Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Bra Review: Natori Women's Power Yogi Convertible Sports Bra (in Passion Pink/Orchid)

Sometime in April, I decided to check out the local Dillards--while passing through Montgomery, AL--and ended up buying a few sports bras to wear during my time of increased size--surgeries and vacation can help facilitate weight gain like you wouldn't believe.

With no exception, I tried on every sports bra that they had in my size.  And did jumping jacks while wearing them.  The Natori Women's Power Yogi Convertible Sports Bra performed the best in the small fitting room so I bought one in every color that they had--grey, tan, bright pink, lavender, and light teal.

This bra is definitely testament to the fact that bra sizes are completely inconsistent.  I measure at a 38FF/G.  This bra is a 38DDD, U.S. sizing (which is obvious if you know that the UK doesn't use triple letters *anywhere* in their sizing) and, in this case, the DDD equals an F.  The sizing lines up D, DD, DDD, G for this bra.  You can see numerous colors and the 32A to 40G selection on Amazon.

Now that I've had them a few months and worn them a number of times, I feel like I can give a good assessment of what I think about them.  First off, the coverage is very high--I don't say "cups" here because there are two layers to this bra (pic at bottom of this post).  So, the coverage is high--from the stitches that connect the strap to front and down to the bottom of the band it's nine inches, as best I can measure--but the underwires kind of slide down on to the band.  See both these attributes here: 



It's also a shallow bra.  After wearing it an hour, the band feels like it's halfway down my belly.  I also feel like I'm constantly swooping and scooping.  Evidence to the shallow...the non-tacking gore (also known as: A great shot of my cleavage lol): 

One thing in this bra's favor is the width of its cups.  They're narrow, like me.  :)  The width (6.75") is perfect for my breasts, even if the depth (~4") and projection (~.25" at the underwire) aren't.  I wish all my bras had cups at this width:

With all these things, though, they're not all that annoying.  There is one attribute of this bra that irks me to no end: the straps.  I can't get them to lay flat to save my life.  I love that they're so adjustable but that *extra* just doesn't cooperate.  See them waving?

I mentioned the bra being two layers.  This facet is great if you're looking to avoid headlights showing.  However, I think it's the two-layer feature that makes the shallowness so, well, shallow.  You can see the inner layer here: 

All these negative features, do I even like this bra?  I do.  And the main reason for that is that I can wear this bra as a visible foundation under a top and not care that it's showing.  I can wear it with a low cut blouse and it will cover up an excess cleavage.  

I can wear it and my workout shirt out and about without looking like I'm wearing Activewear as my Everydaywear.  A personal pet peeve of mine: Folks who wear gym attire yet have no intention of working out.  I just don't get it.

Anyhow, those are my thoughts on the Natori Women's Power Yogi Convertible Sports Bra.  Bottom line: I wouldn't run in this bra...and I've tried...but it's fine for medium to low impact sports like walking and bicycle riding.

Again, there are 24 different colors available on Amazon, six on barenecessities (sizes 32B to 40H there), and 15 on HerRoom (most are on clearance, 32B to 40G).  Department stores like Dillard's or Nordstrom might have them but they are definitely in short supply.



Thursday, July 14, 2016

Breasts Have Roots? What Are They, Trees? (A Different Aspect)

Last year, I wrote a post about the height of breast roots.  This post is about a different expanse of the same roots: width.  Breasts can be anywhere along the width spectrum from very wide--with tissue attaching well under the armpit--to very narrow--with tissue starting very much in front of the chest wall.

Many of us may have been wearing bras with cups that are too wide for our breasts and that's one reason why the wire poke us in the armpit.  Those wires could also just be too tall but for the sake of this post, we'll assume that all cups are just too wide.  A downside to wearing cups that are too wide AND not swooping and scooping, is that you could end up with migrated breast tissue that never returns home.  What do I mean by this?  Tissue that should be closer to the front of your chest ends up hanging out under your armpit.  A too-narrow cup is the biggest offender for making tissue migrate--think of when you put on some jeans that are too small...where does what doesn't fit go?  Outside the jeans in the form of muffin top.  You can get muffin top in two main areas in a too small/too narrow bra: your cleavage and your armpits.

Here is one example of a bra that has too wide of a cup for me (the mis-fit is pretty obvious):

You can see where the bra is sitting almost flush to my skin between my armpit and my breast.  I think this one makes me look a little shrinkwrapped, don't you?  Most of that "shrinkwrap effect" is due to the fact that it doesn't have enough projection at the bottom of the cup but it's the only photo I have of an obviously too wide cup.

So?  How can you tell the width of your breasts?

From a standing position, you might be able to tell by where your ribcage starts to present behind your breast tissue.  I'm not able to tell from this position but I know others have been able to do so.  Here's a sketch to illustrate what I mean:


The top sketch would be considered narrow.  The bottom one could fall into the wide root spectrum.  I determined my own width be leaning over, with nothing on, and checking myself out.  My breast tissue starts in front of my chest wall.  None of it attaches under my armpit.  Therefore, I search for medium to narrow cups.

I have to make a slight reference to other aspects of fit so that the experts don't start nay-saying me.  In the sketch, above. I say "could" fall into the wide root spectrum because they could also just be *wide-set* not wide rooted.  I'll save that for another post though.

So, back to my lean over assessment.  Here's a pic of me doing this assessment.  Please note that, yes, the boobs are covered.  However, this tube top that I've slid over my breasts like a sock does NOT pull them in.  They are still dangling free.


Thanks to some uncalculated yet strategic lighting, you can see the the shadow of my armpit and how it is further away from the center of my body; whereas, the root of my breast--so brightly lit lol--is closer to the center of my body.  That is why I have determined that I am narrow to medium rooted.

I hope this helps you with shape determination.

As a sidenote: If you have narrow to medium roots, Elomi is not a brand for you.  :)

Friday, June 24, 2016

Compromising An Aspect (Or Two) Of Fit While Searching For The Perfect Fit

I've been on my journey for the perfect fit for more than a year now.  In July of 2015, I found a style that would work for me while continued my search for "much better."  Along the way, I have tried more than 100 bras--some were the same style but different sizes; most were 36FF.  And then I gained weight and my shape changed ever so slightly.  But my size increased from that calculated 36FF to a 36GG/38G--two full cups.  I lean towards the 38 band because, at 39 inches around, my ribs won't be comfortable in a 36 band size.

As a result, I'm compromising even more.  Why?  Because I'm not going to stick at this weight.  This is road trip weight.  This is two and a half months of traveling across the United States.  This is sitting on my ass while I drove nearly 12,000 miles.  lol.  So, I compromise.  I bought some bras at a couple places during my trip--adjusting for my new size but not really able to accommodate my actual shape.  The reason being: the store that I stopped at didn't carry too many styles with medium to narrow cups.  They carry Elomi and other wider-cupped styles/brands.  I think it's because it's easier to put a narrow breasted woman in an Elomi and have her be satisfied with a "much better" fit than to try to carry the narrower cups and attempt to fit wider breasted women in them.  Most folks I know would rather have a slightly too big garment than a slightly too small one...in any garment.

So, where do I compromise?

Usually in bottom of the cup projection:
(sorry for the blurry photo)
Yep, that's my finger sitting in the space that doesn't come out immediately at the underwire.  You get this when you swoop & scoop and the cup is too shallow.

I already mentioned cup width.  That's another place that I compromise.

My actual width is about halfway between where that underwire is and where that seam is.  If the strap came straight down to meet the underwire, that's my root width.  BUT the underwire doesn't jab me in the armpit, despite ending there, so I wear the bra for now.

As for other areas of compromise, when it comes to this specific bra, the cup is actually a hair too small.  You can see it (sort of) in how the breast tissue is being dug into by the center gore and I'm quad-boobing a bit.  

Luckily, the top of the cup is stretch lace so this makes it easier to just go with the flow until I can continue my journey for a perfect fit.

So...where do YOU compromise on your Perfect Fit journey?

Friday, June 3, 2016

I Found My New Size But Then My Weight Changed. Now What?

This is me in the past year.  Last May, I calculated my new size--went from a 36DDD (using VS methods) to a 36FF (using the calculator over there ---> ) --and proceeded to work my way through more than 90 styles in four different rounds of shipment from barenecessities.  Then, come December 2015, I started gaining weight.  It happened because I took (and passed!) my last Physical Training test for the military.  That initiated a very torrid affair with Ben & Jerry.  In January of this year, I had surgery that called for a month's worth of rest afterwards.  Bras were definitely feeling more snug but I was able to still wear the ones that I bought six months prior--four Chantelles that were starting to show their age.  Come April though, the weight gain had been significant enough that I could no longer wear them.  Luckily, I was on a road trip through the south that allowed me to stop at a few places and get some new bras (in a new size!!).  I bought three or four from bra te da in Abilene and was on my way.  In the six weeks since that purchase, I have, once again, outgrown my bras.  Ugh!!  The band is tight, the gore doesn't tack, and I have quad boob.  Unfortunately, since I'm still on the road (and there are no bra stores where I'm at), I have to make do with these ill-fitting bras.  So be it.

On /r/ABraThatFits, I've seen the question as to whether shape changes when your weight changes.  I can say, for me, the answer is YES.  It's not drastic but it is significant in that I can wear different styles of bras in addition to the ones that I was already wearing.  My shape at 36FF was slightly pendulous, short rooted, evenly Full on Top (FOT) and Full on Bottom (FOB), and medium to narrow width, as well as having bottom-of-the-cup/immediate projection.  Because of the even fullness and short roots, I was functionally FOB and that resulted in me not being able to wear any bras that had a lace panel across the top.  You can see what I'm talking about in the pictures of the Lily and Lucy bra in this post.

Well, now that I've gained even more weight, there's increased fullness all around.  That lace panel probably wouldn't flutter like it has in the past.  I am still medium to narrow, I still have the immediate projection and my roots haven't grown in height either.  The breast increase appears to be working its way towards an omega shape (where the breast tissue is wider than the actual roots) rather than adding width to the roots themselves.  When I take off any of the Elomis, the wire is still obviously wider than my breast, even if the cup itself is too small.  For reference I have the 8750/Jocelyn (36FF), 8810/Tiffany (38FF), 8011/Rita (36F & 38FF), and 8840/Etta (38FF) styles.  I will say that the Jocelyn has some great projection in the cup.  When I take it off, the wire indent is damn near right in my crease.  And the lace panel at the top helps alleviate some of the quad boob that I get due to it being too small now.

The bra fit veterans may ask why I bought Elomis if I have medium to narrow roots?  I'll tell you: Bra store owners who don't know what root width is tend to stock a lot of Elomi bras--every store that I've been in has them--not realizing that some women may need a narrower wire and a deeper cup.  The wide cup width tends to accommodate a lot of breasts; much like shaped/lined cups tend to accommodate a number of shape mismatches.

So, what's my plan?  I'm going to hit Bare Essentials in northern DE and get a few more "make due" bras.  Then I'm going to do what it takes to get this added weight off.  Some women may enjoy having an increased breast size--mind you, I'm still a fairly average size when you take into account just how many cup/band combos there are but I'd like to be on the less voluminous side of that scale.

What have you done when your weight or shape changed?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Bras Plus--A Reno, Nevada store review

I've become spoiled by the boutiques that I've already been in and I really had to take a step back before I wrote this review.  Other stores that I've been in have been brightly painted and/or have very snazzy shelves and/or other furniture.  Bras Plus is decorated in a very spartan manner: very few and just simple pictures around the showroom--which isn't very large but isn't tiny either; one wall is all face-out displays and there are three or four racks of bras, nightgowns, and robes along the center of that side of the store--you can see what I'm talking about on their current cover photo of their facebook page.  The other side of the showroom has some clearance racks but is dominated by the sales desk.  The walls are painted a pale, pale blue (or they're white and just look that way from the light coming through the front windows.

They carry a few select brands--Fantasie, Elomi and Goddess--which is perfect for the wide-rooted customer--and have between two and five styles for each brand.  Their size range appears to be between 30B (and C) and 46H; though that H might be in the Goddess brand and, therefore, a U.S. H and not a UK H.  I did see a few Elomi bras in JJ cups.  They also carry some cup-sized swimwear, mastectomy camis, and longline corsets/bustiers.

The owner was very nice.  She wasn't knowledgable on many aspects of fit but she knew her stuff when it came to sister sizes and what-not.  We discussed the selection in the store and how long they'd been in business--almost 60 years; as well as the opportunity for such a store in Reno.  Reno has a population of more than 200,000 with its surrounding county having more than 400,000 so there is quite the pool of available customers and very few places, in general, to buy bras.  The city has the standard presence of department stores and stores for bras in the mall but Bras Plus is the only one with any selection of extended (read: non-matrix) sizes.

So, even though the store isn't all that fancy and isn't decorated in bright colors or with snazzy furniture, they do offer quite the selection for ladies who size out of matrix-sized bras.


Saturday, April 16, 2016

bra te da--An Abilene, Texas store review.

I've been traveling across the southern part of the United States and was able to stop into a bra boutique in Abilene, Texas during my visit to the town. The store is called bra te da.


I hadn't realized just how large the city was but, after some research, I learned that it has more than 120,000 people in it.  Surprisingly, the county in which it sits has just under 130,000 so Abilene is the lion's share of the population; however, this store serves the whole county and also has customers that have moved away from the area.  The reason that this bit of information is important is that I've found that boutique stores don't do well if they serve a population smaller than 50,000.

My visit to the store was totally legit.  Having gained a bit of weight in the past few months, I needed new garments.  The woman at the register asked if she could help me and I was happy to take her up on her offer.  She lead me back to the fitting room and asked me to doff my shirt.  She proceeded to measure me with my bra on (not unexpected since most stores won't measure you braless, a more accurate method), measuring me over the band of my current bra and over the fullest part of my breasts and sized me at a 38E/F-ish.  She pulled some Elomi styles and I tried them on--too small in the cup.  Elomi does tend to differ from what most calculators will put me at so I knew this was going to be a trial and error endeavor.  We bumped up to a 38FF.

After getting the bras picked out and paid for, I chatted with the owner for a bit.  We traded chuckles about customers who've only ever been sized at Victoria's Secret and are amazed when they get fitted into something that really, truly fits because they're really a 30C, trying to fit into a 32 band with little success.  We also talked about the customers who refuse (REFUSE!) to believe that they wear a cup size larger than a DDD and they end up walking out of the store.  Very sad but I, personally, take heart in the fact that just introducing the idea into their head will start them on a path towards a bra that fits.

All in all, it was a great shopping experience and I would recommend bra te da to those who live in or near Abilene or anyone traveling through the town.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Visualizing the Sheer Number of Bra Sizes Out There...

I got to thinking, last night, about the sheer number bra sizes out there--at least 400--and how few are actually available to the general (shops at bricks and mortar stores) public in the United States--between 50 and 100.

Can you imagine if there were stores that carried all the sizes?  It could even be multiple stores, owned by the same company kind of like Chico's FAS has two stores that cater to different demographics but either can shop in both.  (Was that confusing?  It sounds confusing when I read it back.)  Chico's FAS owns Chico's (which caters to (and features in their ads) the 40+ year old woman who likes to be put together but not necessarily "businessy") and White House Black Market (which caters to the mid-20s to early 40s "businessy" demographic).  They used to also own Boston Proper (which catered to a whole different--more "vacationy" and sexier--facet of women's lives) but that went by the wayside.

Anyhow, back to the bras.  You could have one store with 26-40, AA-HH; one store with 42-56, AA-HH, and a third with 26-56, J-PP.  Hell, make it a whole multi-floor department store with sections for each size.  Call it the Bra Emporium.  A girl can dream about a world of bras with very well trained fitters.

Wow!  I got a bit off track from my original thought: visualizing all those sizes.

So, here is what we "see" at most any Victoria's Secret store:

Not in all styles but, for the most part, their bras, IN STORE, fall into that chart range.

And this is what contributes to people thinking that a D cup is HUGE.  It's not.  By any means.

What if you go to a midrange department store like JCPenney?  You'll probably "see" this:
I have to caveat this photo.  I kept my items square for ease of cropping.  You're not likely to find the upper Ds in a lot of midrange stores for size 30 bands; A-C cups, yes, but not much above that.  Same goes for the A and B cups in the 40+ bands.  (I fixed the erroneously colored in purple on my original product but all the pictures in this post are from the same photo, just cropped accordingly.)

And folks are still thinking a D cup is quite large.  Nope.  Still isn't.

Okay, so what if you go to a place like Nordstrom?  If you're lucky, you might have choices like this:

Maybe.
And you might be thoroughly confused because "Is it a UK size or a US size or a EU size?"  "What size am I?"  (I used UK (with a slight US overlap) on these charts.)

But those are still a lot of bra sizes, right?  You shouldn't need more than that, right?

WRONG.  That's not even a quarter of what bra size needs actually are.

Oh, and see where that "HUGE" D cup falls?  Not even in the middle now.  And, realistically, we need to get over this "Huge" and "Tiny" thing.  Breasts are just breasts.  And, in many cases, they cause great consternation to the person to whom their attached because of how American society reacts to them, no matter where they fall on a size chart.

For those who fall into the coming chart, they won't be surprised by the range of sizes but a lot of other folks might be.  So where does the remainder of the 400 sizes that I alluded to come from?

Here:

A whole gamut of bra sizes that are not sold in bricks and mortar stores; mainly, I think, because it "costs too much" to make that many bras.  I think we'll get there but it's going to take time and lots of education, on the part of the consumer.  The more that we educate people on their real size, the more they'll place a demand on bra manufacturers.  Is that DD from Victoria's Secret really your size or are you buying it because it's the only thing that you knew existed, that seemed to fit your breasts?

Hell, if Barbie, an icon for generations who had only one body type for decades, can get tall and petite and curvy, then bra manufacturers will provide when the demand is placed on them.  Even if they don't get to all the other Aspects of Fit, in all the sizes, just providing more sizes IN STORES is a start.