I have a French friend (this is not a euphemism) and without wishing to make sweeping Nationalistic generalisations, she takes her underwear VERY seriously. She was raised to see her foundation garments as exactly that – the foundations of a good silhouette, good posture, excellent fitting clothes and comfort and ease. She thinks nothing of spending the same amount on a bra as she would on a dress and she always looks amazing. The wise man does not build his house on sand and by the same token the chic woman does not build her look on a £2.99 bra that she has guessed the size of and will survive three washes before it has irreversibly changed shape.
I, by way of comparison, walked around in the wrong sized bra for twenty years before I finally got fitted and discovered a whole new way of thinking about my underwear. During that time, I left uni, lost, gained and lost about ten stone altogether, had two babies and managed to reach 40. And yet still I thought I had the breasts of my 18year old self.
I wasn’t aware I was wearing the wrong size because I didn’t know what I was missing. It wasn’t until I was measured and fitted properly that I realised what a good bra feels like. My shape changed instantly, my clothes looked better, I was more upright and comfortable…Breathing? I was doing it! And despite spending years believing I had small breasts and a broad back, I discovered I actually had large-ish breasts and a narrow back (at least at the part the bra is supposed to fit on). It was a revelation.
Now, I’m not advocating spending a fortune on underwear in these troubled times, but my advice to every woman reading this would be to make sure you are the proud owner of at least one (and hopefully two, so that you can wash the first one occasionally) decent fitting bras. If your bra fits properly you will avoid back pain, posture issues, possible cysts, breathing problems, stretched breast ligaments and a whole host of medically un-proven but anecdotally correct self-esteem issues. You also need to bear in mind that all bras fit differently – even those from the same manufacturer in different styles can be a cup size or a band space out, so it really is no use buying the same size bra in different styles. If you go for a fitting in a well known high street chain and the fitter brings you five bras of different styles in the same size to try, run away before she can do any more harm. There is no way all of those bras are going to fit you correctly, and there is a good chance none of them will.
Here are a few pointers to see if the one you have on right now is the one for you:
- It should fit on the narrowest part of your back – on some women this may mean it is almost as low as the waist but this is where it should be to provide maximum support and to ensure the cups sit firmly at the root of each breast
- It should move with you – not independently of you! If you raise your arms and it comes up too then it is too loose. By the same token, if you had Mr Tickle arms and could reach all the way round to the back, you should only be able to pull it away from your frame by about 1cm.
- You should not be aware of it. You should not need to adjust it during the day and you should not need to fiddle with it.
- The straps should be doing their job so well that there is no adverse downward pressure on your shoulders. By the same token, they should not be slipping about.
- The side seams should be flat and in line with your armpits. Not baggy, not pulled and certainly not spreading outwards.
- There should be no bulging breast tissue at the tops of the cups and no wrinkling in the middle either.
These are just a few of the ways you can tell if the bra you are wearing is doing its job. If it isn’t, make the next one earn its keep by being properly fitted by a trained professional. The bralady network is a good place to start.
These lovely women have all shared horrendous bra fitting experiences in the past and have been trained to help people in similar positions. They will come out to you to ensure you are fitted properly. I know this because after my revelatory fitting experience I decided to become one myself. (It’s a bit like Victor Kyam but without the actual purchase of any multi-million pound businesses).
Ladies, we owe it to our breasts to treat them well, and we owe it to our clothes to give them the best possible chance to look amazing. If you haven’t been fitted for a bra since you were 18, or indeed ever, then look up the bra ladies – I guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised.