Saturday, February 4, 2017

Bare Essentials--A Wilmington, Delaware Store Review

I was quite sad when Buttercups closed last year.  They were fairly convenient to where I lived and, pretty much, on the way to my part-time job at Christiana Mall.  They closed at a time that wasn't a big time of bra need for me, though, so I didn't really feel the loss until some months later.  They closed just before Valentine's Day 2016 and it wasn't until I returned from my post-military retirement road trip(s) in June that I was really wishing they were still open.

See, those trips were a total of 2.5 months and 12,500 miles of traveling.  Sitting, really.  And often.  Even when I wasn't driving, I wasn't super active.  As a result, I gained a good 20-25 pounds (on top of the ten that I gained in late 2015 but I digress) and could no longer "make do" with the 36FF bras that I'd been sporting for the better part of a year.  Come June/July of 2016 I HAD to get new bras.  I was measuring close to a 40 band.  BUT, I hadn't yet ventured to Bare Essentials yet so I just got some "make do" bras at the local (overpriced) department store.

Come September, though, I was tired.  Tired of being tired and tired of being the (overall body) size that I was so I hit the gym.  But not after ordering a few different size sports bras from online.  I kept the two that fit and then ventured to Bare Essentials to get some more of the same style.  And, three months later, there was no denying that I needed new bras...again.  I had lost about 20 pounds and the 38FF Elomis were swimming on me.  Even the sports bras, which I purposely bought a little snug, were a bit too big.


Now it was time for some REAL shopping at Bare Essentials.  I was helped by Victoria.  The woman knows her bras.  Even more important, she knows there's more to bra fitting than just band and cup sizes.  I think it helps that her own quest is as "fun" as the rest of us--we, of the sizes that they just don't carry in midrange department stores like Macy's, JCPenney, or the like.

Anyhow, she brought me everything.  Well, except for Elomi Cates and Caitlyns because I was just tired of wearing those styles.  They'd been my "make do" bras for the past six months.  I actually found five or six styles that I really liked and left with a pretty full bra wardrobe.

But, let me tell you about the store.  Bras everywhere.  From floor to ceiling and all along the walls.  Beautifully arranged and in a huge variety of sizes.  They may not have ALL the colors on hand but ordering is easy and they ship right to your house.  LOVE!!  They also carry Spanx and bra-sized swimwear.  The fitting rooms are spacious; though the lighting isn't the best.  It's kind of well-lit but the way the fixtures are positioned, they cause shadows and that can skew how you view the fit of a bra in the mirror. They also have a bathroom that is located conveniently near the fitting rooms, on the main floor, and it feels much like a home bathroom vs the "industrial" feel of many store bathrooms.

The store is easy to get to from Interstate 95, via Hwy 202 N--just make sure you're in the outside lane of either road so that you can turn into their parking lot, as it's right on the southeast corner of Hwy 202/Concord Pike and Silverside Rd.

Most importantly, the prices are comparable and the owner has implemented a reward program that is based upon $$ spent.  You can also Like them on facebook.

So, if you're in the region of Wilmington, Delaware, take advantage of our states complete tax free-ness and pick up some new pretties at Bare Essentials.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Bra Review: Elomi Energise Medium Control Convertible Sports Bra

I first tried on the Elomi Energise Sports Bra at Bare Essentials, here in Delaware.  That's how I was able to narrow down my size.  I measure at a 38FF but this style runs large in the cup so I ended up ordering one each of tan and black in 38F.  I then went on barenecessities.com to see if they had other colors.  They did--a snazzy pomegranate color.  Kind of red; kind of pink.  I ordered two of those.

On to the construction and fit...
The bra, unworn, measures at 31"...
...with straps that are just under 1" wide.  I know you can't really see that they're less than 1" but my camera flash was not cooperating.  They're approximately 3/4" wide.  You can also see the J-hook which I just may to try.

The cups have two vertical seams, one full (top to bottom) along the outer portion of the cup and one that goes up to the horizontal overbust seam.

And it has ALMOST enough immediate depth (fka immediate projection) to accommodate me.

The gore tacks beautifully and you can see, below (and above) that it has a closed top.  I have short roots and even fullness--making me "functionally" FoB--and this sits just right on me.  The underwires stop a full 2" from the top of the bra but the whole gore sits flush against my sternum.

So...how does it perform?  Well, the jury is still out.  I *have* jogged in it twice now.  However, I haven't jogged in quite some time.  I did do some running in my Natori Yogi bra.  It wasn't pleasant or comfortable.  So, really, I haven't ran regularly since I was a 36FF--about 30lbs ago--so I don't know if it was uncomfortable because it truly didn't support or if it was uncomfortable because of the extra volume on my chest.  I plan to keep them and continue to jog in them but I may end up getting a compression bra to go over top of them until I get used to running again.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Bra Review: Brooks/Moving Comfort Embody Sports Bra

The Brooks/Moving Comfort Embody Sports Bra was recommended to me by someone who runs and is large chested.  She assured me that it was comfortable and fit great so I ordered one.  The first thing I did, though, was to eschew their method of determining for size.  To determine band size, it has you add as many as FIVE inches to what you measure under the bust.  FIVE inches!!  I measure at 37", snugly.  This would have had me ordering a 42 band size--two sizes too big for this 38 band size woman.  And their cup size determination...I can't even.  It has you in an AA cup if there is a three inch difference between your (actual) band and (actual) bust measurement and my 10 inch difference puts me in an F cup, by their chart.  If you'd like to experience this confusion, yourself, just click on "Expert Advice" and measure away.

Folks, bra math is fairly easy: 1 inch = 1 cup size.  It's the differences between the three main "sizers"--UK, US, and EU--that confuses many folks.   The part that you have to keep in mind is that UK sizing has no vowels beyond E and has double letters after F.  Here's a chart to show how US, UK, and EU sizing lines up.  Since Moving Comfort comes in FF cups, it's safe to assume that they use UK sizing.  But, by their measuring methods, I wouldn't need an FF.  I'd be in a 42F.  Needless to say, I didn't order a 42F.  I ordered my r/ABTF's calculated size of 38FF.

When I first opened the package, I was quite excited.  It appeared to have many of the features that I need for a bra in which I plan to run: wide straps, deeper cups, high gore to name a few.  And it really is just a nice looking bra.  My first step was to measure the bra--before I put it on so as to not skew the measurement.  Unstretched, it measured between 30 and 31 inches.  Eek!  I hope it's not too tight!!

The straps were great.  Nice and wide--a full 1 inch wide, fully adjustable--you can shorten them and lengthen them all the way from front to back, and you can criss cross them.
Checking out more of the construction, I see that it has two layers.  This is great if you like a little more coverage between your bra and your tshirt or don't want your boobs quite so "out there" in a bra.  It's also a great place to put your keys and ID without putting those items in the actual cup.  :)
The other thing that's nice is that the cup is multi-seamed.  This is an important feature if you have any sort of breast projection.  Your boobs won't be pushing the bra all the way down your ribcage, searching for a deeper part of the cup.
Okay, so how does it fit???
Not great.  The cup was too small.  The cups are compressing me enough that I have cleavage in this bra and that's not a goal of mine in a sports bra.  The gore tacked but you can see where the inner portion of the underwire is digging into said cleavage.    See the "dig" here:
The other indicator that it doesn't fit well, for me, is how the cup doesn't extend as far as I'd like towards my armpit.  This might be due to being too narrow, too, but I wouldn't know for sure unless I ordered a cup size larger--38G.  I also had more "wing overhang" than I was comfortable with.
I didn't order the 38G...yet.  Maybe sometime in the future.  I found another brand and style at a local store and purchased a few of those.  Be on the lookout for a store review for Bare Essentials in Delaware and a bra review for the bra that I bought.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Inspired to Help Women Find Their Size; Just Not Inspired to Post Anything New...Til Now.

A few weeks ago, I (as is stated in the military) got my "peepee spanked" for linking my blog willy nilly just for the sake of linking my blog.  And, even though I really was trying to help the person on whose thread I'd linked my blog, there was some truth to the statement.  As a result, my brain went into questioning mode.  "Do I really have anything to contribute?"  "Is what I offer valid/useful?" and on and on.  Granted, I haven't been as informed for as long as the moderators on the sub on which I was posting my links but my answer still came to a resounding YES.  Why?  Because I have mid-band, mid-cup boobs and that perspective is different from the "usual" 28, 30 and 32 bands that are on there and might be more useful to the 40, 42, 44 bands that post.

So, I continue to read and learn and I still post links that I know are helpful--even when there seems to be an ongoing discussion about what terms are correct to use and which ones are not.  The discussion on "Immediate Projection", alone, is enough to make your head spin.  But I press on, bowing to the "voice" of whomever is speaking the loudest about what terms to use.  I like the term Immediate Projection because you can explain that the breast tissue "projects immediately from the rib cage where the two meet."

I continue to tell folks that cross my path, at work and out and about in town, about my blog.  If only so that they go to the bra size calculator and discover that most retailers measure you incompletely.  I don't say "wrong" because they are using a couple measurements that determine a correct fit but they aren't using ALL of them.  Did it just the other day, at the gym.  I saw this poor woman with her bra band nearly up to her shoulders on her back.  I always try to mention the blog right away so that ladies don't think I'm some kind of stalker.  It also helps explain my passion for helping women get what fits.  If they're able to glean some nuggets about shape, great!  If it leads them to the reddit sub, even better!!  I just want them to find what fits even if it doesn't fit perfect.  Fitting *better* is good too.


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?