Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Struggle is Real and All Too Common.

Anyone else had an issue like Kristin Chirico, a frequent poster to BuzzFeed...

Watch This Woman Get Fitted For Bras and Get All Different Sizes

I'm hoping that my Bra Fit Events help alleviate this problem, one person at a time.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Recent Experience Utilizing What I've Learned

During a recent shift, I had such an experience that I wanted to share it with those who read my blog.  I was sorting bras in our clearance bins at the front of the store and a woman came in, carrying a slightly crumpled bag from our store.  I greeted her and she said that she was there to return some bras because they just didn’t fit, even after getting a fit the week prior and that it may be due to having had some post-op swelling over her breast area.  She headed towards the cash wrap and I headed towards Beauty then back to the fitting rooms to help a customer who had rang the buzzer, for assistance.  Over my headset, I hear “Nichole, I’ve got a customer coming back for a fitting.  She’s been fitted a couple times before and always returns what she buys.”  I could only conclude that she wasn’t getting a proper fit or that it was due to the swelling that she mentioned earlier.  I greeted her again and asked how I may assist her, also offering a bra fitting in the dressing room.  She expressed that the bras just didn’t fit but that the swelling was completely gone now, according to her doctor.  The bras that she had were 36DDs.

I went on to explain how I measure and that a proper measurement involves actually not wearing a bra but that I wouldn’t be doing that.  Instead, I would just measure over her bra.  When she took her blouse off so that I could execute the measuring, I could see that she was not fitting, at all, in the bra that she was wearing.  It was very similar to this.  There was no separation between her breasts; she was coming out her armpits; and it just looked too snug overall.  Kind of like in the picture below (from boosaurus.com).

I went on to explain how a bra should fit while I measured her.  Her snug underbust was 33”.  Her overbust was 41”.  I recognized that this wouldn’t be accurate because of her bra holding her in but let her know the measurements that I was getting.  I counted off cup sizes on my fingers for her, letting her know that, based upon those numbers, she’s actually measuring at a 34H, not the 36DD that she had been told.  She, initially, couldn’t understand why there was such a cup disparity.  I then asked her to Scoop and Swoop her breasts in her bra—even demonstrated on myself the act of reaching into the bra and under the armpit and pulling the breast tissue forward (no, I didn't remove my shirt to do this lol).  If you could have seen the look on her face when all that breast tissue came forward (and nearly out the front of the bra)…  I’m sure I had the same look when I first learned S&S.

(image from bra-fitting-lores)

I went on to tell her places that she *may* be able to find that size and gave the address to this blog so that she could reference it later.  She was so happy to learn that it was the bras that were the issue and not her breasts--and to be armed with more information than she’d been given in the past—that she appeared to have tears in her eyes.  I was so touched that I wanted to hug her.  I hope to be able to help more customers, just like her, find their true bra size.

THAT is why I feel called to pursue this passion.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Some Additional Info Regarding the Bras that I Tried

As I mentioned in this post, my new calculated size is a 36FF/36H.  There are three different size ranges, depending upon country of manufacturer, so a 36FF on the U.K. size chart equals (for the most part) a 36H on the U.S. size chart.  The U.K. also has an H cup but it's considerably larger than the FF, given that the band size is the same.  See the size chart below for a visual depiction.

Update Feb 3, 2016: Please note that only the UK sizes actually exist in those cups.  I filled in the U.S. and EU sizes just to give an idea of their corresponding cups.

U.S. U.K. EU
  K O

That being said, all the bras I tried on were either 36FF or 36H, depending upon the manufacturer.  I didn't mention anything about cup width or the shallowness of the bras.  The post was merely a memory-jogger/brief peek into the fact that I totally feel your pain when it comes to finding the right bra.  As I learn, I will share what I learn with you so that you, too, can become more informed about what fits and how it should fit.It would probably be so much easier if they just depicted cups much the way that doctors do: with cc--a measurement of volume but even that would have it's drawbacks and would take quite a period of adjustment to get used to.  Jockey has attempted to do something like this but even they are limited on their cup range.  They have only 10 choices for cups and their bands *do* start at 30 but their largest cup/band combo is 10/34 (cup/band) and the largest cup for the 30 band is a 7.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The First Leg of the Journey for a Bra That Fits

With a desire to let you know that I KNOW how much of a pain it is to find a bra that fits, I'm sharing the first leg of my journey with you.  I ordered nearly 30 bras at the end of May, tried them all on--had to wait longer for some because they went backorder--and am finally getting around to deciding the next ones to try.  Here is the rundown of my journey, thus far, and my notes regarding the ones that I've tried. This is copy/pasted from an Excel sheet that I will maintain for future reference.

Brand Style Notes
Chantelle Rive Gauche Very slight pucker at top, underwire sits low on ribcage (trying smaller cup)
Cleo by Panache Juna Balconette Balconette too low--muffin top, good lining
Cleo by Panache Maddie Balconette Muffin top, band too tight, very wide set straps, very cute though
Curvy Couture Tulip Lace Push-Up Gap at top, underwire poking armpit, very pretty (sister size down in band)
Curvy Couture Matte and Shine T-Shirt Gap at top, underwire poking armpit, very pretty (sister size down in band)
Elomi Tessa Supports, encases, but top has slight puckering, fabric would be itchy in heat
Elomi Bijou Convertible T-Shirt Slight gap at top (best "shaped" to fit so far)
Fantasie Rebecca Mirage T-Shirt Gap at top, interior sling made it look like my breast were sitting on a shelf, would be itchy in heat
Fantasie Rebecca T-Shirt Gap at top, interior sling made it look like my breast were sitting on a shelf, would be itchy in heat
Fantasie Melissa Side Support Plunge Pucker at top, itchy fabric
Fantasie Lois Side Support Very slight pucker at top, a good "winter" fabric, would be itchy in heat
Fantasie Alex Side Support Slight pucker at top
Freya Gem Good uplift, seam over top causes weird shape, itchy fabric
Freya Active Molded Sport Lots of gapping at top, snug band
Gossard Glossies Unlined Totally sheer, pucker all over, would try one cup smaller
Panache Floris Balconette Narrow cups, serious pucker on top
Panache Dahlia Balconette Good fit, wide straps would probably slide
Passionista by Chantelle Starlight Plunge Too loose, material seemed flimsy
Wacoal Fine Form Supports, encases, but top has slight puckering
Wacoal La Femme T-Shirt Boob under shelf, pretty good balconette
Wacoal Casual Beauty Shows NO cleavage, love the close strap placement in back, underwire sits low on ribcage
Wacoal Retro Chic Slight puckering over whole cup, very tall cups
Wacoal Maximum Control Sport Very snug, pucker in cups, although it would be a good full coverage bra, I wouldn't run in it

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

What I Offer vs Victoria's Secret (and Other Retailers)

I think it’s important to make a post specific to any potential conflict of interest with my part time job, Victoria’s Secret.  I am not looking to take ANY business away from them.  If any of my (future) clients have sizes that fit within their size range and the styles they have are what said clients are looking for, you can bet I will be referring them there. 
It’s my intent to help those who can’t shop in (pretty much) ANY bricks and mortar store.  Most retailers carry sizes that fall into a specific size range, often referred to as: The Bra Matrix.  It’s those size that run from 32A up to 38DD, for the most part.  Now, I know that a number of department stores carry larger cups in the 36-42 band spectrum—cup sizes like G, H, and maybe I—but where are the Ns for those bands?  Or…where are the Gs, Hs, and Is for the 32 band?  Then there’s folks who find that a 32 band size is just too big.  A few retailers are starting to carry 30s and that’s awesome but where are the 28s?  Lastly, is the folks that need a small cup who have a large band size.  Where are the A and B cups for the bands that are larger than 42?

It’s my intent to help the outliers who, ironically, probably make up the majority.  If you calculate into those “outlier” sizes, I’m here to help you.  Let me help you find what fits because, I promise you, it’s not YOU, it’s the BRA that is shaped or styled wrong.  YOU are created perfect.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Fine Line Between What Fits and What's Available

When a customer comes in, and they’re expecting to walk out of the store with a couple bras, it can be difficult to tell them their more accurate size. 
Case in point, this evening a customer was trying on a 38DD size and it was clear that it was too large in the band.  The cup was a push-up so that skewed the cup size measurement a bit but still, I could tell that the band was just too large.  She had it on the tightest hook and I measured her, snugly, at 36 inches just under her bust.  Over her bust, it was measuring 45 inches.  Subtract an inch or two because of the pushup and that’s still a seven inch difference.  Seven inches is a G cup in U.S. sizes.  She’s not going to find that where I work.  My coworker was standing behind me, watching, as I shared with the customer *why* her band size wasn’t working.  I also explained that to really test the band’s fit you should connect the band with the cups in back or upside down with them over the belly (if your belly doesn’t resemble a case-a-day beer belly lol).  If the band feels fine without your breasts in the cup, then it’s the right band size.  If it feels too large, go with the shorter band length and then find a cup that fits.
I encountered another customer who was expressing dismay about the “fat” underneath her armpits.  I shared with her about “swooping and scooping” and bringing that “fat” back where it belongs: in the bra because it’s migrated breast tissue.  She kept the band size that she was in and went up a cup.  I hope it fit.  She wasn’t specifically my customer so I didn’t follow up with her.  Same with the first lady.  I just dropped little nuggets of fit information so that they would be better informed while shopping.

I think I can hope to only be like the butterfly, fluttering its wings, making an impact on my customers.  You know that butterfly? 

Monday, June 8, 2015

With This Follow-Up (dated Jun 7th, 2015)

Even though my previous entry may seem like I’m sending the message that I’m an expert, I’m not.  I’m very new to this portion of the journey of finding what fits.  I’m hoping to bring folks along with me on this journey and help them find what fits as well.  Maybe they don’t have the resources to acquire a whole slew of garments to try on all at once and maybe they don’t have the time to try on just one at a time.  What I’m trying to say is: I know that there are a lot of folks who can’t plop down the initial investment to get a wide selection of bras to try on all at once and they don’t have the time to order only one item, try it on, find out it doesn’t fit, send it back in exchange for another size or style that will probably, also, not fit.  I want to help those folks.  The first go-round will be easy because I already have two collections of sizes on hand—36FF/36H, from what I ordered to try on and 28E, from what was acquired for another person to try on—in quantities of more than 20 different styles.  I’m extending an opportunity for those who are neighbors to me to try on any of the ones that are on hand before I send them back.

In some cases, it may appear that I’m competing with my place of employment but that won’t be the case.  I can’t compete with a company if I’m not offering anything that can be found at their store.  That being said, I wouldn’t be offering bra fit events for those who can shop within the “bra matrix”—that range of sizes that most every bricks and mortar store carries and/or has on hand.  I’m talking about the 34Bs and the 36Cs and the 38Ds—those are the ones that I WON’T be doing these for.  The ones that I WILL—the 32FFs and the 36Is and the 40As and the like—are the ones that you can find only online.  It will take some time and it won’t be something that will happen all that quickly because there’s only so much that I can acquire at a time and there are a ton of underserved and unsupported (pun intended) sizes out there.  How many?  Just check out the range of sizes that are carried at
 I intend to start with the most common band size, whatever that may be (and to be determined by a poll on an easily accessed page), and get started that way.  I won’t be offended if folks try on at my place and then opt to purchase elsewhere.  I’m not a business.  I’m not looking to make any profit.  I’m aiming to help folks find their fit.  If they choose to take a product off my hands by reimbursing me for its cost (and therefore saving me the effort that it will take to return it, even better), they can do that too.  Because, seriously, the less that I have to return, the better.  J

I will keep you posted on my own fit journey.  I posted the link to the previous entry to the reddit page that I referenced in said entry and received some excellent feedback on the fit of my new calculated size.  It’s a work in progress and I’m just glad that I was able to find anything that I even liked on the first round of try-ons.

I’d love to read any comments that you have for this or any other blog entry that I’ve made.  Please don’t hesitate to leave ‘em.
Photo by Stacy Hart of Stacy Hart Photography-- www.stacyhartphotography.com 

Then This Lengthy Bombshell of a Post (dated Jun 6th, 2015)

Last week I got an urge to research the history of Victoria’s Secret and the multitude of scents that the company has put out over the past few decades.  I came across some really great information.  I even created a new Pinterest board for all the articles that I was coming across:  https://www.pinterest.com/nidena/well-informed-is-well-armed  (Want to see a listing of all the perfumes?  Go here: http://victoriassecretfragrances.blogspot.com/p/list-of-fragrances.html)
But it was what I found when I was searching for bra fit and tips that I really came across a wealth of information that had absolutely nothing to do with Victoria’s Secret except that our fit measuring procedures are…well…incomplete, at best; totally wrong, at worst, which is how it is when there is such high turnover in the company.  Said turnover is even higher now but that is a whole other blog post that I’ve yet to write.

While looking up bra fitting, I found a whole discussion board for that very thing.  You can find it here: http://www.reddit.com/r/ABraThatFits and read to your heart’s content.  I will try to summarize the key aspects to finding a correct fit and link you to a few places that were instrumental in my learnings thus far.
Let me just tell you that finding this information, and realizing that what I’ve been teaching my customers about fit, made me have an emotional experience much like I did when I discovered that I was not wrong regarding my misgivings about being a Mary Kay consultant.  (Read that story here: http://www.pinktruth.com/board/index.php/topic,361.0.html)   
Like back then, I knew something was missing.  I’ve known for some time that I wasn’t providing all that I could to my customers.  I’ve had to refer so many to online retailers but I knew that they would just be guessing at their size because the information that I was giving them really did feel incomplete.  I want my customers to feel empowered; to come to me having an idea of what they’re looking for; and, if that isn’t the case, to walk away with the knowledge that they needed so that they could shop online with confidence.

It’s in this blog post that I hope that I can do that.

The first step was getting the measurements and inputting them into the online calculator.  Now, mind you, I’ve sized myself in the DD and DDD range for YEARS.  Sometimes a 34 band, sometimes a 36.  The only thing that I had correct was the 36.  See, VS bras have really stretchy bands.  That’s why it’s easy to think that a 36 is quite roomy.  It’s really not all that stretchy in a bra that fits correctly but I digress, sort of.  The calculator called for FIVE measurements.  If you’ve ever read the “bra fit” post of mine (http://nidena.blogspot.com/2008/10/to-ensure-bra-fits.html), you’ll know that VS measures three locations MAX.  All these years…incomplete information.  To really get your correct calculated measurement, you need to take a measurement in all five places (maybe positions is a better word).

Do you have your tape measure?
I’ll wait.  :D
Okay, now you gotta free the girls to take the measurements.  That's right!  Take off the boulder holder and let them feel the breeze.

  1. Snug underbust
  2. Tight underbust (The underbust is just what it sounds like: right under your boobs, in the “crease”)
Okay, stand up now.
  1. Standing overbust (wrap that tape gently around your torso and across your nipples.  I know…it’s cold…and a little sensitive…but endure it)
Got that?  Now bend over.  Let them puppies dangle for all they’re worth.
  1. Leaning overbust (and you thought standing overbust was difficult lol)  I totally understand if you need help with this one.  Some ladies just have a lot of boob and might need to phone a friend.
Are you tired?  That’s okay ‘cause now you get to lay down.  Yep, the next measurement is flat on your back.  Well, unless you have a butt that doesn’t let you lay flat.  Lol
  1. Laying overbust (don’t fret if this is smaller than the other two.  Mine was too)
Borrowed this pic from http://www.reddit.com/r/ABraThatFits to give you a visual on where/how to measure:

Now…and I really hope you remembered to write all those down otherwise you’ll have to do them again…go plug those numbers in here: http://www.brasizecalculator.tk/
I hope you didn’t pass out when you saw your new calculated size.
I was Wow’d also.  
Are you overwhelmed?  Take a breather.  Then come back for just a few more things.

Once you get over the “sticker shock” of your new size, you’ll want to learn about:
--Projection—Shallow vs Projected breasts (Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about this to be able explain it so I will suggest checking out this page: http://www.reddit.com/r/ABraThatFits/wiki/shallow and the links on it)
--Fullness—on both the top and bottom  (A great guide can be found here: http://i.imgur.com/VPH5K0E.png  think of the spot where the red and blue lines meet as the spot where your nipple sits)
I have to also say that www.venusianglow.com is a great resource for this information.  Just click on *Bra Matrix* on that site and you’ll encounter a whole other world of stuff about boobs and bra fittings.

Now, I know you’re probably thinking: “But my bra fits just fine.  Why do I need all this information?”  I thought the same thing.  After all, I have nine years experience of bra fitting from working at Victoria’s Secret.  If I was a pilot, I could wear one of those patches that have cumulative hours on it.  Mine would be, easily, 500+ hours.  I mean, doesn’t it look like my bra fits?  Except maybe that little bit of pudge under my armpit but everyone has that, right? 

My life was changed when I read three little words and employed the action that which they describe: SWOOP AND SCOOP.
While wearing the bra, you reach in and pull that flesh that we've always thought was "pudge" forward so that it's back where it's supposed to be.  Why?  Because that "pudge" is breast tissue that has been exiled from the ill-fitting bras that we've worn all these years.  That's right!  Reclaim that additional breast tissue with pride.
Here’s the same bra with breasts swooped and scooped:

Doesn’t fit so well after all.  Note the "muffin top" above the cups.  When I realized that, I sought out that bra calculator (here it is again so that you don’t have to scroll up to the top: http://www.brasizecalculator.tk/ ), took all my measurements and plugged them in.  I about had a heart attack when I saw the new measurement.  36FF?  That can’t be right.  And that’s not even a U.S. size.  36H?  What the heck!!!  I had to test this theory.  There’s no way that a 36FF/36H is going to fit me.  It’ll be too big.  I couldn’t be more incorrect.  Here’s a (more) correctly fitting 36FF/36H:

Now, maybe you're wanting to rebutt with: "But that's a full coverage bra!"  It is; however, the demi bras fit just as well.  Unfortunately, they were a little too sheer/lacy for me to feel comfortable putting pictures of them on my blog.  I hope you can understand that.
My life will be forever changed.  Unfortunately, unless I lose a whole lot of breast, I won’t be buying bras at my place of employment any longer.  I prefer bras that fit over ones that are readily accessible. 
I plan to help a few folks local to me find both.  See my next post for how I plan to do that but FIRST go get your new calculated size.  You're gonna need it.

In The Very Recent Past, I Posted This (dated Jun 3rd, 2015)

For the past nine years, I've been doing my bra fittings very much like what is described in this post: To Ensure A Bra Fits and, come to find out (due to the recent discovery of recent of new information), I've been incomplete and fairly inaccurate in my tallies.  How incomplete?  Well, I had sized myself at a 36DDD before I lost 20lbs and, since then, at a 34DDD/36DD..  I was a bit wrong.  Three cups wrong.  I'm actually a 36H.  I will share the the information that I found, as well as a link to how I calculated my size in a post later this week.  In it, I will also share the size that I thought I was by showing you (unknowingly) ill fitting bras that I have bought in the past few months at VS and the bras that I just tried on last night in the size that actually fits (more) correctly.
I'm headed to sleep now but please check back later this week for that next post.  It'll be lengthy and informative.

An Early Attempt to Help Customers Help Themselves (originally posted to my personal blog on Oct 22nd, 2008)

Basic measurements are (while wearing a decent fitting bra):
Around the top of the chest/under armpits
Around the fullest part of the breast (where the nipples are)
And then around the rib cage just under the breast.
Make sure your tape measure is not on any breast tissue with the bottom measurement. I've had a lot of customers come in and tell me that they were last measured at XX when, in fact, I just measured them at XX-3 because the last person to measure them didn't make sure that breast tissue and/or bra underwires weren't included in the measurement. I've even gone so far to ask women to please lift their breasts up so that I could ensure I wasn't measuring the bottom of their breast tissue. (Once the tape measure was in place, I had them let go)
Your band size will fall between the measurement under the armpits and the one around the ribcage. I can't give you an exact # because the rest of your structure will dictate which it is but it does give you a ball park figure.
For example, if I measure a customer at 38" under her armpits; 40" around her fullest part; and 36" around her ribcage, I will suggest a 38B and a 36D as places to start. You won't know what fits until the bra is on. From then, change only the size to find the correct one in that bra. Don't change bra and size unless it's super obvious that both are not suited.
If all your bras have padding in them, and that's what you're wearing when you measure, subtract a 1/2" or so or just measure a little snugger...not tight, but snug.
With fit, you want to ensure there are only two breasts. You don't want two hanging out the center and you don't want two squishing into your armpits. If you have this problem, try a larger cup.
If your breasts are falling out the bottom of the bra, the band is too big/stretched out.
If the band keeps hiking up in back, go down a band size but get the comparable cup size. It will be the same cup coverage but snugger in the band.
You want the center gore (the part between the cups) to be flat/flush against your skin. You should not be able to put you keys in this space--it's not a pocket. If the center gore isn't flat, go up a cup and down a band--see below for conversion.
Don't be afraid of letters beyond DD. It is what it is. Wouldn't you rather have a bra that fits rather than a specific size. Though, I did encounter a customer who refused to believe she was a 36DDD and only because she had to have a VS bra.
Bra math:
32C=34B or 30D
34D=36C or 32DD
36DD=38D or 34DDD
38DDD=40DD or 36DDDD

D=D (4" difference between band size and cup size)
DD=E (5")
DDD=EE=F (6")
One last tidbit...we all have mismatched breasts...some as much as a cup difference. Fit the larger cup. You can always add to the smaller one. You can't make the larger one smaller with a bra.
Can't find your size in stores, try figleaves.com, barenecessities.com, or herroom.com. They all have beautiful bras in a huge range of sizes...all the way from 28A to 52J.

How the Passion Ignited

Six months after moving to Dover, I got a part time job at Victoria's Secret as an offset to all the testosterone that I was surrounded by at my full time job--the USAF.  It was great!  (It still is.)  I could talk about girl stuff to my heart's content.  I could test all kinds of beauty products to see what smells I liked and which I didn't.  And get paid to do so because I was "zoned" to that section when I first started.  We received training for bra fittings and then had to practice on our coworkers throughout the day because the company wanted to ensure that we knew what we were doing.  There were meetings held approximately once every quarter/season to introduce us to new products coming out and to expand our product knowledge on items that were already being sold.  The meetings also served as training opportunities to further our bra fit knowledge.

In time, there were fewer meetings.  We're talking over the course of a number of years since I'm going on year #9 in the same location.  So the training isn't as in-depth but it's still there and we're still encouraged to have the new employees fit their coworkers during the slow times of their shifts.

Even with all this training (or because of it), I was finding that I couldn't put ALL my customers into bras that VS sold.  They had too much breast tissue or their rib cages were absolutely tiny.  I say tiny because some were the size of my thigh.  lol.  So, I started looking for other options for them because I wanted to be able to help my customers find bras that fit them; though some just wanted VS bras.  In those cases, I would find the ones that we carried that best fit them and steer them towards 'em.  Other customers wanted ones that fit.  I suggested larger department stores in nearby states.  I suggested online locations.

I adopted the mindset like "the link economy" in Miracle on 34th Street: 

I wanted customers to know our VS location as a place that they could come to get good information, even if we didn't have their exact size, and it's something that I've employed ever since.  I like to think that customers come back because they know that we're there to help.