t want to upset anyone’s sensibility . It’s so girly in fact that I’ve even borrowed my friend Leigh’s blog name for the title of this post because it really is a girl thing.

BRA

I am SO fed up with buying  trying to buy bras. I have friends who pick up bras from M&S or similar, choosing a colour and a style that they like the look of  and barely looking at the actual construction, and they just know they’ll fit. I have other friends who buy from a specialist lingerie shop and again, seem to have no problems. I even have one friend who picks up bras from supermarkets in packs of two, throws them in her trolley (you know who you are) and says ‘they’ll do’.  But when you are, let’s say, generously endowed, buying bras is nothing short of a nightmare. It seems that if you’re a B cup, you’re catered for pretty much anywhere. There’s not a great deal to accommodate and it’s a lot easier to adjust the bra you’ve chosen so that it fits comfortably. There are other advantages – you can buy shirts and blouses in unforgiving materials and so long as they’re your size, you’re sorted. Not so if you are a little larger: if it fits your bust it’s too large on the shoulders; if it fits correctly on the shoulders, the buttons won’t fasten. And it gapes – it always gapes. A small accolade for M&S here – they invented a double button style which has additional buttons that do up on the inside and this does help but it’s limited to only a few garments each season. I digress – back to bra buying.

For around twelve years, maybe even fifteen,  I bought repeated versions of the same bra which was sold by Ballet. Unfortunately the company went bust – pun intended. As soon as I heard this was happening, I bought up the entire remaining stock in my size from my usual store (five or six of them) and, having several already in use, was OK for quite a while. But one by one they went by the wayside and I struggled terribly to find anything which felt as comfortable or, in my opinion (and after all it was me wearing it), fitted so perfectly. It was time to find a suitable replacement style. For some timeI bought all kinds of bras, some better than others but none like my faithful Ballet style.  It was time to heed the advice and ‘get properly measured.’  Have you actually tried getting properly measured? I tried it. The results were, to say the least, interesting:

In John Lewis the recommended bra was excruciatingly tight around my back, though the ‘expert’ pronounced it a perfect fit. Apparently I was too used to ones that didn’t fit properly and was wearing them too loose. I trusted her, after all she was trained, so I handed over a small fortune and wore it the next day. By lunchtime I was back in the store to show here the deep red weals in my skin.

So I got  ‘properly  measured’ again, this time in Bravissimo (curiously a different measurement to John Lewis) and again parted with a not insubstantial amount of cash.  No red weals this time but the wire came so high under the armpit that every time I moved it felt as though I’d been stabbed.

The lady in Debenhams measured me differently again (The size matched John Lewis, the cup matched Bravissimo but neither combination matched all together). I felt as if I’d been put in a straight jacket; I could barely breathe! The larger size was certainly more comfortable even though the assistant adamantly told me was too big and would allow me to “fall beneath the wire!” I bought it and I didn’t fall beneath the wire but it soon be came clear (the first time I wore it) that the cup was too small. I may not have fallen below but I certainly rose above!

My final excursion into the world of expert bra fitters was an independent lingerie shop. Again I felt that the recommendations were too tight around my back but we eventually found one which seemed to be reasonably comfortable. I can’t bring myself to tell you how much I paid for the prettiest bra I’ve ever owned. Suffice to say it would have paid for a sizeable shop in Waitrose. But it was to wear with the dress I’d bought for my daughter’s wedding so I felt it was justified….until I’d been wearing it for about six hours. Feeling increasingly uncomfortable I went to my hotel room and discovered not only red weals but BLOOD! It had rubbed my skin so badly that I was bleeding!

No wonder so many women (or so we are told) wear the wrong size. Not only is measuring inconsistent but bras vary so much in size that it makes the whole thing completely pointless. What fits in one make doesn’t necessarily in another. What’s even more frustrating is that different bras in the same make don’t even fit the same. M&S please take note; your inconsistent sizing is probably the worst of the lot.

I gave up and decided to return to the trial & error method and trust my own judgement. I’ve found bras that fitted but none that are particularly comfortable and the shape of some is just plain weird.  I’ve given up trying them on in shops.  I now order online. I can try them at my leisure and with a variety of different clothes. Before Christmas I ordered four from M&S. None fitted well. Last month I sent an order to a specialist bra manufacturer for £350 worth (£70 each = desperation).  I returned them all – too large, too small, too scratchy, or too oddly shaped.

Even more desperately (and fast running out of time before I ended up with nothing in my bra drawer at all),  I returned to the M&S website. I ordered seven. At least the prices are reasonable. Despite all being labelled the same size, two were too tight at the back, one had straps so thin that I can’t imagine they’d have supported a 32A never mind me, one fitted at the back but the cup gaped, one was too large at the back and the sixth was just utterly hideous. The seventh looked curiously like the old favourite Bally bra. A little bit of stretch in the cup, comfortable at the back, straps that are just slightly wider than standard and not unattractive.

I tried it on… I smiled… I wore it the following day – all day…  I ordered four more of the same.

 

35 comments

  1. How interesting that this post has received so many comments! I was always a very ‘neat’ 34B/C until I had my children. Now I’m a 32F!! The best advice I’ve ever had, was from a well endowed close friend. She suggested going to Rigby & Peller. My friend is naturally frugal except when it comes to bras! My fitting experience at R and P was amazing. However, their bras are horrendously expensive. Luckily, my husband gave me a gift voucher for R & P & now I buy their bras in the sale. Sports bras – well, that’s a different story!! Great post!

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  2. It’s ever so difficult, isn’t it, for us more well endowed types. I have some very old bras that I just can’t dare to replace in case, but the best place I have found is Evans. You can go in, get various sizes, try them all on and generally take all the time you need. AND they have non-padded, unwired ones which is just what I want. Well worth a try, I reckon, if you have one that you can get to.
    It’s horrible to be so uncomfortable and blood!!!! . . . words fail me. How awful for you.
    J x

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    • Thank you for your comments Joy. I’ve never even thought of Evans. Will definitely take a look. I sent a letter off to the Daily Mail pretty much the same as the blog post and they have been in touch asking for a photograph of me (not my boobs!) so that they can use it when they print the letter.

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  3. What a horror story, Eloise. Bleeding! That is so bad. A couple of years ago, I was guilted into going to a lingerie afternoon. Never again! I was persuaded to buy a very expensive heavily padded bra (I’m small breasted) which made my tummy look smaller. Because I then looked more busty. Oh, and I later found out that it was heavy. It also cut deeply into me, and whenever I moved, such as breathing, big chasm type gaps appeared between my breasts and the bra,. But the real problem when I contacted the seller? I didn’t need to swap it, I needed to learn how to put it on. I went to Kmart (cheap store) and got some unpadded nicely fitted ones.

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  4. Oh! I could have written this blog myself. I have tried in vane to find bras that fit. Always too tight, regardless of which ‘expert fitter’ measures me. It costs me at least £40 to find one that is slightly less uncomfortable. Bras are the bane of my life! I am retiring this year from my profession (which requires me to be smartly presented in uniform) so I am giving up the most torturous piece of clothing ever invented, burning them all and am going to live ‘freely’ for the rest of my life! JOY

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    • The bane of many women’s lives judging by the responses I’ve received. But why should it be so difficult? They are an essential item for half the population. There must be a solution out there somewhere. As for expert fitters who are determined to squeeze us into extreme discomfort……Grrrrr! Enjoy your freedom, Sally!

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  5. You sound like how I felt when I went shopping for a better fitting bra after my lumpectomy! Even when the brand and size are the same, different styles seem to fit differently and being a bit lop sided after surgery makes everything that much more difficult! Glad you seem to have found something that seems to work for you!

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    • Oh Bless, I can imagine that yours is a very difficult problem and do sympathise. You’re absolutely right about all the different fits. There’s no other piece of shopping so frustrating as bra buying.

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  6. I feel your pain. I’m anywhere from a 38B to a 40C depending on who makes them.

    My daughter in law is the one who suffers. She is a 34 J. Every year I take her to a specialist fitter and buy her two bras for her birthday. I set a limit of roughly 300CDN$. This year she found the sports bra of her dreams ($228). The girls are up where they belong, no welts, no rubbing.

    She’s considering a breast reduction.

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    • That’s an awful lot of money for something that is an essential. Your poor daughter. I blame manufacturers who are not bothering to find out what we need.

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  7. What comedian was it that once called a bra an “over the shoulder boulder holder”? Well, we might be able to find sexy attractive bras or over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders, but never the twain shall meet! I want an attractive bra (have you seen some of the lurid colours of M&S bras? Vulgar doesn’t even come near it! I once sent for one, thinking it was a lovely midnight blue and it turned to be something like fluorescent peacock! And the pastel pink one I sent for, thinking it was a pale shell pink turned out to be more like Germolene! Of course, none of them has ever fitted properly.
    Margaret P

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    • Germolene and fluorescent peacock! Haha…..but I do know what you mean. I am happy with black or white generally but it is lovely to find a really nice one in a beautiful colour…….if it fitted, of course!

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  8. I managed to get some really comfortable bras from M&S last year, two each black and neutral, when I went back this year to replace them they no longer have the same design … and nothing else is anywhere near as good a fit. Oh to be a 34B again as I was many, many, many years ago.

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    • 34b. The stuff that dreams are made of. Me too…on the way up, if you get my meaning! It’s infuriating that they change the styles so often. That’s why I splashed out on five of them. Lovely to hear from you.

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  9. I have much the same problem, Eloise. I’m not huge, I’m deep, vertically, so getting all of me into cups is difficult. Buying bras is a very hit or miss business, and when I was measured in M&S (never been measured anywhere else) what was brought to me in the changing room as bras that would fit, were uncomfortable and didn’t fit me at all! We need fewer styles but better fitting styles. Have they ever looked at our shapes? We’ve actually changed shape since the 1950s, our busts are now larger overall, just as our bodies have become larger overall.
    Margaret P

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    • OH Margaret, this is music to my ears. I am after all, not the only one with this hugely annoying and uncomfortable problem! Not that I’d wish it on anyone else but one does feel rather isolated!

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  10. Oh yes, I totally know what you’ve been through. But I’ve stuck with Bravissimo. Yes, they have tried and succeeded in making me buy a very very uncomfortable tight bra, that made red wheals, but actually I wore it until it was comfortable. Just lately their people (always women who are well-endowed but always young) showed me bras that were a lot better and far more comfortable. I stick with them as I could never just pick up a bra – I’m a 32GG – try finding one of those in M&S! I’d say if you have a Bravissimo near you give them another try.

    But yes, it’s such a faff.

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    • So any people are agreeing with me! I’ve had several comments from others who read my blog but don’t comment online. I had no idea that I was far from unique! men just don’t know they’re born.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Can’t do underwired – they always dig in. Must have cotton, everything else too itchy. I buy the same sort al the time from the Damart catalogue. Can’t remember the maker. Would love to have a choice – it’s no fun being Large

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    • The Ballet bras were cotton jersey and so comfortable. The new M&S ones are similar to look at but not cotton. However, they are much softer than most. I picked up the extra ones I ordered this morning and feel rather relieved that I am ok for a while. Such a stupid situation.

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  12. Hi, I feel your pain and am in a similar situation. I am on a quest for a comfortable bra in a “larger than usual” cup size. Can you please let me know which is the one you actually liked? I can totally relate to the red marks, but luckily not the blood! Thanks in advance!

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    • Well thankfully it was the only one that drew blood! But so many people are telling me the same. What on earth are bra manufacturers doing??? I have sent you a private email with details .
      It’s the best bra I’ve had since my old Ballet ones mentioned in my post.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I feel your pain, I do, I do. I use to be small and had no trouble finding bras to fit. But I aged, got bigger and shaped differently. The number of bras I’ve gone through would fill a wardrobe. I hate bras with wires, will not wear them. I like soft bras. I’ve finally found one I like and I order new ones every few months, so when they get a little shapeless from repeated washings I start another new one.

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    • yes, I can identify with the ‘full wardrobe’ worth of bras! It is definitely about shape rather than size. I picked up my order this morning and now have five (three white and two black) so will hopefully be ok for a little while. I do like underwiring as I find them more supportive.

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  14. Oh my goodness, weals and blood! You have my total sympathy Eloise. I can’t imagine how uncomfortable even the slightly better fitting bras must have been.
    I do hope the next batch of the ‘seventh attempt’ are the same fit for you and you can continue to buy more when you require them. X

    Liked by 1 person

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