27 November, 2017

Bra Shopping in Melbourne - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly


A quick lowdown of three places to buy bras in Melbourne - if you're one of the two thirds of people who don't fit in the sizes most bra shops sell, or you just want somewhere to give you a good fitting, this is the post to read. Apologies for the lack of photos of the fittings, my phone was broken.

 

The Good - Brava

 

Brava exterior
Brava's exterior

Shop:


When I walked into Brava, it had a chill atmosphere - clean white walls with lots of bras on. The shop was smaller than the others I visited but they used the space wisely to show an extensive range, generally grouped by brand. The fitting room was large, tidy and well-lit, with a large, clean mirror.

Something that stood out to me was that the wall in the fitting room had a sign on it that said something along the lines of "take your bras home and wear them for a few hours - you can return them if they're uncomfortable", which I found very reassuring and shows how understanding the business is.


Brava Interior
Brava's interior

Range:


They had a large variety of brands, UK staples like Panache, Freya, Elomi, to French brands like Empreinte, US like Goddess and Polish like Ewa Michalak and Corin! They sell 6-22 (UK 28-44) bands and D to K cups, I know that they definitely had larger cups on 6s instore but I don't know if they had all of that range instore. However, and this is a big however, these bras are pricey! It's understandable with import costs, but if you ever go in, be prepared for $150 bras.

Fitting Experience:


The fitter was friendly but not overly upbeat, which came across to me as genuine and I found her easy to talk to. She didn't use a tape measure, instead opting to ask for my current size. I didn't actually know the size of the bra that I was wearing (secondhand EM, tagless), which is what I told her. She asked for my clothes size which I believe she used for my initial band size, which annoyed me slightly.

She ended up eyeballing me at an 8H (30H). She asked me what styles I wanted, and though I said anything, I was given three plain, moulded bras - a Freya Deco, a Panache Porcelain (Elan?) and a Fantasie Smoothing Balconette.

She left the room while I tried the bras on, which while respectful, I found annoying after a while because she often left for quite a long time and I had to awkwardly peek my head out of the curtain. She often brought multiple bras at a time and then left again, which made the process drag out much more than it should have.

She established that the 8s were too large in the band, but did not seem to notice that I continued to put the 6s on the tightest hooks. She also did not take away bras when it became apparent that they would be the wrong size, which was quite confusing despite how familiar I was with them!

The fitter did not instruct me to scoop and swoop, but instead lean forwards while putting the bra on. I just don't find this method to be good enough for getting tissue situated naturally (it tends to conform more to the shape of the bra, and isn't great for getting bras up in your IMF). I was later told to pull the wires up to my IMF (because this method just doesn't work).

All in all, she brought me a great deal of bras. However I think her and I had a fundamental differing of opinion as to what constituted a good fit. I tried on a Panache Tango II Balconette, and complained about the pointy, east-west shape it gave me (my boobs are naturally very centre full so don't like going east-west!). I told her it was forcing my boobs into a shape they didn't want to be, she said "that's what bras are for!". The Tango also had lots of space at the bottom of the cup, when this was pointed out she told me that it would "soften up" and that my boobs would "drop" into the cup. When I told her I didn't want my boobs to drop she was like "oh I mean that space will go away". I still don't really know what she meant by that.

I ended up in 6Hs (which I believe is fundamentally the wrong size for me but is the size that is most likely to fit in real bras) so it was a good fitting. However, I didn't feel 100% about the fitting - I was told that I would never have a tacking gore despite that not being the case (thank you Marcie!), and sometimes I felt that my personal issues were being ignored (for instance, when I said that a bra felt uncomfortable in the middle, it was brushed aside a bit).

Last but not least, I was given a slip with my size on it on the way out, the fitter having decided Cleo Kali was the best fit for me (a proper S&S revealed tissue coming out of the top, the leaning forwards technique didn't) - however, she wrote Cleo *Marcie* as the bra that fitted me best! That was a fairly egregious error, particularly since a Marcie was brought in to try and then taken out before I had the chance to. Marcie is my current best fitting UK bra so that was a shame!

I tried on so many bras - aside from the 3 mentioned earlier, I tried the Curvy Kate Portia (wow what a short bra!), Freya Pulse, a brand I didn't recognise which was strange, a Freya Hero, Panache Andorra and even a Masquerade bra.

Summary:


I would say it was a pretty good fitting, some questionable things were said, but the main issue is how long I spent waiting to get her opinion!

The Bad - Bras N Things (Melbourne Central)

 

Bras N Things Exterior
Bras N Things Exterior

Shop:


The shop was a large but otherwise pretty standard bra shop, I felt comfortable walking around in there but what immediately concerned me was how all of the bras on display were moulded cups. The shop was spacious and tidy, with lots of bras on display.

Range: 


All of the bras on display were in matrix sizes, larger cup sizes were nowhere to be found. There were quite a few spacer bras, but mostly the bras on display were traditional foam moulded cups. There was also swimwear and more boudoir-oriented lingerie.

Fitting Experience:


When I enquired with an employee about a fitting, she immediately led me to a small but tidy and well-lit fitting room. She was really friendly and I immediately felt at ease around her. However, she measured me over my clothes, not checking the fit of my current bra. She +4ed me into a 10G (UK 32FF), which is technically a sister size to my current size but strangely enough, the cups were too small in the bras she initially brought me. She wanted to size me up in the cups to a 10H but they don't stock that, so she suggested I go to Brava instead.

In the bras she brought me, she did not recognise wires riding down as a problem, and said that I was the kind of person who would never get a tacking gore which, while difficult for me, is not impossible. She was helping someone else at the same time as me but she was attentive and brought me things quickly.

She brought me a few different styles, some moulded, one unlined. However the unlined bra was incredibly tall, wide and shallow. I have very tall roots but they had space even on me! They would be a great option for very shallow people in E-FF sizes who may struggle to find shallow, unpadded bras. The bra was a full cup in construction but had only vertical seams - it was very strange. All in all, it smashed my boobs down, the gore floated like nobody's business and gave me no support, truly a boob hat.

One thing that was a little strange to me was that the fitter didn't seem to know what the word unlined was... she sort of just called it the "cup".

Summary:


This shop is a pretty standard "matrix+" shop, with poorly designed bras at the ends of their size range. The fitter was very amicable but her knowledge wasn't incredible, I did think it was very nice of her to recommend visiting Brava though because she knew the bras they had wouldn't work for me.

The Ugly - Cotton On Body (Melbourne Central)

 

Cotton On Body Interior
While not the location I went in, this is the typical Cotton On decor - though the shop  went into didn't have as many lotions

Shop:


This was a typical "mall shop", aimed at younger people. It was bright inside and not decorated particularly memorably - and it was a bit worn down, I felt like it needed a bit of sprucing up.

Range: 

 

Cotton On had lots of bralettes, but unfortunately none of them were bra sized. The bras were basically entirely moulded cups, and there were lots of push up bras - only up to DD that I could see, though I saw a few nursing bras up to F.

Fitting Experience:

 

I went in and saw a big painted sign on the wall advertising fittings, so I went up to the desk and enquired about them. The woman at the desk didn't seem to be doing anything vital, just looking at a sheet of paper. She said she could do one immediately and led me to a fitting room. I went inside and there were lots of clothes in there, both on the rail and on the floor, and measured me over my thick hoodie. She +4ed me and declared me a 10E (32E). She asked me what I wanted, and after I said "just bring me anything", she brought a single moulded plunge. As I went to take off my clothes, I noted that there was a large peephole in the door with a rotating circle inside, which you could close or open. But this peephole had no mechanism to keep it closed so anyone could have just opened it and if I wasn't facing that way, I wouldn't have noticed. Creepy!

I tried the bra on and it was much too small. But... the fitter didn't come back. I waited and waited. She just... was gone. I awkwardly put my clothes back on and walked out of the shop, and she was back at the till with the piece of paper and didn't look up as I walked past.


Summary: 


It was a kinda surreal experience if I'm honest. I can't recommend this shop for fittings or for any range in their bras.

03 September, 2017

Comfortably Stylish - A Short Review of Urkye Koalicja Serca+Granat in 34OO/OOO


I have real difficulty finding clothes that fit me due to my bust/waist sizes, so I often look at bust friendly brands as a potential solution. Unfortunately, my personal style is brightly coloured/patterned, interesting clothes and most of these brands deal in basiscs so I always leave the websites empty handed and disappointed. My perspective is: I can buy a T shirt from H&M for £3.99, I'm not concerned much about the fit. What I can't do is buy a nice dress or an interestingly designed shirt that actually sits well on me.

Urkye doesn't seem to me to be much different from other full bust brands, both in size range (it only goes up to a 44 waist size, which I believe corresponds to a UK 16, so no plus size range here) and in design. However, one dress stood out to me, and I decided to give it a try.


Success! A dress that fits me well and I enjoy wearing! The dress didn't take too long to arrive (in the UK), either, considering it came from Poland. For reference, I usually wear a 6/8 in waist sizes but have to size up multiple times to get a good fit in the bust (I usually don't though because I end up with badly fitting shoulders).

I have edited the colour of this image slightly to better portray the colours, however the other pictures are much more accurate.

This dress has a blue heart design on blue stretch cotton, and a dark blue cotton stretch skirt. While it's a little tame for my tastes, the dress is well made and the fabric is quite high quality -it's thick and opaque, though it's not sticky or hot.


It fits very well, though I would prefer it to be slightly snugger around my waist and a tiny bit larger in the bust - it doesn't look like a bad fit though, so it's all right. It fits well across my shoulders and the sleeves aren't too tight (something I struggle with in many clothes).


The dress is well sewn with neat seams inside and out. I like how the boat neck doesn't show my bra straps, most dresses would. It's not something I care about particularly but I think it does elevate an outfit.


The skirt is just a bit too long for my preference, coming in at an inch or so below my knee (I'm about 5'3 for reference), and I intend to get it hemmed.

You can see the slight bagginess around my back/waist, with adjustment it goes away mostly but not entirely.
All in all, I definitely believe this dress was worth its price, and I would absolutely buy again from Urkye if they had more garments that suited my taste!


18 July, 2017

Why I love FUNderwear (and how to get hold of it in extended sizes)


Lots of people use lingerie as a way of expressing their sexuality. And that's great - power to them. This post is not negatively framing those people's choices in any way, but about my alternative perspective.

Three pairs of underpants, two with Disney designs on them, one with a dinosaur print, laid out on a bed.
Apologies for the poor photo, my phone is broken so I had to make do with an old camera.

Ever since I went through puberty I have been told that my body, and other womens' bodies, are
inherently sexual, just because they exist in the "female" subcategory. A man can make jokes about nudity, his genitals, even masturbation and they are generally well received because the context of these remarks is humorous. If a woman tries the same thing, the reception is never quite the same because people will always colour her comments with sexuality. Of course, the level of this will depend on the woman's race, age, gender expression, size, whether they're disabled or not, trans status, and multiple other things. But it never goes away entirely.

28 June, 2017

Dishearteningly Dear - All Undone Lottie Review in 28GG


Ever since I found out about All Undone I have fallen in love with their aesthetic. The sleek lines, bright colours and high quality materials have put them at the top of my wishlist for years. One thing held me back though - whenever the bras were reduced in price to within my budget, they were made nonreturnable. I did some research and found out that this is against the law in the UK (where the company is based), so I contacted them about it and they updated their policy. Great!

James Van Der Beek's sad face pasted over a picture of me in the Lottie

Unfortunately the Lottie is a major disappointment. I got it for £31.60 plus shipping from their sale, its usual price is a whopping £79!

20 June, 2017

Bra Science: How Band Size Changes with Cup Size - Freya


Welcome to part two of my series on how band lengths are not always equal between cup sizes. Last time we had Cleo by Panache, now we're testing Freya's band lengths.

I collected Bratabase data on the stretched and unstretched band lengths in a couple of band sizes of Freya bras - the ones with the most data. The results are as follows:


07 June, 2017

I will be the coolest kid! — Comexim Graffiti Review in 55M


Comexim's designs don't often inspire me. However, as a connoisseur of all things fun - underwear or otherwise - I just had to buy this bra as soon as I saw it. A graffiti print longline? SIGN ME UP!

Image of me wearing the Graffiti, taken at a 45 degree angle

I ordered the bra in a 55M with the "deeper cups" and "reduced cup height" alterations (though I have no way of telling if they were done or not). I paid 149 zloty for it, a little over £30, plus shipping.

Design:

 

Image of me wearing the Graffiti from the front
Sorry for the low quality image! My phone just wasn't cooperating with me today!
Be still, my beating heart. I adore this print and the vibrant colours.

Close up shot of the cup of the Graffiti, showing the bright and detailed print

Close up on the clock shaped charm on the Graffiti's gore

Although the gore floats - LOOK AT THAT CLOCK CHARM! I love it! Plain bows are so overdone, give me a charm any day!

The Graffiti laid out on a bed, the front of the bra is visible.

While I really like the block of graffiti print below the cups, unfortunately, the rest of the band and the inside of the bra is just boring black, which does make me a bit sad. However, would adding more colour just bring it over the top? 

Close up shot of the Graffiti's straps

The straps are just embellished black elastic, which again is just a bit boring. They do their job well enough and are a good width for me - not too narrow as to dig in, but not hugely wide and stiff like some other brands.

Construction:


The bra is a three part, longline... plunge? balconette? with fully adjustable straps and 5 rows and 3 columns of hooks. I'm questioning the plunge/balconette part as its gore is lower than most balconettes I've tried but higher than a plunge. I would say it's about the height of a half cup's gore.

I would prefer 6 hooks but I'm happy to take 5 - some longlines I've tried (cough cough, Freya Pandora) have had a measly 4. 4 is basically 3 and 3 is a normal bra!

I also appreciate the leotard back. They always feel that bit more secure for me, and they're often hard to come by on longlines.

The bra feels like it's constructed sturdily. I feel like its lack of depth by the gore (more on that later) is putting a bit of strain on the fabric near the gore, but I'm confident it will last for a long time - it's certainly been difficult to even slightly stretch out the bottom part of the band - something I've struggled with as you'll see later on!

The straps are also quite well-designed as their texture means the adjusters really stay where they are, but aren't difficult to adjust manually.

Fit:


Shot of me wearing the Graffiti from the back.

Unfortunately, while I love how this bra looks, the fit isn't stellar. The main issue is its v-shaped band. While my waist is about the same size as my underbust, the Graffiti is designed for a much smaller waist than underbust. While the band fits great at the top, it is a bit of a struggle to wear this bra all day. Often I have to undo the bottom two hooks after a couple of hours. Because the band is so tight it often scooches up a bit in the middle at the front over the course of the day, though it doesn't bother me too much.

Shot of me wearing the Graffiti from the top, so the gore float is visible

The cups don't fit incredibly either - they can't handle my centre fullness, so the gore floats and I have some centre spillage on my larger boob.

Side on shot of me indicating how low the wires sit on the Graffiti, I can fit two fingers between the wire and my IMF

The wires are also too wide and definitely don't have enough depth at the bottom, so the wires are both too wide and ride down a lot. By the end of the day the wires feel a bit pokey at the bottom, but I think this is more becase of the too snug band than the lack of depth at the wire.

Shot of me wearing the Graffiti, also at a 45 degree angle

The cups are tall despite me ordering reduced cup height - maybe they didn't do it? I'm not sure. My tall roots are accommodated well, but I would definitely not recommend this bra to someone with short roots even with the alteration.

Side view of me wearing the Graffiti, showing a fairly rounded profile

The bra gives me a fairly rounded, quite minimised side profile. I definitely prefer my boobs to be projected outwards as I find it more comfortable over time, but I don't dislike the shape this bra gives me.

I would say this bra would fit someone with average horizontal fullness, tall roots, someone who does not require a huge amount of depth at the wire, and above average overall projection.

Bratabase Measurements:

 
As this bra is a longline, the gore height's measurement isnt truly accurate. From the bottom of the cups, the gore is 8.7cm tall. 

Overall:

I think this bra is great fun, and I could even see someone wearing it with a jacket as a crop top/lingerie as outerwear thing. It's great, and I feel awesome whenever I wear it (that is, until the band starts digging in!).

Have you ever tried a Comexim longline? What did you think?

06 May, 2017

How to Take the Best Bra Fit Pictures (& Imgur Privacy Guide)

Note: This blog post has images with text on them, so I've uploaded a text-only version here that should be compatible with text to speech readers.

Angles

 

Make sure you're taking these pictures with neutral posture, as that's how fit is judged! If there is a difference in fit on each breast, be sure to take photos of each side.

1. The Diagonal Shot


A diagonally framed image of someone wearing a bra, labelled with the fit aspects visible at this angle.
This is my new CHP Koktajl in case you were wondering

18 April, 2017

Bra Science - 16 Signs You're Wearing a Parachute Bra


Since people loved my 11 Signs You're Wearing a Boob Hat post, I have decided to write one about the opposite syndrome: The Parachute Bra.

Parachute bras are worn by people who have realised that the "plus 4" method of measuring people is a terrible system, but they go too far the other way - wearing too small bands and too large cups to compensate. I call them parachute bras because the cups billow in the wind, and the band is tight around you like a harness. Some people call this "reverse letterphobia" but I've chosen a different name because I feel that reverse letterphobia is a little bit.. judgey (and my name is catchier ngl).

Why do people do this? They may be very afraid of the too loose bands they were wearing in the past, they may want to be a smaller band and larger cup than they are because of a lack of body confidence, or they may just not quite know how a bra should fit. They may also have a projected shape and size up to get the depth they need in too shallow bras, instead of trying bras better for their shape.

When a band is too small, the wires get warped, pulling the cups wider. This means that there is less outwards depth in the cups, making them appear too small. So you size up in the cups until the outwards depth is right - the bra looks like it fits! However, in reality, the band is too small and the cup is too large.

So here are the symptoms of this phenomenon:

Edited note: Just like on a page about a medical issue, I haven't written much about the other causes of these symptoms here. If only one or a few of these symptoms apply to you, you probably are not wearing a parachute bra, other fit issues may be at play. 

Your band may be too small if...


22 March, 2017

Bra Science: How Band Size Changes with Cup Size - Cleo by Panache


Just when  you thought bra fitting couldn't get any more complicated, it turns out that a 30 often isn't the same as a 30.

It's commonly known that people with larger cup sizes tend to choose smaller bands over those with smaller cup sizes. But is this an organic decision or influenced by changing band lengths with cup sizes?

I collected Bratabase data on the stretched and unstretched band lengths in a couple of band sizes of Cleo bras - the ones with the most data. The results were pretty interesting!

Line chart showing Cleo's stretched band lengths in D-J cups in 28, 30 and 32 bands

01 March, 2017

Longline Giving Me a Hard Time - Freya Pandora Review in 28G


I adore how this bra looks, on the stock photos, and, to an extent, irl. It looks pretty basic from the front but it has some stunning design features that I will delve into later. However, in true Freya fashion, this bra only goes up to a 28G so it really doesn't fit me, which makes me sad.


Onto the review...

11 February, 2017

Take a Bow - Cleo Della Review in 28G

I so wanted this bra to work. After the unprecedented success of Cleo Blake, I've been super willing to try more Cleos. Sadly, it just wasn't to be.


16 January, 2017

Bra Science — 11 Signs You May be Wearing a Boob Hat


Do you feel unsupported by your bra? That it squashes your boobs down instead of lifting them up? Or maybe you feel that your bra is just a useless garment altogether, costing quite a bit of money considering it just doesn't really do anything? You may be wearing... a boob hat.

Many people who wear bras know some of the signs of poor fit – most recognise that spillage out of a bra isn’t right, and the same goes for gapping. Some know that the gore should lie flat against the sternum, and that the band shouldn’t ride up (or ride down). Few know anything more detailed than that.

So from this lack of detailed knowledge a phenomenon appears: the boob hat. The boob hat is something I describe as a bra that kinda looks like it fits to an inexperienced eye, but in reality it doesn’t. It simply sits/floats around the boobs, not containing or supporting them fully (if at all), potentially squishing them down, hence the name.

So how can you avoid falling into this trap? Here are eleven common symptoms of the dreaded boob hat, from least obvious to most obvious:

1. Vertical cleavage folds.


A bra/boob hat with obvious vertical cleavage folds