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Your Bra-Fitting Dilemmas: SOLVED!

Oct24

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Your intrepid advice columnist has up and had herself a baby, and will be taking a couple weeks off from her bossing-around duties. In the meantime, she’s arranged a cavalcade of her favorite writers from around the Web to come and take a crack at some of your questions, share their personal style secrets and wisdom, and hopefully keep you entertained while Amy is busy getting high off the scent of new-baby-head.
Today’s guest columnist is Nicole of Not Perfect. In addition to her wedding expertise, Nicole also volunteered her services as a Bra & Boob Expert. To which I immediately replied: HERE ARE FIVE MILLION QUESTIONS ABOUT BRAS & BOOBS. GET CRACKING. Okay, more like three questions that had been sitting sadly in the queue, waiting for someone who doesn’t still buy her bras in the Junior Miss Flatchested department to answer them. I’ve gone and combined the questions and Nicole’s answers into a single mega-smackdown of bra-and-boob-related awesome.

I was hoping you could help me with some ill-fitting bra issues. I’ve never been professionally fitted (it all just kind of freaks me out: where do I go? how do they do it? scary!) and have measured myself. My question concerns my failure at being able to procure a bra that is supportive, makes everything look nice and perky, is comfortable, and, well duh, fits. I thought I was a 34D but my barely-over-a-year old Victoria’s Secret bras seem to disagree with me. My problem concerns “spillage.” My boobs just kind of pop out of the cups both when standing and especially when lying down. At first I just thought the cups were too small (DD?! No!!), but there’s this gap/puckering toward the top of the cups (the area closest to my underarm) that leads me to believe that if I go up a size this will happen even more! I think the band and straps fit well enough, but what do I know??
So, in your infinite wisdom, what do I need to do to fix this problem? Larger cup size? Larger band size? Combination of both? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated; I’m tired of continuously checking for quadraboob!!
M

I’m a big believer that everyone needs to be properly fitted for a bra. I’ve had it done a number of times and it’s really not anywhere near as bad as I had initially anticipated.
The first time I was fitted was at a boutique near my home. My underwire had popped out of my 38DD while I was at work and was trying to kill me. I decided it was time to take the plunge and get properly fitted. I met Mona at Coeur in Philadelphia and she changed my life. By the time I took my top off she eyeballed the way my current bra fit, then she looked at my boobs and had bras out of the boxes ready for me to try before I had my shirt folded. I left the store a 36G and never once looked back. I was only nervous before I took my shirt off. After that it was all business.
Now, it wasn’t my first time trying to get fitted. A year or so earlier I walked into a different independently owned lingerie store. I asked the sales woman if they had bras above a DDD and she CONGRATULATED ME and then said things like “Whoa!” “Good for you!” and “That’s awesome.” Um, excuse me? We’re talking about my boobs here. WHAT THE HELL?! I left. If you go to get fitted and the person creeps you out in any way, hightail it out of there.
I’ve since been fitted at Saks Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, Nordstrom in Boston (I think) and at Intimacy in Boston. My favorite place to go is Intimacy because they have a better selection in my size range, which after some weight loss is a 34H. The downside to department stores is that most often the women who fit you are consultants for one brand and can’t offer advice or info about another brand. A store like Intimacy carries a variety of lines which will give you the best set of choices. You can go to www.myintimacy.com to see if there’s an Intimacy store near you (if there is, RUN, do not walk, there) if not, you can also use their search function for a bra fitting location. I’ve been to both an Intimacy store and a bra fitting location and had very good experiences.
Some of the women who fit you will look away, they definitely do not stare or gawk at your naked boobs. They are nice, gentle and professional. They will ask if they are going to touch you. They will point out exactly what isn’t working and give tips on what will.
As for your present bra situation, obviously I think you need to be fitted. You might not need a different band or cup size, perhaps the issue will be solved by a different style of bra. Yep, you may simply be suffering from a boob shape/cup shape incompatibility. This is especially possible if you’re using a molded cup, a padded bra or if you have heavy boobs and you’re using a bra without an underwire.
The bottom line is that your bras do not fit. Here’s where I get controversial: do not go back to Victoria’s Secret. Their sales people are not as well trained or knowledgeable as many, many other people. Their quality is mediocre. More importantly, their bras properly fit very few people and those they do are smaller busted. If you look at their catalog pictures, the bras don’t fit the models. They wear the bras a size too small to make them appear more sexy. Their styles are all very similar with the deep V in the front, molded or seamless cups. Bras that look good when you’re not wearing a shirt may not be at all flattering when you are.
So what should you be looking for? The underwire should lay against your rib cage for the entire U-shape, you should be able to swing your arms back and forth without hitting your side-boob, and your boobs should be separated. You should be able to move in your bra and feel supported with very little movement. Some of us will always feel movement, but you should definitely feel secure. When you get above a C cup, you do need to move into full coverage bras simply to hold everything in place.
When it comes to bra styles, molded cups and padded bras are not for everyone, including me. Once upon a time I had the grand notion that I would wear the Le Mystere Dream Tisha bra that Oprah recommended. It has a great look under shirts, it came in my size, and I’m very impressionable and if OPRAH said it was good, it must be. Well, I was wrong. Not a little wrong, I was disastrously WRONG. The bra made me look like I had tried to strap a baby pig to my chest. Which is to say, it was not very attractive. I need to have a seamed cup, including size seams, because without, my breasts look like amorphous blobs.
Once you have lined up a bra with good shape and support, you have to put your boobs into your bra. Put your bra on, pull up on your breast tissue to put your nipples front and center and make sure you are filling your entire cup. You can also lean forward and shake them in but when you stand back up you’ll probably need to adjust a little. Once you’re all settled in place, you should be good to go. Wear your bras well, rotate them regularly, hand wash them in cool water and never throw them in the dryer, and you’ll have happy, happy boobies.
I wear a 42B. Why they think every plus-sized girl has DD boobs is beyond me! I want a bra that is padded and pushes ‘em up and in! I tried Lane Bryant but the cups are so wide and high, very un-demi, that with even the smallest V neck, you can see the top of the bra! Can you please help me find a bra that has normal sized cups and will make them look good? I totally am willing to buy them online and try them on and if they don’t work I will send them back! I also have very narrow shoulders, what do you suggest to help my straps stay up? Even when I was a 34A they fell down, so it’s not my size, necessarily. Any suggestions?
Thanks so much.

You need to get to an independently owned, specialty bra store ASAP! Once again, go to MyIntimacy.com to find a store that does bra fittings. B cups are less common in the larger band sizes – some companies don’t even make them. A specialty store, preferably one that carries a wide selection, will know which brands and styles will work and which won’t to get your desired result. (Just an FYI, they may need to order your size.)
Looking at a variety of sites including: BareNecessities.com, figleaves.com, herroom.com, and LaurenSilva.com, the majority of bras in a 42B are full coverage. I’d suggest you play around with brands and styles. I wear full coverage bras almost exclusively and wear a V-neck without problems on most days. The one brand that seems to buck the full-coverage trend is Valmont, which is surprisingly cheap so you may want to check them out. Use caution, however, because in a number of pictures of theirs, the bras do NOT fit the models. But for $15? Totally worth a try. BiggerBras.com has the overall best selection in 42B and if you want to avoid going into a store, I would suggest trying them first.
I’m also someone with narrow shoulders so I’ve had the issue with straps falling down. With a well-fitting bra the band does the majority of the work and the straps give support to help keep the girls where they need to be on your chest. I tend to experience wayward straps after my bra starts to get tired. Yes, tired. And saggy. When you buy a bra it should fit quite snugly on the loosest setting. It will stretch over time and you will gradually tighten the back clasps and tighten the shoulder straps. Now, all of this goes right to hell if you’ve ever machine-washed and dried your bras. The heat will break the elastic fibers down and make them less flexible and over a much shorter period of time they break instead of stretch. Instead you should opt for hand washing in a delicate laundry solution (I use Tocca) and air-drying to lengthen the life of your bras. If that fails, you can also look at racer back and convertible X-back bras to keep the straps from sliding down, but I would really consider this to be a last resort.
Head to a speciality store, preferrably one with a large selection, and see what the sales people have to say. You will not be sorry!
So I have a really embarrassing problem. You won’t even believe it because I have never heard anyone ever talk about this, so either I am the ONLY one, or it is just too horrifying to mention to others. I have what has been called by a doctor “extra breast tissue” in/in front of my armpits. It kind of looks like that fat roll that some people get, when I am wearing a shirt. But in reality it is breast tissue – and one each side, the amount is…significant. The left side is about the size of, say a golf ball. The right side is bigger – at least twice as big. It is bigger than some people’s actual breasts. My actual breasts are very large and I think maybe during puberty or something, as they grew, they got kind of confused about where they were supposed to go.
I don’t think there is much “advice” you can give – as far as I know, the only solution is a breast reduction which includes the armpit area – I dream of this. But I would LOVE to hear if there are any other women out there with this problem and how they cope. Swimwear and tank tops are probably the main problem because you have to find one with small armholes so the extra boob lumps stay inside the suit instead of hanging out on the sides.
Maybe this will help the girls complaining about one little wiry hair on their chin or rough skin on their feet go “Well, at least I don’t have four boobs!”
-J

I have good news: you are NOT the only person with this problem. Most women have some amount of breast tissue under their arms, that’s why we should all be feeling under our arms when doing our monthly self-exams. (EVERYONE NEEDS TO BE DOING THEIR MONTHLY CHECKS!) (Think Debra Winger in Terms of Endearment.) Some women do have more than others. Women with larger breasts are more likely to have issues with the size. Think of it this way, the same hormones that produce larger breasts make all of the breast tissue grow. As such, some women experience problems with this if they’re on the Pill, and also after they’ve been breastfeeding when they go to wean and there is leftover milk in those ducts and it can cause infections. The condition is known as hyperadenia which is basically breast tissue with the absence of a nipple. You didn’t really want to know that, did you?
So yes, people know about this issue and other people have it. YOU AREN’T ALONE! As for finding other people who are experiencing the same thing, you’ll hopefully have someone who relates who they read this post. In addition, you can find some more of these women on breast augmentation support forums and nursing support forums.
Now for a tip: Target carries microfiber camis and tanks by Gilligan & O’Malley. They come in a million different colors (I’m wearing teal right now!) and they’re very stretchy. I noticed this morning when I put mine on that it has high armholes and it kept my fat-caused vagina pits under control. They are very thin and they may work very well to give you a seamless look.


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About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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20 Responses to “Your Bra-Fitting Dilemmas: SOLVED!”

  1. kalisah Oct 24 at 10:25 am Reply Reply

    To M
    If the cups are gaping at the TOP, you probably need to tighten the straps. I was shocked the first time I had a fitting at how tightly they pulled the straps. Then I was all, “Oh. Yeahhhh.”

  2. Risa Oct 24 at 10:40 am Reply Reply

    M,
    I was in your shoes a couple of years ago. I have very large natural boobs and was tired of falling out of the top, bottom, and sides of my VS bras. I finally broke down and drove to the nearest bra fitting place (about an hour and a half from where I live) to get fitted and get some new bras. I was terrified about the fitting; I did not want some strange woman looking at my saggy boobs. The experience was life changing… really! I went from wearing a 38DDD to a 36I. I looked thinner, had better posture, and the fitting was totally professional and not the least bit scary. The fitter sized me up, started bringing all kinds of bras for me to try on and explained things to me about bras I never heard of. Get thee to a specialty bra store ASAP! There were 2 negatives from the situation though; the big bras were more expensive than I had planned for (about 60 bucks for a good one) and it was really weird for a couple of days to finally have my boobs up where they belonged (I felt like I suddenly had weights strapped to my chest ) but that went away pretty fast when people started asking me if I’d lost weight. Never underestimate how great you look when you finally get the girls in their proper place.

  3. Kerry Oct 24 at 11:01 am Reply Reply

    If you’re still too scared to go in for an actual fitting, you can check out Bravissimo’s website for tips on how to do it yourself. They don’t do sizing with tape measurers, but instead show you how a properly fitting bra should look so you know how to find one yourself. Better if you can go into the shop…but since they’re in the UK, that’s not exactly an option!
    I wouldn’t recommend ordering from them though unless you are willing to send things back that don’t fit properly. Even if you think you’ve found your perfect size, the fit varies so much from style to style that buying without trying on is just asking for disappointment.

  4. heidikins Oct 24 at 2:46 pm Reply Reply

    I’m one of those “medium sized” boobs without problems finding a bra. But I want to go to a specialty shop just to see if Victoria really is getting me the best fitting bra.
    Great post Nicole!
    xox

  5. M Oct 24 at 3:23 pm Reply Reply

    Thanks for the advice everyone… currently searching for bra stores in the area!

  6. jasmineN Oct 24 at 11:30 pm Reply Reply

    I don’t have any particular bra issues but after all of these life changing bra-fitting stories it makes me want to give it a try. Here is my hesitation: is there a fee for this service? are you expected to buy something like when someone does your makeup at a department store? I’m not exactly in the market for a $50 bra…

    • teresa May 28 at 10:18 am Reply Reply

      I have an 18 year old grand daughter who has huge breasts but refuses to wear a bra (she has high functioning autism) What alternitives di I have? Please help I don’t want pasties. I was thinking perhaps a vest. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks for your help,Teresa

  7. Hope Oct 25 at 7:15 pm Reply Reply

    My sister and I got fitted at a little hole in the wall bra store in NYC. It was awesome. I would highly recommend finding an independent store. And, seriously, stay away from VS. The people there had NO IDEA what size I was. Even when I said “umm, can you measure me again” they swore up and down that they had given me the right size. No, I’m pretty sure that my boobs are not supposed to have the circulation to them cut off. Never again.

  8. DebiDebi Oct 25 at 7:21 pm Reply Reply

    About the extra boobage in the arm pit region. YES! I totally have that as well! I call them my flaps. I love strapless dresses but just can’t pull them off. They also get bigger during that time of the month. You are not alone. I have them too! Also, thank you very much for the cami tip. I will look into those. The higher arm hole stuff is hard to find but they do make a difference.

  9. Paige Oct 26 at 5:45 pm Reply Reply

    Sooo glad I’m not the only who thinks VS is off their rocker sometimes. They have some beautiful bras that are great for making my boyfriend’s eyes pop out of their sockets, but I have yet to find a VS bra that works outside of the bedroom. My problem is my headlights…they are always on, if you get my drift. Obviously the solution would be a padded bra, but I’m already fairly well endowed, so I don’t need help looking any bustier. Until I can find that perfect bra, I suppose I’ll continue to buy boxes of band-aids like they were crack. :)

  10. Jenno Oct 27 at 11:17 am Reply Reply

    You are so right about VS. I wear a 36DD. When their sales person told me that they didn’t have a particular bra in my size but that if I bought the 38D it would fit exactly the same, I knew they were just liars trying to sell anything to anyone. I’ve been told that by more than one employee in more than one VS store, so I’m guessing it’s not just a case of one crack pot employee trying to offload product. Everyone should get sized at a REAL bra store, not VS. It’s no more awkward than having a breast exam by your OB/GYN and involves a LOT less touching. Your back, boobs, and self esteem will thank you for it.

  11. carrie Oct 29 at 12:28 pm Reply Reply

    RE: Being measured. Are you all being topless when measured? I have never had anyone measure me by making me be naked. They have always done it with either t-shirt or bra on already, with a tape measure, and have been dead on. The best ones can just look at you and know what size you are (that’s some sort of gift that is). I would have issues with it being done the other way.
    I do find it strange and annoying that what fits in one store won’t in another. I went to one department store, was measured and tried on lots of different bras, and none of them fit right. It wasn’t the size it was their style, they just did not fit my body. It was fairly depressing. I went to another department store and theirs fit me perfectly.
    I hate shopping for bras though, it’s a bit of a chore.

  12. Amy in StL Oct 29 at 4:23 pm Reply Reply

    I love VS bras. I’m a 36C and if you call me small busted I’ll crack you upside the head! However, I have not had luck with their help fitting. I’ve been fitted twice by the bobbleheads that work there and I think they looked at me and assumed I must wear a much larger band size than I do. I had to actually show one that the whole bra slid above my rack when I raised my arms for her to believe she’d not done it right.

  13. Elena Oct 29 at 5:01 pm Reply Reply

    jasmineN,
    I wasn’t charged for the fitting at a specialty shop. And you’re not required to buy anything. But once you have on these great-fitting bras and you see how much better you look, it will be hard to resist. It’s worth it; even if you can only afford to buy one.

  14. Amy Nov 01 at 6:00 pm Reply Reply

    J -
    I also have excess breast tissue under my arm pits. I actually had surgery to remove some under one arm pit because the area was painful and they weren’t sure exactly why. My scar is barely noticeable and it was an out-patient procedure. My breasts are a barely B cup, so a breast reduction will never be in the cards, but in the future if the arm pit area becomes irritated or too big I will definitely consider surgery again.

  15. Karen Jun 01 at 12:09 am Reply Reply

    I hope this site is still active–I am 66 years old, & am looking for a bra that will give me a decent “lift”—I developed very early–in fact I am not much larger in my bust than I was in Jr high –keep in mind my Jr High was a long time ago, and bras for young ladies were not as plentiful then–hence–I did not have the correct bra at the beginning of my development which has cause many stretch marks and sagging boobs way before it should have–so you can imagine my situation.  Any suggestions from anyone out there ?  Thanks, Karen

  16. Cara Aug 04 at 1:41 pm Reply Reply

    I also have arm pit tissue issues but I am fat and have a large body so it is hard to find a large size cami or bra so I wear a sports bra and I know it is not the right size but I do not want to wear a underwire bra. They should make a t-shirt for people like me to control the tissue that escapes the bra. This is a great informative site and I thank you all. Cara

  17. BKelly Aug 20 at 5:08 pm Reply Reply

    I was fitted at a local store, and the first time I left ordering a 38G strapless; however, once the bra’s arrived the band was TOO tight. I returned to the same store and was again assisted by staff only to leave with a 42 DDD.

    I STILL don’t think it is the right size. My breast are close together and while the band feels ok, the cup gaps at the top right (where the cup meets the strap) I have the straps as tight as they will go. Does anyone have any suggestions? I as so tired of dealing with the wrong bra.

  18. Sher Apr 05 at 7:42 pm Reply Reply

    I have a dress to wear to my sons wedding I weigh 234 it has a vneck I need a good uplift bra for my 40ddd otherwise they are looking at the floor

  19. Holly Jun 24 at 12:01 am Reply Reply

    I stumbled upon this post while trying to figure out my bra problems (popping out of the top). I really want to get properly fitted from this, but most importantly I HAVE armpit boob too! More on one side than the other WHICH IS THE WORST! I never wear tank tops or spaghetti strap/strapless ANYTHING! As I’ve gotten older my embarrassment about it has diminished some, but I still avoid most sleeveless anything. I just buy a swimsuit I feel confident everywhere else in and go with it :( wish I could help you more, but you’re not alone!!

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