Mythbusting the Bust

Image source: shioshvili of http://www.flickr.com

For those on facebook, my status update of “Today I’ve learned something very important and life changing about myself. Wow is all I have to say.” is talking about this.

I’ve been wearing the wrong size bra my entire life. I know it’s a weird thing to talk and blog about, but I feel like I need to. I was on a website called reddit, and there was a discussion about bra sizing. Of course, I got curious and read it. And I wasAMAZED. Someone went through a lot of effort to figure out the science -yes it is Science- behind bra cups and band size. Since I was out in public, I wasn’t able to measure myself, but once I did that, discovered that in fact, I’m not a 34B/ 32C that I thought I was, but I’m actually a 32DD. Most of you are going “But Amber, you’re so tiny, that’s not possible, you must have done it wrong!” No, It’s not impossible, and no I did not. The instructions are pretty easy. The number one thing is to NOT go to national chain stores to have them measure you. Here’s why: 1) When they measure you, they measure you over a bra and shirt. Unless you’re Maw-Maw from that show “Raising Hope” you don’t go around wearing a bra over a bra and shirt. 2) They are sales people and rather than tell you “Sorry we do not carry a bra in your size” they throw a bra that will ‘mostly fit’. They are salespeople, they want you to buy their product.

So what do you do then? Grab a soft measuring tape, paper and a pencil, and possibly your husband. Tell him what he’s helping you with, and I can promise you he’ll want to *wink*. You can do this yourself too of course. Follow these instructions:

  1. Lean forward so that your back is parallel with the floor. This is important. You want gravity the help pull all your breast tissue forward, even the migrated breast tissue that your previously ill-fitting bra squished back under your arms (and even around onto your back).
  2. Reach back and massage your sides, kind of pushing the breast tissue forward with a sweeping motion.
  3. Measure around your torso, with the tape passing over the fullest part of your hanging breasts. Don’t bend the tape into your cleavage; keep it running straight, touching your breasts in a straight line. Moreover, keep tape as straight as possible along your body (essentially perpendicular to the floor if you’ve done your best to make your body parallel to it). This measurement should be loose. Tighten the tape just tight enough that it doesn’t easily slide off the skin if nudged, but not tight enough to begin to deform the breast tissue.
  4. Write that number down. For the sake of this example, let’s say 42 inches. Write it down.

(You’re supposed to strip down so there’s tape to skin contact; however I do realize that there are a number of LDS ladies reading my blog. Just measure yourself how you’d normally wear your bra.

For the band size you’ll need to do this:

  1. Wrap the tape around your torso, directly under the root of your breast. Wherever your breast tissue terminates into the torso is where the band should be sitting. Even if it seems high (because you’re used to wearing poor-fitting bras, or you have breasts with a high root but significant slope), you want the band to sit at the root of the breast so that the breast tissue is laying nicely in the cups.
  2. Pull the tape tight enough that it feels really snug, but not so tight as to be a corset or leave a red mark in your skin. It’s important you get a snug measurement; if you start with a band that is an inch or more too big, it will not only fail to support you right from the start, but it will rapidly get worse as the bra wears out and loses elasticity.
  3. Write this measurement down. For the sake of this example, let’s say the measurement was 34 inches.

At that point you’ll want to go to this bra fitting calculator and input your numbers, select how tight/lose you want your band and then click enter. This will not only give you your bra size in UK bras, but US sizing as well.

Here’s what I put in, and here’s what I got:

That sounds reasonable. If I’m 31.5″ inches around my ribcage, then it makes complete sense to round up to the nearest band size and wear that. This has been reputed to be the BEST and MOST accurate calculator on the internet.

Now for the sake of interest, I went to another website that actually carried my proper bra size, and followed their instructions to measure my bra size, and the video instructions told me to measure my bustline like this:

To see the video that this clip came from, go to this link and click on “Watch Now”

 

If I follow the video’s instructions to hold the tape measure in a triangle, this results in the bustline measurement you see bellow of 41 inches. It seems so counter intuitive. First they already have you measuring over a bra that mashes and distorts the ‘girls’ and wearing a thin shirt. Then they have you doing that? NO THANKS. And last time I checked, we don’t have one triangle shaped boob that’s smack dab in the middle of our chests.

WHAT?!?! Now, why on earth would I wear a band that’s 4 inches too large? The cup sizing is correct, but there’s NO WAY that I could fit into a 36 inch band. NO WAY.

There’s a webpage that further discusses the science behind bra sizing and explains why you’re most likely going to get a significant difference between the bra size you’re currently wearing and the bra size that you’ll get when measuring yourself with the lean over at the waist method. More importantly there’s a chat that discusses the volume of bra cups based on the band/cup ratio. If it sounds absurd, here’s a link to a forum post on a website that is dedicated for medical information and support regarding breast health. http://www.breasthealthonline.org/cgi-bin/mwf/topic_show.pl?tid=48932 that verifies the information on the chart. Further research has me to be able to determine when a woman has a mastectomy where one breast is just removed, they take the volume of their remaining breast into consideration and this allows a woman to have a prosthetic that closely matches her remaining breast to look as natural as possible. In this case, a proper fitting bra is CRUCIAL. I’ve never experienced having a mastectomy, but I think I can assume there’s a level of extreme self consciousness involved. And plus, why get fitted for a prosthetic, and then wear a bra that’s not the right size? It’s probably gong to make it look that more obvious that one of your breasts is not attached to your body and cause even more self esteem issues!

To further determine if the chart on Bustyresource is correct, I actually did a experiment that involves water displacement to determine volume. (Don’t know what that is, the science is explained here.) So, yes you read that correctly.. I stuck my boob in a bowl of water. And you know what? It was pretty close. The CC volume was actually 535, so it’s actually smack dab in the middle of two ranges; but it’s best to go up because I do have displaced breast tissue that should eventually settle back down into it’s normal place and fill up the cup of the bra. My displaced breast tissue is under my armpits as well as across my upper chest under my collarbone a bit… essentially when you have ‘armpit fat’ it’s most likely displaced breast tissue! Eventually with a proper fitting bra the tissue will migrate down to it’s proper place. Considering that my current bras are all 34B and 32C, I’ve been wearing bras with cup volumes 200 cc’s too small! Or in easier terms to, there was an over-spillage of 3/4 cup plus 1.5 tablespoon of tissue! That’s significant.

I decided the best course of action for myself was to purchase a UK branded bra from eBay. I did that instead of  a US brand, because there’s a pretty tight consistency between the various bra brands that are offered in the UK, versus the massive inconsistency seen in US sizes between brands. An excellent and affordable website of UK bras is called Brastop.com, but I wanted to purchase a bra stateside with lower shipping rates -and so it will get here faster- and try that before committing extra time and money for shipping internationally. Even then, the the price difference wasn’t bad at all, it was $4 less on ebay than on their website. Plus I’ve got a feeling they have flat rate shipping, so it will be cheaper to buy more than one bra at a time.

Maybe some of you have experienced this already, but studies have shown that ill fitting bras can cause a plethora of physical pain.. sore back, shoulders even headaches. I know personally I suffer from tension headaches that seem to originate in my neck and shoulders. I’ve actually been diagnosed with suffering from tension migraines and was actually given a prescription to have occupational therapy done to help release/reduce tension. I never did the occupational therapy, but maybe wearing a bra that’s actually my size will help reduce my neck and shoulder pain and headaches!

Well, that’s my public service announcement. Take from it what you will, but hopefully this will give you insight.. don’t settle for a bra that mostly fits, get one that ACTUALLY fits. Your “girls” will thank you!

2 thoughts on “Mythbusting the Bust

  1. Thank you so much for linking to our calculator! I’m happy that it has produced correct results for you. I designed it as a way of giving women a starting point bra size although nothing takes the place of a proper bra fitting experience. Three US brands that I would recommend are Affinitas, especially their Parfait line, Wacoal, and Natori. All of these are fantastic, but you are right that there can be variation in how each brand fits. Finding the right bra can take time, but once you achieve a perfect fit, you are so right that the girls will thank you!

    1. Thank you SO much for creating a wonderful tool! It’s been an amazing starting point for myself as well as my friend that lives with me and my family. She got a new bra today and she was carrying herself with a bit more confidence! I hope that readers will read my posts and take some time and make the necessary adjustments to their wardrobes if they need to.

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