Monday, January 26, 2015

Bra Calculators: Useful or Useless?

Have you heard of the figure that the average-sized US woman is a 36DD? How did they get that number? Was it self-reported? Did brand manufacturers supply numbers? Did woman even measure themselves correctly or did others do it for them? To give you an idea of how fluid bra sizing is between brands, I have compiled a long list of online bra calculations. Follow the links on the brand to try out your own measurements and see how they vary!

The Rules
1) I wore a well-fitted, non-padded bra.
2) Standing up straight, the underbust and bust measurements were taken flush to my body and parallel to the floor.
3) Some calculators require an overbust method which I have included for clarity (see picture below for measuring method).
4) Rounded up and down when appropriate. Ex. Round my overbust down to 36".
5) ALWAYS listened to the fit guide's instructions on how to measure and round up/down.

Picture of Bust and Overbust measurements (Olga)
Underbust: 29"
Bust: 38"
Overbust: 36.25"

Last Fitted Size at Nordstrom
30G (Nov. '14)

Bra Calculators by Brand
Aubade: 34E
Calvin Klein: 34D
Frederick's of Hollywood: 34D
La Senza: 34DD
Lily of France: 34D
Marie Jo: 30G
Natori: 34D
Olga: 36B
Vanity Fair: 34D
Victoria's Secret: 36B*
Wacoal: 34D
Wonderbra: 34F UK

Bra Calculators by Sales Company
A Sophisticated Pair: 28GG, 30G or 32FF UK (depending on how tight I wanted the band)
Figleaves: 30G UK
Bare Necessities: 36B
Nordstrom: 32E UK
Marks & Spencer: 30G UK

Online Fit Advice Only
Miss Mandalay

In Store Only

So are bra calculators useful or useless?
Many of these sites came with very good fit advice but would not have delivered by using the calculator alone. When possible try ordering a bra in a variety of sizes and try them on (make sure the site you use has a free return policy, though). Some manufacturers use their own sizing system (different from standard), so don't be afraid to try things on. And before anything else, try it on in-store whenever possible.
Now ask yourself: what does 36DD even mean when everyone measures things so differently?

A few notes:
- Some brands call the underbust the "bust" and the bust as "chest".
- Some brands only allow a measurement of 30" or greater for their underbust measurement. I rounded up in those cases to an underbust measurement of 30".
- If you really want hard numbers for bra fitting, check out Bratabase. Real people have taken measurements of the bras they own and are available to members.

* I have been measured IN-STORE at Victoria's Secret and they normally take the band measurements and add 4 inches, then subtract the underbust from the bust to get the cup. So thus: 29"+4" = 33" (round up to 34)... 38"-34" = 4"... D cup. So 34D in-store. What a difference!

Monday, January 19, 2015

US Celebrity Lingerie Lines

Many celebrities have begun partnering and/or collaborating with existing bra manufacturers. For many companies this makes a great deal of sense. Dita von Tees's parternship with Wonderbra is a good peek into the mind of a woman helping to revive burlesque. Below are a few of a few brands you may see either online or in brick and mortar stores.

Britney's line has been hyped about for just about two years. What is exciting about this brand is they focus on larger cup brands (US sizes). So if you are a 30G UK then Intimate has 30I US! This is ground-breaking in terms of expanding cup sizes for woman who are usually stuck with A-DDDD. Also the bras range from functional to gorgeous.

Website: Intimate

Von Follies is a collaboration between Dita von Teese and Wonderbra. Their specialty is upscale/sexy lingerie but they are also releasing maternity bras. This combination rarely goes hand-in-hand, so if you are looking forward to motherhood but NOT looking forward to finding new bras, then check out Von Follies and let us know how you like it.

Website: Von Follies
Review: Super Kawaii Mama

Talk about girl-power and my-wallet-power, Halle Berry and Target have teamed up to release Scandale. Scandale, a French brand, has nearly a century of lingerie expertise and with Halle's star-power and connections, it is much easier to cruise to a local Target and find a set. That being said, there it's a very limited range and the designs are very minimal.

Website: Scandale
Where to Buy: Target

Of all of these brands I know the least of the Kardashians. Partnering with Sears (at least for normal clothes), this line has been promoted since 2012 but nothing physical has materialized in a Sears that I have seen. However, there is at least one online retailer who is carrying the line: Bras n' Things (an Australian brand). Maybe they are limiting this to Australia. Hopefully we'll find out more one day.

Where to Buy: Bras n' Things

Monday, January 12, 2015

Kim Kardashian is Wearing the Wrong (Band) Size

Without going into too much detail, I want to admit that I am a people watcher and a fan of celebrity magazines. When I'm alone getting coffee or out shopping, you can find me observing everyone around me and at home I will read trashy gossip articles. If you're anything like me, then this means you already have the skills to identify a badly fitted bra band. The key? The back!

This is usually a good place to look for extreme examples of poorly fitted bands. A loose band rides up the back, whereas a well-fitted band sits parallel to the floor. Under tightly-fitted t-shirts, these rogue bands can be seen. To make it easier, here is a look under the t-shirt.

Beneath the Shirt
Above is an example of a poorly-fitted band. It rides (way) up the back. For women who are large-cupped, when a band is too big they tighten the straps. This in turn pulls the band up even more. What a never-ending cycle! So what does this type of "ride up" look like under a shirt?

Above the Shirt

Radar Online

Here is an example of a poorly fitted bra on Kim Kardashian. Poor lady can't always find a bra that fits her. Under her shirt you can see her bra ride up, almost like a frown! Kim's bra is frowning! The Kardashians are already working on their own lingerie line so hopefully we'll see this frown turn upside down.

Does this shape look like the first picture up top? (The answer is yes). Kim's bra band is riding up where it "fits" (i.e. wider portion of the ribcage) so she has to tighten the band to keep the cups up. Like most of the US, she's probably trapped in a world that says 32" is the smallest band and DD/E is the largest cup. Don't give up, Kim! There is a bra out there for you somewhere!

So what can you do about these poor ladies with ill-fitting bra bands? Nothing! Unless you're close you can't (and shouldn't) say anything. But you CAN use this knowledge for yourself, your best friend, sister, girlfriend, wife, etc. If your bra band is riding up, then consider moving down in the band size (and if your cup already fits, move up a cup for every size you go down in the band). There will be a post on this later.

Interested in celebrity bra sizes? Georgina Horne at Fuller Figure Fuller Bust has a good rundown on celebrity sizes.

Interested in the bra? The Fantasie Alina bra is available in a size range of 30-38 D to H, 40 D to FF.

Where to Buy

Monday, January 5, 2015

ABC Bras

Often forgotten in the bra blog world are the smaller cup sizes. Sometimes it can be as difficult (or more so) to find a bra built for smaller frames/smaller cups vs. smaller frames/larger cups. Here are a few brands to look into if you happen to have an AA, A, B, and/or C cup!

P.S. As a note, I have not tried these brands, so if you have any insight to them, please share!
P.P.S. Pay attention to how these companies size their cups. Not all A's are created equal!

Little Women Lingerie
(32 to 40 AAA to A) 
Little Women carry not only their own brands but other brands as well. They have the largest band sizes of all of the brands mentioned here. Their line includes a sailor-themed bikini top option as well as a strapless.

Lula Lu Petite Lingerie
(30AA to A, 32AA to C, 34AAA to C, 36AAA to B, 38AAA to A)

Lula Lu produces their bras in Thailand specifically for the smaller bust! Just like Little Women lingerie, they also carry other brands including their house brand. Their cup sizes (AAA and AA) are meant for if your bust is less than 1/2" difference from your bust or less less than 1" difference, respectively.

Royce Lingerie
(34 to 38 A to DD, 40 B to DD)
Royce focuses on wirefree bras (and quite a range of maternity bras, too!). They have a broad size range but what's important is that they have A cup sizes! I haven't seen them in the US but you can always ship abroad.

The Little Bra Company 
(28 to 34 A-C, 36 A-B, 38 A)
The Little Bra Company knows what they are all about. Their wide-range of band sizes helps them cater to many different women's shapes and sizes. From the bedroom to the boardroom, The Little Bra Company has something to offer.

Annie from Stylish Petite did a review of the Erin. Check it out for some insight on smaller-cupped bras.