Back in May, I wrote the following paragraph about bra fittings:
"If you are a woman, and you are wearing a bra, you are probably wearing the wrong size one. That's what they say. According to "experts" and "surveys," anywhere between 70% to 85% of women are mistreating their breasts, either shoving them into too-small cups or allowing them to flop freely in stretched-out, ill-fitting bras. Even worse, in 2008 Jezebel referenced a study by "esteemed" U.K publication The Daily Mail which claimed that wearing the wrong bra size can permanently damage breasts. "Eighty-five percent of American woman are wearing the wrong bra" is the "more likely to be killed by a terrorist than get married" statistic of the new millennium."Oprah herself lauded the importance of the professional bra fitting, proclaiming it "the beauty secret that literally produces miracles." Squees Oprah, a professional fitting culminates in a bra-ha! moment, that magical experience where your boobs are lifted and supported and exotic white doves burst forth from the dressing room in a double rainbow display of ecclesiastical joy.
According to experts, wearing the wrong size bra makes you look old, fat, and will permanently masticate your breasts. AND YET bras are my most dreaded item to shop for. There's too many complicated straps and hooks and pokey underwire and it's so cold in the dressing room that my nipples might poke someone's eye outcould cut glass and OH MY GOD WHY CAN'T I JUST BIND MY BREASTS DOWN LIKE THE FLAPPERS DID THIS IS TORTURE STRESSYTIME AAARRRGGGHHHHH!!! Just the THOUGHT of some other WOMAN prodding my delicate ladybreastesses with her sure-to-be-freezing hands makes me break out in hives.
Nevertheless, this week the time came when I absolutely needed to go for a bra fitting. I could no longer put it off. So I slunk off to Northpark Center mall in Dallas for a professional touchy-feely session with a bra specialist. I started at Nordstrom's, which I had heard is the best place to find a bra fit specialist to measure me and offer multiple styles and brands to try. A bra fit specialist can help not only determine your band and cup size, but also the best type of bra to gives you optimum shape, support, and style. In addition, Nordstrom's has a huge selection of bras in every style, fabric, size and color option imaginable.
A lovely salesgirl named Panna assisted me. She led me to a large, bright dressing room equipped with a tape measure, and gently and matter-of-factly measured me underneath my rib cage, sans shirt, over my bra. Then she brought three different bras in from the racks for me to try on. I didn't look at the brand; I didn't know the size. I just tried one on. I immediately noticed I appeared taller and leaner. My breasts looked smaller, firmer, and much more lifted. And I felt infinitely more comfortable.
I have been wearing either a 34A or B for years - ever since high school. When I was pregnant my bra size went up, but post-pregnancy seemed to return me exactly to my original size. But the bra that fit me the best in the dressing room was a 32 DD.
A 32 DD.
D as in Dumbfounded.
D as in Dumbfounded.
How could that be? I was in absolute disbelief that the bra I had been wearing was so mismatched to the one I tried on. This bra was the perfect fit. It was so comfortable that I almost felt like I wasn't wearing a bra at all. Panna informed me that the straps shouldn't be doing the lifting (which is what I was doing, tightening the straps in an attempt to lift) and the band should be sitting low and snug on the back and not up near my shoulders, which helps with support and keeps skin from spilling over. Furthermore, because bras tend to stretch over time, your bra should fit on the loosest hook when new.
A proper fitting, high-quality bra is not cheap. You truly do get what you pay for. Here's what I ended up leaving with:
- Calvin Klein Seductive Comfort T Shirt bra in dune: $44 - Super comfortable, lightly padded bra that is completely invisible under a tee shirt.
- Chantelle Intimates 'C Chic' 3582' bra in black: $68 - The most money I have ever spent on a bra, period. But this one is pretty and fit so well that I felt both sexy and comfortable.
An Intimacy store was located close to Victoria's Secret, and I wandered there as well. The store was bright and sparse, with matching bra and panty sets displayed like artwork. A saleswoman offered to measure me, but after my disappointing Victoria's Secret experience I wasn't in the mood to complicate things further. I did notice that Intimacy's bras are extremely expensive - their cheapest sale bra was nearly $70 - but that they offered a wider range of sizes than Nordstrom's, especially in those hard-to-fit.
Here are some final tips for those planning a bra fitting:
- Try on bras before buying: It is absolutely essential to try on before buying. Sizes and comfort level range both from brand to brand, and styles within the same brand. I went to Nordstrom Rack to find some more affordable options, and discovered that I'm a 34 DD in Betsey Johnson bras. Lesson learned.
- Store your bras flat to keep the cups in their proper shape.
- Hand wash your bras in mild detergent and dry flat. Never put your bra in the dryer - the heat can damage the elastic.
Have you ever been to a professional bra fitting? What was your experience like? Do you have any favorite brands? Are you a hard-to-fit size?